The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Man, what a freaking game. I’m really bummed we lost, and with the way we lost. But that was a game. That was a freaking football game. One thing is for sure – Tate Forcier is a player, and Michigan is a decent squad, which is damn shocking. We’re not great, and they’re not great for beating us, but they’re a lot better than I expected.

The Good

It’s tough to look at the good in this loss, but there were a number of things we did well today, particularly on offense. While it wasn’t close to consistent enough, we did show pretty solid chops in a few areas.

1) Clausen – Jimmy played a heck of a game, showed he’s become a leader, and led the team to TDs at the end of the game when we needed it. He played smart, and except for a bunch of high balls (likely due to being over-fired up) was pretty accurate. His stat lines are solid again, though obviously his completion percentage went down. But we have a real QB folks.

2) Running Game – for the first time in a long time, we broke big runs. Up the middle. Against a decent D-line. We weren’t amazing, but it was a good running effort. The OL moved the DL pretty well, and Allen is clearly our feature back. Jonas Gray is a far, far distant 2nd and shouldn’t get as many carries in the future.

The Bad

1) Golden Tate. Tate is an amazing athlete, and yesterday he was bad. Very bad. Dropped balls, missed routes, more dropped balls, and still with the showy attitude when he does get in for a TD. I love Golden, but he’s gotta check the ego and start to make plays when they’re needed. He had several that should’ve been huge plays and could’ve put the game away. He also should’ve hit the dirt in the waning seconds so we could call timeout, but instead he just kept running for no reason. This was still a super longshot, but it was a foolish play showing lack of awareness of the game (unless somehow we had used our final Timeout and I’m misremembering bc of the 15 beers in me at that point, which is possible, but I’m 99% sure we had a TO left and Tate shouldve dropped to the ground and called it). He took the loss on his shoulders, and it wasn’t all him, but his play hurt us big time. Gotta come back next week and make up for it Golden.

2) DL/LB assignment football. Wow, as good as we were in keeping running lanes clogged (most of the time) last week, we were horrible this week. No one seemed to be in the right spot. We didn’t have the scheme right (on Tenuta) and we didn’t execute right (on the DL and the LBs). Assignments were missed all over the place and it hurt us big time throughout the game, and in the last minutes.

3) CB coverage. What I viewed as a great team strength this season is no longer. Our cover guys forgot how to cover yesterday. Was it the spread O? Was it the fear of Forcier running? I don’t know. But the last TD was indicative of horrible coverage all day. We had miscommunication in the backfield all afternoon, and just blown coverage. Very, very bad.

4) Tackling. I have to admit that Forcier is a solid football player as a frosh. He’s going to be giving us headaches for four years. But I cannot understand how our fairly athletic front 7 can’t bring down a dude that’s 165 soaking wet. Hugely disappointing performance.

The Ugly

1) Weis’ game management – this was a disgraceful job managing a game by both the HC and the OC, Charlie Weis. It took forever to get plays in, which led to several delay of game penalties, and a few burned Timeouts that were essentially wasted. If you’re going to call plays from the field as the OC, you need to be able to do so quickly. Charlie didn’t get the plays in fast enough, and it put Jimmy in tough circumstances time and time again. Horrible.

Charlie’s playcalling on the last drive (paraphrased quote: They had 8 in the box and weren’t going to let us run so I was trying to win the game) was absolutely atrocious. I don’t care if they’re stacking 8. You call 3 running plays and hope for the best. You get positive yards, force them to burn their last time out, and maybe you get the first down as well. You burn off more than a minute, then you punt.

And if you do decide to throw, you don’t throw deep to Tate when it hasn’t worked all day, and you haven’t received an interference call all day. You do something short to get positive yards and keep the clock moving. It was absolutely terrible in every way. Charlie gets this way sometimes (see Navy a few years back, 4th and 12 or whatever and going for it instead of kicking the FG) and I just don’t understand it. Everyone in the world knows to run that ball 3 times and get the clock burned. These are huge decisions that can swing the game, and they did.

2) The Refs – We lost the game. The refs didn’t lose it, we lost it. But to ignore the ridiculous one-sidedness of the calls would be ignoring a huge factor in this game. These were the worst ones:

Holding penalties all day against us. Some were legit, about a third were not.

The overturning of Allen’s TD run. This was just blatant cheating. You have to have clear, obvious, clean evidence that a call was wrong to overturn it. I agree that it wasn’t clear from the replay angles if he was in or out. I can’t say he was definitely in for sure. But I can say, 100%, that he was not CLEARLY out. And since the original call was TD, it should have remained a TD. This deserves a formal complaint.

The time at the end of the game. Even if we touched the ball as it rolled into the end zone, they have to review the tape to check the timing of things and ensure that the clock is right. Instead, they hurried things and sprinted off the field at the end of the game. This also showed a blatant homerism.

Unsportsmanlike conduct call at a pivotal time. This is my Senior Year at the Big House revisted. Bobby Brown, I think, was called for the same thing at the end of the game and it gave UM field position and helped them win. If Allen’s “Shhhh” was unsportsmanlike, then the refs missed about 10 others, on every TD scored yesterday. Granted, Allen shouldn’t do anything once he gets in the end zone. It was stupid. He should be running stairs for it all day Monday. We should be so much better than doing stupid things like that. But still, if you’re going to call it on Allen, you should’ve called it 4 other times at least. Ignoring the very-late shove of Tate while he was down on the ground, RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE REF, makes this call even worse. The refs had it out for us all day, and they got the game result they very-clearly wanted. A formal complaint from Swarbrick should be filed. Not that it will matter in the least, but the review should happen, at least to make those cheaters sweat a bit.

In Closing

I feel pretty sick today. We played pretty good football at times yesterday, and certain players (Clausen, Floyd in particular) played really, really well. But it felt like we were fighting an uphill battle all day. Bad bounces (Tate’s punt), bad calls, missed points, 2 good plays, then holding. Repeat. It was like we just couldn’t keep the momentum once we got it.

Throw on top of that some bad, bad bad coaching decisions, and an away game with a hostile crowd, and we just weren’t good enough to overcome it.

But this season is far from over. If these players cash it in, I will blame no one but the Coach and he’ll have to go. But I am hoping the staff and the players bounce back. There’s a ton of football to be played and some of our breakdowns are very fix-able. 10-2, 11-1 (yes, USC looks vulnerable) are not unachievable. This team needs to bounce back, play better, and beat MSU.

I like our offense when we dont make boneheaded decisions in play-calling. I have severe concerns about our Defense and Tenuta’s play-calling and scheme as well, which I never thought I’d say. Obviously we’re not an amazing team, but we could be by the end of the year if we go to work and fix some things.

Time to get our heads on straight. Time to buckle down and do the work. Time to beat MSU, and ensure that this season isn’t defined by yesterday’s game, and is instead defined by how we respond to that game.

Let’s go Irish. Let’s go.

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  • SpartyMSU

    Irish: get ready for another loss at home this week. Loose to both Michigan schools.. you bet !

  • brendan

    Wow, seriously? After you drop a home game to the Chippewas you’re going to come on here and gloat that your enemy beat another one of your enemies. Go lick your own wounds.

  • san diego irish

    Nice post Biscuit. Here is my problem with second guessing Weis’ decision to throw the ball at the end instead of run it. The defense has not been playing particularly well. They’ve given up 31 points, including a bunch in the second half and he probably is not real confident that they will get another stop. He knows that if he punts, his punter is not likely to get a good punt, because he’s been kicking 40 yard punts all day. And guess what, he was right. I think in retrospect he was right. And it’s easy to say that skunkbears scored with 11 seconds and if they had run the ball, they wouldn’t have had as much time to work with. But even if he ran the ball, and Mich used it’s timeouts, it would have only burned a few extra seconds, and MI still could have spiked the ball, run out of bounds, hurried up their calls. I think there is a very good chance the result would have been exactly the same. I have no problem with Weis’ giving Jimmy a chance to win the game. I just wish he would have had Michael Floyd or even Kamara in the game to throw that 3rd down pass to.

  • DagerOne

    Agreed. On all counts. Charlie consistently overthinks things. “They’re expecting A, so I’ll do B. Oh, but they’ll of course realize that I’ll go to B, so I’m going to pull random play R out of my ample rear end, confusing everyone with my genius.” Sometimes, coach, they’re expecting A because it’s the right call to make. Run an end around to Golden if you want the ball in his hands and you want something other than a straight ahead dive, and count on your tight end to hold the block. Worst case scenario? They tackle him for a two yard loss and…the clock still runs.

  • Ska

    This game should not even have been close. If you look at all the mistakes ND made and erased most/all of them, including the coaching oooops (along with the horrendous refs), it would have been a blow out for ND. In the future, ND should have a summer scrimmage with the B11 refs. They are definitely in their own world. (polite)
    Unfortunately WCWW 25 did not have the replay on Sunday morning at 11am per the SBT. Couldn’t take notes. Biscuit may have had a couple more beers than I did, but a double take of the game is necessary. Especially after drinking a few high gravity craft beers watching the game.
    In any case, this loss hurts because the skunks are not as good as ND and they suck!! OK the frosh QB played better than expected, but he looks like he’s peaked.
    Charlie needs to rethink how he calls games since he is the OC. A coach causing game delay penalties and burning timeouts is not good. Get to the Press Box Chuck!! You see the game a lot differently from above.
    Charlie always looks beat by the end of the game (half-time), probably due to 3-5+ hours standing. That cannot be comfortable with his legs/weight. He will also be mentally sharper by the end of the game.
    Maybe the weight challenged HATERS will shut up about Charlie’s girth, due to his not being visible on the sidelines.

  • IrishTex

    San Diego Irish you’re spot on with your comments. With 2:24 left in the 4th we needed to score to put the game away. When Floyd left the game we had trouble because Tate was inconsistent all day. Throwing the ball to the freshman Evans I feel was the turning point in the ball game. Clausen needed to have passed that ball to either Tate or Kamara on that pivotal 3rd down play.
    My biggest knock on the day was no going to Floyd more. He was open all day long. He is a difference maker for ND.

  • Irish_Wertzy

    At least one of the delay penalties was on the ref. There was a quick pass (near lateral) that Kamara (I think) missed. He pounced on it in the event that it was a fumble. Refs called it incomplete but marked it as if it was a fumble and recovery (2 yards behind the original LOS). The refs spotted the ball, started the play clock, then moved the ball and reset it to the LOS from the previous play (two more yards and on the opposite hash) (as you do for an incomplete pass). The play clock was never reset, so by the time the ball was set and the new play got picked (different hash, different play, there was only 10 seconds left to break the huddle, line up, check the coverage and snap the ball. That is not correct. The play clock should have been restarted.

    The third quarter play calls (pass vs run). If it works, how many of you would be complaining. None. If we run it and w/o Allen in there, and we fumble, you would have been saying “they loaded the box, you should have thrown it”

    The loss is on:
    Offense (dropped passes, holding penalties (real or not))
    Defense (Forcier runs for a 35 yard TD on 4th and 3???)
    Special Teams (missed FG, KO returned for TD, 28 yard punt (28 fricking yards) on our last punt
    Officiating (just the inconsistantcy of the replay booth, PI calls, unsportsmanlike conduct, etc. NOTE: I DO NOT BLAME THE REFS FOR THE LOSS).

    The season is far from over. We need to bounce back and put a hurt on MSU, Purdue and Washington before USC.

    Go Irish!!!!!

  • Mark

    Anyone remember what the public reaction to Karl Dorrell running three plays and punting when UCLA was leading ND three years ago?

    With your best rusher on the sideline you call a play to throw at the worst corner in college football (Boob-a-car.) That was the correct call, it was just not executed.

    Blaming the refs is an easy excuse. There is no one person to blame here. It was a team effort. The team did not execute. You could say one play here, one play there. Well, one play everywhere could have changed it but didn’t. So what is everyone going to do? Cry and bitch about how Notre Dame never gets a break, and Charlie Weis should be fired? Or can we be adults, pick our heads up, and move forward? This is a great team, with a long season ahead.

    This loss reminds me very much to the OT loss to MSU in 05. People don’t realize that was not a good Spartan team, and they beat ND at home. By the time USC rolled around no one was even talking about that game. Run the table here, beat USC and put yourself in the discussion. It’s possible. And if you don’t think it is, get the fuck out. Right now, give your tickets to a real fan. Looking back and saying “what if” is tempting. I wanted to punch Golden in his Tate after the game, but what good is it going to do to complain? Michigan is an 8 to 9 win team and will contend for the Big Ten title. There’s no shame in losing to them. Let’s go Irish!

  • Mark

    Oh and Sparty, really? Really? You’re going to talk trash and spell lose wrong? Loose? Really? I’m going to assume MSU grad?

  • ILDomer17

    While I certainly don’t blame the refs for the loss, they made it nearly impossible for us to win the game.

    I don’t question the fade to Tate with under 3 mins left because Jimmy made a good throw and Tate put himself in good position, but the ref swallowed his whistle while the corner put Tate in an MMA-worthy armbar. If they throw a flag there, we get a fresh set of downs and are then able to run the ball and kill more clock.

  • VicPaul

    Mark you’re beautiful. ‘Punch Golden in his Tate’….I just spat coffee all over my keyboard.