1. Tarean Folston carried the ball four times for 13 yards, after carrying 18 times for 140 yards last week. Twice in the first quarter, once in the second, and his last carry came with just under 12 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter.
“It changes from week to week relative to how the game is going and what is available to us,” Brian Kelly said after the game. “There were a couple of times where we felt like George gave us a better opportunity in there because of the kind of runs. We were trying to get the ball on the perimeter. George is a guy that we like when the game is a perimeter game. It fits George’s skill set, so that’s why you saw him in the game more.”
George Atkinson finished with six carries for 57 yards and Cam McDaniel finished with nine times for 22 yards.
2. Which leads to the next point. Notre Dame rushed just three times (one yard) in the 4th quarter. The story was much the same in the third -- three times for nine yards. With Rees' limited arm strength and knack for turning it over, I don't see why the simple screen isn't utilized more in this offense. From an amateur point of view, why not drop it off to your play-makers, be it Jones, Daniels or Brown, on a quick bubble route and let them do the hard work, instead of Rees. Every time the ball goes in the air, it doesn't have to go for a first down. 3rd and three is more than manageable. Jones and Folston lined split out of the backfield also seemed effective last night, as Jones rushed three times for 41 yards and a touchdown. But, Jones didn't receive a carry in the second half.
With approximately seven minutes remaining in the game, Notre Dame threw on downs one, two and three from its own 44-yard line. All from the empty, and all incompletions. Down only one score at that point, seven minutes seems like a lot of time to abandon the run game.
3. Pointed out last week the struggles of the secondary, even when it wasn't supposed to be playing "real" football against the option. But, last night those struggles were manifested even more. No interceptions, and poor tackling. On Devin Street's 63-yard touchdown catch, Farley missed badly. Bennett Jackson was picked on multiple occasions last night, including Pitt's first touchdown coming on third-and-goal from the two-yard line when Street beat Jackson's man-to-man coverage for the score. Notre Dame's goal-line defense as a whole last night, and on the season, hasn't even sniffed the level it was on last year. As Tim pointed out last night, Temple, Michigan, USC, Navy, and Pitt have all scored on 1st and goal from 2 yards or less on their first attempt vs. Notre Dame this season.
4. The targeting penalty called on Stephon Tuitt was outlandish. Regardless if the penalty was "warranted" under technical rules, something needs to change before we let calls like that ruin the game. Kelly said Tuitt's absence didn't cost them the game, and maybe not, but anytime you lose your best player, the course of the game is going to be altered. And, for a depth-depleted Irish team, that meant inside linebacker Carlo Calabrese (!) playing nose guard on a third-down play defended from the nickle.
Tuitt tweeted after the game last night: "Tough loss but on to the next one with revenge for-real. People are going to wish they never gave me that call... I promise that. GO IRISH"
5. If we haven't already, we'll see what this team is made of soon enough. The Irish don't exactly head into their second bye week on a high note, but with two formidable opponents left on the schedule, Notre Dame can't afford much time to dwell on its mistakes. With the "pressure" of making a BCS bowl now out of the picture, I think you'll see a refocused and recharged team at Notre Dame Stadium in two weeks.