Notre Dame Fighting Irish Halfway Report Card (3-3)

Well, Notre Dame checks in at the halfway point at 3-3.  Meh.  Not horrific, but certainly not good.  Let’s take a quick look at the Notre Dame Report Card:

Coaching:  C –

Haven’t really seen a ton out of Brian Kelly in terms of GameDay coaching.  Not being prepared in full for the fake field goal against Michigan State resulted in a Loss.  His constant yelling at players is fine with  If the players screw up, they should be held accountable.  Take, for example, what Brian Kelly had to say about Cierre Wood:

“Here’s why I like Cierre Wood. It seems to be a big topic of conversation, my sideline demeanor. When I went to talk to him about that play, talk to him about the play, he said, “Coach, it’s inexcusable what I did. I can’t tell you why it happened. That’s ridiculous.   He immediately took accountability for his actions. I didn’t say another word to him. I’m a Cierre Wood fan. We’re going to keep developing that young man and he’s going to be a good football player. He just needs to continue to develop, gain more confidence. He needs recognition awareness. When he sees things, he’s got to go, and he’s still thinking too much. When we can get that out of him, when he can just react, man, he’s going to be fun to play.”

Would like to see a little more effective game management play calling.  In the 2nd Quarter vs. Pitt, you could see his offense go to work.  If that is an indication of things to come, the Coaching grade could go up quite a bit.

Quarterback: B-

Good God was Jimmy accurate.  What I wouldn’t give to see him in Kelly’s offense.  Despite his lack of footspeed, the passing game would have been incredible to Jimmy.

Dayne has been okay.  He probably deserves a B.  The backups deserve a F, which averages to a B-.  Dayne needs to work on his accuracy a ton.  Tired of seeing balls skip into players feet.  Or just be off the mark.  For example, on Floyd’s nearly incredible catch against Pitt, Crist probably had a 12 foot diameter of a circle where the ball could have been thrown.  And it was missed.  Inexcusable.

However, Dayne’s ability to run the ball, and take on hits, forces the Defense to respect the Dual threat.  I think he could be a lot better in time, and could have a great 4th and 5th year with the Irish.

Running Backs: B+

Love Armando Allen.  He runs with a purpose.  He seems to have bulked up, and has gone from a skat-type back, to a more head down, take on a hit, and pick up a yard or two after the hit type running back.  Cierre Wood has shown potential.  A little more shifty, but could potentially be great out of the back field.  Reminds me of a skinnier Darius Walker.  Robert Hughes has seen the bench.  Love when he gets in, but there must be some type of issues with him and the coaching staff.  He is the Pete Best of this team.  The forgotten Beatle.

Wide Receivers: B

This grade is probably lower than it should be because I honestly thought Michael Floyd would have 54 catches for 725 yards and 9 TD at this point in the season.  He doesn’t.  Although he has been coming on rather strong the last couple games.

Theo Riddick is just fun to watch.  He made a couple Poor Man Reggie Bush cuts last week that I haven’t seen out of a Notre Dame player in a long time.  It was fun to watch.  And I loved when Riddick scored against BC and had  Jerome Bettis-esque TouchDown high knees celebration.  Tai-ler Jones has been my biggest surprise.  He can get it done.  Seems like a really solid receiver.

Kyle Rudolph has been ok.  He is slow.  Many people say he has a nagging hamstring injury, and if that is the case, he has performed admirably.  He is sure-handed, and in the first couple games, showed a little speed (mainly on his Michigan TD).  I hope they sit him down for a week or two and get him healthy for Utah, Navy, Army, and USC.

O-Line: B

Don’t have a lot to offer here.  Love the way Stewart plays.  Just goes hard.  Not even sure if he is blocking the right guy half the time, but the fact that it looks like he is trying to catch someone who stole his wallet on every play is fun.  Haven’t noticed great O-Line play, but also have not noticed any disasters.

Defense: B+

Teo is the next Notre Dame All-American.  A guy that every team wishes they had.  Not just a guy that does well at Notre Dame.  A guy that Alabama looks at and says, “Damn, he would look good in the middle of our defense.”

Ian Williams is solid.  Kapron Lewis-Moore is playing with intensity.  He was fired up against Pitt.  Love to see that.  Brian Smith is still enrolled at the University of Notre Dame.

Secondary is the question mark.  Despite his play last week, Harrison Smith as been a liability.  But damn, he has huge arms.  Gary Gray has stepped up (huge play on 4th down against Pitt).  Walls has been a Meh.  Blanton has been a Meh.  Slaughter gets too excited to make the big play.  Would love to get a great coverage free safety and a hard hitting strong safety.  Coupled with a some serviceable cornerbacks, and the Defense Grade could be an A.

Special Teams: B

Field Goal kicking is an A+.  Great find with Ruffer.  A 50 yarder made by ND?  Since when?  Nice to have a little confidence in the kicking game.  The Fake Field Goal against Michigan State brings this to a B.  That play is far below an F that it is indescribable.  The punting game has been Meh.  The return game has been Meh.  Field Goal kicking is what boosts this grade from a D to a B.


Overall: B-

This team is a fake-field-goal-mental-lapse and a mysterious 1.5 Quarter injury to Crist away from being 5-1.  For the first time in 4 years, I can honestly say that I like the direction the team is going.


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