Matt Cashore / IrishIllustrated.com

O’Malley’s Monday Musings

This week’s array of topics include sideline antics, a pair of dominant power players, your pick of four former Irish stars, that pesky, problematic goal line, and the unique self-confidence of one KeiVarae Russell.

1 – On the topic of David Grimes and head coach Brian Kelly’s shove of his assistant strength and conditioning coach Saturday night, I find it’s better to self-edit this space, because my actual stream-of-consciousness thoughts on Grimes and his ludicrous “role” in Saturday night’s contest would not be kind to the former Irish receiver.

Suffice it to say that Grime’s presence on the 2015 sidelines is superfluous. It’s a luxury he’s afforded, and he has NO business harassing an official.

If David Grimes’ sophomoric behavior cost Notre Dame 15 yards because he couldn’t keep his irrelevant mouth shut, and Temple’s offense was awarded a first down – and thus perhaps a touchdown later as a result – what would be the outcry from Irish fans?

And what if said score resulted thereafter in an Irish defeat and thus their absence from the college football playoffs?

Opinions can vary on Kelly’s physical response, not to mention Grimes’ telling reaction to it, but the following is not in dispute: Grimes needlessly inserted himself into a situation on which he had no greater bearing than you, me, or anyone else.

And in my opinion, someone else should have better restrained him so the head coach wouldn’t have to. Did Kelly “have to” push Grimes? No. But I understand why he did. One Hundred Percent.

(Heavily self-edited for content.)

2 – With the possible exception of Clemson’s Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd, is there a better 1-2 punch up front in college football than Notre Dame’s Sheldon Day and Isaac Rochell?

Day was a force of nature Saturday night, with each of his six stops made within two yards of scrimmage including three for loss and two for no gain. Likewise, Rochell entered the evening with 16.5 “Stuffs,” most on the squad, and he was part of five more in the City of Brotherly Love.

3 – On a related note, Romeo Okwara showed well statistically Saturday, posting three tackles for loss while sharing a Stuff for no gain with Jaylon Smith. Okwara has 6.5 Stuffs in his last two outings (USC and Temple) after posting a total of seven over the first six games.

4 – I should have asked this question last week, because my guess is the response would have been at least 80 percent positive, but I’ll ask now and each week in this space hereafter:

Relatively speaking, do you think Notre Dame will play to the best of its collective abilities Saturday against Pittsburgh?

5 – Notable in his absence through Musings #1 through #4 is senior C.J. Prosise. For the first time this season, a defense held the Irish senior dual-threat down for an entire contest. (Remember, Prosise kick-started the comeback at Clemson and finished with 100 receiving yards.)

Temple not only held Prosise to 1.8 yards per carry but rendered 28 of his 43 receiving yards useless – his pair of 14-yard receptions both occurred in down and distance situations in which the Irish were a country mile away from the stick -- both thereafter resulted in punts.

Prosise basically hit the Owls for a 12-yard rush on the opening drive, and that’s it.

6 – Your updated goal-to-go play counter for the Irish offense shows Notre Dame with 46 opportunities (snaps, or snaps prior to penalty) on the season to date with 28 resulting in a negative play (incomplete, Stuffed, TFL, penalty, turnover) for the Irish offense.

Saturday’s results on seven chances included:
-- Prosise rush for a loss of 1
-- Kizer +4 TD
-- A timeout on first down, an incomplete pass thereafter
-- Prosise minus 3
-- Incomplete pass and resulting fourth down field goal.

Of note, following the 1st-and-G timeout from the Temple 3-yard line, Notre Dame changed alignment, initially showing Prosise in the Pistol formation for an apparent power play (or play-action from it). They returned with Prosise offset from Kizer and an incomplete pass ensued.

7 –Tough fourth quarter for backup senior safety Nicky Baratti, who was put in a nightmare game scenario for a player with a balky shoulder -- a goal line situation (power football + bad shoulders don’t mix) and thereafter being caught in space as a rusty football player vs. Owls cut-back artist Jahad Thomas.

The latter predictably produced a walk-in touchdown that tied the score, and the reality that Baratti is unlikely to again contribute at his previous promising level – remember, he was a valuable backup safety and special teams starter as a freshman on the 2012 Irish defense.

Baratti’s field presence on first down in the crucial goal-to-go situation following Elijah Shumate’s ejection was understandable, as Baratti reps with the No. 2 unit at strong safety. His presence thereafter ahead of versatile veteran Matthias Farley was definitively the fault of the defensive coaching staff.

Kelly announced that Farley would start in Shumate’s stead against Pittsburgh with the latter serving a one-half suspension as a result of Saturday’s dubious ejection.

8 – You can add one former Kelly-era player to the 2015 Irish: Tyler Eifert, Harrison Smith, Stephon Tuitt, or Manti Te’o. Discuss…

9 – Will Freaking Fuller. That is all.  

10 – I spoke with Irish cornerback KeiVarae Russell post-game Saturday night in the wake of his diving, game-ending interception – a fantastic play, because the receiver had a step and a lot of green thereafter.  I offered that the pick served as a bit of redemption after an uneven evening. 

After our exchange (Russell disagreed that he’d been beaten during the contest), I couldn’t help but think of an old baseball quote by former Dodgers pitcher Bo Belinsky, one that encapsulates the senior playmaker:

“My only regret in life is that I can’t sit in the stands and watch myself pitch.”

On to Game #9 and an afternoon in the Steel City…


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