Brian Kelly Is Coaching Notre Dame to Go 8-4 in 2013, Not 12-0

Sean FryeFeatured ColumnistSeptember 28, 2013

At the start of the season, the image of the 2013 schedule at Notre Dame, which featured the BCS National Championship as a scheduled game, made its rounds around the internet. 


But with the Fighting Irish's 35-21 loss to the Oklahoma Sooners, their second loss of the year, they can kiss that dream goodbye. 

Just one season removed from going undefeated in the regular season and making the national title game, the Fighting Irish have sputtered in 2013. And it's because of Brian Kelly's coaching. 

Kelly's worst decision has been allowing Tommy Rees to start at quarterback. Rees is a game manager who is just good enough to beat the likes of Michigan State and Purdue. 

But when it comes to beating the elite teams like Oklahoma and Michigan, Rees doesn't have what it takes to get it done. 

In those two games, Rees has completed just 38-of-75 passing attempts for 418 yards and four touchdowns. What's most alarming about Rees' stat line against Michigan and Oklahoma, though, is that he has had five interceptions in those games. 

Rees was particularly bad against the Sooners this week, going just 9-of-24 on his passing attempts for 104 yards and three picks. 

If Kelly wants to ignite this team, he has to yank Rees in favor of senior Andrew Hendrix. Rees is a mediocre game manager, while Hendrix could prove to be the playmaker that the Irish are looking for. Freshman quarterback Malik Zaire would also be a viable option. 

You also have to wonder how Kelly is coaching this defense, a unit that has plenty of talent but doesn't have Manti Te'o, last year's Heisman Trophy runner-up. 

Blake Bell had a huge game against what is supposed to be a stout ND defense.
Blake Bell had a huge game against what is supposed to be a stout ND defense.Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports


After ranking seventh in total defense last season, according to, the Irish ranked 40th heading into Saturday's loss to Oklahoma. And since the Sooners put up 450 yards of total offense on Notre Dame, that ranking is sure to go down even more. 

Overall, Kelly is proving that unless he has playmakers like Te'o or even quarterback Everett Golson, he doesn't have the talent to win the big games.

And with a brutal schedule that includes Arizona State, BYU and Stanford left, don't expect the Irish to win more that eight games this season.