Sunday, November 04, 2007

Bad Notre Dame Jay | by Jay

Thanks for letting me vent.

Nutshell version: decision to forego the kick to potentially win the game in regulation equals the worst call in Charlie's tenure.

Still angry, but a little less so now. It's been a long season.

P.S. Charlie continues to..well, dissemble is not quite the word, because I think he believes what he says and honestly thinks it was a sound decision. But after being asked again:

Q. You were asked after the game about the field goal. You mentioned into the wind, and you had seen Brandon (Walker) in practice not be able to make that.

COACH WEIS: We're trying to get to the 20-yard line. So what I did is we also wanted, he felt that the best kick was from the right to right middle. So that's why on the play before that I ran stretch to the right, figuring we're on the 24-yard line. If I can get to four yards on the play, I won't get the first down, but I was -- instead of centering it, you know, he really wanted it right right middle.

So running the stretch play to the right was designed if I didn't get the first down, to go ahead and get us four yards and get us to the 20 on the right right middle to come out and kick the field goal. But we had no gain or lost yardage on the play.
And again...
Q. You said that given the yardage going into the wind, that you felt (the field goal) was a long shot. Given the way the game ended up, do you wish you had taken it anyway?

COACH WEIS: What, and missed the field goal? I thought we had a good play to get the first down. We complete the pass for the first down and you're inside the 15-yard line. Now you kick a field goal and you do win the game.

And based off of what we had said we were going to do, we did what we said we were going to do. That's why the previous play, you run the play to put it in position to get where we wanted to be to run the field goal. We didn't get any yards on the play.

That stretch play of the day was a very, very productive play for us. We were getting a lot of yards off that play, just didn't pan out on that play.
and again...
Q. This may be picking at it or something, I don't know. But how close were you to saying 41 seconds left, regardless how long a shot this is, we should just try this and try to make some sort of moment and roll the dice?

COACH WEIS: My intent was to kick the field goal on fourth down. That's why I ran the stretch play to the right on third down. But when we got tackled for a loss, I had made up my mind if we got the ball anywhere close to the 20, we were going to try the field goal. But when you're now still at the 24, 24 and a half, it wasn't a consideration anymore.
...the explanation still doesn't make much sense. Ben Ford is as perplexed as I am, and captures the bewilderment nicely:
Not sending out Brandon Walker to kick to win the game goes against at least three things that we thought we knew about Weis before Saturday:

1. He’s said on a number of occasions that his job, above everything else except graduating players and making good citizens of them, is to put the Irish in a position to win that week’s game. And in my view, Notre Dame was in that position on Saturday and he didn’t go for the win. Frankly, the discussion ends there in my view. His comments about Walker’s range and the wind (I didn’t see the flags flapping that hard against the Irish) shed some light on his decision, and if he said he had the right play called to get the Irish down to the 15-yard line and into range for a shorter kick, I believe him, but you play to win the game. Even Herm Edwards knows that.

2. Weis knows how badly this team needs a win, and how badly it needs something to celebrate, and yet he still didn’t kick when a field goal could have accomplished both of those things. The pressure shifted even more to Notre Dame’s side of the field in overtime and gave the Irish another chance to wonder what was going to go wrong next.

3. The Weis we thought we knew was a gambler, a guy who would go for it on fourth down from his own end of the field in the first quarter. Saturday, a 41-yard field goal against the wind was too much of a risk to take. What happened? I saw Walker miss two 41-yard field goals in practice last week, but I also saw him hit a 48-yarder at UCLA. Walker doesn’t need to be automatic from that distance in practice or pre-game warmups, he just [has] to make it one time on Saturday, and that seems like a gamble worth taking for a 1-7 football team. Was Weis worried about Navy driving down for their own winning field goal? If so, we saw the range the Middies’ kicker had when he came up way short on a kick of his own earlier in the game and we also saw how long it took Navy to get down the field on its other drives. Something tells me Paul Johnson was secretly thrilled about the chance to go to overtime.