Archive for the ‘Hangover’ Category

The Hawai’i Bowl Hangover…It’s 2009?

January 1, 2009

I know what you’re thinking. Why bother, right? The game is over a week old, it’s been discussed to the max, and I didn’t even bother to post a Bagpipe Monday or wish all of you a Happy New Year. By the way- Happy New Year. I suppose I could just walk away from this post, but I feel that this game was too important and was dismissed by the main stream media as just “another bowl game”.

It wasn’t just another bowl game and it deserved a little more attention before the New Years Bowls and BCS Bowls started. I’m not going to throw out a bunch of stats in this post or write too much about particular plays (because I’m positive that you already know these things by heart) but I will write some shit that I need to say- if only to just put it on the record.

Jimmy Clausen is the shit. Get over it. Clausen was just a true sophomore this year. Jimmy was plagued with the same tag as another former Irish quarterback in Ron Paulus in where they both came in as a life-altering quarterback that should win a Heisman while playing at Notre Dame. These expectations are overwhelming- but they are expected as the Notre Dame QB. The difference is that Jimmy has been expected to turn the program around and catapult it back into a national power overnight.

Clausen certainly has his flaws and they are pointed out on a regular basis by flamers and talking heads alike. He had a tendency to lock on to a WR and his decision making under duress has been suspect. But, when you are running for your life behind a rabbit fence instead of being protected by a brick wall- you have to to get rid of the ball. Sometimes that means knowing where you are going to throw the ball before it is snapped and also trying to force a great play when your running game is bested by a group of lingerie models.

In this game, Clausen was perfect. He had incompletions? All I saw were a few passes that were dropped. Clausen was 22 of 26 for 401 yards and 5 touchdowns with 0 interceptions and he didn’t attempt a pass after the 7 minute mark in the third quarter (that stat was too good to not mention). It is quite apparent that Clausen is a different QB than Quinn. Clausen is a lot more brash and cocky as he plays well, and almost an isolationist when things aren’t quite going his way. Quinn was poised and a vocal leader in almost any situation. It will be interesting to see how Jimmy evolves as a leader on the field in 2009 as I am certain that he will continue to improve as a passer. Did you see those throws? Even when he didn’t have to put the ball on the money because the defender was burnt, he hit the receiver in stride. The TD pass to Tate at the end of the half was insane. Jimmy Clausen is insane. Hmm- ICP. Insane Clausen Posse (T-shirts will be available soon).

You stay awesome Golden Tate. Those were the words of The Subway Alumni Show- and how true they are. Tate smashed a few records of his own in the bowl game as he racked up 177 yards and three touchdowns while averaging almost 25 yards a reception. As bad as he toasted the Warrior secondary, and as good as Clausen’s throws were- he has another player to thank… Michael Floyd. Floyd had a less than average day catching the ball, and in fact, he had the least productive day statistically than any other player on the Irish roster that caught a football- 2 receptions for 17 yards. But the difference of having Floyd on the field as opposed to him on the sideline with a knee brace is one of epic proportions. Even Tate had to admit that Floyd helped draw coverage away from him and helped open up the passing game. These two players will enter the 2009 season as one of the best WR tandems in college football- if not the best. They will draw all kinds of coverages and looks from opposing defenses, and not only will they keep producing because of their playmaking abilities to go and get the ball, but they will open the rest of the offense up for players such as Allen, Rudolph, and three guys that will see their first action on the field in Shaq Evans, John Goodman, and Deion Walker. You stay awesome Golden Tate.

I want what ESPN is smoking. Or for that matter, what the main stream media is toking as well. First, Irish fans were blessed to have Andre Ware and Dave Pasch announce the game. They may of thought themselves to be comedians covering a football game, but the joke was on them most of the time. Forget the fact that they were butchering names on a regular basis as we should be used to it with Tom Hammond and Pat Hayden calling the Notre Dame home games, but the way they tried to entertain us was almost unbearable- even if you were as drunk as I was for the game. The Golden Shower is a classic moment and it is even funnier as they were not trying to be funny but clever. They waited until after the series was over and came back from a commercial break. How they thought that was a good idea is astounding. The Christmas names were laughable only because of how eager they were to use them after a couple of weeks of waiting.

As if the game announcing wasn’t bad enough, the commentary by Corso and most of the other talking heads at ESPN was criminal. After most of them picked Notre Dame to lose to Hawaii due to the Warriors being faster and more athletic, they took the blowout win that Notre Dame had and turned it into a big fucking joke. It’s not like the Irish left Hawaii with another bowl loss or even a close win- they fucking demolished the Warriors. Fucking demolished them. With the young roster that ND has this year, for them to end this ridiculous bowl losing streak and put themselves in a good position to have a great season in 2009. I wasn’t looking for them to crown Notre Dame as a national title contender in 2009, but for them to treat it like a joke is just another line of jokes that has been coming from that network. FYI- In 2001, USC went to the Las Vegas Bowl and lost to Utah. They then proceeded to go to 7 BCS games while winning an AP title in 2003 and a BCS title in 2004. I’m just saying.

Mike Anello for Heisman. Did you see how average the kickoff coverage team was without Mike Anello. Notre Dame ended the year ranked #1 in kickoff coverage and with an injured Anello on the sideline for the Hawai’i Bowl, they allowed more yardage per attempt than in any other game this year. It is unbelievable how much Anello means to that unit and how good of shape they are in next year with Anello scheduled to return.

Speaking of special teams, Amando Allen finally broke a kickoff return for a touchdown, 96 yards. Not only have Irish fans been waiting for Allen to return a kickoff, but anyone. Notre Dame hasn’t done that since Vontez Duff returned a kickoff for TD against Navy in 2002. It was almost just another blown chance for this unit as Allen stumbled right before he blew past the kicker. It should also be noted that Allen caught two passes for 59 yards and a touchdown as well.

It should not be forgotten that Golden Tate not only had a monster day receiving, but he also had a punt return for touchdown called back for a roughing the kicker penalty. It was a remarkable play that could of gave ND 56 points and maybe it would have thrusted Tate into All-American status in 2009. It didn’t count, but it was fun to watch.

I’m tired of regurgitating week old news and ideas. I might as well end this thing with a bullet list of quick thoughts and a few nuggets.

  • The team played with a lot of passion and determination. Did you see Grimes getting fired up and getting in the faces of the Hawai’i defenders? Where was that these past 4 years?
  • The running game was still dreadful, but it was effective as it loosened up the defense. that is all we can really ask for with this offensive line. Hughes looked very powerful and productive when he ran downhill. Coaches take note.
  • I didn’t say anything about the defense yet, but they played very strong. The 8 sacks that ND had put Hawai’i on the top of the list for most sacks given up in a single year… passing ND from 2007.
  • Ethan Johnson and Darius Flemming were figured to be big contributors for this game, and they produced like veterans.

That’s it. I’m too tired and too hungover to continue. I will have a lot of stuff on the site about recruiting and about the roster and depth chart from now until the start of Spring practice. The number of posts may decrease slightly as I have returned to the hell known as work, and I am getting ready to be a first time father in February, but i assure you that the content will still be palpable… somewhat.

Happy New Year !

Sergio Brown is pretty pumped about the game, and the future in 2009. Brian Smith is just amazed.

The Syracuse Hangover

November 24, 2008
This will not be a long post. This will not contain a lot of insight or analysis of the game. (Not like these ever do anyways). Other people have done the work for me. The links are as follows:

As you can see, this week is not about the Syracuse game when it comes to the X’s and O’s. It isn’t about U$C- yet. It’s about Charlie Weis. The doubters are out and the haters are in an orgy of Weis slamming.

I’m fence sitting. Why? Because I will stick to my guns and state that Weis will be back in 2009. Do I think it’s the right decision. Not really, but Notre Dame has been handcuffed since Kevin White gave Weis that huge contract extension.

This season is tremendously close to resembling the 2004 season that buried Ty Willingham. In that season a sophomore Brady Quinn took the team to a 6-5 regular season and lost to Oregon State in the Insight Bowl. Remember what happened in 2005? Can the Fighting Irish get that fight back in them for two more games this season? Probably not. The team is emotionally flat, and after a loss like this, how do they combat the Trojans?

I have many opinions about Weis, this years team, and the future of the program. But those opinions are a smorgasbord of a fucked up mess in my head. I can’t explain it. I want to, but I just can’t do right now.

I’m not sure this is a hangover post, I sound like I’m still drunk. I’m good with lists. I’ll go make one and get back to you soon. (Jesus, this post was awful)

This guy just beat Notre Dame. Greggers.

The Navy Hangover… I Overcame The Sea Sickness

November 18, 2008

Did you expect a different outcome? How many games in the history of Notre Dame VS. Navy ended up being a close game that the Irish somehow managed to survive in the last 15-20 years? More than we care to admit, and one less than we would have liked (2007).

Toryan Smith. If you would have asked me who the most likely surprise defensive player would be in the game this week, I would have probably listed off a list of 6 or 7 guys- and Toryan Smith would probably not be anywhere near that list. What a game from the junior linebacker from Georgia! This is what Irish fans have been hoping that Smith would do for the last few years. The Irish were struggling to keep any kind of momentum and after a blocked punt, Smith plucked the ball out of the air and ran to the endzone with a dive worthy of the excessive celebration penalty that it received. When asked about the play in the locker room, Toryan gave this fantastic quote:

“They always say act like you’ve done been there before, but I acted like I
ain’t going back.”

He played that way all game after he came in for injured starter Brian Smith early in the game. Toryan tallied up 10 tackles and helped the Irish defense stuff the Navy offense and hold them to their lowest rushing output in over 2 years. Smith did what we all knew he could do, and that was stuff the run. His weakness has always been his speed and pass coverage. I have a feeling that this second life that was granted to Toryan will be a blessing to Irish fans and his play over the next couple of weeks could effect the lineup in 2009. Just watch.

Players are in some pain. That was a hard hitting game. The Fighting Irish suffered two HUGE injuries with both Michael Floyd and Brian Smith out for the remainder of the regular season with knee sprains. After watching the play of Toryan Smith, I am at least a little optimistic that the defense will maintain its high level of play. However, with Floyd out of the lineup, the offense might struggle to come up with the big play that propelled the Irish earlier in the season. Golden Tate and Mike Floyd were a difficult tandem to stop, but with only Tate as the lone deep threat, don’t look for too many deep passes downfield. Both of these losses shouldn’t impact the Syracuse game as much as they will impact the final game of the season when the Irish travel out west to play Southern Cal. That is when the offense and defense will suffer from the lack of speed brought on by both B. Smith and Floyd.

What the hell is wrong with Jimmy? Clearly there is something wrong with Clausen. The answer is probably a little more complex than just saying that he is only a true sophomore and compare his stats to Brady Quinn’s sophomore year. I think it is a multi-headed monster that includes these statements which I believe to be fact:

  • Clausen’s ankle injury may be more severe than what is being reported. Clausen tweaked his ankle in the Washington game if I remember correctly. It is his right ankle, which is his back foot when he is throwing. After rewatching the Purdue game and the Navy game today, I see a huge difference in his throwing mechanics. Clausen’s accuracy derives from his great throwing form. This is absent. Most of his throws have been too high and his back foot may be the cause.
  • The 7 man zone coverage is killing our routes. Jimmy is throwing into double and triple coverage because in a 7 man zone, it is possible to cover each receiver with 2 or more defenders once they get past 15 yards. Teams do this because our running game is not that dangerous.
  • Clausen is simply trying to do too much. This is where the interceptions are coming from. He has to just take what is there and he failed to do so against Navy in the first half. Even the scramble is proof, when he took a huge hit instead of sliding. He is a competitor and is struggling with himself in trying to pull in the reigns.

These are only a few reasons, and by the way- he is still only a true sophomore.

The last 5 minutes. I am not going to get too in depth with the last five minutes, but I am going to defend Weis- a little bit. The Irish were sitting on the 2 yard line with their second team in the game threatening to go up 34-7. Charlie Weis did not fumble the football, Jonas gray did- a freshman. Everything else means nothing if we hold onto the ball and score a TD or even just a FG to go uo 30-7.

Clearly there was some mistakes by Weis with his fourth down decision around the 50. Clearly. But his decision to have the second team defense in after the failed attempt is not a mistake. One of the biggest problems with the 2007 team was not just that it was a young team, but they had no game experience. When you are up 27-7 with only a few minutes left- you put in your second string. BTW- the long pass that was ruled complete at the 1 (catch or no catch) was because a starter let his man get deeper than him. How does Weis move McNeil back, when Raeshon KNOWS he has too be the deepest man? The onside kicks were horrendous. Regardless of what direction the ball went after Parris batted it, I thought he had a decent shot at recovering the ball. Then Parris gets blown up on what should have been a penalty on the 2nd kick- which by the way was about as perfect as an onside kick can be. This is a coaching problem, and one that I’m sure will be addressed this week and every week after. The 4th timeout? Ask someone else. I read it was legit and Navy only used 2 up till then. Like I said, ask someone else.

Some quick hits to end this thing. Here are a few tidbits that I would normally go in depth with, but I am way too tired to keep writing:

  • The run game looked efficient. ND outrushed Navy. Let me say that again ND OUT RUSHED NAVY. Our line finally realized that Navy was giving up 50 pounds per man. The backs looked good with their cuts and vision. Yeah.
  • The offensive line STILL looks horrible on a speed rush on the outside. Young and Turk dropped the ball a few times. This may never get fixed. I did notice that TRob got beat on the outside when Young took the inside guy and TRob took the outside. Someone tell me why they do this style of pass blocking. Please?
  • Mike “The Dictator” Anello is still kicking ass on special teams. He blocked the punt that Toryan Smith returned. He also got away with a hold when he grabbed the punter’s leg and took him down after the ball was recovered. He kicks ass.
  • David Bruton is everywhere, but how many interceptions has he dropped this year? He had two more against Navy. At least he is making good plays on the ball, but will someone put some stick-em on his gloves. Please?
  • Brandon Walker is now known as ” Ca$h Money Findlay Bomb Dropper.” It’s a long name. But he has come a long way this season with his accuracy. He has a cannon for a leg and as long as he stays level -headed, he may win us a game with his leg this year.
  • The Irish are bowl eligible. Yeah.

The BC Hangover

November 10, 2008

For the sixth game in a row, Boston College has beaten Notre Dame after a disastrous 17-0 loss for the Fighting Irish. Allow that to soak in a little bit as you stare at Chris Crane holding the Frank Leahy Memorial Bowl Trophy as the Ireland Trophy comes into view.

That game sucked.

I was so distraught, that i immediately erased the game from my DVR. I knew I wouldn’t be able to watch it again. I just can’t. I usually watch the game 2-3 times before I post a hangover, but not this time. This was painful. So please forgive me if my upcoming thoughts on the game are a little off.

Stating the obvious.

  • You will not win football games when you lose the turnover battle 0-5.
  • You will have a hard time moving the football with penalties in crucial situations.

Notre Dame has had some turnover problems this year in its losses. In the four losses that Notre Dame has had they have lost by a combined score of 105-64 (26.25-16) with a turnover margin of 13-4 (3.25-1). If you take the Pitt game out of the equation, in which ND actually won the turnover battle 3-0, the Irish lost the turnover battle 13-1. This is a bigger indictment for the reasoning of the losses than anything else in my opinion. Turnovers are KILLERS. They take away any kind of success that an offense might have with one poor decision or one slip of a finger. This is very evident in this last game:

  • Turnover #1. After going nowhere in the first quarter, ND started moving the ball against BC and made it to the 50 yard line. Clausen threw an INT that was returned 76 yards for TD.
  • Turnover #2. Trailing 10-0, ND started driving the football and were sitting in BC territory. Clausen threw an INT.
  • Turnover #3. The second half started out well for ND… for a second. The Irish forced BC to punt after a 3 and out and it looked like ND would get the ball in good field position. Tate fumbled the punt and BC, then drove for a TD to make it 17-0.
  • Turnover #4. Late in the third quarter ND drove the ball 63 yards on 6 plays and looked like it was threatening to score when Clausen throws pick #3 in the endzone.
  • Turnover #5. Down 17-0 with almost no chance to win, ND drove the ball 47 yards for Clausen to throw his last INT inside the redzone.
  • Turnover on Downs. ND also turned the ball over twice after failed 4th down attempts. One in the third on only 4 plays and once in the 4th after a 9 play 53 yard drive.
  • The blocked punt. This was the second blocked punt in the last two weeks. This was deep in Irish territory and luckily ND escaped with a missed FG attempt.

The Irish had 6 penalties for 58 yards compared to BC’s 9-90. Yet the Irish penalties seemed so much more crucial. They killed drives and kept the Irish pinned back deep in their own territory.

  • Chop block on the first drive after a big play to Floyd.
  • Holding call on a Allen reception that put ND inside the 7 yard line of BC.
  • Two holding calls/ block in the backs on Jonas Gray on kickoffs.
  • Holding call on an Allen run that was for first down yardage.
  • Can’t remember the 6th, but I’m sure it sucked.

These things I just mentioned, are reason enough that ND got dominated by BC. But how about a few other reasons/excuses?

Stating the not so obvious at the time… maybe.

  • Clausen’s ankle injury is killing his accuracy. However it is bothering him, it is destroying him. Most of his passes looked off target, even some of those that the WR’s caught. All of his INT’s were high.
  • Clausen was battling the flu. If you ever had the flu than you understand how bad it sucks. Even if it wasn’t the flu, Clausen was sick and he looked like shit physically. The real question should be if he should have played at all or even in the second half. Hindsight is always 20/20, and I don’t have a real answer.
  • The lack of a real threat running the ball killed all hopes. We all knew this would bite us in the ass, but when ND needed to get something going after turnovers and stalled drives, they tried to run the ball to help get into a rhythm. The only rhythm was that of BJ Raji dancing after he threw Eric Olsen (LG) back into the backfield 5 yards. Olsen fell back into Aldridge and took James down for a 5 yard loss. That says it all. We needed some yards running, and we were totally lacking.

The defense played well. The defense did a very good job of stopping BC, but they still allowed over 100 yards to a BC rusher and created no turnovers. I’ll give BC QB Chris Crane credit, he did not make any mistake that would put his team in jeopardy of a turnover like he has in so many games this year. The defense only allowed 246 yards (79 passing, 167 rushing) and only gave up 10 points. The longest scoring drive that they allowed was a 73 yard drive that ended in a FG. The defense didn’t play great, but they played well enough to win. BC was in complete control of the game defensively, so the BC offense did not have to do much. That allowed Crane to make good decisions and cancel out any type of opportunity that the defense could create for itself and the team. My hats off to the Irish defense.

Charlie Weis. I’ll save you the trouble. Charlie Weis will not be fired after the season is over. (The Chicago-Sun Times wants to sell papers). Not happening, so quit talking about it or suggesting it, because that is as futile as talking about Notre Dame’s chances of making a BCS game this year. Weis is making his fair share of mistakes, without question. He is also doing some things right as well. But no one wants to hear about the things he does well, so let’s look at a few things that he needs to change and will be changing:

  • Shut up Chuck. Quit spewing your philosophy of coaching to the media. Quit talking about the NFL, Tommy Brady, and the two Bills. The two Bills never give the media anything to write about. You keep divulging all of your mind tactics for all to hear when it should be a team only kind of thing. The good cop bad cop crap with Jimmy? I’m sure Clausen can read the paper and doesn’t give a shit about the good cop bad cop deal with you and Paulus. Give Tressel like answers- coated in an extra layer of vanilla.
  • Call the plays. I know that handing over the playcalling duties sounded like a good idea at the time to EVERYONE, but it just isn’t working. Notre Dame pays you millions of dollars to call these things because that is what made you so good to begin with. I know you announced that you would be doing this. Good job. The defense will be fine with Brown and Tenuta. You can’t tackle anybody with that leg anyways.
  • You are going to need to make some coaching changes at seasons end and I think you need to look no farther than John Latina (offensive line) and Jappy Oliver (defensive line). These units are grossly under performing. The offensive line has players that almost every school in the country were after and they still get blown back on running plays. The defensive line is undermanned for sure, but they are not getting a decent production week in and week out.

These are just a few things that can be done that will help the team and the perception of the team throughout the country.

The program. After this loss Irish fans are losing their fucking minds. Why? Did you all seriously think that ND would be 10-2 this year? Well I did too. But I am also aware of most of the so called experts predicting an 8-4 / 7-5 season. Did I miss something? Is the season over? No? That’s right, the Fighting Irish still have 3 games to go and are sitting on a 5-4 record. Slightly better than the 1-8 record at this time a year ago.

The Irish are set to play Navy (N), Syracuse (H), and USC (A). If ND beats Navy and Syracuse and loses to USC, that puts them at 7-5 and either an undeserved Gator Bowl berth or a trip to the Sun Bowl. Even if the unthinkable happens and ND splits with Navy and Syracuse and end with a 6-6 record, they will still go to the Sun Bowl more than likely or even the International bowl.

No matter what your feelings are about the type of bowl game the Irish go to, they will have a chance to end the bowl streak. But maybe what’s more important is that they go to a bowl game- period. When a team has the chance to get more practice time- ESPECIALLY FOR A YOUNG TEAM, that makes the preparation for the following season easier. And with a team that could have 17 starters (18 if you include Walls returning in the spring) coming back for 2009, you have the beginnings of what could be a very good ND team. Maybe not NC good, but BCS worthy. I’ll take that. The young players this year can and should improve next year, including Clausen which I might remind everyone is a TRUE SOPHOMORE.

I’m just saying that we all should think twice before we jump off of the bandwagon. The program has its holes, but it also has its bright spots. I’m saving my ankles for the cheering in a bowl game. It’s going to happen. And then I’ll need those ankles for the 2009 and 2010 campaigns. Am I a little too optimistic for you? That may be, but I am just a fan- just like you and I need something to cheer about and something to believe in as well. We all do in these turbulent times in the world. Just give it time. ND is still better than it was in 2007 and will be better in 2009 than it is now. I hope. I believe.

The Pittsburgh Hangover. That Tasted Like Shit

November 4, 2008

Things have been a little crazy for The Subway Domer as of late and my only trip up to South Bend this year was no different.

I am appalled at the picture on the left. I don’t fucking care that Jon Bon Jovi was at the game. Play another song that sucks balls. This is just another example of Notre Dame becoming Notre Disney.

Like most of you, I was instantly pissed from the 3rd quarter on to the end of the game. Unlike some of you, I did not instantly come to the Internet to blast players and coaches alike. I did peek in on a few of the message boards and I instantly saw about 327 threads calling for Weis’s job and hundreds more flaming out against the program.

I’m spent. After being in a funeral home otherwise known as Notre Dame Stadium for what turned out to be the longest game in the existence of Notre dame Stadium, I saw far too much and far too little to come to any conclusion about the future of the program. Call me blind, just don’t call me a flamer. We were countless plays away from winning this thing and fell short. If we would have won, I’m sure the haters (ND fans and others alike)would have still blasted this team for the obvious reasons, but it would have been win #6 and a bowl berth so things would have been a little cheerier. Instead, I overcooked my steak, had skunked Michelob, and watched a team piss away a chance to improve. That tasted like shit. I should have stuck with Pabst.

Charlie Weis. As I stated earlier, people want his ass gone. I am not one of those people. I see no reason to have another coaching search and set up a chance that a few of our key players to have a decision to make on whether to stay or to head elsewhere. I think that in the overall scheme of things, that Weis is doing what is best for the program. However. There were many, many mistakes by the Fighting Irish Head Coach on Saturday. Go for the fucking throat Charlie. I am way past annoyed with the way Weis sits on a lead for the past 3.5 years. It’s old. The thing that Notre Dame does best right now is throwing the football. I’m not sure that we did enough of it on Saturday- and that’s with 44 attempts. The first down playcalling was awful. I know Haywood is the “playcaller” now, but ultimately the offense falls on Weis. A buddy of mine (Buckeye fan) that was with me at the game, stated that he could see the body language of the team coming out of the huddle and he could tell that they didn’t want to run whatever play that was called. It was maddening (a term that has been used a lot by others writing about this game). Weis says that he is looking for “closers” on this team. I want our Head Coach to be one. 7 yards in the 3rd quarter is fucked up. Do better.

Jimmy Clausen. After you look at Clausen’s stats for the game against Pitt (23-44 for 271 and 3 TD’s) you might think that he had a decent game. That may be a little true, but some of the decision making was really bad. He didn’t throw any INT’s but there should have been with some of the coverage that he threw into. Overall though Jimmy looked like a very good Sophomore quarterback. He will make a few mistakes from time to time and he will make some really good throws as well. He really suffered from having to deal with a lot of pressure from the front four of Pitt and throwing into a 7 man zone. That is not easy. Of course, people are going to blast him because of who he is and who he plays for, but I think that Clausen is right on track (vote in this weeks poll if you haven’t already) to be one of the greatest ever at QB for the Fighting Irish. He did not have a great game, and the overthrow to a WIDE OPEN Mike Floyd that could have won the game was really, really bad. He will have a hard time sleeping that one off this week.

The offensive line. These guys took a step back. After playing very well for the past few games, they were not firing on all cylinders. Clausen had too many balls batted down (5) and too many Pitt bodies in his face. Sam Young may be the weak link. I don’t know. Trevor Robinson looks like the real deal as a true freshman. He should see more time. Other than that, I’m not sure what the staff or the players will do about a lack of determination against only a 4 man rush let alone a blitz. Something doesn’t look right.

Golden Tate and Michael Floyd. With out a doubt, these are the very best weapons that Notre Dame has in its arsenal. It’s not even close. Floyd looked like a veteran with 10 receptions for 100 yards and 2 TD’s while Tate looked like another highlight all-star with 6 receptions for 111 yards and 1 TD. Floyd had a very blue collar day as his longest reception was only 18 yards. He ran a lot of comebacks and shorts outs to go along with his endzone fade patterns. Tate did a little bit of everything and made one of the best catcthes this year with a a bobble grab that went for 47 yards. The problem is that ND was not using anybody else with any kind of consistency. The Irish have to use Allen, Rudolph, and Kamara more since the defenses will be keying in on Floyd and Tate more and more. The more ND throws to others (I think the loss of Grimes is bigger than anyone is admitting right now) the more it will open up these playmakers.

The Running Backs. I have no particular comment of my own, but rather a quote from of Her Loyal Sons:

As awful as ND’s running game is – and at this point, no amount of statistical
spin can change that – it’s time to declare Armando Allen the #1

The Stadium. This game was a Wimbledon event. Wimbledon without the top seeds. Being Lutheran and having Catholics in the family, I am used to sitting down, standing up- repeat 20 times. But this is insane. I spent the last 3 years over in the student body (Thanks Jon) and maybe I am just in shock with the overall effort from the crowd. The TV timeouts suck and take the flow out of the game, but wow. So does all of the tight ass fans that yell only at the person in front of them. This Stadium is so overwhelmingly calm that it makes me want to assault a stuffed penguin. There were 2 moments that stick out to me that are not crowd related, but were things that happened that I will never forget.

  1. The sprinklers going off before the second part of the first overtime was insane. What the hell was going on? I realize that Irish fans wanted the game to be over, but maybe they should have waited until Pitts kicker was on that end to let it fly?
  2. After the Tate TD, the game was delayed. I thought that the officials were trying to decide if they should check the replay on the TD as they did with the Floyd TD’s. I saw a broken drum and started to yell out a few profanities about getting the game moving and other such things. It wasn’t until I saw the Pitt player that was shaken up on the play walking back to the bench that I realized what was going on. I felt like an asshole and I instantly issued a loud apology to the fans (Irish and Pitt). They all laughed as they must have sensed my embarrassment ant heartfelt repentance. My bad.

The Defense in Nutshells.

  • Lambert looked awful once again. Blanton looked a little bit better. This all makes me wish for Walls.
  • McNeil had 2 INTs and almost took one back to the house. He was the corner that Baldwin scored on in the corner, but that is an awfully hard job to do when the WR has 5 inches on you and can jump like superman. I thought McNeil did a really good job overall.
  • David Bruton makes plays. So does Kyle McCarthy. Maybe too many as they combined for 31 tackles.
  • Harrison Smith made a really bad decision when he got that personal foul. It was stupid. It may have cost us the game, but it is one of about 50 plays that the Irish can look back on as possible game changers.
  • The defense played a lot of young bodies. I can’t help but wonder how better off this defense would be if Toryan Smith would have panned out as a real MLB. Our personnel issues across the front 7 are scary. This unit is playing out of position as far as the position assignments go. It shows against teams that run effectively.

That’s really all I have. I am already moving on past this game and looking forward to Boston College. I just have these final thoughts for all of you trashing the program.

  • The Irish are right on track for what most experts considered them to be this year: 7-5/8-4 with a bowl bid.
  • This is still a young team. They will get better.
  • There are still 4 games left this season and anything can happen.
  • Better crack open another one, this one kind of tastes like shit too.

The Washington Hangover… Gone Generic

October 27, 2008

It feels good to be disappointed again. Notre Dame battled against a far inferior opponent, but despite a 33-7 victory- I can’t help but think that it should have been 57-0. I never thought I would feel that way for another year or two, here we are at 5-2 and I want more. It feels good.

So here are just a few thoughts from the game. I have some other stuff going on outside of blogging, so I will make this brief and a little generic. This is the Washington Huskies Ty Willingham Post- generic as Flavorite.

  • Clausen was off his game. I was worried that the bye week and having to travel across the country might do this to a few of the younger players, but I thought that Jimmy would have been able to overcome. It’s not like he played rotten- just not the same as we have seen in the first 6 games of the season. He’ll shake it off and get back to form this week. I have no doubts about it.
  • Mike Floyd is just sick. He had another good game with 4 receptions for 107 yards and a TD. The TD catch was different than the other scores Floyd has this year, because it was a catch and run for 51 yards. It is nice to see that kind of playmaking ability that close to the line of scrimmage by a wide receiver- not named Golden. Floyd should of had one or 2 more TD’s, but Jimmy’s lack of accuracy that night didn’t help. Regardless, he had a good night and especially good for a freshman coming off of a bad play the game prior.
  • It was nice to see Harrison Smith finally getting rewarded for getting his nuts crushed every week. I always see Smith go up in the air on the blitz and get an opposing lineman’s helmet stuffed right in his jock. Smith came away with 2 sacks and once again he proved to be a decent running back as well. Smith took a fake punt 35 yards. This was the second time this year that Harrison got a carry off of a fake punt. Both times he was successful as he got the first down and then some.
  • I wanted that shutout. I WANTED IT BAD!!! Oh well. The Fighting Irish have not shutout an opponent since Rutgers in 2002 42-0. The lone touchdown was scored on our third teamers and walk-ons. BTW- 2002 saw another shutout as well when the Irish blanked Maryland in the season opener 22-0. It’s ironic that the 2002 team was a Ty coached, Davie built defensive team. Weird.
  • Speaking of Davie… I thought he did a very good job in the booth. His counterpart was Mark Jones, and that ass clown tried more than a few times to slam ND. Davie backed Weis and the University up time after time. It was just very surreal. Just imagine if Holtz showed up. You can tell it is close to Halloween.
  • Notre Dame suffered last year in some part to the lack of experience as much as the relative youth of the team. The Fighting Irish have had too many close games this year, to really get some real playing time for the second teamers and freshman. One that stood out was Jonas Gray. Gray came in for mop up duty and ran the ball 9 times for 61 yards. He passed the eyeball test. Also, Flemming got the start at Jack LB over Mo Crum. It wasn’t planned according to Weis, but it says a lot about what they think about Flemming.
  • The defense was fucking good. But, Washington is just as awful. It is very encouraging, however, that the defense only allowed like 78 yards before the TD “drive” by Washington late in the 4th quarter. Brian Smith was hitting players as hard as a fat girl hits the open buffet at Golden Corral. Some interesting things from our defense came about Saturday: Herring was the leading tackler for the game after being almost non-existent for most of the season. As stated before, Flemming starting over Crum. The Irish had no takeaways. I’m not sure what happened , so let me know- where’s Gary Gray? Is he hurt? Anyways, the defense played great and just destroyed any hopes for Washington early in the game.

That’s about it for me. I apologize if this was a little too generic, but like I said… I got some things going on and haven’t the time to type out all of my thoughts.

You don’t want to go there anyways.

BTW- James Aldridge is catching on fire with another good performance. 13 carries for 84 yards and 2 TDs. He looks happy.

The Tar Heel Hangover…

October 14, 2008

People are pointing to this game as proof that Fighting Irish football is heading in the right direction. I agree. We are heading in the right direction. But they are doing it like a drunk driver heading home from the bar… all over the place. You will make it home in good shape 9 out of 10 times- but it’s that 10th time that can land you in hot water. That hot water for ND was a loss. Their drink of choice? Turnovers. My head hurts just thinking about it, but here we go with another hangover.

Is that really our offense? Because I love it. That was one of the better gameplans that we have seen from Weis while he has been at ND. Starting the game with 5 wide- brilliant. These are the type of things that made Weis such a coveted playcaller. I know Haywood is calling the plays, but if you think Weis is letting him come up with the entire gameplan, you’re nucking futs. This offense pretty much moved at will on North Carolina’s defense, and the biggest stops were made by our own guys mental mistakes. The evolution of this offense has been stunning since the San Diego State game and almost unrecognizable from 2007.
Is that really our defense? Because I thought we were supposed to be aggressive. I saw our corners giving 10+ yards of cushion, and a lot less blitzes. Maybe I’m wrong, but that was as soft of a unit as I have seen this year. The problem lies within our inability to take a ball carrier down on first contact. I don’t know how many yards we gave up after the first contact by a defender, but it had to be a shit ton. This is the bye week, so TACKLING DRILLS are in order. Break out the Irish Eyes and put all of the defensive players together. The emotion is there, but there are other issues that have to be addressed.
James Aldridge for the touchdown. I have never heard that in 2.5 years. Aldridge scored the first touchdown of his career for Notre Dame on Saturday. Aldridge is looking more and more like the running back that everyone thought he would be coming out of high school as a 5 star prospect. Let’s hope he keeps improving.
“Kamara might be a better safety prospect.” This was a quote from Duval’s coach in high school during his senior year. He certainly looked the part on a pass break up when Duval turned himself into the defender and smoked a UNC linebacker as he was trying to intercept the ball. But, Duval also had his best receiving day in quite a while with 5 receptions for 58 yards. And maybe more importantly, some of those catches were fucking clutch. If Kamara can turn himself back into the dependable receiver that he was in 2007, this offense is going to be that much more dangerous.
Speaking of dangerous receiving threats… Golden Tate is still playing out of his mind. He had 5 receptions for 121 yards and a TD. Weis was looking for the “dive right in” kind of mentality and he found it in Tate. This kid needs the ball more and more. He has the same ability as past Irish greats to make you hold your breath as you wait for something great to happen. Golden made one of those catches as he stole an interception from a North Carolina defender on a jump ball and he came down with the reception. He has what looks to be the surest hands on the team, and Clausen’s confidence in Golden to grab any ball thrown in his direction is growing every week. Tate is perhaps our biggest threat with the ball in his hands and I would hope that Weis would try to get a little creative and come up with more ways to feed Golden the rock. Get ready people- Golden is only a sophomore and he will only get better as his skills as a WR keep developing.
I thought he hooked it. When Brandon Walker came out and tried a 42 yard field goal, I said to myself, “Don’t hook this fucking ball.” The kick went up and the ball left my TV screen as Brad Neslar exclaimed that he missed it. Then the ball came across the screen and the officials put their hands up in the air. Kudos to you, Brandon Walker. Neslar had his voodoo on me and I almost flipped out of my chair. I hope that Wallker can continue to prove me wrong. I wondered why ND didn’t kick the FG when it was 4th and 7 in the 4th quarter. Was Weis still not convinced that Walker was coming around? Let’s ask Weis:

“I thought we needed a touchdown. It had nothing to do with the field goal
kicker (Brandon Walker). I thought we needed a touchdown. Obviously, I put the
kid in before, so it’s not about him, but I thought we needed a touchdown
because I was concerned that they were getting in that 2-tight formation and
pounding us, and I was concerned with them being able to run out the clock. That
is the only reason. It wasn’t any disrespect to Brandon.”

Also, it was great to see just about the entire team come up to Brandon and give him a pat on the back, ass, and/or helmet. We’re going to need him and they all know it as well.
Floyd. The “F” stands for freshman. Mike Floyd has made some amazing plays this year as a true freshman. He owns defensive backs. He jumps up in the air and plucks the ball out of it and comes down with it. Teams are having a tough time defending both him and Golden Tate. However, he made a crucial mistake at the end of the game. No matter what the call was or what it should have been, as soon as Floyd caught the ball he needed to just get down. I am still not convinced that it was a fumble, but it wouldn’t have made any difference if he would have just hit the ground with his knee while three North Carolina defenders were coming down on him. This is a key lesson that Floyd should learn from, and I think that he will.
I gotta get out of here. As you can probably tell, this “Hangover” post is a day or two late. This loss was a tough pill to swallow. I saw so much good from the offense that I just can’t wait for this bye week to end and some animal abuse begins with the Huskies. But, this team needs a lot of work on the defensive side of the ball. Maybe it was the scheme, maybe we are just soft- maybe both. Either way, ND is 4-2 and staring at a bowl game. This is a much improved team, and perhaps that is what I’ll take away from this game the most. I gotta go.

Stanford Hangover… Steamrolling

October 6, 2008

Alright, so maybe the Irish aren’t steamrolling the competition so far, but if any of you followed my advice on the beer this week- you should be.

Really though, this is feeling pretty good. After a 2007 season that started out at 0-5, a 4-1 start feels like heaven.

Thank-You’s and Fuck-You’s. First, I wanted to thank everyone that came over to Subway Domer for the Live Blog during the game. I had a great time and I will definitely do another one this season, I’m just not sure which game yet. (October’s schedule is not as kosher as September’s was for my real life). The fuck-you? To Mediacom. My digital cable has 2 NBC channels and neither of them worked for shit. The digital signal was going all apeshit for the entire game. Pitiful, that this is the technology that is being forced down our throats.

On to the Game…

Clausen continues his march for the Heisman. Well maybe in 2009. Jimmy is cruising right now with another career performance in hand after he went 29-40 ( 72.5%) for 347 yards with 3 TD’s and 0 interceptions. I’ll take that stat line any day regardless of the opponent. Clausen was dominant. He was making good decision after good decision which included a lot of check downs to Armando Allen, which Weis said in his post game press conference that he had been preaching the importance of checking it down to the RB. Clausen also had quite a few audibles that turned into big plays with the biggest being the long TD to Floyd and his TD pass to Rudolph. He looks like he is having a lot of fun and is becoming more and more confident in his abilities and those of his teammates around him as well. Jimmy is still young and he should only keep improving as the season continues.

Sack this. Notre Dame had been criticized by the media and famously by an opponent for not getting the sack totals that should come from a team that blitzes 75% of the time. Notre Dame shut a few people up with a 5 sack performance from 4 different players; Sergio Brown, Brian Smith, Darius Flemming, and Pat Kuntz (2). The sacks don’t tell the whole story though. ND also had 2 QB hurries, 1 pass breakup, and 3 INT’s. This is all due to the pressure the defense is putting on the QB. Just like winning, sacks are infectious. And with the amount of times ND blitzes, the sack totals should only increase as they march on this season. Just remember, even if they don’t get to the QB, the pressure is dictating the opposing offense into doing things it doesn’t want to do, and that is why ND hired Jon Tenuta- to control that side of the ball.

The drama continues. Brandon Walker missed two more field goals this week- badly. I’m not going to hammer the kid more, since everyone on the planet is already doing so. I will say that I am shitting my pants. If he is the best option we have at kicker, than we might have some real bumpy games ahead on the road. The Irish have to make the most of every opportunity it has in enemy territory and with no real threat of 3 points, this makes winning close football games very tough. Remember the playcalling last year? This effects the way Weis decides what to do once the Irish get inside the opponents 30 yard line and even more so inside the redzone. This is the biggest red flag for this team.

Michael Floyd is playing out of his mind. Consider this: last year, Notre Dame had a freshman WR that set records and became a huge part of the offense. That WR was Duval Kamara. He ended the season with 32 receptions for 357 yards and 4 touchdowns. Floyd has 21 receptions for 333 yards and 3 TD’s in 5 games. Plus, he has by my count (could be wrong here) 4 pass interference calls that were called because defensive backs can’t handle him. Against Stanford he had 5 catches for 115 yards and 1 TD. Keep your eye on Floyd, and I know you will, because he is rapidly becoming a legend in South Bend- a place where the term “legend” should never be tossed around lightly. Floyd, in my opinion, will become the greatest WR in the history of Notre Dame- by his Junior year. I just hope he sticks around.

Fruitless. Notre Dame did a great job of creating turnovers Saturday, but it netted 0 points. Three interceptions (and a fumble that maybe Kuntz could have took to the house and not his own INT that he stated in a post game interview) were turned into 3 drives that ended in emptiness. Had the Irish capitalized on these turnovers, this could have been a blowout. This is something that has to be addressed with 7 games left. If ND wants the respect it thinks it deserves, the wins need to be by bigger margins and that comes with points off of turnovers. Just ask Michigan.

Speaking of turnovers… Notre Dame had 0 for the second straight game this season. For a very young team just learning how to win, this is extremely important. ND has not shot itself in the foot because of better pass protection, better ball handling, and better decisions overall. This stat alone can determine the outcome of a game and ND is keeping itself on the right side of zero.

The cream rises to the top. Before the season started ND was looking at a 3 player logjam at RB. But it has become more of a one man show these past two weeks and Armando Allen looks like the guy. Allen didn’t have a great day running the ball against Stanford with only 36 yards on 9 carries, but he did have a touchdown running the ball and he added another touchdown receiving to go along with his 7 catches for 66 yards. So Allen had 2 TD’s while being a duel threat in the backfield, he is doing something even bigger than that- pass protection. When the play calls for Allen to stay in and pass block, he has done a fantastic job of locking in on his assignment and taking that player out of the play. This is more visible when the opposing defense brings a blitz: Allen steps up and takes the blitzer out of the play. Armando does this better than any other back on the roster and that is the real reason he is getting more snaps this year. He has solidified himself as the number one back, and should stay there with his solid overall play.

Bronco Nagurski anyone? Maybe I’m getting a little ahead of myself here, but Kyle McCarthy has been stellar. Kyle came into the Stanford game as the national leader in tackles and then had a 14 tackle (7 solo, 1 TFL) day with an interception. He is everywhere that the ball is. I’m serious. Name a defensive player that has done more this year. When Kyle hits a guy, he goes down. It may not have a lot of flash, and there really is nothing flashy about McCarthy, but his play is consistent and hard-nosed. I’m just saying.

Krazy Kuntz. I have kept preaching that Brian Smith is the emotional leader out on the field for the defense, but I would be remiss if I didn’t include Pat Kuntz in that conversation. Kuntz had a great day defensively for the Irish Saturday with 3 tackles, 2 of which were sacks, an interception, and a fumble recovery at the end of the game. But, his biggest impact may have been his swagger and his freakish ability to freak people out. We should have known that Pat was up to something after his striptease during the Friday pep rally, but sporting the most conservative hair style he has had in quite some time, he dropped the bombs for the Irish. If a jawing was needed you could bet Kuntz was there. He was a warrior and helped get the team fired up for Stanford and their mouth running bitch, Chris Marinelli. Kuntz showed a lot of class after the game with his comments in the presser:

“There was a lot of talking going on between all of us. It was just a battle. I
have to give them credit. They are a good team and they are a very improved team
from last year, just like us. Good luck to them in the rest of their season.”

Marinelli should have known better, but Jim Harbaugh coaches him.

I thought we were tight? Tight end has been one of the positions that Weis has really recruited well. And it’s a good thing too. After Ragone got injured for the year and after Yeatman ran into Johny Law, fans were wondering what in the hell we were going to do. Start a freshman from game one and keep on trucking, that’s what. Rudolph had his best game in an Irish uniform against Stanford with 5 receptions for 70 yards and 1 TD. He is quickly becoming a real middle of the field threat that defenses are going to have problems with. With all of the receiving options ND has on the field at one time, Kyle (even at 6’6″ 252 lbs.) gets lost in the mix by defenders. His run blocking is improving each week as well. John Carlson and Anthony Fasano before him, made a living by running precise seam routes and making clutch catches. Rudolph is following that recipe and the final product is delicious.

Turk is Good. In what is one of the most pleasant surprises in the 2008 season (which is saying a lot actually) Mike Turkovich has found a home at left tackle. He has played very well this season and has helped anchor a much improved line in 2008. The scare is over. Weis said in his Sunday presser that Turkovich is ready to play this week. Turk was helped off of the field Saturday and it looked like he injured himself really badly. Weis stated:

“Much better than we thought it would be, actually today he handed in his
crutches and handed in his brace and he’ll be ready to go (Monday), which is
something totally, way better than I expected.”

Great news.

Lambert is lost. If Darrin Walls had played this year, do you really think Lambert would be playing as much? 90% of the big pass plays go right at Lambert. He seems incapable of making a play on the ball and is routinely burnt by wide receivers. I hate ragging on a kid, but i can’t help but wonder how ND would benefit from Walls, McNeil, and Gray as opposed to what we have now, which is still good, but vulnerable. North Carolina has 2 very good WR’s and I can’t help but cringe at watching one of them run by Lambert for a long fade for 6. I hope he proves me wrong.

Harbaugh is a bitch. I won’t get too in depth here. You saw the game, and I’m sure you heard all of the stuff afterwards as well. Harbaugh = B-I-T-C-H. simply

“Hey Jimmy! Can we have your autograph?” – Nate, Evan, and Dayne

The Purdue Hangover… All Bombed Out

September 29, 2008

CRANK ME UP! Notre Dame found some running plays that actually work and for a couple of quarters, the Fighting Irish looked like the team we all hoped they would be in 2008.

Let’s get BOMBED!!!

Jimmy Clausen knows what he his doing. Clausen looked the part of big time college quarterback Saturday. Jimmy was 20-35 for 275 yards and 3 TD’s. Great stats. The biggest stat of them all is the donut. 0 interceptions and 0 fumbles for Jimmy. He had a few passes that could have been picked off, but they weren’t and for the most part he threw balls that only his targets were going to catch. The team leaned on him to make some big throws early, and he was able to come through for his teammates and ND Nation. Jimmy is no Brady Quinn or Joe Montana. He doesn’t have the “Golden Boy” image and quite frankly, he will be a whipping boy for the media until he leaves Notre Dame (and probably beyond). But he is going to be a very good QB and is developing faster than Brady Quinn did as a sophomore. Oh, that’s right! Jimmy is still a SOPHOMORE! That’s means, watch out bitches, Clausen is only going to get better and that is truly saying something after a very good performance.

Allen benefits from rethinking. It was kind of subtle and may have gone unnoticed. No, I’m not talking about Allen’s 134 yards on 17 carries (7.9 APC) and a touchdown. That will get MAJOR notice. The thing I’m talking about, is something that we have all seen before, but not since 2006. It was the style of running plays that we ran. The delays that Darius Walker ran that worked so well in 2005 and 2006 were more prevalent on Saturday. The difference, is that instead of Walker it was Armando Allen weaving and breaking tackles for big gains. Weis has been trying to run these power gut slams and leads, but we are not that team. What ND did Saturday in going back to what has worked in the short history of Weis’s regime, using the pass to set up the run and using delays and draws, pumped new life into an electric player in Armando Allen. Notre Dame is just more finesse on offense. Embrace it. And your closing thought on this topic: Armando Allen had 248 all purpose yards and 1 TD, he is starting to break out and break tackles while breaking opposing fans hearts… good.

Robert Blanton is a football player. I remember reading something on a recruiting site last year about Blanton. They tried describing him as an intense, cocky/confident, playmaker without all of the flash of other top DB’s. I tried to wrap my head around just what in the hell this meant and then when I saw game tape of him and now after the 4th game into his freshman year I get it. Robert Blanton is a football player. He doesn’t wear gloves or tape and doesn’t have dreads or a Pat Kuntz mullet. He is a throwback. He plays hard every play and plays with a confidence that I would rather label cocky. Blanton’s 47 yard INT return for TD sparked the Fighting Irish faithful and the team itself to get off their ass and get ready for the fight. I like that. I like football players. Robert Blanton is a football player, and one ND will have for quite some time making plays. The future is bright, but it is also now.

The youth movement is officially creating more and more momentum. Once again, the freshman and sophomore classes dominated the game for Notre Dame. Look at this list of big playmakers from these two classes…

  • Jimmy Clausen 275 yards 3 TD
  • Armando Allen 248 A.P. yards 1 TD
  • Robert Blanton 1 INT 1 pass breakup 1 TD
  • Mike Floyd 6 catches for 100 yards
  • Kyle Rudolph 3 catches for 32 yards 1 TD
  • Brian Smith is the heart and soul of the defense.
  • Golden Tate 5 catches for 64 yards and 1 TD
  • Brandon Walker 5/5 E.P. and a 41 yard FG (I’m feeling generous)

There are a lot more names I could mention as well. We are winning football games while riding the backs of these young guns. I love the future of Fighting Irish football. They have scored all of Notre Dame’s 101 points this year with the exception of 6 of them.

Those 6 points belong to David Grimes. Grimes caught a 30 yard TD pass against an all out blitz on Jimmy Clausen. This TD was important for a couple of reasons: First, it kind of sealed the deal and put the Irish up 2 TD’s against a Purdue offense that was having trouble getting in the endzone in the 2nd half. Second, it rewarded a player/captain that gets overshadowed by the talented younger players around him. Grimes will not lead ND in any receiving category this year, but because of his willingness to share and help develop the younger guys, Grimes is proving why he is a captain. BTW- Grimes will make a couple of huge plays this year in key moments- give him mad props.

Speaking of props… Golden Tate needs acting lessons. One of the big receptions Saturday, almost wasn’t. Tate caught a 38 yard jump ball that was called incomplete and then overturned after review. Tate was unfazed when the official called it incomplete and didn’t make any attempt to plead his case. He was quoted…

“I knew I had it in my hands and I knew it was a legitimate catch. Then I hit
the ground and I was thinking I had dropped the ball and it was an incompletion.
I was kind of upset that it got out of my hands.”

I’m the coach! I’m the coach! Pat Kuntz pissed Corwin Brown off so bad that Brown went off into a rage and was seen on NBC yelling at the player with wild and crazy eyes. Good. It is speculated that Kuntz was giving Mo Richardson the business after a play and Brown took up for the Junior. Kuntz should be a leader, but Brown putting the player in his place and letting him know that he will handle it, should encourage Irish fans that he is a very capable and passionate coach. Kuntz should just be glad that Tenuta is up in the press box.

Brock Spack is owned. Even after last years loss to Purdue, ND showed that it could put up points against the Purdue defensive coordinator. This guy is OWNED by Weis and it is a little much for Boiler fans to handle. This is probably the last year Spack is employed, but don’t cry for him. he has a bright future in the Arena Football League.

The last ride of Tiller? When interviewed by NBC about his impending retirement, Tiller was asked what a perfect day of retirement was. He then went into some dribble that almost put me to sleep. Then after the game, Tiller was asked if he was glad that this would be his last game at ND stadium. He replied:

“No, Coach Weis invited me to come back as a guest coach next year, so I’ll
probably be here.”

I just hope that he keeps Spack at home.

Mike Anello continues his mission to conquer the world… or some third world country. Dictator Mike made another great tackle on special teams and has Notre Dame ranked #1 in kickoff return yardage defense. As long as this stat stays close all season, Notre Dame will play very well. Long fields help stop points. Period.

Don’t call me Rudy, bitch.

The Saturday Spartan Hangover… More Whine Slave!

September 21, 2008

That noise you all heard, was ND nation’s hopes of miraculously having an 11-0 record before the USC game, crashing into Spartan Stadium. It has happened every year since 1988, that moment when we as a fanbase witness the end of a National Title run.

Does this sound a little far-fetched? Of course it does. But when you are a major Independent, that is the main goal every year. And after reading a few of the message boards, you would think that ND was heading to the Super Bowl this year. Quit fooling yourselves, and start drinking heavily.

I’ll have more commentary on the season as a whole later on, but let’s look at the game…

Where art thou Kamara? Always around an interception it looks like. Of Clausen’s 6 INTs on the year, 4 of them had been pass attempts to Kamara. Two were against San Diego State, and two were this past Saturday against Michigan State. I criticized Kamara heavily for the two against SDSU, and for good reason. The two yesterday were not as visibly Kamara’s fault as the previous ones, but there was an exception. You can call it a lazy route, or you can call it a lazy throw, either way the play was just lousy. The jump ball for Kamara was not the best throw by Clausen, but Duval clearly had possession of the ball for a split second and had another split second gone by, his foot would have hit the turf and it would have been 7-3 Irish and maybe a totally different game. Kamara didn’t hold onto the ball and Otis Wiley muscled it away from him. Kamara should be our best jump ball receiver, and especially in the redzone. He wasn’t Saturday, and in fact, had 0 catches. Kamara has to step up. I believe he can, but something isn’t clicking right now.

We’ll always have Parris. Robby Parris made his biggest contribution this season with 4 catches for 22 yards. Parris has good hands and he should be counted on coming down with the ball going over the middle of the field. However, the quick swing passes with him in the slot should not be in the playbook. You know the play. Samardzija and Stovall were masters of this route and had the ability to get the YAC needed to make this play work. Watching this play Saturday was like watching slow motion. Someone else needs to run this whether it be Tate, Grimes, Floyd (he has this season), or one of the quicker freshman in John Goodman or Deion Walker.

Other catches. As stated last week, Notre Dame’s two best WR’s are Golden Tate ( 5 rec. 83 yds. 16.6 avg) and Michael Floyd ( 7 rec. 86 yds. 12.3 avg. 1 TD). Tate is the biggest playmaker on the team regardless of position and he brings 120% effort with him. Floyd’s role in the offense has increased every week and it should continue to do so for the rest of the season. These guys make plays.

I insist, take it… As bad as the game was for the Irish on a lot of different fronts, they still had chances to win and promptly shot themselves in the foot time after time. Two turnovers while they were in scoring opportunities, the INT in the endzone and Floyd’s fumble and the INT deep in our own territory that led to a Ringer TD. That was quite possibly a 21 point swing and might have made the final score look something like 21-16 Irish. It’s that simple. Don’t turn the ball over.

Time travelers. That’s what the offensive line looked like. 16 yards rushing and 3 sacks given up. It looked entirely too much like 2007. They got physically kicked in the ass by the Spartan front 7 all day long. I don’t have words that are venomous enough to describe my feelings about the lack of physicality by the O-Line. Right now, Strawberry Shortcake would terrorize them. The sacks, I could almost live with but when you put that together with absolutely no push for the running game, that is a recipe for disaster.

Running into a wall. Because of the horrific line play, the Irish running backs were unable to see any daylight and therefore had no success rushing the ball. However I saw too many times Saturday, and this year for that matter, Irish backs running right into an o-lineman and making no effort to bounce it outside. Maybe it is a lack of vision or maybe bad coaching, but they are not even trying the option to make a play. It could also have to do with…
Playcalling for dummies. Notre Dames rushing attempts were almost exclusively inside runs. No counters, no traps, no sweeps or off tackle plays (the stretch run never made it outside of the tackle box). The only variation were the draws or delays that ND ran on long 3rd down situations. This is a disturbing trend. Notre Dame should take a few tips from 2005 and 2006, and run more delays and sweeps that made Walker a successful runner. On top of all of that was ND’s insistence if running the ball early with NO real results when the first 6 plays of the game were all runs. We are a much better passing team, and it is time to use that to open up the run instead of the other way around.
No confidence- NONE!!! that’s what I have in our field goal unit. Two more misses for the strong legged Walker. He has a powerful leg and the ball gets the distance needed, but his accuracy is that of a 4 year old manning a Howitzer. There has also been 2 very bad snaps this year that have led to two failed attempts. The misses are piling up along with the points that are left on the field. This is why ND will continue to struggle in close games, the inability to cash in on 3 points at a time. The rest of the special teams units have improved drastically this year, but this FG unit remains the weakest link. I’m not sure if this string of poor attempts will stop any time soon… but the Irish need it to.

I have an announcement to make. Bob Griese is old and has no ability to string together real sentences. His obvious disdain for ND aside, he has a very good outlook on the game and I value his opinions as mostly fair. But for the love of god man, retire and save face. McGuire was the only one of the three to not make mistake after mistake and do nothing about it. And that is a sad statement in itself.

A few thoughts on the defense…

  • The defensive line played very up and down. There were times when they closed the holes and Ringer had to bounce it outside, but more often than not, they were not getting the production needed to protect our linebackers and make plays themselves.
  • Brian Smith is an animal and will only get better as the season continues.
  • Scott Smith saw a lot more action and it is easy to see why he looks like a Tenuta favorite. He wants to kick someones ass.
  • The goaline package is very stout and makes the opposing team earn every inch.
  • Harrison Smith played very well coming off of the edge, but MSU was ready for this and he was only slightly effective.
  • For the third game in a row the defense allowed the QB to complete less than half of his attempts. Hoyer was 12-26 for 155 yards. But they had no sacks and no interceptions.
  • The Irish still need to do a better job of wrapping up the ball carrier after first contact.

Laptopgate. This is a bullshit story that will get more attention than it will deserve because of Weis’s former employer. Fucking interns…

The Subway Domer Scolding… A lot of you out there need to chill the fuck out. This is not a national title year and never was supposed to be one. Of course this is what we as Irish fans expect and demand every year, but this is still a very, very young team that is improving every week in some manner.

Michigan State is not the MSU of old. Some of you are referring to them as a middle of the road team, but they do what they do very well and that is play physically and run the football. They will finish no less than tied for third in the Big Ten.

Turnovers killed this game for ND, but the lack of emotion showed by the entire team (some individuals are exempt) is what poisoned the Irish from the start. MSU played with fire and passion and they set out to do what they wanted to do, and that was to make this game personal and come out kicking ass. This was a rivalry game that most Irish fans don’t want to acknowledge. We should. The Megaphone was hoisted proudly by the Spartans and that alone was evidence of their desire to win. They made this game huge in their hearts and minds. We didn’t make it at all.

There is hope. Notre Dame is 2-1 with a still very manageable schedule. A 7-5 or 8-4 season is more than reasonable thinking with a mid level bowl bid. I still think ND can win at least 9 games, but I am a big homer and I will spend the rest of the day gazing through my blue-gold glasses. For peace of mind, I suggest you do the same.