Frank Commentary

The Notre Dame football team has shown flashes of being a good football team so far this year. They certainly looked the part in their dominating performance against rival Michigan, and they also looked the part in a disappointing loss against North Carolina. The time is now for the Irish to take that next step to being a consistently good football team.

One of the greatest things about watching Lou Holtz-coached teams during the glory years under the former Irish great was the complete domination Holtz teams had over inferior teams. If the Irish were supposed to blow a team out, you were pretty much assured you would see that happen.

Holtz teams during the early years also beat teams like the next two Notre Dame opponents soundly. While they didn't blow them out, they would win convincingly. There was no question on the field who the superior team was. Irish fans rarely worried they might actually lose the game. While teams like Pittsburgh and Boston College would certainly challenge the Holtz teams of past, the discipline, sound fundamentals, superior coaching and talent would eventually take over and the Irish would coast to a victory after a good fight put up by the opposition.

That is what is missing from the 2008 Irish team--that killer instinct.

Granted, they're young. Noted, many of these players are finding confidence after suffering through a miserable 3-9 season last year. True, they've made marked improvement throughout the season. Yes, the future looks very bright.

However, the last part is mental. The last part is leadership. The last part is truly believing they're great and playing with the kind of confidence and swagger that they're superior to their opponent.

The Irish coaching staff can massage this idea. The staff can try to facilitate it. The coaching staff can push for it, but ultimately the players have to pick up the reigns at this point and take this thing to the next level.

Brian Smith has to look across the line of scrimmage and say; "LeSean McCoy, you're a darn good running back, but I'm going to be an All-American."

Golden Tate needs to stare Aaron Berry in the eyes and say; "you can't cover me."

For the Irish to take that next step the entire team needs to find that killer instinct that won't let a team back in the game when they have them down 17-6 at halftime. They need to find the attitude that will step on a team's throat when they have them down like they did against Washington last week. They need to finish what they started when they staged a comeback against Michigan State after a miserable early performance.

Great teams do this. Great teams find ways to win. Excellent teams put away inferior competition. Good teams don't beat themselves.

The good Irish teams of the past would beat these next two Irish opponents, Pittsburgh and Boston College. You'd be assured both Pitt and BC would put up a fight. You'd be certain that there would be some tense moments, but ultimately the Irish would win because of sound fundamentals, discipline, superior coaching, effort, focus and attitude. The Irish have been losing too many of these type of games recently because of a deficiency in one, or a combination of these areas.

The Irish should and can beat Pittsburgh if they come prepared, confident and don't beat themselves. They should beat Boston College if they do the same. Both teams are solid and sound football teams, but the Irish are just a shade more talented in my eyes.

Now it comes down to attitude. Now it comes down to confidence. Now it comes down to want-to. For the Irish to take that next step, this team needs to truly believe they're better than the opposition and play that way. If they do, they're going to be pretty good down the stretch. Top Stories