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  • Build Like a Champion

    by SEE

    (The Rock Report) – Charlie Weis and Tyrone Willingham both had strong first years at Notre Dame; as it turns out both were mirages that masked mismanagement underneath.  Sustainable success involves a long-term commitment to doing all of the small things right on a consistent basis, which is why Kelly’s mantra “you can’t start winning until you stop losing” is so important.

    But to do those small things well, you have to think about the pieces, which pieces are the most important, what’s most important about the piece and then how they all work together.  For instance, it doesn’t make sense to have a great training table if player’s schedules don’t  allow them to use it.  That may not sound like a “coach’s job” but it’s a vitally important part of program building. Miss that piece of the puzzle and your 300 pound lineman shrinks to 270 by November, gets blown off the line and all of the fan talk about what play was called when becomes irrelevant.

    Notre Dame was riddled with such inefficiencies when Kelly took over, which is why he said his first order of business wasn’t recruiting, but fixing the inefficiencies. I covered many of them here in Fixing Notre Dame Football . Kelly’s plan was always focused on “the process”.

    The Process

    Kelly’s focus on day-to-day (or as he says it “deh-ta-deh”) improvement in mental and physical development is really the only way to get players to reach their highest level of success on a consistent basis. Even as Notre Dame stumbled to 4-3 last year, Kelly was adamant that the team was making the same progress at the same point as his other stops.

    I think I’ve probably worn this out, but we’re in the same process that I’ve been in at every job that I’ve had. We’re doing the same things. I’m seeing the same kinds of results. They don’t always equal wins, but we’re clearly moving in the right direction with our football players and our football program, and sometimes it’s, you know, disappointing and painful, but I would tell you that this is a very similar feeling that I’ve had before.

    That of course doesn’t sit well with fans who may question how the on the field product relates to the process, but, like changing a golf swing, the middle of the process is rarely clean nor pretty. But Kelly wasn’t after short term results, he said he was after what Oklahoma had.

     Coach has done what we’re looking to do here, and that’s build a program on consistency. And that is the charge that we’re under right now in our development of a football program, is to do this week in and week out.

    To gain long term success you have to change player’s mental and physical makeup which, as Nick Saban noted, usually takes years.  Here’s a decent summation of Saban’s “Process”.  What we’re seeing now is the result of almost three years of sustained, committed effort by many people to the process.  What does Kelly’s process look like? Five important pieces of it are: Defensive Recruiting, Coaching Chemistry, Physical and Mental Development, Demanding Excellence and Execution.

    Because Kelly gained attention for his offense, most don’t know that Kelly’s defenses have out-performed his offenses 5 out of the last 6 years.  It’s not by coincidence.

    Defensive Recruiting

    While some have been surprised at the performance of the defense, it’s something Kelly targeted.  Kelly recognized out of the box that winning takes great defense and noted that it was behind the success of his 2008 Bearcat team.  His focus on player development, motivation and getting kids to play harder longer was an important piece of the puzzle, but so too was his focus on defense. Notre Dame battled tooth and nail for every defensive lineman recruit in his first full class, but it wasn’t a choice according to Kelly when talking about his recruiting focus on year one.

    You can’t fake it on defense. You can fake it a little bit on offense. But defensively, you know, you gotta win the one on one match ups. You’ve got to win those match ups. Sometimes you cannot block the defensive end and option him. Sometimes you can do things with misdirection. But on defense, it’s about players making plays, and you can’t hide there. And so the recruiting efforts start with the defensive line, and they work out from there. And you can’t fake it on defense.

    Kelly’s recognition that great defenses are recruited and his willingness to move offensive players to defense was a marked departure from Weis who continually brought in great offensive players, but seemed leave holes on defense (we do have to give Weis his just due for recruiting Manti.)

    Coaching Chemistry

    Another one of Kelly’s foundational principles is that any coach he hires has to fit well with the staff or as Kelly says, he tries to “eliminate dysfunction,” which is why relationships were so important for him in hiring a coach like Bob Elliott. Some have noted that this approach eliminates many proven coaches and even tabbed it “cronyism”, but Kelly’s making a clear choice that chemistry is simply not optional.

    We wanted the make‑up of that staff, we were looking for a veteran coach who wanted to come in and not be the guy. Not be the coordinator, but be an asset with a great deal of experience. Of course, they also have strong personal relationships. It’s a very dynamic staff. It’s the best group of guys that I’ve ever had in terms of how they work together on a day‑to‑day basis.

    Or as Kelly likes to say, “coaches will screw it up far before the players do.”  I covered this in-depth in Coaching the Coaches.

    Demanding Excellence

    Without the entire staff focused in the same direction, it would be impossible to push the entire team forward (note Kiffin at USC or Weis at ND.)  The whole coaching staff has to be focused on the same messages to achieve at the highest level. When you have that alignment on the staff, you can push players consistently to a higher degree of mental and physical play because they’re surrounded by it and see their teammates doing the same.   Something Kelly’s just starting to see with Davaris Daniels for example.

    I think you really hit the right word. He competed. That’s what we look for from DD is competing every single play. He’s a young guy starting to figure it out. You’ve got to compete at the highest level every single play. We’re demanding that from him. I think in terms of competing, you’re right on. He competed against Oklahoma. Now the challenge is to compete the same way against Pittsburgh.

    Across the board, we’re starting to see players reach their highest level, whether it’s Matthias Farley stepping in at safety, Keivarae Russell at corner or Danny Spond covering the slot receiver from his linebacker position.  That was  happening last year, but not consistently.  A great example was the performance against  USC when twittergate sent fans a titter and Kelly called out his team publicly.

    Losing stinks. For me, it’s hard for me to put a stink meter on losing. They all stink. You know what, I’m disappointed in? This is the first time that I’ve leaned on my guys pretty hard in the locker room. I was not happy. Because we are better than that…I’m not going to tolerate it. It’s not going to be pretty this week in practice. If we have to go back and tackle every day, we’ll tackle every day, because they know how I feel about the way we played.

    While some fans thought that was a coach throwing his players under the bus, it struck me as a coach who simply wouldn’t accept mediocrity.  Maybe it was a bit crass or not “fan-friendly”, but  it’s demanding excellence and  accountability that allows a coach to instill pride and focus in his team.

    Mental Toughness

    When Kelly talks about poise, he’s talking about a mental toughness in failure and in victory. When Notre Dame was struggling, Kelly noted the lack of poise.

    We had some guys that didn’t play with poise that need to play with poise. Championship football teams play with competitive grace, which means that when the stakes are high and the stage is great, they raise their game. Today, in that same situation, some of our players didn’t raise their level of play. That to me is poise, and we are still building that. That’s a hard thing to dig at. But we are still building that.

    Poise to me is the ability to raise your level of concentration when it’s most needed. That you can’t talk about. You have to go demonstrate that. Confidence is the trust in your teammates that they’re going to do their job so you don’t have to do theirs… if you look at the Michigan game, we didn’t trust in what we were doing in the end, and consequently, we didn’t do the job necessary to win that football game.

    And then what it looks like after success against Oklahoma where that toughness manifested itself as focused mental effort.

    It was in the four areas that we’ve asked our kids to play this game, it was on point. We wanted to be smart, disciplined physically, and mentally we wanted to be tougher than our opponent, and we hit all four of those. As it relates to what the message was and what we wanted to accomplish, it hit all four points for us.

    I covered the Physical development in depth in Developing Players from the Inside Out’


    Kelly’s goal is to make players play harder and longer than the competition while executing at a high level.  As I’ve noted before, Kelly’s practices allow Notre Dame to get in more repetitions than they had under Weis. For instance, the big pass completion from Golson to Brown wasn’t just the result of just a good play call, it was the result of constant practice.

    “It’s just you’re waiting for that opportunity. You can’t call it for the first time. That’s a play we’ve run, 50, 60, 70 times over the past eight weeks of repping that particular play. So it’s not for us as coaches as much of a gamble as you would think putting a true freshman up there because we’ve repped it so much. “

    Making it a Habit

    Will Kelly’s blueprint lead to a national championship? It’s still too early to say.  I argued in late 2009 that it created a very good base (or floor) to reach the BCS, but the pinnacle involves a little bit of coaching magic and I think the jury’s still out there.  Notre Dame does seem to have reached a critical base level, where the team is  exhibiting a sustained high level of play.  But success is something a coach has to constantly push forward by pushing the right buttons, because kids will, inevitably, slip.  And Kelly noted that the team did slide before the Oklahoma game as well and he had to refocus them.

    I think they knew what was necessary. We didn’t get it all the time. It’s my job to find out why that doesn’t occur. It’s my job to lean on our team when it’s not occurring. They understand how to do it. They’ve proved that they could do it. We just haven’t been able to get it week in and week out. We’re making really good progress in that respect.

    So there was a great knowledge base in terms of what they needed to do. Sometimes — it’s like anything else; you have to stay on them. They knew what to do, but we have to continue to stay on them to get this to be habit forming.

    Beating Oklahoma and rising to #3 in the rankings helps turn “the process” into the “habit of winning,” which is something Notre Dame fans haven’t seen since 1993. Kelly hates the word culture, but the end result is a culture of winning where players and coaches all do the small things on a day-to-day basis that reinforce each other to ensure success.  The process may not have looked pretty in year two, but after an 8-0 run against the 10th hardest schedule in the country, it’s hard to argue that it wasn’t worth the wait.

    28 Responses to “Build Like a Champion”

    1. I do believe ND finally got it right.

    2. martinjordan says:

      We looked like Alabama on both sides of the ball against Oklahoma. If the offense can perform like that consistently …

    3. That was an excellent, well-written article.

    4. Great article and thanks for the links to the other supporting articles you wrote proceeding this. I am not sure I fully agree on the jury being out on Kelly. I think he is proving he knows what he is doing. He came in with a plan and is executing it, oblivious to all the doubters and years of failure that preceded him. I think we have a good chance to win a NC this year or in the coming years. To your point on button pushing, he has shown he knows how to do that in the past pushing Cinci to unreal accomplishments (what they lost 3 regular season games in 3 years) as well as having multiple undefeated and championship seasons in div 2 . He knows how to build programs and keep them at the top. His only real unproven is that he has always moved on and up after a few years at the top somewhere. I don’t think we have to worry as he has always said this is his dream job and he wants to work here until he retires. I thought he seemed testy his first 2 years but now he seems calm and in control. You can tell EG is a competitive kids because when he makes mistakes and Kelly is coaching him he doesn’t go in the tank and sulk, he fires back and they have real discourse. I think Kelly likes this and EG had all the tools to be a superior college QB. He has only played in 7 games and just think when he is going into his 3 rd or 4th year as a starters……he will be scary Heisman material to be sure.

    5. See, I bet you’ve been sitting on this for a while 🙂

      As a former long time poster on ND Nation. I have to give See the credit he deserves. While I was a site member he alone among the site operators correctly diagnosed ND’s fundamental problem, and recognized that solution lay not so much in a big name (Gruden, Stoops, Saban) but rather a ruthless program builder of vision who had an established process of success in building programs from the ground up. Many of the sites leading posters, and their blind followers, didn’t want to hear it and See caught a disturbing amount of grief and BS for standing on principles that now are proving to have been largely correct. In the end See gets to write an article like this and them? Well I suspect their busy “clarifying” what they really (wink, wink) meant when they said that Kelly’s hiring would be a utter disaster for ND. Same as it ever was, I guess.

      Credit also goes in large measure to AD Jack Swarbrick. He’s no Steve Orsini, but in a situation where a lot of people lost sight of what was important Swarbrick never did. He looked at the program and drew the proper conclusions about where its faults lay. He then hired someone who would rebuild the program while supporting them and giving them all the tools that they needed to succeed.

      I don’t know if Brian Kelly is going to win a NC at ND. Lou won one, and so has Gene Chizik. But I do know that ND football is 10 times better off today for hiring Brian Kelly than it has been at anytime since Holtz stepped down.

      So credit to you See for standing on principle and not caving in on your beliefs to pressure. Don’t ever lose that trait. It’ll serve you well as you tend to be smarter than most.

      BTW, See you might want to read the article that I linked below. Its by Dodd about the Saban “process” and how it gives Alabama a competitive advantage. It’ll sound familiar to anyone who has watched how Kelly has went about rebuilding ND.


    6. The great thing about all of this is, we are still getting better. This team and program are still improving.
      Also, recruiting should get a lot easier now that the teenagers can see the success. Now all the kids that can play and actually read and write, will skip the SEC and head here. Why not get a degree thats worth something and a shot at the National Championship and NFL. Even at Alabama, less that half the kids go pro.

    7. Hobbs
      Sitting as we are with no losses in BK’s third year it is hard to argue that he has not had a profound effect on this team and more importantly..willed his long term plan. But please do not dismiss those fans/parents/alumni who sat through the first two years with a very incompetent team that seemed to be at a complete loss for tempo and clock management and most importantly winning games.

      I till now have given BK a thumbs down only because of his seemingly smug attitude about what his body of work has produced in the first two seasons and what memory I am constantly trying to kill in the first year loss to Tulsa…a very big memory. His response after the loss to a “high school” looking team…”get used to it” is very hard for me to erase.

      Move on to year two and the turnaround with Utah. A big step forward and a bowl game loss..step backward. I never believed after the first two years we would see BK move to this point. Given the resolute and traditional cry for any coach to not be judged until he gets his recruiting years accrued ..seemingly 5 years at the helm…I will give you the arguement to this point at year three.

      I do not want to see one thing this year if at all possible. An inspired and powerful football team for the first time in a very long time caught up in the BCS net that has us positioned to play in a bowl game or BCS championship that gets our guys destroyed in front of a national audience again.

      If we are that legit in BK’s third year so be it…go for it. With a new QB at the helm and our potential we should make it priority one to blast our opponent off the field in a bowl game this year…if it is not the NC so be it…better a bowl win this early on than a drubbing to give the media more reason to pile on and sing the song about irrelevance.

      • “Two years of a very incompetent team”? Since Tulsa in 2010, Notre Dame has arguably only been outplayed twice (in 25 games), Stanford and USC (#7 and #9 with Luck and Barkley.) ND has increased in YPA vs the competition every year and controlled the line of scrimmage in all but ghose two games. This team isn’t all the way there, but a 19-3 run and two years of consistent improvement while dealing with a poor QB situation isn’t incompetence. For incompetence, look to the Weis and Willingham years where we continually were outplayed by weaker teams and blown out by good teams. That’s incompetence. For comparison, when faced with the same QB uncertainty, Stoops went 8-5 in 2009,Meyer went 7-5 in 2009 and Mack Brown went 5-7 in 2010.

        Those who thought he “mismanaged ” the QB situation, should note Kansas this year. Kelly was handling a poor QB situation. I do think you can argue, as I have, that we should have relied on the run more the first two years, but I’m not sure I can fault Kelly for commiting to make an offense work. I do think Molnar was a poor fit and labeled him as suchn 2010.

        With Golson I think he’s found his guy.

        • Mike Coffey says:

          Since Tulsa in 2010, ND has been outplayed by South Florida, Michigan, Pittsburgh, BC, and Florida State in addition to the two teams you noted.

          • ND outgained South Florida 2-1, it outgained Michigan by only 50 yards due to the big plays, but first downs were 28-16 and TOP was 37-22. Notre Dame dominated most of that game.

            ND outgained BC 417-250 and 21-14 in first downs and won.
            ND outgained Pitt 398-268 and 23-19 in first downs and won.
            FSU was 280-290 in yards and 19-13 in first downs. That game was at best, a push.

            I don’t understand the rationale you use for Pitt and BC.

            Unlike Weis’s teams, ND was winning the most of the battles even in games it lost. That’s just a team learning how to win, which is why similar results this year are all wins.

            • Mike Coffey says:

              There’s more to “outplaying” than numbers.

              I didn’t watch the South Florida, Michigan, Pitt, BC, or FSU games and think, “Gee, ND dominated those games”. ND looked bad and made bad mistakes against teams they should have defeated by two or three scores.

            • Well that’s a different story, but they werent outplayed in those games. Of course they could have played better and made mistakes, but that’s different from Weis and is indicative of an improved team learning how to win.

          • Nice article SEE. You have been on top of this from the beginning.

            Unfortunately, it’s not surprising that one of the other board ops feels it necessary to interject negativity here.

            A team that we beat can outplay us but we can’t outplay a team we lose to?

            Go back to worrying about Field Turf, Jumbotrons and uniform colors. Leave the football analysis to someone who is actually paying attention.

        • ND is 20-5 since that Tulsa loss in 2010. This is not some one year wonder. This is a program being built.

      • Chaz,
        Not a very well thought out reply to a well thought out and well written post by Hobbs…

        • Paddy

          While I respect your opinion I can not in all honesty say…a not well thought out reply to a well written post would not include the priority to win the bowl game we are in this year. Lets forget the points of the last two years and ND’s losses I brought up. Does anyone think the priority of a 3rd year coach with a winning record should not be focused on winning a bowl game for the program at year end ? This was the most important part of what I had hoped my post would be. Sorry if I missed giving the message….but a bowl win in my opinion is the biggest step this progam can take on the way back.

      • I respect your opinion.

        I just held a different view, and those posts still exist, that many will likely disagree with.

        I completely understand the frustration over the Tulsa loss. As your post shows passions about the game still run high. I’m not going to tell you how to think. I will simply tell you my view.

        I take the long term view when coaches are hired. To some that makes me an “enabler” or an apologist. I like to think that I’m keeping the “big picture” in focus. As a rule I don’t get caught up in the game by game “snapshots” in results 1 & 2 of a rebuild. The nature of the process itself is one of tearing down and building anew. During that time I expect bumps in the road.

        As I like to point out arguably the ranking coach of the day Nick Saban lost to Louisiana–Monroe @Tuscaloosa in year 1 at Alabama. Compared to that Tulsa was, shall we say, a small-timey, loss.

        These things happen to even the best of coaches during the transitional phase of a program rebuild, so while immensely disappointing I don’t give up on a coach when those instances occur.

        What is important, and what is much harder to discern is the work that is going on below the water line in those early years. Those improvements often don’t leap off the screen but they are there and they can be spotted if you look closely.

        For example I was a big Jim Harbaugh fan while he was at Stanford. In fact in 2007 I stated in Rock’s House that if I were ND’s AD and I had to replace Weis Harbaugh & Kelly would be the two coaches atop my list (and yes, I got seriously beatdown. But I was confident in the correctness of my view ). I watched Harbaugh locally at USD and in his early years at the ‘Farm. In those early years he had some really bad losses. Sure they beat USC but they also got trucked by a bad Bill Doba led Washington State team they also lost to Weis’ 3-9 unit. If you got caught up in the day to day travails of that process you probably would have given up on Harbaugh too. But behind those losses you could see that Harbaugh was changing Stanford. It wasn’t apparent to most at first but Stanford was slowly turning into the image of Harbaugh.

        All that foundational work didn’t really show itself until year 3 at Stanford, when Harbaugh had his first winning season (8-5). It wasn’t until the following year that Stanford broke through and finished 12-1. It was at that point where people realized that Harbaugh was really a great coach. Nah, he had always been a great coach, its just that the “process” wasn’t seen by everyone.

        To a large extent Kelly has had to go through the same process at ND. He had to change the culture, change the foundation, change the attitudes, and change the fundamental way that ND had gone about their business during 15 years of rot. It wasn’t going to happen overnight, and the results weren’t going to be immediately apparent, but if you looked closely even last year, despite some really bad losses, you could see that this program was in the latter transformational phases.

        One more important point – On “Get Use To It”. Few will agree with what I’ll say but I’ve always tried to be honest.

        I loved that comment and for me it was a clear sign that Swarbrick got it right. I’ll tell you why. That quote showed me that Kelly was strong enough to deal with the external noise at ND. The noise led to Bob Davie reading ND Nation and reacting to posts. You can’t lead like that. To lead you must have a bedrock vision and be willing to walk through whatever fires needed in order to attain your goal. That’s leadership. To me “get use to it” was Brian Kelly saying ‘I know what I’m doing and I’m not going to change my methods’. I think its that lack of leadership is what ND had been missing for 12 years and that’s why the program went to drift. Again, few will likely share my view and that’s fine we don’t all have to agree, but personally I would have turned on Kelly in an instant if he had shown weakness in that moment. That would have shown me that he wasn’t strong enough to lead at ND.

        So overall, I get what your saying but just keep in mind that this is all a process and we often have to give the process time to evolve before we issue judgement.

        For the record – Kelly hasn’t finished his build yet, as we’re still weak in several areas. But I think that people are now finally seeing his vision and he’ll now be given enough latitude to finish out the process…………….with a Jumbotron & Firld Turf! – I’M KIDDING 🙂

        • Hobbs
          Thanks for your comment and insight. In retrospect you are spot on with the emotional baggage I have with Tulsa and that week in particular…a true week of hell with a freshman son on campus going to Declan’s service and the Saturday debacle football-wise.

          BK blew in to ND with an attitude that seemed very abbrasive to incoming parents and students at orientation weekend. I was there when BK seemed to send the message out that the ND community was not making the place loud enough or even close. His comments were not very positive after invoking the “lets hear it again and louder” WE ARE ND. It seemed he was not satisfied and stated it.

          Back then I thought…ok awkward but maybe relevant to a much broader audience than just us “newbie” parents and students at orientation weekend end…the last memories we would have after leaving sons and daughters there for the first time. AD Jack was even kind of lost for words at the end.

          Lets move forward. I can see your point now about how BK has to be the leader, and in some other posts, the CEO. CEOs have got to move things in the best interest of the entity and not worry about the minor fall-outs. BK has left us all thinking about the seemingly minor fall-outs of year 1 and 2.

          Year 3 has some very good results so far and I must admit at the core is a coach who has willed his way onto a team very lacking in the fundamentals of what a good team needs to be. Accountability, learning the system, execution every play, confidence in the coaches and knowing how to win whatever the adversity.

          Again thanks for the insight…it has probably moved me more to the acceptance of BK as the first legitimate coach-leader at ND in the past 20 years. Although gun-shy I hope this is the first stage of a return to glory with ND football, We all need it desperately.

    8. When ND hired BK, I was skeptical because of our past experiences with coaches. But I was told by alumni of the schools that were coached by BK before he took the job, that he was “the CEO of college football coaching”. I now see what they meant by that…..Coming in with a plan, organizing, directing, controlling, delegating, staying on task, paying attention to detail, motivating, etc.

    9. There is a general feeling about the Irish football program that is quite similar to the feeling during Parseghian’s tenure. His team members used to say that Ara could easily have been the CEO at General Motors (which was then the epitome of an American corporation).

      Team members aligned themselves into Ara’s “this is what it takes to be a champion”, and what Ara brought to the team was great administration and direction. Starting to sound familiar now? “The Process” coach Kelly talks about is great administration. That is what it takes to be a champion. Manage well, and the victories will come as a natural result of something bigger. But the KEY is that EACH PLAYER becomes his own administrator within the larger structure. It works only if each player buys into the process. This signifies personal growth for each player. And that is the focus of being a better student athlete.

      Lou Holtz was also a great administrator, but his style presented a different shade. Holtz did not paint himself as the great administrator he really was. He preferred to show The Motivation that moved the managing structure.

    10. KellyIrish says:

      Great article See. As several have mentioned, being a great coach in a big time program is a lot like being a CEO or Senior Level Manager reporting to the CEO (ie Jack Swarbrick). Davie, Willingham and Weis never seemed to understand that concept. The previous 3 never seemed to grasp that concept of long term planning either. Each year was a knee jerk reaction to the previous year. Interspection and change are good but are only as good as the overarching plan upon which the organization is built.

      As with every organization, there are weak links that are inherited when a new leader takes over. Let’s be realistic and accept the fact that Weis had some extremely talented players come through the door, but never was he able to build a TEAM. From Lou Holtz’s last day to Brian Kelly’s first day it is difficult to see any significant player and TEAM development having occured.

      As Kelly continues to bring in the RKGs and develop the players he inherited, the TEAM has gotten better. I believe what we witnessed in the first 2 years was a team that played as hard as it could, but quite frankly was not good enough to play with a lot of its competition. I like to say that I can give my 10 year old a calculus problem to solve. She will work hard and devote as much energy as possible to it, but she will never solve it, she doesn’t have the tools. I believe Kelly inherited a team that didn’t have all the tools it needed to be good.

      Now we are seeing what he can do as his toolbox fills up with skilled players who understand TEAM and want to be greater than the sum of the parts. Would a Weis running back recruit even thin about wanting to play defensive back, let alone have the physical capabilities to do it? I say “No”. Keivarae Russell as true freshman welcomed it, has the physical and mental capacity for it and continues to get better week over week.

      Kudos to Coach Kelly and has process and plan. We are lucky to have him building our program.

    11. Excellent article See!

    12. BK has higher career winning pct than Saban…just saying?

    13. Poise is a huge thing. You look at Rees coming in at the end of the Purdue and Stanford games, he’s in for one play against Oklahoma and it is a first down. That is almost the definition of poise. The team that Kelly sends out there knows there is a blueprint to winning now, even if Golson comes out.

      If you look at what was called following Oklahoma’s tying touchdown, you have to call that poise. Lesser teams would get skittish and lose it. That team took a deep breath, calmed down, and won the game. I was surprised. I was in a cab when Oklahoma scored and in the time it took to get out of the cab and into the bar, Golson had hit brown for the 50-yard play. A team that is not ready to win, that lacks poise doesn’t do that.

    14. “You can’t start beating others until you stop beating yourself.” They have been a totally different second half team this year. Up through the first two games of last year, Weis and the first 15 games of Kelly will filled with inexplicable collapses. It does look like they have made longstanding shifts in the right direction.

      • A lesson Kelly seemed to learn this off-season when the looked at backward plays. I think he was too focused on getting the offense to execute at the expense of games and turnovers.

    15. So here is my outlandish take on the future of ND Football. I think that if uncle Lane is going to lose 4 or 5 games this year, uncle Pat is going to relieve him of his duty and bring in uncle Bobby. If that is the case, I’d be sad to see him go but he is most deserving of an HC opportunity.

      Mis dos pesos!

    16. billweber72 says:

      Excellent article. I second everything said by hobbs. By the way, where did he go? I have consistently agreed with SEE’s posts about Kelly and I’ve appreciated his positive attitude toward him.

      I think that the posters who were in love with Saban, Stoops and Meyer were taking the lazy approach to thinking about the next coach. A rising star who teaches fundamentals and attitude is what any program needs. It looks like Notre Dame has finally found the right man.

      SEE, please keep up the good work.