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  • Poorly Prepared Irish Suffer Wrenching Loss to Pittsburgh

    by OmahaDomer

    In a game where the Irish did essentially everything that the preview for this game suggested they needed to do to lose, and essentially none of the things they needed to do to win, Notre Dame suffered a crippling 28-21 loss. As a result, Notre Dame drops out of sight on the national scene and is surely headed for a very minor bowl game.

    I will spare the readers and myself a blow by blow account of this miserable contest, but rather highlight some of what turned out to be key moments.

    Kelly, who is shockingly cavalier about field position, ridiculously called for a 55-yard field goal attempt on N.D.’s second drive.. On a chilly night, the attempt had no chance and barely made the back of the endzone, setting Pitt up at the 38, whereas a pooch punt could have backed Pitt up.

    Fortunately, Pitt could not make N.D. pay and the Irish then went on a long T.D. drive to take a 7-0 lead.

    Perhaps the key moment of the game occurred as N.D.’s thin defensive ranks took a brutal hit when star defensive lineman Stephan Tuitt was ejected on a ridiculous targeting call just seconds into the second quarter. Pitt quarterback Savage ducked down as he was being tackled. Tuitt led with his shoulder, but because Savage leaned his head forward their helmets touched and that was enough for the A.C.C. crew to disqualify Tuitt for the rest of game.

    Pitt scored a touchdown on that drive and that seemed be all the incentive N.D.’s coaching staff needed to try to make the game a shootout.

    N.D. went on a fast-paced drive on its next possession, but it ended with T.J. Jones getting stripped of the ball at the Pitt six yard line. That turnover, unlike the ones that would follow, would turn out to be of little consequence as N.D. held and a good punt return set N.D. up well inside Pitt territory and ended with a touchdown to make it 14-7 Irish going into the second half.

    N.D.’s passive defense gave up a long T.D. drive to Pitt early in the third quarter to knot the game at 14-14, but Rees responded with a beautiful strike to Jones for a one play 80 yard touchdown drive that gave N.D. its last lead at 21-14.

    Pitt responded with a quick touchdown drive of its own to tie it at 21, and N.D.’s self-destruction was underway.

    Set up by a fine kickoff return, N.D. seemed poised to take the lead again as the Irish went deep into Pitt territory again. However, Kelly called McDaniel to run what appeared to be a stretch or outside zone run, which had the powerful McDaniel running east and west rather than north and south, and resulted in a minimal gain. Kelly next dialed up a pass play where Rees threw into double coverage for a devastating interception.

    Pitt managed to move the ball a bit on the ensuing drive and a nice punt flipped the field. Rees threw another interception, which was returned to the N.D. five yard line and Pitt easily converted to make the game 28-21.

    N.D.’s last gasp was a drive into Pitt territory, but it died on two incompletions with just over two minutes left. N.D., having burnt all of its times out, was powerless to stop the clock and thus ended the game.

    N.D.’s defense seldom generated much pressure on Savage, but one of the few times it did the Irish threw away a golden opportunity. Savage was hit with his arm cocked and the ball was knocked out of his hand for a fumble. N.D.’s defense – though no whistle had blown – thought it was an incomplete pass, and the ball practically bounced into Sheldon Day’s hand. Rather than catching it and walking into the endzone he batted it as if it were a beach ball and Pitt retained possession and was able to punt instead.

    This was a horrible performance by N.D.’s coaching staff, and a game filled with mental mistakes by veteran players. N.D. was able to run the ball reasonably effectively when they tried, but Tarean Folston, the offensive star of the Navy game, inexplicably only got four carries. N.D.’s defense was utterly vanilla and when it brought pressure clearly showed that it was going to bring pressure allowing Pitt to pick it up. Sack prone Savage was not sacked at all.

    To the five questions.

    1. Is N.D. smart enough to defer if it wins the coin flip? Nope, not that it mattered much.

    2. Can N.D. avoid giving up a touchdown drive on the opponent’s first drive? Yes, this was a bright spot if you want to think of it that way.

    3. Can an N.D. running back go over 100 yards? Not even close. N.D. managed only 135 rushing yards, with Atkinson leading the way with 57. Forty one yards went to receiver Jones on ends around.

    4. Will the officials be brave enough to call any penalties on Pitt? Yes, but the (at best questionable) ejection of Tuitt was a terrible loss for N.D.

    5. Can Rees play turnover free? No, and that was the difference. N.D. has more rushing and passing yards, and (obviously) more total yards, outgaining Pitt by over 100 yards. But N.D. ran only 47 plays to Pitt’s 74 and N.D.’s thin defensive ranks wore down late. The turnovers both cost N.D. scoring chances and gave them to Pitt. Like last year, N.D. lost the turnover battle 3-0 to Pitt, but couldn’t escape this year.

    82 Responses to “Poorly Prepared Irish Suffer Wrenching Loss to Pittsburgh”

    1. irishhawk50 says:

      I really can’t understand this ND team and I know the defense is somwhat depleted but the numerous mental mistakes and missed tackles leave me sctatching my head. During commercials I flipped back and forth to the Alabama-LSU game. A whole nother level above ND. I hate to agree with all the naysayers but I can only conclude they are poorly coached and poorly prepared. I said earlier in the season they would be lucky to be 8-4 and I guess that still holds. I am beginning to have doubts about Kelly and no doubt about Diaco. If there is no visible improvement in defense next year he must go.

    2. Very tough game to watch (assuming you are a ND fan). To see such a talented group of players (particularly on the offensive side of the ball) get outplayed by a team that breathes mediocrity is devasting. So, you see the difference between being coached by a Kelly vs. a Meyer or Saban.

      Maybe the luck will return next season, but I hope the fan base enjoyed the 2012 season. I am starting to think 2012 was an extreme abberation. Well guys, enjoy the rest of the 8-4 season (hopefully) and the bid to the nobody bowl!

    3. Kelly and his staff should be ashamed . If that is the best he can do, he should resign.

    4. Unfortunately, we now have the equivialent of Kirk Ferentz (maybe a slight insight to Kirk) as our HC
      for a long, long time.

      Worse than Weis, Willingham and Davie – simply because Kelly will always win enough to keep his job,
      ie, 7 to 9 wins per year, but never enough to make ND relevant again.

      While the hiring of the last 3 coaches was extremely damaging to our program, Kelly may be the final crippling blow from which the program may not recover for a long time if ever.

      • Did you ever see a Weis coached team?
        They lost to a below .500 Connecticut and Syracuse team.
        At least Kelly teams show some semblance of stones and tackle hard.
        Remember when a Weis coached team allowed Toby Gerhardt to score so that we could get the ball back? At least Kelly teams preach defense.

        And if we want relevance, you need to fight fire with fire, and not exile your star QB for academic impropriety – just sit him a half vs nobody.
        And if we want relevance, you need to have 85 players with depth and talent, not the outlier in Manti and Nix. You need at least 30 of that quality, and my friends, we are 28 short year in and year out.
        So enjoy the fight, be/c its iwo jima out there, we fight football factories with the Shamrock Series marketing ploy. Or, you do what Stanford does, and allow football players 5 years to complete one degree, not require them to get it done in 4, with a 5th year if they take grad school.
        There is a semi commitment to football at ND – not 100%

    5. You are so right about field position,Kelly’s brain must have been infected from left over bacteria from Faust.He was the master at ignoring that aspect of the game.For Rees’s interception in the end zone I blame Kelly.It was 3rd down and why force a throw with a chip field goal attempt in offing on the next play.The same 3rd down situation occurred in the Oklahoma game and we could have gone in at the half on the short side of a 14-10 score.

    6. GraceHallChapel86 says:

      Reminded me of the Faust era. I simply cannot recall a game where an Irish squad worked harder to give a game to an inferior opponent, but I’m sure some will chide my short memory. Officiating was just terrible, but it’s hard to blame the refs when the play was so bad.

    7. Why is Kelly so ignorant not to let Folsten carry the ball? He is a horrible coach.

    8. Back in the early 1920’s, when Notre Dame football tradition began to build a strong foundation, there was a nascent organization which was named Zenith Radio Company. It was a shining star, a brilliant innovator. Zenith televisions later became America’s “go-to” TV brand. Many NDNation readers probably remember the famous company slogan: “The Quality Goes In Before The Name Goes On.”

      Unfortunately, poor management and strong competition proved to be too much for the company and, by the end of the 20th Century, Zenith was a fallen star, bankrupted and taken over by foreigners; its great tradition of innovation and quality products forever gone.

      Last week, I commented that Notre Dame football tradition is 20th Century. I’m not writing today to defend my position once again. It is what it is, and the last quarter-century of on-field performance without a National Championship is evidence unto itself. Even so, another fellow alum commented that most of my postings have been negative. Well, I understand how some people may think that to be the case. But, not so. I am very positive. And I am absolutely positive that Notre Dame football is a vintage Zenith Color Console!

      Now that all the ill-fated Notre Dame BCS Bowl conversation has been, thankfully, put to rest, we can all move on to reality. And that reality is: the PCS Bowl, i.e., the Pizza Championship Series, sponsored by Little Caesars. Mark your calendar, boys and girls: December 26th in beautiful Detroit. Can’t make it? No worries. It’s on ESPN at 6PM, EST. Just mount your old Zenith on the wall and you can pretend that you’re there!

    9. OH DANN BOY!!!! Sing to oh TOMMY boy? Wonder – ’tis a damn shame that Rees will have name in our previous history as a QB – much less a FOUR letter winner! Move over my ND MEN – Struhdehler, Carrideo, Bertelli, Lujack, Tripuka, Williams, Hornung, Izzo, Lamonica, Huarte**, Hanratty, Theisman, Clements, Montana, etc
      What a trip – but ND can be proud that they permitted the felon to stat at our University after kneeing a policeman and fleeing – REALLY wonderful.
      >>>AND Kelly, In THEY CALL ME COACH (D2 @. D3) – pathetic- The book store offers another great piece of literature! Kelly – return to glory… in the past we honored Losingham and double cheeseburger… how does Kelly’s extension read? SAME asWeis???

    10. Where to start . . .

      1. Our offense is horrible.
      2. Our defense is not much better. Tired of seeing Bennett Jackson 2 yards behind the receiver he is supposed to be covering. I realize that the D is very nicked up, but really? How is it that some one on every team we play seems to have a career day against our defense? Good defense starts on the line. What scares me about the future is that this year we have Tuitt and Nix on the line, and we are terrible – what do we have to look forward to? The Bob Diaco bend and break defense has got to go. Way too passive, no consistent pressure, poor fundamentals (“Ball!!!!!!”, tackling). The latter scares me the most.
      3. We have lost to a BAD Michigan team, AVERAGE Oklahoma team, barely beaten an ABYSMAL Purdue team, and really couldn’t run consistently on Pitt, which is not a good team either. We are a top 40 program (maybe).
      4. Probably a blessing that we lost, so that we won’t go to a top tier bowl game and get our asses handed to us.
      5. They say that everybody gives ND their best shot. When is ND going to give some one their best shot. We looked positively lethargic last night.
      6. How did we get here?
      7. Does Brian Kelly really have a process for program development?
      8. Rees is not the optimal quarterback, but don’t think that Golson is going to cure what ails us. I am looking forward to many more years like this.

    11. Omaha Domer,

      I share your outrage.. Kelly must go.. He’s overrated as a coach.. Manti Teo bailed him
      out last year..

      Horrible special teams.. Unexcusable.

      Terrible play calling.

      Uninspired leadership.

      Now we’ll ending up playing sometime lesser school in a meaningless bowl game.

      Time to look up Nick Saban’s agent..

    12. A few things-
      1. Why no folston?

      2. 55 fg at Heinz Field?

      3. Some of the worst play calling once again.

      4. Is there something I don’t know or is Kelly that stupid-he seems like he is on meds?

      5. Will the tree beat us by 25 or 50 pts?

      Lord help all of us who are diehard nd fans

    13. Greg Servant says:

      I share your despair but in the interest of accuracy:

      The 55 yard field goal had enough distance; he has already made from 53.

      By the letter of the law, Tuitt was wrong.

      Pitt, like most everbody else ND plays, played hard and relatively mistake free.

      You can’t turn the ball over 3 times and win.

      Last year ND got a lot of breaks. In addition, the loss of Teo’s leadership and Golson’s legs ensured this year’s team would not be as good.

      ND lost 3 potentially good QBs, Golson, Kiel and Hendrix, who inexplicably self-destructs.

      • The field goal did not have enough distance. It was caught by a Pitt defender standing in the back of the endzone. It would have been long enough from 50 yards. We had a much better chance of getting the first down than making that field goal and the consequence of missing would have been the same. I don’t believe the letter of the targeting ruling requires ejection of the defensive player when the offensive player is the one that actually initiates the contact. If it does, I suggest that Rees go out and head butt everyone on BYU’s defense in the next game.

      • Greg:

        You are quite an apologist. “Everybody else ND plays, played us hard and relatively mistake-free” is not an excuse. I hear the same thing about Nebraska every time they lose to an inferior team. You have to ask yourself – Why aren’t we prepared to play each game relatively mistake-free, with our (usually) better athletes? Why don’t we come to play to every game? Why did we turn the ball over three times? In the end, it boils down to preparation, which is on the coaches. This year’s team also seems to lack the leadership and “Band of Brothers” mentality.

        It feels like the attitude of the team is that just putting on the gold helmet is good enough to win. It’s not and these kids should know it as it has obviously not been the case for a long time now.

      • You’re stone drunk if you think Tuitt was the one in the wrong. Savage should have been ejected because HE lowered HIS head and initiated contact. Kirk and Brent BOTH made similar observations and were both shocked at Tuitt’s ejection.

    14. This loss can be blamed 100% on Kelly who has been out coached in every game this year except MSU. He did a pathetic job and has done so all year. We could not imagine worse special teams play on such a consistent basis. No running game, no offensive identity, refusal to play the best of the four running backs the majority of the time, poor tackling, horrible defensive schemes, players who quit on plays such as sheldon day who had a touchdown in his hands and acted like a frustrated 7 year old all point to Kelly doing a terrible job this year. the fact that after 4 years TR is still the QB is another testament to his poor coaching. Now going into next year with this season ruined by losses all to teams we are better than, we have no experience at back up QB again. Zaire should have played from day one. we certainly would not be any worse off than we are now ( i know he was sick but as soon as he was back he should have been playing).
      After a fantastic regular season it seems Kelly has regressed to sub Weis levels. Not to panic with one loss but looking the body of work I think it is fair to say that this arrogant and incompetent coach reached his peak at Grand Valley State. Get him out soon and try again.

      • Totally agree with your remarks. Do believe that Kelly has this streak of arrogance that gets in the way of making him a great coach. There is no doubt in my mind that Zaire should’ve been given the opportunity to play. This point was made way back in various discussiongs. Why wait? Golson, recruiting would take of future quarterback needs.
        He constantly implies that players are not “there” yet; that they need his guidance in “arriving”. Thus, Folston does not get the reps. They need his “guidance” after a difficult loss so as to not go down and be with the student body in defeat.
        Watching them play this year and having gone thru the struggles of the last 20 or so years does not make for satisfied Irish fans. It’s painful!

    15. ND’s performance was inexcusable give the fact that Pitt was a very average team who has struggled all season and the talent disparity between the two teams. Pitt did not win this game…..ND lost it by poor preparation (coaching), inconsistent play and turnovers. And in keeping with tradition, they allow opposing quarterbacks to have a career day.

      This isn’t just a case of you can’t win them all; If Urban Meyer or Nick Saban were the coach ND would have won by three touchdowns or more. This game proves that Kelly (and his coordinators) are not elite coaches. If Gene Chizik got fired 1.5 years after winning a NC, ND may want to give Kelly the same treatment in 2015 if 7-5 or 8-4 is the best he can muster the next two years.

      The 2012 season is looking more like a fluke and not the result of any “process” that Kelly has implemented.

    16. Frank Johnson says:

      “….the powerful McDaniel”?

      Maybe at Purdue McDaniel would be considered powerful. At ND, with a history of Leon Hart at fullback, Nick Eddy and Larry Conjar, Wayne Bullock and Eric Penick, Vagas Ferguson, Jerome Bettis and Mark Edwards, McDaniel is a pip-squeak.

      • Frank,
        Leon Hart was Heisman winner as an END, not a fullback. McDaniels is a very good running back, no “pip-squeak” . He makes great cuts, runs hard and plays with a lot of heart. (no pun intended)

        • Frank Johnson says:


          Trust me, Leon Hart did indeed line up at fullback at times. But if you want a “powerful back” reference from that era, you’ve got Emil Sitco and Bill Barrett. I stand with my comment: In the context of ND’s history of powerful backs, McDaniel does not fit the bill. And playing with a lot of heart does not equate to powerful. He’s a nice kid, but powerful vis a vis ND standards? Nonsense.

    17. What does Cam McDainel have to do to get the start? It seems every chance this coaching staff has to put some else in the game before Cam they do. Yet Cam, is the only RB the consistently produces. I feel Cam has earned the chance to start and be the featured back in this offense.

    18. brendenomalley says:

      No question that this game was one of the most depressing efforts I have witnessed in years. The BS call on Tuitt and the PI on 4th down notwithstanding, we were awful. We just looked so slow all over the field.

      Last year we were so strong up the middle of the field, and this year we cant defend anything. We cant seem to get any consistent push on offense.

    19. Taken Aback says:

      Well done. Fortunately, for me, I fell asleep while most of this was going down.


    21. This may be an unpopular post to those on this site, but I believe that last year’s 12-0 season and run to the national championship game was merely an aberration and that the season we are witnessing in 2013 is now the norm for the once proud ND football program. Flipping over from the nearly unwatchable ND-Pitt game to the Bama-LSU game, the difference in the athletes and play on the field was starkly evident. Until ND can recruit some of the athletes Bama and LSU now have, the Irish will NEVER reach the level of play necessary to compete for titles, let alone major bowl bids. Eight or nine wins a season now seems like the ceiling for ND. Actually, Irish fans should look at the Pitt loss as a blessing. No longer are the Irish in the running for a BCS bowl, which only would have led to another embarrassing blowout loss against the likes of Oregon, Clemson, or Texas A&M. Now, we can focus on trying to net a berth to the Pinstripe Bowl and maybe beat a team like Cincinnati. Very disappointed Irish fan here.

    22. Bill Browning says:

      So, here we are again, an increase in wages for a coach who appears to be just as inept as Charlie and an increase in his salary and contract extension.

      So hello Charlie the tuna , appears old ND, just caught another rotten fish as it once again appears to be headed down that path to mediocrity.

      Why don`t the powers that be pursue a coach that may cost more but is willing to work his but off and not burst every blood vessel in his face while learning how the big boys play football.

      Example, Charlie Strong of Louisville,

    23. This is looking like Weis /Willingham Davie all over again!Dback’ that can’t/don’t cover or tackle..LB’s that are unable to read AND react.Where is the emotion,where is the game prep ..where is the identity of this team?Forget about the win’s and losses…That is so much BS..It is how you play the game or rather play in the game.These players (Not all)but we all know that # 6 #2 #28 #44 are just lost out there!Lose if you will but lose with the kids with pride and effort.The freshmen all are doing a great job but where is the leadership.This coaching staff apparently doesn’t school these players on football smarts.Ree’should have been sat down not because they lose but because he doesn”’t learn from his mistakes.Kelly and HIS staff are letting the players and Notre Dame itself down.This is looking like Weis grabbing the money and bailing.If this isn’t the head coach then it’s his assistant’s Some bodies have to go and soon!!

    24. Officiating:

      Clearly one-sided and very inconsistent. Holding all night long against Notre Dame and even for Pitt but nothing called. The Tuitt ejection will go down as one of the worst calls for this targeting rule. The pass interference on Bennett Jackson. Seriously??? And the spot of the ball on Pitt’s game ending drive. Awful.


      So as stated, Folston gets 4 carries after carrying the load last week? You run an outside play with Cam Mcdaniel who has no side-to-side speed. Play call on the 5, where Rees rolls out of the pocket expecting to fool defenders that he will use his legs. Don’t get it. Notre Dame abandoned the running game after the first half.

      Farley has not played well at all this year with way to many missed tackles.

    25. Brian Kelly is paid way too much to lose to a 4-4 team in his fourth year. This loss is totally unacceptable and is emblematic of Kelly’s ND tenure, close games or losses to weak teams and blow outs against quality opponents. Once again we pull the Charlie Weiss contract extension game and the team regresses My support is waning.

    26. I can’t understand why they gave up on the run and didn’t get Folston the ball. I felt it was important to burn the clock in this game to give the depleted defense a breather.

    27. judging from nd football performance since 88 it may be time to clean house from the top. first to go is swarwick, the athletic ceo. next kelley. cant get rid of jenkins. then find someone, somehow who can deliver consistent recruiting so nd has a qb like manziel, a.j. and others, ie, who can pass and move and run. the coaching and coaching decisions this year have been horrendous. kelly was never cut out for the big league; all you have to do is watch this little poorly dressed twerp rant and rave and utter the F bomb every 30 seconds. man is over his head. he was hired out of desperation and maybe because his name is kelly. smart move! why not see what faust is doing these days. kelly got lucky last year and then got smoked by a real football team. nd football is on the same track as obamacare. forget hope. time for change in leadership or nd will never consistently win against teams like alabama, stanford, etc. who seem to have it together. somewhere in the program, there are many screws loose. tr, nd ’67; lsu ’71.

    28. Once again we’re out played, out shined, and out scored by a team with much less talent than we have. Last year we were lucky to be 12 and 0. Bama proved that in the bowl game. Kelly is a 8 to 9 win coach at ND and I don’t see any NC’s in the future for us with Kelly at the helm. He is in over his head here at ND. GO IRISH!!!!!!!!!!

    29. Good analysis.

    30. This loss is squarely on the coaches. We did not even try to establish a run game to keep our depleted defensive front off the field. Does Rees have to throw a 25yd pass every time he drops back. There clearly was no whistle blown on the fumble by Savage and if that was the case Sheldon should have grabbed it and been down the sidelines. I don’t know where Kelly and the staff go from here.

    31. Alex Delvecchio says:

      The main premise of your assessment of the game – that Kelly’s coaching and the offensive play-calling were atrocious is spot on.

      I don’t know who is calling plays at this point – is it Martin or Kelly? Whoever it is should be fired, because the play-calling in most high school games is better.

      To begin with, how can you give a guy 4 touches when he ran for 140 yards the game before?

      Your point about east-west runs is spot on. But that’s been true all season. The Irish simply don’t have the personnel to run slow developing east-west runs, but the first play call where Rees threw into double coverage the next play was awful. That said, Rees’ throw was the worst he’s made a Notre Dame and that’s saying a LOT because he’s had a lot of bad throws in his tenure with the Irish.

      The Irish’s failure to go after the fumble – particularly Sheldon Day’s idiotic toying around was epic and reflects that the coaches have not taught the kids to play until the whistle blows.

      Generally speaking the Irish played flat, but when you’ve got running backs as dynamic as Atkinson III, Carlisle, Folston and Bryant and the running game is that bad and Cam McDaniel is getting touches and getting east west plays called for him, you know the coaching is simply horrible.


    32. From an old high school coach; if you want to win football games, concentrate your teaching on building confidence in your players. Do not dwell on errors; just on positive behavor. Your word of encourage means everything to your quarterBACKS, especially, but all your players. Note the capitals in that prevous statement. Praise in public and correct in private; don’t scream; whisper the correction and be sure the player hears you in a modulated tone. That builds confidence that no oppondnet can break.
      Yelling at them (even in college) destroys their confidence. I noted Coach Kelly tried to encourage Tommy after the unfourtnate passes; a good coach does that.

    33. A lot of questions need answers.
      Is this a very poorly coached team. Did these kids play better football in high school than now. Do the kids know how to block and tackle rather than push and hug. How many pounds do they have to gain in the off-season to become slower. Is it better to watchSEC game replays rather than their own. What kind of spin will the son of a Boston Irish politician have after this game. Was the Eagles’ interview a ploy to get a contract extension. Are the special team and secondary coaches aware how inept the plan has been. Who is the play caller. How soon are they taught to leave their feet before attempting to make a tackle. How early do you show your blitz. When will they realize that Freshmen can play ball….save a redshirt and watch him transfer. Do they want to be shamed in a bowl game.

    34. I understand Rees is likely to be drafted by the Vikings. He’s a natural fit to go with Ponder.

    35. This team is amazingly inconsistent. I am certainly no football strategist or expert but inconsistency falls on the coaches shoulders in my opinion. It is easy to point to the 4Q picks as the main culprit in the lose but play calling, abandoning the run (it seemed), field decisions went just as far as the picks. This is one strange team. Maddening to the fans.

    36. This loss is 100% on the coaching staff. When you continually play down to your competition you’re going to lose some of those games and ND is lucky there haven’t been more losses the last 4 years. Asking Tommy Rees to throw the ball 30 times a game is going to result in turnovers every time; so why does Kelly/Martin keep calling for that many passes when this kid is clearly not able to do it consistently without turning the ball over? ND does not have the personnel to run the spread, so modify the game plan to the personnel you have. Establish a running game and use it to set up play action. Put Rees in a position to succeed not fail!!! The fact that after 4 years Kelly has not developed a QB, along with atrocious special teams, is a scathing indictment of Kelly and his program. Rees, during almost any period of the modern era at ND, would not have seen the field at ND. Instead, he’s played the last 4 years and started 2 of those years. That’s due to a failure by the coaching staff to establish depth at the position and develop a viable alternative because Hendrix isn’t the answer either. It’s been 4 years and ND’s offense has not been very good in any of those years, that’s a lack of coaching.

      The defense looked totally unprepared to play. Where was the pressure against the porous Pitt O line? How about a blitz Diaco? Tackling was horrible…again. If you don’t pressure the QB you’re going to get beat. The one time they did get pressure, Shembo forced a fumble, Day and the rest of the D watched the ball and the whistle never blew. Totally inexcusable and indicates a poorly prepared and/or poorly coached team. As much as the 3 turnovers hurt ND, sometimes the D needs to make a play to get the momentum back and this team just can’t do it. The defense last year was pretty good except when it really counted in the NC. This year they’ve been average at best.

      I’m afraid that after what we saw in the NC, and again this year, that last year’s regular season was a mirage. Kelly has brought in some good players, but ND isn’t close to becoming a consistent BCS Bowl contender and most of it has to do with poor coaching. This guy is too worried about the type of playing surface at ND stadium, adding jumbotrons, and what type of music is playing during the game instead of coaching up the players. I’ve never seen a coach waste as many timeouts throughout a game like this guy does. Has there been a game in the last 4 years where they’ve had all 3 of their timeouts at the end of the half or at the end of a game (ND could have used them last night)? Wasting timeouts because the play clock is about to run out should not be happening 4 years into a program.

      At the end of the day, the players aren’t pro’s so it falls on the coaches who are paid professionals and they’re not getting the job done. Kelly has won most of the games he should (although hardly ever convincingly), but almost none in which ND was an underdog. After 4 years, that isn’t good enough. ND isn’t Cincinnati or Grand Valley St., I think the job is too big for him. I was shocked that the Eagles actually wanted to interview him last year and I think right now they’re shocked they did too.

    37. Diarmuid the Untidy Leprechaun says:

      To question #5–But he knows the playbook!

    38. A complete stinkeroo.


    39. Joe Schaefer ND '59 says:

      No question the staff lost this game: another long kick return, inability to stop a punchless Pitt offensive line, poor tackling, inattention to detail… The most glaring deficiency was not removing Zaire’s redshirt after the OU game. After multiple examples of Hendrix’ incapacity as a number 2 and Rees’ inability to throw in traffic in the red zone and with the OU loss directly attributable to Rees, Kelly needed to see that the future is now. Zaire would have gained valuable experience this year which would have set us up with two quarterbacks with game experience next year, with Kizer coming in besides. The answer to the redshirt removal is very simple: go get another quarterback. Kelly is not very bright. Diaco is out there some where. This staff needs to be upgraded.

      • GraceHallChapel86 says:

        By the Zaire issue it is obvious that Kelly is soft-pedaling this year, playing every game with a second string QB (Rees). No doubt about it. He sees it as a transition season he needs to get through. That lack of passion means zero chemistry for the team, and that’s what we saw in this game.

        If I were Pitt I’d have a hard time being too proud given how pathetic ND performed.

    40. That game made me physically sick to my stomach. I never went to ND, but I’m as big a fan as any. I have 5 children and serve in the Army so I’m not rich. I spend my money on ND everything for me and my kids. I fly an ND flag. That performance is what I get in return for my money and time? It was pathetic. In one day, I can train four Soldiers to enter a house and clear it of any and all bad guys. They will give their lives for each other to make it happen. The secondary coaches can’t teach a kid how to tackle? If I was a current ND coach, I’d resign on Tuesday and donate my pay to Wounded Warroirs. I would like to end on a positive note. To all you currently serving or have served, thank you for your sacrifices and service – Happy Veteran’s Day!

      • ND Chicago says:

        Happy Veteran’s Day to you and all who serve our great country. Thanks for your sacrifice.

    41. I just can’t believe you all aren’t more infuriated with the targeting call on Tuitt. The targeting rule is arbitrary, ambiguous and disastrous for the competitive legitimacy of the sport. I read on the American Football Coaches Association ( two things.

      Firstly, targeting is defined as, “… to take aim at an opponent for purposes of attacking with an apparent intent that goes beyond making a legal tackle or a legal block or playing the ball.”

      To argue that Tuitt’s tackle was somehow intentionally malicious is to argue that form tackling in football is malicious. Anyone that has done a form tackling drill as a kid knows that the proper way to tackle is to keep your facemask IN the tackle, not turn your head to the side. Turning your head to the side is dangerous. Tuitt clearly led with his shoulder, and Kirk Herbstreit’s initial response on the TV was to say, “beautiful hit by Tuitt”, which it was.

      The second problem with the way the officials enforced this inherently faulty rule was to enforce it when there was no defenseless player involved. How is a player running with the football and lowering his pad level defenseless??

      When I saw that flag thrown, I just knew in the pit of my stomach that Tuitt would be ejected. You can tell by listening to the broadcast that Herbstreit wished for the RATIONAL decision to be made by the officials upstairs. He claimed that surely Tuitt’s ejection would be reversed, but I knew it would not be. The decision had a decisive game-changing impact immediately. The wind was taken out of the ND defense, now without their best player, and new life brought to a Pitt team struggling to get on the board. It is fair to say, as Herbstreit noted multiple times in the second half, that the biggest play of the game, and most decisive turn-around for Pitt was the Tuitt ejection.

      As hard as it is to stomach a loss that was, I believe, in large part effected by a terrible call, I am much more concerned with the future of the sport with changes such as this. We all know the kick-return will soon be a thing of the past (and perhaps the punt return), but it is now clear that the tackling and ball-carrying features of the sport have been compromised and worse is to come. How can they claim to be saving the game while threatening it’s competitive validity? I recommend all fans write/e-mail the NCAA and the ACC.

      • Agreed. I just tried to re-watch the game, and I had to turn it off after that call I was so mad. The worst freaking call in the history of football. Period. And I don’t mean Period in its newly defined meaning…I mean Period in the traditional meaning. I’ve said before, the targeting rule is the worst rule since Prohibition! It allows some moron official that probably never played the sport to try and interpret intent of a hit in a game that moves at the speed of light with big bodies and lots of force. Way too much power. It’s affected several games already this year and I really hope it affects a conference championship game or a big bowl game.

        • Go Irish ! says:

          Targeting and Initiating Contact With the Crown of the Helmet (Rule 9-1-3)

          No player shall target and initiate contact against an opponent with the crown (top) of his helmet. When in question, it is a foul.

    42. martinjordan says:

      1. Even though this team doesn’t belong in a BCS Bowl I still hate to loose and last night’s loss was embarrassing.

      2. How did Kelly and Martin reward Folsten for his big day against Navy? With FOUR carries.

      3. The Tommy Rees roll out package is even less effective than the Andrew Hendrix short yardage package.

      4. Tommy Rees rolling out looks worse than Rick Mirer or Ron Powlus running the option

      5. This team probably has more offensive talent than any other since early 90’s but it all depends on the QB and that is the weak link.

      6. It’s politically correct to say that I agree with the player safety rules but I don’t. They are getting ridiculous. That targeting call on Tuitt was horrible!

      7. The defensive backs need to work on tackling.

      8. When the defense had an opportunity to recover a fumble they looked disinterested.

      9. The three losses were very winnable games which came down to QB execution and coaching.

    43. PanDomer'73 says:

      Terrible performance, but unfortunately we have become used to it. In my “ol’ Notre Dame will win over all” fantasy world I saw this team going 10-2 and getting to some glorified BCS Bowl [with the expectation that we’d be blown out but at least we had fun]. Last years team was a 10-2 or even 9-3 team that got some breaks but also had heart and soul [Teo]. The run of poor coaches continues. I used to hang on every word of Ara or Lou post game. Did you ever hear Kelly talk?…. did the Irish powers that be listen? This is the guy that had a plane ticket to Philadelphia in pocket the night he was thoroughly outcoached by Saban. Agree with the guy who said we are a top 40 team, with a top 40 coach. Not sure where we’re going from here, but I have developed a certain fondness for some of our opponents as our collapse continues.

    44. I guess that 80 yard bomb was a bad play call

    45. What was the most infuriating? Empty set backfield in the fourth quarter. At least PRETEND we’re going to run.

    46. bbkingfish says:

      Who wrote the headline for this article?

      I would be interested to read a story that focused on the inadequacy of ND’s game preparation, but the piece under the headline had not a word to say on the subject. A headline should not mislead its readers about the content beneath.

      Oh, well. At least the Steelers won yesterday. We out-coached Buffalo 23-10.

    47. james bankes says:

      I’m as huge a Notre Dame fan as you can imagine, I have been so for more than 60 years. Never felt worse after a game than I did after Pitt. This team has no heart and Kelly and his staff are over-matched. I know 8th grade football coaches who would clearly understand that with so many injuries on defense, you have to control game time by running the ball. So Folston, who showed some real promise, gets four carries. It’s just hard to care anymore.

    48. I’ve said a few times that we haven’t seen this team play at its best. That’s still true.

      Let us hope, however that we have seen them play at their worst.

    49. Unlike everyone else, I remain uncertain of the quality of BK’s coaching. And of Bob Diaco’s. In fact, though there must be other Sabans and Meyers somewhere, how many high quality coaches are there with whom our current coach could be replaced? If BK isn’t the answer, how many coaches have his credentials? And how but by past success can one decide to decide to go after a coach? In other words I wonder if we’re hoping for a replacement that doesn’t exist. Nevertheless, as a fan since 1944 I am not aware of any other ND coaches who compiled a record of so many close games won or lost. That, for me, is the best evidence of BK’s inadequacy.

    50. I agree with every comment on this page…. Poor coaching being at the top of the list with poor everything else associated with this football program… Sick of Kelly’s excuses… What a joke… Somebody in the administration office should buy a ticket and fly to Stanford and copy their protocal on how to build a successful football program… Oh wait, they can save the airfare when our team gets hammered there in a couple of weeks… Please take great notes…

    51. The Tuitt loss was huge. Tommy has obvious limits and they’ve done a hell of a lot better than I expected when I first heard about Golson. There’s no way they were going to play for an NC this year and I expected a minor bowl bid. So, here we are. I thought we’d be here sooner this year. End of story for me.

    52. Someone please explain why a running back (Carlisle as an example) gets benched for fumbling one time, and yet a safety (Farley) can miss tackle after tackle and remain on the field?

    53. I was hoping Kelly was the guy to finally lead us to a national championship. I still am hoping but the hope is fading fast. The coaching is pathetic. Missed tackles, Farley needs to be on the bench, lets see Redfield some. Why do we have a converted RB and converted WR as our starting CB’s? Name me another top D-1 school out there that has that? Why can’t re consistently recruit top NG’s/DT’s every year? We need depth there, not DE’s, but tough middle of the line guys. Penalties, not playing til the whistle. Why the heck is Zaire not playing? To preserve a year of eligibility? Dumb!! He should have played this year to get some experience, now when Golson comes back and gets injured we put in a guy with no experience and that deer in the head lights look. Rees is what he is: an average QB with average arm strength and no running/escapeability. Damn, this is Notre Dame for *****sakes!! Yeah sure we had a QB leave and Golson get expelled/suspended, but can’t we have a backup in there instead of Rees to not make bonehead plays that makes your head shake? He’s a senior! Saban recently said that he would only leave for Texas. Other than him, is there any other coach out there that could turn this thing around? Gruden? I thought Meyer might be the guy, but he screwed us by going to Florida and continued to screw us taking some recruits out of hands. Kelly is taking my hope away, bit by bit.

      • Jose,

        Yes, there are other great coaches out there.. Did you see the way Wisconsin handled BYU? They
        destroyed BYU’s offence.. That’s how you game plan against an opponent. Gary Anderson worked
        miracles at Utah State with no blue chip recruits..

        It’s time to give his agent a call..

      • Len Kozlosky says:

        I read every response on this page. I agree with all of them blaming the coaching staff. I’ve been blaming the staff since Holtz left. ND will never be at the level of Alabama , LSU, etc. The one thing no one mentioned is that ND academic standards certainly have to limit them from getting some super athletes like these other teams get consistently. It’s never going to happen. It’s just that simple. Until they lower their academic standards. But, I agree college is for an education first, athletics second. But this is not the world the rest of college football lives in. On the other hand you do have Stanford. High standards and consistent hard nosed successful football. So it can be done. Yes, it is the coaching staff, and it will always be that way until someone like Holtz comes back. A motivator/ a great adjustment coach at halftime. I remember so many games that if a team had success in the first half doing a certain thing. It would stop at halftime. Holtz would take care of it. Not now. Average players look great all game against the Irish. This is the ND world we live in forever

        • Stanford gives their guys 5 years to complete one undergrad degree.
          We give our guys 4 years to complete one undergrad degree, and a 5th if they prove they are going to take grad school.
          Hence, why we have a law students as starting lineman and Alabama has the likes of Hightower (6 deep).

          So yes, the thwap of yester year sailed long ago when we shunned the “football factory” name sake.

          2012 was a huge aberration – the goal line stand v Stanford and Pitt triple OT was luck repaid for watching ND lose twice on senior day under weis to sub .500 teams.

          • Exit77, can you please explain your theory on why Stanford has better depth than us bc they let players graduate in 5 years? It seems to me like ND brings back 5th year players all the time if they are any good. And an NCAA football player still only has five years to complete four seasons of eligibility, right? I’m honestly confused on what real advantage that gives Stanford, other than maybe arguing that the Stanford players don’t have to take as many classes per semester, thus allowing them to study more film etc. Please elaborate.

            • If I am a Stanford Football player, I enter knowing I have 5 years to get one degree (4 years to play football). My first year, I’ll red-shirt, still hang out in the “Steve Jobs/Tiger Woods athletic center” and build comraderie with my frosh class. We’ll take some classes, but at a slow pace, because afterall we have 5 years to fit in our 120 hours (or whatever). By my 5th year, I’ll be taking dancing like Stanford players do to round out my 120, and we’ll be rolling to the BCS.

              If I am an ND Football player, I enter knowing I have 4 years to get my one degree, which means if I redshirt I get 3 years of football. But wait, what if I want to play 4 years of college football, I need to enroll in grad school? Geez, playing against dancers is whole lot harder than playing against guys who are studying legal writing on the side like they make me do.

              ND sports 4 years of football eligibility for only those who are exceptionally gifted on the field and in the classroom in a rigorous environment.

              I read these boards, and its fire Kelly, which is nonsense. First, Kelly’s our best chance, he’s a CEO and knows when your main line of business is winning ball games, other ends have to give. I personally do not care whether my employee took 4 years to get an undergrad degree or 5 years. It’s not like the guy that got it done in 4 is any better. He’s just more tired, jaded, and unhappy.

              Give them some slack, the ball players are foot soldiers in a major front facing aspect of the ND brand, and to make them do it hamstrung doesn’t make us elite, it makes us stupid and unevolved.

      • Amen Jose

    54. Not sure which is more sad, that ND’s starting qb is a 4 year starter and average at best or that the back up qb is a 5th year senior and is even worst.

    55. As I noted several weeks ago, ND’s admin, with it’s holy-than-thou (if you’ll pardon the expression) made a big mistake in not excusing George O’Leary for his resume problem. The man has taken a never-heard-of team into the ranks. It’s time we gave coaching prospects an IQ test before hiring, and also stop experimenting with guys with marginal backgrounds. If you look at the track record of those who left after Holtz, none of them have done anything. I’m sure Weiss will be axed soon. Besides BK’s incompetence, his actions on the sidelines are especially embarrasing, which are there for all to see on national TV. His players, whom he likes to berate in public, have much more class than him. I feel so sorry for our players, most of whom can compete with anybody under proper leadership.

    56. 11/11/13

      Attn: John Swofford, Commissioner
      I would like to protest the ejection of Notre Dame defensive end, Stephon Tuitt, during Saturday night’s contest at Pittsburgh. The decision by the field referees to call the targeting penalty was poor to begin with, but the decision by the officials in the booth to uphold the field call was, and still is, unfathomable. I read on the American Football Coaches Association the following description on targeting: “…to take aim at an opponent for purposes of attacking with an apparent intent that goes beyond making a legal tackle or a legal block or playing the ball.” To argue that Tuitt’s tackle was somehow egregious or malicious is to argue that football itself is egregious and malicious. For what Tuitt did was simply to make a routine football play, and in fact, a very good play. The fact that Kirk Herbstreit’s initial response was to call it a “beautiful hit” is proof that there was nothing out of the ordinary in the tackle. In fact, the ball-carrier initiated the contact by lowering his pad level, and thus lowering his helmet towards Tuitt. To call a ball-carrier (especially of the 230 pound sort) that is lowering his pad level in order to achieve a first down, defenseless, is to compromise the basic tackling and ball-carrying features of the sport. The fact is Tuitt, at six-foot and seven inches, had to lower his pad level in order to make the basic play. The officials have argued that the helmets collided, but it is clear that Tuitt led with his shoulder and the collision of the helmets was a secondary effect. Players are taught at the earliest levels to keep their facemask in the tackle rather than risk injury to their neck and spinal column by turning their heads at the moment of impact. Moreover, helmets collide on every play. Should we have expected the officials to call a Pittsburgh on Pittsburgh targeting penalty when Pitt’s defensive backs collided, forcing one player to the sideline? Such a proposition seems extreme, ambiguous, and irrational, just as the ejection of Tuitt seemed to many viewers on Saturday night.

      The truth is the targeting rule is subjective, ambiguous and irrational to begin with, and even Kirk Herbstreit felt compelled to make the statement on air that the ejection should be reversed. Such a decision would have required not only right reason and common sense, but a certain degree of courage. The ejection of Tuitt was a decisive game-changing moment in the game, as Herbstreit also noted multiple times. The ejection of Notre Dame’s star defensive player took the wind out of the Notre Dame team, and brought new life to a Pitt team struggling to get any traction whatsoever. Is this what the ACC officials want for college football: subjective and bizarre ejections on “bang-bang” situations that heavily influence the outcome of games?

      I believe in making football as safe as possible, but I fail to see how the NCAA and ACC are “saving” the sport by compromising it’s competitive integrity.

      Thank you ,

    57. says:

      I hope the Phila Eagles or any other NFL team looking for a ‘top’ coach successfully recruits Coach Kelly after this season – we can only be so lucky!

    58. Ridiculous call on Tuitt changed flow of the game. When a good thing is ever said by Musberger about Irish you know it was obvious. Doesn’t change fact of another poor defensive tackling especially in secondary, Guess offensive genius ended in Cincy

    59. I’ve read all the comments, and must say I agree with most of what is being said, and I’m an ND alum and a big fan since I was very young, but unless you’ve been on the practice field day in and day out, how can you assess what type of athletes we really have at this point compared to the top 10 programs and know what the coaches see? We don’t know what type of player we have, maybe they don’t grasp the system well in practice or the coaches don’t think they’re mentally or physically tough enough, or attitude is a problem, and maybe there are other factors seen in practice that prevent the coaches from playing them on Sat.

      I’ve coached sports from middle school to college over many years, and so many of the comments about this game sound like they are coming from parents at a high school game…”fire the coach”, “why aren’t they playing the other QB”, “play my son, he’s better than that kid” so on and so forth. I don’t know if he will, but I’m hoping Kelly will turn the corner. It seems like the recruiting is getting better; more kids seem to want to come to ND than in the recent past. I’m trying to be optimistic about our future. ND football has been so painful to watch. Last year, was a bright spot, and we all can say maybe it was an aberration, but luck and breaks play an important part in just about every great season. I’m a great supporter of Lou Holtz and always have been like so many others, but I seem to remember Lou grabbing face masks of players, yelling in their faces, using profanity, grabbing an official, etc. I’ve seen a lot of good coaches act that way so to blame Brian Kelly, who has tempered his act quite a bit, for his actions on the sidelines, I believe, is wrong. Sure you can blame the staff for last minute time outs and penalties for illegal substitutions and players lacking discipline with stupid penalties, I do. But I remember Lou admitting that he got out-coached, and there were times where his players showed a lack of motivation and got outplayed by inferior teams. Sometimes players can’t find it within themselves emotionally to play their best, and maybe it affects the whole team, and the emotion of the opponent lifts them to a level beyond what’s expected of them and they defeat the better team, aka the “upset”. Doesn’t emotion play a big part in the game of football, especially on defense? Maybe our team chemistry is lacking this year with no clear cut leaders–another reason teams fail. Even Urban Meyer’s Florida team experienced that in his last “so-so” season with the Gators. I’m not condoning the type of play I’ve seen this season; I’m just trying to understand it. Injuries and depth certainly have been a problem worth considering, too. I hope that we can pull together as a TEAM and maybe WE can pull the big upset at Stanford, after, of course, we beat BYU at home, and then in a year or two, maybe we can start to be included regularly in the teams mentioned for inclusion in the NC playoff. Let’s all hope that is the case soon.

    60. irishhawk50 says:

      I have been a somewhat Kelly defender in the past, but this year has me really wondering. Kelly himself always asks “are we better in November than September”? I think the obvious answer is no we aren’t. I think we had all hoped that the early struggles this year were growing pains as the team progressed but realistically they are no better vis a vis the growth of the competition than they were against Temple or Purdue or Michigan. Obviously Kelly and the other coaches are doing something wrong or all the players are unteachable and if that’s the case then the coaches failed to recruit the right players. Either way it falls on the coaches.

    61. billmcsabr says:

      I don’t see comments on the empty backfield strategy. I think it’s a terrible idea, especially with a QB who never runs. The bomb was scored on play action. At the end with the empty backfield we were predictably one-dimensional, having no chance to win. Even 2 or more back sets would be desirable. Look at other teams.