More than anything else Notre Dame has to believe it’s going to beat Michigan and by beat them I’m not talking about three points. Notre Dame has to feel they should win this game by ten and not let up for one minute. This isn’t just Michigan, it’s a statement game for the Irish. Notre Dame is still young and inexperienced and very inexperienced in playing well. You can learn a lot from constant beatings, but you certainly don’t learn to play well with consistency.
Notre Dame has three straight games of learning which should be taking hold by now. While I was definitely disappointed by Saturday’s performance against an out manned San Diego State team, I don’t believe it was the harbinger of ills that many saw it to be.
The salient question to me is whether the last game looked like last year. And for the most part, the answer was no. Most of our problems were turnovers (I’ll get into the others later.) One happened when Hughes leg was bent back (and was an iffy call.) Another happened when Clausen’s rifle bounced off Kamara’s chest. The third happened when Clausen misread the coverage and threw the fade to Kamara when the play called for him to look right. The last when happened when Allen got jacked by a defender. For a fast back, he takes too many head on hits and could have broken that run to the outside (have I said this before?)
There were major differences between Saturday and last year, beginning with Jimmy Clausen. Clausen didn’t throw many bad passes on Saturday. He did miss some reads, but it’s hard to know what was where in the progression. Everyone opined about Clausen’s interception in the end zone and as Charlie mentioned, it was Clausen’s misread of the coverage, but also Kamara's failure to hustle. Hence the expletive after talking to Charlie. BTW, I like that he cusses and cares. Polite and ass-whooped is no way to go through life son.
The offensive line was better than at any time last year. We were blowing people off the hastily reconstructed line on some plays, but not without breakdowns. Still, not one sack on the day.
Sergio Brown was beat on one touchdown, but otherwise became a force for the Irish. Notre Dame needs players like Sergio to turn into game changers.
Our DBs played extremely well.
Our tackling was measurably improved.
Three of our four Special Teams played well, which should allow us to focus on the kicking game.
Golden Tate emerged as a play maker and Floyd is already showing why many think he should be starting now.
Our defense line showed little ability to pressure the quarterback without help. And this was against a suspect offensive line.
Our backs did not see running lanes and left yards on the table. If I were Haywood I’d make Allen break runs outside. I don’t think either is an elite back or even in the very good category yet though both have potential.
Not a good game for Duval Kamara and some lazy plays over all from the wide receiver corps.
Rudolph appears one dimensional at Tight End and is a blocking liability. I don't understand playing Rudolph yet unless Yeatman can't block.
In sum, those don't look at all like the same strengths and weaknesses that we had last year. This is a different team. They had their one game of preseason. It's cliche, but now Notre Dame has to raise the level of play to a different plane and become the team it will be for the next few years.
It's time for this team to believe it's a top 15 team and forget the last year. The Irish have made significant strides to this point, but they're not going to get anywhere on Saturday unless they start believing in themselves.
To get there, you gotta believe. Right Lou?