All these numbers from the combine are about individual players against other individuals for a given position. The game is played with 11 players on the field, not our ILB versus the other teams ILB or our RB versus their RB. It is our 11 O versus their 11 D and vice versa.
Within the context of the NCAA game, ND was able to put 11 players on D and 11 more on O that combined had greater skills and fewer weak links than 12 of the teams we played in 2012 and probably all but about 5 teams in existence.
Our problem was Alabama was able to put 11 players on the other side of the ball that combined were better than our 11 players.
Teo isn't the best NFL prospect at MLB. Motta isn't the best NFL safety prospect. Theo isn't the top NFL RB prospect. None of ND's guys other than maybe Tyler are better than all other NFL prospects at their position. That doesn't mean jack shit in terms of how well ND can play the NCAA game. Their talents at the NCAA level and combined were / are way above average.
We are also playing catchup to the SEC. They are playing a totally different game by a totally different set of rules than we have been playing by. Kelly is trying to rewire ND to find an ethical path to beat them while staying within the rules that they freely ignore. We closed a lot of ground in 2012 -- but not enough. I think it remains possible to beat them at their own game. We don't have to be able to beat them 10 out of 10 times. We don't even have to get good enough to beat them 5 out of 10 times. We have to get good enough to beat them 3 out of 10 times -- and then play our A game in the title game. That's possible in my view.
It also is possible the SEC is going to trip on its dick before we do. It takes one hell of an engine to hide the shit they are doing forever. The SWC did it for 10+ years and then 1 kid at SMU blew the whole thing sky high. History can repeat itself.