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  • It’s Not an Execution Problem, Brian

    by SEE

    Saturday’s debacle wasn’t the result of an “execution problem” or a “turnover problem”, it was the result of a game plan that made execution hard and put ND at risk of turnovers.

    Two simple points:  Point 1. Wimbush, for all of his talent, has been erratic, late with reads and been sailing passes all year.  Given the above, having him pass it often early against a fast opportunistic defense in an incredibly hostile crowd is going to lead to turnovers.   That’s common sense.  Just like “not throwing” the ball in a hurricane is common sense.  It’s not okay for a head coach to later lament “That’s just being more accurate and being on time with the throw,”  No Brian, “that’s just being the coach who thinks about how to put his QB in a position to succeed.”    Pass plays come with high execution risk by nature and Wimbush has been completing a very low percentage of this passes and his downfield accuracy has been awful.  In 2014, chuck and duck play-calling helped turn Everett Golson into a turnover machine with Notre Dame often falling behind two scores early.   Saturday night smelled of 2014.  Ian Book’s interception was the result of a bait and switch that Miami practiced all week.  The strip sack later in the game wasn’t because “Brandon has got to feel the pressure and step up in the pocket”, it was because Notre Dame was way behind… wait for it…  because of three interceptions that led to 17 points, the entire team was pressing and Miami was teeing off.  Yeah, your pressure sensing is going to be off in that situation.

    Point 2. Slow developing running plays are fresh meat for a fast penetrating defense.  That strategy didn’t work against Georgia and it didn’t work against Miami.  As I noted on Saturday night, if ND just ran straight at Miami in the first half, we probably would have been down 7-0 and won the second half.

    Instead, Notre Dame played right into their hands.  Richt later seemed flabbergasted that ND was so easy to dispatch.

    Richt said Miami’s defensive staff, via the radio chatter in his headset, was “predicting” what Notre Dame was going to do. Diaz said Trajan Bandy’s pick-six was predicted. “We did say on the headset, Trajan’s going to intercept this pass.” 

    It wasn’t an execution problem.  It wasn’t a turnover problem. It was a coaching problem.

    Kelly acted later as if the team didn’t take care of the football.  “You’ve got to protect the football, and we did not do a very good job of protecting the football. That can’t get lost in this whole narrative of what kind of offense you’re going to run. First and foremost, you’ve got to protect the football, and we didn’t do a very good job of that.”

    And why was that, Brian?



    34 Responses to “It’s Not an Execution Problem, Brian”

    1. Exactly. Is there a way to make sure the coaches see this. When our running backs are being tackled from behind in the backfield because of slow developing plays it’s time to adjust. They ran around Hainsey all night. I do wonder if Wimbush had hit St. Brown in the end zone on the first series if we would have seen a different game.

      • He’s missed those passes all year… no reason to expect him to suddenly click on Saturday.

      • The coach strategy problem is due to Brian Kelly’s arrogance. When you run right at a team and overpower them physically and beat them with your strength and skill, the players get the credit. When you have a successful aerial attack with complex routes, the coach gets the credit. BRIAN KELLY WANTS ALL OF THE CREDIT AND ACCOLADES! His team is great because of his players and in spite of him, and he has a fatal flaw in the need to be seen as a “genius” coach when he is not. If a RB gets a Heisman, a coach doesn’t get much credit – the offensive line gets credit, the RB gets credit. If a QB gets a Heisman, the coach is lauded. I think that Kelly is in this for himself – just like when he left Cincinnati and abandoned his players before the biggest game in school history to come to Notre Dame. He is about Brian Kelly; he is not about winning unless he looks good doing so.

    2. I know this is going to get me killed, but we ran on 1st down on the first two series and six out of nine of the first-half series. We tried to run. They were killing us.

      We got beat by a better team, straight up. The gameplan didn’t help, but we weren’t gonna win if we ran more.

      • Also, basically until Book came in we were almost at 2-to-1 run to pass. They were just beating us up.

        If you want to say that we should have run/played field possession/shortened the game, that’s fine and almost certainly right in retrospect. So we did get outcoached. But using that as an exclusive gameplan almost necessarily means that you concede you’re playing a better team and just want to keep it close and hope for the best.

      • There are different ways to run the ball. We have enough of a history with fast athletic front defensive sevens to know that slow developing plays are not going to be successful. Especially when you are pulling the off guard and expecting a true freshman off tackle to block the defensive player filling that hole. Quick hitting plays did have moderate success early. Even three yards initially is fine. Enough to keep the defense honest. We completely abandoned the run, placing our fate into the hands of a quarterback whose passing skills, on his best day, are shaky at best.

        Miami is peaking right now, and is not the same team as they were at the beginning of the season. They might still have beaten us, but the blowout is the result of a poor gameplan and the unwillingness/inability to adjust.

        • This is fair and mostly correct, but the team did try straight-ahead runs and even ran from under center. None of it was working. Agree we should have done it more and less zone read, but, from what we saw of it, it’s not clear that anything would have been successful.

          The dumbest thing about using the zone read IMO, even more than the slow development, was that it was very obvious that they were not going to run Wimbush left with his super swollen left hand, so that removed a chunk of the options (and thus a chunk of the threat) of the play.

          • We have at least 3 NFL guys on the front lines vs.a pretty poor, but fast run defense that was over playing the run. If you keep pounding, you will wear them down and there will be shots down field. I would have love to see them hammer Tony Jones more. I don’t think Miami was ranked in the top 50 in run defense. Running sideways was painful. The first time I saw Wimbush sail one, I knew we were in trouble if we kept passing.

            • Ara's Magical Season says:

              We need to stop acting like McGlinchey is so good. He sucked in both his NFL type match-ups and I’m starting to feel we have a bully offensive line. We look good and like to puff out our chest against inferior teams and when someone hits back we fade real quick.

      • Completely agree, although I think we probably gave up on the run a bit early and didn’t try as many options as we could have. Their defensive front 7 was more athletic than our line could handle, and they were chasing down sweeps and off-tackle dives from the back side. Miami’s defense was better than our offensive line, period.

    3. Brian Gunning '87 says:

      I also did not like the game plan. Slow developing plays, everything in the air seemed to be within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, never gave Wimbush some easy early throws like a bubble screen to get into a rhythm, never saw a tight end running a seam route, and it all seemed to play into the strength of the Miami defense which was obviously stacked to stop the run. Really didn’t like the plan, and I don’t think Miami is that good or that ND is that bad, but that’s how it looks.

    4. I think this was the game to have Wimbush run it 20 times. I agree that straight ahead seemed more likely than that delay we use. ( We all have to admit that “the delay” run works most of the time) But adapt! Clearly it doesn’t work against faster teams.

      My biggest complaint is that the coaches didn’t recognize that Adams wasn’t close to 100% Dexter is only a slight downgrade, but when Adams is not 100% then Dexter is a much better option.

      And the D got gashed. No excuses. Bad day for Elko. If the D had held us in-maybe one turnover/score, maybe its 17-7 at the half.

      But it should be said in fairness, that Miami played perfect. Sometimes there is nothing you can do. How about the 4rth and 9 call and play! Perfect coverage but perfect pass. To me , that was our last possible chance to turn it around.


      • My problem with Adams is that he dances a bit at the line of scrimmage and he doesn’t drop into gear near as fast as Williams does. Josh has been great when we have a defense that our offensive line can manhandle, but they got worked by Miami. Just thought Dexter was going to give a different look, and wondered what happened to the QB keeper – which Miami also killed us with.

    5. Passes called were not matched with Wimbush’s skills, at least now. Crossing patterns, screen to backs in flat, or center screens to backs or TE, are higher percentage passes. Also, why not draw or reverse to take advantage of Canes’ pursuit? Nothing wrong with punting after a run and trying to flip the field. The interceptions were part poor play selection and part of numerous tactical and strategical errors that are on the coaching staff.

      • And most of those pass attempts even looked God-awful, I was waiting for them to start quacking. thrown at the feet, etc.

    6. Ithink its time for change at head coach. n.dame recruiting has to be changed also. They seem to not get quality players.
      tNEED CHANGE AT TOP AND BOTTOM OR PLAY A WEAKER SCHEDULE We will never compete if we don’t make changes

    7. AlGoldenDomer says:

      Sorry, JDM, the play calls were much too slow to develop. With a O-line like ND’s, line up and smash them in the face. HIT THEM. Kelly refuses to abandon his pansified offensive scheme – he’s as stubborn, or more so, than Brilliant Charlie Weis.

    8. Ara's Magical Season says:

      This article is spot on. I thought the plan was going to be run north and south and wear them down and eventually pick a few spots to throw deep. So yes I hated the game plan as well. With that said, this defense resembled what I mostly thought they were which is mediocre. Elko is a highly talented coach but mediocre players will eventually produce mediocre results. We aren’t really good at any one position on defense. The offense won’t always play well particularly on the road but if you have a defense you can take a punch and hang in. This defense would’ve given up 60 if they hadn’t run out the clock. Yes they were put in some terrible spots but they couldn’t get off the field on 3rd down, and couldn’t create a TO against a QB who is known to throw to the other team. Embarrassing performance all the way around.

    9. Both of these teams are over rated. ND was coming in. I mean for crying out loud they lost to Georgia by 1 who just got mauled by the 3rd best team in the SEC by 27.
      Miami will get killed by Clemson. ND will never be back unless we are consistently destroying teams.

    10. I was seeing problem/point #2 all game. Seemed like it took forever for the ball carrier to get to the line
      of scrimmage. Counters and outside sweeps etc take way too long. Run up the gut like we have been
      doing all year! What the heck were they thinking?? Hmm faster defense .. lets move slower. Kelly
      drops the ball on the big stage again 🙁

    11. I have no problem with a promising game plan not working out. It seemed like there was no viable Plan B. If there was no plan B because Plan A had succeeded in all of the half dozen preceding games, then there is a blind spot in the Offensive coaching. If pulling linemen are allowing defensive players catch the ball carrier from behind, then run plays in which those potential tacklers are blocked. Do such plays not exist? If so, were they not part of a Plan B?

    12. The button line is that KELLY just not prepare a team well enough to win mega games on the road.I agree with Bob Golic- it is not just the score, but the lopsided scores.we are never in these games.
      I just do not think he knows how.

      • Ara's Magical Season says:

        We did lose nailbitters to FSU, Clemson and Stanford on the road. There are 3 big blowouts of recent memory including Bama, OSU, and now this doozy!

    13. Kelly had no answers (again) in a big time game.. It was obvious that Miami had too much speed for
      us on the defensive side of the ball after watching them against VT. The game plan was AWFUL.

      BK not good enough of a coach to figure it out.. He’s not an “elite” coach….. He’s B level at best!!

      The dream season died in Miami…Navy will take it to us.. We will be lucky to win against
      the Middies and their Triple Option..

    14. irishhawk50 says:

      I truly believe that Kelly & coaches thought their game plan would succeed, that’s the really sad and scary part. They drank their own Kool Aid! It is clear neither offense or defense had a plan B. I’ve said this before Book would have been a better option. He is capable with game planning to execute a balanced attack. I mean if Miami takes away Wimbush’s running game then Book can hand off to Adams just as well and can run a better passing game. Sorry but you have to be able to think outside the box and Richt clearly said they basically knew what the Irish were doing before they ran a play.

    15. I was able to make a bag of microwave popcorn during one of ND’s sloooow developing running plays. I know it’s easy to armchair quarterback but the offensive game plan seemed to force Wimbush to play to his weaknesses which backfired big time. They should have run between the tackles with the RB playing closer to the QB and not 7-8 yards deep.

      I, too, wondered if ND had gotten lucky and Wimbush connected with St. Brown for the early score if that would have forced Miami to back off the line of scrimmage.

      Is Miami’s defensive line any better than NC State’s who possesses two players who will likely go in the first 2-3 rounds? The other question is can the ND staff learn from their grievous game planning errors?

    16. Doc Savage says:

      Hopefully next year a new QB will be installed and Wimbush can be used as a running back. I hear this Jurkovec kid is a good QB even though he doesn’t arrive till next season.

    17. Can’t say I fully agree with this. Football is all about execution. If Wimbush can’t execute a simple throw to a hitch route on a mid range third down, or a wide open slant, then he can’t play QB at Notre Dame. But he can execute those throws and he has executed those throws to an extent. ND’s lack of ability to match Miami’s emotion/energy killed them in this game and while I didn’t love the gameplan, it ALL comes down to execution. Idk what else could have been done, but the back breakers were throws that need to be completed against any opponent for this offense to run effectively.

    18. Oh yeah and forgot to mention… NBC can go away if we join a conference. Let’s break the tie that binds us for big prime time tv revenues. Had enough of a solid rating product in return for a team that can compete

    19. Agree with the slow developing run plays against fast defenses and anything to the outside, on the short side of the field was never going to work. It looked like Miami had some run blitzes in store, but ND appeared terribly slow and not decisive. We were also saying ‘run right at them’ and neutralize the speed. The QB was clearly off and seemed inevitable the turnovers would come. Sad part was the defense, was hoping they’d play like Miami. Had them pinned back on first drive, but they drove right down the field. 4th and 9 stood out. That big screen pass hurt. 10 yards off receivers even though Miami QB was not elite thrower. That QB sneak on that TD was real bad. DBs getting ran over. No big hits on a running QB. Got better in second half, but game was pretty much over at the end of first quarter.

    20. If we do not control the line of scrimmage and the clock with a good running we will lose to Navy.Chunk plays ,mixed in with a lot of three and outs and Kelly arrogance will not work.

    21. Three comments:

      1) Yes, we were out-coached, and the buck stops with the head coach.

      2) I watched Brian Kelly’s press conference, and I didn’t think he was dodging responsibility like you seem to think. You appear to differ with him regarding the specific coaching issues at fault, but he did acknowledge several times that this was a failure in coaching.

      3) In the end, I don’t think we lost because (or at least solely because) we were out-coached. We lost to a better team. To re-state the obvious, their defensive front was faster and more athletic than our offensive line could handle. They were also more motivated than we were, and this is a coaching issue, but there were other issues as well.

      I know others feel differently, but I’m willing to call this a misstep for an otherwise much-improved coaching staff. One bad game doesn’t erase the accomplishments of the rest of this season. I’m looking forward to see how the coaches and the team respond in the last two games of the season and the bowl game. If they do, Kelly will still have my support.

    22. Darden Road says:

      While I see the need to establish the running game facing a very aggressive defensive line that stacks the box, I also believe that every offense must have countermeasures to being out-quicked or bowled over at the line of scrimmage, which often results in an “L” no matter what you do. The philosophy in that situation should be to “take what the defense gives” and good coaching staff should spot those opportunities and adjust. A mistake many coaches make is to become one-dimensional and get conservative. Phillip Fulmer may well have been dismissed Tennessee for losing games because he took on a bunker mentality and used a “prevent” defensive posture that allowed the opponent to snatch victory away in the final minutes of the game. Last week, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn made a conscious decision to play aggressively against Georgia correcting a mistake he made against LSU. The takeaway is “don’t get too conservative.” L’audace, L’audace, Toujours, L’audace!
      The best example I can think of where a team played not only aggressively but audaciously to the last play is the 2007 Fiesta Bowl wherein Boise State edged Oklahoma 43 – 42 in a pins and needles game that employed archaic plays such as the Statue of Liberty and the Hook & Ladder. There is much to be said about deception, misdirection, and finesse when playing a team that is controlling the line of scrimmage. Once an offense becomes predicable, it’s over. Teams like Notre Dame need a huge library of plays for every kind of defense because sometimes what worked last week is a recipe for disaster this week.

    23. goirish1988 says:

      I am infuriated but not surprised at this terrible quote: “I think I was Coach of the Year two weeks ago and now there is a,” said Kelly. I don’t know a single knowledgeable Notre Dame graduate who thinks Brian Kelly should ever be considered for coach of the year unless he wins a national championship, which will never happen as long as we “try to match the energy of the opponent in a hostile environment.”