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  • Army Succumbs to Irish Invasion

    by John Vannie

    C.J. Sanders returned the opening kickoff for a 92-yard score and Notre Dame never looked back in cruising to a 44-6 win over Army on Saturday in San Antonio, Texas. The Irish streaked to a 21-0 lead in the first eleven minutes and stretched their lead to 38-6 at the half before calling off the dogs against the outmanned Black Knights. DeShone Kizer threw three touchdown passes, two to tight end Durham Smythe from Belton, Texas, and directed a balanced attack before Malik Zaire came on in relief in the third quarter.

    Army could not generate much offense behind backup quarterback Chris Carter, who started the game due to an injury to starter Ahmad Bradshaw. Although Carter failed to complete a pass and ran for only 30 yards, it would not have mattered had Bradshaw been in the lineup. The Notre Dame defense was ready for the option attack and turned back all but one scoring threat when the Knights managed to reached the red zone.

    The Irish thoroughly dominated the contest and were never threatened. They recorded 31 first downs to ten for Army, and even outgained them on the ground by 261-229. The victory raised Notre Dame’s record to 4-6, however the schedule becomes more difficult in the final two weeks with encounters against Virginia Tech and USC remaining.

    There not much more in the way of analysis that I can add to the account of this mismatch, but let’s look at the answers to the pregame questions.

    Will the depleted middle of the Irish defensive line be able to shut down the inside run? Yes, the Irish were in control of the line of scrimmage throughout, and Jarron Jones even made a cameo appearance to get in on the fun.

    Can the young Army cornerbacks keep Notre Dame from passing them silly? Jaylon McClinton made a few outstanding plays for the Knights, but the Irish receivers were open most of the day.

    Will Notre Dame’s special teams finally make a positive contribution? Yes. Of course, it helped to be playing against the only team in the country whose special teams are objectively worse.

    Can Kizer get into a passing rhythm and improve his accuracy? He had plenty of time in the pocket and made some quality throws, but his accuracy still left a lot to be desired.

    Will Army match Navy’s success by avoiding turnovers? Each team had an interception to thwart a scoring threat, but there were no turning points in this game.

    Can the Poe brothers haul in any long passes against the Irish? Christian Poe had one of the two Army receptions on the day for a grand total of nine yards, while a couple of other apparent completions were negated by penalties.

    Will the Knights elect to gamble on critical fourth downs? Can they convert? They tried several times, but the Irish won all but one of those battles where Army scored its only touchdown.

    Can NBC manage its camera angles to avoid showing all of the empty seats? NBC did a stellar job of masking the half-empty stands, but Dan Hicks and Doug Flutie did a poor job of telling us what was happening on the field.

    Next week’s first-ever meeting with the Virginia Tech Hokies is the final home game for the Notre Dame seniors. The Irish will try to keep hope alive for a post season berth, hopefully in a warm weather location.

    32 Responses to “Army Succumbs to Irish Invasion”

    1. Still not impressed with Kizer and his accuracy. I think the NFL talk is getting to him as his accuracy is
      getting worse, this is Army for crying out loud! Good to see the defense pumped and ready to play but
      a big challenge awaits next week with VT.

      • irish rifle says:

        The strange thing is that he is consistently able to make the difficult passes but struggles at times to hit receivers who are wide open.

        • So true. I think he has issues with shorter routes like slants and out routes, and the difficult ones you are referring too are often seem routes, which are tighter windows, but not necessarily ‘difficult’ if you know what you are doing. He’s always throwing slants and crossing patterns behind the receiver, while he is often overthrowing or short-hopping out-routes.

    2. irishhawk50 says:

      I don’t think there is a lot to take away from this game. The subs got some game day experience and the uniforms weren’t too gaudy. Maybe they better keep the green uniforms for next week.

      I was multi-tasking and missed who it was that intercepted on the goal line on 4th down and cost the Irish 15 yards. Know where you are and down and distance before the ball is snapped.

      I am curious how they will play against VT who may be down after their loss to GT.

    3. Solid job by the offense, the defense, and (except for an XP) special teams. Fire Kelly anyway.

    4. Agree no real take aways except we can’t run consistently even against bad teams and we have no real red zone offense but we all knew this –its 7 year old news

    5. I was watching the game with my 19 year old son. Sometime after the third touchdown I realized that neither of us had yet to cheer aloud. You make me sad Brian Kelly. Please go away.

    6. NOTHiNG has happened to change the fact that Kelly and his entire outfit needs to go, along with Swarbrick and even Jenkins if he
      they don’t act. This us not going to get any better until we have a complete change of leadership.


    7. This game showed ND fans nothing.Beating down a physically inferior opponent proves nothing,so any improvement is hard to preceive.If you put perfume on a pig you still have a pig.

    8. TOO much negative comment but KIZER needs another year.reason for optimism in 2017

    9. Anybody jacked up over this win can’t be serious. The only way I could cut BK any slack is to win next week which I think he might…but most importantly….win on the road against USC which totally dominated Washington…the number 4 team in the country. if he beats USC then I believe that would be a huge win for him and his biggest win by far and for me…I would be alright for another year. I just don’t see that happening though. Not at all.

    10. Carlos Bauza says:

      BKelly is playing above his head at ND. He is at his point of incompetence.

    11. Charlie Stevens says:

      You could hire Nick Saban and we will not be winning a championship until the holy fathers give us a level playing field. Until then, firing Kelly would be akin to shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic.

      • John Vannie says:

        Sorry, Charlie, but you’re putting the blinders on. A dead cat would be 8-2 with this team. Kelly’s flag football offense, clueless defense and horrid special teams are the culprit. The team is soft, by virtue of the schemes Kelly runs and the vastly substandard strength and conditioning program. Yes, Notre Dame has academic and geographical disadvantages, but also has been able to recruit elite talent when the coach is a proven winner. Kelly has fallen off in this regard, largely because he and his mediocre staff are being outworked by the competition. Finally, Kelly has been given plenty of concessions by the administration, from Admissions to field turf and a Jumbotron. He hasn’t delivered and his regime is on a downward trajectory. It’s time for him to go.

        • Vannie –
          Can you elaborate on the problems you mention with the S&C program? Or point me to a source that elaborates?
          It would be much appreciated.

          • John Vannie says:

            I’d rather not say whom I talked to regarding this subject, but it is no secret among those close to the program.

        • Mr. Vannie: I had not heard about admissions concessions granted to Kelly. Could you please elaborate? Thanks!

        • “A dead cat would be 8-2 with this team.” Priceless.

      • ND lost to Standford, Duke and Navy. Therefore, your argument about academic standards and ‘disadvantages’ goes out the window. Navy has the usual disadvantages of any service academy and Duke has little in the way of a football tradition, especially any sort of winning tradition. For the right coach, ND has huge advantages, among them: Football tradition, plenty of booster money, a strong fan base (although this is dwindling), and national TV/broadcasting appeal (although this is also dwindling). It’s a grand opportunity for a great coach to awaken a once dominant program. Unfortunately, BK is not up to the task. The opportunity is there.

      • Wrong as can be. NIck Saban would be 10-0 with this team with its watered down schedule.
        That the real critical assessment on Kelly is that he was gone 4-6 against the one of the weakest
        schedules in ND modern history. The benefit of hindsight has shown Texas and the Spartans not as tough as
        they looked against a Kelly mal coached team. Here is the play: watch $warbucks start
        the pivot away from Kelly after the VaTech beat down followed by an SC meltdown. $warbucks knows
        his own stock has declined and that he further knows he is sitting on a time bomb of now his own making.
        Watch the pivot away from his public declaration supporting Kelly to a concern. $warbucks will express
        growing concern about the mounting losses, then increasing concern about the recruiting trending downward,
        then mounting concern about Kelly’s failure to identify assistant coaches of competency and the failure to
        oversee and correct their incompetencies and finally, $warbucks will announce either a firing or resignation
        to primarily save his own hide. Then $warbucks will again be unable to land a tier 1 coach. Merry Christmas to all
        and see you again in 5 years.

    12. Carlos Bauza says:

      Notre Dame is sending mixed messages. So, where do you want to go? The capital infusion in the stadium is huge. But there are no commensurate returns on investment.

      The coaching staff is stuck in Incompetent Mode within a very expensive sports complex.

    13. Ok we beat the most depleted army team ive seen in years. On the other side usc demolished Washington. We couldn’t run the ball against Army, just the same old pass happy Kelly/ Keizer format that’s not going to happen with the next two, but there’s hope by thanksgiving it will be just about over and we can stew for 7 or 8 months and listen to more crap from Kelly, hopefully kizer runs and Zaire bails that way Kelly can start with fresh excuses. Don’t we all feel better now!

    14. They beat up on a creampuff.

      The unis are hideous.

      I’m outta here.

    15. Ellen Bush says:

      Please no excuse. Kelly has to GO. Beating Army is not a great feat. If he stays, ND is an average or below average team once again. Bad news for recruiting once again if Kelly stays. The way he treats his players, I’d never want to play for him.

    16. Can anyone name an Irish qb that improved yoy under Kelly tutelage?

    17. At least it looks like USC learned how to play football after getting schooled by BAMA. VA Tech isn’t a good team, after getting beaten by a vulnerable GA Tech. I still think this pansy administration is too weak to fire BK after two losses; they’re satisfied with the win against Army. I see Bob Diaco isn’t doing much at UConn, so either he can’t head-coach or the 2012 team was a fortunate combination of talent and leadership on the offensive side of the ball. It is so rare to see any form of leadership among ND players over the past 20 years, scary.

    18. Only 27 comments on the board? What does that say about the indifference toward Irish football?

    19. Does anybody know what the “official” attendence was for the game against Army? I am just curious.

    20. Tom Coughlin too old? He was at BC. Really is a cream puff schedule, and a decent coach can easily put together a few 2-3 loss seasons which may add a little excitement.