'Critical' Game Means Critical Decisions Ahead?

This was a 'critical' game for the Irish. Both Kevin White, athletic director, and head coach Bob Davie agreed. What happens next may be more crticial for Davie and the Irish, who have started 0-3 for the first time in their storied history after a 24-3 loss to Texas A&M.

Copyright by Global Electronic Telecommunications, publishers of IrishEyes.Com

September 29, 2001

 Irish, Davie at Critical Point

By The IrishEyes.Com NewsService

Before kickoff Saturday, athletic director Kevin White said Game No. 3 of the 2001 season was "critical" for the Irish.

 He didn't mention Bob Davie by name, but you've really got to wonder.

White is no fool, considered one of the best, most savvy athletic directors in the business. Eyebrows were raised when he offered Davie a new five-year contract extension before the Irish were blown out in the Fiesta Bowl. And now he's got to be wondering about it himself. Four straight losses for Davie and the Irish since the contract extension. Another Faustain stat: first time in Notre Dame's storied history that the Irish have started 0-3. What now?

 Is White thinking about it? You've got to believe he is.

 "Critical is a pretty good descriptor," said White before the Irish went out and lost decisively 24-3 to Texas A&M. "We've got to win the football game. We've got to find a way to come out of our slump, so to speak. We've got to find a way to reinvent ourselves and step up and play in this football game." ‘

Alas', would be an appropriate word to use here. But it fails to state the case.

 Alas, not only did the Irish fail to ‘step up,' ‘reinvent' themselves or seize the day, they flopped. Simply flopped.

For the fourth game in a row, Davie and his staff were outcoached; his team, which we believe is still very talented, was outplayed. The insertion of Carlyle Holiday as the starting quarterback was supposed to provide a spark. It did on the Irish first series, until Holiday fired an interception into the end zone, ignominiously ending a 43-yard drive and the best the Irish showed all afternoon in front of the biggest Texas crowd, 87,206, to ever watch a college football game.

Holiday, who was knocked out of the game with a strained or sprained neck at the end of the first half, showed his athletic ability, but he also showed he wasn't ready to play. He finished six for 13 with two interceptions, but he, and Davie, seemed desperate.

 Why can't Davie and his offensive staff decide on an offensive strategy? Davie has said repeatedly that the foundation is laid, but where is it on offense?

This is a team with 29 fourth or fifth-year seniors. It has an experienced offensive line; experienced running backs and, certainly, not the worst receivers it ever has had. Yet, the Irish picked up only 191 yards vs. A&M's 310. The Irish entered the game 112th in offense among Division 1A teams. How far can they plummet?

The experienced offensive line allowed six sacks; and the rushing game produced only 70 net yards. Simply, the Irish are in shambles.

 They even had to insert Jared Clark in the final two plays of the game after Matt LoVecchio, who started the second half, was stunned by a blindside sack.

 Davie has much to appreciate in R.C. Slocum. Davie spent nine years at Texas A&M and considers Slocum his friend and mentor. The student was clearly outcoached by the master: a 76-yard drive through Davie's defense to open the game; a gadget pass from a running back to his quarterback to open up a 14-0 lead; and a blocked punt run back for 20 yards to put the icing on the cake.

 Davie's defense gave up 310 yards, stiffened in the second half; but the damage was already done.

The rest of the season may be watched to see if Holiday can develop (that is, if his injury allows him to play) and if Kevin White—not Bob Davie--can find a way.

Pittsburgh is next on the Irish schedule and even though Pitt got blown away by Miami on Thursday night, the Panthers will have 10 days to get ready for the Irish.

Like Irish fans everywhere, Walt Harris and his team smells blood.

 Does White?

 --30—


IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories