Another Saturday, another example of Notre Dame playing down to an inferior opponent. Unlike last week however, the Irish could not escape with the win. Notre Dame fell to the Pitt Panthers 28-21 on Saturday night in what can only be described as a completely embarrassing performance in all facets of the game. With the loss, the Irish fall to 7-3 and have been eliminated from the BCS bowl discussion. Notre Dame is now destined to play in a very low tier bowl game against, most likely, a horrible opponent. A Notre Dame loss always hurts, but the loss last night especially stings. Not only because its so easy to hate Pitt, but because of how the Irish lost the game and the factors that led to it.
The Irish looked to be rolling early. The defense was finally playing well with the entire starting defensive line on the field at the same time and Pitt was having a lot of trouble moving the ball. Then the hated targeting rule reared its ugly head. Stephon Tuitt was ejected for targeting on a hit against Pitt quarterback Tom Savage that may have been one of the worst calls of targeting all season. Not only was Tom Savage outside the tackle box and was not a defenseless player, he lowered his head which made the hit from Tuitt unavoidable. Now in his post game comments, Brian Kelly stated that losing Tuitt to the ejection was not why the Irish lost the game. While it may not have been THE reason the Irish lost it defiantly was A reason. It was very evident that after Tuitt left the game, the defense was just not the same and Pitt started moving the football. After the promising start, the defense was unable to get any pressure on the quarterback, forced zero turnovers, missed tackles, and had a lot of issues in the secondary.
The Irish offense was just as bad. I talked about this in my preview for this week. The strength of the Pitt defense was their passing defense. Yet for some reason Chuck Martin and the offense decided to commit to the passing game, even when it was not working. Tommy Rees has arguably his worst game of the season last night, completing only 18-38 passing attempts and throwing two awful interceptions which included one from inside the Pitt 5 yard line. Notre Dame effectively gave up on the running game the entire second half of the game. Tarean Folston, who had a breakout game last week against Navy, was only given four carries. Yes I said four. For some reason the coaching staff thought George Atkinson, who has not been running the ball with great effectiveness, needed more carries than Folston. Cam McDaniel was given nine carries, which led the team, but only gained 22 yards.
At the beginning of the year a lot was made of the fact that the entire coaching staff was returning from a year ago. Im not going to lie, I was very excited. However with the season close to its end, a lot is left to be desired. Watching the game last night was really hard. I was scratching my head almost the entire game. The play calling and personnel decisions were just flat out awful. Where was Tarean Folson? Why did Chuck Martin think having Tommy Rees throwing 38 times was a good idea? Why was the running game abandoned in the second half? The coaching staff had probably their worst called game of the season which led to this embarrassing loss on the road.
Bob Diaco had a great year last year. I know this. However the facts of this season can not be ignored. This season, the Irish defense has played far worse than they should regardless of injuries. The last two games especially have left something to be desired. The play calling has been conservative and the personnel groupings have been awful. Chuck Martin is not free from criticism either. His game plan last night, or lack there of one, was horrendous. Notre Dame was never behind by more than 7 points and yet the running game was just forgotten.
What looked to be a possible 10-2 or 9-3 end to the regular season, now looks more like 7-5 or 8-4. The last two games of the season could very easily be losses and it is going to be very interesting to see how this team responds now that the goal of the BCS is gone. Will this team respond and continue to try and improve against two tough opponents? Or will they fold like a cheap tent and end this season in a disappointing fashion. This team has lacked leadership on the field all season, and its been very evident. Its time for someone to step up to try and salvage the season.
Notre Dame falls out of the polls as expected and unless they win out, they will not see the polls again this season.
How on earth is Miami still ranked? A week after being embarrassed by Florida State, the Hurricanes were again embarrassed at the hands of the unranked Virginia Tech Hokies. Miami as no business being ranked. They have not beaten a single good team.
Speaking of teams that should not be ranked, we have LSU sitting at 18th in the polls this week. This is coming off of a curb stomping they just received by Alabama. Oh yea and they have three loses.
Georgia snuck back into the polls this week however I am not quite sure why. They are a measly 6-3 and are not in contention in the SEC East. But hey its an SEC team so I guess that’s why.
1. Jameis Winston
2. Johnny Field Goal
3. Bryce Petty