[Image: Matt Cashore, Notre Dame]
Really. Unless you are Coach Lou Holtz, did you honestly think that Notre Dame would be undefeated this year?
We’ve been having a dialogue with our followers around social media and the web about what factors made this Notre Dame team so great this year. Here is how they weighed in!
- Golson is the most improved player on the team. He was always an outstanding runner, but his passing game and play reading and clock management was questionable, all earlier in the season. Previously, he nearly always passed too high to the flats, especially the left one, and too high on long passes, and had trouble passing on the run to a moving target, especially crossing routes. Lately, he is setting his feet, and completing those types of passes, and he’s improving on his reads. However, I’ve noticed that in the hurry up mode he tends to revert to not setting his feet, more toward the end of the game. I hope Rees sees the field for at least one play to remind Golson of his coaching lessons. Competition is good. Golson can’t do it all himself. Defense must win this game to give us a chance. (windybill)
- The 2011 Irish scored on 57% of the drives when they had no negative plays (35/61) but only 23% of the drives when a negative play occurred (21/91). A key to success for the 2012 Irish will be eliminating mistakes on Offense and creating turnovers on Defense.The 2011 Irish finished ranked 35th in Total Offense (40th Passing, 55th Rushing), 110th in Turnovers Lost (29) and 87th in Penalty Yards/Game (59). Not counting Tommy Rees, who isn’t expected to start, there are 7 returning starters. (Wood, Jones, Riddick, Eifert, Martin, Watt, Cave). The 2011 Irish finished ranked 24th in scoring defense but ranked nearly last in turnovers gained. Not counting Dan Fox, who I don’t expect to start, the Irish return 7 starters (Tuitt, Nix, KLM, Teo, Shembo, Motta, Slaughter). Against a brutal schedule and with major question marks at QB and CB, the Irish should nominally be an 8-4 or 9-3 team. Injuries, turnovers, penalties and bad breaks for the Irish or their opponents could tip the scales towards 6-6 or 12-0. (iairishcheeks)
- This team has fun. For the first time in years, these guys enjoy playing the game and are not “programmed” to act a certain way. Kelly is constantly emphasizing to this group to go out play hard and have fun.These guys have a special bond with each other and will do anything to not let each other down. It starts with not wanting to disappoint Manti and filters down from there. (Richard Cranium)
- Brian Kelly and the coaching staff and strong upper class leadership made this season happen. Well, that and a little luck here and there. (Domer From Hell)
- Minimal turnovers contributed to our 12-0 season as well. (Domer From Hell)
- Leadership on defense: Diaco->Manti and Kapron->Team (raghib1988)
- Doing the little things every day. This season came down to ND’s ability to execute when everything was against them. (Six)
- They truly believe they can beat anyone in the country. Confidence+hard work+execution+ball security+dominance at LOS+great defense=championsips. (JustKnox)
- We ran power last year. Weis ran draws on every run play. Kelly hardly ever calls a draw. It’s all dives and traps. We just run it out of the shotgun (like every other team in America). We ran power last year and we ran power this year. The change to our running game was the switch to a zone blocking scheme. (Old Balls Henry)
- 1-6). ditching “spread principles” (save the running stats from last year) and actually committing to a power running game 7). finding a quarterback who doesn’t have a noodle for an arm. Rees looks like Clem throwing BP to his kid. 8). Training table, athlete development, etc. 9). Getting a few breaks, Denard’s color blindness, Pitt’s missed FG, Barkley getting hurt. 10). Kelly getting out of office and getting more hands on, per his own admission. 11). Senior leadership (Slacker)
- After Purdue – Kelly shifted to a commitment to running the football that we had not seen yet during his tenure. (TNIRISH)
- Fact is, Kelly has always run a much more power-oriented run game. The zone read and the option opened up a lot for us in the run game and I would say that made the biggest difference in the run game this year vs last. It had nothing to do with power, or spread principles. (Old Balls Henry)
- (1) Commitment to Strength & Conditioning program; (2) Terrific ability to close out games in 4th QTR. (conorlarkin)
- Hmmm, schedule and team turned out better than predicted, and some $hithouse luck in the Pitt game….No way I saw this coming this year. After a while as Lou said, they just believed they would win and backed it up with a stout D, an improving QB, OL play and running game. (Irishwolfhound)
- Mental and physical toughness. If you were going to point to one thing that made this team great, it is that. This team’s mental and physical toughness was in full display in the fourth quarter of nearly every game as we watched our offensive and defensive lines impose their will on each tired opponent. We saw it in the battle with Michigan; in the road trip to Norman; in the late game come back against Pitt; and on goal line stands against Stanford and USC. This team just wanted it more than everyone else, and they went out and took it. (Old Balls Henry)
- I think you have to add Miami – that was to me the turning point. We took a team with some talent and simply beat any fight out of them. (TNIRISH)
- No one? (ShowMeIrish) …. okay, well maybe ONE person did!