I’m already seeing a lot of excuses flying around via Twitter and Facebook — mainly those focused on referees. I’ve also seen a few comments that despite the loss, ND still had a good showing. With these two thoughts in mind, the following needs to be said:
The difference between a good/decent team and a great team is that the great teams overcome the adversities laid before them, whether it be a blown call, a bad bounce, or a hostile crowd. Attempting to blame this loss on a missing two seconds or an early overturned TD is a fruitless exercise.
I could do all the analysis in the world on this game, but in the end, it all boils down to the simple fact that ND was in the position that any team would want to be in during a game: in the lead and possession of the ball with very little time on the clock. You are in full control of the game at that point.
I can even understand the reason for wanting to pass in said situation. The defense is clearly expecting a run and will sell out for it and a pass can easily seal the deal. That is, if it is the right kind of pass.
You don’t throw a jump ball in the air to show this aggression. You run a play fake, make the defense bite and look for the open man, if he isn’t there, the QB runs or takes the sack. More important than the result of the play is the fact that the clock keeps running. The jump ball is not a “safe pass that we’ve been hitting all day” as Weis said in the presser. It is a gamble, and one that doesn’t need to be taken that late in the game no matter how many times you’ve “hit” it.
You don’t throw passes twice in a row either, much less again, something like a timing route with a true freshmen. Weis may like to claim it “was just a little bit off”, but that little bit off was a bigger difference in the game than the missing two seconds.
There are several other aspects of the game I could bring up in which the Irish blew their chances (and where Weis had awful play calling), but all that matters is how you finish sometimes. You must force your opponent’s hand when you can, not give them gifts of what amount to either a full minute or two timeouts saved.
I have defended Weis several times before, but I absolutely cannot here. The way we lost the game is easily a fireable offense. Moreover, going into a presser and then saying when your gamble backfired on second down and being faced with a third and long is a matter of deciding “whether or not you are trying to win the game or play it safe” and using that as justification for the poor third down call is even worse. Weis, I don’t know what planet you are on right now, but what I saw was neither trying to win the game nor playing it safe.
Simply put we handed the game away.
Anyone remember us coming back on MSU in the fourth quarter because they decided to try to “win the game” and pass? Guess what, we are on the other end now because of the same thing. We were laughing at MSU then, and guess what Michigan is doing now.
This was not a good showing by the team. The defense had a chance to close the game down several times. The offense executed poorly in several areas of the game. The coaching by Weis was simply awful.
This is not a good day to be Irish.