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Weis’ Inexcusable Playcalling Against USC

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The Notre Dame faithful went into Saturday's game in South Bend against USC hoping to watch a revitalized Irish offensive
machine that would finally dispose of their most hated rivals, invading the midwest from across the country. But inevitably no echoes were awoken on this day. Instead it was the screams for Charlie Weis' termination that got a hell of a lot louder.

Seemingly unable to stick to a game plan, analyze risk vs. reward, or even call the correct plays (a duty he relieved his offense coordinator of before the season), Weis still has not beaten a highly ranked opponent in his time as head coach of the Irish. So despite another marquee game from Golden Tate (8 catches for 117 yards and 2 TDs) and a marvelous fourth quarter-comeback by quarterback Jimmy Clausen, the Irish were out-coached, outclassed, and inevitably beaten for an eighth straight time by Southern Cal.

The first half was an offensive disaster for the Irish. Frequently going with the wildcat formation (leaving their best player Clausen off of the field), Notre Dame stumbled their way to only seven points, largely the result of a fake-field goal near the end of the first quarter. The team looked to have no battle plan whatsoever, and when they did start to find some offensive congruity, Weis inevitably messed it up with his ridiculous play calling (see the Irish first possession of the 2nd half when they elected to get stuffed on 4th down rather than take the field goal points in a game where they were down only 13-7).

The second half was better offensively, with Clausen (260 yards 2 TDs on the day) slinging the ball all over the field and the Irish putting up 20 points to bring the game within a final play of victory. With three minutes remaining on the game clock Clausen took his team on a drive that could have cemented his name and his team in the prestigious annals of Notre Dame history. Instead the team would fall short again, making it to the 4-yard line before getting stopped four straight times. While one of those "stops" was a touchdown pass to tight end Kyle Rudolph that was incorrectly reviewed as out of bounds, the point is that with all of their offensive weapons Charlie Weis could not draw up a single play (or a combination of a couple, for that matter) to get four yards. Pathetic.

The Irish started the game running the wildcat formation and then it disappeared in the second half, even when the team was only four yards away from sending the game into overtime. And in fact, the Irish should have and would have been playing for the win had Charlie elected to kick the field goal at the start of the second half.

But instead, the coach who believes he can outsmart any opponent, once again outsmarted himself, and a talented Notre Dame team's season is the casualty of his ineptitude. This was a game the Irish team and their fans wanted, needed, and knew was possible to win. Instead, Weis and his staff (his defensive coordinator John Tenuta should be fired on the spot as his reckless blitzing left massive lanes for USC to throw through) have ruined another Irish campaign and relegated the program to a continuous purgatory of mediocrity. And that's not something the influential people at Notre Dame will accept, long term contract or no long term contract.

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About Anthony Tobis

  • donshebib

    Couldn’t agree more. But he is not the only one. coaches these days are almost totally ignorant of creative play calling. When was the last time any one ever quick kicked????

  • John

    disagree. Charlie’s play calling was magnificent. The play of the O and D lines was not.

  • andfan1

    WTF game were you watching? there was noting wrong with the offesive game plan and play calling. The problem lies within the defense.

  • Joe

    “While one of those “stops” was a touchdown pass to tight end Kyle Rudolph that was incorrectly reviewed as out of bounce…”

    Are you an idiot? His knee was out of bounds, what were you watching? And learn how to spell if you want to be taken seriously

  • HMM

    Weis’s play calling was about as good as you can get in the USC game. The last play, an “over and under,” was a terrific call.

    The problem with ND is NOT Weis’s play calling. The list of problems is long, but it isn’t his play calling.

  • 7DecadeVol

    In all due respect, Rudolph was clearly out of bounds on that play. I agree with the poster above that your defense allowed a true freshman to throw for 380 yds on you when they couldn’t run the ball-THAT was the problem. You are the best team USC has played IMO. Just be glad Lane Kiffin wasn’t coaching at Tennessee when Golden Tate came out of HS in Tennessee or he’d be in Knoxville. He is a truly GREAT player!! If you keep recruiting at your current pace, next year you’ll have the best talent in the nation and no excuses. You should be the odds on fave for the 2010 National Title. I don’t think you’ll lose again this year unless you get a top SEC team in a BCS bowl game.

  • Tony

    First Weis comes out running the wildcat, and then abandons it. Then he starts throwing the ball all over the field but once he gets down to the goal line, does he hit Rudolph with a slant pass or go back to the wildcat? No, he has Clausen throw a bunch of fade routes to the corner of the endzone. And there is no excuse for going for it on 4th down at the beginning of the first half.

    The defense got burned on two huge pass plays and those plays were both on third and short when the Irish decided to bring the house again and again and ended up looking stupid.

    And I think Rudolph was in bounce. His knee hit after his foot dragged the endzone. You could say he didn’t have control of the ball but the fact that he never adjusted it with his other hand and showed it to the ref leads to me believe that he did.

  • Tony

    But the defense is and has been a problem all season. It seemed a little redundant to go over that again. A lot of the defensive struggles come from the play calling. When you blitz linebackers and corners on short yd situation you’re going to get burned by USC no question. The defense is not talented but the calls need to be made right.

    What game was I watching? The one where on multiple occasions Clausen went nuts on the field (calling timeouts) because the plays didn’t get in fast enough. Guess who’s job that is?

  • EJS

    Let’s not start with the finger-pointing just yet. The Irish clearly belonged on the same field as Southern Cal and showed lots of guts and determination in coming back. That’s all to the credit of Coach Weis. There’s no guarantee at all that we would have made the long field goal at the start of the second half and I can’t quarrel with the judgment made at the time. I want to see how the team comes back this week against Boston Colege. BC is a team Notre Dame should beat, so long as the coaching staff and the team avoids a big let down. This will be a big test for Coach Weis and the team. P.S. The tackling was embarrassing at times and the defensive play-calling was incredibly reckless. I’d like to know how the defense let that huge, rumbling tight end, McCoy, off the line of scrimmage without a touch and how he was so completely wide open.

  • dash jade

    Game wasn’t close. ND offense could not do anything except for USC gifts. USC special teams falls asleep (nice move by ND) and ND gets one td, having to drive a grand total of 2 yards on USC.

    ND gets a gift INT that deflects off of an open USC receiver and they have to drive a grand total of 22 yards for a td.

    They had one nice play (Clausen to Tate) for a td, and that’s it.

    ND’s offense was dominated by USC, which was up 34-14 and should have been up even more at that point.

    Good spirit and fight from ND, which never gave up, and, it bodes well for the future, but, Irish D-Line couldn’t get any pressure, Irish O-line could stop USC from chasing Clausen all day.

    Clausen is gone after this season (NFL) and so are three starters on the OL.

  • cpoko

    I thought Rudolph had possession of the ball with both feet in the end zone WELL before his knee touched the sideline. Isn’t that a touchdown? He didn’t bobble the ball, he caught it and fell out of bounds. I root against both USC and the Irish, so I am impartial. Maybe I don’t understand the rule for possession? There is no doubt that he caught the ball with both feet in the end zone.

  • Tony

    Thank you epoko, I agree. His knee hit out of bounce after his feet touched in but he clearly had possession of the ball in one hand, with his feet inbounds, as he showed it up to the ref after.

    Even in the NFL that was a touchdown.

  • cpoko

    Yeah, I’ve seen guys catch passes while they are basically horizontal and they drag one toe in the field of play and land out of bounds from the ankle up and they always call it a catch. Makes the Rudolph play very questionable to me. Network guys didn’t make a fuss about the call – and the sheep just accept their verdict as fact.

  • Tony

    Yeah, I was surprised the announcers didn’t make more of it. I’ll admit I am a Notre Dame fan and wanted the touchdown but honestly, after about 15 years of disappointment, the bias is more like dejection. But still, that was td.

  • cpoko

    You think Weis was going to go for two? If it were me, I would have kicked the extra point and hoped that momentum carried into OT.

  • Step

    How did this article even gets published??? The guy is a first class idiot. Now we should fire Charlie Weis what we should do is stop idiots like you from posting articles with NO factual information.

  • Tony

    cpoko- I think he would have kicked the extra point because of the NCAA’s overtime structure.

    Step – I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy the article. It was simply an opinion piece of my analysis on how Charlie managed the game. Some facts.

    – Charlie should have kicked the field goal on the first drive on the 2nd half.

    – The Irish blitzing in short yardage situations did open up 2 big plays for USC.

    – Charlie did open with the wildcat, shut it down, and then not bring it back when he decided to run in short yardage situations in the 2nd half. Using the wildcat and leaving Clausen off of the field is questionable at best but if you’re going to use it in the first half than why not in the second half when it actually could have been effective in grinding out some hard yardage.

    The Rudolph catch was an opinion, but this is an opinion piece so that fits. My opinion of Charlie’s coaching actually falls into that category also.

    As a man and a recruiter I think Weis is outstanding but as a head coach he has consistently lost the big games (winning only those they are “supposed” to win). And he does frequently outsmart himself by trying to go against the grain. Again, an opinion but contained in an opinion piece.

  • mfanin dixon

    two words to describe charlie weiss’s strategic playcalling genius…”Tom Brady”

  • Tony

    Yes, as an offensive coordinator with players who are all at an NFL level as far as experience, skill, intelligence ect, his highly complicated offense is effective. The problem is not his overall scheme. It is the decision he makes in key situations. It seems like he intentionally goes against the grain just to prove that he can beat the status quo and prove his superior intelligence. I’ve been a huge Wise fan up until this season, but this team is incredibly talented and should not be playing like this. And its not Clausen’s fault.

    Some guys are not made to be head coaches. Out of Belick’s tree only the kid in Denver is really having any success. I like Charlie a lot, but he tries to be to unconventional and it always backfires on him in the big games. He beats the teams he’s supposed to beat (usually) and always loses to the teams he is supposed to lose to.

  • Tony

    Good analysis, Tony.

    But the coach’s name is Weis, not Wise.

  • Tony

    No, he is definately not wise.

  • Uncle Rico

    You clearly have no clue of what you write.

    Your policy states that personal attacks are not allowed, yet you do so with your article.

  • Tony

    Actually Uncle Rico the personal attacks message refers to the comments section of this site. And this is not a personal attack on Weis. I simply don’t believe he is doing his job correctly. That is an analysis that sports commentators make about players, coaches, gms, and owners every day.

    So yes I actually do have a clue of what I write, thank you. Actually you saying that would be more of a personal attack than me giving Weis a bad job review.