Postmortem: Notre Dame vs. Michigan State

Despite a “back to training camp” mentality in practice this week, Charlie Weis’s Fighting Irish came up short yet again this week, falling to 0-4 for the first time in Notre Dame’s illustrious history. Here’s my analysis of what went wrong (and, occasionally, right)


The turning pointLooking back at a game like this - so close through the first half, then out of hand so quickly - the question of what went wrong is a natural one. The answer, though, is quite obvious: just take a look at the first two drives of the second half.

The trouble started when ND’s opening kickoff of the second half was returned 52 yards to the Irish 45 yard line. It took MSU less than three minutes to march down the remainder of the field on a drive that included two long completions on 3rd-and-9 and 3rd-and-17 respectively, topped off by a 16-yard touchdown pass to Mark Dell that increased the Spartan lead to 24-14.

The next nail was driven in on ND’s very next drive. After an 18-yard rush by James Aldridge to the ND 42, the Irish picked up eight more yards on their next two plays and faced 3rd-and-2 from their own 50. But Aldridge and Robert Hughes were stopped short on consecutive carries, and the Irish turned the ball over to MSU at midfield.

The Spartans scored again two drives after this last big stop, to make the score 31-14, and the Irish didn’t complete another first down until the game’s final drive, long after the outcome was no longer in doubt.


By the numbers

In lieu of a lot of amateurish analysis of such things as blocking schemes, missed tackles, and so on, I’ve pored over the box score to find a few statistics that I think are especially helpful in encapsulating today’s game from the ND perspective. The good

  • With 18 carries for 104 net yards, sophomore James Aldridge became the first ND tailback to break the century mark this year. Aldridge and fellow underclassmen Robert Hughes (6 rushes, 33 yards, 1 TD) and Armando Allen (3 rushes, 13 yards) totaled 150 rushing yards between them, with an average of 5.6 yards/rush.
  • Maurice Crum Jr. led the Irish with 16 total tackles (6 solo, 10 assisted). David Bruton was next with 15 (8 solo), followed by Trevor Laws with nine (all assisted, as well as a fumble recovery) and Joe Brockington with seven (3 solo). It was nice to see Crum have such a solid week after being so quiet in the UM game.
  • Freshmen Kerry Neal - a sack, a batted pass, and two hits on the quarterback - and Brian Smith - three tackles, one for a loss - had solid games and showed a lot of energy. Look to see even more of them against Purdue. Fellow frosh Ian Williams - four tackles, one solo, from his DT position - also played well once again.

The bad

  • Jimmy Clausen - 7-of-13 passing for only 53 yards and a fumble - had a really tough day. In his postgame press conference, Weis made it clear that the decision to pull Clausen in favor of Evan Sharpley near the start of the fourth quarter was not based on Clausen’s poor play or on a desire to “protect” the prized freshman, but was motivated by the fact that ND had to start passing the ball more and Sharpley was more experienced and so better equipped to run a “two-minute”-type of offense.
  • Wideouts George West - three catches for 25 yards - and David Grimes - three catches, two of them really difficult ones, for 24 yards - both had decent days, given how quiet ND’s passing game was. But even given the continuing struggles of the offensive line, it’s hard to see how a large part of the burden for ND’s lethargic air attack doesn’t fall on the inability of our wide receivers and tight ends to get open.

The ugly

  • Spartan tailbacks Javon Ringer and Jehuu Caulcrick shredded the Irish defense for 227 yards between them, on 46 carries.
  • The Irish netted only nine total first downs, only three of them coming in the second half. Of those three, two of them came on long runs by James Aldridge in ND’s first two drives, and the last came on the last play of the game, a pass to John Carlson on 4th-and-6.
  • While Spartan QB Brian Hoyer completed only eleven of his 24 passes, those completions went for a total of 135 yards (an average of 12.3 yds/comp) and FOUR touchdowns.

The inexcusablesOne of the biggest problems the Irish have faced over the past few weeks is a tendency for stupid mistakes, bad penalties, and other sorts of errors that are frankly inexcusable for a top-flight team (think Justin Brown getting tossed out of the GT game, Travis Thomas getting into a fistfight against PSU, and so on). Here’s a rundown, based on my own back-of-the-envelope notes, of how ND did in these categories against Michigan State. (The moral in short: not well.)

Going nowhere on the ground

  • The play-by-play shows six rushing plays (sacks not included) for negative yardage, two for no gain, and four for only one yard.

Failing to convert on third- or fourth- and short

  • I marked down two key junctures where this happened: one on ND’s third drive of the game, where Asaph Schwapp got the ball on 3rd-and-1 and was brought down for no gain; and the other, mentioned above, on ND’s first drive of the second half, where Aldridge picked up one yard on 3rd-and-2 and Robert Hughes was then held to no gain on 4th-and-1.

Bad penalties

  • On MSU’s second drive of the game, with ND leading 7-0, Brian Hoyer completed a 25-yard pass to the ND 24 yard line and was clearly pushed to the ground by Trevor Laws. The penalty was marked off half the distance to the goal, and the Spartans scored three plays later.
  • After ND held MSU on their third drive of the game, with the score tied 7-7, MSU punter Aaron Bates sent a kick out of bounds at the ND 17 yard line. Travis Thomas, who has had a remarkable tendency to commit bad penalties this year, was called for holding, and the ball was brought back to the 9.

Old-fashioned mental mistakes

  • On ND’s first drive after the first MSU touchdown, Irish punter Geoff Price dropped the snap and barely managed to get away a 27-yard kick.
  • Inside two minutes to go in the first half, with ND facing 3rd-and-13 from their own 30 yard line, the Irish were called for delay of game.
  • Toward the end of the third quarter, with MSU facing 4th-and-2 from the ND 34 yard line, the Irish were nearly whistled for an illegal substitution but managed to call a timeout beforehand. On the very next play, MSU tight end Kellen Davis blew by a flatfooted Maurice Crum for a 34-yard touchdown catch.
  • Later in the third quarter, Price made yet another mistake, this time a punt that shanked off his foot and sailed out of bounds, for a net of only eleven yards.

Kick coverage

  • We’ve already discussed the opening kick of the second half, which was returned 52 yards to the Irish 45 yard line by MSU’s Devin Thomas. The Spartans were in the end zone less than three minutes later, for a 24-14 lead.
  • In the middle of the third quarter, a 54-yard Geoff Price punt that was caught at the MSU 15 yard line was returned 18 yards. Ten plays and 67 yards later, the Spartan lead stood at 31-14.

Not getting rid of the ball on time

  • Jimmy Clausen seemed to have less of a problem in this area than in weeks past, but there were some times where he still held on for too long when he should have thrown it away. Obviously the key instance of this came near the start of the second quarter, when Clausen ran backwards as the pocket collapsed and had the ball taken right out of his hands by MSU’s Jonal Saint-Dic.

Pass protection

  • ND only gave up four sacks for a total of 32 yards - an improvement after giving up 24 in their first three games, but still not satisfactory.

Injury worriesAny Irish fan whose heart didn’t skip a beat when it looked like John Sullivan might have to leave the game mustn’t have been following the team too carefully. With backup center Dan Wenger out indefinitely with an undisclosed injury, junior walk-on Thomas “The Man, The Myth, The Legend” Bemenderfer was ND’s only remaining center. Thankfully, Sullivan was able to return.

One thing I didn’t see talked about was the fact that defensive end Justin Brown sat out today’s game with an undisclosed injury, with Derrell Hand taking his starting spot. It’s unclear how serious Brown’s injury is and from what I know it wasn’t talked about much before the game, but here’s what Michael Rothstein had to say about it earlier this week:

Justin Brown is looking a little bit hobbled these days. During a running lines drill the Irish typically do, every other player did side steps while Brown lugged along straight ahead. He also stretched with a trainer instead of another player and was doing calf and leg stretching maneuvers while the rest of the Irish were doing other stretches. And he looked very awkward doing so. As another reporter put it, he was the definition of ‘gingerly.’

Yikes. As we all said after the Hand “incident”, the last thing this team needs is a loss of bodies along the defensive line. We’ll have to keep an eye on this one.


In sum, this game was obviously a huge disappointment, though there were signs of improvement - in particular the running game and some signs of life along the offensive line - that give reason for hope. But the things the Irish did wrong - in particular the second straight week of shoddy defense and tackling, a startlingly inept passing game, an inability to pick up crucial first downs on short yardage, a once-again bad job of covering kick returns after an improvement in this area against Michigan, and several key mental mistakes in big spots, not to mention the way things completely derailed after a couple of bad sequences at the start of the second half - give reason to be seriously concerned.Charlie Weis and the rest of the coaching staff have got a lot of work to do. They’re out of free passes at this point.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

125 Responses to “Postmortem: Notre Dame vs. Michigan State”

  1. Golf Training Exercises Says:

    Golf Training Exercises …

    [...]The Irish Roundup » Blog Archive » Postmortem: Notre Dame vs. Michigan State[...]…

  2. Donnie Says:

    How come a console so much cheaper compared to a video gaming computer?
    Because there’s only enough Tech support necessary to use minimally trained mobile phone jockeys rather
    than Programming & hardware professionals like
    You’d need for a Gaming Computer, And with a console there are no
    extra hardware drivers for things such as printers, microphones, webcams, audio boards, etc
    to diagnose issues with. And an excellent modern gaming Computer can in fact run multiple gaming
    console emulators, while a console can only run it’s own games …
    without heavily hacked mods anyway. So the companies possess a longterm guarantee
    of games sales s’posedly.
    G’Good fortune!!!

  3. keywords Says:

    What’s the safest method to remove engine sludge, oil flush or using a thin quality full
    synthetic motor essential oil? Sludge or emulsion on the oil cap signifies coolant leaked in to the
    engine oil. The cause is generally a blown head gasket or
    warped/cracked cylinder head. You can try flushing with Mechanic’s Engine Flush, then alter the oil
    and filtration system. The sludge will dissolve, the filtration system will
    catch particles and the rest will… show more The seller of the car
    can let you know IF the answer you chose holds true.
    The lowest priced way to remove sludge from
    any engine is definitely to open the owners manual in the glove compartment to the specs pages to discover for certain what viscosity oil the engine should have Buy
    Mobil1 prolonged performance complete synthetic essential oil at Walmart.
    Mobil1 has stronger detergent properties to completely clean the within of
    the engine than conventional essential oil. Trust the seller of the automobile to improve it for you.
    The dealer use the right oil filter.

  4. Simon Says:

    Why won’t conservatives realize the 1950s, the time they
    idealize the most, was not a good time? -minorities were treated as subhuman and segregation existed -women had to
    be a wife/mother only, were not allowed to receive an education or even wear pants for that matter!

    - no treatments for many diseases such as polio -child abuse and pedophilia ignored as
    if they don’t exist -lack of technology that…
    show more about the only thing they don’t want to return from the
    50s is the 90% tax rate on the rich

  5. Similar Webs Says:

    When info is go through and accepted because fact?
    However the sources of that info are bad, not really sourced or backed by imperial data.
    What is that known as when someone poorly obtains details ?
    Some sort of fallacy ? False-Advertisement.

  6. suba suba Says:

    Im obliged for the blog post.Thanks Again. Will read on

  7. suba suba Says:

    Really appreciate you sharing this blog.Really thank you! Awesome. ventolin

  8. alquiler carros medellin Says:

    yay google is my queen aided me to find this outstanding web site !.

  9. alquiler carros medellin Says:

    Thanks again for the blog article.Thanks Again. Really Cool.

  10. alquiler de carros medellin Says:

    Im thankful for the blog.Thanks Again. Much obliged.

  11. alquiler de carros medellin Says:

    I really liked your article post.Thanks Again. Really Cool.

  12. alquiler de carros en medellin Says:

    Really appreciate you sharing this post.Much thanks again. Want more.

  13. alquiler de carros en medellin Says:

    Muchos Gracias for your article post.Really looking forward to read more. Fantastic.

  14. alquiler de carros medellin Says:

    I think you have remarked some very interesting details , appreciate it for the post.

  15. alquiler de carros en medellin Says:

    Thanks so much for the blog article.Really looking forward to read more. Keep writing.

  16. alquiler carros medellin Says:

    YouTube consists of not simply comical and humorous video tutorials but also it consists of educational related movies.

  17. alquiler carros medellin Says:

    Very good article.Really thank you! Cool.

  18. alquiler de carros en medellin Says:

    This excellent website truly has all the information I needed concerning this subject and didn at know who to ask.

  19. alquiler de carros en medellin Says:

    Im grateful for the blog.Thanks Again. Want more.

  20. alquiler de carros medellin Says:

    This blog is obviously entertaining and besides informative. I have chosen a bunch of interesting stuff out of it. I ad love to visit it again and again. Thanks!

  21. alquiler de carros medellin Says:

    This blog was how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I ave found something that helped me. Thanks a lot!

  22. alquiler carros en medellin Says:

    one other and this design of partnership is a complete great deal extra genuine wanting and passionate. You might effortlessly come about across a right match for your self by way of video

  23. alquiler carros medellin Says:

    Im thankful for the blog.Really thank you! Awesome.

  24. alquiler carros medellin Says:

    There as definately a lot to find out about this subject. I like all the points you ave made.

  25. alquiler de carros en medellin Says:

    person supply on your guests? Is going to

  26. alquiler de carros en medellin Says:

    While the michael kors outlet has with Reebok is an infringement of antitrust laws.

  27. alquiler de carros en medellin Says:

    This awesome blog is really entertaining additionally informative. I have discovered many helpful advices out of this amazing blog. I ad love to return every once in a while. Cheers!

  28. alquiler de carros en medellin Says:

    Utterly indited subject material, appreciate it for entropy. The earth was made round so we would not see too far down the road. by Karen Blixen.

  29. alquiler de carros medellin Says:

    Thanks for the blog.Really thank you! Will read on

  30. alquiler de carros medellin Says:

    Tremendous details thanks a lot for publishing. The truth is in all of the content on this blog you will find something to understand.

  31. alquiler carros en medellin Says:

    Thanks for sharing this excellent post. Very inspiring! (as always, btw)

  32. alquiler de carros en medellin Says:

    Thanks for sharing, this is a fantastic blog article.Really thank you! Want more. this link

  33. alquiler de carros medellin Says:

    Wow, great article post.Really looking forward to read more. Really Great.

  34. septic tank pumping Says:

    intporn free porn forums adult xxx port pussy vagina

  35. how does septic tank work? Says:

    Thanks-a-mundo for the article post.Really looking forward to read more. Really Cool.

  36. septic tank pumping Says:

    Respect to author , some great selective information.

  37. precast concrete septic tank Says:

    that should outweigh Owens touchdowns. I think all of it

  38. septic tank Says:

    Major thankies for the blog article.Thanks Again. Really Great. this site

  39. septic tank pumping Says:

    Very good article post.Really thank you! Fantastic.

  40. precast concrete septic tank Says:

    Really appreciate you sharing this article. Really Cool.

  41. precast concrete septic tank Says:

    Say, you got a nice article post.Really looking forward to read more. Really Cool.

  42. septic tank pumping Says:

    Loving the info on this web site, you have done outstanding job on the posts.

  43. septic tank inspection companies Says:

    This is one awesome blog post.Thanks Again. Want more.

  44. septic tank Says:

    Major thankies for the blog post.Thanks Again. Will read on

  45. precast concrete septic tank Says:

    This is a good tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere. Brief but very precise info Thank you for sharing this one. A must read post!

  46. septic tank Says:

    Weird , this post turns up with a dark color to it, what shade is the primary color on your web site?

  47. septic tank pumping Says:

    some of the information you provide here. Please let me know if this okay with you.

  48. septic tank pumping Says:

    while and yours is the best I have found out till now.

  49. septic tank pumping Says:

    Perfectly indited articles , thankyou for information.

  50. precast concrete septic tank Says:

    This excellent website certainly has all of the information I needed about this subject and didn at know who to ask.

  51. how does septic tank work? Says:

    Pretty! This has been a really wonderful post. Thank you for providing these details.

  52. how does septic tank work? Says:

    Major thankies for the blog post.Really thank you!

  53. how does septic tank work? Says:

    Thanks for the blog post.Thanks Again. Want more.

  54. how does septic tank work? Says:

    Very superb info can be found on website.

  55. septic tank inspection companies Says:

    It as hard to find well-informed people for this topic, however, you sound like you know what you are talking about! Thanks

  56. septic tank inspection companies Says:

    Very informative post.Much thanks again. Great.

  57. septic tank pumping Says:

    You, my pal, ROCK! I found exactly the info I already searched everywhere and simply couldn at find it. What a perfect web-site.

  58. grove-white Says:

    of writing here at this blog, I have read all that,

  59. grove-white Says:

    This will be priced at perusing, I like the idea a lot. I am about to take care of your unique satisfied.

  60. Darragh Grove-White Says:

    Im obliged for the blog.Much thanks again. Keep writing.

  61. darragh grove-white Says:

    This is a very good weblog. Keep up all the function. I too love to weblog. This really is wonderful every person sharing opinions

  62. Darragh Grove-White Says:

    Really informative article post.Much thanks again. Really Cool.

  63. darragh grove-white Says:

    Thanks for sharing, this is a fantastic blog article.Thanks Again. Want more.

  64. grove-white Says:

    It as hard to come by well-informed people about this topic, but you seem like you know what you are talking about! Thanks

  65. Darragh Grove-White Says:

    Really enjoyed this blog.Thanks Again. Cool.

  66. darragh grove-white Says:

    Looking forward to reading more. Great article post.Really looking forward to read more. Fantastic.

  67. Forbes Business Council Says:

    You have noted very interesting points! ps nice website.

  68. darragh grove-white Says:

    Im grateful for the blog post.Much thanks again. Much obliged.

  69. darragh grove-white Says:

    Thanks for sharing, this is a fantastic post.Much thanks again. Much obliged.

  70. Forbes Business Council Says:

    I truly appreciate this article post.Really thank you! Really Great.

  71. Darragh Grove-White Says:

    In this article are some uncomplicated ways to jogging a newsletter.

  72. grove-white Says:

    This website was how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something which helped me. Cheers!

  73. darragh grove-white Says:

    Some truly quality articles on this internet site , saved to fav.

  74. Darragh Grove-White Says:

    If you are interested to learn Web optimization techniques then you must read this article, I am sure you will obtain much more from this article regarding SEO.

  75. darragh grove-white Says:

    Your kindness will be tremendously appreciated.

  76. grove-white Says:

    So content to get discovered this submit.. indeed, investigation is paying off. Enjoy the blog you furnished.. Good opinions you might have here..

  77. Darragh Grove-White Says:

    you are stating and the best way by which you assert it.

  78. Darragh Grove-White Says:

    Your style is so unique in comparison to other folks I ave read stuff from. Many thanks for posting when you ave got the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this blog.

  79. Forbes Business Council Says:

    Very interesting details you have remarked, thankyou for posting. I never said most of the things I said. by Lawrence Peter Berra.

  80. Forbes Business Council Says:

    Major thankies for the post.Thanks Again. Want more.

  81. how does septic tank work? Says:

    It as not that I want to replicate your web-site, but I really like the pattern. Could you let me know which style are you using? Or was it tailor made?

  82. precast concrete septic tank Says:

    Major thanks for the blog.Really thank you! Want more.

  83. precast concrete septic tank Says:

    Souls in the Waves Great Morning, I just stopped in to go to your internet site and assumed I ad say I experienced myself.

  84. septic tank pumping Says:

    It as not that I want to duplicate your web site, but I really like the style. Could you let me know which design are you using? Or was it especially designed?

  85. precast concrete septic tank Says:

    Looking forward to reading more. Great blog.Much thanks again. Will read on

  86. septic tank Says:

    Many thanks for sharing this good write-up. Very interesting ideas! (as always, btw)

  87. precast concrete septic tank Says:

    That is a great tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere. Brief but very precise info Thanks for sharing this one. A must read article!

  88. septic tank Says:

    Updating your website frequently helps build your

  89. septic tank inspection companies Says:

    If some one wants expert view concerning running

  90. HND 863 Says:

    Only a smiling visitant here to share the love (:, btw great style.

  91. HND 863 Says:

    It as not that I want to replicate your web page, but I really like the pattern. Could you tell me which design are you using? Or was it tailor made?

  92. HND-863 Says:

    This is a good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere. Short but very precise info Many thanks for sharing this one. A must read post!

  93. HND 863 Says:

    You have brought up a very good points , thanks for the post.

  94. HND-863 Says:

    In addition, The contents are masterpiece.

  95. HND-863 Says:

    Really enjoyed this blog post.Really thank you!

  96. HND 863 Says:

    Thank you ever so for you blog.Much thanks again. Cool.

  97. HND 863 Says:

    The top and clear News and why it means a good deal.

  98. Cloth Face Masks Wholesale UK Says:

    This is a good tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere. Brief but very accurate info Thank you for sharing this one. A must read article!

  99. Reusable Face Masks with Company Logo Says:

    LANCEL SACS A MAIN ??????30????????????????5??????????????? | ????????

  100. Washable Face Mask Wholesale USA Says:

    Wow, great article.Really thank you! Will read on

  101. Reusable Face Masks Manufacturers Says:

    Thanks so much for the blog.Really looking forward to read more. Will read on

  102. Cloth Face Mask Supplier Malaysia Says:

    This particular blog is obviously cool as well as amusing. I have discovered many interesting things out of it. I ad love to go back over and over again. Thanks a lot!

  103. Black Reusable Face Mask Wholesale Says:

    Regards for helping out, excellent info. аЂа‹аЂ You must do the things you think you cannot do.аЂ аЂа› by Eleanor Roosevelt.

  104. Washable Face Mask Supplier Malaysia Says:

    This is a really good tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere. Short but very precise info Thank you for sharing this one. A must read article!

  105. Fabric Face Mask Manufacturers Says:

    Thanks-a-mundo for the article post.Much thanks again. Will read on

  106. Washable Face Mask Manufacturer UK Says:

    we came across a cool site that you simply could possibly love. Take a search for those who want

  107. Washable Face Mask Manufacturer UK Says:

    You need to take part in a contest for among the best blogs on the web. I will advocate this website!

  108. Washable Face Mask Wholesale USA Says:

    lyon casino view of Three Gorges | Wonder Travel Blog

  109. Washable Face Mask Supplier Singapore Says:

    Thorn of Girl Great info may be uncovered on this world wide web blog site.

  110. Washable Face Mask Supplier Malaysia Says:

    Thanks so much for the blog.Really looking forward to read more. Great.

  111. Reusable Face Mask Supplier Singapore Says:

    SEO Company Orange Company I think this internet site contains some really good info for everyone . The ground that a good man treads is hallowed. by Johann von Goethe.

  112. Fabric Face Mask Manufacturer UK Says:

    I think this is a real great blog article.Really looking forward to read more. Awesome.

  113. Washable Face Mask Supplier Malaysia Says:

    Red your site publish and loved it. Have you at any time thought about guest posting on other related blogs related to your blog?

  114. Reusable Face Mask Manufacturer USA Says:

    Say, you got a nice blog article.Really thank you! Awesome. ventolin

  115. Reusable Face Mask with Filter Wholesale Says:

    This is one awesome article.Thanks Again. Will read on

  116. Washable Face Mask Supplier UAE Says:

    I want to start a blog/online diary, but not sure where to start..

  117. Washable Face Masks with Company Logo Says:

    Really enjoyed this article post. Much obliged.

  118. Reusable Face Masks Wholesale Canada Says:

    I really liked your post.Much thanks again. Want more.

  119. Reusable Face Masks with Company Logo Says:

    My website is in the very same area of interest as yours and my users would truly benefit from

  120. Reusable Cloth Face Mask Supplier Singapore Says:

    Muchos Gracias for your article post.Really thank you! Much obliged.

  121. White Cloth Face Mask Wholesale Says:

    The Birch of the Shadow I believe there may become a couple of duplicates, but an exceedingly handy listing! I have tweeted this. A lot of thanks for sharing!

  122. Cloth Face Masks Manufacturers Says:

    There is a lot of other projects that resemble the same principles you mentioned below. I will continue researching on the message.

  123. Wholesale Cloth Face Mask Suppliers USA Says:

    looked at. And on this article Referencement editorial :

  124. Washable Face Mask Supplier Says:

    Superior job. You ought to generate extra this kind of threads. You are great at writing.

  125. Cloth Face Masks Suppliers Says:

    You have brought up a very superb details , thankyou for the post.

Leave a Reply