Frank Commentary

Let's all sing a song called "Two Steps Forward, One Step Back." That should be the mantra for the 2008 Fighting Irish. It's like Charlie Brown lining up for the kick, and Lucy pulling the ball back just to remind Irish fans how far this team still has to go to become a complete football team.

To be fair there have been many points this season where it was obvious this Notre Dame team was heading in the right direction. There have been many outstanding performances on offense, numerous games on defense, and many times where it appeared the Irish had a superior coaching advantage over the other team.

Slowly, methodically, surely we see progress each and every week. And then……..

First it's the offense stalling. The next week it's could be the defense springing a leak. The following poor performance might be questionable coaching calls. This week? It was all the above, and might as well throw special teams in the mix as well. Everyone contributed in this heartbreaker.

I'm not sure what it is with this Jekyl-and-Hyde routine with the Irish, but the main problem is they need to bring out Mr. Hyde more often, especially on offense.

And maybe that's the problem on offense. The Irish aren't sure who they are on offense. Are they Jekyl or Mr. Hyde? One can't tell, especially when it came to overtime in this game.

One thing is clear to me about the Notre Dame offense. If given time, quarterback Jimmy Clausen will find one of two outstanding receivers in Michael Floyd and Golden Tate for a big play in the passing game. That is what Notre Dame does well. That might be the only thing they can truly count on.

With the game on the line, and the Irish in a third-and-four situation and ND needing to convert at their own 47-yard line looking for a field goal to win the game, the Irish run the football. Third-and-four? They didn't try to put the ball in their playmaker's hands. They ran the ball. Running back Armando Allen fell one yard short. Fine.

Now fourth down, the Irish try to trick the defense on a play-action pass to convert on fourth-and-one? The play fails and Notre Dame has given the opposition the ball at the 50-yard line needing only to move 20 yards to attempt a field goal to win the game. "You had faith in your offensive line on third-and-four but not fourth-and-one? Or was the third down call another trick play? Man, we run a lot of trick plays…."

And that's the point. The Irish don't appear to have anything they believe in on offense.

I'm just not sure why you wouldn't give your true playmakers a chance to win the game?

Fast forward to overtime, and the Irish were lucky to make it to overtime…

The Irish had six first down opportunities in overtime—they ran on five of those opportunities. The Irish had six second down opportunities—they ran on four of those plays. They threw on one of those second down opportunities after a two-yard loss on the initial first down run, in other words, they had no choice but to throw.

The people who have been making the big plays all season are Clausen, Floyd and Tate. It would seem to me that the Irish would try to get the ball in their hands in this situation to win the game. Sure, the Irish did try to do that, but on third down mostly, when it was obvious the Irish had to throw.

The most depressing part of the game was ND had the game in their hands after holding Pitt's initial overtime possession to a field goal. Score a touchdown and the game is over. With a second down opportunity from the 2 ½ yard-line the Irish couldn't punch it in. They tried, first by running, then by throwing, and were denied.

And that's really been the problem for quite some time. When the Irish need 2 ½ yards, they can be assured 2. Knowing this, I'm just puzzled why they would show so much faith in a very Jekyl-and-Hyde running game when the game is on the line?

Yes, the defense contributed to the loss. Special teams, too. The defense did the job mostly the entire game. But that's how this team has to play to win. All facets need to play well when playing a good team to win. Neither side of the ball is good enough to win the game by themselves. All facets have to play well.

There were positives in this game, and it was obvious the men were giving it their all out on the field, but this team isn't good enough to overcome many mistakes, both on the field and from the sidelines or up in the booth.

The player I feel most sorry for is Brandon Walker. He should be celebrating helping the Irish win this game. Without him, they never would've had a chance to win it.

The good news is the Irish took their one step backwards in this game. Now it's time to take two steps forward again. Hopefully that happens next Saturday night against Boston College. They'll need to move forward from Saturday's performance and play much better than they did this week to win. Will it be Jekyl or Hyde? Top Stories