Prior to the season, Irish faithful were expecting big things from Notre Dame. These kids who had been playing since they were true freshmen are now upperclassmen and expected to perform like it.
On offense, they haven't disappointed. Led by Jimmy Clausen, this unit is on pace to be one of the best offenses in school history. Clausen has yet to throw an interception and has thrown for 951 yards with nine TDs. His rating is 188.6.
Although Michael Floyd was lost last week, there are still plenty of weapons like Golden Tate, Armando Allen, and Kyle Rudolph. Also, the line is light years better than they were the last two years.
You would think that with an offense like this, head coach Charlie Weis would have restored his reputation as an offensive guru and his job would be safe.
Unfortunately, that is not the case at all. For Weis, the seat is as hot as it has ever been.
As great as the offense has been, the defense has been very disappointing. After an impressive shutout against Nevada, this unit has really gone downhill against Michigan and Michigan State. They gave up a ton of points to both of them. The Irish were unable to hold a lead against Michigan and barely held on against Michigan State.
Realistically, with this offense Notre Dame should be 3-0. As it stands, they are 2-1 because of the defense. I mean no disrespect to Michigan, but Notre Dame's experienced defense should be able to stop an offense led by a true freshman with the game on the line.
The part that is sad is they do have good players. Guys like Brian Smith and Robert Blanton are definitely legitimate college players. Kyle McCarthy is a leader. They also have youth in guys like Manti Te'o. There really is no reason why this unit can't get it done with the players they have.
This unit does not look well coached at all. They miss tackles and commit bad penalties. Well-coached defenses don't do that.
Also, this idea of blitzing on every play just isn't working. The point of a blitz is to catch an offense off guard. The element of surprise is gone if you blitz this frequently. Good offensive lines will pick it up, and the quarterback is more prepared. This really leaves your secondary with no margin of error. That is tough.
If this defense doesn't fix things and fix them now, Weis knows he will likely be looking for a job. They can't get in shootouts every week. Generally with shootouts, whoever has the ball last wins. That means the Irish win half of them, and that isn't good enough.
So what does Weis do about this?
Put yourself in his shoes. On one hand, you know that you are really an offensive-minded coach, so you should let defensive decisions be made by defensive coaches. At the same time, these guys who you hired to build this defense are clearly not getting the job done. These guys could get you fired.
This is really a tough spot to be in. If you start to focus more on the defense, that really takes away from time you spend with the offense. You know that defense is not your area of expertise but you will be looking for a job if the defense doesn't turn it around and turn it around now.
What would you do?