We've heard it before and we'll hear it again—Notre Dame is on the verge of being back.
Entering the 2011 season with some of the highest hopes in the past decade, comparable with those of the '04 and '05 Weis-led teams, the Irish have gotten off to a disheartening 0-2 start.
After an unimpressive showing against South Florida and a dagger-in-the-heart, last-second loss to arch-rival Michigan, the Irish are left scratching their heads, looking for more than a few answers.
Brian Kelly has been stomping around the sidelines, Dayne Crist lost his quarterback duties after just one half of play, and the Irish have committed 10 turnovers in just two contests.
To be frank, Irish fans are left with one question—what the hell is going on?
To be fair, it's not the team that looks unimpressive.
Tommy Rees has played fairly well while stepping into the starting role, Michael Floyd has been Michael Floyd, and the offense seems to be clicking more than last season. In addition, the defensive side of the ball looks strong, as expected.
So, once again—what the hell is going on?
Michigan State vs. Notre Dame?
Football is a game of possession. There is nothing more valuable than holding onto the football longer than the opposition, protecting it well.
As the Irish have proven, you can rack up 500 total yards of offense and look flawless in play-execution, only to cough up the pigskin five yards away from the goal-line.
One mistake and a perfect drive turns into a failed one.
Although the turnovers show a glaring warning sign for this team, it also gives the fans a glimmer of hope. Take away a few of those crucial turnovers, and Notre Dame is 2-0—just like that.
There isn't much doubt in the college football world that the Irish are a good team in 2011. However, they have dug themselves a hole that may only get deeper if the same mistakes continue to be committed.
In what may be their toughest matchup yet, Michigan State rolls into South Bend fresh off a 44-0 drubbing of Florida Atlantic. In their combined two contests, the Spartans have beaten their foes by a score of 72-6.
The Irish need to show up and show up big in this one. If the turnovers and penalties keep being committed, you can chalk this one up as a loss in the book.
Kelly knows what he needs to do and stress to his team, especially after all the recent criticism the second-year head coach has been receiving.
If he can get the message across to them and somehow help them value the football more than ever, this team still has a fighting chance at saving the 2011 season.