Have at it in the comments:
1) The team came out super flat. No doubt about it. Is this on the players, coaches, or both?
My answer: 100% both. I don’t know how a player doesn’t come out ready to play, and I don’t know how a coach doesn’t have them ready.
2) The pumped in music was polarizing to say the least. Does it need to go? Should it stay? Does it not matter?
My answer: I think it should stay, but the execution needs improvement. ND needs to have what the music can bring at times, but they need to pick the right moments. For me, it’s about pre-kick-off, commercial breaks, returning from half time, and select, key moments in the game. Certainly not every 3rd down. They need to use the good of that system, but also respect the band and what they do for us. (Band also need to be mic’d).
They also need to find the right songs for Notre Dame, and they need to bring in someone that can feel it out – there can’t be rules about ‘if 3rd down, play Crazy Train over and over no matter what’. Find a great DJ or radio person that gets this kind of thing, and trust him/her to execute within a tightly defined set of songs that really fit ND’s brand and style.
3) ND got beat pretty badly. Was this a self-inflicted loss, or were we simply out-played? Or both?
My answer: It’s a bit of both, I think. ND was outplayed in the first half, hands down. In the second half, we played a pretty even game with SC, but self-inflicted turnovers killed that resurgence. Net-net, I’d say that SC is the first team that beat ND this year. But they got a helping hand from an Irish team that simply loves to turn over the ball at the worst time possible, over and over. I have no idea what the answer is to this – either stop it, or we’ll never be good.
4) Is Brian Kelly the right Coach for Notre Dame?
My answer: This is a stupid question to ask half way through his second season. It doesn’t deserve a proper response.
5) What’s left for ND to play for this year?
My answer: PLEN-TY. People saying the season is over, and plan for next year, etc, are clueless. Last year after Tulsa, people were saying the same thing. Then we pulled off a streak to end the season and everything took on a new light – it resulted in a good bowl win and some solid recruiting returns. You plan for and prep for the future by winning today. If ND rips off a bunch of wins, including an upset over top-ranked Stanford to close out the year, we have momentum. We have momentum for recruiting, and for a good bowl berth, and for development of the team and players.
We’re a 4-3 team that had little/no margin for error. Sadly, we dropped 2 games early that we should have very easily won (remember, we gave away 55 points and lost by a combined 7 points in USF/UM). Outside of those 2 losses themselves, that killed ND’s ability to absord a loss and not have it look horrible. Yeah, 4-3 and a loss to USC at home at night looks horrible, but it wouldnt look half as bad had it been the first loss of the year and ND sitting at 6-1 and still Top 20. We’re still 2 weird plays away from that reality, and this team is still the same team.
Play to win, play to learn, play to build momentum for the future. But that means winning today, above all else. More important than winning against Stanford is beating Navy. More important than getting young guys more time is beating Navy. More important than anything else anyone can say, think or do, is beating Navy.
Just beat Navy. Then win some more. But only after beating Navy.