Sep 8, 2013, 8:25 PM EDT
For the fourth straight play, Stepfan Taylor received the handoff and dove through the middle. For the fourth straight play, he was stopped short of the goal line. An iconic and game-winning stand led by the Heisman runner-up, the sequence would go down as the defining moment of the 2012 season.
It was emblematic because of how the Irish won so many games last year. The Te’o-led defense was always in control, even on a 1st-and-4 against one of the top power running backs in the country. The team replicated the stand in the regular season finale in Los Angeles, solidifying itself as one of the top defensive units in the nation.
That was the team’s identity, undoubtedly and incontrovertibly. And with that identity, they won 12 games.
I wrote in last week’s blog that the student section was getting to know the team – learning its patterns and beginning to own it. I think the same is still true for the team itself – it has yet to find its identity.
As I’m sitting here, riding home from Ann Arbor at 1:00 in the morning, I’d like to say I’m wrong. We were unlucky or we got screwed or Michigan made a deal with the devil. Buts it’s not true (or at least not the first two).
I had thought maybe this team could inherit 2012’s defensive tenacity and toughness, but maybe it’s not that simple. They have to build it themselves, with dedication, with leadership. God knows there aren’t too many Manti Te’os lining up to play, but this squad is tasked with replacing him – not only with his individual play, but with his ability to hold the team together.
I don’t know what this team is missing, but right now it’s missing something. Maybe they’ll find it in December or week 5 or tomorrow. Or maybe I’m wrong, and this team’s identity is to try to outgun other teams with 50 passes a game. But that might be an even scarier proposition.
To go back to last week’s blog, I mentioned the student section isn’t perfect – far from it. With all of our flaws, we’re inextricably bound to our team with flaws of its own. This season now won’t be perfect, but it can still be memorable and will certainly be worthwhile.
About Strong and True
ND Football on YouTube
- RT @CoachTonyAlford: Spring recruiting is upon us & it's time to get out & see the next batch of future Notre Dame Football Greats- the 201… 2 hours ago
- RT @CoachTonyAlford: I've got an APB out on the very best RB's in the country. I know who you are & where you are & I'm coming to get you!… 2 hours ago
- He sure made us proud! RT @nfl: 19 years ago TODAY... Joe Cool called it a career. Where does the time go? http://t.co/2qNFjsvb2D 6 hours ago
- RT @CollegeGameDay: Nebraska and Notre Dame have a combined 570 straight sellouts. http://t.co/nrEOB9MxsU 11 hours ago
- RT @NotreDame: #NotreDame named a Top 10 University College Campus by @INSIGNIALSM http://t.co/iCBDOatwDl 11 hours ago
- W. Tennis. Notre Dame Travels To Play Syracuse
- M. Tennis. Notre Dame to Take On Boston College This Weekend
- W. Rowing. #9 Irish In Michigan For ACC/Big Ten Challenge On Saturday
- Track. Men Finish Day One Of ACCs In Fourth, Women In Tenth
- Softball. #21/22 Irish Make First Appearance At Virginia This Weekend
- W. Golf. Notre Dame Tied For Fifth Following First Day Of ACC Women's Golf Championship
- M. Lacrosse. Fighting Irish Await Tough Test From The Terps
- Fencing. Three NCAA Champions In Three Days: A Landmark Weekend in the History of Notre Dame Athletics
- W. Swimming. Three NCAA Champions In Three Days: A Landmark Weekend in the History of Notre Dame Athletics
- Softball. Wester Named NFCA Freshman Of The Year Top 25 Finalist