From about midnight on September 2nd until around 4:00 this past Saturday, just about everyone thought the Notre Dame Fighting Irish were going to blowout the Ball State Cardinals inside Notre Dame Stadium. It was just one of those things that was a given, and we could all rest easy that the Irish were set for a curbstomping.
Then... things changed.
In reality, Saturday’s performance wasn’t something that was pulled out of thin air by some mischievous Norse god. It was the byproduct of poor preparation and poor planning, that materialized into poor play.
Brian Kelly said it himself in the post game press conference:
So as we look back on what we have to do better, we have to prepare our football team better. Our players have to bring a little bit more energy to the game. That’s on them. They know that. So we go into a game like this with we’re happy to win, but I’ve got to prepare our team better, we’ve got to coach them better, and our guys have to come with more energy into this kind of game.
While that does say a whole lot, it leaves out the details.
- Why was there a (almost) complete lack of designed running plays for Brandon Wimbush? Why was the one thing that really keeps him above Ian Book on the depth chart made a non-factor for today’s game? (This is something that will be addressed in a different post).
- Why does the running back rotation of Tony Jones Jr. and Jafar Armstrong feel so random?
- Regardless of schemes, why was the Irish offensive line getting completely blown up — especially Liam Eichenberg and Robert Hainsey?
- Are we sure Nick Coleman is able to play the nickel to the level needed? He often looked as if the play was sailing by him.
- Is Brian Polian ever going to improve the special teams unit? Two weeks in a row now they were completely substandard.
So yeah, there are a lot of details to cover — but that still leaves room for that big question of WHY WASN’T THIS TEAM PREPARED?
We spent all week thinking of who and when the freshmen and other underclassmen were going to get in the game. Well guess what... so did the Notre Dame coaching staff. They weren’t prepared for this game, and we weren’t prepared for them to act that way either.
We all basically reverted back to November 2017 in our minds — and who could blame us?
Brian Kelly wasn’t wrong, because preparation is like 90% of what they do as coaches. He also wasn’t wrong in demanding more energy from his players. The thing is though... that energy issue stems from the lack of preparation.
It’s a viscous circle that shouldn’t be an issue again this season, but it’s still a circle that could have swallowed up the season. It’s certainly something that has to completely change and completely improve with the Vanderbilt Commodores coming to town next week.
Do you even prepare bro?