Wow Notre Dame. Good job. There is so much talent on both sides of the football, and we just can’t put it together. Crist was too nervous to get back after another season-ending knee injury and threw a bunch of bad passes after being pressured by a good USF defensive line. Everybody fumbled and wasn’t looking and held and late hit. In other words, a lot of individuals messed up. But it wasn’t because they don’t have the talent. This happens once every 5 or so years, when the moons align and all of this talent is suddenly drawn to North Central Indiana.
Kelly has talent on his team. Kelly is a talented coach and recruiter himself. It seems like a dangerous mix in the current college football climate. But they couldn’t put it together, and you know why? Because they are Notre Dame. And every football player, as long as they are in South Bend, is constantly praised and talked about, because football is everything.
Their Women’s Basketball team is fantastic, with Skylar Diggans getting love from Lil Wayne in the form of him wearing her jersey when he performed and expressing his intent to wed her in a Tweet.
They have some other good teams, but nothing else really gets any news in South Bend. So here is my breakdown of the only thing I really care about in South Bend this week…
I will write this straight to ND fans. As always, there was some good, some bad, and some ugly.
There were flashes of greatness on both sides of the ball.
Despite South Florida winning, all of the game’s top performers were wearing Blue and Gold, not White and Green.
Rees went 24 for 34 with 296 yards, 2 scores and 2 picks in the second half. He looked great after Crist looked bad. Don’t count Crist out though. He is a good quarterback and as Kelly has already made clear, he plays the best players at every position, and as we have seen after the first week, his opinion of player’s can change in a half.
Cierre Wood looked great running the ball. He ran it 21 times for 104 yards and a score. And a slimmed down, more humble playing Michael Floyd looked good as well, with 12 catches for 154 yards and 2 scores. The O Line looked good, though they had some holds and messed up some against a fast, athletic South Florida D Line.
On defense, there were individual flashes, and great group efforts in the red zone, which I liked, but there were too many penalties. Manti Te’o at times looked bad, but mostly looked great, as did Darius Fleming, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Ethan Johnson, Louis Nix, Robert Blanton, and Harrison Smith. The freshman Aaron Lynch had a TFL. The defense had 6 TFLs and 2 sacks, not a bad start.
They seemed to let some drives happen, but once they got down the field, they would lock down around the red zone so each of the coaches had to respect the kicking game, which they later regretted, because both kickers missed kicks.
I don’t like Kelly’s ability to pigeon hole players. Dan Fox is good in coverage, and he should be in on obvious passing downs, but he is not strong enough to shed blocks of big, fast offensive linemen, and got blown up on a few occasions this past Saturday.
Carlo Calabrese is great at everything but pass drops. He blew through some 300 pound guards and ran down a quick running back and quarterback a few times on Saturday. He should already be able to drop, but I guess Kelly is making the most with what he has, which, in his 5-minute plan, works.
That’s why Kelly has such high expectations of some players, ie. his quarterbacks and running backs. This is what I love about Kelly. He is a good coach, because he teaches his great athletes (which he recruits himself) and gives them the best opportunity to be good at their position, but then his expectations are also very high for 18-24 year old young men.
Anyone that watched the game saw Kelly’s face turn every color of the citric rainbow, from pink to red to purple. He is Irish and his face is kind of like a mood ring…we can all see how angry he gets based on the coloration.
There is a reason that Ugly is in a separate category from Bad and that is because the ugly is not necessarily always bad.
Sometimes it is though. Special Teams are special, because they are important to the game. The NFL just made them less important by moving up the kickoff spot, making good kickers more valuable and good returners much less so, but in college, returners are still very important and Theo Riddick is a great returner…when he can catch the ball. Theo Riddick fumbled twice on returns, losing one. By the end of the game, he was just making sure he didn’t drop anything, because he was so scared of the end of Kelly’s verbal whips.
Jonas Grey fumbled on the one-yard line. Wow.
Tommy Rees, while he had nearly 300 yards in a half, also had 2 interceptions and a fumble.
Fumbles are bad. As are dumb penalties, like the late hit Ethan Johnson had, and some of the holds by different receivers. I like the effort, but there is a thing to be said about smarter decision making and making a smarter effort. I don’t mean to be prescriptive, but Johnson could have just stood over him and held him down.
I mean he is an enormous individual, as is his nearly identical twin, Kapron Lewis-Moore, both of whom bulked up to an even 300 pounds this year. Then, rather that pick up another penalty, he can line it up and make another play. In effect, I’m calling the foul Johnson committed a team greedy foul. He wanted to hit the running back and make him want to run less hard towards his side of the field. But because it was against the rules, he got a penalty, which hurt his team. This was social greed. This is a good penalty, because it serves as a learning experience, but it is not a good one to repeat.
If Kelly can fix the Irish nerves, personal and team greedy play, and coach ‘em up, then they could be a great team this year. If not, who knows the possible depths of the Irish fans’ (this includes myself if you haven’t figured it out by now) sadness this year. Tulsa happened last year. South Florida has already happened this year. What will happen next week when they play Michigan will, in part, be up to Kelly and his players to decide.