The Definition of Insanity

***** Author’s Note: the following was written after a gamewatch ******

is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Repeat a thousand times: we cannot protect the passer. No amount of nifty scheming is going to change this until we actually do the dirty work of protection.

The turning point in this game (and I yelled it loudly when it happened) was the first quarter with second and 5 from our own 13. We’ve just had a nice run for 5 yards up the gut. We’ve got forward momentum and good blocking. The only thing that can set us back at this point is a pass.

We call a drop-back pass. Michigan State is bringing the house.

Clausen is sacked on the 4 yard line.

Repeat: PASSING PLAYS GO BACKWARDS!

Draw is stuffed, we punt, Michigan State scores a touchdown.

The second defining moment was just a few series later.

ND is down 14-7, Aldridge powers it out for 5. Notre Dame then throws for a first down with Clausen barely getting it off in time. It’s clear that we cannot protect the quarterback right now. It’s then first and 10 from the 31… we call a play action action with hardly a nod to the fake the ball is stripped loose on the 13.

Even though it doesn’t look like it, I think this is the game right here. We hold them to a field goal. We just don’t have margin of error to give up field position like that. We needed a cushion and instead gave them the advantage WE KNEW they were going to have going into this game — their pass rush against our passing game.

Our passing game goes backward, while our running game was chewing them up for almost 6 yards a carry! Clausen threw 20 times for a net gain of 7 yards after sacks and fumbled takeaways. We lose or gain no yards more than half the time and net a ridiculous .3 yards per attempt (including sacks.)

J. Aldridge 18 104 5.8 43 0 0
R. Hughes 6 35 5.8 18 1 0
A. Allen 3 13 4.3 9 0 0

It’s not a crime that our passing game isn’t there yet. There was simply no need to go there because the risk was just too high. We go backwards when we pass and Michigan State couldn’t stop the run.

I’m frustrated because this should have been a W. Aldridge and Hughes should carry this team until we can get protection. Grimes made some great grabs, but he wouldn’t have to make “great” grabs if he were 6’3″. There is simply no plausible reason to be starting two wide receivers you can’t even see. If they had game breaking speed, maybe. They don’t. Kamara, Parris, Hord and Tate give us size and speed.

Why Charlie went to the passing game with Sharpley at the end is perplexing. We can’t pass. There’s no point.

We need to start the big receivers, run the ball and ditch the horizontal passing game except as a change-up. Everyone’s prepared for it. And no need to go for it on 4th down especially at that point in the game.

We showed signs of a great running game that we need to ride. MSU couldn’t deal with it.

There were a lot of positive signs today and I should note that new offensive lines usually gel by the 5th game.

But we could have been the one’s gutting MSU in the second half.

Instead we were gutted again.

***What good is Polian? Our special teams are consistently awful. Whatever nepotistic bargain got him to Notre Dame isn’t worth it. We’re giving away field position. We can’t afford to be bad on special teams.

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10 Responses to “The Definition of Insanity”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Agree with 100% of above – How can we possibly improve here? Running game looked good. On the negative side we let them convert on two long 3rd downs on one drive and two 4th downs on the next. It seems that a different aspect of our team falls apart every week. What is the way forward here?????

  2. Brian, NC Says:

    I was just six when Lou took over, so I am not sure what he had to work with or just how his 86 and 87 seasons went. But maybe this is Charlie’s down year before he and the team reach the light. Right now we see flashes of what the team can and will be. Perhaps they can knock off a team in the next few weeks and push out the final drops of the illness you described in a previous post. Then with a hopefully lighter end to the season building momentum toward 2008. I have always been an Irish fan and we be with them till the end. Keep fighting – GO IRISH!

  3. Anonymous Says:

    I see your point about running, but you have to throw the ball eventually or the D will put 8 or 9 in the box. Ya, they averaged almost 6 a carry–but 43 came in one run. There were plenty of runs that went next to nowhere, and State was starting to T off on the running game. I guess it doesn’t help when the team has the worst offensive line and starting wide receivers in college football.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Agreed.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    On Coach Polian… I walked on to kick a few years back and did not make the team. I was around long enough though to see the complete disaster that is Coach Polian. I was impressed on every level by each member of the coaching staff at that time… except Polian. He is completely inept at what he does (what does he do btw??) and he does not gel with ANY of the other coaches. It just seemed like Weis spent half the time yelling at the team and half the time yelling at him. He does not need to be in division I athletics at this point in his career (Oh, and I was cut by Coach Parmalee, so I am not just bitter at Polian in case you were wondering).

  6. Scott Says:

    Sorry, I’m not buying the “MSU couldn’t handle the rush” bit. I will give you the 43 yard gain by Aldridge and the fact the ND had its best performance of the season on the ground. But, MSU also clamped down in the second half, including against the run. If you are one-dimensional on offense, as is ND with no pass all run, the oppoonent (MSU) eventually loaded up against the run and forced ND to pass.

    HOw many ND rush gains of 4 yards or more? 12 (three were for 4 yards, another 4 were for 5 yards, leaving just 5 of 35 rushing plays for over 5 yards).

    How many ND rush gains of no gain or less? 14 (13 with Clausen at QB, and 12 in the first half).

    It just doesn’t add up. ND ran off a few great plays, but was very inconsistent. You can’t have that many zero or negative yard rushing plays and win. And, I’m not even talking the amount of 1 or 2 yard gains. Compared to MSU’s consistent ground game (MSU had just 3 rushes for negative yards the entire game)… well, we ran all over your ass.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    If you’re implying that the scheme and thus Coach Weis was at fault, then I must reject this baseless accusation. You, more than most, should recognize that this calamity is the sole responsbility of Coach Willingham, who was too busy playing golf to recruit. Coach Weis promised us a schematic advantage, and I believe that he is delivering it to us but that that can not overome the signigant talent gap that Coach Willingham left us.

    Notre Dame plays the most difficult schedule in college football today and it is not surprising that Notre Dame is struggling. If we had MSU or Ohio State’s schedule so far, we too could easily be 3-0.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Schedule is not that difficult. GA Tech is only 2-2 (lost to VA). Michigan is 2-2 (lost to App St.), Penn State lost to Michigan. Bottom line, ND is bad, really bad.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    The Aldridge 43-yard scamper was a combination of good blocking at the point of attack and a miscue by the Michigan State LB who stunted into the wrong hole, actually running into another LB.

    So that mental mistake was corrected and ND was not able to mount a sustained offensive drive in much of the second half. So don’t get too giddy with the skewed statistics.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    There was the one drive in the 2nd quarter where ND indeed ran over MSU’s ass, and allowed them to pull within 3 points (made the score 17-14).

    However, look at the runs on key plays (3rd/4th downs);

    3rd & 6: 0 yards
    3rd & Goal from the 1: 1yd, TD
    3rd & 1: 0 yards
    3rd & 14: -1 yard
    3rd & 6: 5 yards
    3rd & 18: -2 yards
    3rd & 2: 1 yard, followed by
    4th & 1: -1 yard, Turnover on downs

    Hardly “Michigan State couldn’t stop the run”. Michigan State’s defense adjusted and did stop the run — especially on key downs– as well as the pass.

    ND had 93 yards rushing in the 1st half (43 of those on one carry), and *47* yards rushing in the 2nd half. “MSU couldn’t deal with [the running game]”?

    ND averaged 0.4 yds/carry (3 yards on 8 carries) on 3rd or 4th down.

    Not the recipe for success.

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