Week 4: Notre Dame vs. Michigan State
It was ugly. It was gritty. It was lacking in real offense. It was Notre Dame vs. Michigan State as we’ve learned to know it now. But was it really? Yes, 3 of the last 5 meetings have been decided by a single score or less, but until 2013 Notre Dame had secured victories of 18 and 17 points in 2011 and 2012 respectively. Call me crazy, but with the anemia that Spartan offense was suffering, I expected more from Notre Dame’s scoring output. Nonetheless, lets look at what mattered, and what perhaps didn’t mean as much about the stat line for this game.
Stat of Importance:
MSU Penalty Yards: 10 Penalties for 115 yards
115 yards worth of penalties for the Shartans is too alarming NOT to be the stat of importance. This is where I want to circle back around to my point about Notre Dame’s offensive output. With penalty yardage like that, we EASILY could have scored 30 points if we capitalized on all the breaks we were getting while our offense was on the field. Notre Dame put up 142 yards passing. This coming off Tommy going 14/34, which is a 41% completion rate. Think about this: after our first two possessions our next drives sequentially had MSU called for a holding call against the D, a personal foul penalty, Pass Interference, no penalty, Pass Interference, no penalty, Pass Interference, Pass Interference. Guess how many of those drive yielded touchdowns? Two. This means that NO UNASSISTED DRIVE WE HAD RESULTED IN A NOTRE DAME TOUCHDOWN. The final 4 drives were miraculously on our own power, 3 of which ended in punts, with the final drive ending the game. As a recap: 8 unassisted drives resulted in 3 points, while 6 assisted drives yielded 14. This is pretty sad. Basically if MSU hadn’t shit the bed, we’d probably have lost 13-3. Rees was overthrowing everything, sure, but part of that is play calling. Gotta work on that.
Rushing production: 78 yds rushing, on 32 carries as a team.
That’s pretty damn shitty right? I know what you’re thinking: “Why is this misleading? Our running game is just shit.” Well, if that is your blanket assessment I’m here to tell you you’re wrong. It isn’t just shitty it’s nonexistent. The reasons for this may be plentiful beyond what we fans and onlookers may know. But the most likely culprit is something we’ve all been staring right at all season: NO. LEAD. BACK. Think about being 1/3 of the way through the 2013 season, then remind yourself that including spring practice and fall camp, Notre Dame’s coaching staff apparently still cant tell their asshole from a hole in the ground in terms of tabbing ONE GUY as THE guy. This needs to change. I was pretty adamant on Sunday that Greg Bryant should see more time after hearing Kelly say he has trimmed the running back rotation down to four guys. I was both lobbying for seeing more of what he can do and equally pissed that THERE ARE STILL FOUR GUYS SPLTTING CARRIES. Cam McDaniel has arguably been the most productive back on the team. That much everyone seems to be in agreement on. Amir and George don’t have as much separation between the two, although Amir’s production seems to give him an edge. Atkinson is just an enigma. He doesn’t seem to read cuts properly, he runs tentatively, and falls at the first hint of contact. A “homerun hitter” aint cutting it people. And yet, who starts on Saturday? GAIII. I’m at a loss. Tarean Folston looked decent, although his body of work is still in its infancy. It’s time to release the other freshman, and let Greg Bryant have his shot. Comment below to open this discussion on (A REMINDER) a matter of opinion.