Nov 9, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers wide receiver Devin Street (15) catches a pass for a touchdown as Notre Dame Fighting Irish safety Matthias Farley (41) defends in the third quarter at Heinz Field. Pitt won 28-21. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
2013 Notre Dame Football
The Irish 2013 BCS hopes have officially been dashed, and frankly, I’m happy they are. After watching the performance against Pitt, the Irish would likely get dismantled by any one of the eight (currently undetermined) teams that will play in the four BCS bowl games.
This was a terrible showing for the Irish and should raise some concern for the final two games of the year; this team could easily finish 7-5.
It’s easy to blame Tommy Rees for the loss against Pitt, but the single biggest reason for the loss is a lack of balance in the offense. In every single win the Irish have had this season, they ran the ball as least thirty-two times, and in only one of those wins (Temple), Kelly elected to pass more than run. Basically, Kelly takes the game out of Rees’ hands, controls the clock, the Irish win. When your quarterback is just 35% of his passes in the first half, why do you choose to throw the ball an additional 24 times? The Panthers biggest weakness is their run defense, and they were practically begging the Irish to let Tommy Rees beat them. Throwing the ball 38 times played into the hands of the Panthers.
This was not a game that was out of control or one that the Irish needed score quickly in. At half time, while the game was close, the Irish were well in command as the Panthers punted on 6 of their 7 first- half drives.
2nd half Defense
Compared to the first half, the defense in the second half was a disaster. The Panthers scored on 3 of their 7 second half drives, and the 7th “drive” was only to run the clock out. The corners were playing like every Pitt receiver was channeling their inner Larry Fitzgerald. The pass rush, outside of Prince Shembo, was nonexistent after Stephon Tuitt was ejected for a horrendous “targeting” penalty, and the Irish run defense couldn’t stop a clock. If Bob Diaco can’t figure it out, BYU and Stanford will run for at least 250 yards a piece.
As I mentioned above, this loss is not all Tommy Rees’ fault, but he has to play better if he plans to end his career at Notre Dame on a positive note. Against Air Force and Navy, the references to Rees as one of the best Irish quarterbacks ever (statistically) was nauseating. Yes, he has thrown up some nice numbers, but it doesn’t matter when you’re completing 47% of your passes and throw game losing interceptions on a regular basis. Like his recent predecessor’s, Brady Quinn and Jimmy Clausen, he will be soon forgotten and Irish fans will be anxiously waiting for the next man up.
Who knows what Irish team we will see for the final two games of the year, and thank Touchdown Jesus that there’s a bye week before the Irish seniors play their final game at Notre Dame Stadium. BYU and Stanford are winnable games, but not with the same game-plan and execution we saw against Pitt.