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3 Things We Learned From Notre Dame’s 38-35 Loss To Duke

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Purple face alert, dumpster fire, or whatever else you want to call it, the Duke loss was the tipping point.

NCAA Football: Duke at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Oh boy! We certainly learned a lot from Notre Dame’s loss to Duke, and thankfully since the press box was freezing cold after the game, I decided to wait until today to write this column.

A lot has changed, and in doing so, what we know about the team and the program has changed. Let’s check out those three things...

Everything is up for review and should be.

Brian Kelly’s post game went off like cannon fire. Whether it was his defense of Brian VanGorder, his blistering criticism of DeShone Kizer, or when he called out every single player not named Dexter Williams for playing with no emotion and no grit... it was entertaining, and it was informative.

NCAA Football: Duke at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

While many people have blasted Kelly for “throwing his players under the bus,” Kelly also did a couple of other things:

  • Blamed himself.
  • Had the audacity OF BEING ABSOLUTELY RIGHT.

This in no way should be misconstrued as blinding support for Brian Kelly, but I fail to see what is so wrong about this. These aren’t kids in high school, these are adults. If this collection of players were a construction crew, no one would bitch about the foreman saying that the house they built was crap because they did a crappy job, and he [the foreman] was responsible.

All 22 positions are up for grabs- and they should be. All coaches are put on notice- and they should. Everyone screwed up, and it took that kind of catastrophic meltdown to lose at home to a team that was a 20 point underdog.

For me, this should absolutely include Brian Kelly, and perhaps in Jack Swarbrick’s eyes it does. These kind of things wee not supposed to happen in year 7 of the Brian Kelly era- this ain’t supposed to be 2010, but it certainly feels that way.

DeShone Kizer is trapped in a pressurized cooker with no timer.

DeShone’s Kizer’s stat line on Saturday was pretty good. He was 22-37 381 yards and 2 touchdowns with one interception. He also ran the ball for 60 yards and another touchdown.

Duke v Notre Dame Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

These aren’t Lamar Jackson numbers, but they are still pretty damn good and in fact, his numbers for the season are pretty damn good too.

  • #12 nationally in passing touchdowns (11)
  • #15 pass efficiency rating (167.6)
  • #16 nationally in total yards (1282)
  • #4 nationally in total touchdowns (16)

What’s happening, is that DeShone Kizer is being asked to carry the entire Notre Dame football team despite all of their other problems. Through four games, we obviosly know the story. The defense has played terribly and for Notre Dame to have any shot to win, Kizer has to be almost perfect with his play.

The running game has proved to be stagnant and underwhelming, and the true playmakers right now, are a pair of receivers in CJ Sanders and Equanimeous St. Brown. The only way they get the ball is via Kizer’s arm, and to keep defenses honest, Kizer has to run the ball more than he maybe should because he is the only one that looks to be effective in doing so.

You can see the pressure all over Kizer’s face, and unfortunately at times, you can see it in his play. It’s a lot to ask of a quarterback, but it’s not unheard of in this day and age.

Despite Brian Kelly suggesting that he might play Brandon Wimbush, it’s a safe bet that the only position on the field (outside of Scot Daly at long snapper) that will certainly keep their job is DeShone Kizer (and if you want to argue about it, Nyles Morgan). Kizer must play better, but how much better can he actually play? At some point he may very well crack if his teammates don’t step it up, and to be honest, his coaches as well.

This is not 2007.

I don’t know how many times I heard on Saturday that this team reminds them of 2007, or that this team is worse than the 2007 team- but it was a lot. The 2007 team was the worst in Notre Dame history and failed to even look like an actual FBS team.

You fools. You damn fools.

I lived through 2007 both as a blogger and as a fan. I went to every home game that year, and I can tell you that under no certain terms that the claim that the 2016 team is as bad or worse than the 2007 team is utter bullshit.

Georgia Tech v Notre Dame Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

In 2007, Notre Dame was barely even close to winning the games that it lost, and while I am in no way suggesting that the 3 losses suffered this season that were all one score games, is any consolation- THIS AT LEAST LOOKS LIKE A TEAM THAT CAN PLAY FOOTBALL (albeit with poor tackling and soft offensive line play).

There are similarities for sure. The total screw up with the quarterback position in the first game of the season for starters, and a lack of production running the football. Still, the 2016 team isn’t even close to those levels.

Things are bad right now- hell, they are really bad. But until the season is over and Notre Dame is sitting at 3-9 with massive blowout losses on its resume, please save the crap. The team is shitty right now, but not that shitty. While 2010 is no model season of success, it too started out with a 1-3 record. Notre Dame won a meaningless bowl game that year- which is still better than 2007.