It ended as it began. Notre Dame's season began with poor quarterback play, turnovers, missed offensive opportunities, penalties, and a scoreless first half of football. Then it ended with poor quarterback play, turnovers, missed offensive opportunities, penalties, and another (nearly) scoreless half of football. Here are your Feathers in the Cap and Black Eyes.
First half defense.
Ben Turk. Whoa. Has Turk been doing nothing but hitting the leg extension machine with one leg? This kid was straight up BOOMING his punts. His hang time was excellent, his punts came down like V2 rockets, and he put one inside the 2-yard line for good measure when the team really needed a big play. Nevermind that they then squandered said big play. That isn't Ben's fault. He had a rough start to the season, but has really turned it around and finished quite strong.
Keivarae Russell. Russell sits down at a table with his Final Four hats laid out before him. The lights go out. The Notre Dame Fight Song booms. The lights return, and.... And Russell is sporting his Notre Dame hat!!! Sick. Just a nasty, nasty way to commit. Best I've seen since Stanley's "Lebron took his talents to South Beach, and I'm taking mine to South Bend." These kids are coming strong with the commitments.
Tommy Rees's Last Pick. This was a good thing. The image will replay itself in Coach Kelly's head time and time again during the offseason. I suspect that he is taking the extra-large eraser to TR's name at the top of the quarterback depth chart as we speak.
Offense with Andrew Hendrix at quarterback. Kind of. The offense moved the ball well when Hendrix was running the zone read play and taking advantage of his mobility. Hendrix obviously needs to work on his ability to read defenses and attack them through the air.
Quarterback play. This was bad enough that it requires its own category outside of Offense. We are still doing the same awful crap that we were doing at the beginning of the season. Rees throws two picks in the endzone. Hendrix throws the ball right to a Florida State 'backer when we really can't afford to throw it to a Florida State 'backer, cuz, yeah, that scoreboard thingy--when the number next to the other team is more than the number next to our team and the other number says 4 as in 4th Quarter, we need to go ahead and hang on to that oblong spheroid.
Offense. Here is Notre Dame's offensive game plan. Step 1: Kick self in nether regions. Step 2: Repeat. Step 3: Find moderate success. Step 4: Reject the pressures of success and kick self in nether regions. Step 5: Kick self in hind parts. Step 6: Repeat steps 4 and 5 continuously. Come on, guys. EVERYONE knows that the one way to lose the game is to turn the ball over. You have a 14-point lead and they're doing nothing on offense. DON'T TURN THE BALL OVER. Please.
Defense. I know I put these guys in the Feathers column, but we knew that we might need them to win the game for us. We needed someone to take over that game. Clearly it was not going to be a Notre Dame quarterback, so it needed to be Manti Te'o and our defense. They didn't lose the game, but we needed them to win it and they couldn't do it. Offense didn't hold up their end, but after manhandling Florida State's O-line and shutting out the 'Noles in the first half, the defense got no pressure and gave up 18 points and the win in the second half. They can go home and say that they upheld their end of the bargain, but they can't say that they took over the game and closed like champions.
Not throwing the ball to Tyler Eifert more. Have I mentioned this before? I feel like I've said some of these things before.
Defense in Alamo Bowl. This is just annoying.
What say our loyal readers? Hand out your own Feathers and Black Eyes.