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Vannie's analysis of game accurate but ND could have won by Erasmus
I will not claim ND was better team Saturday against SC or that ND should have won the game. I agree with Vannie's post game analysis. But I do maintain the game was closer than what Fowler and Herbstreit made it out to be during their play by play "ecstasy" about Caleb Williams' scrambling ability.
A few comments:
1. Rees continues to make poor calls. 3rd and 2 jet sweep in the 1st Q with Diggs was a terrible call. Pre snap SC had leverage. Pyne is smart and it was obvious there was no check for him to change play.
2. SC defensive front went low and slanted, yet Rees called no counters.
3. SC had a 6'6" freshman linebacker yet Rees never had check down call to Chris Tyree putting that LB one on one with Tyree.
4.) The 4th down palazzi play was terrible call. Unlike prior paluzzi calls, ND had full yd to go. SC sold out. Had "QB" flipped ball the ball back to Pyne, he would have had multiple options. And likely TD. Holtz periodically had Rice throw to tight end from 1st and goal at 2 or 3 yd line. Lou was sending a message to D coordinators: Don't sell out on Rice option play when ND has 1st and goal inside 10 because sometimes, we will pass. Rees has no capacity for strategic thinking. Every play has a purpose, even plays that are not successful.
5. Williams didn't have time to throw deep passes so ND could have gone to man-to-man coverage, even with Tariq and Cameron out. But zone defense meant Williams could easily scramble and often completed passes off scramble with defender 10ys behind receiver.
6.) Officiating was terrible. College officials are part time workers. If lucky they get $3,000 a game and have to pay their own travel costs. With millions of $$ on the line, paying officials $3,000 for part time work is ludicrous. (E.g, shouldn't officials watch game tape for both teams before game to familiarize themselves as to ways a team runs pass routes to illegally "check" a D back? Or the ways O lineman are taught to block and discreetly "hold." Or ways D backs check receivers at line and/or tug on jersey with left hand while raising right hand in air? And what is rationale in today's world for each conference having own officials? Is that de facto admission officials are biased?
7. On Saturday SC continuously held on Williams' scrambles. With a pocket QB blockers can often disguise holding. Scrambling QB makes it tough to block w/o holding. Plus, rushers couldn't take dead aim at Williams because he was scrambling. That meant it was not easy to call holding when rusher's progress is impeded, which is what lazy officials look for to make holding calls. Officials Saturday couldn't keep up with Williams so they effectively "gave up," failing to make holding calls that were otherwise obvious. With Williams 3rd down conversion percentage one or two holding calls easily could have been a game changer.
To summarize: This team had deficiencies, but the team improved as season went on. W/O Rees as OC this team is 10-2 and with luck 11-1. Golden has some problems. He is way better than Rees but, for example, Freeman had to call timeout against Navy on Navy's last series because Golden had sent out option personnel on defense. (With Navy down 11 and less than two minutes to play.)