We wrote some checks last week and it’s now time to pay. Ladies and Gentlemen, if we’re going to hold ourselves to a higher standard than the mouth breathers in Ann Arbor, we must act accordingly. But how? Our team was run out of the stadium in Ann Arbor, Notre Dame gave up twenty-eight unanswered points after cutting the lead to ten. Do we simply cook up the crow that we were served and choke it down? No Irish faithful. We do not. We must always remember the words of Knute Rockne:
Yes, the Irish got smoked on Saturday night. It’s an outcome that we are going to have to stomach for fourteen long years. Michigan will never make the playoffs, and we don’t have any direct bowl arrangements with Big Ten schools, so it’s unlikely to come sooner. Their trashcan program gets bragging rights and sadly we must live with it. I will try and outline some ways to approach this loss, as well as looking at what needs to change to get off this carousel ride of big game no-shows.
Miami 2017 happened. How is this different?
Going into the game against Miami, Notre Dame had a close loss to Georgia on their resume. There was a shot to go to the payoffs on the line. It was a night game in a hostile environment and...Brian Kelly’s team just didn’t show up. The Irish were run off the field on national television, with Kirk Herbstreit questioning the entire Notre Dame football program. That Miami team proved to be not very good, as they ended the season losing three straight games. Perhaps it’s slightly bombastic to say they were “not very good” but they absolutely were not 33 points better than Notre Dame, if even better at all... So congratulations go out to Michigan. You did pull our pants down on national television. That happen. We cannot run from it. Take a number though, you’re not special. This wasn’t Denard. This wasn’t Gary Gray. This loss wasn’t about Michigan, it was systemic.
An import point to touch on before we go bigger picture is if you’re addressing this game with a Michigan fan...just suffer the slings and arrows without making excuses. We got smoked. Take it like an adult, no excuses. But that doesn’t mean you gotta just sit there and take it. Do you want to besmirch the memory of this man?
Just because we lost doesn’t mean you need to be gracious. Be sure to remind them of their own team’s shortcomings. Shea Patterson is easily in the discussion for the second worst performance by a quarterback to beat Notre Dame this century. (No one will touch the gold standard that is Boston College’s Chris Crane, who turned in a stellar 9/22 79yd 1TD/0INT performance back in 2008) Congrats on the 9-3 season and third place finish in the eastern division I guess?
Accept the loss but don’t let them forget that they still haven’t played a meaningful football game in December/January in 22 years. They still have to play an Ohio State team that looks like an absolute juggernaut. Sure, Notre Dame’s playoff chances are shot, but if this team was capable of losing in this manner, perhaps it’s a blessing we were spared.
So what now?
We were all wrong. We thought we’d win in Ann Arbor. We thought games like this were behind us. But here we are. This season isn’t going to end in the disaster. Right? In all likely hood, Notre Dame will go 10-2 and that’s a successful season. 32-5 in the last 3 years, in vacuum, sounds down right amazing. But oof if a 41-8 road loss to Miami, a 30-3 playoff loss to Clemson and a 45-14 road loss to Michigan don’t just stick in your craw.(116-25 in total) Notre Dame is a good, stable program right now, which is fine for other schools...But this is Notre Dame. There is a higher standard. So what is it? What’s keeping Notre Dame from turning that corner from good to great? If you can look at those three games, one thing is constant.
- Michigan 2019 - 31 carries 47 yards, 1.52ypc
- Clemson 2018 - 35 carries 85 yards, 2.51ypc
- Miami 2017 - 36 carries 109 yards, 3.03ypc
When the running game doesn’t work, neither does this offense. They simply have not had an offense that allows for a difference maker throwing the football. With time to think on it, I cannot subscribe that Ian Book has such absolute autonomy, that designed throws to stretch the field are being checked out of. Chip Long is criminally negligent with his play calls, hamstringing this offense and letting defenses focus on defending shorter field. Is this a Jeff Quinn issue? I don’t know about that. We lost three games in 2017, the YPC were 1.49 against Georgia, 3.03 against Miami, and 3.5ypc against Stanford. That was with Harry Hiestand and 2 Pro-bowlers on the left side.
I watch an inhuman amount of college football throughout each week in the fall. I see a lot of different teams and lot of different offenses. You know what you’re in for watching certain teams, like Wisconsin or Washington State or Ohio State or Oklahoma or Clemson. There is a definite identity in those teams offensively, a philosophy. Through three years of Chip Long calling plays though, I still don’t know what his staple is as a play caller is. A dominate running game? Not against defenses on an equal talent level. Is it a dynamic passing game? The starting QB has failed to reach 200 yards passing in more than half the games played and only once against a power-5 school. The offensive line talent these last three years has been far too good to be getting the sort of offensive output that the Irish have put on display. The elite teams are AVERAGING 40 points per game and Chip Long offenses are closer to averaging 30 than 40. Something needs to happen because there will be games like the one on Saturday night, where the offense needs to answer the bell and far too often Chip Long is deaf to it ringing.