I know there are Snowflakes threads but sometimes a night of "sleep" (Read: Angrily passing out) helps to clarify a loss like that and I have some taeks that I am going to throw out here to help me process it and hopefully generate some rational discussion after the typical fan base rage-out on the night of.
On a dong-punch scale, last night was like a 6. It sucks to lose, and it really sucks to lose to ND, but if you are going to lose, lose early, and make it to a ranked team while you are at it. It may be that this team is not very good, it may also be that it ran into a buzzsaw in the first half last night and will actually be quite good. In any case, a loss like this is not a "season ender." Just keep your radio off of local sports talk for the next couple of weeks and it will relatively easy to move from this one relatively easily. As far as the WTF was that odds and ends go:
1. Notre Dame looked pretty good. I really like their receivers and their defense was stellar everywhere. I was also taken aback by their team speed. We seemed a step behind them all the time even when our coaches had diagnosed something correctly on either side of the ball. I know it is early but I think ND is going to make some relevant noise this season.
2. I am really not a fan of the "defense was it usual dominant self, just look at the drive chart" narrative. In the MSU, PSU games from last year, and the game last night, our defense got gashed during the "money" stages of the game. Our defensive ends are over-pursuing in the backfield to a "lol omg" extent and good coaches are eating our lunch. It does not say anything about our defense when opposing offenses shut things down with big leads because they know we can't score on them. We have some really good players on defense but good coaches have the scheme downloaded and Brown needs to make some tweaks. He puts way to much pressure on the secondary to be in flawless position all the time and they simply can't be. Sometimes it is enough to keeps things in front of you. We are constantly vulnerable to back-breaking big chunk plays and they are increasingly looking routine against us. Kelly worked Brown last night in the first half. (I will note, there will come a time when every moonball thrown by an opposing QB doesn't land heartbreakingly right in the hands of a falling down receiver).
3. I disagree with any take that calls our players out for being "entitled" and playing "soft." This "we don't play with a chip on our shoulder" is non-sense. Our players are giving 110% on every play and wanted that game badly, almost too much. Which brings me to this point. What I see out of our players is a noticeable lack of discipline. I know it is hard to believe, but there are fans of other teams who don't have to hold off on celebrating a 3rd down stop until they look around frantically to see if there is a flag. Plays like Bush PF against State last year, Winovich last night, the multiple roughing the kickers that have cost us dearly in the last 3 years. These plays cannot and should not happen. Since Harbaugh took over, we have been handing teams gifts in the form of crushing penalties at key times. Under Harbaugh, we seem to be drastically lack mental discipline and that is very surprising to me. If anything, I thought that Harbaugh was very detail oriented by these teams are anything but that.
4. Unless our offensive line drastically improves, I am not sure what any QB we have can do. We don't get consistent push to run the ball and the QBs are immediately under pressure from everywhere. Patterson looked pretty good but the kid can't work miracles. Half the time he was not even getting time to make one read.
4. On a lighter note, McCaffrey looked pretty damn good in a very difficult spot. Nico Collins looked the part. I liked the read option and RPO stuff early. The team collectively got swarmed and was kind of scrambling after the first quarter so to a large extent we went away from it, but I would like to see more of that going forward.
TL;DR - Everybody has tomorrow off so we get an extra day to drink this one away. Cheers. Go Blue.