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Some 'big picture' questions w/r/t Kelly

by Mike (bart), Monday, November 24, 2014, 07:48

I was only able to catch bits and pieces of the game Saturday, but it didn't look like we played terribly. Had we won the NW game we would probably all feel a lot better right now. Still, the fact or the matter is we lost at home to a 7-3 team starting its true freshman backup quarterback, and we've now lost 3 of 4 and are 16-9 in our last 25 games (.640). That's basically two full seasons of <.650 football.

We can go a lot of ways from here. It is fully possible -- perhaps even likely -- that this year's collapse is a simple result of inexperience and injuries. It is also fully possible that other things are at play as well. We don't really have any indicators at all that this program is moving in the right direction right now, we only have some intuitive explanations for the absence of positive indicators. Again, I hope the sky isn't falling, but that's not where we wanted to be in Year 5 of the Brian Kelly Era.

My biggest concern is that Kelly actually finds himself in uncharted waters. Three years at CMU, three years at Cincinnati, the first set of years at ND --- right now we are looking at Brian Kelly's first experience dealing with his own roster since Michael Jordan was playing basketball. I think we should consider the possibility that Kelly might be a skilled turnaround artist rather than the long-haul "program builder" we have been viewing him to be. I mean stuff that has been a hallmark of Kelly's tenure -- discipline, tackling, player development, improved November play -- is falling away from this team like ribs off the bone right now. Kelly is a pretty tough-ass coach, and I think there is a possibility that the model of "Ok, fuckers, you've got a real coach now. Listen, up, buy-in, or get the fuck out; this losing bullshit stops here" is a lot more effective with a hybrid roster (where you have older guys who actually lead the buy-in process) than it is with a roster of players Kelly and staff recruited themselves.

In fact, one of the first comparisons that popped into my head when looking at the weird trajectory of Kelly's tenure here was that of Scott Skiles with the Bulls. Skiles took over a somewhat similar situation to Kelly (proud institution fallen on embarrassingly hard times) and here's what he did:

CHI 2003–04 66 19 47 .288 8th in Central

CHI 2004–05 82 47 35 .573 2nd in Central

CHI 2005–06 82 41 41 .500 4th in Central

CHI 2006–07 82 49 33 .598 3rd in Central (beat defending champion Miami Heat in the playoffs)

CHI 2007–08 25 9 16 .360 (fired)

Obviously Kelly has had more success than Skiles did, but the trends were somewhat similar: a tough leader who cut the bullshit and took the team back to respectability. As happens somewhat frequently with hardass coaches, the sense of improvement could only be sustained for so long. After a while progress plateaued and the drama and intensity flatlined from a marginal returns perspective.

(I will reiterate that I'm just throwing this idea at the wall to see what of it sticks and what does not, and that I fully understand the catastrophic attrition ND's dealt with this year. I'll only add on to that a small objection that 'program-level' holes like what we've dealt with were supposed to be to some extent a thing of the past --- not that they would be wholly avoidable but that sensible, even recruiting and meaningful player development would have created a more resilient roster.)

big picture


I think the better question might be what BPH asked about

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, November 24, 2014, 08:42 @ Mike (bart)

What's the apathy level around the program? I'm talking both from the AD's point of view, potential recruits' point of view, and the point of the view of the HC himself. That's the thing that will truly determine Kelly's future. If there is a sense that oh child, things are gonna get better, then he'll stay (or won't be relieved). If there is a sense that Kelly has maxed out, then he'll be gone.


I think the only accurate gauge of that

by Mike (bart), Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:01 @ Jay

manifests in wins and losses. I mean, from the blind-taste-test perspective, any reasonably smart sports fan would look at our resume and presume a team that collapsed into free fall down the home stretch. I didn't think the apathy conversation was one we'd ever have to deal with while Kelly was here, but the fact of the matter is that here we are. It's difficult to overstate how badly we need to win this weekend.


the grapevine is about as accurate as you'll get

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:09 @ Mike (bart)

The grapevine hates Kelly right now. The question is how much Kelly hates ND.


There's a good chance this went right over my head

by Mike (bart), Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:12 @ Jay

who is the grapevine? Is it us? Are you trying to show me that to find the answers I'm looking for I only had to look inside myself?


I think he means the general sentiment among ND fans

by Domer99, John Wesley Powell's Expedition Island, Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:24 @ Mike (bart)

And I'd have to agree with him. We've always had guys who were never on board with Kelly. But mainstream fans have pretty much been supportive.

I felt that support start to unravel a little bit with the Northwestern game, and the Louisville game further cemented that feeling.

The flip side is that I think the fans pissed off with Kelly, regardless of how long, realize that he probably needs to be the guy next year. And it becomes a big ultimatum-type year. Maybe not with the AD, but certainly the fan base (drink!) at-large.


With fan ultimatums, I have begun to wonder...

by Greg, sittin on the dock of the bay, Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:28 @ Domer99

...what the point is.

Unless you're willing to go all Brian Cook and bring your beard and long hair and stand at the door of the university president's house with a bullhorn and a list of demands, why type ultimatums on the internet? At least that Ann Arbor-dwelling troll made good on his keystrikes. I spent a lot of years angsty and angry and thinking that the bits and bytes I splurted out on the internet meant something. Now I think that unless I'm willing to be like him (but with reasonable standards of grooming), I'm just wasting my time.

Bill, you said that you'd stick a shiv in Kelly; I'll use you as the example here. Do you really commit to that shiv-sticking based on performance or lack thereof next year? If not, what level of action will you take if next year doesn't go the way you want it to?


Fan ultimatums are dumb and should be ignored

by Jack @, Monday, November 24, 2014, 10:01 @ Greg
edited by Jack, Monday, November 24, 2014, 10:06

And you can't compare the present situation with Davie/Willingham/Weis. Fan ultimatums didn't drive those firings. On field performance did. Yeah, I know Monk and White in the case of Willlingham. One's retired and the other's gone, who cares.

After the FSU game, the "grapevine" was the opposite of now, which was a number of turnovers and defensive injuries ago. It could turn back just as fast if things go right next year. We have some pretty tough early games, so we should know pretty quickly.

There are so many parallels with the Devine era it boggles the mind. Yes, Devine got sick of it and left before his contract was up. Maybe Kelly will too. Am I going to worry about that? No, because I sure can't do anything about it.


I don't think the point is whether fans can "influence" ....

by Domer99, John Wesley Powell's Expedition Island, Monday, November 24, 2014, 10:26 @ Jack

anything with regards to the ND head coach. Nobody here is egotistical enough to think that Jack is going to act on our impulses. Rather, I think it's a possibly disturbing trend in behavior of fans.

It may speak volumes that fans are going to prevent themselves from worrying about it.

Which probably brings to mind a good and fair question. Is 9-4 into perpetuity enough to continually sustain an ND coach? Yeah, we have 2012. But the fear is that 2013 and 2014 represent Kelly's tenure more accurately.


I think a 9-3 average with an intermittent title run

by ReginaldVelJohnson @, (FaytlND), Monday, November 24, 2014, 14:12 @ Domer99

is about our institutional ceiling, to be honest.

I've long ago disabused myself of the notion that ND is going to look like Alabama, Oregon, et al. where we are calling 10-2 a "bad year". In the era of parity, you either need to be willing to bend the rules to their breaking point (or break them, probably), or settle for the idea that you are going to be pretty good most years and hope you can catch lighting in a bottle with the right players at the right time.

So when I wonder if 9-3 is good enough for Kelly, I'd say that the record itself is fine. But that's much too superficial. The question is how did we get to 9-3. If he continues to be good for losses like NW, then I would take issue even if the end result is always 9-3.


It is for most schools short of juggernaut periods

by Jack @, Monday, November 24, 2014, 16:04 @ ReginaldVelJohnson

Which in reverse order to the mid-80's, is Alabama, Florida, USC, Miami, Florida State, Nebraska, Miami and Notre Dame simultaneously and Miami again alone.

Alabama style runs are the exception, not the norm. There are teams with NC's in since 2000 who aren't in that group either, like LSU, Texas and Ohio State.


It sounds mediocre, but then you figure

by ReginaldVelJohnson @, (FaytlND), Monday, November 24, 2014, 16:19 @ Jack

that a 0.750 winning percentage would only improve our lead in that regard.


But almost every team every year has a NW-like loss

by Greg, sittin on the dock of the bay, Monday, November 24, 2014, 14:21 @ ReginaldVelJohnson

I know we've looked at it before, but starting in 1990 Holtz had:

1990 Stanford
1991 Tennessee (not bad in the abstract, but that lost lead was ridiculous) and Penn State
1992 Stanford (a blowout loss, really)
1993 BC
1994 BC and BYU
1995 Northwestern
1996 Air Force. And then we forced him out.

Let's look at some top teams this year:

Baylor by 14 @ WVU
Ohio State's debacle against VT
Wisconsin to NW
Oregon at home to Arizona (for the second year in a row)
UCLA to Utah
ASU to Oregon State
Mizzou to Indiana
Georgia to Florida
Bama to (now 8-3 and heading to 8-4) Ole Miss

These are all losses that have either eliminated teams from a reasonable shot at the playoff or put them behind the 8 ball to get to the playoff. Some overcame them (Oregon and Bama, and possibly Baylor or OSU). The rest are out of the playoff. And none of those losses were "good" or "reasonable" or whatever the playoff committee is calling them these days.


I don't know that I agree

by Domer99, John Wesley Powell's Expedition Island, Monday, November 24, 2014, 14:33 @ Greg

Take that '93 BC loss. That was to a top 25 team. Or Northwestern in '95 turned up in the Rose Bowl.

Those are equivalent to...say the Louisville loss. The Northwestern loss is bad. They were a 3-6 outfit entering the game. This loss is has no peer in Kelly's tenure at ND. And I am not sure it does in Holtz's either (only thing close might be the 90 loss to Stanford).

I consider Kelly's worst losses to be Tulsa, 2010 Navy, South Florida, 2013 Pitt. The loss to Northwestern was just deflating. It really is one of those that causes at least some doubt where none previously existed. I didn't feel that way about Kelly's other losses.

This is the first time in Kelly's ND tenure where we've seen 3 losses in a row. Four losses in a row would really crystalize this stretch.


Holtz was toast from '94 on.

by Kevin @, Monday, November 24, 2014, 14:31 @ Greg

He was great before then, but those losses -- especially BC in 1994 -- were bullshit. I've never been so pissed off at a team as that '94 team.

Still, I can't just chalk it up to "everyone has bad losses." Kelly has had at least one of them (I think more) in four of his five seasons. Some were close, but since we all agreed to never revisit the 2012 wins, I think we have to accept the losses as losses (FSU excepted, because F them).

Northwestern and Louisville this year, Pitt and Michigan last year, USF in 2011, and Michigan, Tulsa, and Navy in 2010. Ugly losses, bad play,blown chances to win, baffling decisions. He was thisclose to establishing a new normal, but here we are back at the old normal. Damn it.


I'm pretty unhappy with Saturday

by HumanRobot @, Cybertron, Monday, November 24, 2014, 14:36 @ Kevin

But I don't think it's fair to call that a bad loss. They're at least a Top 25 team by almost any poll or algorithm.


What was so bad about the Louisville loss? It was

by BillyGoat, At Thanksgiving with Joe Bethersontin, Monday, November 24, 2014, 14:35 @ Kevin

disappointing to squander a comeback like that, but I thought the team played much better than it had the week before. I was particularly pleasantly surprised about the defense (and the young guys up front were playing HARD) and I have at least some confidence that we don't have to score on every drive to beat USC.


That it came after 2 straight losses

by Domer99, John Wesley Powell's Expedition Island, Monday, November 24, 2014, 14:46 @ BillyGoat
edited by Domer99, Monday, November 24, 2014, 14:50

with one of those being an All Time worst-type loss, doesn't help the situation.

It's all contextual and cumulative, even if the context isn't totally fair.

But for me, it's that the same issues that killed us against ASU and Northwestern continue to plague this team (and perhaps program). I thought many of these issues stopped with Toonces!'s departure. These are fairly plain corrections that still haven't been fixed (FG kicking unit).

I'd be fine with losing if I didn't think we were giving games away because of our mistakes. And I thought Louisville was imminently winnable.


The worst thing about the Louisville loss

by Mike (bart), Monday, November 24, 2014, 14:40 @ BillyGoat

is that we lost a game we really needed to win. We needed to win so badly because it was our only hope of salvaging anything that could pass for a good season (e.g., 10-3). Now we are looking at treading water from last year at best, and more likely a(nother) 5 or 6 loss season. I also think the quality of the defensive play makes people a little more pissy every time they see it -- deference that Kelly & Co. might have enjoyed surrounding playcalls, personnel issues, etc. has evaporated.

The biggest problem is that we can't be burning the candle at both ends. That is, you can't lose to Pitt 2013, or Northwestern 2014 and then lose to somewhat better but by no means daunting teams like Louisville and plausibly claim that the uglier losses are just blips on the radar.


9-4 in perpetuity is hardly the idea. But I will again

by Jack @, Monday, November 24, 2014, 11:02 @ Domer99
edited by Jack, Monday, November 24, 2014, 11:36

point out that there are major similarities to the Devine era, with the notable exception that we did win the '77 NC.

But he was 8-3,9-3,11-1,9-3,7-4,9-2-1.

You could argue that those 3 loss years were a lot like Kelly's 4 loss years, as there was one less game, and especially in the minds of fans that Ara never lost 3 games in a season.

And then there was year 5, when we were 7-4. Why did the team fall to 7-4 that year? Because a horde of great defensive players had graduated: Jay Case, Jeff Weston, Mike Calhoun, Steve Heimkreiter, Bob Golic, Tom Gibbons, Jim Browner and Joe Restic - 8 starters all gone at once, of which 7 had been starting for at least 2 years. In '79 therefore we had a very, very young inexperienced defense that gave up 197 points, which back then was a lot.

But the following year that defense really clicked, included a shutout of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, and only yielded 128 points including the bowl game. The defense in fact carried that team and was really one of the great ND defenses in the last 50 years.

We've had turnovers two of the last 3 games that really hurt, but the fact of the matter is that the problem has been the defense. Everyone harps on the playcalling, but other than the first half on Saturday against maybe the best defense we played all year, seems to me we've been moving the ball pretty darn well and scoring a lot of points. We scored 40 on Northwestern, and if not for the turnovers could have been 54. Can I get a show of hands of how many people here thought we'd lose to Northwestern in a game where we scored 40 points?

I agree with everyone saying we've got to win big next year. Barring a host of injuries I don't see any excuses. But I think people need to breathe a bit on this year. We are as thin as boarding house soap on defense, and it keeps getting worse. Experience will help those young players in the long run, but it's sure painful to watch right now.


How long could ND tolerate a Richt-like era?

by LaFortune Teller ⌂ @, South Bend, Monday, November 24, 2014, 10:51 @ Domer99

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the funny thing is

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, November 24, 2014, 11:39 @ LaFortune Teller

I bet most fans would hire Richt at ND following Kelly, if they could.


That ND fans think Richt could do better at ND

by Jeremy (WeIsND), Offices of Babip Pecota Vorp & Eckstein, Monday, November 24, 2014, 12:28 @ Jay

Than he's done at UGA probably says everything anyone needs to know about ND fans.


How long should we?

by Kevin @, Monday, November 24, 2014, 11:35 @ LaFortune Teller

Richt's last SEC title came nine years ago, with a 10-3 team, in Urban's first year at Florida and before Saban got to Alabama. They did destroy a very strong LSU team in that year's SEC title game.

Since then, he's had two very good teams -- 2007 and 2012. The 2007 team was out of the title hunt after a blowout loss to unranked Tennessee. The 2012 team had a blowout loss to South Carolina, but they were pretty strong otherwise. Still, that's it. Here he is, in his 14th season, getting his doors blown off by a guy who was fired a couple weeks later.


I don't think ND could

by Domer99, John Wesley Powell's Expedition Island, Monday, November 24, 2014, 11:04 @ LaFortune Teller
edited by Domer99, Monday, November 24, 2014, 11:21

And that's why I think the Devine analogy isn't perfect. Devine got his championship. Now, in the context of everything, I can partially understand how it wasn't enough. But I just don't see how a Richt tenure could last as long in South Bend as it has in Athens. Maybe his personality would buy him more years than Kelly, but 14 years is an awful long time.


My point was really that Devine's second best team was

by Jack @, Monday, November 24, 2014, 11:14 @ Domer99

in his last year and the '82 team that he never coached was downright loaded and set up for a great run. But alas, he was no longer coaching it.

Yes, he did get his championship. Did that make him more popular? Nope, it really didn't. He still wasn't Ara and people, my young wet-behind-the-ears self included, thought the team won in spite of him. Which in retrospect is patently ridiculous. But that was the perception.

We have a young, inexperienced defense like the '79 team, though in the case of this year's team the problem is injuries and suspensions rather than only graduation losses.

Point being, this really isn't the year to judge. Next year, yes. Next year we have a more front-loaded schedule, so I think we'll know early.


ultimatums are dumb

by HumanRobot @, Cybertron, Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:36 @ Greg

But ultimately, poor performance will naturally cause the conversation to shift from 'will Kelly succeed' or considering interesting aspects of the program to 'can we fire this guy already' and 'who can we get?'.


You can't take the ultimatums literally

by Domer99, John Wesley Powell's Expedition Island, Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:36 @ Greg

But I think when the majority of opinion starts to sway, it makes it impossible to ignore. To date, Brian Kelly has probably won enough (no, not by historical standards but by current conventional wisdom) to stand above the fray so-to-speak.

But patience for his stubborn style is wearing very thin. This is the tempest in the teapot. But it's the prerequisite for future program changing momentum.

9-4 next year is really going to piss a lot of fans off, even those that have been behind Kelly from day 1.

Is it much ado about nothing? Maybe. But it's a start, and not one that any coach wants to have to start deflecting.


Metaphorically speaking, yes.

by Bill, Southern California, Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:33 @ Greg

And I'm not the type to be that angry Internet guy who spends all of his time attacking sports figures online. But if 2015 turns out to be a repeat of 2013-2014, then I'll believe that it will be time for Kelly to move on, either voluntarily or via a Swarbrick pink slip.


Maybe Kelly doesn't have to move on.

by KGB, Monday, November 24, 2014, 10:44 @ Bill

Maybe he just meets with an unfortunate accident.


Bummer. I thought it was going to be a real shiv

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:45 @ Bill

I don't I've ever seen a shiv in real life, unless you count the one Omar used on that guy's keister in season 4.


It's too cold in South Bend in December for me

by Bill, Southern California, Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:47 @ Jay

to make the trip and literally do it myself. And next year, we'll finish off the year in Northern California and I won't want to make the trip if we suck.


Concur though my floor may be make the play-off.

by Grantland @, y'allywood, Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:44 @ Bill

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That's a little to "line in the sand" for me.

by Bill, Southern California, Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:50 @ Grantland

I guess I'll know it when I see it.



by Slainte Joe, Raleigh, Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:42 @ Bill

[ No text ]


If Bill shivs Kelly, he should get to be the new coach.

by Kevin @, Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:31 @ Greg

The current approach is not working. Either Bill can shiv him and take over, or someone can crucify him and take over. But either way, I think we all agree that 2015 is either Playoffs-or-Get-Murdered for BK. Boy is he going to lose it when Jeff Long screws 11-1 Notre Dame out of that fourth spot.


Think it's only manslaughter unless the coach's wp is >.750

by Mike (bart), Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:36 @ Kevin

[ No text ]


Assuming there are 4 spots.

by Pat (Moco), Slave Den, Brian Cook's Basement, Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:35 @ Kevin

One, possibly two, of the conferences is going to get screwed this year and if the screaming is loud enough, it might result in it getting expanded to 8.


My own "ultimatum" would simply be that

by Mike (bart), Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:31 @ Greg

I will enjoy following the team less and the intensity of my interest will lessen. That's not something I would consciously do as a means of stamping my feet, the whole thing will just probably be less fun for me as long as Kelly remains coach.


I agree with this.

by Domer99, John Wesley Powell's Expedition Island, Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:42 @ Mike (bart)

And I've started to do it this year. Since the Northwestern game, I have intentionally tried to deprioritize ND football, because it's not worth the emotional investment to me or my family. And I consider myself a pretty die-hard fan.

It's not much, but when the wheels of indifference start in motion there's generally something greater that follows. It doesn't mean Brian Kelly's job is in danger today, but he's certainly going to get less of a leash from most parties.



by oviedoirish @, Oviedo, Florida, Monday, November 24, 2014, 11:07 @ Domer99

I recorded the Louisville game rather than watching it live--that's a first for me in a long time. If we had won, I would have watched the recording. I'll do the same for USC. If we finish 7-5 and go to the bowl game in Orlando, I'm not even going to go. That's how down I've become. It feels more like indifference than depression, though. Fair weather fan? After so many years of following ND, I don't think so. We've just been mediocre for so long now that it's not worth the emotional investment.

I have been a BK supporter from the beginning, but next year is year 6 of his tenure, and I expect great things to start happening (i.e., at least a playoff berth). In my opinion, the program should be at a high level by now and sustain it, rather than these fairly large ups and downs. So if we flounder next year, then I think I'll be off the bandwagon.

Or...are we all dreaming that ND can still compete for national titles? The talent is in the South and West, and it's hard to attract great players to ND, and even more so it seems without following the "SEC" model of semi-pro ball and bag men. Thoughts?


We tend to have the memory of goldfish with this stuff.

by FunkDoctorSpock, Your Nightmares, B* tches, Monday, November 24, 2014, 10:29 @ Domer99

The loss to Michigan in 2011 dropped BK to 8-7 at ND.

Heading into last years Pitt game ND had gone 27-6 in our games since that brutal loss in Ann Arbor. It included an undefeated regular season and our first Top 5 finish since 1993.

Starting with last year's loss to Pitt we have gone 9-6.

Is another run like that around the corner? Hell, I can't say for sure. But I wouldn't discount the possibility.


We do.

by Domer99, John Wesley Powell's Expedition Island, Monday, November 24, 2014, 10:35 @ FunkDoctorSpock

But I am reminded of a previous analyses of yours, about Kelly's strong finishes in November. I think Kelly has commented on it before as well.

This November has been historic by Kelly's standards. The Louisville loss doesn't bug and gnaw at me like the Northwestern one. I am still miffed at that. And I don't know if this is going to get better. 4 straight losses definitely requires some greater introspection (at least for me as a long-time Kelly supporter).


Absolutely. We are definitely at a turning point.

by FunkDoctorSpock, Your Nightmares, B* tches, Monday, November 24, 2014, 10:56 @ Domer99
edited by FunkDoctorSpock, Monday, November 24, 2014, 11:08

But, as we have discussed, BK has been in this spot before. And so too have ND coaches like Holtz, Devine and Ara. And non ND coaches, too.

A few quick examples. After the first two games of 2011 Richt and Georgia were 0-2 for the season, had lost three straight including their bowl game in 2010, 6-9 in their last fifteen games, and 14-14 since the start of 2009 season. Since then they are 31-6.

After losing to Northwestern in 2012, Dantonio and MSU were 1-4 in their last five games and 3-6 in their last nine. Heading into the game against ND that season (the start of their slide) MSU had gone 22-5 since the start of 2010. Since that loss to Northwestern they gone 24-3.

Or how about Nick Saban? After getting off to a 3-3 start his first season at LSU, he rattled off a stretch of 21-5 that included an SEC championship and ended 24 point win in 2002 against South Carolina that gave LSU a 6-1 record. LSU then lost 4 of its last 6 games, and 3 of its last 4. One was a 24 point loss to Auburn and the other a 31 point shut out loss to Alabama. In his last two years at LSU he was 22-4 and won a NC.


Some explanations, some excuses, some remaining issues.

by Kevin @, Monday, November 24, 2014, 08:35 @ Mike (bart)

Max/Shumate might have deserved to sit on a better team. I don't think they belong on the sidelines for this team. Obviously, we all remember the tentative play that pissed off Spielman (who doesn't know that Max had attracted some personal foul attention in earlier games). The secondary was fairly carved up in that game. Shumate I'm less clear about. He was poor against Rice, but my impression was he was coming along nicely for awhile.

Regardless, I'm not sure why an injured Austin Collinsworth and true Freshman Drue Tranquill, neither of whom are effective, continue to play while Max and Shumate sit the entire game. And what value is Kerry Cooks adding here? Neither Redfield nor Shumate lack physical ability. Do they want to play? Are they willing to put in the work? What's in ND's best interests right now -- giving up on them, or getting them ready for USC?

Morgan is abysmal right now. The #1 reason for the long runs, particularly up the middle, is that this game is a coin toss to him right now. And he's picking the wrong side of the coin nearly every time. I think he's going to have to either move outside or to the sideline. Again, these are mental mistakes that are not improving even 1%. After watching a true Freshman QB and redshirt Freshman RB gash ND on Saturday, and after watching Trumbetti contribute all year long, I wish we were getting more out of a few more of our young guys. We wouldn't be great, but we could be an ugly 9-2.

As Jay noted, the youth of this team might be inevitable, but it's not wholly excusable. Inside linebacker recruiting was a disaster in 2012 and 2013, and that's coming home to roost. Our safety recruiting was similar. Hardy's all we have to show for 2011. 2012 brought current benchwarmer Shumate. Max is it from 2013. We're wounded at those spots, but talent evaluation and recruiting are parts of the job, too.

On offense, things are not as bad, but we know from the start we'd need to score to win. The #34 scoring offense (which, to be fair, is dragged down by the Stanford win) isn't good enough. I'd like to see more of the game on Folston's shoulders. At the start of the Louisville game, they pounded him right down the field. Chip shot field goal, and ND was off to a good start. He never had three consecutive carries again, and not until the final drive of the game did he have more than three carries in one drive. Some of those were pretty low-quality snaps -- for example, that short side run on 1st and goal at the end. The OL was blown up, he had nowhere to go, picked up one yard. That was the end of the day for Tarean. The Bryant talk is, in my view, a debate over whether Greg should have 0-1 carries per game, or 3-5. Not about who's #1. #1 is as clear as it's been since Julius was here.

Offense has some player-development issues. Golson continues to make crippling mistakes. Koyack is a non-factor. Lombard, Hegarty, and Elmer are not getting the job done. Bryant apparently isn't good enough for even spot work. We're still dealing with drops from the WRs (but also getting some excellent catches).


Our situational performance is really deteriorating

by Mike (bart), Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:19 @ Kevin

Alright, we just took the lead --- time to let up two long TD drives. 1st and goal at the 10 with a chance to win? No shot we're scoring. Critical kicking game errors. Fumbling in "Cannot fumble here" situations.Giving up a 52 yard pass play on 3rd and 13.

It's not just that we're making bad plays -- young teams will do that. We're consistently making bad plays at the most critical junctures, that's what bad teams do. It seemed like a massive part of the Brian Kelly project was getting this team to a point where it stopped doing shit like that. Who knows, maybe we're just reverting to the mean in one-score games.


Mental fatigue, especially in inexperienced players?

by Jason93, Raining debris all over Europe, Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:28 @ Mike (bart)

You'd like to think that it would impact older players less (Lombard, Golson, etc).

The causes of the mental fatigue are a different story. Is it coaching style? Experience of bad outcomes in early pressure situations? Simply youth?

I think the children like it when I "get down" verbally.


I think that's part of it, but we're also acquiring a real

by Mike (bart), Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:34 @ Jason93

ego-depletion problem. Once you start doing poorly at something, it can snowball to the point where stuff that wasn't previously a problem for you starts going to pot as well. I mean, I never thought I'd see Jaylon Smith blocked 9 yards downfield by some non-descript Louisville running back on 2nd and goal from the 8 in an important November game. In a world where ND entered that game at 8-2, I don't think we would have seen it, either.


I have to say

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:43 @ Mike (bart)
edited by Jay, Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:47

You are really on a roll with the broad proclamations and conspiracy stirring. "We are depleting our reservoir of hope", "We are exacerbating our ego-depletion problem", "We have systemic issues akin to malignant cancer", "We must not allow a mineshaft gap!".

Now you didn't say anything exactly like that but I could imagine any of those phrases coming out of your keyboard today. You are on a mission to cement some kind of dark trajectory for Kelly. You have me scared, because I am starting to believe it.



by Mike (bart), Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:55 @ Jay

I feel like we do a nice job spilling pixels around these parts related to ND Football and other matters. I think I personally have some tendencies towards positivity bias when it comes to ND football, so as long as we're shooting the breeze here I'd like to make sure we're not giving the short shrift to the idea that maybe things aren't going so hot.


where's the Oakley stuff?

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, November 24, 2014, 10:03 @ Mike (bart)

MattG and I ran into him and Jordan at a now defunct River North establishment called Butterfield 8 about ten years ago. It was a pretty funny night.


Didn't want to shoehorn it in there

by Mike (bart), Monday, November 24, 2014, 10:18 @ Jay

but now that the topic has been breached:

Hung out with Charles Oakley all weekend down in Miami. Very nice guy, so unpretentious it's almost scary. He talked a lot of shit during the ND game about our guys being soft, but that was a pretty common refrain coming form this guy. He also shared that Roy Hibbert, Anthony Mason, Dennis Rodman and Joakim Noah were soft. On Saturday night we ran into Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning, who in case they were laboring under the impression that they were otherwise, were summarily informed by Oakley that they, as well, were soft. He ran into Braylon Edwards by the pool (ot: talk about a guy who might hate Michigan football more than we do), took his phone from him, told him he doesn't know anything about football, and informed him that he was also soft.

Oak -- who claims he only sleeps two hours per night -- put on a drinking performance the likes of which I've never seen. On Saturday morning/afternoon he had, conservatively, 18 to 19 shots of vodka. I'd say he downed an entire bottle of Ketel One, but before he could polish it off he threw the last 5 oz. or so in my buddy's face because he was being soft as hell.

This was right before Oakley took off on a $250 cab ride (round trip) to visit a sick kid for the Make-A-Wish Foundation (I still can't wrap my head around the reality of there being a terminally sick 9-year-old in the year 2014 who wants nothing more than to meet Charles Oakley).

By the time he got back, we were hanging out with all the losing girls from the most recent season of The Bachelor, which was generally not very fun, except for the point where they kept asking us who Oakley was and we told them he was LeBron James' dad. Oak's actually from Cleveland originally, so these girls kept asking what LeBron was like in grammar school and stuff and Oakley knew just enough that everyone in the conversation thought everyone else was a weirdo. It was pretty great.



OK, I'll bite

by Jack @, Monday, November 24, 2014, 11:53 @ Mike (bart)
edited by Jack, Monday, November 24, 2014, 11:58

How in the hey did you happen to spend the weekend hanging out with Charles Oakley?

And who are the 2 or 3 people besides maybe Michael Jordan that he doesn't think are soft?

And when he got vodka thrown in his face, did your buddy say to him "You insensitive prick! Do you have any idea how much that stings?"


It's a long story

by Mike (bart), Monday, November 24, 2014, 12:54 @ Jack

he also thinks Michael is soft. That doesn't get you totally written off in Oak's book, it's just a fact of life. I also asked him what he's doing these days and he responded with "Whatever the hell Michael tells me to do." He said it o me like the question was very silly, which I suppose it was.

My buddy who got the vodka thrown in his face is a pretty big dude in his own right. He and Oakley are actually fairly tight, and he had started conspiring with Oakley to take a dive in a retaliatory "fight" later on out on a boat (in front of all the aforementioned Bachelor-girls). It was one of the finest persuasive acts of my life to convince my buddy to abandon this plan. "Nobody could've predicted Oakley would deviate from the plan after 23 shots of vodka and an inspiring visit with a 9-year-old cancer patient" is going to be the first line of someone's obituary someday, but it won't be on my watch.

I can't explain to you guys how much vodka actually got tossed in my friend's face. It was honestly probably the most liquid I've ever seen thrown onto another person in a non-vaudeville setting since I don't know when. Certainly the most alcohol by volume.


Man, why can't I ever have weekends like that?

by Jack @, Monday, November 24, 2014, 13:32 @ Mike (bart)

Those guys just live different lives than our humdrum existences.



by KGB, Monday, November 24, 2014, 10:39 @ Mike (bart)

It's not my favorite city by a longshot, but the story you described could probably only ever happen in Miami (other than Vegas, but literally anything could happen in Vegas, so it's not really worth mentioning).

How did you end up tagged with Oakley in the first place?


So he downed a near fifth of vodka, then did Make a Wish?

by irishvol @, Music City, USA, Monday, November 24, 2014, 10:35 @ Mike (bart)


Thanks for sharing - that's a great story.



by Mike (bart), Monday, November 24, 2014, 10:45 @ irishvol

I know it sounds kind of like an asshole move but in Oak's defense

A) he really didn't seem that drunk, certainly not too drunk for Make-A-Wish and

B) we should acknowledge the possibility that Oak drinking the vodka was part of the kid's request


It was probably assumed.

by Kevin @, Monday, November 24, 2014, 10:48 @ Mike (bart)

"When Oak gets here, he will be just intoxicated enough to tell the full Tyrone Hill story."


This is great.

by Joe ⌂ @, North Endzone Goal Line, Monday, November 24, 2014, 10:29 @ Mike (bart)

[ No text ]



by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, November 24, 2014, 10:27 @ Mike (bart)

[ No text ]


it's all good

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, November 24, 2014, 10:01 @ Mike (bart)

I just think in five years of Kelly we pretty much know what we have, and there's no reason to draw crazy circles on top of him. Outside of some B-stories like Redfield, this season is not a major mystery begging for extra-sensory explanation.


one slight disagreement

by Spesh ⌂ @, Los Angeles, Monday, November 24, 2014, 10:12 @ Jay

This is first year without two biggest coaches on staff in Diaco and Martin. We don't know what staff chemistry is like now. I also wonder if the Iowa staff connections to Diaco (Cooks, Elliot) are meshing well with the new DC. Then you throw in the underperforming OL and questions regarding Hiestand, and I'm not sure if there is quite that simple.

I think the off-season could be telling in terms of what may be going on behind the scenes now.


This is a good point.

by KGB, Monday, November 24, 2014, 10:47 @ Spesh

I'd be surprised if there aren't multiple staff changes after the season. Not that this is an earth-shattering prediction in the wake of a 4- or 5-loss season, but our turnover to this point under BK has been well below-average, I suspect.


I expect a Red Wedding

by HumanRobot @, Cybertron, Monday, November 24, 2014, 10:52 @ KGB

If you put a gun to my head -- Booker and Elliott as most likely, with Elston, Alford, Hiestand, La Fleur, and perhaps even Van Gorder as possibilities.


that would really be shaking the etch-a-sketch

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, November 24, 2014, 11:21 @ HumanRobot

I'm with you on Booker; Elliott to a lesser extent. I really can't see shedding BVG after one year, or losing Elston or Alford. Or even Hiestand. Maybe some of them go on their own, but I can't see BK firing them.

Booker's the only guy who's a sure replace.


My thoughts on assistants...

by BillyGoat, At Thanksgiving with Joe Bethersontin, Monday, November 24, 2014, 11:47 @ Jay

(And they are just my thoughts -- no information)

- LaFleur: First and foremost, one year just isn't enough information to make a decision. I'm not going to fire him after a year. But it's possible that Kelly decides it just isn't working out and suggests he take a lateral move. But I think he sticks around.

- Alford: This is the one where I'm the most conflicted. We just haven't maximized the potential of our OL group in the 2012-2014 seasons. Is that because we haven't found a way to "reach" all the different guys (especially Wood and GA3)? Or is it more of a function of "you can lead a horse to water?"

- Denbrock: I'm just a big fan. I think he's doing a good job setting the table for Kelly (and make no mistake, that's ALL a good OC is ever going to be doing here with BK). And I think his position group ranged from meeting to exceeding expectations.

- Heistand: I keep him, and next year is key. There's some stuff out there on Power Hour and whatnot that not all of these starters (especially Hegarty and Martin) are really fits for the scheme that Kelly and Heistand want to run. Basically, if you haven't listened to PH (and maybe they are totally full of crap), the theory is that to run zone scheme, you need guys who can power through one on one matchups. Well, the power classes are now juniors and sophomores. McGlinchey is the heir apparent at RT -- will Heistand have him ready in his third year in the system? You can argue that Elmer has been playing a bit too early, but will he be ready in year three on the field (no more excuses for him)? I can't imagine that Stanley gets unseated at LT (and I really like him over there, even if he's not a bruiser). For the remaining inside spots, will Nelson or one of those beefy juniors (McGovern, Montelus, or Bivin) step up and take over an inside spot from Martin or Hegarty? I have to think that one of Martin or Hegarty is the starting center (because experience counts for a lot there), but will one of the young guys take that other guard spot? That will be telling.

- Booker: I think he's a good recruiter and a good WRs coach who is in the position coaching TEs first (where I think he's done a decent job) and STs second (and that's pretty much because the guy on staff who knows how to coach STs -- Elston -- is just too busy coaching a thousand young guys on the DL). I could take him or leave him.

- Elston: One of my very favorite coaches on staff. There has been a consistent very high effort level from his guys, and he has gotten guys to contribute earlier than expected. He's done a great job with the less heralded guys or young guys (Jones, Day, Springmann, Rochell, Trumbetti, Cage, and the Utupo reclamation project -- and even Hayes and Blankenship have held their own out there despite having no business playing this early), but he hasn't really managed to max out guys like Tuitt and Nix. My take is that he's a really good DL coach for a 2-gap scheme but that he's not necessarily the right guy to teach the 1 on 1 passrushing and gap-shooting techniques demanded of the new scheme.

- Elliot: Kind of like Elston, I just don't know if he fits the new scheme.

- Cooks: Like Denbrock. Appears to be safe no matter what. Is really doing a good job on the recruiting trail as a pilgrim in unholy land.

- BVG: Can't ditch a coordinator after one season. I think he's a great fit with Kelly.


It's difficult to put more of a load on Folston.

by Bill, Southern California, Monday, November 24, 2014, 08:49 @ Kevin

And I understand that he's really developed into a special player over the course of this season, but ~20 carries per game seems about the threshold you want to manage to for most college running backs. And that's been right about where we've been with Tarean since he took over from the NC game forward.

The larger issue is that we haven't had a second reliable back emerge from the pack. Yeah, it would be great to get Greg Bryant some work and give him an opportunity to find his groove. But he's not at the point where he can be part of the gameplan, so Kelly's somewhat limited in his ability to focus more of the gameplan on the running game.


Disagree on that last point.

by KGB, Monday, November 24, 2014, 08:58 @ Bill

Bryant was getting close to equal carries earlier in the season, so it's not like they would have to reinvent the wheel here to make him part of the gameplan again. And even if they didn't want to go that route, we have receivers like Carlisle and Prosise who have good open-field skills and could be utilized more often on the jet sweeps.


Bryant's disappearance about matches exactly w/ Folston's

by Bill, Southern California, Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:04 @ KGB

emergence. Yeah, they were getting about equal carries. And then Folston took the job and Bryant has evaporated from the scene. Now I think part of that is that we haven't had a meaningful lead in the last six games. It seems that Bryant's earlier work came when we had a lead and could comfortably work him into some less risky situations. But with the closeness of every game since North Carolina, there haven't been any similar situations to get him work.


were Collinsworth and Tranquil that bad this week?

by HumanRobot @, Cybertron, Monday, November 24, 2014, 08:39 @ Kevin

[ No text ]


I think so.

by Kevin @, Monday, November 24, 2014, 08:41 @ HumanRobot
edited by Kevin, Monday, November 24, 2014, 08:46

And I don't blame either player. Collinsworth is not 100%; no one expected Tranquill to be playing this much, this early.


is Koyack a nonfactor because he is being asked

by Spesh ⌂ @, Los Angeles, Monday, November 24, 2014, 08:38 @ Kevin

To help pass protection?


Shumate's absence is the most readily explainable imo

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, November 24, 2014, 08:37 @ Kevin

He was horsing around on the sideline instead of paying attention to the game and he missed a play. That's a benching.


For how long?

by Kevin @, Monday, November 24, 2014, 08:44 @ Jay

We just don't have luxury of drilling home that lesson. That's why Golson isn't sitting. It has to be -- running him out there after that fumble was a pretty tough thing to stomach otherwise.

As great a person and leader as Collinsworth is, he does not look physically able to play right now.


Not directed at you exactly

by PBurns ⌂ @, Ah Denver, the Sunshine State. Beautiful, Monday, November 24, 2014, 11:01 @ Kevin

But your post made me think of it. The people calling to bench Golson to "teach him a lesson" would probably be the same people saying "you can't bench Shumate, we need him".

Just made me consider the silliness of both of those statements when viewed next to each other, though individually they have some merit.

Just run 4 verts


Well done! You've created a strawman...

by ndroman21, Monday, November 24, 2014, 12:30 @ PBurns taking exactly the situation that exists and completely reversing it!


Eh, just something I thought was interesting

by PBurns ⌂ @, Ah Denver, the Sunshine State. Beautiful, Monday, November 24, 2014, 12:43 @ ndroman21

I'm quite indifferent to either viewpoint. CBK is gonna do whatever he's gonna do, there's no point arguing about it from where I sit. Don't mean to argue anything actually.

Just run 4 verts


You can bench pretty much anybody.

by KGB, Monday, November 24, 2014, 12:16 @ PBurns

But to put somebody or a couple of somebodys on ice for an entire game, or several games, when you're already shorthanded in the unit and getting lousy performance on top of that is cutting your damn nose off to spite your face.


I would never advocate benching Golson

by Kevin @, Monday, November 24, 2014, 11:36 @ PBurns

for more than a series or two. Shumate certainly deserved to pay a similar price.


I know what I'm about to post probably sounds stupid

by HumanRobot @, Cybertron, Monday, November 24, 2014, 08:24 @ Mike (bart)

But do we need to fear a 2014-Michigan fate for our 2015 team? I'm not focused on the specific outline of what's made Michigan terrible this season, aside from the fact that they're a below average team. Still Golson has gotten seemingly worse as the season has worn on. The default isn't that he reverts to late 2012 or early 2014 form. There's real work to be done. I don't think he'll be as bad as Gardner, but if the defense doesn't recapture early season form, he doesn't have to be as bad for us to have a bad season.

I know this defense is depleted, but gosh I'd like to see this defense hold up against a decent QB. Even with a full deck it really struggled against UNC and even Navy.

I think it's a low probability outcome that we're 5-7 bad next year, but I do think it's a real possibility if gains aren't made.


That full deck wasn't a full deck

by BPH, San Diego, Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:16 @ HumanRobot

That's the whole thing about this defensive disaster. We were supposed to struggle on that side before the ridiculous string of injuries. This is depletion on top of depletion. I'm not exaggerating when I say it's the worst I've ever seen at ND.


it was 2014 full for the UNC and FSU games, right?

by HumanRobot @, Cybertron, Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:20 @ BPH

[ No text ]


Yes, it was

by BPH, San Diego, Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:40 @ HumanRobot

But "2014 full" is a relative term, as you hint. We all knew going into the season that the defense was going to be the weaker unit, possibly by a substantial margin.


I don't think we're in that kind of danger-zone

by Mike (bart), Monday, November 24, 2014, 08:53 @ HumanRobot

I think the worry here is that Kelly's best days at ND are behind him; that he's not going to do anything special. The problem with Michigan is that Hoke is an actively terrible coach. To Jay and BPH's question about apathy around the program: that's what it looks like. We're not there, and I don't think we're headed there. I do think that right now 8-5/9-4 are probably the most likely scenarios for next season, but that could change: inflection points are just that.


I think that I'd rather see 3-9 next year than 8-5.

by Glass, Monday, November 24, 2014, 10:09 @ Mike (bart)

Probably the same for 9-4. Middling stinks.

But the flip side is that 11-2 would likely get Kelly his NFL job.



There certainly seems to be a strain in the Kelly/Golson

by Bill, Southern California, Monday, November 24, 2014, 08:04 @ Mike (bart)

dynamics, especially when you look at Golson's sideline behavior. It does not seem like Coach & Player are in a good place right now. Kelly is going to have to figure out a way to get to Golson and build a more positive relationship than we're seeing right now or 2015 is going to be problematic as well.

And I'm sorry, but this whole Redfield and Shumate situation just stinks of something. I can understand starting Collinsworth and Tranquill, but eliminating Redfield and Shumate from any part of our safety rotation just seems bizarre given the rest of the inexperience we've got through the rest of the defense. It made things even worse when Tranquill got injured and Eilar Hardy was the guy sent in. A guy who hasn't played a snap all season.


I'm just not sure this is going to get better

by ndphilo @, Seal Beach, Monday, November 24, 2014, 08:17 @ Bill

unless something really changes with Golson. I'm not sure how much of it you can pin on Kelly. If you look at the difference in the way Kelly relates to Golson from Reese, you can see Kelly is, in one sense, really trying to work with his quarterback and find what works. But when your QB comes of the field and turns his back to the coach, who has to tell him not to walk away when he is talking, you've got a real problem.

Golson has to learn how to be the leader of this team, to take criticism and learn from it rather than walking away to sulk. It just isn't conducive to developing a strong and cohesive unit. I'm starting to wonder if it plays into some of the o-line issues as well. That is pure sausage, however.



by Eric M, Western New York, Monday, November 24, 2014, 08:50 @ ndphilo

I don't think Golson really sulks at all.

In fact, I think he's usually pretty fiery and pissed off when he makes a mistake. That seemed to lead to this weekend's sideline interaction with Kelly more than anything else. Obviously, not ideal leadership but still I'd rather him be that way than sulking and not seeming to care.

I also don't agree that he needed to sit, particularly since he came back and played well the rest of the game. Somehow that seems to have gotten lost in the aftermath of the defeat.

-Ya boy Jackmerius Tacktheritrix


The team might need him to sit

by Mike (bart), Monday, November 24, 2014, 08:56 @ Eric M

for a series or two. I agree with you that Golson hasn't regressed as badly as it seems, but the offense goes into basket-case mode way too easily right now. Leadership in words probably isn't Golson's problem right now, but leadership in deed (as in, he literally has not led these guys to where they want to go). A chance to reclaim some momentum on that front could potentially do Golson and the offense a world of good


I don't really agree

by Eric M, Western New York, Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:01 @ Mike (bart)

The same reason why Redfield and Shumate (theoretically) should be playing right now is the same reason why Golson continues to play. They need to be working through their problems as long as they're not completely going into the tank, which I don't believe Golson is anywhere close to being.

-Ya boy Jackmerius Tacktheritrix


with you.

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:04 @ Eric M

Golson's going to finish with 30+ TDs and 3500+ yards, to go with 8+ rushing TDs. He's the offensive MVP as far as I'm concerned, mistakes and all. I'm not sure what benching him will solve.


Benching a guy doesn't have to be all or nothing.

by ndroman21, Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:14 @ Jay

It is possible to run Zaire out there for a series or two . This might help Golson clear his head and/or realize that he can't be putting the ball in jeopardy.

Ditto the safeties. I don't understand why Redfield/Shumate weren't at least mixed in on Saturday. Particularly when Tranquill actually went down and we brought in Hardy.


It could clear his head, orrrr do the exact opposite.

by PAK, Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:28 @ ndroman21

You play to win the game. Does Everett Golson give you the best chance to win the game? Then you play him. Kelly has shown no hesitancy to go to another QB if he feels like that QB will give him the best chance to win a football game.

Brian Kelly has juggled 2 quarterbacks effectively for his 3 years at Cinci and his first 3 here at ND. He would be using Zaire if he thought he would help the situation. He doesn't, so Zaire stays on the bench. It's that simple.


it also might not work, might not matter, or worse

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:24 @ ndroman21

put EG in the tank or create a true schism on the team.


The risks are definitely there

by Mike (bart), Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:28 @ Jay

but we aren't getting the job done right now, so we are in a position where we have to consider increasing our appetite for risk. We need to get more reward out of this offense!


More than 34.7 ppg (33 ppg over the last 3 games)?

by PAK, Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:31 @ Mike (bart)

37 ppg if you include the Navy game.

That's a lot of "reward".


More than 6 points in a first half, yeah.

by KGB, Monday, November 24, 2014, 10:02 @ PAK

[ No text ]


Need more

by Mike (bart), Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:39 @ PAK

if we had a better defense, we would need less, but we don't. I don't like it any more than you do, but the bottom line is our offense, which has remained relatively injury-free and has some excellent weapons, hasn't been good enough to overcome our difficulties on defense. That's not an indictment in a vacuum, but the games aren't played in vacuums, either.


I think as importantly, the offense...

by ndroman21, Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:46 @ Mike (bart)

...needs to stop putting the defense into tough spots.

It was better against Louisville, but even once is too many times to turn the ball over inside your own red zone.


Good point

by ndphilo @, Seal Beach, Monday, November 24, 2014, 08:56 @ Eric M

I'm not doubt reading much too much into too little.

It just seems like a weird dynamic. Golson just doesn't seem to want to talk to Kelly after a bad series. He literally walks away from him, and Kelly has to pursue him in many cases to have the conversation. It does not seem to be the best dynamic, at least viewed from the comfort of my coach.

Golson does get fired up, I think you are right, but not in a way that opens him up to coaching, at least not in the heat of the moment. Kelly's natural style seems to be to address things immediately (and aggressively), so the two just seem to have an uneasy relationship in game.

Enough armchair psychology from me, however. Not enough evidence to really say anything worthwhile, so I should stop.


I blame NBC

by Eric M, Western New York, Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:07 @ ndphilo

At least in part. I mean, they're zoned in on our backup quarterback because of his holding on field goals and it creates this extra layer of drama that I honestly don't see in other football broadcasts.

The same thing extends to the Golson-Kelly relationship. Although I agree the dynamic there doesn't look completely healthy we're exposed to SO MUCH of it that it really does nothing but add fuel to the fire.

-Ya boy Jackmerius Tacktheritrix


He should have been sat down after the fumble.

by KGB, Monday, November 24, 2014, 08:42 @ ndphilo

At least for a series. BK talks a pretty big game, but if he's not willing to hold Golson accountable for some of his more egregious mistakes, you have to wonder if he'll ever get over the hump.


I wouldn't be sure about that at all

by Jack @, Monday, November 24, 2014, 10:10 @ KGB
edited by Jack, Monday, November 24, 2014, 10:19

People are assuming Kelly won't consider benching Golson.

I really hate doing this and almost never do, but making an exception here because of false assumptions by just about everyone - here goes: I can't reveal the source, but this source said Kelly was ready to do so at that exact point in the game and other coaches talked him out of it.

If he screws up vs SC, my bet is you will see Zaire.

But also, as it happened, Golson had a very good second half. Who knows if he got any kind of message or it just happened, or what.


What happened the last time he sat a guy for screwing up?

by Pat (Moco), Slave Den, Brian Cook's Basement, Monday, November 24, 2014, 08:59 @ KGB

He sat Hunter Smith for having three bobbles in 57 total snaps. He put in Zaire, who has 2 bobbles in 12 total snaps. Brindza was 11/17 on FGs and a perfect 40/40 on XPs before. Now he's 2/5 on FGs and has missed an extra point.

So, we go back to the stats:

With Smith:
FG%: 64%
XP%: 100%
Bobble %: 5%

With Zaire:
FG%: 40%
XP%: not 100%
Bobble %: 17%

And it's arguable the change had an impact in both losses.

Just my two cents.


I'm not sure the two situations are even comparable.

by KGB, Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:07 @ Pat (Moco)

Kelly wasn't sitting Smith; he effectively replaced him. It appears to have been a bad decision, although it's possible that Smith wouldn't have any fared any better.

My suggestion for sitting Golson is a temporary measure, one taken in order to make it abundantly clear that there are consequences for being careless with the football. And I might be all wet on this, too. I don't know how Golson reacts in those situations, how he might respond to being benched. Nor do I know how Zaire might respond to coming into the game cold off the bench. But it's a course of action that I would like to believe Kelly has at least considered.


Pitt 2012

by Eric M, Western New York, Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:16 @ KGB

Was the poster-child for sitting Golson to calm him down. The situation now is a little different because we're talking about turnovers versus missing reads.

However, our experienced backup (which we don't have now) came in and threw a bad interception.

Now, Golson did come back in and play maybe his most electric quarter of his career. But he also threw perhaps his worst career INT late in the 4th quarter in the end zone too.

I know sitting him down sounds good but I honestly don't think it will achieve anything other than make our offense less effective for those snaps while also being about as likely to turn the ball over.

-Ya boy Jackmerius Tacktheritrix


But Zaire has 0 career INTs.

by Pat (Moco), Slave Den, Brian Cook's Basement, Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:34 @ Eric M



My point was the headcase aspect of it.

by Pat (Moco), Slave Den, Brian Cook's Basement, Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:13 @ KGB

He replaced Smith, a guy that Brindza built up a rapport with, and I think it messed with Brindza's head, especially since Zaire is a less-than-stellar holder. If he replaced Golson, there's no indication that it would result in anything other than Golson mentally freaking out.

As for the " although it's possible that Smith wouldn't have any fared any better," I'm not an absolutist, so I think that you could possibly be right. He could have bobbled one or two against NW or Louisville. But outside of the monsoon game, he had one bobble. I think the odds were in his favor.


Golson survived getting kicked out of school for a semester.

by KGB, Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:29 @ Pat (Moco)

He admitted his mistake publicly and took his punishment like a man. I'd like to believe that he could survive sitting out for a series because he wasn't taking care of the football.


But could the team survive it?

by PAK, Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:38 @ KGB

I know that if I were scratching and clawing to win a football game against a good team like Louisville, I'd be fucking pissed if the coach pulled the QB to "teach him a lesson" in favor of trying to actually win the goddamned football game.


The team that's lost 3 games in a row?

by KGB, Monday, November 24, 2014, 10:01 @ PAK

What Bart said.


"We're now getting blown out...

by Eric M, Western New York, Monday, November 24, 2014, 10:32 @ KGB

...just like the Weis and Willingham era. Kelly has horribly mismanaged the quarterbacks, Golson is in the tank, and Zaire has been a complete disaster out there."

Come on now, we're right where many of us hoped with this offense except we've had a turnover problem.

Highest PPG of the Kelly era by a mile, highest YPP of the Kelly era, and the major problem last year (red zone TD) has improved rather nicely.

Let's have some clarity about what's working with the offense, at least.

-Ya boy Jackmerius Tacktheritrix


We are already not surviving it

by Mike (bart), Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:42 @ PAK

the season is in full-on disaster mode. It's never a desirable thing to be having earnest conversations about benching your starting QB in November, but when shit isn't working sometimes you've got to get weird.


reminds me of a conversation from last year

by HumanRobot @, Cybertron, Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:40 @ PAK

Somebody on NDN suggested Koyack should literally deck Kelly for yelling at him for missing a block against Purdue. Of course, I'm sure Carlisle who got killed on the play was probably pissed and probably appreciated Kelly disciplining Koyack.

I never know how these dynamics play out.


How do you get that?

by Pat (Moco), Slave Den, Brian Cook's Basement, Monday, November 24, 2014, 08:12 @ Bill

Especially since Kelly didn't replace him after the terrible first half?


Sideline interactions, Golson's body language around him.

by Bill, Southern California, Monday, November 24, 2014, 08:13 @ Pat (Moco)

[ No text ]


Kind of seems like an insufficient sample size

by Pat (Moco), Slave Den, Brian Cook's Basement, Monday, November 24, 2014, 08:17 @ Bill

to come to such a conclusion, no?


True, but a coach shouldn't have to tell the leader of his

by ndphilo @, Seal Beach, Monday, November 24, 2014, 08:19 @ Pat (Moco)

offense "don't walk away from me" when he is talking to him after a diffcult series.

They may or may not have a strained relationship, but it sure doesn't seem to come easy to the two of them.


It doesn't seem like it ever has. Though I don't know if it'

by BillyGoat, At Thanksgiving with Joe Bethersontin, Monday, November 24, 2014, 08:43 @ ndphilo

the relationship with Kelly as much as it has to be a confidence problem with Golson in terms of ball security.


You can digest the injuries on D and the turnovers on O

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, November 24, 2014, 07:58 @ Mike (bart)

and pretty much wrap up the intricate analysis right there, I think. I'm not sure this requires any deeper thinking.

I also think you can hold Kelly accountable for recruiting misses on defense as a contributing factor to this season's youth issues, but not as a past performance/indicative of future performance thing. A glance at the current and previous recruiting classes should disabuse anyone of trying to make a trend out of that particular gap.

In short, don't overthink it.


I think it is possible that that is too simple

by Mike (bart), Monday, November 24, 2014, 08:23 @ Jay

to the point of: why haven't we been able to clean up the turnovers? Why aren't our players getting any better? Really, really good coaches don't tend to have stretches like this this late in their tenure. I'm not trying to assign culpability, I am more hoping to squint a little harder at the question of "What kind of coach do we have?" It has actually been really interesting, two extended stretches of underwhelming achievement sandwiched around a stretch of damn good (even by ND's standards) football.


A few thoughts:

by Jim (OFD) @, Naptown, Monday, November 24, 2014, 08:35 @ Mike (bart)

1. After watching Golson in the 2nd half, I have to believe part (not a big part, but still a part) of the turn over issue is some over-coaching on EG. They tried to coach him to stay in the pocket for the majority of this season. When he breaks contain, he is really special. He isn't a pocket passer, mainly due to his height.

2. No one can project injuries and the resulting depth issues. The defense featured a 5th year senior, a two true freshman and a sophomore in the front 4, two sophomores (one who was a WR last year) and a freshman at LB and a pair of sophomores, a freshman and 5th year senior at DBs.

3. Not sure if it was II or ISD, but they said this team is a Luke Massa away from beating NW and tying the game and going to OT against Louisville.

Nearly everything has gone wrong this year. It happens. I am more interested in how the young defenders develop over the next two games than anything else.


doesn't it consistently feel

by HumanRobot @, Cybertron, Monday, November 24, 2014, 08:42 @ Jim (OFD)

As though everything has gone wrong each season under Kelly (excepting 2012)? I think after 5 years, it's reasonable to start wondering whether the cause of our affliction is internal or external.


I can see you're trying to squint too hard

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, November 24, 2014, 08:31 @ Mike (bart)

I mean, an elaborate Scotty Skiles comparison? Holy hell.

Okay, just kidding. Getting to the bottom of Golson's turnovers is a worthwhile endeavor. First, let's rule out ones that are pure flukes. Then rule out ones that aren't his fault at all. So you've got a batch of them that are at least partially his fault, and some that are 100% on him. What's the simplest explanation? We can cook up something owing to mental defectiveness, or perhaps some kind of insidious coach/player imbroglio, or we can just consider the fact that we have a QB in his second year of playing who's still learning some fundamentals. As we've pointed out, he's actually gotten a lot better at some aspects of ball security (tucking it while running). He can get better in the rest, too. Or not. Either way it's not reflective of some creeping stagnancy.


It seems like it's more than Golson's turnovers

by Mike (bart), Monday, November 24, 2014, 08:45 @ Jay

I mean, the 2009 team was right there in each game it lost as well, and you want to talk about some fluky plays (the ball going off of Floyd's back vs. Navy, the bullshit fumble call vs. Pitt, Kamara slipping vs. USC, getting hosed in the big house, a wacky Stanford game), that team was tormented by them in abundance. Football is obviously a high-variance sport, but I also think it's true that bad teams have a way of seeming "unluckier" than good ones. "This is why you're Michigan State" was a classic line, in no small part because it had a ring of intuitive truth to everyone who heard it.

To be clear: I am not trying to shout down the possibility that this has just been a black cat stretch of bad luck (though woe unto you poor fan of a team with an unlucky coach). I just think foreclosing the possibility that it could be bad luck *and* a set of secular problems is whistling past the graveyard.


poker and Magic: The Gathering are high variance sports

by HumanRobot @, Cybertron, Monday, November 24, 2014, 09:04 @ Mike (bart)

RNG plays heavily into both on a hand-to-hand basis, but the idea is that the best players consistently emerge from a large pool.


we'll find out

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Monday, November 24, 2014, 08:46 @ Mike (bart)

[ No text ]


I think turnovers are a pretty pregnant question

by HumanRobot @, Cybertron, Monday, November 24, 2014, 08:27 @ Mike (bart)

I can buy that our turnover struggles in 2011 and 2013 related to Tommy. I know Golson wasn't running the whole playbook in 2012, but his 'bad decision rate' was really low. While he's still got the physical talent edge over Rees, it seems like the bad decision aspect has gradually overridden his natural tendencies as the season has worn on.

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