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  • Irish Use Nine Lives to go 9-0

    by John Vannie

    Notre Dame stared down certain defeat on multiple occasions, but drew upon a reservoir of gritty play and good fortune to outlast Pittsburgh by 29-26 in triple overtime on Saturday. Everett Golson’s one yard sneak provided the winning margin and the only touchdown scored by either team in the extra sessions. The Irish survived a goal line fumble by Cierre Wood in the second overtime and a subsequent 33-yard field goal attempt by Pitt’s Kevin Harper that would have ended the contest.

    Golson, who was inconsistent throughout the first three quarters of regulation and twice gave way to Tommy Rees, rallied Notre Dame from 14 points down to tie the game at 20 on a short touchdown pass to Theo Riddick and a diving two point conversion with just over two minutes remaining. The vaunted Irish defense was also gashed several times during the afternoon, but pulled together behind Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt to shut down the surprisingly stubborn Panthers when it mattered most.

    The first warning signs of the day flashed when Notre Dame failed to score a touchdown on its first possession despite controlling the ball and driving the length of the field. After holding the Irish to a Kyle Brindza field goal, Pittsburgh served notice as Ray Graham exploded for 55 yards on the first Panther play from scrimmage. A third down sack by Kapron Lewis-Moore forced Pitt to settle for a tying three-pointer, and Notre Dame embarked on another march. This time, the Pittsburgh defense stuffed the Irish in an impressive goal line stand.

    Trailing by 6-3 in the second quarter, the Panthers got the better of an exchange of punts to start a drive near midfield. Quarterback Tino Sunseri quickly drove his team for the go-ahead touchdown in only six plays as Graham capped it off by running through the Irish from 15 yards out. Rees was inserted by Coach Brian Kelly late in the period to provide a spark, but Brindza’s missed 43-yarder at the gun to keep the halftime score at 10-6 Pittsburgh.

    Rees started the second half for Notre Dame, but his poor throw was picked off by linebacker Eric Williams at the Panther 48. A well-executed screen to tight end J.P. Holtz brought the ball inside the Notre Dame ten yard line, and Holtz caught a touchdown pass on the next play to give Pitt a 17-6 advantage with 5:52 remaining in the third quarter. Golson returned to the game but could not get untracked, and things turned from bad to worse for the desperate Irish.

    A 31-yard punt return by Cameron Saddler was followed by a 48-yard burst by Graham, and hope was all but lost in the Stadium. After another Graham surge gave the Panthers a first and goal at the Irish one yard line, Notre Dame somehow found the resolve to keep Pittsburgh out of the end zone. Harper’s field goal with 58 seconds left in the third period stretched the upset-minded visitors’ lead to 20-6 as several Panther players danced and celebrated on their sideline.

    Golson converted one fourth down play on the ensuing possession as the Irish drove into Pittsburgh territory, but the Irish were fortunate a few plays later when Pitt was flagged for a questionable pass interference penalty on fourth and four. T. J. Jones caught a flanker screen on the next play and burst 11 yards for a touchdown. Brindza hooked the extra point, however, and Notre Dame trailed by eight at 20-12 with 13:40 left in regulation.

    Lafayette Pitts returned Brindza’s kickoff to his own 42, but Sunseri could manage only one first down before the Irish forced a punt. Unfortunately for Notre Dame, the ball was downed on its own two yard line. Golson ignited a long march with a pair of scrambles for 27 and 16 yards, and his pass to Eifert gave the Irish a first and goal from the Panther ten with five minutes left. Two plays later, a poor read by Golson resulted in an interception by K’Waun Williams in the end zone.

    With no margin for error and time running short, Nix and Tuitt overpowered Pitt’s offensive line and forced a punt with three minutes on the clock. Operating from midfield, Golson scrambled behind the line until DeVaris Daniels got behind the Panther secondary. Daniels out-maneuvered the defender for the ball and was dragged down at the five yard line. On the very next play, Golson rolled right and found Riddick in the back of the end zone to cut the margin to 20-18 with just over two minutes left.

    Needing a two point conversion, Golson drifted to the right and looked to throw back to Eifert on the left side. The play was well-covered, so Golson put on a burst of speed, cut toward daylight and dove into the end zone for the tying points.

    Both teams had a chance to win in regulation due to mistakes made by the other. Notre Dame forced a punt with 1:30 left after Pitt failed to run much time off the clock during a three and out, but Davonte Neal fumbled the punt and was very fortunate to recover it at his own 34. The teams then staggered into overtime like two bruised and bloodied heavyweights on rubbery legs.

    Neither team was able to record a first down in the opening session, but Harper and Brindza held serve with clutch field goals. The Irish kept the ball on the ground in the second overtime behind Wood, who gave his team a first and goal at the Panther four. Golson ran for two yards, but Wood lost the ball on the next play as he dove toward paydirt. Pitt recovered for a touchback and Sunseri trotted onto the field for what he hoped would be a game-ending series.

    The Irish appeared to be demoralized as Graham gained nine yards in two carries, but Nix stopped him cold on the next play to force Harper’s 33-yard attempt to win it. The ball started just wide of the right upright and refused to hook in, and Notre Dame’s dream season remained alive. When Nix and Tuitt sacked Sunseri to open the third extra session, Harper was forced to come right back and kick it again from 44 yards out. He drilled this one to put Pittsburgh ahead by 26-23, but Golson and his mates still had an opportunity to answer.

    Riddick followed an 11-yard reception with two runs to the Panther seven, and Golson gave Notre Dame a first down at the one with a six yard draw that almost ended the game. The next play was Notre Dame’s 113th of the day, and the Irish offensive line gave Golson enough of a crease to cap an improbable comeback victory.

    Pittsburgh was certainly underrated coming into the contest and played with fire and determination, and it is not fair to say Notre Dame was emotionally flat after last week’s defeat of Oklahoma. The Irish lost the turnover battle by 3-0 and the defense was reduced to mere mortal status by the balanced and patient Pittsburgh attack. Graham was easily the most impressive tailback Notre Dame has seen this season, finishing with 172 yards on 24 carries.

    The Irish outgained the Panthers by 520-308, ran 40 more plays and dominated time of possession, but the turnovers were the equalizer until the final play. Let’s review the answers to the pregame questions for additional insights.

    Can the Irish secondary hold its own against the tall Panther receivers? Yes. Pitt had no long pass plays and Mike Shanahan’s drops killed a few promising drives.

    Will Sunseri be able to maintain his 69% season completion rate? Yes, but his 19 for 29 performance was marred by a disappointing finish.

    Which team’s running game will gain traction in the second half? Graham was outstanding, but the Irish trio of Wood, Riddick and Golson combined to match him with a few clutch runs.

    Will Golson demonstrate improvement in his ability to find open receivers? It was hardly an artistic passing performance, but his final two passes in regulation to Daniels and Riddick to tie the game erased any and all previous mistakes.

    Can Notre Dame repeat its error free performance against Oklahoma? That’s a joke, right? And don’t get me started on the Irish not-so-special teams.

    Will TV viewers miss Tom Hammond in the broadcast booth? I certainly did. I was sick of listening to Mike Mayock describe how happy he was to watch that game when I was about ready to have a seizure.

    Next stop on this roller coaster is a road trip to Boston College, who lost by 28-14 to the Wake Forest team the Irish will play two weeks hence on Senior Day. Kelly may tell his team to enjoy this victory for 24 hours, but it’s going to take me a lot longer to get my heart rate down to semi-normal.

    71 Responses to “Irish Use Nine Lives to go 9-0”

    1. I had a feeling it was going to be like this and it was!! Couple times I threw in the towel and kept saying oh well it was a nice run.. I must of said that 10 times in the 4th quarter and overtime but some how we pulled it out.. Survive and move on.. I just can’t take too much more of these games!!!

    2. KellyIrish says:

      What a resounding thud that was to follow up on such a brilliant performance last week at Norman. Perhaps a bit of a hangover and reading too many press clippings.

      I would be willing to be that BC takes a thumping next week. Kelly will be grabbing the attention of this team during the week to make sure there is not another game like this one.

      On the plus side, they picked the right week to fail in all phases of the game. Pitt played with grit and courage but the current version just does not have the capacity to play with the big boys yet.

      The Irish are still learning how to win and need to remember that everyone still wants to beat them. There needs to be consistent and strong execution week to week.

      But 9-0!!

      Go Irish.

    3. Guh, no comments yet? No wifi reception in hospital cardiac wards?

      But, 9-0 is 9-0.

    4. The offense has been inconsistent all season, but is making strides. It’s looked great at times, and out of sync at others. They certainly took a step backwards after last week’s performance, but they stepped up when it mattered. The defense had a rare (as in only time all season) mediocre performance, but again, they found ways to step up when it counted. For those two units, you can call this a bad day at the office and hope they step up and don’t let it happen again. The special teams, on the other hand, have been, and continue to be, consistently awful. It is their embarrassing play that is the biggest threat to our dream season. Continued poor coverage against opponent’s returns, poor blocking on our own returns, as well as mediocre punting and erratic field goal kicking mean that Kelly’s gotta be thinking about a change in staff there for next season, right?

    5. I love what Coach Kelly is doing to the Notre Dame Football program, but the inconsistency in game planning from week to week is just maddening. I fully understand that different teams require different preparation, but the offensive gameplan that worked in Norman would have torched Pittsburgh.

      On Notre Dame’s 1st possession of the 2nd quarter, Kelly called the SAME EXACT run play 3 times in a row from the 1 when the Irish absolutely needed 6. Why?

      Regarding Rees, why didn’t Golson come back out for their last possession of the 1st half? I don’t necessarily think that he would have got them any closer to a FG than Rees did, but Golson needs to be on the field unless he’s injured or has an equipment concern. Starting Rees in the 2nd half and then sticking with him for their 2nd possession, which resulted in the Rees INT and subsequent Pitt TD to put them up 17-6 was by far Kelly’s worst coaching decision of the season, putting it just ahead of his decision to not kick a field goal against Tulsa. Even if you’re looking at it from a purely statistical point of view, Golson did absolutely nothing wrong in the 1st half to warrant being replaced by Rees.

      The players bailed out their coach tonight.

      • Agreed! Golson plays the entire game and we win by 14. Nice to have Tommy on the bench……

    6. gonna be tough to keep lucking out with the errors. 2 picks, missed extra point, missed field, fumbles, kick offs to 10 yrd line, penalties, tripping over feet, 180 yrds rushing by Pitt (when D has done well all year)? Turned back clocks one hour, turned back football one year. Reminded me of 2011. Still won. Go Irish.

    7. Panama Dave says:

      Well, a win is a win. As the old sport addage goes, “between being lucky and being good, I’d rather be lucky”. Let’s hope the luck o the irish lasts the season.
      I still find it hipocritical and disrespectful that NBC keeps putting game commentators whose payroll is payed via ND’s success and keep putting ND down everytime we lose or are in trouble. I think Swarbick should really muscle his way into makingNBC change that hippocritical approach to Notre Dame sports commentating.

      • the cool thing this year regarding Mike Mayock and crew is, at least on my TV, the crowd noise and band/piped in music just about drown them out. Hope NBC doesn’t discover this because the music and the crowd make the TV experience tht much better! OBTW, has anyone noticed improvement in the piped in music this year in terms of selection and timing. I was opposed at first but think they may have calibrated it just right with balance with the Band. Just hope this postive reinforement is”t misconstrued to my support of removing the naural grass field and Jumbotron— vehmently opposed to both! Here Come the Irish…Go Irish

        • I think the music is the same stuff they had last year, and it certainly just as bad. Maybe I’m getting old, but does the team and anyone in the crowd actually get fired up hearing that epetitive bass riff from “Seven Nation Army”? Kind of boring. The same goes for Ozzy’s “All aboard! Ha-ha-ha. Etc…”. Loud, but hardly exciting. Oh well, go Irish!

    8. Definitely an emotional game. No one could change the channel from the last quarter till it was finally done. I need a pacemaker and i am under 30. But our offense performed tonight when we were on the ropes. It was great to see that. Minus 3in the turnover category looked like last year. Please can our special teams not be special ed teams. glad to see that we can win when our defense doesnt carry this team.

      All in all i dont think that we deserve the nc. But i am content with playing in the fiesta bowl. Definitely an improvement over last year. As long as we dont play ou again. (Thanks espnu) k state would be a good game. (Not going to happen)

      9-0 still cant believe it. Thanks for proving me wrong the entire season nd.

    9. Well, What hair and fingernails are left are gone. Unlike other programs, We are the team that other teams circle on the schedule and there will be days like this. Plus the fact that we play 12 FBS teams, No North Screen Door Techs for us, We always get a Name/Quality team. Credit Pitt. Played hard and had their chance. But Credit our boys….didn’t back down, didn’t fold. Found a way. And my Irish brothers and sisters, lets get off the Kelly bashing. Yes sometimes I wonder what we are doing, But give me BK over Ty or Davie any day. Cant argue 9-0. Who would of thunk? Good job boys. Thanks for a great season. Lets get #10 next week. Beat Eagles…Go Irish

      • I couldn’t agree more on ceasing the Kelly bashing. This team doesn’t have any more total highly-regarded recruits than any other team we’ve had in the last 15 years. What’s different then? Why are we so successful this year? One of the main reasons we are “gel-ing” and playing well has to be attributed to coaching. Give Coach K his due! Is Kelly perfect? No. Does he have room for improvement? Of course. But he is SO much better than BD/TW/CW that it isn’t even worth discussing. Go Irish!

    10. Bob Howsam, Jr. says:

      I called a good friend who is also a ND alum immediately after the game and he nailed it – “I felt like I’ve just been water-boarded.” Man, was that an emotionally exhausting win.

      My wife at one point when we went down by two scores said “that’s the game,” … and it sure felt like it.

      I’m not going to nit-pick and criticize this or that, look …

      Admit it, none of us … including Brian Kelly … including right before the gagged kick that could’ve ended the Irish’s perfect season … thought we’d be talking about a perfect season at this point … right?

      This is like “Who wants to be a millionaire?” … on steroids.

      To add to the emotional drainola, we had to suffer through LSU pulling a Pitt and snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, and the NCAA putting out an amber alert for SC’s defense after the Ugly Ducklings gashed SC for what seemed like a 1,000 yards and 19-b’zillion TDs on the ground.

      Don’t think for a minute the Tide and the Ducks couldn’t run all over around and through the Irish D …

      Which is precisely why the offense and Kelly’s tremendously suspect play-calling at Captain Crunch time must get much much better.

      The good news? The Irish offense gets plenty of reps against BC and Wake Me Up Before We Go-Go to SC to get it together.

      It’ll be interesting to see where we are in the polls after that performance.

      Mayock was annoying, but his insightful analysis more than made up for the soliloquy about how much he loved the Irish putting us all into cardiac arrested.

      To paraphrase Apocalypse Now, “I love the smell of undefeated in the morning!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

    11. Hoosier Irish says:

      Notre Dame is to football as tequila is to happy hour. Certainly more dangerous to my marriage as I age.

    12. What a horrible let-down. I give less credit to Pitt and put more on our flat, no-intensity performance. Lou Holtz has said that a college football team can only be expected to reach an emotional high three times in one season. The Stanford overtime was certainly one, and I would say our game in Norman was another. Let’s hope we have one left for USC.

      • I disagree…we already used all three…MSU, Michigan and BYU could be included. This team still won after so many emotional games.

    13. We absolutely stole one but I’ll take it.

    14. NDBonecrusher says:

      Well-said, mdw. Took a step back for sure in all three phases. Kids AND COACHES need to learn from this one. Calling the same play 3 times was ridiculous. We needed that touchdown. Fine to call 3 running plays. But “Riddick off-tackle to the left”x3 is just arrogant. MUST score 6 in those situations.

      Give Pitt credit. They showed the “Hyde” of the Jekyll and Hyde. They will probably go back to sucking next week, but ND better use this as a learning opportunity or heartbreak awaits us all.

      All that said, Panama Dave is also right. We woke up at 9-0 this morning after a 3OT game that absolutely without question would have been lost in any of the previous couple of decades. This is a positive we can take into BC week.

      Don’t toss the blood pressure medication just yet. Go Irish Beat Eagles!

      • Bob Howsam, Jr. says:

        I have been saying all year that Kelly’s play-calling is often butt ugly in crunch time, and, last night, he had his moments again. The truly inexplicable part of this is that his play-calling his last season at Notre Dame was consistently Einsteinian. I don’t get it, but a lot of it has to do with having a red-shirt freshman and the pressure of coaching big game after bigger game after bigger game in the most pressure packed season in a long long time. 9-0 is still 9-0 … and 1988 is still … thankfully … possible.

    15. Notre Dame did not play like a BCS frontrunner. True, Pitt is probably better than their record indicates and took #10 Louisville down to the wire, but this game clearly was not ND’s finest hour. I think ND is now in the red with the lucky breaks they’ve received this year. At some point the stalled red zone drives, turnovers, sub par special teams play and missed FG’s will come back to bite the Irish.

      An ugly win is better than a pretty loss, but it would seen ND took a step back today.

    16. A couple of observations..

      A win is a win but our special teams are really awful….in every phase…

      As we move forward, it will be the one big thing that will probably kill us against SC and our bowl opponent…

      Thank God that we only have one more home game…….we look much more focused on the road..

      I hope that the flu bug has run its course…I think it has been a bigger factor than Coach Kelly will let on…

      We are short in several areas but our guys never give up…for that I am truly proud of my Irish!!!!

      • Bob Howsam, Jr. says:

        The excuses for the letdown against Pitt are longer than Barry’s Disaster in Denver:

        (1) red-shirt freshman QB;
        (2) the flu bug;
        (3) the altitude adjustment from Norman to South Bend had to impact the players’ stamina;
        (4) Hurricane Sandy blew out three candles at the Grotto … which caused Wood to lose concentration as he crossed the goal line and thereby caused the fumble …

        Look, face it, it was a letdown against an inferior opponent following the most important win in 24 years.

        It’s a W … and it’s over …

        Next up … the Beagles.

        Play like a Champion.

    17. How many teams are consistent with a rookie QB? Golson does some great things and there are head scratchers. This team has struggled to finish drives with touchdowns. There is no way the we should have settled for 3 on the 2nd drive, and Brindza’s shaky kicking is killing this team. We should have led at half.

      I think we all now understand why Rees is not the guy, but I could not understand why Kelly let him start half #2.

      We are who we are. 9-0 is a helluva thing and we should be 11-0 before SC. We are the 4th of the remaining unbeatens. No one thought we would be here anyway.

    18. great win that would have been a loss in years past BUT…
      Kelly showed why he is not yet an elite coach. Very poor play calling in the red zone, an absurd decision to go to Rees who showed why he can NEVER play more than one series for a change up and the worst special teams in Division i football for the second straight year. A big change has to occur here. This is a third of the game. we forfeit this part of the game weekly. If you watched the other big games yesterday special teams played a big part in all the games. It helped USC and Kansas State and played a big role for LSU. Punting and punt returns are the worst ever. Kick off returns are tragic, kick offs are terrible and field goals are a roller coaster.
      Kelly has great talent but his management of the offense is in great question. it might help to once in a while encourage Goldson instead of getting in his head every time he comes off the field. the players won this game despite Kelly do all he could to lose it

      • Think the big chane alreadt occured when EG rallied the team to the win! Thank was a comeback that ranks up there with vintage Montana…

    19. Meanwhile, it appears that Alabama may indeed be mortal … they, too, were very lucky (that Les Miles is not so bright) and they also made it happen when they absolutely needed it. Can ND play with Bama? Absolutely. We wouldn;t be favored … but I think it would be a great game.

      • LSU’s coaching staff proved why prevent defense doesn’t work. It killed his team’s chance for a win.

        • They scored on a screen when LSU blitzed. Before that LSU was bringing 5 on most downs.

          • Bob Howsam, Jr. says:

            I’ll take your word for it that they were bringing 5 most downs, but I don’t recall that. What I do recall is LSU getting zero pressure on the QB and the DBs giving the Tide WRs a huge cushion on the outside which is inexplicable in game that close when you know the team on offense is going to look to throw to the sideline to kill the clock. Les Miles has only himself to blame for that loss.

    20. irishhawk50 says:

      Still trying to figure out how ND won, but I’ll take it. Agree with those that questioned the 3 runs on that ended in a field goal. Pitt run defense was their strenght. Maybe trying to run it down their throats to send a message but at that point I think Kelly should have seen he was in for a game and needed the 6 points and a little better play calling was in order.

      Don’t agree with those that think Alabama would run over us. I watched the whole LSU-Alabama game and was not that impressed by the Tide.

      As I said in my post before the game.ND will ride on what Golson does for better or worse. You have to put up more than 6 points in 3 quarters. I do think this was a wake up call to a bunch of 18-21 year olds who spouted the coaches line about one game at a time but didn’t really believe it until yesterday. I think they get it now. Go Irish.

      • “Not that impressed by the Tide?” Seriously??? Goodness sakes, they weren’t playing a 2-6 nobody. They went into perhaps the nastiest place to play in America, stood toe-to-toe with an extremely tough (not to mention top-ten rated), talented and jacked-up opponent, and stayed calm enough to put together an amazingly clutch drive to pull out a last-minute win. Just because Alabama is ranked #1 doesn’t mean that they score a TD on every play or sack the QB on every possession. I’d love to see us get a shot at them–but don’t assume that because they didn’t win by 30 last night that they aren’t “impressive”.

    21. martinjordan says:

      Is there any doubt who the starter should be and who the future of the program is? Everett Golson!

      1. The five yard penalties strike again trasforming a third and managable seven on the first drive to a much more difficult third an twelve.
      2. Where was the quarterback sneak on he third an goal in the second quarter.
      3. Golson payed well on the first two series and was not “regressing” as Mayock said and shouldn’t have been taekn out at the end of the half.
      4. Kelly compounded his mistake and revealed his impatience by starting Rees in the second half.
      5. I don’t know which game Mayock was watching but Pitt DID NOT dominate the game and the statistics bare that out.
      6. Pitt won the turnover margin, were superior on special teams, and dominated the third quarter from Rees’ interception til the fourth quarter.
      7. Why doesn’t Atkinson return punts too?
      8. The presence of Louis Nix makes a huge difference.
      9. The D didn’t have a good game game but made the big stops when they had to.
      10. I expect a much better performance on the road at BC.
      11. We will drop to number four in the BCS and deseredly so.

      • SubwayAlum_2012 says:

        Agreed GAIII would be nice returner but what about cam mcdaniels? That kid can play. Ill throw out a bold prediction and say he could rival zibbys tenacity.

    22. marleyman says:

      All football teams have bad games…and yesterday was certainly one of them! But the difference in my mind is that now we expect to win. This team has forged a character that, in the past, was always synonymous with Notre Dame. I have to admit, I thought it was over after the Golson interception, but I was wrong! What a great win in Notre Dame Stadium!

    23. I know this has been covered… But NBC TV timeouts really are not fun while in the stadium. The players were lined up, ready to go and NBC isn’t back yet. Awful.

      • Nd timeouts aren’t fun at home either. After watching last week’s game on abc, this one took forever!

    24. Kelly is a very good recuriter , his play calling leaves much to be desired,evidenced by no quarter back sneaks at the goal line. The defense is in the top three in the nation however our special teams are horrible.

    25. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at the end of this one. Wow! It left me speechless. I never thought I’d say this but I actually missed Tom Hammond. It stunk listening to 2 announcers who are clueless about ND and clearly wanted Pitt to pull the upset.

      While it’d be easy to panic about this game and see it as I step backwards, I still can’t help but feel this is a game in recent years that ND would’ve lost (much like the Stanford game). While Golson’s “coming of age” game was last week at OK, a gutsy comeback performance is just as much a part of growing up. To be honest, I’m not really sure why Kelly benched him for Rees mid game.

      This game serves as a good reminder not to get too caught up in the BCS speculation and hype. College football can change in the blink of an eye. Kelly’s one week at a time approach is the way to go. Now let’s forget about this one and focus on beating BC this week. Go Irish!

    26. Why did Kelly give up the running game? And where was Atkinson? The team did win inspite of Kelly.Give up Rees and STICK with Golson. Encourage him don’t discourage him.

    27. Team of destiny I say. Somehow this will unfold to a Notre Dame vs. Alabama National Championship with the Irish winning 16 – 13 in a defensive battle. Not using a QB sneak at the goaline made me want to throw my remote through the tv screen. Cierre Wood needs more touches (fumble forgiven), Golson should keep the ball a bit more on the option read hand off they use that never fakes anyone and I relish the thought of Mike May having his lunch come back up to say hello.

    28. Ryan from Omaha says:

      If it were up to me the game ball would go to KeiVarae Russell. To come from behind TD saving tackles. Love seeing players run hard and not quit on plays like that.

    29. OMG……just watched the post game pressed video with Kelly……I have to say I love coach Kelly and hope he stays 10+ years and has lots of success. He is just a total gem and joy to have as a representative after the dunce Davies, the dour Willingham and the Jersey shore Wiess, Kelly is a pro with the media. His response and reaction to the Louis Nixx sick question was priceless. Please go watch this videos and be happy this guy is our coach…..he totally ripped the reporter and did it so well. Kelly is a real asset to the university much like Lou was. I love the man and I have not just jumped on his bandwagon this year. I was happy with the hire and patient with the first 2 years. He is a super recruiter, is super with play development, is a great motivator and mental manipulator, is a great spokesman, is a great guy. He has had a plan and produced outstanding results everywhere he has gone. I mean he has convinced our two best players to come back the last two years and that doesn’t just happen, it happens becaus the players respect him, and love playing for him, and know they will improve by returning. He brought Diacco and everyone bitched because Diaccomwas young and unproven and look at him now, best young coordinator in the country and going to have many offers to become a head coach soon. I think Kelly’s loyalty to him will pay off and Diacco won’t jumbo ship until their shared goal of returning ND to glory and NC happens. The man has a great eye for talent be it coaches or play prospects and then when he gets them he knows how to develop them. I am old enough to have witnessed both Lou and Devine and let me just say we are back and we are going to be good and great again for a good long time! Finally I can say again WE ARE ND and say it with conviction!

    30. Kelly Gruene says:

      I have taken a vow to not drink coffee or alcohol before or during ND football games. My blood pressure and my family suffer if either of those is embibed.
      I think Kyle Brindza is doing okay. Gotta be tough kicking field goals. Ever try it? That said, we aren’t actively recruiting a kicker this year, so we’re gonna have to get used to this type of kicking game for the next two years at least.
      The coaches and players all said the right things leading up to the game, “not gonna let down against Pitt”, but does anyone believe that all the players gave their all on every play, especially in the first half? No way. Hopefully this game wakes them all up, that no one is going to lay down for them.
      I, too, simple fan that I am, question some of the play calling. See my comments about caffeine and alcohol above.
      However…..The IRISH ARE 9-0!!! Whodda thunk??

    31. Gary Canori, '72 says:

      Two observations: ND’s offensiveline got out-muscled all day long, especially on the goal line.
      Second, I didn’t like Golson being pulled, but maybe, just maybe he learned from watching from the sidelines. Sometimes when you are in the fray, you cannot grasp your mistake or poor judgement.
      What’s that old saying, “You can observe a lot by watching”.

    32. When is Kelly going to hire a dedicated special teams coach? When are reporters going to start grilling him about this? We don’t block punts or return them. Enough!!!!!!!

    33. Can somebody tell me where Tom Hammond was? For me, he is pretty much the voice of ND football. I don’t feel right without him there. I hold him responsible for this being close yesterday!(HaHa). We could all do without Dan Hicks. It was really annoying to hear Mayock say how much fun this was—that tells you he isn’t an ND guy.He is good though. I was in pain.

    34. kelly never ever takes any blame. he always blames the players. the players won despite his horrific play calling and game management. need to fire the special teams coach this week and start over from scratch. they are getting worse by the week in every aspect.
      we cannot compete with the other top three teams because of our special teams. i think defensively we can compete with any of them. I think our offense is good enough to keep us in games despite kelly call stupid plays and not showing confidence in his quarterback. but special teams will doom us against elite teams. There is not one phase of special teams that we should even grade out at a C. All categories are D or F.

    35. Long Suffering Irishman says:

      I agree on the Mike Mayok comment. I wondered if he wasn’t on Pitt’s payroll.

    36. Why is it that the Irish play so poorly at home. We could easily be 0-5 this year? Hard to understand. Next, what will we do about these special teams that punt the ball 30 yards, never have a punt return with positive yardage, never a kick return past the 25, are vulnerable to miss any placekick no matter how short. This should have cost us this game, but didn’t. Thrilled we won, but we don’t want any part of Oregon, Alabama or K-State. Let’s go to the Orange Bowl where we can handle Florida State or Clemson.

      • When opponents play in South Bend it is without a doubt their biggest game of the season. It is their Super Bowl. And for some teams like Pitt, BYU, BC, Syracuse, UConn, Navy, Tulsa, South Florida, etc…it may be their only nationally televised game all season. Add in the fact that a lot of these players, especially a lot of the Irish Catholic guys that end up playing for BC, were guys that weren’t good enough to be recruited or offered by Notre Dame. Add in ND being undefeated with an opportunity to give them their first loss and undoubtedly receive relentless media mentions, it’s impressive when ND goes undefeated at home.

        With that said, I think Notre Dame may be the best team in the country in a neutral site, bowl game situation. It’s clear that they are dominant on the road, with big victories at MSU, in Miami, and obviously in Norman.

      • When exactly was the last time we were 5-0 at home?

        Wasnt’ NEXT year supposed to be THE year?

        Can’t we just enjoy the fact they have found a way to win these games?

    37. Golson to Riddick with 2:12 to go to draw within a point is eerily similar to Mirer to Brooks against Penn State 1992 to take a 17-16 lead. Although there was less time on the clock and ND was going for 2 to beat Penn State, the Riddick TD catch and the Golson 2 point conversion run will go down in Notre Dame history as just as a big of a moment, if not bigger depending on how the rest of the season plays out

    38. Jim Kress says:

      Note to Mark May:


      Now you may choke on your odious rhetoric.

    39. People Kelly spoke about the special teams in a press conference earlier this year. He said they were really depleted on special teams players because of the attrition to the secondary. Guys that are playing and starting in the secondary would be playing special teams, injured guys like Austin Collinsworth were excellent special teams players. We are depleted in athletes of the type you play on special teams and you can’t expect thee echoing guys contributing on D to play dual roles as they would have too many responsibilities. Plus the PR is a freshman. Let’s not trash the all the special teams we have had a lot of kickoffs for touchbacks, we have covered pretty well, and we have kicked several very critical FG for wins, yesterday’s missed PAT was the first of the season. So let’s just tone it down….we are undefeated people and for that Kelly and this coaching staff deserve some credit. Kelly has had a few play calling head scratching moments, but in general he has been solid and last week in OK and also against MSU he was awesome. Offensive play calling is sort of like Poker, you have to work with the hand you are dealt and pick when to be conservative or aggresive. Kelly can’t do much about a Wood fumble that should have been a TD or a Golsen INT when 2 guys are open. My god look at LSU last night who didn’t trust their kicker enough to kick one late FG and then when tried another late one missed it. NO team is perfect this year and in my mind only Alabama is even slightly superior. Oregon has a scary O but regularly gives up big plays and KSU isn’t really that talented but is living off great execution and heady QB play. Any of these teams can be beat including us. Our team really reminds me of tOSU last NC team which had a great D, went undefeated by winning many close games and then had a monster game against Miami to win it all. We just need to stay focused, keep evolving offensively and mind our own plate as my Mom used to say. If we go undefeated but don’t play for the NC it won’t make me like this team any less….we have sucked for a long time and this is only the beginning…many people said we would be lucky to win 8 games this year, and here we are 9-0 with a strange air of invulnerability. Tell me that doesn’t feel both strange and good.

    40. Yes, playing at ND is the Super Bowl for visiting teams (ask South Florid!) SC looked great against Oregon with Barclay scoring 5 TDs. TV Anylist take SC over ND because SC has more talent even with the sanctions from the NCAA. If ND plays their best game they could beat SC, but hold your breadth!

    41. KellyIrish says:

      After a day to reflect on this game and read through lots of comments, I don’t know which was more entertaining, the last 8 minutes and OT yesterday or the comments that Kelly is to blame for the game today.

      Here is my take on all things Pitt. Kelly did not call a QB sneak because he has a hard nose QB who suffered a concussion a few weeks back. Concussions get easier to get after already getting one. The play calling was not the problem, execution was. Koyak turns in allowing the outside LB come in clean on the 2nd and goal. Watt and Martin seem to miscommunicate and turn another defender lose to get into the backfield untouched. Either blocking scheme executed properly and the Irish score a TD.

      I have no problem with Golson spending some time in careful observation. I did not feel he played poorly, but he missed A LOT of open receivers. For all of Mayock’s praising the excitement of the game, on more than one occassion he spoke to how young QBs are often afraid to pull the trigger quickly on the seam, crossing and slant routes. EG has played in 8 games. Give it time, he will learn to pull that trigger and really get the offense rolling.

      The team was flat. 18 to 21 year old egos are tough to hold in check. If we as fans thought this was a cruise control game, what do you think the players thought? Sometimes you need teaching moments to get to greatness. In the end, this team IS mentally and physically stronger than their competition.

      I will be the first to admit I expected 2 losses from the MSU, UM, BYU, Stanford rotation and 2 against OU and USC. Instead, the Irish have gotten through what I and many thought would be 3 losses at this point as an undefeated team.

      The foundation for the future is becoming more solid every week. Learning to win in tough situations, developing talent across both sides of the ball, identifying great young talent (K Russell) that NEEDS to be on the field and solid recruiting. Special teams will come. Wide recievers and running backs may be catching the ball as it comes, but often it is the defensive backfield that provide protection and beat on the gunners. Anyone remember which position group has been completely decimated with injuries? There is a reason why Bennet and Keivarae aren’t helping on special teams.

    42. El Capitano says:

      Great post KellyIrish. Regardless of the NC outcome, I think this season goes a long way towards bolstering our long-run recruiting efforts. So I am excited for the wonderful present and the hopeful future. Go Irish! Beat Eagles!

    43. Well, my reply to those who defend not having front line players on special teams is this: There is about 10 minutes between a kick-off and the start of the next play due to TV commercials. If a 21 year old cannot catch his breath in that time after 12 seconds of exertion then maybe he needs to work on his conditioning. The special teams stink and I have not heard a believable reply on this board as to why.
      That said, I think BK is a terrific coach and I’m thrilled we got him. But the special teams still stink.

    44. SubwayAlum_2012 says:

      To the punt return team ill say this. If its 4th and under 5 kelly leaves the d on the field. I doubt tuitt and nix can jam cover guys. And honestly we’re getting the ball back after every kick. Would it be better if we went for blocks and gave up a td to a msu dantonio style fake? And several times nd had wide open returns but we did not field the punt. That is frustrating yeah but we have a freshman back there. Do you think an 18 year old has the confidence to take too many chances with an undefeated season on the line? Its a bummer but we havent lost possession on a punt yet at the trade off of getting horrid field position. I posted earlier and i threw cam mcdaniels name out for punt returns… what is ndn’s thoughts on our most underutilized talent?
      Still UNDEFEATED!

    45. SUBWAYALUM69 says:

      We keep finding away to win, great teams do this. Great to be 9-0,. but lets beat the living shit out of Boston College. I need a easy game this Saturday.
      Go Irish

    46. Some great and relevant comments here…
      ND has gotten to this point of being undefeated by a defense that is truly unbelievable given the loss of key players in the secondary. That being said our offense shows positive signs of a redshirt freshman QB in short spurts …having some great success. Bk may be the man behind this in his 3rd year at the helm. Diaco has been unbelievable in getting the defense to this point.

      But lets be realistic…in year 3 we would not have believed we would be in the mix for a NC run. Games like Pitt and BYU and Pudue do not happen with BCS bowl potential teams. BK is in year 3 and we should understand that. Build for the future means getting the best team we can to the best bowl game we can and winning it. That is a complete season in year 3…success and ready to move on to the next years of relevance and ultimately domminace. BCS talk is way to early in this program…unless we want to see another blow-out bowl game loss because of our rankings. Last thing we need right now on our way back.

    47. I have been a ND fan since i was 9 years old in 1987. I tried to compare this team to a team not notre dame but to a similar team. I remember 2002 when Miami Hurricanes were a team that was so good that they could beat an NFL team and they had a Hiesman QB and all these players would be going to the NFL from the Hurricanes and then They met up with a team that was winning games ugly by pounding the ball and good defense and limited mistakes.. Don’t hate me cause I hate everything Ohio state but this season in many ways reminds me of that season.. I put Ohio states schedule below and I remember a number of games won ugly but u know what.. Who cares.. A win is a win and who knows what will happen if u win out.. Just saying Alabama reminds me of Miamiami in 2002 and Nd is on a mission!!

      RECORD: 14-0 SCORES
      8-24-02 PIGSKIN CLASSIC
      TEXAS TECH @Columbus, OH WON 45-21
      9-7-02 KENT STATE WON 51-17
      9-14-02 WASHINGTON STATE WON 25-7
      9-21-02 at Cincinnati @Paul Brown Stadium WON 23-19
      9-28-02 INDIANA WON 45-17
      10-5-02 at Northwestern WON 27-16
      10-12-02 SAN JOSE STATE (HC) WON 50-7
      10-19-02 at Wisconsin WON 19-14
      10-26-02 PENN STATE WON 13-7
      11-2-02 MINNESOTA WON 34-3
      11-9-02 at Purdue WON 10-6
      11-16-02 at Illinois WON 23-16 (OT)
      11-23-02 MICHIGAN WON 14-9
      FIESTA BOWL @Tempe, AZ
      1-3-03 Miami FL WON 31-24 (2OT)

    48. By no means do I say we are Ohio State!! I love everything ND!! Just saying this season has similarities to that 2002 season…

    49. I think the 2002 Ohio State/Miami analogy is a good one. OhioState had a mediocre/barely above average offense and won several games in miraculous fashion same as this ND. It does seem when a team gets that many fortuitous breaks then maybe they are a team of destiny. ND is no doubt making a lot of it happen, but wow, the Luck of the Irish is in full effect. Even when ND players are making spectacular plays in clutch, it still seems unbelievably lucky. Remember the Stanford game. Several 4th down conversions with absolutely outrageous catches to keep the team alive. There was a series of 4 or 5 catches culminating in a touchdown catch by TJ Jones behind his back that were all extremely low percentage plays but they made everyone. Then this Pitt game. Wow, it was one of the most miraculous series of breaks (and plays made) Hell, even the Pitt missed field goal in OT could /should have been overturned. The Eifert 4th down pass interference…same thing. If ND doesn;t get those calls, they don;t win the game.
      Anywasy, Glad we are getting some referee decisions and breaks; because we’ve had to endure 10 years of sickening calls on home field with Big East officials. Team of Destiny baby!!