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Notre Dame Football: Requiem for a Team

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A monumental collapse, and an unsurprising retreat back to mediocrity under the lights

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Miami Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Kelly met with the media on Sunday following his Notre Dame Fighting Irish team managing to put together a more disappointing performance than the 2012 National Championship Alabama Crimson Tide. The Miami Hurricanes gave this Irish team a shellacking - to put it lightly - by a 33 point margin. It was disappointing, ugly, pathetic, and a plethora of other adjectives. But it happened, and here we are. So with that being said, let’s just get right into it.

Requiem for a Team

The Irish were slaughtered.

They were out-manned, outplayed, and out-coached.

It was evident from the start that this Irish team was in for a long night. Play after play and drive after drive, Brian Kelly’s squad continually dug itself into a hole. Deeper, and deeper, and deeper they went. So deep, in fact, that the score was 27-0 at halftime. This collapse was reminiscent of another game in Hard Rock stadium a few years ago, and conjures up all too familiar feelings of disappointment for the Irish faithful.

This was a team that just weeks prior was on an unprecedented high. Never had we Irish fans seen such a turnaround in such a short time, and the Irish seemed poised to make a splash in the postseason this year.

Alas, it was - as some would say - smoke and mirrors.

Notre Dame v Miami Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The hype surrounding the game likened it to the days of old. The “Catholics versus Convicts” rivalry was back. The stakes were high, and the hatred was renewed.

It was, admittedly, a rehashing of the “Catholics versus Convicts” tale, circa 1985. The Irish got embarrassed by a more athletic and more prepared Miami team then, and they got the same treatment this year. The failures on the big stage are not an anomaly at this point. It is a pattern, one that needs to break soon if the Irish wish to reach that standard to which Kelly so often references.

With all the negatives, there are some silver-linings that have to be mentioned. Regardless of how many times this has been said, it still must be said, this year has thus far been a fantastic turnaround for this Irish squad. As much as this last game leaves a bitter taste, this has been a near-impeccable start for this coaching staff. The beginning that they have collectively put together is one that points to a proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

Many of us bought into the hype, and rightfully so. This Irish team looked great. And following a 4-8 season, 8-2 is definitely something to be happy about. However, the manner in which that second loss was obtained was just downright atrocious.

The Irish were categorically and systematically dismantled under the lights last night. They were on the biggest stage of their year so far, and they came up far, far short of their goal. And, unfortunately, it was nothing new.

A hurricane shredded this Irish team, and with it went the hopes of a playoff berth and a return to glory, leaving us with but the tattered remains of yet another unprepared Brian Kelly squad.

Notes from the Sunday Presser:

  • For starters, no injuries were sustained by the Irish on Saturday. Likely the biggest positive heading into Navy is that virtually everyone should be healthy.
  • When asked about what he and his team will try to accomplish after the loss, he responded with, “[We will] learn from what happened on Saturday night and look to live up to the standard of excellence at Notre Dame and Notre Dame football on Saturday against Navy.”
  • On the brutal, but important learning experience that Saturday was for Wimbush: “You take this as an opportunity to learn, and more importantly, how your preparation prepares you for these big games. You never like to learn lessons in losses, but I think he gained a lot of understanding of what he needs to do to lead this football team.”
  • Brian Kelly said he believes the smashmouth personality of this team can be maintained, but he also stressed the necessity of balance.
  • Furthermore on the offense, “You've got to protect the football, and we did not do a very good job of protecting the football. That can't get lost in this whole narrative of what kind of offense you're going to run. First and foremost, you've got to protect the football, and we didn't do a very good job of that.”
  • A plague of turnovers ravaged the Irish offense, and Kelly called for attention to detail as a remedy, “We've got to demand in practice that there's that attention to detail because the process really escaped us in some of those turnovers, and that really was a major, major problem for us Saturday night.”
  • “Yeah, correct. You're absolutely right. This is about focus and then refocus,” Brian Kelly stated, about rebounding from this kind of loss, “It's really how you respond in college athletics. We've got good kids. They really want to win, and I expect them to really come back with a higher standard of play.”
  • On what was worrisome leading into the game: “ Yeah, if I saw the turnover chain passed around the bench like Gatorade, that was probably going to be my biggest concern. Unfortunately that came to fruition.”
  • Much to Kelly-haters’ dismay, he took full credit (as he should) for not preparing this team adequately, “We'll have to take a good close look at that and making sure we prepare our guys. I've got to do a better job of making sure that they're in the moment.”
  • Kelly said Wimbush knows he has to be more accurate and efficient if the Irish want to reach their goals as a team.
  • Kelly felt that there were some missed opportunities in the run game, not aided by the speed and discipline of the Miami defense, “They were quick off the ball, so give them credit. But we had some reads, as well, that we definitely should have pulled the ball on.”
  • Finally, Kelly said he didn’t feel that going on the road really impacted the game to a great extent: “[I] Didn't feel that at all, honestly. There felt to be a little bit more of pregame energy. Maybe we weren't, as I alluded to earlier, I didn't do maybe my best work at settling our team down. With the moment being so big for so many guys, they used a lot of energy... offensively I didn't feel like the noise or the situation - we didn't execute very well, and we turned it over. That was my biggest concern.”