What went wrong for Notre Dame in its loss to Alabama?

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The only questions Alabama players and coaches will answer following another BCS championship game victory will be 1) who will be going pro (see what we did there? That’s a Nick Saban joke.) and 2) how do they feel about the term “dynasty?”

The questions Notre Dame must answer are more difficult and unwelcome.

Though ranked No. 2 in the country entering tonight’s game, the Tide was a 10-point favorite over the Irish, so the general storylines were more closely geared toward what Brian Kelly‘s program needed to do to win its first national title in over 20 years.

It started up front along the offensive and defensive lines. The trenches. Alabama’s O-line is anchored by All-American center Barrett Jones and has paved the way for one of the best rushing attacks in the nation while keeping the jersey of its quarterback, A.J. McCarron, clean. McCarron had just three interceptions on the season, a compliment not only to his decision-making, but the time he was given to make those decisions.

Notre Dame’s front seven needed to be able to disrupt Alabama’s run-first game plan without the help of an additional body in the box. Instead, Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon ran for most of the Tide’s 265 yards on the ground. When Notre Dame was able to get penetration up front, missed tackles and bad angles allowed Lacy and Yeldon to use their athleticism to get past the initial rush. For McCarron? He went 20-of-28 for 264 yards and four touchdowns. It wasn’t exactly chaos in Alabama’s backfield.

With little pressure up front, Notre Dame’s linebacker unit and secondary got torched in one-on-one matchups with Alabama’s skill players. Linebacker Manti Te’0 wasn’t the only Irish defender getting embarrassed, but considering his postseason accolades and role on the team, he was getting the most negative attention. Tape from the 2012 season shows that Te’o had only two missed tackles all year. He might have had two in one quarter tonight.

It was undisciplined defense all around and Alabama was so balanced and multiple on offense that it didn’t seem fair.

And Notre Dame’s offense hasn’t shown the quick-strike ability consistently to mount a comeback even if the defense stiffened up. The Irish have been flighty on that side of the ball all season as Everett Golson kept developing at quarterback and there were times when Tommy Rees had to step in to keep things going. But when Notre Dame clicked on offense, namely against Oklahoma and Miami, it has the playmakers in Tyler Eifert, Cierre Wood, Theo Riddick and TJ Jones to put up a lot of points.

Notre Dame had to have an offensive performance similar to the one it had in October against the Sooners. That didn’t happen either. Alabama’s defense under coordinator Kirby Smart did a nice job of disrupting Golson all night. There was no tempo, no rhythm for Kelly’s team.

Plus, the Irish probably needed either a big mistake from Alabama or an exceptional special teams play — something to swing field position or momentum for a quick and easy score. Not only was Notre Dame not able to take advantage of any mistakes, but it didn’t benefit from early judgement calls from the officials either (the Eifert catch out-of-bounds and Christion Jones muffed punt come to mind). With injuries to Louis Nix and Kapron Lewis-Moore along the D-line, the Irish couldn’t even catch a break on the injury front. Meanwhile, Barrett Jones played the entire game with a Lisfranc injury and never left the field.

That kind of night. Nothing went right for the Irish. Yes, Alabama was clearly the better team, but the Tide was also far more prepared and executed its game plan perfectly.

Now, it’ll be a long eight months as Kelly and his coaching staff look for some answers.

North Texas turns to FCS Eastern Washington for new OC

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Nearly three weeks after losing its offensive coordinator to a Pac-12 school, Seth Littrell has filled that void on his North Texas coaching staff by dipping down to a lower level of football.

UNT has confirmed via a press release that Littrell has tapped Bodie Reeder as his new offensive coordinator.  Reeder replaces Graham Harrell, who left late last month to take the same job at USC.

The 32-year-old Reeder has spent the past two seasons as the coordinator at FCS Eastern Washington.  Prior to that, Reeder served as an offensive quality control coach working with quarterbacks at Oklahoma State for three seasons.

“Coach Reeder is one of the brightest young offensive minds in the country and we are happy to have the opportunity to bring him to Denton,” the head coach said in a statement. “He has been successful at all of his career stops at several levels of college football, most recently at Eastern Washington and Oklahoma State. I can’t wait to bring him into our family and culture and give him the opportunity to leave a great mark on our program.”

Reeder began his coaching career at Wisconsin-Stout after graduating from Eastern Illinois in 2010, spending his time at the Div. III program as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Jeremy Pruitt’s shuffled Tennessee staff includes Derrick Ansley as DC

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Jeremy Pruitt‘s coaching staff up on Rocky Top will have a decidedly different look to it when the 2019 season kicks off.

One of the most noteworthy staff announcements Friday afternoon involved Derrick Ansley, who was hired last week as the replacement for dismissed cornerbacks coach Terry Fair.  Not only will Ansley serve as Tennessee’s defensive backs coach, but he’ll also be the Vols’ defensive coordinator.  Not only that, but Ansley has also been designated as UT’s defensive playcaller, the duties of which were held by Pruitt in his first season as head coach in 2018.

One of the two co-defensive coordinators from a year ago, Chris Rumph, will retain that title as well as his duties as outside linebackers coach.  The other co-coordinator on that side of the ball, Kevin Sherrer, will lose that particular designation but remain on as inside linebackers coach.  Additionally, he’ll now serve as special teams coordinator.

Pruitt’s former special teams coordinator, Charles Kelly, left for a job at Alabama earlier this offseason.  Kelly was also UT’s safeties coach, a job that will be rolled into Ansley’s all-encompassing defensive backs duties.

On the other side of the ball, Jim Chaney, as previously reported, will be Pruitt’s new offensive coordinator, but he won’t be in charge of any position groups as Pruitt will now employ a total of six offensive assistants.

Tee Martin, whose hiring as an unspecified offensive assistant was also previously announced, will serve as wide receivers coach.  The Vols’ former assistant at that position, David Johnson, will move to running backs while the former assistant manning that position, Chris Weinke, moves to quarterbacks.

UT’s quarterbacks were previously coached by Tyson Helton, the offensive coordinator who left Knoxville in late November to become the head coach at Western Kentucky.

There are only two offensive assistants who remain in the same jobs as a year ago — Will Friend (offensive line) and Brian Neidermeyer (tight ends).

Florida State parts ways with offensive line coach Greg Frey

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A self-created hole has suddenly, but not unexpectedly, opened up on Willie Taggart‘s Florida State coaching staff.

In a statement sent out by the university, Taggart announced that he has decided to part ways with one of his assistants, Greg Frey.  Frey, who was a member of FSU’s 1993 national championship team, spent this past season, his first, as the Seminoles’ offensive line coach while also holding the title of run-game coordinator.

Below is the head coach’s statement, in its entirety:

This morning I informed Greg Frey that we are moving in a different direction with our offensive line coaching position. I appreciate the hard work and expertise Greg brought to our program and understand how important it was for him that FSU be successful. I wish Greg and his family the best as he continues his coaching career. We are working to fill this position quickly.

This past season, FSU’s line surrendered 36 sacks, a total that was 12th in the ACC and tied for 16th-worst nationally.  Even worse, the Seminoles’ 2.8 yards per rushing attempt was 129th out of 130 teams at the FBS level.

Frey came to Tallahassee after spending one season as the run-game coordinator/offensive tackles coach/tight ends coach at Michigan.  Prior to that, he was the line coach at Indiana for six seasons.

Penn State reportedly losing special teams coordinator to NFL

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Those of you who had Penn State in the “Next Power Five Program to Lose an Assistant to the NFL” pool, collect your winnings.

While nothing is official from his new employer, 247Sports.com has reported Friday morning that Penn State assistant Phil Galiano is leaving James Franklin‘s coaching staff to pursue an opportunity in the NFL.  The specific NFL club for which Galiano is leaving wasn’t divulged.

Penn State subsequently confirmed Galiano’s departure from the program.

“We are excited for Phil and his family. This is a tremendous opportunity for Phil to return to the NFL,” the statement from the school read. “We are very appreciative of Phil and everything he has done for our program over the last two years. We wish him nothing but success moving forward.”

Galiano has been with the Nittany Lions for two seasons, first as a defensive consultant in 2017 and then as special teams coordinator and assistant defensive line coach this past year.  Prior to that, he was the special teams coordinator at both Miami (2016) and Rutgers (2015).

From 2012-13, Galiano was an assistant special teams coach on Greg Schiano‘s Tampa Bay Buccaneers staff.

Galiano would be the second change to Franklin’s staff this offseason.  Wide receivers coach David Corley was dismissed in early January and replaced a couple of weeks later by Gerad Parker.