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Back To Drawing Board For Irish

Posted By Jordan Lauterbach On Oct 23 2010 @ 8:30 pm In Notre Dame | 1 Comment

Give this to Charlie Weis; at least his Navy losses were close. It could have been just an ordinary loss. Loosing to Navy is certainly a lot more acceptable then it was a few years ago. The shock surrounding this loss has nothing to do with it “being Navy” as much as it does with the way the Irish played. Any progress the Fighting Irish made in the last few weeks was slammed down to earth on Saturday.

            We could waste tons of column space doing nothing but listing what went wrong. I’m not going to do that. Instead, let’s look at the end result of Saturday’s disaster in Jersey from most to least concerning.

1. The run defense is back to being putrid – Here’s what I don’t understand: The Navy offense isn’t very complicated. It’s based on ball fakes and trickery. Granted, it works, but it’s designed to equalize a playing field that is naturally unequal. (This is not a cheep shot as much as a comment on the fact that, because it’s a service academy, the level of talent is going to be weaker (on paper) when compared with that of a non – service academy.)    

When you aren’t expecting to fall for the tricks and fakes, you usually fall for the tricks and fakes. This is why Navy has success against some teams. Notre Dame shouldn’t be one of those teams. Not only has the Irish faced this exact offense every year since it was installed, but they’ve fallen victim to it twice. In that case, wouldn’t they understand it a little better and, consequently, know how to stop it? After all, they have two years of tape on how they’ve lost to it. Even worse, they have one tape in which they beat it. It may be a different coach, but it is a lot of the same players.

We’ve seen in the last few weeks that Notre Dame can stop the run. If they didn’t have the talent, it would have been evident against Pittsburgh or Stanford (go watch the tape, the run defense wasn’t bad). There’s no excuse for Alexander Teich to rush for over 200 yards. They contained Dion Lewis, but Alex Teich gives them issues? The more I think about it, they had to be confused by the scheme. Given the circumstances of the last few years, that doesn’t make a lot of sense.   

2. Dayne Crist – He was awful, terrible, putrid, head scratching, and any other negative adjective you can think of. This was Crist’s worst game of the season, and it’s not that close. Crist was 19 for 31 for 178 yards and one touchdown. He also threw three interceptions. Ironically, he didn’t throw the ball as much as usual (something I’ve been calling for all season), but was awful on most of those attempts.

 Don’t blame the receivers, either. For being tremendously undermanned, they did well for themselves. After all, they were catching footballs from a quarterback having a meltdown.  If Crist’s passes weren’t underthrown, they were behind receivers.

            I have a theory on Crist. Now, let me preface this with saying I’ve seen no reports, have no inside information or anything of the sort. But, I think Dayne Crist is hurt. Even during warm ups, most of his passes were underthrown. Sitting in my seat in Section 329 on New Meadowlands stadium, I was amazed at how much better Nate Montana looked. His passes were crisp and on the money. Crist’s were short on almost every attempt. This continued into the game. Usually, when quarterbacks are consistently under-throwing receivers, it means something is wrong.

3. Play Calling –  I had a major issue with the play call that resulted in Dayne Crist’s second interception. The play prior was an out route that was picked off but ruled (correctly) to be out of bounds. The next play was the same route, to basically the same spot, and yielded the same results – this time in – bounds. This made no sense. If a defensive back jumps on a route on play #1, why would you call a very similar, if not the same call, on play #2? If you’re Crist, why would you throw it to that spot? Add this to things I was stewing about in the upper tank.   

            Very few things that came out of Saturday was positive. But here are two things:

1. Armando Allen – Despite being hurt, Allen had 66 yards on 11 carries. He was the only player who consistently moved the football.

2. Duval Kumara- 6 catches! Someone tell Kumara he’s not a freshman anymore. No, wait, don’t do that.    If Riddick misses anymore time, Kumara could actually be a solid option. Imagine that!

It’s back to the drawing board for Notre Dame. Every area they were making progress in showed regression on Saturday. It was a bad loss, no doubt, but the opponent made it just a little worse. This was a game that should have been much closer. You can deal with this kind of performance against Stanford or USC, but being blown out at a neutral site (plus, 90% of the crowd were Notre Dame fans anyway, and that’s a conservative estimate) is unacceptable. Just when you thought the ghost of Charlie Weis had gone away, it returns. And what better a spot then New Jersey.

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