Stanford came up with a model to bottle up Notre Dame's passing game in Saturday's 37-14 victory.
The Irish, who came into the game averaging 318.3 passing yards, finished with a deceiving 307 passing yards against a Cardinal defense that dropped eight defenders on nearly every down after the first one on Notre Dame drives.
"I take a lot of the responsibility for not preparing our guys adequately enough for drop-eight coverage-three," Irish coach Brian Kelly said. "We spent a lot of time based upon the film that we had in cover-one. We got them out of cover-one real early, and to their credit, their response was drop-eight. We did not handle ourselves well.
"That comes back on my preparation, in particular the quarterback. We will have answers for all of those things. I think one of the unique things I'm learning at Notre Dame is early in the season, you are not going to get great film sometimes. You really have to prepare for every eventuality and again, I put a lot of that on my shoulders."
Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist completed 25 of 44 attempts for 304 yards, but half of Crist's passing yards came after the Irish trailed 34-6. Armando Allen has three passing yards on a shovel pass to Theo Riddick out of the wildcat.
"I think in the relationship you build with your quarterback, you make sure it is balanced," Kelly said when asked about Crist handling drop-eight coverages. "It is never as good as you think, and it is never as bad. My evaluation of Dayne, after the film study, a couple of occasions there on the interception he was rushed. He was hit just before he released the football. Had a ball tipped. There were things that occurred that he actually read out better.
"There are some things that I'm obviously not happy with. We are going to continue the progression in the right way and prepare him for all the eventualities. I think that is going to obviously go to his development."
Notre Dame will also look to develop more of a running game when it travels to play Boston College on Saturday.
The Irish rushed for only 44 yards against the Cardinal despite using two-tight end sets and the wildcat.
"I felt after the Michigan State game, we had established where we wanted to go offensively," Kelly said. "It took a bit of a step back in this game (against Stanford).
"We are in the process of kind of evaluating what were the things we were missing in this ball game. I'd like to have a little bit more balance. We are 300 and something (passing) to 110 (rushing), that is not really where I want to be offensively as an identity in terms of run-pass. Those are some of the things we are really looking carefully at. We know we can throw the football, provided we are prepared and put our kids in a good position to succeed. I think we have to evolve a little bit further as to where are we going in the running game."
Part of that evaluation in the running game could be the need to allow Crist to run more option plays.
But when Crist was lost for most of the first half in a loss to Michigan in the second game of the year after he couldn't see out of his right eye after hitting his head at the end of a long run, letting Crist run became less of an option.
Kelly said protecting Crist has been on his mind, and the coach said he will sort out what he can and can't do with Crist as a rushing threat over the next day or two.
"Losing him in the Michigan game gave us great pause," Kelly said. "We did something very conservative against Michigan State. He did not look comfortable running the football. He did not look comfortable running the football. We had a third-and-1 where we ran a little speed-option play, he did not look very comfortable.
"(Saturday, Stanford) dropped eight back in coverage. If we ran draw as part of our offense, he probably would have been our leading rusher. We are going through a period right now where we have to identify and define who we are going to be as an offense relative to running the ball."