Saturday, November 14, 2009

It wasn't as close as the score indicated

The Fighting Irish extended to ten their streak of consecutive losses to ranked opponents, falling to the Pittsburgh Panthers 27-22 despite a furious 4th quarter rally that was prematurely terminated by a bogus instant replay reversal which turned an incomplete Clausen pass under pressure into a game-deciding lost fumble. We'll never know if the Irish would have overcome the 4th-and-16 they faced after the incomplete pass, but it certainly would have been nice to have had the final outcome of the game decided by the players on the field rather than in the replay booth by some anonymous officials. Did anybody happen to hear what conference those officials were from?

The loss drops Notre Dame to 6-4 on the season, and means the best regular season finish the Irish can hope for is 8-4, which would require wins over Connecticut (probable) and a Stanford team that beat Oregon last week and humiliated the Southern California Trojans today (not so probable).

Prior to the season I wrote, after a lengthy analysis of the team's prospects:

For me, 9 wins is what the Irish "should" achieve in 2009, all things being equal. If they earn less than nine wins, they have under achieved and only a very, very nice Bowl win would bring Coach Weis back in 2010. If they manage to win ten games, they will have beaten the odds in my view, and the extra win would have to be credited to Coach Weis who will have earned the chance to stay on as coach. If they win eleven or twelve, that would be a superior job of coaching and you'll need dynamite (or another year like 2007) to dislodge Charlie from the Gug.
So, even if the Irish win their final two games, they clearly have under-achieved against what I considered to be very reasonable expectations for 2009.

I admit I have a headache tonight. Once again the team fought hard and mounted a comeback and took a game into the final minutes. That has been their style this year. In ten games played, two have been very comfortable wins (Nevada and Washington State). The remaining eight games have all come down to the final minutes or even the final seconds. Four of those games have gone Notre Dame's way, and four have gone the other way. This team is seriously a handful of plays from being 10-0, and another handful of plays from being 2-8. It is maddening.

If the Irish had managed to score on the final drive tonight and win the game it would have been very exciting and it would have been an important win over a ranked opponent (finally!). But it would have been a win achieved despite the fact that ND was out-played in just about every phase of the game.

Notre Dame had 66 net rushing yards to Pitt's 193. The Irish averaged 2.6 yards per rush to Pitt's 6.0 yards.

While ND had more net passing yards (283 to 236), the Irish only averaged 6.7 yards per attempt and 10.5 yards per completion. The Panthers averaged 8.7 yards per attempt and 15.7 yards per completion.

Pitt averaged 7.3 yards per offensive play versus 5.2 yards per play for ND.

The Irish were penalized 5 times for 53 yards, Pitt was penalized ONCE for just 5 yards.

Notre Dame threw one interception and lost one fumble. Pitt had zero turnovers.

Notre Dame had one PAT attempt blocked, and failed on a later 2-pt conversion attempt. Pitt was 3-for-3 on PATs.

On the bright side, Notre Dame had one touchback on a kick-off, and finally had a punt return for a touchdown. It's about damn time.

The loss will only intensify swirling speculation about Coach Weis' future. I wrote at length after the Navy loss about my feelings on the matter. Yet another disappointing loss certainly doesn't change my mind that Notre Dame should give someone else a chance to lead this team. I would expect Jack Swarbrick is busily (but quietly) putting out feelers and gauging the interest level of potential replacements. Jack may like Charlie on a personal level, but he is running out of options. Weis was not his hire, but if he doesn't act to replace Coach Weis he is going to find that his tenure as Athletic Director will be bound up with a football coach hired by Kevin White. I rather expect Jack would be more comfortable sinking or swimming with a coach of his choosing rather than a coach of Kevin White's choosing.


Dekom said...

At this point it can be said that Weis is very good at creating passing game outside the opponents' red zone. His methods have poor results in the red zone, he has yet to build a running game, the defense is miserable and the special teams give up more yards and points than they get. So CW is basically one dimensional, which does not a good coach make. He's a wonderful man, a fine humanitarian, but not a head coach.

roland said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clay said...

I agree, Dekom. I would just add that we have a veteran offensive line whose best efforts can be described only as mediocre, and that this team is HIGHLY penalized. Weis himself admits that false starts at home and procedure penalties are inexcusable. Oy.

The amount of talent that has been squandered this season is unbelievable. Realistically, we have four first round draft picks on offense: Clausen, Tate, Floyd and Rudolph. Four legit first rounders! FOUR. How many teams can say that? How many four loss teams can say that? That's without even mentioning the guys that will probably end up in the NFL--Sam Young, Trevor Robinson, Armando Allen. If the OL was playing slightly better than bad, we'd probably be a good team.

It's not like we have a bunch of slouches on D, either. We have several guys in our secondary who are highly likely to play on Sundays? Have Darrin Walls, Raeshon McNeil and R.J. Blanton forgotten how to cover? Probably not. The Defensive scheme is probably just a train wreck.

I agree with your thoughts, OC. I too supported Weis until the Navy loss. At the least the guy has worked hard and, ultimately, left the program in a better position than he found it. Why does everyone talk about Gruden so much? Why do we want another offensive guy from the NFL? I know Gruden has been a HC and has won a Super Bowl, but he's too similar to Weis. Also, can anyone see Gruden recruiting? I'm really starting to warm up to the idea of Brian Kelly. Or Chris Peterson from Boise State. He's done an excellent job there. I don't know why people say they would want someone with more big conference coaching experience. I think all we're looking for is someone who has had success as a college HC. Urban Meyer (I think he's scum but hear me out) had no "big conference" experience, but look at the success he's had a UF. The point is that he had success at every level. Just like Kelly--he dominated at the DII level, then dominated in the MAC, now he's dominating in the Big East. Urban Meyer had a similar career path before going to UF. "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much...."


Jack said...

Notre-Dame covered for for the first time this season. Brent Musburger said everyone is trying to analyze what is wrong with this team instead of what is right about this team.. amen

Anonymous said...

Charlie's team is: Inept, Disfunctional, Soft, and just plain Bad.

PITT should have blow ND out, if not for Tate who made the score more respectable in the end.

Watching the game in the first game, this team is just clueless.

I strongly believe Sam Young and his buddy left tackle should NOT be drafted.

They are both horrible and weak, often getting dominated, especially Young, it's just pathetic.

We need to go out there and find a real coach, one that can motivate & make adjustments.
Look what Alabama did, just one great hire, and they are championship contender now.
I don't care Meyer and Saban are snakes, if we want to be back on top,then we need to go out there to complete for the best coach & be willing to pay the best.

Until then, we are "F---ed" with Charlie the longer we keep him.
Does anyone realize PITT & ND are going in opposite direction right now.

Mr. Swarbick:

What's taking so long, u need to take action now, so the new coach would have more time trying to
keep the current recruits, and work on the new ones

dream choice: Meyer (but he's not coming)

1st choice: Kelly
2nd choice: Chris Peterson

Dekom said...

Right on, Clay.

I DO think Urban is a realistic possibility, worth a major raise, and is, at the least, worth having a meeting. However I would be pleased to have Boise or Bearcat. If Swarbrick wanted to go outside the box, I'd say Coach Jags, formerly of BC. Gruden would be a horrible idea.

Anonymous said...

ND was completel homered at michigan and pitt. ONE penalty on pitt the whole game!! The chop block call was ridiculous. When the cut block occurred, the pitt player was not engaged with another lineman, he fell into somebody. Simply awful, and it turned the game. How it this Charlie's fault? Is the pitiful punting Charlie's fault? The schedule was MUCH tougher than anyone thought....Nevada is 7-3 and just blew out Fresno, who took Wisconsin to OT. Navy is good and played fantastic football against ND. Don't let John 'ND is racist' Saunders decide who should coach ND.

Sorin Otter