Another year, another embarrassing bowl game loss. While I think LSU had superior talent to Notre Dame, there is plenty of blame to go around. Let's first start with the obvious, Rick Minter. If Charlie Weis has any sense, he tells Minter on the flight home that he can start packing up his office. Let's see, Notre Dame couldn't rush the passer. They couldn't tackle anyone. They also left about 20 yard cushions for the LSU receivers. Other than that, a bang up job by the Notre Dame defense. They were totally outschemed by LSU's offensive cordinator, Jimbo Fisher, and a majority of that blame falls on Minter. While Minter gets a F- for his performance tonight, some of the blame for this pitiful defensive effort falls on Weis as well. He certainly has some say in defensive gameplanning, and I'm still trying to figure out what Notre Dame's defensive game plan was.
In keeping with the coaching blamegame, Weis also deserves a lot of the blame for the offensive woes. I just did not understand the need for Weis to be as pass wacky in his play calling. Unlike many other games this season, Notre Dame had quite of bit of success running the football, yet Darius Walker had only 22 carries and James Aldridge had 3, 2 of which came at garbage time in the 4th quarter. With the explosive LSU offensive, this was the type of game that you should have gone to a game plan similar to the USC game last year where you run ball 2 out of 3 times and control the clock, yet Weis showed no patience with the running game. In addition, I find it concerning that this is the second straight bowl game that Weis was completely outcoached.
While I'm busy bashing Weis, I do want to give credit to Walker, who was one of the few Notre Dame players that actually showed up to play. I saw a burst from Walker that I have not seen before and I saw him actually outrunning defenders which I usually only see when Notre Dame is playing Stanford or the service academies.
Unfortunately, Walker was one of the few positives for the Irish. I think the biggest disappointment from the game was the play of Brady Quinn who was 15 for 35 for 148 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. I would have excused some of the play of Brady Quinn if he got no help from the running game, but he actually got quite a bit of help from the running game yet he consistently missed open receivers or made poor decisions. My next comment is probably going to upset some of the Notre Dame partisans that read this blog, but there is no way that Brady Quinn is a number one pick. I love his leadership. I love his toughness and his arm, but his accuracy leaves a lot to be desired. If I had the number one pick right now, I would much rather have JaMarcus Russell than Brady Quinn. Not only does Russell have the arm and the toughness of Quinn, but unlike Quinn, he is much more accurate with his passes and actually hits his receivers in stride.
So with another disappointing bowl game for the Irish, what's next? It will be interesting to see what kind of coaching turnover there will be in the next few weeks. I would be shocked if Minter is not gone within a week. There is going to be a very interesting 4-way quarterback battle between uber-freshman Jimmy Clausen, Demitrus Jones, Zach Frazer and Evan Sharpley, and I think that quarterback play will be the least of Charles Weis's concerns next year. But I think the most interesting thing to watch for next season is to see if the team plays with more enthusiasm with a mostly green starting lineup (thanks Ty!). I think that's what bothered me most about the team this season, it seemed like they were always so uptight and lacked the enthusiasm of last year's team. Let's hope that changes next season.