"Fire Charlie Weis!" is what many people have been saying over the past few years. Some even before the 3-9 season ended.
I would know, I was one of them for a while.
Now, I have taken a step back and, while I still think we need a motivational coach, I realize that we need a good college Defensive Coordinator.
Do you notice a trend here?
When Jon Tenuta was at Georgia Tech, they weren't anywhere near the Top 10. Now, without him, and with a new head coach, they are in the Top 10. They are No. 7 to be exact. Their only loss being to Miami.
Can you see what is going on here, or not?
In the 2007 season, Georgia Tech allowed 5,004 yards to their opponents allowance of 4,295. That's over 700 more yards allowed to their opponents, for some basic math. The average per game allowance was 384.9 to their opponents allowance of 330.4. Over 50 more yards per game, and that's an average.
Now, one thing we know is that Notre Dame's defense can struggle with its penalties.
So, let's look at Georgia Tech's 2007 penalties.
They had 90 total penalties in the entire season, while their opponents had 77. The respective total penalty yardage being GT's 771 to OPP's 668—over 100 yards more in penalties in an entire season. This, of course means that roughly 10 free yards are guaranteed every game.
Another frightening figure: Their opponents were 10-of-13 on fourth down conversions.
I have to think that these statistics show why he was not retained by incoming coach Paul Johnson, at the time.
So, for 2005, Georgia Tech was ranked No. 24 in the Harris Poll's Top 25 (prior to bowl season starting, and the end of the regular season). In 2006, they were No. 25. However, in 2008, after Tenuta's departure, they jumped to No. 14 in the Harris Poll at the end of the regular season. This is a significant jump. Also, now consider where they are this season. They're No. 7, yes seven, in the Harris Interactive Poll, AP Poll, and the BCS Poll.
In the two seasons after Tenuta's departure, they have gone from being bottom 20s (No. 25, No. 22) to the seventh ranked team in the country. That's a huge jump, in my opinion! I don't think anyone can deny that!
Now, what happened to Notre Dame in this time?
Well, they still haven't beaten USC. In fact, last year ND gave up 38 points to them, to our massive number of three.
Notre Dame also managed to blow a great lead to a 3-9 Syracuse team in the fourth quarter by allowing them to score 14 points to their, well, zero. I remember this fondly, as I froze my arse off at this game. And, I also remember the snowballs thrown at Charlie, which, in fact, should have been directed at the press box, with Tenuta in it.
Last season, Notre Dame even allowed a quite mediocre Stanford team 21 points. Guess what? Fourteen of those 21 were scored in the fourth quarter. In fact, in our 33-7 win over Washington, the only TD they scored was in the fourth quarter.
In the 36-33 loss to Pitt, they scored three points in the first quarter (and half) alone. So, at the half, it was 17-3 ND. Well in hand, right? Nope, they decided to blow that lead and let them score seven in the third and, most importantly, 14 in the fourth. So, 21 points to our six, in the second half.
I see a bit of a trend here, and it's just simply a lack of defense. I honestly think that with the correct Defensive Coordinator, Notre Dame could have beaten a mediocre USC team this year and beaten a mediocre Michigan team with a true freshman quarterback.
Most importantly, we could have handled Navy with ease if some of our defensive players knew how to better defend against the option.
It's great that you want to run a pro-style offense. It works, it really does. However, if that is all your players are practicing against, then what happens when you face an option-rushing attack like Navy's?
I have the answer: See the scoreboard from the Notre Dame-Navy Game on Saturday.
Sure, T'eo is a great linebacker, and so are the Smiths, but if they don't recognize the option, then they can't make the proper corrections to defend against it.
On top of that, if you're telling them to blitz almost all the time, which I saw plenty of, then what happens when they run the option, as they did, to the outside? I'll tell you, they get first downs and, subsequently, touchdowns.
It also doesn't help that you announce to the world that you're going to run a new blitz-style defense, and, then, do just that on almost every defensive play!
This was stated in numerous press interviews to the South Bend Tribune and other reporters throughout the sports world, including sports columnists from the Chicago Tribune, prior to the start of last season.
Why is it that Charlie is the one footing the blame for most of this? Well, I honestly do not know.
I think, I'd like to hear from Jack Swarbrick on why we insist on retaining coordinators that have proven that they're not up to the task of running (what should be) a consistently BCS-worthy football program. It's not like we're requiring them to get good grades in school, which is one reason why Notre Dame doesn't get some of the top recruits.
Nobody can deny that Notre Dame has one of the most prolific passing attacks in the country. With the likes of Jimmy Clausen at the helm, Michael Floyd on one side, Golden Tate on the other, and Kyle Rudolph up the middle (which is the one question I still have for Charlie), there's no reason why we shouldn't be lighting up our side of the scoreboard, while keeping the other side dark, and winning these games.
Unless, of course, we are giving up way too many inexcusable yards and points to our opponents.
What happened to the team that shut out Nevada (the team with a chance to knock Boise State off of their high horse and make the BCS right, or as right as it can be) in the beginning of the season?
The problem is also consistency. And, Notre Dame's defense has none.
As shown by the fourth quarter points scored by our opponents who, in the case of our losses, have managed to put us away later in the game. In the losses to USC and Michigan, we were outscored in the second half, unable to keep the ball rolling, er, stop it from rolling.
The Navy game was the exception where they consistently put up points against our D for the entire game. They scored, in quarters 1-2-3-4, 7-7-7-2, respectively. That is what comes from a consistent rushing attack, and, I guess, a tired offensive line allowing a safety.
So, are we going to put our tail between our legs and saunter away, only to return next year, ranked higher than we should be, listening to Lou Holtz talk about how Notre Dame's going to the National Championship? Or, will Jon Tenuta finally wake up, smell the grass (not that kind), take the reins, and teach these kids how in the world to defend what used to be, and still is in many cases, as Navy has proved, one of the best offensive styles in college football? Aside from that, will he learn that his mega-blitz defense just isn't going to work anymore?
I, for one, am very afraid of our remaining games. Yes, our schedule is much harder than originally anticipated. But, I thought we were supposed to be one of the best teams in the country this year. So far, if we play the way we did last Saturday against Navy, I can easily see us ending up 6-6 if we're not careful.
As for right now, the secret's out: You want to beat Notre Dame? Run the Option!
Let's pull our heads out of you-know-where, get in the game a knock off Pitt this coming weekend. For crying out loud this is Notre Dame Football!
And, yes, I await your comment about how Notre Dame sucks. And, to you, I ask, what team do you claim, and why you aren't more focused on their articles and message boards?
***All statistics cited in this article are direct from Georgia Tech's Athletic Archives online. Freely accessible to anyone.