Well here's where we pick apart the five questions Ty and I dissected on Friday afternoon. Bonus observations at the bottom as we obviously missed a few things that were key factors in the game. I'm going to try and keep the gnashing and wailing of teeth to a minimum, after all just Monday I posted about how this was still an 8-4 or 9-3 type to me.
This week's five burning questions.
1.) Will our defensive line be able to get penetration on an Offensive Line that is not comprised of high schoolers and ne'er do wells?
One sack by Pickelman to force a fumble. Nine tackles for loss. We only surrendered 275 yards of offense. That's far more consistent with 17 points(which is what the offense scored and wasn't gifted) than 31 points. The 31 points contained a Kickoff return* for a touchdown and a drive that started on the MSU 12.
How much of this is due to the defensive line? Eh, it's hard to say without film review. 4.5 of the TFLs came from D-Lineman which is pretty decent. You cannot pin this loss on the defensive line and the play of the defense is what kept us in the game at all.
*- More on this in a bit.
2.) Will Captain Kirk avenge the 2009 Kobayashi Maru at Notre Dame?
No. It wasn't even close. Two problems here. 1.) Our offensive playcalling did not put our players in a position to win. It's been a while since I've felt that way certainly not in 2010 probably not since the Cousins/Nichol merry-go-round of 2009. 2.)I don't think that Cousins trusts his line, I haven't had a chance to rewatch the game, but if I had a nickel for every time he checked down to the flat I would be rich.
3.) Who's gonna throw their beef around more BJ Cunningham or Michael Floyd?
If you would have told me prior to the game we'd hold Michael Floyd to 84 yards and no touchdowns AND BJ Cunningham would have 12 catches for 158 yards and also no touchdowns and that we lost convincingly. I would have tried hard to make a bet with you that would have involved money, humiliation and perhaps some real estate.
BJ Cunningham may not be better than Michael Floyd, but there's no way you can tell me they don't belong in the same conversation. Cunningham was getting double teamed just the same as Floyd and won the duel. He just lost the game.
4.) Brian Kelly: Can a person cause their own head to pop?
I don't know. Notre Dame came out and kicked us in the nuts. We responded by not kicking them in the nuts back. Then we changed our strategy to running trick plays that didn't work. Then we played catch-up the whole game. I'm not really sure what if anything Kelly had to be worried about.
5.) Do the Fighting Irish begin their season 0-3?
No they didn't.
- Kick return coverage this year really needs to improve. Even minus the kick return for a touchdown the Spartans are averaging 84th in NCAA in kick return yardage allowed. I made a note of this during the FAU game but wanted to see how we did against a team that was all growed up. How we did is we gave up a Kick Return for a touchdown.
- Well. Our offensive line. It sucks. With Burkland out, it's probably going to suck even more. I didn't want to ask about it in the five questions because I thought I had spent too much time nitpicking it already. Apparently, trying not to nitpick something because I'm bored of it, doesn't mean that it's not an issue. I'll be rewatching the game this week and will be paying close attention to this.
- I do not need to rewatch the game to say I was disppointed with the MSU playcalling. The Fake Field Goal was neither successful or fake. I'm not a strong X's and O's guy although, I'm working on it. A shovel pass up the middle seems a risky proposition to me. If they fan out to defend the fake you might catch them napping up the middle, but if they're honestly defending the field goal isn't the middle of the line where all the BEEF is coming through? If you want to go for it on fourth and 3 on the 3, just line up and go for it. That would have made more sense to me.
- Further, Roushar said several times he wanted the offense to be MORE unpredictable. If he wanted to be more unpredictable by running the same plays over and over to the point where the Notre Dame Defensive Coordinator said: "He cannot possibly be running again on First Down!", Roushar succeeded.
It's important to remember for me that Roushar hasn't been in this spot as a coach since 2004 and that he's entitled to a few goofs too. That said, games like this make me crazy. I don't like losing, but I despise losing when I feel like we could have won. We got punched in the mouth early and responded by trying to outsmart the opposition by taking unnecessary and long chances.
I'm looking forward to Central next week and a chance to get healthy and work on some of our weak spots. I don't suspect we'll see another Central special, but we'll be talking more this week with Mike from The Chip Report on that later this week.