Perspective for the (m)Asses

Listen, all you ridiculous over-reacting emotional fans out there.  CALM THE F DOWN.  Last week, I tried using the dude.  Clearly, this didn’t work.  This isn’t a post for everyone, but it’s a post for you some.  You know who you are.

The same ‘fans’ that were talking about going 11-0 into USC are now damning the players, coaches and entire program bc of a single loss!  Did you seriously think we’d go undefeated this year?  Did you think we’d go from 3 and freaking 9 to amazing in a year???  What does improvement mean to you people?

Look, MSU is a decent team.  Are they great? Nope.  Are they better than SDSU and UM (sucks), yes.  They’re a upper-mid Big Televen squad and we were 9 point dogs.   They’re much more experienced than we are.  We start a 2nd year player at QB.  Their guy is a 5th year.  Their RB tutored under a pretty solid starter for a few years, and played a bunch of downs, and is now the #1 back in the country.  Our guys are 2nd years and haven’t had the experience he has, after a year of getting butchered last year.  I could do this all day.  Point is, we played a decent team, we didn’t play great, and therefore we lost.  Against SDSU and UM (sucks), which are a mess, okay was good enough. Today it wasn’t.  Why are you crying like the sky is falling?  I’ll tell you why – you have ZERO perspective.

You think turnarounds happen in 1 off-season. You think going from Davingham to NC’s happens quickly.  It. Does. Not.  You have to look at a bigger picture to get this folks, and a lot of you do not (thank the Lord for those of you that do). 

Today’s game wasn’t some shellacking.  ND, despite screwing things up left and right, kept in this game.  If but for 5 plays, this game would’ve been totally different.  Those plays?

1)  The Jimmy fade for no reason into double coverage pass.  Jimmy will learn to check this off at some point.  Today, he hasn’t learned it yet.  We get 3 here and the game is different.  We get 7 and I’m very confident we win.

2) Missed FG #1.  While the 2nd shanked FG hurt, this one changes the complexion of the game. 

3) Floyd’s fumble.  We take MSU 3 and out and then drive ~60 yards just to turn the ball over on the 10.  UGH.  We go in for 6 here and everything changes.

4) The stop on 3rd and goal where there was NOT interference. That was a BS call, and it gave MSU 3 more chances at the end zone.  That was not PI.  That was not 6.  A no-call there changes the game, as MSU takes 3 and we stick in it.  Not to mention, it took them ANOTHER 3 downs to get in, and it was barely there (our red zone D is solid)

5) The other 3rd and short where they BARELY got in. I’m not sure if he was in on this one.  We stop them for 3 there and this is a different game.

What’s the point?  Point is, we’re on the road.  We’re a young team and a re-developing program and we’re in a dogfight with MSU. ANY ONE OF THESE PLAYS goes differently, and the game is different.  Not all of them.  Not a few of them.  ONE of them.  We were THIS close to taking this game, despite those mistakes and errors.  That means we’ve improved.  The same types of mistakes last year lead to a 30-point-plus crushing.  This year was different. That is a good thing.

It’s not like this was a steamrolling.  This team didn’t look hapless or confused or inept. It looked like we played okay, but made a few mistakes that lost us the game.  Calling for players/coaches heads after a hard fought loss where we just couldn’t overcome our own mistakes is simply foolish.  One or 2 plays change, and the outcome is different and you’re all singing the team’s praises and talking about a return to glory.  Can I puh-lease get some perspective here, and a little patience? ‘Course not.  But I’m going to ask for it anyway.

Is mediocrity okay at ND? No.  Should we always be in the NC hunt?  Yes.  Are idiotic fans that call for coaches’ heads every week okay? NO.  But poor teams (last year) don’t become NC teams in a year.  It’s a process, and asking for/wishing for anything else is just a pipe dream.  That’s why it’s a PROCESS.

For me, nothing has changed.  This is still a 7-5 team, that gradually improves as the year goes on.  Recruiting continues to be amazing and the talent gap shrinks and is reversed, and we’re in the NC hunt in 2010.  People, it’s not 2010 yet. Slow your roll.

That is all.

  • scott

    Nice pep talk, but I can’t stop thinking about our whopping 16 yards rushing. Something is horribly wrong with our offensive line that goes well beyond the inexperience issue.

  • San Diego Irish

    Thanks for the reasoned analysis. Against the same team, at home, last year, we get blown out. This year, we make a whole bunch of mistakes, in their house, and are still just a hair away from winning this game. The D was solid until the very end and Jimmy and the receivers looked great at times. I still think this team wins 8-9 games this year. MSU is the second or third best team on this schedule.

  • undnut

    This is definitely NOT the same team as last year and I believe there is reason for much optimism.

    However, if we can’t run block, we can’t run block. Spread ‘em out like Jon Moxen and start firing off Roman Candles. Yes, being able to run the football is something Lou could do and its manly and it proves you have thick, flowing chest hair.

    Can they do it right now? No.

    Therefore, my question is this: What is happening during the week to convince the staff that running three and four wide (right away) isn’t our best option?

    Are CW/MH/JL just stubborn? I realize the first two series against MSU were scripted, but you’re practically giving up an entire quarter of offense.

    MSU knew the Irish were going to throw the entire second half and they still couldn’t stop ND. Aside, from the defense possibly getting tired in the second half of games, I’m struggling to see why we don’t go all Texas Tech on everyone from here on out.

  • Tony Spilotro

    I like your blog and wish I had the optimism to agree with this post. If only I believed that anyone on this coaching staff could develop the abundance of talent, and that Charlie could have them play with emotion week in and week out, I would be damn pumped for the next few years.

    We got manhandled in the trenches by a team who hasn’t had a top 30 recruiting class in the last 3 years, and that’s the biggest difference between D’Antonio and Weis. I don’t care how good our recruiting is and/or how young we are, this team has developed CW’s soft personality and it was glaringly obvious yesterday.

    The glass half full contingent (I ain’t mad atcha) will just have to wait until this squad breaks our hearts next year…then finally we can stop having to hear this “young team” stuff.

  • http://www.hls.com The Biscuit

    I hear you guys. I think it’s a bummer that we don’t have a running game either. And Tony, I hear you too. I’m not asking anyone to say ‘everything’s great, who cares that we lost’ etc etc etc. What I’m asking is that those calling for coaches’ heads and bashing kids online 1) get a life and 2) maybe wait til the end of the season? If we end up with 2-3 losses, what will those same people be saying? “Oh wow, look how we’ve developed!” I just think a lot of these folks are way over-reacting on the more negative side. I know this post seems overly positive, but I’m not super duper excited about how we played and all. I just think the negative reactions are WAY TOO NEGATIVE. If we drop the next 6 in a row, please feel free to flip out everyone. But you have to at least wait and see how things go before making a lot of the comments I’m seeing all over the place.

  • http://www.art342.org jim

    I was thinking about some of the comments about the intensity of the team on game day. Clearly Bruton, Tate, and many others show great intensity every week. Does anyone make a connection between intensity and the OL? Is there a correlation between intensity and pass blocking that is different that intensity and run blocking? I don’t know line play, just wondering how much of our OL issues are coaching, scheme, players, intensity. It just seems odd to have such a disparity between pass and run blocking, is pass blocking just that much easier? Need to be educated.

  • Burbank Steve

    Yep, it’s not a disaster, but there’s still some nasty echoes of last season – there’s no running game, JC looks panicked when his protection breaks down, he’s throwing too much off his back foot, he doesn’t seem to check down his reads very fluently and we can’t kick (punt or FG) to save our lives. I’m sure there are players on the ND Ladies’ soccer team with stronger legs than our (scholarship!) kickers. The D is showing geniune class, we need somehow to get that spirit and improvement to the O (especially the line and the running backs); it’s got to be so dispiriting to be forcing 3-and-outs and watching the O make nothing of the opportunities.

  • ForeverFaust

    I’m saying it right now…Jimmy Clausen is nothing but a Jeff George in a Notre Dame uniform. I’ve heard rampant stories from friends of mine in South Bend and Mishawaka of his outright arrogance and I don’t like it. I can see a quarterback having confidance, but his is different. I should have seen this coming when he showed up in a stretch limo for his signing. What the F was that???? This guy has all the tools to be a great quarterback, but his head will hold him back in his career. Hmmm, I think thats what they said about Jeff too. I don’t like this kid, and I don’t think he is a Notre Dame kid. I foresee him transferring before his senior year (trouble with the law) and know many people in the area that would like to help with this. Is he really averaging two interceptions a game? Somebody please let me know how Brady did at this point in his sophomore year.

  • Jake Neary

    What a great perspective.
    I have only missed one home game since 1966 and have probably been spoiled by some of the great teams its been my pleasure to see; so my expectations are always on the positive side but you make good observations about our youth. Change the outcome of one or two plays and it’s a different ballgame. I don’t want to claim that we were the better team because we weren’t but there are lots of positives and I will continue to stick by the IRISH. Thanks for straightening out someone from the old guard.
    GO IRISH!

  • http://www.hls.com The Biscuit

    Jim – MQ might be able to help on the run vs. pass blocking. If he doesnt respond here, email him. He’s good with that stuff. Steve, todays missed kicks werent the fault of the kickers. The 51 yarder is tough, and the second was a botched snap. Forever – I disagree on Jimmy. Jimmy didn’t pick the stretch limo. He’s confident but he works hard. In 2 years you’ll freaking love the kid. And he’s not going anywhere. He’s been big in recruiting, including Dayne. The kid’s young and making young mistakes, but I don’t think he’s the @$$ that he gets the rep of being. JAKE – glad to have you here, and awesome to get your perspective. I’m hoping this team will turn around slowly this year and give you a memorable 2009 and 2010 that match your past experiences.

  • http://fellrath.blogspot.com Kilted Domer

    This is exactly what my brother and I were talking about this morning – dead-on post. I sometimes think that even Domers don’t always realize just how bad Willingham left us. I saw lots of positives in this game (as well as some negatives, and those led to defeat). But we were in this game minus those very plays you mentioned.

  • domer.mq

    Jim,

    I think pass blocking is a much more difficult technical skill over run blocking. No matter what, with run blocking, it pretty much comes down to attitude and confidence first, technique second. What I mean is, if it’s a matter of a guard against a defensive tackle, the winner will be sorted out by attitude and confidence in what they’re doing first. If both are equal, THEN whoever uses the best technique wins.

    In pass blocking, it’s almost all technique. A lot of people watch a game and see pass blockers take a step back out of their stance when the ball is snapped, and they think it must be a very passive thing, but that step back is essentially allowing the blocker to get into a good position and rev up in order to deliver the necessary blow to block the pass rusher since the rules don’t allow pass blockers to take a step beyond the line of scrimmage. If you’re not plenty aggressive in pass blocking, your gonna get your ass run over by those big guys looking to eat the QB.
    But pass blocking is also much more like olympic wrestling or judo than rush blocking. You end up having to adjust what you do based on what the defense is doing. You set up, and depending on the pass rush, you might ride a guy off out of the play, or try to take a guy down to get him out of the passing lanes.
    Speaking of which, a lot of people don’t realize that at this level, the OL is responsible for passing lanes. They’re trying to create gaps in the big line of bodies between the QB and the receivers so the QB can see his target. You see it done with success much more in the NFL, but they’re certainly trying to do it in college as well. The OL is generally made up of the smartest guys on the team, and there’s a reason for it. It’s really, really tough to know your position, know where the QB should be at all times, and know how you should try to move a defender on a pass play based on that blitzes or stunts they’re running, what the QB should be doing, and where the receivers should be.
    Again, that’s also why I think run blocking is easier from a technique standpoint. There’s usually one point of attack. The point of attack doesn’t usually move during the play. And if all else fails, generally, you hit the first guy you see.

  • DeepTeaKup

    domre, I would generally agree with you that pass blocking is more technique than run blocking. However, I have seen ND trying to run more stretch plays this year, those type of blocking assignments are hard to implement. Scoop (it may be called reach also) blocking is something you usually only see the pros (think Colts or Broncos) run, it’s basically what UM tried to to the last 2-3 years under LC. It did two things, killed OL recruiting and reduced the effectiveness of all runners except Mike Hart.

    Honestly, if I were an ND fan (and if I were I would still find a way to be internet enemies with Biscuit) it raise a huge red flag for me to see so much zone blocking in the running game.

  • domer.mq

    DTK, yeah.

    Jim, what DTK is talking about is the technique where OL pairs work in tandem to first double a defensive lineman and then, depending on the point of attack and the flow of the defense, one of the pair leaves the initial double and flows up to the linebacker.
    It’s a really tough technique with a ton of payoff if it works. Because when it’s working, from the POV of the linebackers, it looks and feels like a wave of humanity overcoming you. But the trick is the OL, usually the guards, have to have the timing down so they block on the double just enough to sort of serve up the DL to their pair and then get to the LB. Meanwhile, in most run plays with this technique, the RB is just going with the flow, looking for a hole. And that means the point of attack could move at any moment, depending on how the RB decides to cut. I think the RBs generally are told to only make one cut and then get down field, but good luck getting a 20 year old who thinks he’s a god to only make one cut.
    I’m fine with the scheme if you’re going to be that sort of team, but I don’t like the ND body type for it. Our right side of the line is MASSIVE. Massive and slow. I don’t like that in combination with zone blocking. Much rather see the Bronco style of OL or, frankly, the Pats style of OL when Weis was with them. And that’s what confuses me the most about having it at ND. Weis recruited massive guys and had them bulk up. It’s not like he doesn’t know the prototype for the zone attack. It’s pretty curious.

  • http://starsandslights.blogspot.com Brian

    I’m glad I’m not the only one with a little perspective on the issue. I’m tired of hearing the middle school-eqsue arguments being thrown around the message boards.

    Here’s my take (with props to this excellent post, of course): http://starsandslights.blogspot.com/2008/09/fan-or-fanatic-which-are-you.html

  • Go IRSH

    I left a comment on Domer MQ’s post and will just add that the Bisquit is correct. This was one of those what if 1 or 2 plays turn out differently games. We hung in there and could have won, but played poorly enough to lose. And the ForeverFaust types will never back JC, even if he gets a haircut, does Missionary work, and wins a NC. As a matter of fact, JC is way ahead of Quinn at this point in their respective careers. Look forward. I was at ND during the Faust years. You don’t want that desparation. If you want to live in the past, then think of this years team as comparable to Lou’s 1987 squad. I don’t see a 23 game win streak forthcoming, but I see November being exciting in 2009 and 2010.

  • DeepTeaKup

    First of all, whatever else happens in his ND career, JC needs to get a decent haircut.

    As to the perceived lack of progress with the ND program, let me provide a little outside perspective on this. Compared to other programs, yeah I think it is safe to say that ND is taking a much longer road back to glory than others. Look at CW’s track record to date:

    0-3 (very likely soon to be 0-4) vs USC and only really competive in one of those games
    1-3 against MSU (including 1-2 since vowing “to never lose to that team again”)
    2-2 against UM
    0-2 in bowl games (yes, they were BCS games)

    Not exactly the best track record against the three main BCS rivals ND plays each year (please do correct me if I have missed a major rival, I am really trying to be fair here).

    Fact is that CW is also one of the top 5 highest paid coaches in CFB, in terms of comparison he is to be measured against guys like Urban, Stoops, Petey, and just for Biscuit, RichRod. So if that is who he is to be compared to, honestly how does he stack up? Granted circumstances are different at ND than other schools (academics, semi-bare cupboard from Ty) but CW knew this going in, this is not some new obstacle that has been thrown up since he got there.

    With that in mind, look at OU, USC, and LSU (under Saban) by years 3 & 4 with new coaches they were in the NC mix.

    Another question to ponder, has CW had what you mught call a “landmark victory” since he arrived at ND? Again, not trying to flame, I really would like some input on this.

    A few things in summary:

    1. Wow, I must be really bored at work.
    2. I think CW is a good coach but shouldn’t ND have a great coach? Does he have the potential to be great, I’m not sure but domer and biscuit seem to think so.
    3. At what point do the small worries you have about CW become serious concerns?
    4. Do you really, honestly believe that ND is “closing the gap” with USC?

  • domer.mq

    1) Yeah. You must be.
    2) ND should have a great coach. Those who were left to manage the program abused it for years. I do think Weis has the potential to be great. I really do. I think it’s unfortunate he has to learn on the job, but c’est la vie. I’ll deal with it now.
    3) The small worries become serious concern right after this season is over.
    4) I believe they’re closing the gap, as much as they can, from a talent perspective. And that’s largely due to Weis. I’ll answer from a play perspective after this season.

  • go IRSH

    1.) me too
    2.) I think CW may get there, next one will require HC experience
    3.) Same a Domer, at yeas end
    4.) Same here too, CW is now closing it faster but there was an awfully long way to go. That said, SC has a big gap on just about everyone. It’ll be the one off game that deters them from time to time – as much as I to say it.

    Post Script: I just watched the replay of the game. We actully played much better than I thought. We should have had 5 total scores. Defense was pretty stoudt. Individual plays did determine the game. The future is bright – the Coaches will coach them up.

  • Rob

    This is comical. I cant tell you how many nd fan’s comments I have read that imply State was lucky to win the game and if nd had only not done this or done that, they would have won. Ridiculous. If Hoyer hits a wide-open reciever in the 3rd quarter, he is gone and the score ends up 30-7. He didn’t and so the score didn’t. Or that Ringer was no good except for his 63-yard run. LOL Never mind all of the first downs he had gotten for State on shorter runs. Oh that’s right, nd was “keeping him in check” at that point. Face it, you lost to a team that outplayed you and wanted it more.

    You also gotta love the prayer in the opposing team’s end zone before the game….attended by only HALF the team. Tell me that wasn’t scripted. Just wanna know why they weren’t down there praying AFTER the game thanking God for their health, etc. Why? Because it was all for show. Hypocrisy.

    One final thought, what is up with the idiotic nd Marching band?! They and the “cheerleaders” (who didn’t lead a single cheer through the whole game but danced in place like night club strippers) mindlessly beat their drums and and danced after every play…INCLUDING THOSE BY STATE! LOL Looks like the band director knows as much about football as the as the coach.

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