When critiquing a player, Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians like to say, “I’m not talking about you. I’m talking about your football.”
Head coach Sean Kugler’s UTEP Miners had a promising start to the 2016 season, whipping New Mexico State 38-22 in their season opener on the strength of Aaron Jones’ 249 yard rushing performance (he added another 43 yards receiving). Fresno State transfer QB Zack Greenlee overcame a slow start to go 15 of 27 for 229 yards and throw 3 touchdowns with no interceptions. UTEP led 24-3 at half and then blunted a brief second half rally to coast to a more dominating win than the final score suggests.
Alarmed. Encouraged. Notre Dame presents schematic problems that we won’t see again until we play Oklahoma and it’s hard to fault our effort level. Some issues should be cleaned up with game experience and teaching. Others will be cleaned up by graduation, recruiting, another offseason of development and finding a defensive identity that fits our defensive personnel at all three levels.
The reason so many of us were excited about the Gilbert offense is that its simplicity and versatility puts athletes into good situations and lets them play with instinct, aggression and from muscle memory instead of injecting indecision, paralysis and hesitation. Clarity and a clear role playing to your strengths are the key to athletic success. Instead of sniping players for what they aren’t, real coaches find work for what the players are.
Like all of you, I’ll evaluate our quarterbacks for gutty moxie, derring-do and the intangible qualities of leadership best codified by L Ron Hubbard. I’ll seek empirical evidence for non ping-pong based team chemistry. I’ll ascertain the pleat depth of Sterlin Gilbert’s Dockers Loose Fits. I’ll muse whether Grambling or the Colorado School of Mines is the better fit for the Big 12 expansion.
When Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly announced that he’d start proven experience over freshman talent at both safety positions in their season road opener in Austin, it did more than just reaffirm a veteran coach’s natural inclination towards flawed reliability over mistake-prone athletic upside. It opened a window into how Notre Dame views the Texas game and offered a clue as to how they’ll deploy their defensive assets.