Notre Dame Optimism: Outlook After Devastating Michigan Loss

Dan Scofield@BleedingGoldAnalyst ISeptember 12, 2010

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 11: Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish waits to enter the field with his team including Armando Allen, Jr. #5, Carlo Calabrese #44 and Ethan Johnson #90 before a game against the Michigan Wolverines at Notre Dame Stadium on September 11, 2010 in South Bend, Indiana. Michigan defeated Notre Dame 28-24. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The pass traveled over the Michigan secondary and into the out-stretched arms of Kyle Rudolph for a 95-yard touchdown catch. The stadium was rocking, Michigan was down, and Brian Kelly was on top of the world.

Then came Denard Robinson. With 27 seconds left on the clock, the one-man team punched in the ball for a touchdown, giving the Wolverines the lead for good, 28-24.

A game that had the feel of the Weis era, felt even worse than the many close losses of 2009. Hopes were up and then crushed within a span of a few minutes.

So where does the program go from here? How does Kelly bounce back from such a loss, something he hasn't had much experience in? How does the team respond under their new leader after a defeat?

Well Irish fans, it's not all bad coming out of this weekend. 

Yes, the backup quarterbacks do not belong on the field of a Division-1 football team. He may be the son of the legend himself, but Nate Montana isn't ready to be the starting quarterback for his father's Alma mater.

Tommy Rees is a true freshman and looked like he had just seen the devil under center.

The secondary still has holes, and the run defense still has plenty of work to do. 

However, all is not bare.

Dayne Crist showed some real maturity leading his team back into the game while only seeing out of the left side of his sight. You could see the huge difference of this team between when he was on the field and when he was on the sideline (and not in the locker room for some reason).

Rudolph showed that he truly is the best tight end in the country. Without him, the Irish offense would have stalled even more and the game would have been over by the third quarter.

He is going to be a special one for the remainder of the year, and if Notre Dame is lucky enough, during his senior season as well.

What else do we take from this loss?

The defense played tough. But playing tough is not always enough. However, they kept this football game a football game while the eye of Crist was healing on the sidelines.

Armando Allen showed some great promise with his toughness as well. Attacking defenders all day with his shoulders and getting the extra yards. This team has plenty of flaws, but it's toughness is not one--something Weis teams were known for.

And for you recruitniks, Kelly was able to save the weekend by picking up two huge commitments from a set of twins under the name "Atkinson", the sons of former Raider George Atkinson. Josh and George are both athletes that the Irish seriously need in order to get to that top notch of football we were so use to seeing in the past.

It may have been a heart-breaking, momentum-killing loss. On top of that, it was to Michigan, one of the biggest rivals in program history.

However, week three is ahead. All is not lost, and you know Kelly will have his boys ready to go for battle next weekend.

He just needs to expell the Ghosts of Weis.