Dec 292011
A Rapid Reaction to Florida State’s 18-14 Comeback Win over Notre Dame in the Champs Sports Bowl

Posted by Steve Herring on December 29, 2011

Are you a die-hard Notre Dame football fan? Are you pissed off right now? Well, you should be. Two full years in Brian Kelly’s offensive system and a complete lack of consistency from the QB position at any point during this tenure. Their performances against anything resembling a quality defense teeters on the brink of embarrassing. All three interceptions were of the “slap your forehead, punch the wall, defensive player standing directly in front of you where you threw the ball!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” variety. It was complete ineptitude.

Educated fans knew this was a very big, athletic, and well coached Florida State defense. If the Seminoles simply stuffed the run, provided fantastic coverage, and made a lucky turnover we could chalk it up to a superior opponent. When we lose by 4 points and our quarterback throws two high school freshman level interceptions inside the opponents end zone, then we should refuse to believe we did anything but beat ourselves…again.

Much like the disaster that was the Stanford finale, the bowl game took a bright yellow highlighter on the 2011 season and marked up the performance issues in front of our grimacing eyes. The QBs found no rhythm, the defensive backs refused to play the ball in the air, and the defense couldn’t muster enough for multiple 4th quarter stops.

It was the first time in many moons that found Bob Diaco’s unit outcoached for the majority of the 2nd half. Linemen that were attacking before halftime remained in standstill for too many big passing plays and when FSU had to run the ball and wind the clock – they lined up and did just that. Manti TAY-OHHH played his ass off and looked refreshingly healthy; same goes for Jamoris Slaughter. Problem again was an entire defensive backfield that continued to refuse to believe that turning around to make a play on the ball is good football. The Seminoles biggest plays came in instances where a precariously thrown ball whizzed over a defenders head who played the man and not the pigskin. It was no surprise, but none less frustrating.


  1. Andrew Hendrix certainly did little to make his fan club pound their chests…Tommy Rees did even less.
  2. Michael Floyd dropped the most perfectly thrown pass he’d seen in 2011…maybe it was too shocking.
  3. Cierre Wood looked a half step slower and shied from contact on multiple plays.
  4. We better hope that wasn’t a preview of 2012 without Floyd. The receiving cast was MIA outside the two future NFL’ers.
  5. Lynch, Nix, and Tuitt looked unblockable at times. Most of those times came before halftime.
  6. That was not a catch. Period. He gained control of the football with his entire shoulder clearly touching white.
  7. Riddick looked better at back – quick, aggressive, determined. He was sorely missed in the open field on the receiving end.
  8. Most of Rees sacks saw 1-2 receivers breaking open as he plopped to the turf defeated.
  9. Everett Golson is starting in Ireland on September 1, 2012.

What Were YOUR Thoughts?!?!?!?!


Comment With Facebook, Yahoo!, AOL, Hotmail

  10 Responses to “Rapid Reaction: Notre Dame 14, Florida State 18”

  1. This might have been a little over the top. I was mad. The defense really did step up for the majority of the game and were obviously the reason ND even had any momentum at any point during the game.

    The offensive struggles on basic football skill, play, and intelligence probably boiled over for a lot of people during the game. We expect more, but some of the guys on the field really left it out there tonight and they held another quality opponent to a far smaller scoring number than the majority of the nation could have. The defense is clearly bigger, faster, and stronger and that’s a nice subplot to a frustrating season and game.

  2. 1. It was not over the top. I’ve had a night to sleep on it and it looks like an article I’d write right now
    2. Your assessment of the QB mess – and yes, it is a fu*%*&ing MESS – is dead on. Rees is just terrible; not remotely close to a D-I QB; Hendrix looked nervous. On one of his first snaps, he ran for a 1st down, but tripped on his own feet at the end of the run, fumbled the ball but recovered it. His INT was nearly impossible to comprehend. Couple nice throws but I don’t like his delivery and he clearly lacks poise.
    3. Can anyone reading this name me one game in the last two years that ND won because of their QB play? I can’t think of one.
    4. Afterward Lou Holtz pointed his finger right at Diaco for not blitzing in the 2nd half. This is right up there with the QB play as the reason they lost.
    5. I am sick and tired of mediocre ND football. This team hasn’t beat a quality opponent in what seems like a decade. Next year needs to be different or I’m concluding that BK isn’t the guy.
    6. Grades for last night’s game:
    Coaching: F An offensive game plan that produced 7 points (on a ball that should have been yet another endzone INT; and a defensive plan that had FSU on the run, then pulled back
    QB: F Terrible. Right up there with Diaco’s stupidity for the reason for the loss.
    WR: F MF is the game captain, drops a perfectly thrown long ball, makes a few catches for small yardage then leaves the game; TJ Jones dropped a pretty well thrown ball for a 25 yard gain; Goodman? Toma? MIA
    RB: D- Not terrible but close; just nothing to get excited about
    DL: A+ for the 1st half; F 2nd half
    DBs: D There was good ol’ Harrison Smith coming into the picture right after a couple big catches, a step late as usual. Motta dropped an easy INT. Would be an F but at least they produced 7 points, albeit on a fumble I could have scooped up and run in.

    Overall: F An entirely beatable FSU team with a junior high OL suddenly was let up off the mat. I blame Kelly and the other coaches.

    Conclusion: This is not a very good ND team. The record speaks for itself.

    They beat no one of consequence all year, struggled against teams like WF and BC, frequently played down to the level of competition, and came out in big games completely flat.
    – I started the year as a big BK fan, ended the year scratching my head but still being a believer. ‘
    – I am now scratching harder and now need to be re-sold next year on him with some “wow” type games against GOOD TEAMS. Early on.
    – I’m not so sure it will happen, regardless of what they do at QB.

    Simply put: I am not so sure he’s the guy anymore.

  3. All pretty fair and honest points. Diaco seemed like a mastermind for 30 minutes, then shied away with fear of letting his DBs get beat deep. Problem was, the extra time given to Manuel didn’t mean more open receivers, but he had the time to get off a pass that their WRs made some great plays on. Our DBs just locked in for too much of the season on the man and never ever ever ever turned their heads. Dan Fox doesn’t need to be Ronnie Lott, but that TD hung in the air for so long and if he turned his head at any point would have easily tipped or intercepted a pass coming right at him.

    It was also odd that we saw Te’o and Slaughter blitzing relentlessly when the Seminoles were being stifled, then we’d hardly see them in anything but pass coverage. It was like Weis v. USC in 2005 but reversed. SC couldn’t stop Quinn-WRs, but Weis backed off with a nice lead. Same here – had FSU on its toes and Manuel totally flustered, but we backed up and played to NOT LOSE instead of to win. Moving ahead- next year’s secondary will be pretty green, so was this a preview of Diaco with a lead and little trust in his players coverage skills? (Gulp)

    I can defend Floyd in some ways, because the TD catch equals out the other drop in my mind plus the great punt return.
    I can’t defend the extended inability of our quarterbacks. They looks like they’re in Week 1-4 of a brand new system instead of 2/2.5 years on campus allegedly being drilled with innovative practice techniques and Brian Kelly designed video games.

  4. First, let’s put Rees down for 3 interceptions. The fact that Floyd intercepted the ball thrown to an FSU DB may have resulted in points but it was an “interception”. Yes, Diaco stopped blitzing but we had the ball in the 28 with 3 mintutes to go down by 4.

    What’s maddening is before the game everyone said low scoring, defensive game requiring perfect QB play. As it turned out less than good QB play would have won the game. What we got was terrible QB play.

    We keep pointing it back at Kelly but I ma beginning to think he never had a QB in 2 years. Maybe Golston is the guy but he was an academic reach and even though an early enrollee, needed time to acclimate. Spring ball will be interesting.

    ARGGGGGGH………..this is so annoying.

    At the game watch when Rees threw into the end zone on the Floyd TD, collectively there was a groan and pretty much to a person all turned away. Looking back and seeing MF with the ball was a suprise.

    After AH was in for a bit and TR came back in the crow was screaming NO, NO……

    I am ranting….who knows if Kelly is the guy. Looking back at the last 20 years it seems like the administration got rid of Lou, tightened the reigns on the FB program, lived off the NBC contract and grew the endowment for academic purposes. With the landscape of CFB changing and the end of the NBC contract in sight the administration loosened things for Kelly. Last year Res Life became reasonable. Mark my words there will be FB’ers admitted (they will graduate) that would not have made it in 4 years ago. We can say whatever we want but when all is said and done if the adminstration wants a winning football team there will be a winning football team. When the program gets too big (catholics v convicts, fights, scandals) the administration tightens the reigns and lives off the glory. The best thing that happened was last night. Kelly is a “good” face of the program, he shows well on tv, does all the right things and recruits well. He now can go back to Swarbrick with his list of needs and he will get all of them. Watch for a suprise on the recruiting front……………just a guess but something will happen.

    I was almost pleased with the running game against the #1 rush D. Theo showed speed to the outside. Golic held his own in the middle. Amazing Jones, Toma and every other receiver was invisible……………………..

    Not as bad as the Mich, USC or Stanford losses. SC and Stanford we got beat. Mich we blew it. This game the problem was clear…terrible QB play. Regardless of the blitz scheme in the 2nd half this is a game the D did not lose. The offense scored 7 points.

    The only good thing about this is we dont have to play BC next week…..

  5. Totally agree that when Rees kept trotting out after halftime it made no sense. That was a god awful fade pattern he threw to Floyd that ol’ Mike made his final highlight reel play in the blue and gold. I hope the injury is nothing serious..he can’t afford it. I also agree that Riddick looked better than Wood at times out of the backfield.

    Interesting take on the grand scheme of athletics under the dome. I doubt we’ll be privy much to that kind of information, but it’s more than believeable.

    Let’s hope that the surprises in recruiting aren’t defections right now. Tee Sheperd allegedly told a USC recruiting site he planned in putting two papers with “ND” and “USC” in a hat and picking one. Odd, as he was the one who’s been solid Irish all along and supposedly was set to enroll early. Who knows.

    You always have the glass half full, and that’s nice to see. If you ever want to hear my talk Irish football, I posted a link today to my time on The New ND Nation Radio show before the bowl game. There were a few technical issues and I guess the hosts were a little under the weather, but it was fun and I think I didn’t come off sounding like a dolt…I oddly sounded like a Rees defender a little on-air, but we all know that is not the case – I was trying to be honest about how Kelly might let the QB situation play out and I was being honest.

  6. I don’t see the glass half full like either of you apparently do

    Kelly wreaked havoc on this team when he yanked Crist after 30 min, then played the least talented guy on the roster the next 12 games. Absolutely terrible judgment on BK’s part.
    They were near the bottom of the NCAA D-I in penalties and turnovers.
    They regularly crumbled in tough games in the 4th quarter.
    They came out flat in a nationally televised home game against USC.
    They regularly played DOWN to the level of competition.
    They beat no one not named Navy, AF or Maryland, for God’s sake

    Seriously, you think this stuff will magically correct itself? Then you’re crazy.
    Can one of you remind me why I’m supposed to feel good about the direction of this program?

    Not being cynical here, but after 24 hours to reflect I feel WORSE.
    Next year will be another QB circus and the schedule is fuc**ing BONE CRUSHING.

    5-8 is not out of the question.
    This was a very average team this year, and the coaching was below average.
    The facts support me

  7. The question is never if the glass is half full or half empty, the question is what is it full of?

    I see the same things you do but answer me this, were you really that impressed with Crist in 10? Tommy low cieling was as productive as 5 star Dayne. I remember spring ball in 09, Kelly’s first, his comments re QB were not encouraging. When talking about Dayne, foot work, reads, decisions. Yes, the kid has a rocket arm and is mobile, but if he makes the wrong choices it doesn’t matter.

    Everyone is killing Kelly for calling passes on the 4 yard line in Q1. Do you honestly think the throw to the corner was the only choice TR had? We don’t have access to the game film but I will bet there were other options that weren’t taken including the fetal curl 10 yards behind the center,

    Maybe, just maybe QB play was as good as it is going to get with the guys that are there. Did you ever think RGIII, 6′ track star would be as good a COLLEGE QB as 5* Andrew Luck. Yeah, Luck will be a great pro but to showcase his talent there needs to be an O Line with at least 4 pro prospects and a fullback. Seriously, look at the talent on the Irish team. Other than Floyd, Eifert and Martin who’s a star?

    Look what Kelly and crew have done with a suspect defense. Never, ever has the back end o this defense been good. Even last year with Walls they couldn’t confidently protect a two score lead. This year the front of the defense is better as well as the tackling.

    I will bet if you look at the roster when Kelly arrived and asked Mich, Stan, USC, MSU how many players they would take off the Irish squad maybe there would be 5. Now it’s probably 12.

    Riddick is probably the same back Wood is but he was moved to give some speed to the receivers, another vacant spot. Floyd was it. Can Toma catch, yes, but without watching the film do we know if he is in the right spot.

    Kelly’s offense is a modified zone read spread. It requires precision with QB decision making. Usually 4 reads on a play. To counteract D’s don’t set; lineman are standing, LB’s are moving and the safeties may be the primary blitz. It’s up to the QB to see it, read it and react. Dropping 8, as BC and Pitt did, creates havoc for a QB that doesn’t see and can’t run. OK, why didn’t Kelly change the O to the talent he has. What talent on O. A one dimensional Oline with one power back that whiffs on blitz pick ups, one receiver and a tight end? Not exactly Stanford or for that matter Mich.

    This year he got the D to play and keep them the game. Other than Mich, they did that. With any kind of O output this team competes in all 12 games.

    You’ve been in the right churh, wrong pew all season. Rees wasn’t, isn’t the guy. But neither was Crist. Is it Golson (or Golston, can’t remember), don’t know. He has a shot, RGIII like. Why was Kelly so hot for Keil? He knows he doesn’t have what he needs regardless of what we think. That’s what’s scary.

    I will wager that BK didn’t know how bad QB play would be this season. I will bet he thought he saw Dayne’s ceiling last year, this spring and 1H SFU. He most likely thought he would get more from TR and all he needed from TR was slight improvement. He got nothing and maybe less. There was no point in burning a redshrit on EG so here we are.

    Last year’s bowl agaisnt Miami we had similiar talent and they had an interim coach. They played in the snow for the first time. We looked great. This year, we had more talent than last year, slightly less talent than FSU but way less talent in the skill positions, QB, receivers, DB’s. We had the ball on their 28 with 4 minutes to go. Our stud receiver on the bench after a fierce hit when he intercepted Rees’ throw to FSU’s corner and we go backward. Is that really coaching? The QB knows the play, he knows to read the safety, he understands the concept but he didn’t (maybe can’t execute). They are plying the #1 run D, do you honestly think 7 running plays get the ball in the end zone?

    There has been improvement. This recruiting class will be key. Kelly needs to use the off season for introspection to figure out how to be at ND. He knows coaching, but he is learning coaching at ND.

    Everyone talks about Lou. I remember he had a great year at NCState and the next year went to the Jets. Walked away after 13 games cause he couldn’t coach in the pros. Went to Arkansas, got into a pissing match with AD Frank Broyles, got canned, went to Minnesota and ended up at ND. The program wasn’t as down but he “saved’ the program. He wore out his welcome, the trustees grew tired of his act and even though he was a huge donator to the school when he started throwing the FB program around as “bigger than the University” (in the eyes of the admin and trustees) he was out. Davies in, scandal, Res Life tightened, academics tightened, AD’s that didn’t have a clue and we are where we are.

    Why do I think this will get better? Cause it’s what the place is about. When ND put’s their mind and resources behind something it gets done. If they believe in Kelly and he has a vision it will happen.

    By the way, Happy New Year

  8. I agree with virtually everything you’ve written here, with a slight exception on Crist. The only thing that can be said for certain on him is “We’ll never know”. Just my opinion, but I think he’d have been better than what Rees gave us. Last year he had better than a 2-1 TD/INT ratio. By contrast, Rees will gain early entry into the INT Hall Of Fame. He NEVER looked any good to me. Not last year, and at no point this year. Never.

    Everyone said he played such a great game against Miami last year, but he threw a couple really bad picks there too.

    The larger point here is the overall trajectory of the program. It is better in certain areas, such as the “D” as you point out. There’s definitely more talent there, and they’re an improved unit vs. the Weis years. The offense however is worse. So one could make the case that they cancel each other out. In fact I think the offense has gone backward more than the D has gone forward.

    But here’s what makes me most concerned of all:
    The sloppiness, the penalties, the playing down to the level of their competition, the lack of a killer instinct (like Diaco calling off the dogs in the 2nd half), coming out flat for big games and the consistency with which they just give games away.
    To me, those are trademarks of a poorly coached team. Even worse: None of this improved as the season wore on. They did ALL of these things in their 1st game and their 13th game!!!!


    If we’re honest with ourselves, we will admit that those things don’t often just magically turn around from one year to the next, barring a huge infusion of new talent or a new coaching staff. Or both. I don’t see either happening next year. Some nice Freshmen maybe, but they won’t contribute much.

    ND heads into next year with significant weakness at the QB position. Even if Golson is the guy we hope he is, he’s a raw rookie. I am dubious about Hendrix; lots of physical talent but terribly lacking in poise. And Rees just flat out can’t play, as we know.

    I’ve had a couple days to cool off and think my analysis here is level headed. I admit it’s decidedly pessimistic, probably because the hopes for Kelly were so high. But after 26 games now, the progress is lacking, coaching is questionable, and – with the exception of the talent on defense – so is the overall trajectory of the program.

    No one expected a national title at this point, but seriously now – do you see this as even a BCS team heading into next year? That’s not too much to ask but I don’t know how anyone can reasonably make that case.

  9. It is interesting that you dug down deep to convey your best insight and true feelings on the Irish and the program as we head into Year 3 of Brian Kelly.

    I was going to invite the both of you to feel free to make a post on the progression of the program and what you see as points of emphasis and areas where improvement must be addressed. If you want I could make this the post, as it’s pretty informative.

    So, there is the invite – if you want to make a formal post on this site with your opinions, ideas, and maybe even a favorite ND Football story feel free to send one along. You can contact me at


  10. I just posted on Don’s post and would like to invite you as well. If you want, feel free to send me a formal post on ND Football and I’ll put it on the actual site. Obviously, it’s totally optional, but I know you like to get your ideas out there. You can reflect on 2011, project on 2012, and toss around your own ideas. A little thank you for your support if you will.

    Let me know at


You Thoughts, Opinions & Complaints: