Observations from the USF-Notre Dame Game

Submitted by hart20 on September 4th, 2011 at 4:02 PM

While I wasn't watching the Michigan game yesterday, I spent my time watching the ND game. I talked a ND friend who watched the whole ND game, and I thought I'd post some observations from USF-ND.



1.      Notre Dame Offense

a.       Crist was horrible.  He was late on throws and he just wasn’t accurate. His interception was completely on him, the ball was thrown way behind the receiver.  He was pulled at halftime.  He was 7/15 for 95 yards with 1 pick.

b.      Rees was better than Crist, but not that much better. He was 24/34 for 296 yards, with 2 TDs and 2 picks. His 2nd TD came on when the game was pretty much in hand.  I’d expect Rees to start next weekend.

c.       Cierre Wood (RB) was good. 21 carries for 104 yards, his first time going over 100 yards in 14 games.  3 receptions for 44 yards too.

d.      According to my ND friend, Wood’s back up, Jonas Gray, was horrible. Gray’s stats: 4 carries for 17 yards. He also had a fumble on the goal line that went back for 6.

e.       ND’s O-line let everything through. ND was only sacked 2 times, but it felt like USF was getting pressure at will. My ND friend said that the left side was good but the right side sucked. Look for blitzes to the right side next week.

f.       Michael Floyd was amazing. 12 receptions, 154 yards, 2 TDs. Although the second TD came with the game pretty much in hand. Still that stat line is amazing. He was double covered most of the night too. He’s definitely going to give us trouble next week. Although last year we held him to only 51 yards receiving.

g.       TJ Jones (WR) comes in on rotation, TE goes out he comes in. He’s average. Not going to kill us, but you still have to watch out for him.

h.      Theo Riddick (WR, PR) sucked at everything. He dropped passes, he muffed punts. I think we’ll see someone else returning punts for ND next week.

i.        Eifert (TE) was above average. He dropped some passes, but he had some good catches too. 6 receptions, 93 yards. He’s definitely not Rudolph, but he’s still a threat. I’d say he’s definitely the #2 receiving threat on ND.

2.      Notre Dame Defense

a.       They had some trouble with BJ Daniels, a mobile QB. There were some times he scrambled 5, 6 yards to pick up the first. If it was Denard scrambling on those plays, he could have easily gone for 20.

b.      The zone defense was exploited. There were some holes in the zone. ND friend said it was on the DC, not the players.

c.       ND’s run D was nothing special. They only allowed 3.0 yards a carry, and 126 yards rushing but I think if you looked at rushing outside of the red zone, YPC would jump up. It felt like USF was running the ball for 4, 5 yards outside the red zone but once they got in the red zone, they were stopped.

d.      The Pass D couldn’t stop the out routes. USF had their way with ND on out routes.

e.       The Pass D also gave up no long balls, the longest USF reception was 18 yards.

f.       My ND friend said that Te’o was the best defensive player, but that he didn’t play very well.

g.       My ND friend said the D line was not good enough to stop the run until they got to the goal line, and on passing downs they didn’t get much penetration.


3.      Notre Dame Special Teams

a.       Missed a 30 yard field goal. Their kicker was 18 of 19 last year, so I expect that it was the weather. I’m betting he’ll be better next week.

b.      The punting was terrible. The kicker average 34 yards on the night, but he had a couple of punts around 23 yards each.

c.       The punt returning was not good. 2 punt returns, 2 muffed punts. One was lost, the other recovered for negative yards. Like I said, I expect them to have a different PR next week.

d.      KRs nothing special. Return of about 25 yards each time.

e.       KR and PR coverage was decent. No big plays, but no bad plays either.


4.      Notre Dame Problems

a.       ND friend said offense moved well with Cierre Wood in, and when passes weren’t dropped. The turnovers, 5 of them, killed the offense and lost the game.

b.      The defense was not as good as last year. Out routes killed them. Holes in zone exploited.

c.       The biggest problem was the turnovers. They gave the USF offense great field position. ND had almost double the yardage of USF, but that was because USF probably started close to the 50 yard line most of the time.

d.      Penalties.  8 penalties for 73 yards. And they were bad, really stupid penalties too. Pass interference and late hits.


5.      Brian Kelly is a major douche bag.

a.       I know this was already covered earlier, but damn! Before I hated Brian Kelly because he was ND’s coach, now I hate Brian Kelly because he’s Brian Kelly.

b.      My ND friend refuses to see it though, I tried everything to show him the light, but to no avail.

c.       Him being an asshole like that is going to come back and bite him in the ass.

d.      I really like this line from MGoBlog user Yeoman, ”…but I think the fundamental difference is that when Bo yelled at you it was because you'd let down your teammates. When Kelly yells it's because you've let down Brian Kelly.”


6.      My ND friend on Damefan’s blog: “This shit is weird.”


I think that covers most of it. The players on ND's offense to watch for next week are definitely Michael Floyd and Cierre Wood. On ND' s defense, Manti Te'o. If you disagree with something, if I'm wrong about something, or if I missed something let me know so I can fix it or add it.

I think UTL will be a close game, but I think that we'll win. We'll see a lot of blitzes to the right of ND's line, and most of their yards will come from the air. I think we'll be able to run it fairly well and that Denard will be able to get some long scrambles on both broken plays and designed plays. A significant amount of our yards will come from the air, if I had to guess.

 I called USF to beat ND, and I'm calling their final record to be 8-4. I'm predicting us to go 10-2, for what it's worth.


Edit: Sorry for the crappy indentation. When I go to fix it, everything is still properly indented.



September 4th, 2011 at 4:11 PM ^

Thanks for posting this. I did not get to see any of the ND game since I had to take my wife to the docs around halftime of our game.

Very nice break down of thier weaknesses


September 4th, 2011 at 4:18 PM ^

Good job.  Diary worthy.

ND did move the ball though.  They had a ton of yards, but were killed by turnovers.  USF was opportunistic and took advantage.  I don't think I would say that USF would consistently beat ND if they played again.

I hope Woolfolk is healthy bacause Floyd is a terror.  We did not stop Carder-White with our secondary, we did it with blitz pressure.  That makes me nervous.  If a team can pick up those blitzes, we're very exposed.

That being said, that has to be our game plan.  Our secondary is what it is . . . it needs help.  Rees is a rythm guy, he gets erratic when disrupted.  We have to pressure him early and switch assignments to cover the inevitable screens and draws.  At this, GMAT appears to be light years ahead of GERG.



September 4th, 2011 at 9:09 PM ^

we should be able to get pressure on the blitzes. Their line really did not look that great. But if we don't get any pressure, then.....well I don't want to think about it. We need some more pressure generated from our D-line too. If they're able to step it up this week, I'll feel a lot better.


September 4th, 2011 at 4:18 PM ^

pretty good assessment.  it can't be overstated how bad the turnovers hurt them - they were really moving the ball in the beginning, and to have 2 red zone turnovers, one returned for a touchdown, killed them.  and riddick was an unmitigated disaster, whitley style.

but i dont think we can count on them making the same mistakes.  if they clean up the mental errors we'll have a tough time defending them.  here's to hoping that the emotion of the game, combined with the douchebaggery of kelly, causes them to be unfocused on saturday


September 4th, 2011 at 4:22 PM ^

USF played an extremely conservative game plan on offense for much of the game (probably on defense too).  I remember very few (if any) downfield throws or anything over the middle.  Lots of outs and simple running plays.

ND gave them the early lead with the fumble return, then they drove down the field on their first three drives.  All ended in field goals (at least twice Holtz passed up going for it on 4th and short).  Then they really sat on the ball until ND started to mount a comeback.  ND scored to make it 16-7 midway through the third and then drove it into the red zone again before Rees threw a pick.  On the ensuing drive USF went 80+ yards for a game clinching TD.

I think the yardage difference really reflects the fact that USF only had to make a few plays to win the game and knew it.

blue note

September 4th, 2011 at 5:25 PM ^

I watched the replay on NBC

On those 3 FG drives, USF only got about 30 yards each. One was a 50 yard FG and the oter two were set up in ND territory by short punts.

USF did a great job playing conservatively and holding on to the ball - 0 turnovers. That was their offense all day.


September 4th, 2011 at 6:20 PM ^

I thought the game was over after ND scored their first TD and then drove the length of the field again before throwing an interception.  I thought about switching the channel because I didn't want to see a comeback win by 2 points and then have to listen to ND players and fans say, "The game was never in doubt.  We knew we would win."

But that 80 yard TD drive by USF that followed made me decide to watch until the very end. 

Unfortunately, I don't expect ND to turn the ball over 5 times next week so our guys better be ready for a dog fight. 



September 4th, 2011 at 4:27 PM ^

and I think your assessments are great.  In re: to Floyd, I think that guy is going to go absolutely crazy next week against us.  To the degree that I will feel like we "shut him down" if he goes for less than 150 yards and 2 TDs.  Seriously, that guy is the biggest mismatch nightmare we will face this season and probably next season as well.  I'm not much for hyperbolic comments, but that dude is probably the biggest bad ass hombre* in college football this year.

Thankfully for us, Brian Kelly is constantly working on head assplosion a la "Scanners" so maybe he forgets to throw that kid the ball.

* Not named Denard Robinson


September 4th, 2011 at 4:26 PM ^

I think the UTL game will come down to the same things that almost all games do.

If we win the TO battle, don't give up big plays, avoid penalties, etc we win the game. If we can't do those things ND takes it.

USF almost blew the game yesterday by jumping offsides on a FG attempt and giving ND a new life in the redzone. I think Rees followed with a pick, but still. 

Fortuantely for us, ND has already shown to be undisciplined and mistake prone. If we are lucky they will play tight, leading to more mistakes.

However, its also possible that they come out focused and determined and play extremely well.

I can tell you one thing. It is going to be LOUD and CRAZY in the Big House next Saturday. And that obviously favors us in every conceivable way.  

Jesus Quintana

September 4th, 2011 at 4:28 PM ^

Great post. 

I cannot believe ND's administration has not approached Kelly yet about his treatment of the players in practice and during games. I remember watching a few ND games last season where Kelly was berating his players. I honestly believe this will be Kelly's undoing.

Section 1

September 4th, 2011 at 4:31 PM ^

I was too busy getting rained on yesterday to see a single play of USF vs. WhatsTheirName.  So this is a welcome report.

Sounds like Michigan could win next week, 67-65 in 3OT.  As a Michigan Man, I'd be so proud of Hoke and his staff, to come away with a win like that.

Section 1

September 4th, 2011 at 5:43 PM ^

I hope we win one, 67-65, in 3OT.  Again.  I hope it happens this year.  I thought that was a glorious day last year.  One of the prettiest days of the fall, by the time the game was over.  (Started out a little cloudy.)  I had fun.  These guys had some fun too:

It's such a win-win-win, if that were to happen again.  A Michigan win; a thrilling 3OT; and oh that other thing too.

I'm not saying it will happen.  I'm just saying that I'd seriously, honestly love to see it happen.  People like you would have to figure out how to be happy, or not happy, with another Michigan win.  You'd be free to choose whatever you want.  You could root for Sparty that week if you wanted.


September 4th, 2011 at 6:17 PM ^

Giving up 65 to Illinois is not Michigan football, nor should it be.  I was ecstatic with the win, if only because it was a *rare* B10 win in the Rich Rod era.  I was not ecstatic with wide open wheel routes at three separate points in the game, no one within 10 yards of receivers.  So to each his own I guess, but I would rather be competent on all sides of the ball than ever have another debacle like that.


September 4th, 2011 at 6:32 PM ^

"MIchigan football" is in the eye of the beholder.  If you are yearning for the days of Bo when rosters had 115 schollies and only a few teams got on TV, so Michigan could say "here we are, try and stop us" to everyone except OSU and USC, and run a bunch of plays up the middle, wake up.  It ain't gonna happen.

What's really funny is that if Borges does what  most people think he will do, it won't resemble what the drones see as "Michigan football" at all.  Since Bo took over, MIchigan has mostly been run-based; the WCO is pass-based.  It will just look more like the "Michigan football" stereotype to the masses because it isn't the spread.  

If you think the WMU game provided ND game tape with more than about forty percent of what they plan to do, you are sadly mistaken.   I hope Kelly is expecting to see "Michigan football," too.


September 4th, 2011 at 6:46 PM ^

Whatever people think Michigan football is, terrible D probably isn't on most of their lists.  That was my point.  I never said anything about the offense, so I'm not sure why you assume I want them to run the football between the tackles on every play. 

Section 1 wants every game to be a 100 point shootout, and that's fine for him, but I would rather see inferior teams such as Illinois and Toledo get blown out of the water by our suffocating D and prolific O. 

EDIT: By the way, I was only alive for Bo's last season as head coach, so I'm certainly not "yearning" for those days.  I'm just yearning for the days when people respected us.  Beating Illinois 67-65 will not earn us much respect.

Section 1

September 4th, 2011 at 7:52 PM ^

Section 1 wants every game to be a 100 point shootout...

I never said that.  What I said was that I wanted it to happen, once, again.  A 67-65 score was a singular once-off event in the last three years; it didn't happen "every game."

I just want it to happen to shut up people like you.  Just once, so that it can be hung around all of the Manball-footbauw necks for all time.


September 4th, 2011 at 8:25 PM ^

Whatever.  I just want to the team to do well, and giving up 65 points doesn't exactly line up with that.  I don't think I said anything MANBALL-ish, except I'm not even sure what that connotation is supposed to mean.  You are obviously not taking away what I intended from my comments, which is probably my fault. 

"People like me" want to win, and want to do so in a fashion that exhibits good fundamentals on all sides of the ball.  I'm concerned about the team, not about proving a point to a perceived other faction of fans.  Seriously, winning 67-65 over a mediocre opponent was not a proud day for UM football, and I can't fathom why you would think so, much less want it to happen again.


September 4th, 2011 at 9:16 PM ^

We didn't really struggle with Western Michigan, and thus we didn't have to show off too much  of our playbook. That gives ND a lot less On the other hand, ND struggled big time and they showed a lot of their playbook off. That has to be great for our coaches to have, in terms of game planning and what not.

Section 1

September 4th, 2011 at 6:26 PM ^

and by the time I got to the restaurant, they had Oregon-LSU on.  I'd have preferred that game in an instant anyway.  I have a healthy mixture of hatred of, and disinterest in, Our Lady of Northern Indiana.  They can do whatever.  Wake me up if another service academy is beating the snot out of them.  U-S-A!  I suppose we have to care this week.  Whatever.

blue note

September 4th, 2011 at 4:34 PM ^

All you really need to take away from the ND-USF game is this:

ND: 508 yds,

USF: 254 yds.

ND: 5 turnovers: 3 in the red zone, one on their own 20, one returned 97 yards for a TD

USF: 0 turnovers

Obviously the turnovers made the difference. This ND team is capable of doing a lot of damage on both O and D.



blue note

September 4th, 2011 at 6:32 PM ^

Nope, actually those totals / TO numbers tell you a lot about those games too.


Miami- ND: Miami was down 30-0 at one point, so a lot of those yards were garbage time. ND yesterday was never down by more than 2 scores, so some of those yards were against a prevent defense, but they weren't against 3rd stringers in garbage time.

Also, 397-422 is a lot different than 254-508


LSU Oregon: LSU has a pretty weak offense. They won that game because of  turnovers and  their D holding Oregon to a relatively low yardage total. That's exactly what those numbers tell you.



September 4th, 2011 at 6:50 PM ^

"Also, 397-422 is a lot different than 254-508 "

Right. But the final scores were a lot different also. The general consensus is that ND dominated Miami; nobody discredits the turnovers. Plus, who cares ND was down by only 16 instead of 17. USF still played conservative on defense, and it worked. They nursed their lead, made ND earn everything they got and buckled down in the red zone. If the game was closer, I'm sure USF would have played with a lot more urgency. The yardage discrepancy is mostly a result of the flow of the game and USF's urgency.

The team playing from behind will generally put up more yards. If you watched the Baylor/TCU game, Baylor took a big lead and then tried to nurse it. TCU quickly came back and took the lead, then voila, Baylor's offense suddenly was able to drive down and score the winning FG.


September 4th, 2011 at 4:53 PM ^

I agree with your assessment of the game, and they may very well go 8-4, but if we go 10-2 it will be the biggest miracle in college football history.  That receiver from Western ate us up (White).  And he's no Floyd.  Our D is awful, with the exception of making some in-game adjustments.  But we can't cover anyone.  It's going to be a long season, again, until our secondary decides to cover receivers.


September 4th, 2011 at 4:54 PM ^

It would be interesting to see the improvements that ND makes for the game next weekend. Usually teams make the biggest jumps in effectiveness from week one to week two. I am expecting Michigan to make some positive adjustments to the defense with alignment and responsibilities in the secondary.


I don't think ND will look as bad next week. What are things they can improve on and what are things that no matter what, it is just a lack of skill, talent, etc.?