A Quick Remark

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Image from: PermanentRecord

Okay, so this guy writes about uniforms, and he got this super awesome ND Promo Kit today!! Holy Crap, I totally want one. How do I get it? You can see the rest of the pictures at this flickr site – PermanenRecord.

 

 

 

Ryan Grooms, ND’s Equipment Manager posted these pictures to twitter. Different uniforms for ND this weekend perhaps? What do you make of them?

Check this out, our helmet for our Shamrock Series Game this weekend against Marylandhttp://pic.twitter.com/lrw5n2uR

Looking forward to start the week off tomorrow!http://pic.twitter.com/vuP5nH5j

Image from: AP Photo/Chuck Burton

Overall (Grade B+)

The Wake Forest game was a ‘trap game’. By that I mean, it was a day that ND did not have their ‘A’ game and could have lost the contest very easily. The D-line and LBs were banged up and a few bodies short. The defense was getting pushed around and looking a bit confused by the misdirection by the Demon Deacons. The offense was misfiring and the QB was not having a good day. In previous years, I would have expected that the Irish would just continue to play bad football and eventually lose. This time around, the team was able to persevere and in the 2nd half actually made adjustments that allowed them to control the game and win.

The aspect that continues to bother me is the play of QB#11. For a ‘game manager’, he is continuously making bad decisions. He is often locking in on his primary target and throws into double coverage. He waits for his primary receiver to get open, even though his internal clock should be telling him to get rid of the football. His throws are not accurate, either throwing high or low, and not allowing for some serious YAC. His footwork within the pocket is random at best, leaving him without the proper support to deliver accurate throws with the proper strength. His arm is average at best, making any throw beyond 25 yards, a true gamble, and add to that poor footwork, his passes just seem to flutter.

In summary, his abilities as a true FBS talent is questionable at best. He seems to have a really long leash. He has been averaging 1 to 2 turnovers a game. Would other QBs have that same leash?

Is B. Kelly sticking to #11 to save face?

Positives:

  1. O-line. Solid performance. The highlight of the year. MVP of the team
  2. D-line. Gritty performance. Bad start, but able to close.
  3. Jonas Gray. Great speed and toughness.
  4. A. Collinsworth. Great attitude and effort

Negatives:

  1. QB#11. Not accurate and poor decisions
  2. B. Kelly. The play call is random with no true backbone to it (note: I was fine with the flea-flicker)
  3. Punt return. Awful

The Bonehead Call(s) of the Day:

What is ND’s bread and butter play? 3rd and 3 in the 4th Q. Does ND have a play that it can count on?

Offense (Grade B+):
Tommy Rees (Grade C): He did not bring his ‘A’ game. He made poor decisions and was very inaccurate. He almost got a few of his WRs seriously hurt a couple of times. His throwing motion seems off, the ball is coming out as he is pushing the ball. Is he hurt?

RBs (Grade B+): They had another solid performance. ND will miss Gray in 2012. Wood has a pretty good burst of speed. He would be a great weapon in the screen game…oh wait, never mind…

O-line (Grade A-): Wow! Surprise of the year. They continue to impress and improve. Not allowing sacks and the run game looks solid as well.

WRs and TEs (Grade B): Eifert is a great weapon. #3 is just too good. There is a significant drop after those 2. I am worried about 2012.

Defense (Grade B+):

DL (Grade B+): Great effort even depleted by injuries. The frosh stepped up big time.

LBs (Grade B-): Without Manti, they looked lost and surprisingly slow. One of the disappointments of the year. It is a position of worry in 2012

DBs (Grade B+): Good outing. As always, strong in run support and played good coverage. A bit surprised that H. Smith is laying so deep. I would think that his strong suit is to play closer to LOS and let him take chances

Special Teams (Grade B-): The FG unit is coming around. The KO return is pretty good with Atkinson and Collinsworth.

Coaching (Grade B): Good halftime adjustments. They were able to fix the issues and win a game when the team did not have a great game.

Go to this ESPN Coverage site to see the other games. Looks like ND will be on ESPN2 for us here in Texas. 

I always wondered what the ND Football player’s practice facility and life was like. Here’s a quick video tour.

http://www.und.com/allaccess/?media=277213

Image from: AP Photo/Jonathan Daniel

Overall (Grade B-)

This has been the season of the ‘what-ifs’. What if this team played to 85% of its full potential? What if B. Kelly let go of his stubbornness for just a tiny bit? What if the coaching staff and administration had 10% less brain farts? What if the staff and administration had more common sense? And what if B. Kelly stuck with Dayne Crist?

This last question brings an excellent point that started an interesting conversation between myself and Anhtuan. After watching this past game, we both agreed on the physical talents of #10. The ball exploded out of his hands and got to the receivers hands in a hurry. Even on 2 surgically repaired knees, he moved around pretty well. Granted, it was only for a couple of series, but he brought the entire field and playbook back from the dead. The only opportunity is the mental side. If he just learns to forget the last play and focus in the future and the next one, he will be special. Besides his football talents, Crist is a representative of the university and overall class guy.

This is not a classic history of love for the back up. This is an acknowledgement of potential. Notre Dame with Tommy, can win games and be somewhat good. The Irish will struggle against more complete defenses and teams. They will win more than they lose, maybe 10-2 at best.
With Dayne, the upside is tremendous. The Irish would have a QB that could be a difference maker. Notre Dame could be special and even compete for a NC.

Is the ultimate mission to just a win a few games and be somewhat competitive or to truly ‘Play like a Champion Today’?

Back to the game. ND truly dominated Navy and for now solved the mystery of the triple option. All this staff did was to buy themselves some additional time. After the SC debacle, they beat an inferior team (like they were supposed to). In the end, it was a much needed victory.

Positives:

  1. Run game. When will B. Kelly realize that if he runs more than he passes good things will happen?
  2. Defense. Who would have thunk it? Option football can be stopped if one stops the FB dive.
  3. O-Line. Another solid outing. They are the MVPs for the year.

Negatives:

  1. Coaches. Just stubborn
  2. Tommy Rees. Sloppy
  3. Punt Return

The Bonehead Call(s) of the Day:

When is the staff going to save B. Kelly from himself?

Offense (Grade B):
Tommy Rees (Grade C): He was patient in the pocket and let the routes develop. He didn’t face pressure. He made a couple of bad decisions despite the lack of pressure. His lack of arm strength was obvious. He’s got to hit the screen passes. Without a deep ball game, those short routes are your bread and butter.

Dayne Crist: He only had a few snaps, but ball came out very fast. He ran with authority and pretty good speed. When he is cool, #10 is a sight to see.

RBs (Grade B-): When given the chance this unit delivers. Apparently, the staff are the only ones to not see. Wood and Gray should be getting 60%-70% of the snaps. (See Stanford 2010 and 2011)

O-line (Grade B+): Solid group. They have impressed the most. Too bad they have not been given more opportunities to impose their will.

WRs and TEs (Grade B): Not too much to write here. They took advantage of an inferior opponent, although TJ Jones has been somewhat disappointing. He’s had a lots of drop passes and wrong routes. Next year, without #3, he needs to step up

Defense (Grade B):

DL (Grade B): They looked stout against the dive and the option. The frosh played well. The redemption comes against Stanford in Nov.

LBs (Grade B): Why is Kendall Moore not playing more? It would be a dynamic duo of Te’o and Moore. Manti played his best game. he displayed great speed and his recognition skills were in full display.

DBs (Grade B-): This group has always been strong against the run. This weekend was no different. Motta is the only exception. He needs a few more coaching points.

Special Teams (Grade C-): Punt return…if it didn’t happen against Navy, it won’t happen…

Coaching (Grade D): So you beat up a weaker opponent. You proved you can do that in a semi-regular basis. The jury is still out if you can beat teams that have talents and staffs that are slightly inferior or equal to yours.

Image from: AP Photo/Joe Raymond

Overall (Grade D)

I am about to go on a rant. I beg for forgiveness by you and Anhtuan.

Really?? I waited 2 weeks for this! All the hype, all the talking, all the press conferences, the new helmets, for that? All they forgot was the green jerseys to complete this embarrassment. It’s one thing to lose to a superior team with outstanding coaches. It’s another to lose to a team coached by Lane Kiffin, and being out-physicalled by a soft SC team, with no running game.

The debacle was made even worse by the cheap and awkward attempt to pipe music into the stadium, and make the atmosphere more ‘rabid’….Here is a hint: Win consistently, then you will see the atmosphere improve. Guaranteed!

This coaching staff had no game plan, the players looked rusty and intimidated. SC hit them in the mouth, and they flinched. The worst mistake here was the awful preparation by the staff. Instead of relaxing and just cruising, they should have done what was executed last year before the Utah game.

Ok, we are down by 17, but a strong and physical game got us to this point. Why panic and make ND one dimensional? Jonas Gray had 2 carries!!! Really??

B Kelly flat out quit on the 4Q. He left TOs on the table. That is inexcusable. That’s a horrible lesson to teach players and youngsters.  He wasn’t the only one, the team quit in the 4Q as well.

To me it seems that ND has lost its ways. It starts with the administration and AD offices. They are after the cash that is the Notre Dame name, but there is nothing behind it. They are living off the past, and they clinging to it, trying to milk it to the end. Maybe they realize that the time is limited, maybe they are unaware that while still profitable, the well will dry up and then what?

Fans keep clamoring for change, for a new coach, blah, blah, blah. The only voice that ND hears is the voice of money. As long as the greens keep flowing in, ND will remain in the status quo. ND does not care about the individual fan or alum. They know that there will be another one to take its place. But with the lack of production on the field, there will be less and less fans.

ND fans can wait for that, and that will take 10 to 20 years or we can accelerate this process. It is up to you.

I am making my stand. I am not going to games and I am withholding any donations to the university. I have stopped purchases of ND merchandise.

Back to football, ND better regroup fast, Navy is coming to town. Hint: Fire up the PS3!!!

Positives:

  1. Jonas Gray. His ypc was double digits. Why was he given only 2 carries?
  2. Offensive Line. They gave the QBs time to throw.
  3. Gold helmets.They looked good.

Negatives:

  1. Coaches. Just plain lazy
  2. Artificial music. Just plain cheap
  3. Coaches. Just plain bad.

Dayne Crist: I feel bad for the kid. Everytime he touched the ball for ND, bad things happened. It started in 2009 against WSU and it ended Saturday night. He is fine representative of the university and does not deserve this. B. Kelly should act with more class and treat Crist better than he has in his press conference.

The Bonehead Call(s) of the Day:

The bye week. What has this coaching staff done the past 2 weeks?

Offense (Grade C):

Tommy Rees (Grade C-): The zone scheme by SC flustered him for the 2nd year in a row. Looked rusty and not in sync with the WRs. His deep ball leaves a lot to be desired, because of that SC focused on the underneath stuff. ND was done. Till Tommy can hit the deep ball, the blueprint is out there.

Andrew Hendrix (No Grade): Not that many series. No impact.

RBs (Grade C): Apparently the coaching staff forgot that teams are allowed to run the football….The fumble is on Wood. I am not going to start on Gray…

O-line (Grade C+): Great pass protection. Gave Tommy time to throw. They were not given the opportunity to run block.

WRs and TEs (Grade C): Looked rusty. Did not have A game, nor B game for that matter. The only one that seemed to want it was T. Eifert. Everyone else, just went through the motions.

Defense (Grade C-):

DL (Grade C+): Did they play? Completely disappeared. No pass rush, no run defense. They looked soft.

LBs (Grade C-): Very disappointing. They got caught in the blocks by the lineman. Took bad angles and awful discipline.

DBs (Grade C-): Soft in coverage and took huge cushions. Safeties looked late in a lot of passes.

Special Teams (Grade C-): Not relevant. Hit the only FG

Coaching (Grade F——): Failed miserably. Game plan was a disaster. Team was not prepared. Time to re-evaluate strategy and plans.

 

Image from: AP Photo/Michael Conroy

Overall (Grade B-)

If you like points and ‘Playstation type games, this last game was for you. This game was supposed to be the one showing us definitive proof that this coaching staff can break down tape and teach players how to stop teams that deploy unconventional offenses (ie, triple option – Navy, flex option – Air Force, snap and heave – see 2011, Michigan).

Unfortunately, the option proved to be as enigmatic as ever. Notre Dame was unable to stop the pitch which went for at least 10-25 yards every time. The only stops came when Air Force tried to get too cute.

Defensive football was an afterthought in the 2nd half as both teams went up and down the field for the entire game. The offense was balanced and the Hendrix wrinkle proved to be lethal. In fact, ND took advantage of the size differential and just overpowered the Falcons.

In the end, it was a comfortable win, but it did not calm my nerves especially with Navy paying ND a visit in 3 weeks. What if? What if, ND is not even thinking of defending the option. It is such a crazy offense that they might just spend a few hours and the rest is focusing on other stuff. The strategy is just to outscore Air Force and Navy….hmmm….something to think about.

Positives:

  1. Jonas Gray. Where was he 2 years ago?
  2. Offensive Line. Finally dominating teams with inferior size
  3. WRs, nice blend of speed and power

Negatives:

  1. The defense, yikes over 500 yards surrendered
  2. The defense, they could not stop the option
  3. Special Teams, ugh, just plain bad

There is a bye week and then SC comes to town. That game will be a good measuring stick to see where the team is in terms of development. The talent gap should be very small.

The Bonehead Call(s) of the Day:

Defending the option. Slaughter was always in no man’s land. Either hit the QB or stick with the RB. If sticking with the QB, even if he pitches gotta him. That pitch will be inaccurate in the 4th Q after all those hits. This does not bode well against Navy.

Offense (Grade B+):

QB (Grade B+): Tommy Rees (Grade B+), since there was no pressure, he was able to work on progressions. He was able to move within the pocket and had pretty good footwork. The ball had a nice zip and decisions were good. Andrew Hendrix (Grade B): He has a nice set of wheels. His throws were accurate and on time. He brings a great dimension to the game.

RBs (Grade B+): Another solid outing. Both Gray and Wood displayed nice vision and patience. They ran tough and lowered their shoulders when needed. Wood showed great blitz recognition while also being physical against the blitzers and Gray will need to work a bit on it his pass protection

O-line (Grade B+): Solid work by the line. They gave Rees and Hendrix plenty of time to throw. They opened big holes for the RBs and Hendrix. They imposed their will on a smaller opponent. The real test will come in 2 weeks. Can they be dominant against linemen their own size?

WRs and TEs (Grade B+): All the WRs and TEs got involved in this game. It was great to show that ND can score when #3 is double covered. They all showed great run blocking skills.

Defense (Grade C+):

DL (Grade C+): They had a non-descript showing. They were solid up the middle on the dive (which was their job). They were so concerned with the running game and option that other areas were ignored (ie pass rush). It is a pass in this game, but it cannot be ignored against USC.

LBs (Grade C): A bit disappointing. They did not flow too well to the pitch side. Recognition was late on a lot of plays. Aside from Manti, speed was not there. They got hampered by all the cut blocking.

DBs (Grade B-): They had great in run support. However on pass plays, they left WRs wide open. The safeties were caught in no mans land a bunch of times.

Special Teams (Grade C-): Mediocre. Not much to say here, but I’m not expecting much either.

Coaching (Grade C): Defending the option was a disaster, but if the strategy is just to outscore the opponent, then I don’t have a problem with it. The offense is clicking and the Hendrix wrinkle was great. The real test comes against USC.

Image from: AP Photo/AJ Mast

Overall (Grade B)

I like snoozers…They are good for my health and my brain.

The Irish did its job and won convincingly. The talent gap was enormous and it translated into the result. That game is what every single ND fan expects. Win the games that you are supposed to win. The old formula of running the football worked and the superior lines on both sides of the ball did their job. There are still big issues that this team needs to work on, but at least the basics seem to being corrected (ground game and turnovers).

Here’s what they still need to show me:

  1. Deep passing game
  2. Pass coverage on RBs and TEs
  3. Run game in the red zone

I loved the fact that the staff used the basics to win this game. Looking ahead there are some tough opponents that will test this team. The next 3 game stretch will be a difficult one. Time to prove that ND can beat the service academies and SC on a regular basis.

The Bonehead Call(s) of the Day:

I will keep it simple….Teach Tommy to throw the fade….it is unstoppable if thrown to #3.

Offense (Grade B+):
QB (Grade B): Tommy Rees did a much better job of using all of his weapons (ie throwing to #3). He displayed much better decision making. After the 35yard TD pass, most of his throws were less than 20 yards. It surprised me that his touch on fade routes is really bad. That should be #1 job competency. I’m still concerned about Tommy’s lack of arm strength. The best part, no turnovers, although there a couple of close calls.

RBs (Grade B+): Too bad Gray is done after this year. The light finally went on. He is doing great! It’s very similar to what R. Hughes did in the last couple of games in 2010. Gray is explosive, fast and strong. C. Wood is a faster and more explosive version of D. Walker. His 55yds TD run was a thing of beauty. 2 cuts, 1 broken tackle and he was gone.

O-line (Grade B+): Was T. Rees even touched? That was another great job by the line. Penalties are a thing of the past. The run game is very good. The only negative is running in the red zone. Maybe the issue lies in the scheme. We even saw a few screens, and they looked great.

WRs and TEs (Grade B+): Just feed the rock to #3. He is so good. The run block has been pretty good as well. The other WRs need to be involved more. This is where the lack of arm hurts the Irish. Having Eifert or TJ Jones streaking down the seams for 40 yard bomb would open things in the short to intermediate parts of the field.

Defense (Grade B):

DL (Grade B+): Great effort by the D-line. The run defense was outstanding once again. It is very tough to run on this line. In pass rush situations, the way they are collapsing the pocket is a a thing of beauty.

LBs (Grade B): Speed. Their sideline to sideline speed is impressive. This is something that ND has lacked for a long time. I’m loving the way the OLBs are funneling things back inside. The only thing that is a concern is their ability to cover the TEs.

DBs (Grade B-): They were not tested. The INT was a bad throw by the Purdue QB. Personally, I prefer the DBs in zone coverage. That might help them turn their heads to look for the ball.

Special Teams (Grade C-): Something is wrong with Ruffer. It is mind boggling that the kicking game went from automatic to a liability. I think they should give him a break and regroup.

The punt return game is bad but that is a known commodity. At least the punter is out of the headlines.

Coaching (Grade C+): Back to basics in running the football and pressuring the opposing QB. The talent mismatch was obvious. One question still remains, can this staff adjust to schemes and talent equal to that of ND?

Image from: AP Photo/Justin K. Aller

Overall (Grade C+)

The Irish escape….

It was an ugly win in a game where ND did not bring their ‘A’ game. While ND pulled it out in the end, Pitt had a great blueprint to stop the Irish attack:

  1. Confuse Rees
  2. Double cover Floyd and see if anyone else steps up

This almost proved deadly as once again Tommy turned it over twice and #3 touched the ball 4 times. Lots of questions remain but what is the most important?

Is  Tommy the answer?

If yes, can the defense continue to bailout the team after all of his turnovers? On the other side, the team showed great resilience and continue to fight.

Is it Touchdown Tommy or Turnover Tommy?

Positives:

  1. The run D. Another great job
  2. The run game. Solid effort by all and the RBs are displaying great toughness
  3. Eifert. Finally coming through after a disappointing couple of games

Negatives:

  1. Turnovers: Tack 2 to the list
  2. Tommy Rees: Is this the ceiling?
  3. Coaching: The opposing teams are starting to zero in on the game plan, can they adjust?

The Bonehead Call(s) of the Day:

It was obvious that ND had the better talent and superior athletes. Why not use them? Screens and deep passes will surely soften the D a bit. Make them respect all phases of the game. The opponents are zeroing in on the ND dink and dunk….

Offense (Grade C+):
QB (Grade: C-): Tommy Rees, the TOs need to stop. He was confused and unsure of where to go with the ball. He often stared at his first option and stared some more, and finally when it was to obvious that the first option was not going to get open, he would throw it away or force it. He is not going through his progressions, and the lack of arm strength is eliminating half of the playbook. Maybe that is the ceiling for Rees. Will this QB play be enough?

RBs (Grade B): They continue to surprise me. Gray showed a great 5th gear in the TD run. 2 cuts and he was gone. Wood on the other hand, displayed great toughness by getting the tough yards up the middle. I am liking this group more and more. Will they run out of gas in the 2nd half of the year?

O-line (Grade B): Another solid outing by the o-line. The run blocking was a bit inconsistent but the pass blocking was very solid. Even with the stunts and confusing schemes, the line stuck to their assignments and played great. Again, I would like to see them in space.

WRs and TEs (Grade C+): Pitt made a point in taking out #3. I was surprised that they were able to completely remove him from the game. At the same time, scary how ND’s offense tanks when he is not involved. I am concerned that Rees is either not seeing the other options or that they are covered. Either way, not good. Eifert delivered the goods when called upon. An improvement from the beginning of the season when he had a case of the dropsies.

Defense (Grade B):

DL (Grade B): Another solid performance. Very stout against the run, but the pass rush could be a bit better. Against traditional running teams, the line did an outstanding job in clogging up the lanes and leaving no run for the opposing RB. On the pass rush side, they were better when they knew that Pitt needed to pass, but during the game, it was an inconsistent pass rush

LBs (Grade B-): Just like the d-line, they were spectacular against the run. They fly to one spot and tackle. Manti shows great instincts on running plays. It is amazing to watch #5 read and react. On pass coverage, it is a bit troublesome. They look lost and surprisingly slow, even Shembo and Fleming. MSU and Pitt were able to explore this weakness.

DBs (Grade B-): Once again, the inability to make a play while the ball is in the air almost cost ND a win.For the most part, the secondary is doing a great job. They are physical on run support and play great coverage. This is baffling.

Special Teams (Grade D for punter, C- for rest: Is Ruffer injured? Another missed FG…

We need a better alternative at punt returner. While Goodman has been serviceable, the Irish need to incorporate the punt return as part of the game.
Punter: Some improvement, but still….

Coaching (Grade C-): Very simplistic game plan that failed to use all the talent available. Would like to see Riddick and Jones in space. I’m disappointed that he did not have a counter for all the coverages and fronts presented by Pitt. ND looked out-coached.