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  • Sluggish Irish Pull Away from Rutgers

    by John Vannie

    Kyle Brindza kicked five field goals and the Notre Dame defense recorded a season-high four interceptions as the Irish defeated Rutgers by 29-16 in the Pinstripe Bowl. The game was a microcosm of the entire season in terms of offensive problems in the red zone and uninspired play against an outmanned opponent. The teams were tied 13-13 at the half, and the Irish were ahead by only 19-16 until Tarean Folston scored with 3:38 left in the game. Brindza added a 49-yard field goal moments later after an interception by Dan Fox for the final margin. Notre Dame ends the season at 9-4.

    The Irish looked strong initially with an opening march to the Rutgers eight yard line. After a four yard run, Tommey Rees threw two straight incompletions and Brindza came on to boot a short three pointer. After the Knights quickly went three and out, T.J. Jones fumbled a line drive punt to set up a tying chip shot by Rutgers’ Kyle Federico.

    Jones immediately atoned for his miscue with a pass reception into scoring territory and an eight yard touchdown run on a jet sweep. Any notion that Rutgers would fold this early in the afternoon was promptly dispelled when quarterback Chas Dodd responded with two long passes to Brandon Coleman, the second of which beat Bennett Jackson in the corner of the end zone for a 10-10 tie.

    As the game moved to the second quarter, Notre Dame had an opportunity when KeiVarae Russell picked off a Dodd pass at the Scarlet Knight 22. The offense could not move forward, however, and Brindza came through again from 38 yards to put the Irish ahead 13-10. Rutgers refused to take the hint and Federico soon kicked another tying field goal midway through the period.

    Rees brought his team back into scoring territory, but once again the drive bogged down as three consecutive passes hit the ground. Brindza fell short on a 44-yarder into the wind for his only recorded miss of the day, and the contest remained tied. Notre Dame fans grew restless during the next series when it appeared the Knights were poised to take the lead before halftime. When Justin Goodwin attempted a halfback pass deep in Irish territory, Russell cut in front of the receiver to grab his second interception and end the threat.

    Notre Dame dominated in the third quarter, but managed only two more Brindza field goals for a 19-13 lead while the Irish defense shut down Rutgers. The last real chance for the Knights came early in the fourth quarter when Janarion Grant returned a kickoff across midfield against the horrifically porous Notre Dame coverage unit. The drive died quietly after a penalty and a sack by Notre Dame, but not before Federico had closed the gap to 19-16 with nine minutes left.

    The Irish then put an end to the drama with a 79-yard scoring drive featuring a 23-yard reception by Troy Niklas and efficient runs by Folston and Cam McDaniel. Folston finished the drive from three yards out, and the game was essentially over.

    Although Rutgers was able to hang around most of the day, Notre Dame dominated by outgaining the Knights 494-237, including a 175-80 rushing advantage, and maintaining possession for nearly 39 minutes. Rees threw 47 times for 319 yards on 27 completions. He did not have a touchdown pass but more importantly he committed no turnovers. Dodd was 10 for 28 and threw three of his team’s four interceptions against one touchdown.

    Let’s take a look at the answers to the pregame questions:

    Which team will take the pressure off its quarterback with a productive running game? This was no contest as Rees received the benefit of a nice one-two punch by Folston and McDaniel.

    Can the Irish set the tone from the opening possession with a touchdown drive? The opening drive looked much like the rest of the season, as the red zone became the dead zone for the Irish.

    Will Cooks and Elston be able to generate turnovers from Notre Dame’s defense? The pass rush was not very productive but the Irish back seven came to life with four very critical picks.

    Can Shembo and Tuitt get to the quarterback? There were a couple of close encounters but real pressure was lacking for the most part. Dodd also scrambled effectively, particularly in the first half.

    Will Rees protect the ball and leave Irish fans with a positive impression? Tommy misfired several times, but at least they all hit the ground.

    Can the Rutgers return men torch the sluggish Notre Dame coverage teams? Yes, Grant did a good job of embarrassing the Irish. Coverage by special teams remains a grave concern as the Kelly era enters its fifth year.

    How many times will Jack Swarbrick extol the virtues of a Jumbotron? None, but the Yankee Stadium grass gave him plenty of ammunition for field turf.

    Which NFL team will Kelly be talking to on his headset in the fourth quarter? It had to be the Redskins. We all know that Daniel Snyder is a little bit eccentric, right?

    At the end of the day, Kelly termed the 2013 season a good one that could have been great. Looking back, the best wins came against Michigan State (its only loss this year) USC and Arizona State, while mind-numbing losses to Michigan and Pittsburgh and a narrow escape against Navy at home were tough to swallow. Notre Dame fans will now hope that Everett Golson can come back and inject life into an offense that will feature excellent skill position talent and a younger but imposing offensive line. Defensively, there will be more questions and holes to fill throughout the lineup, and relatively inexperienced players will have to come of age very quickly. Although special teams remain a sore subject, the Irish will still have Brindza to call upon whenever things go wrong.

    88 Responses to “Sluggish Irish Pull Away from Rutgers”

    1. Hey Vannie,

      Yes, once again, another flat performance from the Irish!!

      It’s hard to watch ND play.. They look so slow and out of position on so many occasions. It’s like
      they think they can just show up and win the game.. Why can’t they come out of the gate
      and take it to another team that they’re clearly better than?

      Where’s the “fire”??

      Where’s the “heart and soul” for playing for ND?

      Besides, 2007, when Charlie Weis almost destroyed our program with the worst season
      I’ve ever seen, this also ranks up there with it in terms of trying to sit through a game and enjoy
      ND football.. Very painful to watch.. Am I wrong?

      Finally, let me say Kelly is overmatched here at ND.. He should go elsewhere with his
      play calling and special teams…

      Frustrated in California..

      • The starting QB was dismissed, the most decorated defensive player in school history graduated, and 10 of the teams they played are in bowl games this post-season. Let’s not freak out too much.

        Tough to watch? Definitely.

        Flat out the gate? Clearly

        But Kelly overmatched? Hardly.

        Yes both the play calling, especially in the red zone, and special teams leave a lot to be desired, but look at the program and tell me as a whole it doesn’t have a much brighter future.

        Two years removed from a national championship bid, and with one of the most stacked skill position 2 deeps returning means you should be nothing more than excited for next season.

        • Mike,

          Thanks for your thoughts..

          I don’t see the future as bright as you do… Here’s why:

          1 The DLINE minus Tuitt looks average at best.

          2 We lack “elite” athletes in the secondary.

          3 Special teams are anything but special.

          4 Bad play callings and game management by Kelly (especially in the red zone)

          5 Brutal schedule

          Where’s the light?

          • laheybarry says:

            The light is the fact that we have Brian Kelly as our head coach; he is the best we have had since Holtz and learns quickly. Vannie, I appreciate every column you write – it is all right on and when you don’t write the recap, it brings NDNation down a notch. Kelly lost “his quarterback” for “not his quarterback”. It makes a difference for a head coach…a huge difference. This guy won 9 games this season against a terrific schedule and against even harder university standards. Be proud. Regarding loss of defensive personnel, I am not discouraged…Brian Kelly is our coach and he knows how to win, plain and simple.

      • What’s up with all the quotation marks? Who are you quoting?

        • NO! It’s not good enough!!!! The fact that making an appearance is enough for you is hilarious!!!!!!!

    2. Poor coaching, poor execution, poor special teams. Kelly needs to take a good hard look at himself and his staff. Godson will not cure all our problems. Congrats to the team for winning.

    3. Sorry, meant Golson

    4. irishhawk50 says:

      A fitting end to ND’s season. They made the game more difficult than it needed to be, but eventually wore down an inferior Rutgers team. As I had said earlier in the season the Irish are a top 25 team, but not a top 10 team. Hopefully next season will continue the growth of this program into a consistent top tier program. Go Irish!

    5. Hard to get inspired about this win but after watching Tommy miss open receiver after open receiver, Golston can not come back soon enough. I cannot believe a 4-year player like Tommy stills throws late to receivers. His lack of steady improvement is the story of this season. That and no playmakers on D…

      • Fenian_32 says:

        Rees’ receivers did him no favors in his last outing, dropping three touchdown passes that forced us to kick field-goals. If the receivers could have caught at least two of those, we are looking at a much better day for Rees. The story of this season was not merely Golson’s absence, but the lack of a running game. Rees is clearly limited in his skill set, we all know that. Nonetheless, if we could have run the ball 40 to 50 more yards per game and added 10 to 12 rushing touchdowns to the season, Rees would have looked like a better QB.

    6. Golson, I meant to type.

    7. Offense lacked good play calling and a QB who can make plays with his feet but was also out of sync with his arm. Defensively the secondary needs an upgrade.Throw in a poor playing field and a under talented Rutgers team, oh well. Having Golson back and hopefully a more imaginative offensive game plan bodes well for next year.

    8. ND Chicago says:

      With nearly a month to prepare for a below average opponent, this was a real weak performance which is a hallmark of the Kelly era against inferior opponents. It’s pretty safe to say it wasn’t Chuck Martin calling the plays all year because it was the same plays Kelly called today and the same lame results as the rest of the season, particularly in the red zone. Defense looked as below average as when Diaco was there. Special teams were, once again, atrocious and Kelly’s teams have failed to show any improvement in this phase (or any other phase for that matter) in 4 years which is a disgrace. Also, Kelly’s team looked as inept at managing the clock today as they were throughout the season and the last 4 years. As long as Kelly is at ND, these are the type of seasons that will be the rule rather than the exception which is only good when viewed through the prism of his three predecessors. The best thing that could happen in the off season is for some ignorant, desperate NFL team to offer Kelly a job because this egomaniac won’t turn it down. The ND job is simply a stepping stone for him and he has no interest in being here any longer than necessary. Hey Brian, when you leave, please take your special teams coach Scott Booker with you.

      • I guess national championship appearances aren’t good enough for you . . .

        • ND Chicago says:

          The NCG was over at halftime so, no, that’s not good enough. Kelly had six weeks to prepare, any decent coach could have at least produced a competitive game. However, the bigger measure of the state of the program, is how they came back this year. I don’t care that Golson was suspended, good coaches have back up plans and modify their game plans so that a guy like Rees isn’t asked to throw the ball 40 times a game which cost this team games this year. A good coach looks at the strengths of the team without the suspended player (OL, RB) and runs the ball rather than put a player in a position to fail by asking him to do something he’s not able to do. Where has this team improved in any area since Kelly took over? Offense has been average and below average in the red zone every year. With the exception of last year’s regular season the defense has been average at best. Special teams have been the worst in the history of the program. They have been 8-5, 8-5, 12-1, and 9-4. 9-4 at ND in year 4 of your program isn’t good enough especially with the 9th win coming against a Rutgers team that had no business being in any bowl game. Maybe 9-4 in year 4 is good enough for you, but people who have watched this program when it was a perennial national power, and know its history, it isn’t. I guess for some ND fans being 9-4 with a Pinstripe Bowl berth in NYC in December is the new definition of a great season. ND has remained an independent in football because they want to compete for NC’s and BCS berths. Anything short of that is a season that is below expectations of not just me, but the program itself (their own words). Every team has injuries, every team has bad breaks, the good ones overcome it, the bad ones make excuses.

        • Nope! It’s about winning not just showing up or in your words making an appearance!!!!!!

    9. Good bye Tommy Rees. My elevated blood pressure will not miss you and you will make a better coach than a top D1 player.

    10. Tommy can’t be blamed for the dropped passes,2 of which would have put this one to bed. That being said it’s a good thing we weren’t playing a real team today. How about MSU coach DAntonio not ranking us in the top 25 even though we were the only team to beat them? Hope the Cardinal pound them. At least the Rutgers coach gave us a ranking.

      • He missed 20 passes. Not one of the “drops” was a good pass! Fuller’ speed turned an overthrow in to a near TD. Daniels ball was over-thrown and he never really had a chance and Jones could’ve caught that TD sure but the pass was late, thus behind Jones.

        • Fenian_32 says:

          I disagree entirely on those three dropped touchdown passes. Fuller’s diving attempt would have been a great catch… but you’d like ND receivers to make great catches, right? Daniels had a poor day, as I remember him dropping another very catchable pass besides the one in the end zone. Honestly, Daniels needs to become much more consistent if he wants to play in the NFL. I’ll credit Jones’ drop in the end-zone to his shoulder injury, because he rarely has drops and that was a sure TD. But after watching three touchdown drops, I’m left wondering if maybe our difficulty this year in the deep passing game wasn’t entirely Rees’ fault. I’m glad Chris Brown had a nice game at least.

    11. An uninspired win by an uninspired team coached by an uninspired coach with uninspired play calling in the red zone. his should have been a 3td minimum win for the Irish. 9-4 is an uninspired record for this team. Way too much talent for this to be a 4 loss team.

    12. Dude747679 says:

      despite what you hacks say, I thank Tommy for doing his best and winning 9games this season.

      Serious issues on defense remain. the offense should take care of itself. I am not a fan of pass first but if the coach would stay with the run, we can match our wins this year, maybe more.

      • Give me a break. I cannot imagine Rees even being a QB for my alma mater, DII Grand Valley. He is awful, just awful.

        I think one of the real stories of the Weis/early Kelly era is the fact that one of the most storied programs in history effectively went three years with a terrible QB.

        Andrew Hendrix must be one of the worst QB recruits ever if he could not unseat Tommy Rees. That kid’s play was ridiculously bad for a senior QB at ND . . . or any other program. He was simply awful on Saturday.

        I’m sure he is a nice kid, but get a grip, with a decent QB this team would have won at least 11 this year, maybe 12.

    13. Can someone explain why our “special” teams are so awful? We have 4 star athletes that can’t tackle anyone! To hell with a defensive coordinator, hire a special teams coach!!

    14. mpsND‘72 says:

      This game was a yawner. An uninspired team once again played down to its competition. 25 years and counting . . .

      • Fenian_32 says:

        What do you mean 25 years and counting? I would certainly sign up for a run like we had in the late 80’s and early 90’s!

    15. Kelly needs to go. he is horrible. He can’t prepare for a big game, he can’t motivate, he is overall a terrible coach he has embarrassed ND completely. He has nothing on Weis at all.
      What a pathetic performance against a bad team. A win by twenty to thirty points should have been an easily attainable goal for this game
      Starting with the bowl game last year there have been almost no positives in our program. It now seems as if GAIII is on the way out–my guess is he transfers —
      by the way — a month to prepare and look again at the special teams. giving them the ball on the other side of the fifty, fumbling a punt, terrible punting, missed field goals–what is kelly doing ???????
      Please lets get kelly out of here

      • “He has nothing on Weis at all.”

        Please leave the board never to say such nonsense again. Rubbish, pure 100% rubbish!

      • You do realize the field goal kicker (Brindza) made 5 out of 6 field goals. The one miss was a 44 yarder
        into the wind. Agree that kickoff coverage is horrible. The fumbling punt was the only turnover. Hard to blame Kelly on that one. It was his senior captain who will be in the NFL next year.

        If you want Weis back take him. He really is moving that Kansas program forward.

        If Kelly leaves who do you think is going to come here and coach? Saban or Meyer ain’t coming.

      • Hilarious. This team went to the national championship game last year, remember?

    16. I am very thankful Tommy Reese. What would have happened without him this year. When faced with adversity, scathing hate from fans, and a lack of physical attributes, TR stayed the course and played to the best of his ability. Golson chose to cheat and he was on top of the world. Golson will always be behind TR in my eyes. I never had the physical ability, academics or the money to attend ND, but My honor and integrity have gotten me far.

    17. I read alot of posts on this article about today’s so called game. Like many of you I too saw an unispired team, coach, and players. I have ohup with one conclusion……..since Golson was suspended for cheating….Kelly i believe didnt like the decision handed down because let’s face it some suspensions handed by down the University are stupid, ridiculous, left scratching your head/wondering. He rode off this season and just looked forward to next yr……but mark my words if he and next yr.’s team decision go at least 10-2 with a BCS Bowl win then he goes along with Swarbrick, and the rest of the administration!!!!!! Because I heard all the excuses from kelly to some ND fans!!!! It is going on 25 yrs. since our last NC and let’s face it….we are not even close to winning or competing for one. Last yr.’s NC game was a FLUKE!!!! Only reason why they were in it was to draw a large crowd from to prominent fan bases!!!!!

      • frank abruzzino says:

        This game was hard to watch! I just do not expect much with our head coach. Where is Ara when we really need him-Again !! GO ND!

      • Michael Scott says:

        I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying because some of your wording is incoherent, but are you saying that if the football team doesn’t win a BCS bowl game next year, the university administration should resign en masse? That seems a little dramatic.

        • Why is that dramatic? That’s all I heard this year is if we had Golson, the offense would be much better, all the injuries thats why the team is playing poorly! Enough with the excuses! Kelly bagged the year and it was evident from his actions, his excuses, and the way the team was prepared (for example the offense was making the same mistakes yesterday as they did in the first game of the season)! Because Golson is suppose to be back….then ND will be much better team! Thats all I heard this season. So fine! Golson is back and now there is NO EXCUSE not to go AT LEAST 10-2 and a BCS Bowl win!!! ANYTHING LESS YOU CLEAR HOUSE!!!!! Like I stated last night…this year proved it that WE DID NOT BELONG IN THE NC GAME LASY YEAR!!!! THIS YEAR PROVED IT that we are no where near even to compete for a NC title in the next decade!!! Understand now?

        • Yeah, incoherent at best. As for the substance of his comments, I have only one word-wow.

          By the way, Aaron, this team went to the national championship game last year.

          • Yep! They sure did go to the NC game last year and got EMBARRASSED!!!!!! But you are fine with that and we got crushed by a team, a school, a program that we ever hoped to be. But your right….I guess I am incoherent right Dirty!!!!??????

            By the way instead of running at the mouth take my suggestion and go watch some games that Holtz was coaching while at ND. Then comeback and tell me if you still want to make excuses!!!!???

      • The idea that the fate of the Administration depends on the football team going to the BCS next year shows that you have no concept of what Notre Dame is about.

        • Im very aware of ND about! I am also not stupid to know that the administration also reaps the rewards of the football program. But being a Catholic myself and what the mission is please enlighten ne on what ND is!!!!??? I ‘ll be anxiously waiting your reply!!!!

          • Aaron,
            It’s really simple. We want it ALL. We want to win, we want to be the smartest, we want stellar moral values, we want to be the best sports, we want to be the most fun, and we want the whole FBS world to shudder in fear whenever they have to face our squad. Nothing less than utter domination is acceptable and nothing short of perfection can possibly assuage our righteous entitlement to our rightful place at the pinnacle of this sport.
            Now with this Pinstripe victory we have taken the mantle of most winningest. A true Irish fan will not tolerate surrender of this position — ever. Not to the Wolverines, the Crimson Tide or any other team.
            I am utterly agnostic on Kelly’s place in our proud history and his ability to deliver. The team would benefit greatly if he would raise expectations for himself.
            Go Irish, thanks to the seniors!

          • Michael Scott says:

            ND is a great university with aspirations to be on the short list of the world’s elite universities (depending upon who you ask, it may be there already or it may not) while maintaining, conspicuously and unapologetically, a conservative Catholic identity. That’s it, and it’s been that way at least since Father Hesburgh’s tenure, as far as I can tell. The football team is the football team. It’s an enormous money maker for the school, but it doesn’t control the school.

    18. Let’s look forward instead of whining:

      What does the future hold for Carlise and GAIII? It looks like the backfield will be Folston, Bryant and McDaniel.

      We have 3 spread qb’s in Golson, Zaire, and (if he signs) Kizer – what is the qb situation going to look like?

      Look at the talent at wr!

      Look at the recruiting class (if they all sign) coming in!

      Very happy to hear Van Gorder going to be DC. His UGA defenses were great!

      I feel with all that happened this year, on and off the field, a 9-4 season is pretty good. My only gripe is that in certain fields things haven’t improved – KICKOFF coverage and PUNT RETURN!

      • You live in La La Land but that is why fans like you are satisfied with an AVERAGE AT BEST ND Team. LET ME SUGGEST TO YOU AND OTHERS THAT MAKING EXCUSES FOR POOR PERFORMANCES for the last 20 years go grab some ND games from the Mid/late 80’s-Early 90’s when “LOU” coached. Watch how prepared his teams were and how they hardly made mental mistakes and were tough and disciplined!!!! Then comeback and tell me you are satisfied with a dismal 9-4 season!!!!?????

        • Lou won 37 games in his first four seasons at ND. Kelly, in his first 4 seasons at ND, has won … 37 games. Please get a grip on reality. Lou had 3 seasons with 4 or more losses. It happens, even when you are a good coach, which Lou was.

          • Mike Coffey says:

            Lou’s three four-loss seasons were out of a total of 11. Kelly’s have been out of a total of four, and he coached at least one more game per season than Holtz did. Is it your position Brian Kelly will never coach Notre Dame to fewer than four losses ever again?

            • No, it is my position that Holtz was a legendary coach. BK is not quite up there with him, but at a similar point in their career at ND he is just a shade under what Lou accomplished during that same period. To make BK out to be dog meat in comparison to Holtz or anyone since then is hugely unfair. Winning percentages at ND: Holtz 76.5%; Kelly 71.2%; Davie 58.3%; Willingham 58.3%; Weis 56.5%. Kelly is much closer to Holtz than to the other 3 who are all very close to each other. Yet there are people on here who think Weis was better? There is no one out there with a better track record clamoring to take over.

            • Mike Coffey says:

              “A shade under” is a trifle disingenuous, no? Holtz has 23 straight wins and a #1 and #2 finish, not to mention playing the most difficult schedule in the country in 1989 and going 12-1.

            • Respectfully disagree with you. The difference between 76% and 71% is one victory every 20 games. The difference between 71% and 58% is one more victory every 7-8 games. Yes, Lou’s teams faced a difficult schedule. This year’s schedule was not a cakewalk, 5 Top 25 teams (Sagarin ranks our schedule at 17, for comparison No. 1 Fla. State’s SOS was 63). Last year our schedule was ranked toughest in the country preseason (did not finish that way because USC and Michigan both had off years but still not many gimmes on that schedule).

              I heard Lou speak a few years ago and hear was his description of the ND fan base. “I came in and they said we want you to be competitive. We lost a lot of games that first year but they were close. Then they said, by competitive we want you to win. We won most of our games, and they said we want you win them all. When we won them all, they said we want you to win them by bigger margins.” As a grad, I find the sense of entitlement among some ND fans to be amazing.

            • “here” was his descripton. typo.

        • Would you rather we admit mercenaries who are not representative of either the student body, or the University? We do NOT aspire to be the school, football team or program that Alabama is- If you do, then perhaps that should be your destination for your support. I do NOT want a program where the athlete’s lose their scholarships after 2 years if not on the 2 deep. A program where class attendance is questionable. A program where the players include thugs and gangsters.

          And for what it’s worth- I am an ND alumnus- and a professor at a SEC University.

    19. canadianirish says:

      Will the return of a mobile quarterback be enough to change our fortunes??? Any team dropping 9 will get shredded by Golson. The entire defensive strategy changes. Next year will be very telling… Kelly will have all of the pieces he wanted in place. Now it’s make or break for him.

    20. Michael Scott says:

      I had a hard time staying interested, and it seemed as if the announcers were having a hard time too. And the crowd was awfully quiet. But then again, it was a second tier bowl with a noon kickoff in the worst venue for football in the country. (The sideline seats at Yankee Stadium are so far from the field, it’s like watching the game from the parking lot)

    21. Michael Scott says:

      By the way, I just read that espn’s Jesse Palmer saved Chris Fowler’s life during halftime by giving him the Heimlich maneuver. I guess that could explain why they were having a hard time getting real worked up about the game during the second half.

    22. You negative posters are pathetic. We controlled the game totally, had a couple of sure tds dropped, and the young D played well. Somehow we beat an 11-1 team and a couple of other ranked teams despite having the worst coach and qb combination in ncaa history. If only we could get a good coach like Bo Pelini or Brady Hoke who know how to run the ball 90% of the time, then we’d show them.

    23. QB is by far the most important position in today’s college football. Don’t get me wrong I am very
      glad Rees was at ND this year but Rees is below average in regards to passing. In regards
      to running the football, Rees is the #1 worst QB in college football. Remember not only did ND lose
      their #1 QB this year but ND also lost their probable #2 QB Gunner Kiel. Next year ND will have 3 very
      talented dual threat QBs running the same offense and ND no doubt will be a much better team.

    24. NDBonecrusher says:

      What a “glass half empty” bunch we are! Vannie called this one (again!). In the end, ND was able to run the ball late and eventually the size mismatch up front took hold. Still many questions: why is kickoff coverage so poor? Why is the red zone production so poor? Why can’t we get a damn pass rush? These areas have been consistently weak this year, so I hope they will be obvious bullet points for Kelly and his new staff. BUT, we did nearly beat the spread and got a much-needed W to close out the season. 2013 not kind to the IRISH with suspensions and injuries on top of injuries. TR did his very very best for us. A lot to be happy about for next season so buck up! Glad I don’t have to watch a game with any of you pessimists, although according to my family I am no better. See you at the B&G game!

    25. I watched until half time, then could not take it any longer and went to my office to work. I am not a Golson fan, but Rees played 4 years exactly like he played in high school in Illinois, like a 3-star without mobility. However, we must thank him for what he did with the talent he had.

      There’s a lot to be said about Kelly as our coach, good and bad, but you must say that he has brought some stability to the program. He will not be around much longer, so I am pleased that the next HC will have a good base to build from, which the previous 3 HCs didn’t give Kelly.

      Swarbrick is where the problem lies, as his metrics for excellence have little depth, and he does not understand the Axiom of Accountability. Where was his brain on agreeing to 5 ACC games instead of 4, which they would have accepted? And when is he going to realize that he has to compete against the SEC to be successful, instead of a 1-game possibility.
      Whitecoat, ’62

      • I didn’t realize you were privy to Swarbrick’s negotiations with the ACC . . .

        As for the SEC, Tennessee is on the schedule . . . but, I’m pretty sure consistently winning against FSU, MIami, USC, Clemson, etc. will be more than enough to map the playoffs and play even more SEC teams.

        You know, like last year when they didn’t play one SEC team and went to the national championship game.

    26. For awhile it looked like Kelly and company just dusted off the Pittsburgh game plan of poor special teams play, stalled drives inside the red zone, anemic pass rush and allowing a lesser foe hang around. Fortunately, they got their act together in the second half thanks largely to a downhill running game. It’s an understatement to say we don’t have a BCS caliber offense, so changes are definitely in order going in to the off season.

      Best of luck to the outgoing seniors and any juniors who declare for the NFL draft (although I hope they all stay).

    27. Ralph E. Stubbs says:

      As a NJ native and ardent supporter of Notre dame, I dreaded this game. What was in it for ND? Rutgers would have made its season with a victory . And, after the first half, I turned the game off. We looked terrible. As someone has said, it was lucky we did n’t play a real team. Whose fault was this. First and foremost, it is Kelly’s. It is among his responsibilities to motivate the team. But, it is also incumbent upon our athlete’s to play their best every down and it appeared they didn’t. They may have wanted a warm weather site, but when that didn’t material ize, they should have pulled themselves together and resolved to put one hell of a beating on Rutgers. How about going out with a 70 point game.
      Notre Dame seems to get some good athletes, although we do not appear able to attract good defensive backs. That is a mystery to me as we are able to attract good running backs and receivers. But it is not enough to be strong or fast, you must also be tough and the school must encourage that toughness. Weiss said ND would play nasty and in that he was right. let’s get a kid from Youngstown or Gary.


    28. My biggest issue with the program is just the lack of emotion and fire I see every week on game day! Lets for a moment forget the play calling, special teams and clock management and look at the intangible of emotion. I have been an ND fan for over 30 years and one of things I remember about those early years, especially during the Holtz years, was how fired up the players were coming out of the tunnel, on the side lines and the shear nastiness they would display on the field. Example Chris Zorich! What is it that the pride of representing a university like Notre Dame and just playing such a physical game as football inspires such little emotion and excitement from 18-22 year olds? To me the teams seem to approach the game as a job. Go out, get the job done and move on. I just don’t get it!

      Please tell me I’m not the only one who sees this trend………


    29. frank carpin says:

      wow…a rough crowd to please…..where is the credit to the coaches for going to the run so effectively in the second half and the defense coordinator for his adjustment and only 3 points? yes..special teams still atrocious but 2014 should bring more smiles and wins….production on oFFENSEese was amazing given the running limitations at QB….not so next year

    30. charlieirish13 says:

      loosing golson this year was worst then what we thought. Tommy is a good kid but ho leader on the field and his passing is very questionable and besides that’s all he can do. No threat at QB. Opposing “D” did not have to prepare much. We need to establish a positive rush offense. Next years offense should be very explosive!!!!!!!!!! The “D” needs leadership and a dam good coordinator which I feel they did not have or a offensive coordinator. Lot of talent on this team and next year is make or break with the schedule we have. Must perform awesome or we loose a lot of recruiting possibilities we have built up. Need to perform to win recruits!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Against good teams our offense was not overwhelming with Golson. He avoided turnovers but we could have easily lost in 2012 to Pitt (missed FG), Stanford and Michigan (6 turnovers and we only had 10 points). This years defense was FAR inferior to last year’s D. Tommy’s mobility hurt us and he passed erraticly at times, but Golson is not nearly as adept as Tommy at audibles and reading progressions (at this point). Don’t get me wrong: we will be more prolific with Golson at the controls and I am glad he is returning, but our shortfalls this year come from a variety of sources

    31. For all the folks asking to stop with the pessimism, i submit that it is realism and not pessimism. I am a loyal ND fan and have been for decades. the truth is however that we are poorly coached and we play down to competition. our execution is poor, our game plan is poor and we have not improved in certain areas at all after 4 years with the same coach.
      Our special teams are inexcusable–that is 100% on Kelly –no change in four years
      Our running game is usually lame—
      We don’t finish teams off at all
      we don’t have a two minute drill
      Our red zone offense is among the very worst in the country
      we don’t audible well–if there were twenty time outs each half Kelly would use everyone
      I dont blame Tommy R for being an average D II at best QB. he did do his best I get that we lost Goldson and Kiel but after four years not to have something better in place is all on Kelly
      This is not being pessimistic or negative–it is simply stating true facts
      I will continue to watch or go to every game, root for the Irish above everyone but i am not convinced that even with a mobile QB that Kelly can coach this team up to big wins. Without a BCS game next year having given him five years I think if Kelly coaches us down again he has to go

      • FLIRISH,

        I totally agree with everything you’ve just said.. I also posted almost the exact thing

        You can’t argue with your “statement of facts” … Nice post!

    32. This is Notre Dame for Christ’s sake. We are supposed to do things the “right” way. We don’t expect our athletes to be just athletes, but also to be scholars and ambassadors of faith to the world. If you want to watch some team full of thugs score 80 points and run up the score every week you are watching the wrong program! and you’re probably missing the point. Now having said that of course there is room for improvement. As soon as I heard Golson was out for the year and Rees was in, a knew it was gonna be a longggg year. Didn’t you? With Golson this year we might very well be 12-0 and waiting for January. All things considered 9 wins this season isn’t so bad and is something we’re just gonna have to swallow. Kelly isn’t the best coach of all time but he’s a darn good coach, the best we have had in a long time. I can’t believe somebody was even calling for Weis to return?! How far has this program come since 2007? Every season is all but guaranteed to be a winning season now and some years, when it all comes together, we can make not only a BCS bowl but the BCS championship game. Next year very well could be one of those years. Have some patience. Good things come to those who wait. Go Irish! Now. and Forever.

      • ND Chicago says:

        Patience? I think 25 years and counting is long enough. There are no more loyal fans in the world than ND fans, but ND is fast becoming the Chicago Cubs of CFB; come to the game for the experience more so than the product on the field. You see how long Cubs fans have been waiting, at some point the novelty of going to a game wears off and patience runs out. I don’t understand why some people feel if you criticize the team or the coach you’re not being a good fan. Do these same people feel that you’re a bad parent for if you discipline your child for doing something wrong or express disappointment in them for underachieving? I was born a ND fan and I will die a ND fan, but at some point you have to call it like is- there isn’t tangible progress in any area on the field and the team is no closer to winning a championship today than they were in Kelly’s first year. ND football should never be content with a close victory over a 6-6 Rutgers team in the Pinstripe Bowl to finish 9-4 with losses to Pitt, a weak Michigan team, and near losses to Navy (at home) and a horrible Purdue team. Have the standards fallen that far?

        • So now Kelly is responsible for the 21-year NC drought before he came?

          • Does it say anywhere on this thread that anyone is blaming him for anything that happened in the 21 years prior to his arrival? In regard to Kelly his 4 years at Notre Dame have been average at best. Since when does competing to make the final AP Top 25 make someone a great coach at a University and football program like Notre Dame? I realize there are some fans like you that believe a Pinstripe Bowl victory, Sun Bowl victory, Champs Sports Bowl loss, and a blow out loss in the NCG qualifies as a great job, but those of us who remember when ND contended almost every year for New Year’s Day Bowls and occasionally for a championship it falls far short of expectations 4 years into a program. The thing that concerns people is the lack of any progress; name an area where Kelly’s team have gotten better from year 1 to year 4? You can’t, because they haven’t. Finally, don’t ever compare Lou to Brian Kelly. Lou loved the University, won a NC, and he was one of the legends to roam the ND sidelines. Brian Kelly could care less about ND, has won nothing of significance, and is only biding his time until he can go to the NFL.

            • When someone suggested patience, your reply was that you had been patient for 25 years. So you are imparting your impatience on a coach who was not part of the previous 21 years. Anyone who thought this team was going much further this year with Gholson gone was quite unrealistic, in my opinion. BK’s record is demonstrably better than the 3 coaches that preceded him, which does not make him a legend but also does not make him a bad coach. Not popping champagne corks over the Pinstripe Bowl, but there was a time when we lost, what, 8 or 9 straight bowl games, so I do not understand “the sky is falling” reaction. Do you take no pleasure any more in winning a game? No joy last year in winning 12 because the last game was a disappointment? Not every win is going to be pretty, and don’t try to pretend that any coach had nothing but pretty wins. As for how much BK loves the university, do you ever get tired of looking into someone’s soul to discern these things? Gerry Faust loved ND more than anyone.

      • charlieirish13 says:

        Fitz you are 100% correct and you also know what the future will be with our talent and a good QB.

        • ND Chicago says:

          Kelly is definitely a better coach than his 3 predecessors, but considering the fact Davie, Willingham, and Weis are 3 of the worst, if not the worst, coaches in the history of Notre Dame football that isn’t saying much. Last regular season was a great journey and I loved every second of it, but I never viewed the season or the team through rose colored glasses. The team had obvious weaknesses, but through grit and good luck they won all their games. They could have easily have lost 2-3 of those games just like this year they could have easily won, or lost, 2-3 more games. It’s the coach’s job to address the areas of weakness or concern because there will always be games every year that can go either way. Kelly has not addressed or improved any of these areas (offense, defense, special teams,clock management, turnovers, etc.) since his first year and that is a big factor in why they lost some games this year they shouldn’t have. That’s a fact and it falls on the head coach. After 4 years I want to see improvement which will result in a team that doesn’t lose to inferior opponents on a regular basis and lead to the ultimate goal of being a perennial BCS contender. Lou Holtz’s first year at ND he was 5-6, but people saw improvement and a competitive team. That’s what I want to see from Kelly’s teams moving forward; improvement. While love of ND certainly isn’t a prerequisite of the head football coach my opinion is that Notre Dame is a special place and for those who are lucky enough to be part of it, it’s a privilege. I don’t think it’s a place where you stay until something better comes along like, say, the NFL.

    33. Glad season is over. I’m not sure if there is the true desire to win it all from top down. Kicking guys out for texting and other silly things just show the University is very happy with this type of season. Would probably prefer 3 losses so fans still stay on bandwagon. Just like the basketball team. Consistently average.

      • The best coaches demand discipline. Lou sent Ricky Watters and Tony Brooks home before the ND-USC game in 1988 because they were late for a meeting. I guess, by your reasoning, Lou didn’t have a big desire to win.

    34. I don’t get this stuff about ‘momentum’ going into next season.

      The season doesn’t start for another 244 days (and counting). There will be a new DC a new OC, a new QB, new faces on both lines, a new recruiting class – everything will be new.

      I didn’t see the game on Saturday but from all reports it was nothing special, which is an apt description of the season just passed. This was a good team but for various reasons I don’t think we ever saw them at their best, for reasons that will be endlessly debated, argued over and whatnot until spring practice. The incoming recruiting class will provide fodder and all accounts have it as a good one that is getting better as the day approaches.

      Then – Who will get a 5th year, who is leaving, how many schollies to hand out, etc – that will keep us somewhat sated for a while.

      But a mediocre victory against a mediocre 6-6 Rutgers team is nothing to get excited about.


    35. Forgive me if someone has already pointed out that a couple of years ago BK whined that the program would improve once he got his own players throughout the roster. Well he has just completed year four and this is what we have.

    36. El Capitano says:

      After last season’s success, the loss of Golson meant there was nowhere to go but down. So many of you on this very site put us at 3-4 losses at the beginning of the season. So now you are saying we underachieved? In my book we did what we could. I applaud Kelly for sticking to his guns and running his offensive scheme and rotating lots of guys into it. Next year we will be that much more prepared to compete.

      • Fenian_32 says:

        I would have liked to see more of an emphasis on the running game. More two-back sets, jet sweeps etc. Half-back screens. Maybe even an “ogre formation” like Stanford has in the red zone where they bring in an extra offensive lineman. I also do feel like Kelly got too pass-happy in games, especially in the red zone. We all knew that ND needed to run the ball effectively this year without Golson, and we couldn’t do it. The other thing to remember is that the Golson-led 2012 offense also struggled in the red zone. We had to settle for a lot of field goals last year. Does that not concern you?

    37. The team was an underachieving team and that is Kellys fault. that is not opinion but more simply a fact. Losing to Pitt and the horrific special teams had nothing to do with Goldson being here or not. It has to do with poor coaching and poor performances. Same is true for the Michigan loss

      • Fenian_32 says:

        The arm-tackling in coverage was embarrassing against Rutgers and has been all year. It makes no sense for Kelly to brand the program as physical, power football, and then have guys looking like they don’t know how to stick a guy. I don’t understand why he doesn’t just hire or assign a full-time coordinator, and of course have that guy also do recruiting. The other frustrating thing is the lack of big plays in the kick and punt return game. I’ve watched some great kick/punt returns during bowl season, so the “spread punt/new rules” excuse doesn’t hold up. At the very least, Kelly better have somebody new take over special teams.

    38. After watching most of the other bowl games this season, it’s sad that the Irish decided to play a second rate Rutgers team. There was much better competition out there with which the Irish could have well contended and gotten much more respect. They obviously went for the big bucks, which always has been ND’s MO ever since they signed up with NBC – some example!