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A Progressive Win For Notre Dame

Posted By Jordan Lauterbach On Oct 9 2010 @ 11:18 pm In Notre Dame | 3 Comments

I received an email from a reader a few weeks ago referring to some of the most recent Irish performances as “Weisian.” I like the term and decided to define it as such: Weisian- losses that remind you of the Charlie Weis era (n.). So far, the year has been more Weisian then not. That was, until this week.

Pittsburgh is not a good team. However, they are the best team the Irish has beaten. All told, Notre Dame made more progress during this game then in any this season. It was the best performance of the year.

Armando Allen is the lifeblood of the offense, even if Brian Kelly refuses to believe it. Allen only got 13 carries Saturday, but averaged over four yards per touch. Every big Irish drive featured Allan prominently. Watching the game, I found myself thinking “wow, when Armando carries the ball, the offense moves so much smoother!”

It isn’t a great mystery why this is the case. Opposing defenses know how dangerous Allen can be. He’s shiftier then he ever was. When he gets a carry, you can see how  the defense tries to adjust immediately. This leads to more options for the passing game. It’s football 101 and, for whatever reason, Kelly doesn’t get it.

 It’s one of the few things I really dislike about the BK game plan. 13 carries is unacceptable for a guy who’s not being stopped. Sure, it’s nice to see Cierre Wood get more carries then usual (7), but the misuse of Allen is frustrating. Especially when he plays so well.

   Dayne Crist was as good as ever in the first half and turned into his old inconsistent self in the second. However, the issues had more to do with mistakes made around him then his own usual disappearing act.  An offensive pass interference penalty and a ball that was thrown a shade too far left made his second half a bit more ordinary then his first. He also got sacked three times. All told though, he quarterbacked a team that didn’t convert a third down in the second half.

Crist’s chemistry with Michael Floyd took tremendous steps forward on Saturday. So far, Floyd has had his most average season to date. He hasn’t had that dominant game yet. Saturday wasn’t it, either. But it was the closest he’s been to having one. Floyd and Theo Riddick both had seven catches.

But, as well as the team played as a whole, that game never should have been close. Notre Dame dominated both sides of the ball and was in a position to loose in the fourth quarter. Once again, big plays spoiled an otherwise good performance. The run defense was spectacular. Dion Lewis was held to 63 yards. Ray Graham gained only 44.

The secondary, however, was dreadful…for the most part. Jon Baldwin ripped the Irish for 111 yards on nine catches. Each week, it seams like no one in the secondary occupies the third level. Not only do the receivers catch the ball, but they are wide open in doing so. This is more a talent thing then a scheme thing, I surmise. The unit has generally been awful for years.

As bad as the secondary was, they made a few plays down the stretch. If you’ve watched the Irish at all in the last three years, you know this wasn’t typically the case. In fact, it’s hard to think of a scenario in which big plays were made at the end of the game.

You may think this column is way too negative for the biggest win of the year. That’s the wrong way to look at it. Pointing out the lack of a secondary, continued misuse of Armando Allen, and the inability to convert on third down in the second half only brings to light a larger point.

Notre Dame faced adversity and found a way to win. They dominated the game but were in a precarious position with under five minutes to go, and made just a few more plays in crunch time. This is something to celebrate. For weeks, it was obvious that this team was close to winning this type of game. Heck, for years it was obvious that this team was close. And finally, on a Saturday against a respectable opponent, they got there.

Certainly not very “Weisian.” Now that’s called BK progress.

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