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  • Finally, Some Offensive Toughness in the Irish

    by SEE

    A win over Navy is seldom reason to cheer, though back to back wins over Navy by 40 points hasn’t been accomplished since Ara Parseghian.  But Saturday’s win left Irish fans, hungry for the toughness Kelly promised, with at least the taste of old Irish fight. Unlike last year’s blowout which was accomplished largely through the air, the Irish ground the Midshipmen down on both sides of the line of scrimmage Saturday running for the most running yards of any Irish team since 2003.

    This all means little unless the Irish can win in the trenches against Michigan State’s vaunted front line or contain Michigan’s Robinson, but for the first time in it’s hard to remember when, the Irish have shown a commitment to toughness.

    As noted in You Can’t WIN Unless You Run I’ve felt that Kelly squandered BCS possibilities by putting too much burden on quarterbacks who simply couldn’t handle it.   Saturday the Irish used a two and even three tight-end offense to devastating effect against an overwhelmed Navy defense.

    The Irish defense held Navy to just 3.7 yards per carry, while the offense averaged 6.4 yards per rush.  The Irish had 6 runs of over 10 yards and 17 runs over 7 yards or more.

    A look at the blocking below shows just how dominant the Irish were.  In the top frame, George Atkinson had just two defenders to beat with one blocker on the entire left side of the field.










    In this frame, McDaniel makes one blitzer miss and has a wall of blockers down the left side of the field.









    On Atkinson’s TD run, he emerges through the line with clear running room and down field blocking. No one would catch him.









    In my opinion, Kelly’s always been good at setting up big runs( “big chunk runs” as he calls them,) which makes this offense very attractive to game-breaking backs, but on Saturday, the Irish running game was also strong in the red zone.

    You wouldn’t know it by this shot, but the line of scrimmage was the 11 yard line when this run started.  Lead tight end blocker, Tyler Eifert, is a full six yards down the field (5 yard line) before he has to make his first block.  Riddick, tucked in behind him, easily makes the endzone.









    On Atkinson’s score below, Koyack (18) buries his defender to the left, Eifert (80) crumples his man to the right, and Atkinson walks into the endzone.










    And on Riddick’s red zone touchdown, one quick move gave him maybe not a truck sized hole, but at least a Mini-Cooper sized entre into the endzone.








    This is, of course, against undersized and out-manned Navy, but Irish are at least showcasing a power running game that relies heavily on a veteran offensive line that Kelly praised after the game.

    “They communicate very well, they work well together.  They work as a unit.  And I’ve had offensive lines where we had singularly great players at certain positions. I think the thing that stands out with this group is that all five, including the tight ends as they attach themselves, really work well together.  There’s not a lot of missed assignments and miscommunication.  And I think that was the overriding theme in our film study today is that as a unit they work very well together.”

    True Toughness will be shown  over the next few weeks against the Michigans, but for the first time in years, Notre Dame is at least showing it can run for dough.  Given Alabama’s recent success with such a two-tight end offense, it’s the hope here that Kelly and Martin don’t default back to the pass with a very green, if talented, quarterback in Golson.

    Note to Swarbrick:  Don’t change the uniforms (outside of the cleats), they’re perfect.



    15 Responses to “Finally, Some Offensive Toughness in the Irish”

    1. bandfather says:

      Interesting to note that in the accolades that Kelly gave to the OL, he included the TE’s “attaching” themselves as being an important part of why the OL was successful. That, of course is a reference to the blocking aspect of the TE position. I view this as an indication that there is more to come in the important part to be played by the rushing attack of the ND offense.

    2. Could not agree more with everything. Team is starting to take on a Parseghian look to it. Looked very good except for the secondary and special teams. Hopefully, they will come around. And yes, the uniforms are starting to look like the days of Ara. Keep the white sox, pants, jersey and helmet. Regular black or white shoes will be fine. The team is starting to play and look like the ND team I watched in college. More concerned about Purdue than MSU or Michigan. The latter teams will not be a problem getting ready for mentally. Purdue could be more dangerous than people expect. However, the team now seems on the right path. Win or lose, they seem to know what they are doing. Once you get that part down, the rest comes in time.

    3. I disagree about the uniforms. They should go back to the gold pants versus the mustard-colored ones they wear now. The true gold would look great with the new helmets. They wore them n the Maryland game last year (with those god-awful shamrock-swirl helmets). The true gold pants and great gold helmets would look great. And I kind of like the Irish flag cleats too.

    4. Cool Breeze says:

      The team in the white jerseys kinda’ remind me of thw way Notre Dame used to do things.

    5. Agree with everything. However, if ND wore jerseys with green numbers, then I think the cleats and undershirt would have been fantastic.

    6. So those weren’t the standard 2012 pants? What will ND be wearing against Purdue?

    7. I’m as delighted with Saturday’s outcome as anyone else, but I disagree with the term “suddenly”. I’ve seen an increase in toughness the past 2 years, and Saturday’s game was just a continuation of that. I think the change in the run/pass ratio has more to do with Michael Floyd’s departure. I’m sure there’s an alternate universe where last year’s ND team goes 8-4, or maybe even 9-3 by running the crap out of the ball, and the fanbase is furious because the coach has stubbornly wasted the talents of the 2nd greatest WR in the country.

      My other thought on Saturday’s game is that I was glad we didn’t have to show off Golson’s legs. If we have the luxury of keeping that weapon in our back pocket until the Michigan St game that will help us.

    8. I was at the game and happy to see the Irish win the way they should against an opponent with lesser talent. There were many positive things and toughness is one of them. I am very concerned however that the special teams are still horrific. Two missed extra points, poor punting, poor punt return and kick off return yardage and inconsistent kick offs. There is no way a team can beat a quality team with special team play like ND has. This must get fixed. I was shocked that it seemed as though nothing changed since last year

    9. John Cocktoastin says:

      One thing I note about 3 of the 5 pics above is Devaris Daniels is in position to block downfield. The 93 team had guys like Lake Dawson who did just that…the left side of this line reminds me alot of 93.

    10. I was really impressed with the toughness of this team on Saturday. They looked more confident than ever and it is great to see that the comments are now more concerned about the makeup of the player uniforms rather than lackluster play. Now, let’s kick the crap out of Purdue. Go Irish!

    11. Probably best win under Kelly so far. And now ND should be able to continue to roll vs Purdue. Then the fun stars with the rest of the schedule. Let’s not forget, ND is expected and should always be expected to beat Purdue and Navy. I still say 8-4.

    12. The culture of O-line toughness that is developing is key to playing at the highest level. And just look at those behemoth recruits coming in next year. A good reason to be optimistic.

    13. While I agree mostly with a lot of your points, you can hardly say the 2011 game was won mostly through the air when we rushed for nearly 200 yards and 7 TD.

      • We had 260 yards passing vs. 182 yards rushing in 2011.
        We had 293 yards rushing vs. 144 yards passing in 2012.

    14. Agree with most comments. The team is playing more like the old ND teams – confident and expecting to win. Maybe I am wrong but the mistakes don’t seem to be of the “snake bit” variety we have seen over the past several years. They are simply mistakes, correctable mistakes. I expect to see the team get better every game, with each unit showing improvement over the course of the season. For the first time in a long time they are fun to watch again. They play hard and seem to be enjoying the game – not waiting to be yelled at or criticized on the sideline. I hope I still feel this way a month from now!