Michigan Soaks Irish

Notre Dame entered the rain-soaked Big House on Saturday night, fresh from a bye week but lacking a coherent game plan against the inspired Michigan defense. Furthermore, Coach Brian Kelly made no discernible adjustments to account for the fact that the decisive first half was played in a torrential downpour. The Irish inexplicably tried to run east or west to no avail, and quarterback Ian Book was visibly panicked once again as the visitors fell by 45-14 to the Wolverines.

Things started downhill quickly for the hapless Irish. After stopping Michigan on third down deep in its own territory, linebacker Bo Bauer got his hand on the Wolverine punt. The ball rolled forward, but the Notre Dame players did not run away from it as is customary and wise. What happened next is the typical outcome when a player tries to pounce on a wet ball by doing a belly flop on it. As can be expected, Michigan recovered in the ensuing scrum and the Wolverines never looked back.

Employing a sharp north/south rushing attack, Michigan’s backs ripped through the Irish defense for big gains. A first quarter field goal was followed up by a touchdown drive on eight consecutive running plays. Zach Charbonnet capped the scoring march early in the second quarter with a seven yard run.

After another awful series by Ian Book and the Irish, Michigan took the ball near midfield and methodically rammed it into the end zone once again. Their lead stood at 17-0 with only 20 minutes elapsed in the contest and the visitors appeared as though they just wanted to get out of the rain.

The intensity of the deluge abated slightly in the second half, but the Wolverine running game was the constant and dominant force. Each team scored a touchdown after very questionable pass interference penalties kept drives alive in the third quarter.

Trailing 24-7 entering the final period, Kelly inserted backup quarterback Phil Jurkovec after Michigan stretched its advantage to 31-7 with a Shea Patterson touchdown pass to Donovan Peoples-Jones. Jurkovec ultimately led the team to paydirt to close the scoring, but not before the Wolverines added two more touchdowns of their own.

Claypool snags a pass along the sideline

Michigan finished with a whopping 303 yards rushing, 149 by Hassan Haskins. The Irish managed only 47 yards on the ground in 31 attempts. Book was just 8 for 25 for 73 yards while Jurkovec hit three of four (including one dropped ball) for 60 yards. Patterson was called upon to throw only 12 passes for the Wolverines. He completed six. Chase Claypool stood out again for the Irish. The senior contributed a couple of acrobatic catches and displayed a warrior’s mentality for sixty minutes.

I realize this may be painful, but let’s review the answers to the pregame questions.

Will the Irish speedsters (Armstrong, Lenzy, Keys) become difference makers? Certainly not by running laterally to the short side of the field.

Which quarterback will be pressured into sacks or turnovers? Neither quarterback looked especially good, but Book was asked to throw it too many times in adverse situations. He simply could not cope.

Can the Notre Dame defense improve on the poor tackling it showed against USC? Not by much. The Wolverine backs ran with power and purpose.

Which team’s running game will be most effective? Michigan is the only team that had a running game on this night.

Can the Irish cover the tall Michigan receivers? The rain did more to limit the Wolverine passing game than the Notre Dame secondary.

Which special teams will make plays that alter momentum or field position? The early Irish special teams blunder ignited a Michigan avalanche that spiraled out of control.

Will the Irish finally execute a successful screen pass against the Wolverine blitz? Come on, now. You’re kidding, right? I counted three attempted screens that were utter failures.

Which team will be most effective in the red zone? It’s hard to say because Notre Dame is still searching for the red zone.

To sum it up, Notre Dame did exactly what I cautioned against in the pregame review. They ran the ball toward the sideline instead of right at the Wolverines. Book checked down to short, desperate and off-balance passes to Claypool and other targets that Michigan easily diagnosed and defended. They played right into Don Brown’s hands and paid the price.

Now that the fantasy that the Irish were a playoff contender has been put to bed, it’s time to prepare for 2020 by starting Jurkovec at quarterback. The team needs to see what he can do before next spring, or the job will almost certainly remain Book’s by default. The off-season may also be time to part ways with Offensive Coordinator Chip Long, who deserves some of the blame for ineffective game plans against the better teams on the schedule, and a failure to maximize the strengths of his personnel.

A soaked Kelly appears stunned by this debacle

Finally, Kelly should not escape accountability for this debacle. He stubbornly continues to throw the ball with little or no chance of success in the worst conditions. After a full decade on the job, his teams always appear to be unprepared and reactive to the aggression of the opponent in the biggest games. His teams make the same mistakes from year to year while he places himself above the fray by pontificating about the players’ failure to execute. If this program is ever to reach the level the fan base desires, Kelly needs to go.

Tell John what you think in the comments below

136 thoughts on “Michigan Soaks Irish

  1. Minnesota Mike says:

    Spot on analysis. This was reminiscent of the Gerry Faust days, where we looked mostly clueless with absolutely no imagination on offense. Ugh!

    • So let’s see, another big stage game, another nd embarrassing loss! As long as Jack and Jenkins are running the show, nothing will change! Drink the koolade everyone, another season we’re going to do it and we don’t when it counts the most. If you watched the special on espn the other night, we will never return to that prominence again. We might be good enough for a decent bowl game some years but never what we once were…our fearless leaders in the ND admin know this and care more about guests having a nice experience at Nd and please leave your wallet at the bookstore. I’m so sick I getting bashed by any college football fan saying how we are always overrated! From what I’ve experienced as kid in the 70s to how far we have fallen now, it’s so demoralizing! Throw in all the current anti Catholic rhetoric going on around campus and the silence from Fr Jenkins to defend church teaching, it’s no wonder fans like myself have lost faith in this once outstanding institurion. The football team getting destroyed is the cherry on top!

      • Robert Burns, NWA 33 year Capt. says:

        As I’m a 1954 grad I am ashamed. I went to the World Series at half time.
        Besides Kelly going they should clean out the Administration too.
        Giving the “Baby killing” President Obama an honorary degree was a sacrilege which started the downward spiral we have now. When that happened my donations stopped.

        • These rants are the best parts of ND getting their butts kicked. “ the “Baby killing” President Obama“? I thought this was a football blog?

          • Yes, a football blog for a university named “Our Lady,” that once represented Roman Catholics, but no longer does.

        • All great comments and sentments. I agree with the All. This is the week I cancel my Wall Street Journal subscription and neve again watch a N.D football game. It did not have to be that way. Where is General Grant instead of Genenal McClennan?

        • Exactly, I found out so long ago that ND’s President like in the ‘60s, a priest, stated that Catholic universities no longer had to teach according to Church beliefs, which I witnessed at Santa Clara University when a history professor mocked Christianity with the insinuation that Jesus was a copy of Mithra.

          • What would Fr. Ted say to that? The only way to stay a Norte Dame fan is to stay away from other Norte Dame fans.

      • I will second that, Mike. ND was once Catholic, but is no more. Hopefully it will return some day and then maybe we will have good teams. Can’t fault the kids. They are simply a product of their environment.

    • Since Kelly will not fire himself, he could at least fire Tommy Rees and Chip Long. Let’s face it, Kelly is not a big game coach. He has taken us as far as her can.

    • It’s time for Chip Long to go. The writing has been on the wall for awhile, but it REALLY reared it’s ugly head Saturday. Also, Phil must get some more reps. I’m not sure how good a coach Quinn is although he obviously can recruit.
      The problem is will Brian Kelly do anything different next year. If not we’re stuck being mediocre.

  2. I totally disagree! Notre Dame still has a lot to play for this season. They can still get to double digit wins for the 3rd straight year. Which has not happened since the Holtz’s years. Furthermore, you stay with Ian Book and finish the season strong!!!!!!!!!!

    • Sorry, I’ve seen enough chapters of this Book to know how it ends. Besides, Jurkovec may very well improve the team’s chances of winning. If you believe that double digit wins are the Holy Grail, then you’ve been drinking too much of the Kool-Aid Jack Swrbrick has been selling.

      • No I am not drinking the Kool-Aid. I am simply saying why are you giving up so easily on the rest of the season. When there is still a lot to play for. Remember the W-I-N quote by Holtz. What’s Important Now…..and that would be to finish the 2019 season strong!! Not the” give-up” and ” quit” type of attitude you have!! Don’t be a quitter!!!!!!!

        • Sorry, Joe. I honestly believe we have a better chance of success with Jurkovec out there. He’s a much better athlete with a stronger arm. Book has reached his ceiling, which is painfully low, and future opponents know exactly how to defend him.

          • Book appears to have reached his ceiling some time ago and now has declined. He won the QB job on football instincts, but now seems to be over thinking things and it’s led to poorer play. Now that the season is shot, why not give the QBs behind him more playing time? Makes sense to me. ps: All losses to Michigan are painful, but this one is more hurtful than most! Harbaugh was on the ropes as a coach. ND cut him some significant slack with our embarrassing performance. 🤕

          • John – Your totally nailed it with your comment: “[W]e have a better chance of success with Jurkovec out there. He’s a much better athlete with a stronger arm. Book has reached his ceiling, which is painfully low, and future opponents know exactly how to defend him.” Additionally, the regression that Book has gone through this year is truly alarming. He looked like a deer in headlights last night. Unfortunately, that’s what you get with a 3-star QB. Jurkovic bigger, stronger, has a much better arm, reads the field better and is a far better QB. That’s what you get with a 5-star QB. This is really an easy decision for Kelly.

        • Also, you have to be kidding that you think ND have a better chance of winning with Phil at QB than Book! Now, who is drinking the Kool-Aid!!!!!!!!

          • Sorry Vinnie, if I am coming across too strong. We both want ND to win so badly and I just feel right now we should go with the more experience QB. You could very well be right that down the road that Phil could be a better QB than Book was. GO IRISH BEAT HOKIES!!!

        • Last paragraph SPOT ON.
          Kelly is incompetent. Every QB he touches regresses.
          Christ, Gholson, Zaire, Kizer, Wimbush, Book all got worse.
          Time for a wholesale cleaning of entire staff.

          • Thanks Captain Obvious, it’s the sad truth and I’ve been saying it for years, most people don’t realize it, look at what damaged goods they are after they do a graduate transfer, 😂. Also, the routes are all difficult seem routes, not many slants or flares, and the receivers rarely get open. Plus the line are a bunch of big wimps, and the pathetic part is that a few will get drafted and do well at the next level. The proof that Kelly is a bad coach is that his team doesn’t compete for him and show up flat for big games, they guy hasn’t done a horrible job, but he’s served his time; I’m just afraid that the job is too loathed and the administration is pathetic and won’t hire a competitor.

      • John: If Brian Kelly is released, whom do you think the Irish should hire? I hear this each time after a bad game, but no one has any suggestions as to the next coach should be. I agree that we should give Jurkovec the start next week and hire a different offensive coordinator. All of us knew that Michigan was better than their record indicated. If the Irish are fortunate enough to go 10-2, we should still support the players and make the changes that will make a difference in the football program.

        • I’ve long maintained that even a dead cat could win ten games with our current schedule. Seriously, though, there are quality coaches out there such as Mullen, Ruhle, and Fleck that ND should interview. I also heard that former Denver Bronco coach Mike Shanahan would love a chance to coach at ND, and even Urban Meyer has let it be known that he has interest in the job. I realize that Meyer is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I find it intriguing that he would consider ND despite its academic restrictions (which are far more overstated these days than people believe).

          • My only concern with Urban Meyer is that he has no discipline with his players. All of us know his history at Florida. Also, if ND relieves Kelly before his current contract expires, we will have to pay him the remaining money and also pay the new coach is salary.

          • ND can afford it. The school’s own history provides plenty of evidence that football coaches are not saints.

      • Terry MCMANUS says:

        Agreed, and this has been the pattern with Kelly and his QBs – in one season they’re good and they regress the next season. Book has clearly reached his peak and is not going to get any better.

        And having Tommy Rees as QB coach is no help either.

    • Kelly is a waste and will never change. And I will guarantee you they will not finish with double digit wins. They need to clean house and get some sort of motivation back that is simply missing.
      And yes they are very soft.
      Brian Kelly is a phony excuse for a Coach, Much less Head Coach.
      Time to drain the Lake folks.

      • Agree. I’ve been a die hard ND fan for over 60 yrs. This ranks as one of my most embarrassing losses in all those years. Two weeks to prepare against a bitter rival, playing in prime time, with arguably better talent and to then get humiliated on national tv. For all you Kelly defenders, please explain who is to blame for this disaster of a performance, or lack of performance?

        • And please be sure your answer does NOT include “it’s the players fault”. As has been once said, “players are only as good as they’re coached”. I believe it. I’ve been part of it, too, on a team with two straight undefeated seasons. Why were we undefeated for that stretch? Because our coach would accept nothing less than perfection. Love him or hate him, Nick Saban is the same. Accepts nothing less than perfection. Urban Meyer… same. These coaches have multiple championships, too. Look at Matt Rhule and the turn around at Baylor. Brian Kelly will never be any of these coaches especially when he apparently has a problem just being Brian Kelly. He can’t even do that well.

    • Please fire Brian Kelly and Chip Long. Thank them for their services, gather their things and see them to the door. I’ve never been a fan of Chip Long and our offense. It reminds me of my 3rd grade pee wee football offense. Please hire P.J. Fleck and start rowing the boat. ND will lose a 3rd game this year, most likely to Stanford. Brian Kelly doo doos his pants on the road vs. good teams. He will make Stanford look like Alabama against us, especially if this game is at night. ND can do better than him, and for anyone who thinks they can’t then they need to just start rooting for Duke and focus on those SAT scores. Even before in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s when ND was actually a powerhouse, they still played in South Bend where the weather and geography isn’t as good as other schools. Nothing about ND location wise has changed, the players know what they are getting into when they come to ND. Some of you who think ND cannot get any better act like ND has changed so much and kids are just finding out that ND is in South Bend IN. ND can still be a powerhouse. They just need the right coach. Yes you can still be dominant in academics and athletics. And as John Vannie has stated before, are the academic restrictions really that grueling? Enough to where we can’t be competitive for a NC and expect that? Great stuff on here by the way John, and everyone from the Notre Dame blog. I highly enjoy your content and think you do a great job at analysis.

  3. michael kraus says:

    This ALL STARTS with Jenkins and SWARSHIT! I am 65 yr’s old ,I got lulled back in after the 4-8 season.NEVER AGAIN !!! Kelly is a finesse coach.He tells us one thing………and shows us something different.A little liberal Irish bullshitter.His teams are SOFT and can’t handle any adversity.ND has a second chance at URBAN MEYER ,before USC goes after him.DO NOT BLOW IT!

    • see my reply to Kevin (below). Only, actually, I was never lulled back in. He’s always been an impostor; as with Faust, as a football coach, he is the current day embodiment of the Peter Principle……which as I think about it, pretty much covers the waterfront regarding each member of the unholy triumvirate.

    • Why would Urban Meyer take a job with the recruiting limits that ND imposes on its coaches? That’s why he didn’t take the ND job when it opened up in 2004, even though he said it was his “dream job.” Instead he goes to Florida, a school with very little in the way of restrictions, and wins two national titles. Have you been watching the Irish over the last 25 years lose great athlete after great athlete to schools which don’t handcuff it’s coaches? Until ND takes some chances on some marginal kids as they did with Tony Rice, etc., we will continue to watch this program flounder when they play the elite teams on its schedule or in bowl games.

      • Yeah, except right now, Brian Kelly and his assistants so far have the #1 ranked class in 2021. How does that compute in the “recruiting limits” world?

        • They’ve signed seven players, none of them five-stars. Let’s wait and see where they stack up when the Clemsons, Alabamas and Ohio States begin to gather their harvest of five-star players. These rankings mean nothing right now.

          • That’s rather disingenuous, given they don’t rank five stars until much closer to graduation (e.g. the two ND has for next year, with a potential third). All seven are four-stars and six are top-10 at their position. So much for “it’s too hard to recruit at Notre Dame”.

        • And another thing…Kelly has brought in top 10 recruiting classes on a fairly regular basis during his tenure. Yet the talent gap and quality depth each time the Irish go up against top tier teams is glaring.

          • And another thing … no he hasn’t. 24/7’s recruiting rankings of the last classes comprising current players in reverse chronological order is 16-10-10-15-13. Prior to that was 11-5-17-9-15. Compare to 2020 (#8) and 2021 so far (#3), which is what happens when you bring in assistants who put the effort in recruiting-wise. It may not be as easy as it is in some other places, but ND is able to recruit more five-stars than they get, at least until recently.

  4. Time to go to Google and review the short versions of Kelly coached big games Away
    with identical looking panicked qbs’
    1Arizona State in the desert
    2 FSU in Tallahassee
    3Clemson in the rain
    4 Miami withe gold chains at Hard Rock
    5 Georgia at Athens this year

    Tonight Big House Michigan ND team panicked played with———No Guts
    The films fit a pattern Kelly ca not coach big time especailly away games he abuses his qbs takes out his shortcomings on the qbs no confidence ecoos in their pressure performances

  5. Another Brian Kelly deer-in-the-headlights debacle. I guess we should be thankful he had two weeks to prepare. With only one week the loss might have been by triple digits.

    • George McGuan says:

      Three weeks and we lose 77-7. Thank heaven he had but two.
      But making Harbaugh look good? That was a huge–almost insurmountable–challenge. Give Kelly credit for that.

    • At this point, I agree. It is time for Swarbrick and his unlucky pot of to hit the road, and to take Kelly, his lucky charm, with him. Fr Jenkins? *tsk* *tsk* *tsk* You’re just a poor misguided fool, duped by money.

  6. Well, at least I have a new song to sing to my little ones:
    The wheels on Kelly’s bus go flying off, flying off, flying off. The wheels on Kelly’s bus go flying off, every single year (just wait!). These stats are a total collapse just like every year. It’s sick and it’s 100% due to arrogance across the entire ND admin and coaching staff. This is NOT Notre Dame. Losing is one thing, but totally and completely collapsing every single year in every single big game is a whole different issue. I have watched football at all level for 40 years and have never seen this type of stuff happen, like the blocked punt. Hire Meyer or we should just all shut up and be fine with a 9-3 year (if we are lucky) every year. Or just play hockey!

  7. Oh no, not the Urban Meyer kool-aid again! I agree, life in the late 60s isn’t easy but let’s all take a deep breath. These are college kids, not professionals. Look at schools like Oklahoma and Wisconsin losing to teams that are double-digit dogs. And honestly, I fail to see what Fr. Jenkins has to do with it.

  8. Brian Kelly is one of the worst leaders in college football. He can turn any good opportunity into fear on the road. Every single time he goes on the road, he talks about how he hopes his team can hang in there until the fourth quarter and survive the big crowd and the elements. Never ever does he tell his team “you are so much better prepared, have so much more talent, and have so much more to play for that this game doesn’t have to be close. Go out and beat the daylights out of these wusses.” Holtz did that. But Kelly has never done it. It would be tolerable if he were a short term solution. But the sad thing is he will probably be at ND for 10 more years because he does just well enough for the AD, who is a former attorney and therefore a downside protection guy and not an entrepreneur who takes risks and wants to hire the coach who will take ND to the promised land, to retain him. I am so sad for ND football not for this year but because there is zero hope for the long term. It’s a disastrous situation with no end in sight. And ND alums have been conditioned for the last 25 years to accept it so there is no resistance to it and just brainwashed groups of people who have “something nice to do together on a Saturday.” Kelly is masterful at turning others into geniuses (we gave Clemson the turning point and validation they needed in 2015), and we may have just done the same for JH. As a 1991 grad, I can at least give thanks that I was there during four of the winningest four years in ND history and was part of a national championship. I wish I didn’t take it so much for granted at the time.

    • How do you know what Coach Kelly says to his players day in and day out? Are you at the practices, in the locker room, at the meetings, etc….. I don’t think so….and just because you graduated from ND does not make you feel you know what the coaches say to their players………and for your information, Holtz always use to build up ND’s oponents and came across that ND did not have a chance…….

  9. The regression of Book is depressing.

    Poor game planning continues, little or no in game adjustments.

    Failure to utilize klmet is either poor coaching or Book not seeing him and getting him the ball.

    Play of the o line was depressing.
    Defense was terrible, out schemed?

    All this after a bye week?
    Program is certainly treading water and not progressing.

  10. On offense, same conservative playcalling and failure to adjust as in the Georgia game. Book is expected to bail them out on 3rd and 8 all night. Book lacked confidence (coaching support?) and after being benched, that likely won’t improve. Defense couldn’t stop the run between the tackles. Who’s fault is that?

  11. A big stage and must win against a ranked team on the road and yet again ND looks lost and lifeless and ill prepared to play. Same old story with Brian Kelly after ten years.

    Book now has the wide eyes of fear that Everett Golson did in his second year and panicks almost as much. HS quarterbacks take note; if you want to get worse every year come to ND. Of course, Book is probably an FCS level QB at best. The announcers showed Book missing open receivers in the first half even when he had some time.

    Chip Long has no excuse but neither does Clark Lea. Both O and D weren’t prepared and the front seven got taken out of running plays all night. But there’s no excuse for the terrible offensive game plan.

    It’s time to consider reaching out to Dan Mullen, an Urban Meyer disciple, at Florida. We aren’t getting Meyer and I’ve been impressed with what he’s done at Florida and especially this year with a 3rd string QB. Mullen toyed with Don Brown in the 2019 bowl game. Also consider Matt Rhule at Baylor.

  12. I am a ’62 grad, so yes, I have seen a lot at Notre Dame. Where you guys are correct is at the top. Jenkins is afraid to keep Catholic doctrine as its cornerstone. Swarbrick is all about himself who always wanted to be a tenured professor. And Kelly is a mediocre head coach who never should have been hired in the first place. His resume from very small schools was inadequate, and I don’t know what Swarbrick was thinking. Hesburgh went a year until he found the right coach in Ara, allowing Hugh to temporarily be head coach, altho Hesburgh also hired Faust and Kuharich and Brennan. If you look at the schedules under these imposters it tells you why we are staying with them. We schedule 6 cupcakes and barely beat them. No, it rests at the top with any organization. When you have mediocre managers you have mediocre company.

  13. I am so tired of hearing about how many Lombardi Trophy nominated O-line men we have and they can’t stop with the false starts! They average 4-5 a game and cannot block to save their lives! The run game was horrible and Chip Long’s play calling is too predictable. We also cannot seem to get more than 1 year of good quality QB play out of anybody since the Brady Quinn day’s either! Now Book looks clueless out there and knowing Kelly he will probably ruin this kid’s confidence like so many before him.

  14. Steve in Kzoo says:

    Let’s face it, as a life-long ND fan, I’ve succumbed to the fact that ND has become a second-tier college program that beats up on weaklings and fails to deliver against quality opponents on a big stage. We don’t have the athletes to compete for championships nor do we have the coaching talent to get us to the top of the mountain. It’s time to take off the rose colored glasses and see ND for what it is…a second-tier program. The stadium atmosphere on game days is not comparable to big-game days at Georgia, Alabama, Clemson or, for that matter, Michigan. ND has become soft. Laugh it off but it’s time for the P.J. Fleck era at ND. We need a coach with some fire in their belly and something to prove. Otherwise, it’s time to join a conference and stop with all of the independent rant and talk of the glory years. The glory years are long gone!

    • ND needs a coach that looks, speaks, and acts like General George Patton. But since Swarbrick and Jenkins have not seen the movie there is no hope. We have become Vandy except they have a better academic ranking than ND.

    • Aaron Koproski says:

      It’s starts at the top! I mean the Administration top! If ND is going to be serious contenders for the National Championship it’s starts with the school’s commitment on winning!

      They want and hope for year in and year out to make it 10-2 to satisfy the masses and for the donations. But in ALL REALITY is the UNIVERSITY of NOTRE DAME is not interested in winning National Championships! PERIOD!

      31 years and counting since the National Championship! That in itself is EMBARRASSING!!!!!😡

    • Aaron Koproski says:

      Sorry brother even JC wouldn’t make a difference until the School is committed to winning championships. Besides you really want Urban and ALL his baggage?

  15. Difference between last night and Faust vs Miami 58-7?

    Michigan isn’t as good at Miami was. But without a coaching change we are as far from an actual title right now as we were back then.

    I agree with above, let #15 play. We aren’t going anywhere with Book. He’s been screwed by coaching and bad play calling, but he doesn’t have it. You gotta throw the ball Ian, can’t duck and run every time there is pressure.

    Most demoralizing loss of BK era because it so exposes what we actually are. Mediocre at best.

  16. The one thing that I can’t get past year in and year out with Kelly is how he seems to ruin quarterbacks. They all start off with such promise and then by their second-third year starting they are regressing backwards and we fans are all calling for the backup. I’m all for starting Jurkovec but god only knows how Kelly will ruin him in a year and we will be then looking for his backup. FRUSTRATING!

  17. I was all for Book when he was next man in with his quick strike, short pass, up tempo, don’t turn over the ball offense. Where the heck did that go?! He looks completely lost. Yes the playcalling is dismal as well. As for Jurcovec is it me or did he look kinda awkward receiving the snap and getting into a ready to throw position? Tough atmosphere to get thrown into, but I did like the glimpse of some deep accuracy. May as well put him in, cut those receivers loose, and let that sucker fly like Tim Brown and Rocket are out there. Maybe, just maybe that will open up the offense. Hmm maybe, just maybe the Cubs will win another WS too.

  18. A significant number of the fan base, like myself are approaching the back 9. I got on the bus during the Theismann era. For a long time I took for granted at least one championship per decade. Never in my worst nightmares did I imagine a tailspin that has lasted this long.
    I do not believe BK will get us back to where we need to be. Undefeated seasons are entertaining, but when it ends with a thud….
    This year we have a great opportunity to finish 10-2, but I long for the days when a 2 loss season was a disaster.
    Urban Myer is obviously a great coach, but his past off field incidents are concerning. Not my choice for Notre Dame.

  19. Kelly improved the program from where he got it and it’s time to see if someone can get it over the top. The QB’s all regress at such an alarming rate it’s almost unfathomable. They have no guts in these big games and for me this one is worse because Michigan just lined up and ran down our throats with little to no surprises or creativity. A shameful team performance and a coach who’s outstayed his welcome!

  20. Caroline’s Dad says:


    The statements in your final paragraph cannot be denied. Thank you for writing them as you did.

    I never thought I would see something worse than the NC State game plan (during a hurricane!) again. Who does that a second time? Answer: Brian Kelly does.

    I have been off the coach’s bandwagon from that time on, even during last year’s run; however, like some of the other commenters, I have also given up hope that a change will happen with the man who hired him firmly in place.

    As always, I will continue to cheer for my school and the players—in spite of my feelings re: the HC and AD charged with leading them.

    Vannie: Am I missing something about the bigger picture that would/should make me even slightly more hopeful?

    • You’re not missing anything. There is no impetus for change from the top, so things will stay as they are as long as Jack Swarbrick remains as Athletic Director or whatever his ego-driven title is now. Today’s Notre Dame will not be bold or strive for excellence. They will stand pat and count their money, even in the face of mediocrity.

      • Hi John — it’s been a while! Great stuff as always. Our modern, mediocre era began when Lou left. Your analysis routinely touches on this — sometimes directly and often juist tangentially — going back to when the infamous, late Brother Brian Wadsworth decided that Notre Dame was too morally exceptional for Randy Moss. Kevin White then got on board with the sale and branding of the University. Then Ted retired, and the Jenkster — our self appointed Saudi Prince — has put a Hasmat suit around the football program (the XRoads Project) — to keep the dollars flowing and Notre Dame PC virtue signaling on “High”. EVERYTHING flows downhill from there including the Head Coach, the culture of the team, the recruiting…literally everything. As in the Indiana Jones scene…”They have chosen poorly”. I applaud your obvious love for du Lac. Since we communicate last — I think you banned me but no hard feelings — my oldest son has come and gone at ND (’02 and played in the Band) — and the transformation of the school I attended (’72) — has been nothing short of breathtaking. More square feet/student than any major university in the world by a wide margin and counting. XRoads was the final botox. Make no mistake about it: unless someone takes a hold of the program that actually built the place, nothing will change. There has to be a Moose Krause out there somewhere. Thanks for all you do.

        • I am also a 72 grad with a son who graduated in 2007. while my four years produced no
          national champion we were never humiliated like Saturday nite. there was a totally different mentality with Ara . Also aside from football the university has become so liberal I have stopped making contributions. Case in point they sponsor an OPEN meeting on campus to hear Alan Page speak . Page obviously a huge liberal . I attended the gathering and Page was impressive. However, the day before they have attorney general Barr speaking and limit the audience to law school students only. Complete hyprocisy.

  21. I admit that perhaps I am a bad fan. I’ve seen this frustrating story play out too many times, so I chose not to watch the game last night. As a result, I had an enjoyable evening at a social event with family and friends; I’m much less stressed and I slept well. It’s like a broken record: big game, big stage, big hype…big fail. Not sure why it has turned in to this. Probably a combination of many things mentioned here. Deer in the headlights, again. As has been typical, we can (mostly) beat the mediocre teams, struggle with equals, no chance at all with the biggest competition. Will keep hoping for the breakthrough.

    • I’ve stopped hoping. Anymore, it is unreal how the administration chooses to keep this fat-headed, arrogant POS as the head coach of the Fighting Irish. With Lou, the FIGHT was restored. With Kelly, sadly the FIGHT is gone, folks.

      I turned to dumping my band’s Friday pracrice session to CD rather than watching Clark Lea get outfoxed by Josh Gattis, a virtual nobody, and Chip Long get outcoached by a mediocre at best DC, Don Brown. My night became much more more interesting as a result.

      I’ll be at the game in South Bend next weekend, but I’d rather sell my tickets at this point, to be honest.

    • Let’s all take a deep breath, The sun will come up tomorrow (maybe not often after that in South Bend) , The game plan was doomed from the start on a horrible weather night wth a QB who does not have the ability to stretch the field with the downfield passing attach even under good conditions, ND has not been able to consistently run the ball all year except o weak teams.. Defense can only hold up so long when it looks like you have no support from the offense. We lost the battle on both sides of the ball. Agree that Book is a good football player who may have reached his ceiling and defenses from good teams have been able to devise a scheme to stop him by making him try to beat them with his arm.,
      Let’s not forget that 5 years ago Michigan was on the other side of an equally embarrassing rout when we won 31-0.

      • Just picking now, but I can’t be the only one who has seen enough of Finke letting a punt roll behind home for another 10-15 yards. He looks as scared on the field as Book. Tom Zbikowski is not impressed (I’m betting).

  22. “his (Kelly’s) teams always appear to be unprepared and reactive to the aggression of the opponent in the biggest games”
    This is telling. We have seen this against Alabama, against Miami, and now Michigan. It makes one wonder if Kelly has the mindset (arrogance) that he will do what he does and his opponents beware. As most of us know, athletics can be emotional I believe Kelly discounts this; appearing to look at it as a “business”. Do your job and we’ll win.
    While this may be successful up to a point, when you face an opponent with fire in their eyes, this “business” model has failed him, and failed him miserably!

  23. I’d hate to think what would have happened without the extra week of prep.

    Jones is not the runner if you wanna do anything other than go north/south, and with our O-line that’s hard to do. Those guys looked like they’d never seen a weight room last night. Book is not the guy. Was watching the game last night with a former Division-1 QB and he just bitches non-stop about Book (and yes, he’s a huge ND fan); happy feet, meandering out of the pocket into guys being blocked, misreads, and so on. All the same crap the rest of us can see for the most part, but he pinpoints some of the finer detail. And can somebody please tell Ian that a 3 yard pass doesn’t get it when you need 6 yards for a first down. He kills a little piece of me every time he does that. I could go on, but what’s the point, we all know what this team is….

  24. George McGuan says:

    Reality Check, People.
    We are clear about what we hope ND will once again become. Jenkins and Swarbrick do not share that vision; never will. They will always be happy with a team that can win 9 or 10 games a season–bring on the Miami…as long as it’s from Ohio.
    They are happy to be at a school were athletes graduate in numbers unheard of except at Stanford. They are happy to win national championships in lesser sports. The are happy with a school were football is a steam-letting diversion that clears the head so you can get ready for exams in differential calculus and organic chem; where kids can get the golden ticket to the best med schools or the merely bright can be assured acceptance to a good law school and look forward to 6- and 7- figure incomes.

    This school is Hesburgh’s vision. For those of us longing for the echoes, hoping to see the students shake down thunder, waiting for a Rockne or a Leahy or another Ara, let us not hold our breath. That university, that football program? Guys, it’s in the rear view mirror.

    You want that? Put on Crimson and roll your heart out. As for me, I’d just like to see a brilliant victory once or twice a decade against an SEC powerhouse that doesn’t consider functional literacy a graduation requirement–if graduation is even a serious option.

    • Let’s not confuse this Michigan team with 2012 Alabama or 2018 Clemson. ND has equal or better talent. Coaching and preparation were the main issues last night. ND may never fully return to the glory days, but asking for a winning effort against a peer institution having a mediocre year of its own is not too much to expect.

      • George McGuan says:

        My point wasn’t that this should be regarded as the norm. The game wasn’t just far less than we hoped for, it was an unqualified disaster worse than any of us might have imagined. We’d seen enough of this Irish squad to honestly regard them as better than Michigan–the talent is there whether it was evident last night or not. But the coaching? About the best we are likely to get in our biggest games.

        To suggest, as so many have, that this debacle will result in a Game-of-Thrones, everybody-dies, 3-heads-on-spikes-aloft-upon-the-parapets Monday morning is delusional. There will be no heads, there are no spikes, and, alas, the administration building has never head parapets. This will dismissed as a bump in the road. Prepare yourselves for business as usual.

    • Terry MCMANUS says:

      George – If you are going to make an intelligent post you should check your spelling. Otherwise I agree with what you said.

      • GEORGE MCGUAN says:

        Ouch! I did, I thought, although I missed the typo in had and put that “e” in. Mea culpa. (Latin, you’ll note, rarely passes spellcheck, but I risk it anyway.)

        I’m truly conflicted on the “education v powerhouse football program” issue; I suppose I shouldn’t be. As a lad of 8 the year Hornung won the Heisman while the team went 2-8, I recall my excitement reading aloud to my father the World Book entry on Notre Dame. It described the university as a small school in South Bend, Indiana known for its outstanding football teams. He looked up from the brief he was reviewing at the kitchen table and remarked that such a characterization was just about the last thing any alum would care to hear about his alma mater.

        Hesburgh changed all that, but his success has ruined many of my Saturdays.

  25. Aaron Koproski says:

    It’s starts at the top! I mean the Administration top! If ND is going to be serious contenders for the National Championship it’s starts with the school’s commitment on winning!

    They want and hope for year in and year out to make it 10-2 to satisfy the masses and for the donations. But in ALL REALITY is the UNIVERSITY of NOTRE DAME is not interested in winning National Championships! PERIOD!

    31 years and counting since the National Championship! That in itself is EMBARRASSING!!!!!😡

  26. Was all of this negative stuff about Coach Kelly being said last year when he led ND to the playoffs and yes I know they lost to Clemson. Heck, not even Lou Holtz had 2 undefeated regular seasons like Kelly has……..

    • No, he just went 64-9-1 from 1988-1993 often times with the toughest schedules in all of college football, won a national championship in 1988, a near miss in 1989 (finished #2) and four major bowls against top five teams.

    • Yes it was. And it’s a lot harder to have undefeated seasons when 1 out of every 4 teams you play each year is in the top 10. That said, Holtz finished #1 once, finished #2 twice, and won a crapload of games against top-25 opponents on the road and in bowls.

      • All I am saying is that as great of a coach Holtz was and he was a damn good one, he also has some blunders such as losing home games to Air Force, Boston College, Stanford, etc….and blowing big leads at home against Tenn, PSU, etc…..so no coach is perfect and has their rough days…..

        • No one denies Holtz had bad games. But a lot of the games you cited happened after he won 23 games in a row, a national championship, and a #2 finish. The bad games were a small percentage of what he did, and he had plenty of great games against high-quality teams to offset them. What does Kelly have?

    • Ok, Joe…. what has Kelly done with TWO undefeated regular seasons? Followed them up with a 42-14 loss to Alabama in the 2012 BCS National Championship game and last season’s 30-3 loss to Clemson in the CFP semi-final. What did Lou do? WON A DAMN CHAMPIONSHIP. He was also in the running for at least 2 more during that 1988-1993 run. Enough said! Time for a change!

  27. Kelly has his post game butt kicking press conference routine down pat. Face the press and cameras with a long face and puppy dog eyes and throw out the usual talking points about the need to coach better and execute better while injecting some self deprecation. We’ve seen it at least a dozen times or more by now.

    I do think Chip Long needs to be given his walking papers at the end of the season. He’s had a poor game plan and no answers against Miami in 2017, Clemson in 2019, Michigan in quarters 2-4 in 2018 and now Michigan last night. That might be ok at a program like Iowa or Northwestern but not Notre Dame. I’m amazed that he thought running wide and tight end delays over the middle would soften up Michigan’s defense. Michigan obviously saw film and gamed planned accordingly.

    The better defensive coordinators can easily figure out his tendencies and take them away which means this will continue to happen with him at the helm of the offense.

    This Michigan loss and the previous ones were very Faust like and reminded me of the 36-6 drubbing at the hands of Penn St. in his last year. That 1985 team had no life and no answers just like last night.

  28. Even Ara had some rough times…..like having an overall losing record to USC, losing to Purdue a couple of times when ND was in the top 5, getting blown out by Nebraska in the Orange Bowl, etc….and Ara was a great coach, but he also had some rough times…..

    • Yes he had “rough times” on occasion. But his teams won two national championships and had plenty of great moments, and he was second to Rockne in wins at ND until Holtz passed him. What does Brian Kelly have? Two undefeated regular seasons that didn’t feature a top-10 team until the post-season game, both of which resulted in embarrassing blow-outs. Is that our standard now? Sure as hell ain’t mine.

    • Purdue was a lot different then than now. Very strong teams. Some greats. Leroy Keyes. Bob Griese. More. ND-Purdue was an exciting rivalry and meaningful re recruiting, stature, and of course record.

    • Joe, you need to take a deep breath because you are just flailing now and demonstrating your abject foolishness. It’s embarrassing. Ara responded to the loss to Nebraska by winning the national championship. How did Brian Kelly respond to the crushing post-season defeats by Alabama and Clemson? The list of teams that Kelly has lost to (South Florida, Navy, Duke, Tulsa) is much more damning than those that defeated Lou Holtz, but Kelly has had none of Lou’s success against top teams. You need some perspective if you are going to continue to pollute this site with knee-jerk, overwrought rhetoric.

      • Okay John, I took my deep breath. You brought up some great points about Ara and Lou and I always knew that both coaches had a better resume than Brian. I just get frustated that the second ND has a bad game, people right away say ” get rid of him ” and mean while they are just coming off of a 12-1 record with an apperance in the playoffs.

        Also, you know as well as I do that ND simply does not get the talent like the Bama’s, Buckeyes, Clemson’s,Sooners, etc… because of ND’s strict academic requirements today, they don’t get the kind of players that Holtz, Ara, Divine, got in their days and were given some lead-way from the admin to get those types of players….

        Anyway, THANKS for the words of advice and I am guilty of letting my emotions get to the best of me when it comes to ND……GOOO IRISH BEAT HOKIES…….

        • I like your positivity here, Joe, but it’s just not another “bad game.” I thought certain people were acting foolish after the Georgia game or even after the Clemson loss. This game, the opponent, the score, the fact that we had two weeks to prepare, etc, etc, sadly merits a whole higher level of disappointment. Yes, one that makes me think of Miami two years ago, but it’s even worse given what we have seen from Michigan this year. I thought we had a shot to actually finally move in the right direction with Kelly after that debacle of 2016. Besides 2012, under Kelly, we have been a very mediocre-to-good football team that wasn’t good enough. Then we go undefeated again last year (and get blown out again in the semi finals), so we want to make sure that 2019 can continue some positive trends. So, how does 2019 go? At the start, it was ok. Not that tough of a schedule either. But, hey, we look alright, maybe even better than last year. We are 5-1, we can still beat both our main rivals in back-to-back years. We can go to a New Year’s Six Bowl and maybe FINALLY win that game–it’s still been since the Holtz era btw that we’ve won a major bowl game. And then that’s all gone (pretty harshly) in one rain-soaked October night of utter embarrassment and disgrace. It was almost like Michigan knew it was going to rain, and we din’t know that tracking weather was even a possibility. Well, besides Brian Kelly’s ridiculous outfit.

  29. Yeah, that was embarrassing. I thought they’d compete, then saw rain and knew Kelly wouldn’t be prepared. Seemed like 6 yards every time Michigan back touched the ball. ND offense is all on the shoulders of a middle of the road QB. Agree with not being same since holtz. Seems philosophy is – schedule yourself some cupcakes for 9-3 every year and maybe an undefeated season every four years too be in conversation but never really have a chance to win a title. Remain focused on fan base experience (distractions), branding, marketing, and living off the past.

  30. This was by far the worse loss I have witnessed–and I have mainly lived my ND fan life through the past 25 years of mediocrity (I am an ’08 grad). Usually, I come to this site for some catharsis especially after a tough loss (not some dopey political rhetoric of ND not being Catholic enough–please block any future political commentary: this is about ND football). Anyway, I live in the metro-Detroit area, and this hurts. Like, really, really hurts. Losing to Michigan sucks and will always suck but how do we get run out of the stadium like that? Against that team? When I thought we were a bona-fide top 15 team? Ok our offense stunk in the first half in the rain, but how was theirs so good?? We even got a break from the rain and cut the lead to 17-7 in the second half. And then it looked like we just quit. We made Harbaugh look good–and that’s hard to do. Michigan was averaging under 4 yards a carry in their first 7 games which included contests against the likes of Army, Rutgers, Middle Tennessee, and Illinois. We turn around and give up over 300 yards on the ground. In the rain. with plays that consistently went up the middle. When it was obvious that they were running virtually every play. After we had an extra week off.

    I have three questions though:
    1.) How off-base in thinking that ND gets booed at the start of the Va Tech game?
    2.) How did we open as 17.5 point favorites?
    3.) Does Michael Young’s absence have anything to do with this? The fact that he had one more game left before red-shirting this season and that he announced his departure seemingly as the bus was leaving for Ann Arbor raises so many questions. Yes, he would not have factored mightily in the game, but was his leaving a major distraction to the team, or did it even maybe show some underlying issue that ND is having with its continuity as a team? It really reminded me of the Manti Teo situation where there was something clearly off with Notre Dame’s defense–especially Teo–against Alabama, and it turned out the whole team knew about his fake girlfriend situation that came to light before the championship game. Obviously, we still would have lost to Alabama but something clearly wasn’t right then and also against U of M (and this U-M team is so much worse than 2012 Bama) and, now, I wouldn’t be surprised if we tanked the season 2014 style.

  31. Patrick Olmstead says:

    Patrick2008 – nice job with a very thoughtful comment. I wondered about the Michael Young distraction, too (same as I wondered about the Manti Te’o in 2012-13).
    What is frustrating is that this year’s Michigan was no Alabama ’12 or Clemson ’18. I want to understand why Michigan’s lines seemed to dominate the line of scrimmage. Do we have the right equipment? I didn’t notice many slips. But, it doesn’t make sense that our offensive guys were getting pushed around that much. [Defensive tackles are a known limitation at ND. That’s why Tillery staying last year was such a big deal.] I would also like to understand why our QBs seem to regress so much after a breakout year. What happens? I wonder if it’s because Kelly has the idea of a “big” playbook and feels like a 2nd year QB should be able to master a bigger playbook? If that’s so, then it ignores the turnover on the rest of the team. For each new play you install, there are 11 starters and lots of backups who have to learn that play. Maybe we need to scale that “open playbook” back and focus more on execution (especially in the run game)?
    Since Fr. Jenkins was given another 5 year extension, I do not anticipate any changes in coaching. So, let’s hope this becomes a learning opportunity. We are going to keep seeing aggressive defenses till we stop them. Personally, I think an aggressive pass rush is stopped by traps, cut blocks, silent counts, wham blocks, 2 TE sets, screen passes (including shovels), draws, and quick passes (e.g., slants, curls, quick-ins). There should be a hole in the defense if they are pushing into the backfield. Some of our longest runs came against stacked boxes (because there were no safeties). This COULD be a great learning experience for Chip Long and Brian Kelly. I hope it’s so.

    • But, it doesn’t make sense that our offensive guys were getting pushed around that much.”

      It’s simple. ND was playing as if it were business as usual, while Michigan was playing with raw emotion. Any further questions?

  32. College football of the 1970s is not coming back. Stay who you are, independent with academics and faith first. It’s unfortunate Notre Dame and Michigan will not meet again until 2033.

    • What’s unfortunate is that you feel we should simply accept this version of ND football. I agree with academics and faith, but really, ND was able to compete then and should be able to do so now.

  33. You want to see an offense that was similar to what Oregon University runs today. Look at the 1973 Sugar Bowl National Champions and see what Ara ran. It makes Kelly’s offense look stupid. No diversity, no misdirection for Kelly. I was at that game and never more proud of the Irish than I was that rainy night in Tulane Stadium.

    The defense is young and will be great next year. But, they need to learn how to tackle at the knees and not have four guys trying to down a big running back by tackling him high. Who the hell is coaching that.

    Book is a ordinary quarterback that doesn’t know where his outlet receiver is when he’ under a full blown rush. He looks terrible rolling away from the rush and blindly throwing the ball down field. I agree that we need to start bringing along his replacement now. 9 wins 3 losses and another bowl game loss. I’m 87 years old and would like to see us return to the glory days of Leahy, Ara, and Lou before I pass on.