Notre Dame Poised to Bounce Back
By DAVE TREACY
As disappointing as it is to accept, the only thing for theNotre Dame football program to do after the loss to Ohio Stateis to move on. Despite questions and concerns, problems andpessimism, the Irish must treat the game as a history lesson:something to learn from. “I would be shocked if this footballteam closed shop,” head coach Lou Holtz announced. “And it isn’tgoing to close shop. There is no way that is going to happen.”
There are lots of questions that the team needs to answer.Questions about intensity. Questions about mental errors.Questions about coaching decisions.
“The game, you still felt in the fourth quarter we had achance to win,” Holtz recalled. “Hindsight, I look back onfourth down and 11 from their 26, probably should’ve kicked afield goal, but at that time I thought we needed a touchdown. Wecame up a yard short.” “I did not really give our players asgood a chance as what they should have had.”
The team wasn’t sharp in pre-game warm-up drills. The openingkickoff return was a slap in the face revealing immediateproblems on coverage; special teams coverage was a focus of lastweek’s practices. The inability of the offense to make changeswhen faced with unexpected stunts, blitzes, and twists showedhesitation and confusion. But these are all lessons to bestudied.
“You are concerned any time you set your goals high and youlose them this early; yeah it is devastating, but I tell youthis… we will address that,” Holtz said.
So now the plan is to regroup. The season is far from over.The coaching staff has every intention of making positivechanges, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Thatmeans one thing: back to the basics. Goodbye “Blarney,” hellosmash-mouth.
The team will resume practice today after having the weekendoff from contact drills, and will not practice this weekend. Thekey to the season may lie in how the Irish mentally andemotionally get back on track this week.
No excuses allowed. It’s time to put the pieces backtogether. Holtz and his staff realize this, and the Irish headcoach displayed his usual knack for putting things inperspective. “(Skip Holtz, Connecticut’s football coach) calledme (Saturday) night and he didn’t feel they played particularlywell. He got mad and he went home and my grandson is there andhe is watching a video called King Lion. He just told me onelittle phrase of it that I think is applicable. “The lion isstanding there and the monkey takes a bat and hits him in thehead. The lion says why did you do that? The monkey says, itdoesn’t matter, it’s in the past.
“And a few minutes later the monkey took the bat and swung itat the lion again; the lion ducked this time. The lion said, whydid you do that? The monkey said, doesn’t matter, it is in thepast, but you learn from the past.”