Irish Lacking Confidence

The Irish picked up right where they left off at the end of the 2003 season with another clunker on Saturday night. Miscues, poor execution, and yes, poor coaching all contributed to the BYU 20-17 victory. Starting 0-1 in 2004 is not what many Irish fans had in mind, nor believed was possible. Anything looks to be possible at this point.

Where to begin?

I've sat here for about an hour wondering what I'm going to say--my cursor blinking at me like a reminder that I have to say something. It's a slow, steady blink, like the pulse of the Irish at this point—alive, but barely moving.

What can you say after watching the Irish drop another game like this? I'd guess most Irish fans would say "embarrassing, depressing and horribly disappointing" and I can't say I'd disagree.

I'm speechless and shocked, but maybe I shouldn't be so surprised. I get the feeling that most Irish fans feel the same way I do, stunned, but not surprised.

Were the Irish overconfident? Maybe. Or were they not confident enough? Or were they surrounded by a cloud of false confidence? Or maybe they just aren't that good as a team.

Irish head coach Tyrone Willingham spoke of confidence in this past Tuesday's press conference and how important confidence is to a team and to winning. I agree with Willingham, any team needs self-belief to be successful.

But where does confidence come from? Willingham's thoughts were success breeds confidence, but the Irish haven't had much success lately, dropping 10 out of their last 15 games, so I'm not sure where that belief can come from at this point.

The Irish coaches lost confidence in sophomore running back Travis Thomas when he put the ball on the ground early in the first half. We never saw Travis Thomas play another down in the game after his second fumble. I can understand their decision to not play Thomas as his fumbles hurt the Irish, but where do the players turn if poor coaching is hurting the team?

I don't think there is any question about whether this Irish team has lost their confidence. The real question is have they lost confidence in themselves or this coaching staff? They can probably fix the former, I'm not sure they can fix the latter.

Something has to be said about execution as well. Tyrone Willingham and his staff didn't drop balls, miss assignments and let BYU defenders get behind them. However, this team continues to not execute at a high level, and I'm not sure you can place the blame at the feet of the players for that after every loss.

Whether it's poor execution or poor coaching at this point really doesn't matter. What matters is how to fix the problems, and what this Irish team and coaching staff need to focus on at this point.

This loss is just one loss and the Irish can still have a successful season. That will certainly be one of the building blocks Willingham will try to use this week to refocus his team.

The Irish have 10 games left to play and it could be a very long season if they don't find their confidence soon. We're certain Michigan will have plenty of confidence after their 38-0 mauling of the Irish last season in Ann Arbor.

Maybe the Irish should turn to No. 15 and learn something from him. Irish fans have mercilessly hammered Preston Jackson for his past performance, but Jackson never stopped believing in himself, and played a great game on Saturday. Nice game "P-Rock," and here's to hoping you have many more this season. Top Stories