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A Masterclass in Disaster

Written by Liam Gaudet, Senior Editor


Notre Dame Football has reached Defcon 1. After the events of Saturday, it's hard to say that we aren’t looking at the worst case scenario as a program, and I’d be lying to you if I were to say otherwise. The “Freeman Era” is quite literally off to the worst possible start as Notre Dame drops a game at home to Marshall 26-21. This snaps a win streak of 42 straight wins over unranked teams, and is also the most embarrassing home loss we’ve seen in quite a long time. The question at this point is not what has gone wrong, but what has gone right, and spoiler alert, literally nothing is the answer. So together, let's swallow our pride and put the program under the microscope for a closer look.


Photo by Slap The Sign

Offense. Garbage. Plain and simple, one of the worst displays of offense I’ve ever seen from an Irish team, and it spans from the coordinators downward. Firstly, let's discuss the offensive line play. When you have high four star talent at every position, and you’re bigger and stronger than the opponent, there really isn’t a reason to be averaging less than 3 and a half yards per carry against an average Sun Belt school. Harry Hiestand was supposed to be the chosen one in shaping these young men into the top 10 draft picks they supposedly have the potential to be. They were beaten off the line virtually every snap, and gave almost no chance for the backs to even fall forward. I’m not here to slander the student athletes at Notre Dame, and I think with proper coaching this unit has the potential to be in the upper echelon of college football, so I’m holding Hiestand and Rees accountable for the proverbial pylon “blocking”.

Wide Receivers. I get it, we currently have five scholarship receivers on the roster. That is a problem that pre-dates the Marcus Freeman regime, but one that could have been addressed in the offseason. Why didn’t we address this issue in the transfer portal? Even if we couldn’t pull a diamond out of the portal we could have at least settled for more depth. No separation was seen anywhere, and again, I tend to blame Tommy Rees for not seeing this issue and at least attempting to scheme players open. My sincerest apologies to Michael Mayer for having to suffer through this offense, by the way. It’s like that meme of the Bugatti that's parked in the driveway of a crackhouse for God’s sake. Find more ways to get our playmakers the ball in space. If your plan isn’t working, re-evaluate and take what they give you. That clearly didn’t happen.

Quarterback. We don’t know the extent of Tyler Buchner’s injury, and I really hope he’s okay. It’s hard to place too much blame on him when the line is collapsing and the receivers aren’t getting open. It’s even harder for him considering we have a coordinator who thinks you can sleepwalk through play calling and expect us to win. What is extremely evident is the fact that we don’t have a quarterback who is ready right now. I said this in the offseason, but I was never sold on Buchner being the savior. He was too indecisive with his throws and that cost us big time. I’m not convinced he can properly read a defense, and it's also clear that we don’t have a single quarterback who can. I gave Buchner the pass in the Ohio State game because he took care of the football and was efficient for the most part. There are no excuses for the interceptions thrown during the Marshall game at all. Pyne came in and looked lost. Buchner looked shaky at best. Our best weapon was Buchner on the run and Rees obviously didn’t see that. Whoever is under center next week gives me absolutely zero confidence we can score points, plain and simple.

Defense. Six and seven yards per carry on first down against a group of five school is pitiful, especially considering we’re supposed to have a top 10 defensive line in the country. Outside of the sacks, which were few and far between, the line got pushed around at will. Al Golden didn’t do a very good job at all this week, which is extremely concerning because he did an excellent job at Ohio State. The inconsistencies were apparent almost everywhere on the field. It was harrowing to watch the supposed strength of our program get throttled by a team with inferior skill, but much superior heart. That probably says a lot more about our coaching staff than anything else. The secondary played average at best, and the linebackers were missing tackles left and right. That is pure and utter failure on the coach's part.

Coaching. Tommy Rees has been calling a completely uninspired offense, and refuses to make adjustments not only on the fly, but at halftime as well. Instead of realizing that our line cannot get a push, Rees was insistent on running the ball up the middle directly into a wall of defenders forcing the offense into second and third and long situations. We showed little to no effort in trying to attack the perimeter, and our offense was completely one dimensional and predictable as a result. Tommy Rees needs to improvise and realize that adapting your plan is a big part of the game. I’ve almost seen enough miserable play calling for him to be put on thin ice.

Coach Freeman. I knew that there was risk involved in this hire, particularly considering the fact that Marcus Freeman has never been a head coach before. I’m not saying that this hire will necessarily turn out to be a failure, but the inexperience and risk factors have been prevalent early on. I am optimistic that Coach Freeman will be able to right the ship, but for now, this was a reality we were willing to accept when we brought on a new coach. The players need his leadership now more than ever in order to salvage a season that is very clearly on life support. It starts this week against Cal. I trust Marcus Freeman, and now is the time for him to prove me right.


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