Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dear Diary...Notre Dame-Michigan State

Diary #3 comes to you from my apartment in McLean, VA with my Dad who’s in from out of town and my roommate C-Loss. No pregame chit-chat, let’s get to it.

3:31 Jimmy Roberts just built up the Temple-PSU game like something shocking happened, saying the last time Temple won was two years before the attack on Pearl Harbor…and then revealed Penn State won 31-6. Don’t play with my emotions like that Jimmy. I think Yack would give his first born for Temple to pull that upset.

3:35 Michigan State QB Kirk Cousins is from Chicago and said running out of the ND tunnel will be a dream come true. I think you can do that every Friday afternoon now. You’re not special Kirk.

3:38 They show a quick montage showing the players talking up the ND-MSU rivalry, complete with another clip of the players planting the Spartan flag at the 50 yard line in 2005. I hope that makes the Irish players’ blood boil even half as much as it boils mine.

3:40 Clips from the last game each team played. Brutal.

3:41 Alex Flanagan, our female sideline reporter, does some digging and comes up with a great nugget about Charlie Jr’s age. He’s 16…which is how many years it’s been since Notre Dame beat MSU at home! Is it relevant? No. Is it interesting? Not really. In other news Alex is now reading at a 4th grade level.

3:42 Michigan State takes the opening kickoff to the 45. More sloppy special teams coverage. The kick was perfect, pinned him on the sideline and he still squirted through. Someone pointed out last week that even though there may be more talent on special teams than years past (which there is), it’s more important to have discipline than talent. Guys need to step up and get their head in the game.

3:44 Three and out for Sparty. Good stand for the defense right off the bat. The punter takes a dive after KLM throws a blocker into his Bates’ legs to no avail. Irish ball on the 15.

3:45 Clausen throws a laser to Robby Parris on an out route. Jimmy draws the defense offsides on second down and we’ve got a first down already.

3:46 Clausen goes five wide and after scrambling finds Rudolph in the left flat and he rambles 52 yards—35 before he even sees a defender. Great vision and pocket presence there by Jimmy, thing of beauty. Nice to see Rudolph involved.

3:48 2nd and 2 we go to the wildcat eliciting an “Oh God” from CLoss, complete hater of the gimmick. My Dad chimes in “what is the big deal about the Wildcat? You know what we’re going to do.” I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it. Armando promptly runs it right down the heart of the defense for a touchdown. This is the type of crow that you don’t mind eating, much like when my buddy John Don proclaimed Zibby didn’t have the speed to break a punt return seconds before the one he ran back against Southern Cal in 2005. 7-0 IRISH, fantastic start.

3:52 More mediocre coverage on the kickoff…there was a gaping hole and luckily Ray Herring (Ray Ray!) tripped up the returner.

3:53 They replayed the big throw to Rudolph, that was phenomenal vision on Jimmy’s part. Anyone who says Clausen’s not the real deal has an agenda or just hasn’t been watching. Best quarterback we’ve ever had by the time he graduates—write that down.

3:54 Pat Haden reveals that Notre Dame only had 14 plays in the first two games that they were in their base defense. Pretty crazy. They show Tenuta and as you’d think he’s standing up leaning against the glass of the press box. I want to see him punch a hole in the glass.

3:55 Sparty is on the move and are over midfield, but Fleming comes from across the field and catches the running back behind the line. Unbelievable athleticism.

3:56 Great throw and catch between Cousins and Blair White for a 1st down.

3:57 KLM has his ankles broken by Cousins on 1st down. Are these guys baffled by crossovers when they play basketball? Does Tenuta need to start having them do defensive shuffles while watching someone’s belly button instead of the eyes or ball? I mean come on already, they’re much better athletes than the guys making them look stupid.

3:58 Another first down, down to the 24. Ian Williams stops them behind the line on 1st down. Good to see you again Ian.

3:59 The Irish hold as Cousins gets rocked on back to back plays as he let go of the ball (once by Toryan, once by Brian Smith). Field goal is good and it’s 7-3. Couple bullets dodged there. On both 3rd and 4th down Cousins had a guy open but the pressure forced a bad throw. Walls has looked surprisingly mediocre this year.

4:03 Great return by Riddick gives us field position at the 45. He changed direction at the 20 and had a lot of real estate.

4:04 After a quick 8 yard throw to Golden, Jimmy scrambles for a first down. I’m blown away with how improved his pocket presence is. He just looks incredibly comfortable and in control. He follows it with a 15 yard dart to Michael Floyd to take us inside the 25.

4:07 TOUCHDOWN MICHAEL FLOYD. That’s what happens when you’re stupid enough to match up a linebacker on him. Great catch by Floyd ties him with Tim Brown on the all-time receiving TD list. He’s three games into his sophomore year by the way.

4:08 Nick Tausch misses an extra point. He’s running a 4.3 40 yard dash toward my list of people I don’t want to see on the field. Yank your head out of your ass Nicholas. Seriously, that’s just a total lack of focus…13-3 Irish.

4:12 Better coverage on the kickoff. Only takes two plays to get over midfield though and already we’re back on our heels. This isn’t going to cut it against the top teams.

4:14 Another run right up a runway created in the middle of our defense. That’s just deflating to see. We need to start gameplanning differently on defense to provide help. Kind of like we had used to have a tight end and fullback help Paul Duncan block…we need to start doing that for the defensive line.

4:16 Kyle McCarthy breaks up a pass and then stuffs the running back for no gain on second down. He’s having himself a game today already, he probably has three tackles to go with the pass breakup.

4:17 Third down pass sails long and the field goal team trots out for a 52 yard field goal attempt. There’s confusion on the MSU offensive line. Immediately CLoss says what I’m thinking—“are they trying to fake it?” After watching that fake Georgia Tech pulled off last week I’ll be skittish anytime anything looks out of sorts. Turns out they’re just incompetent, not clever. Field goal clanks off the right upright. The refs for the Michigan game would’ve awarded him the points because if you hit the post basically you made the field goal…but alas, these refs adhere to the rules and the Irish still lead 13-3.

4:21 Gain of 12 yards on first down to Rudolph on a quick pass to the flat, shades of 2005 with Samardzija and Stovall. If they can’t stop it don’t stop calling it. We’ve run the ball once, we’ve been five wide on every play but one (which was when we were in the Wildcat). This is the Weis I love, the one that will see a weakness in the defense and attack it every play until they prove they can even slow it down—let alone stop it.

4:22 The first quarter comes to a close with the Irish facing a 3rd and 4, our first third down of the game.

4:26 Wildcat on 3rd down cuts it to 4th and 1. They’re going for it with the I-formation with Hughes and Allen behind Jimmy. Allen gets it by the skin of his teeth.

4:28 More Wildcat on 1st down for no gain, followed by a false start by Sam Young. STUPID PENALTY FOR A FOUR-YEAR STARTER.

4:29 Irish run a screen to the short side of the field and there’s no room to operate. Of course there’s a hold on the play, this time on Trevor Robinson. Apparently the only reason it appears we can run screen plays this year is that we hold on every one of them. 2nd and 25.

4:30 Jonas Gray matadors two defenders and they stuff Jimmy, who is hurt. Please for the love of God Jimmy, get up.

4:31 Jimmy hobbles to the sideline and Dayne Crist comes in for 3rd and 35. Screen pass to Hughes is stuffed behind the line after Hughes tried to jump over a pile of defenders. Terrible set of plays there. A false start, a hold, and a sack that gets Jimmy hurt. We call that worst case scenario.

4:33 A very weird situation with the punt. Looked like it might have been a muffed punt but it turned out that it didn’t touch anyone. Michigan State at the 20 yard line to start their drive.

4:36 Backup quarterback (Keith Nichol) in for Michigan State, more of a scrambler than Cousins. He rolls right and out of bounds…where there’s a late hit called on Robert Blanton. That’s three of the last five plays we’ve had with a penalty. Just poor.

4:38 Nichol takes a quarterback for a first down. AND ANOTHER LATE HIT ON THE IRISH, this time Harrison Smith. What the hell is wrong with this team? Are they trying to sabotage our chances? Are we hitting them after the whistle because we can’t get to them before the end of the play? I am flat-out disgusted, this is yet another sign of an UNDISCIPLINED team. Someone tell me what needs to be done to stop this, please. Time out Notre Dame, which is good because it gives me the chance to regroup and settle down.

4:42 Touchdown Michigan State on a halfback pass. Everyone in the secondary bit. Made redshirt freshman Jamoris Slaughter look like a clown. 13-10 Irish. Another step backward for Notre Dame.

4:43 You can hear the patented “GO GREEN, GO WHITE” chant from the MSU fans. Stupidest cheer I’ve ever heard but man do they love to yell it.

4:44 Onsides kick by Michigan State, catches the Irish totally off-guard. First down Sparty. Brilliant call, even more brilliant kick—it actually went 10 yards and then somehow backed up. Special teams destroying us again. We have a high-octane offense but really that’s about it right now. We’re so undisciplined in every regard and that REALLY shows on special teams. A missed extra point, a missed field goal, a kickoff return for a touchdown allowed, routinely allowing returns past the 40 yard line on kickoff returns, and now an onsides kick allowed. That’s in the last six quarters. Pathetic. It flabbergasts me how we can be so bad.

4:48 Sparty begins to march and after two plays it’s a first down over midfield.

4:50 Nichol barely escapes a sack on 1st down and throws it incomplete. Followed by a delay of game penalty.

4:51 KLM strips the ball from behind on what was a beautifully set up screen play. Great play by KLM. Toryan Smith picks it up and returns it a couple years. Somehow Tom Hammond can’t tell Smith has it and thinks the ball went out of bounds even though Toryan not only recovered it cleanly, but turned around, cut upfield, and ran for four-five yards. Is he watching the game from the press box or from atop Touchdown Jesus?

4:52 Jimmy is back in the game. Mike Ragone gets his first target of the year—it hits him in the hands and falls incomplete. Jimmy walking and running very gingerly, apparently it’s his toe that was injured. O-Line better step up and not let anyone touch him the rest of the game because he’s not scrambling anywhere. If I’m MSU I start sending the house.

4:53 Armando gets his first true carry of the game (not out of the Wildcat) and he takes it for 12 yards right up the middle. Another really good run.

4:54 Three more runs by Allen, another first down for ND. Good blocking up there on 3rd and 3.

4:56 Jonas Gray runs it for 20 yards inside the ten. Great stiff arm got him an extra seven yards. Offensive line looks great on this drive. Timeout MSU.

5:00 Michael Floyd catches what looks like a touchdown, but he loses possession as he’s tackled out of bounds. Ruled incomplete but this should be overturned. Charlie is challenging. I think this will be overturned. More importantly though Floyd is hurt, this time it’s his shoulder/collarbone.

5:02 Ruled no-catch. Alex Flanagan reports Floyd is injured badly. Oh $%!&. Good lord that’s probably the worst news you could hear as a Notre Dame fan. I’d make an Obama commencement joke right now but I’m too upset.

5:03 Armando takes it down to the 1 from the Wildcat.

5:04 Jimmy fumbles the exchange and Armando does a great job recovering it. Forces a field goal though. Tausch splits the uprights and it’s 16-10 Irish. That’s two straight weeks we’ve essentially been robbed of four points by the replay booth.

5:06 Tausch’s best kick of the year is followed up by great coverage. Zeke Motta gets the returner short of the 20. We better start doing the little things well if Floyd and Jimmy are banged up.

5:07 20+ yard throw on 1st down. The Irish are then offsides with 15 men on the field on the next play. Pitifully bad. This is just more evidence that this is a poorly coached team.

5:09 Pass Interference on Gary Gray, giving them a first down at the 26. I’m about to stick a pencil in my eye. Will that solve anything? No, I’d just be watching this abomination with no depth perception. I restrain myself.

5:11 Walls jumps a route and misses an interception. A holding call on MSU backs it up to 1st and 20.

5:12 Only takes two plays to get inside the 15. First down for the Spartans. Tom Hammond makes a terrible joke about Cousins “dissecting” the defense. He’s an imbecile. 1:24 left.

5:13 Michigan State runs it right up the gut inside the five. But wait! Move it half the distance to the goal line after a facemask penalty on KLM.

5:14 Touchdown, right up the middle. Replay shows the entire interior line getting pancaked to the left all at once. It’s sponsored by IHOP. Gag me. 17-16 Sparty. Haven’t I seen this movie before?

5:15 That drive was 9 plays 81 yards in 2:13…Pat Haden rightly points out it was “aided and abetted by Notre Dame penalties.” 1:01 left

5:16 Theo Riddick fumbles but they rule him down. Thank God. Hammond has no idea why people are scrambling around. Is he even conscious? 55 seconds left for the Irish. Michigan State is going to challenge. I’d normally say there’s no doubt it wasn’t a fumble, but the way the replay booth has been…

5:17 They’re showing the Floyd play again. There is absolutely no way in hell that should have been ruled incomplete. Pat Haden agrees.

5:18 Irish ball. 1st down is a short throw to Duval Kumara. No sense of urgency following it and we don’t get the snap off until there’s 25 seconds left. That’s 30 seconds. Terrible. Jimmy then scrambles for a first down and limps to the sideline as we have to burn our last timeout. Just poor.

5:21 Draw play to Armando goes for 15, up to the 40 yard line. Michigan State calls timeout just before we spike it. Gracias Mr. Dantonio...

5:22 We already have 7 penalties for 66 yards. Nauseating. Dayne Crist in for the Hail Mary and he’s picked off at the five yard line. Halftime.

5:23 Charlie dismisses the importance of the penalties and talks about how we need to punch it in from the 6-inch line on that drive that ended in a field goal. I’d beg to differ—the penalties are DESTROYING US. Is this further proof that Charlie just isn’t the guy? Certainly trending that way. Great coaches do the little things well and we certainly do not do the little things well.

5:24 First thing Jimmy Roberts says at the halftime break is “Call me a homer but I thought Michael Floyd’s catch was a touchdown no question.” Can we get anyone with an iota of intelligence or perhaps a set of eyes in the replay booth? Grab a hobo off the street with 20/20 vision, I don’t care.

5:30 I feel like the reversal of effectiveness on special teams is almost Bob Davie-esque. It seemed like under Davie we’d do one thing well one year and not be worried about it going into the next year…then as soon as we stopped paying attention we’d spring a leak there and it’d become a problem (ex: no fumbles in 2000, fumble on the first play of 2001).

5:45 Irish take the field at the 30 yard line after a decent return. Jimmy is running better. Quick throw in the flat gets four.

5:46 They then show Jimmy limping up the stairs at halftime. I don’t know what they did to him to make him heal, but I’d like to see them do the same thing to Michael Floyd.

5:47 Jimmy sneaks it on 3rd and 1 for a 1st down. Michael Floyd replay is shown AGAIN.

5:48 Jimmy unloads a bomb down the field to Golden who hauls it in and takes it down inside the five and gets knocked out of bounds inside the five. Of course Tom Hammond calls touchdown and is baffled that they aren’t bringing the kicking team out. I don’t know what else to say about him, this is the first game where I’m convinced he’s totally lost it. Jimmy is really limping again. Can’t we put this game out of reach and get Dayne in PLEASE?

5:49 TOUCHDOWN, Armando throws it to Robby Parris out of the Wildcat formation. As soon as Armando looked like he was going to throw CLoss let out an “OH MY GOD” and cringed. One day he will embrace the Wildcat to the extent where he won’t want to curl up into a ball when we come out in it. It’ll be like when kids get over their fear of dogs as they grow up—he’ll never love it, he’ll never be totally comfortable with it, but he won’t fear it. One day…23-17 IRISH.

5:53 Nick Tausch has some adrenaline going, bangs it down to the two and Zeke Motta once again takes him down behind the 20. Time for the defense to STEP UP, haven’t slowed them down since the first game. Nichol is the quarterback.

5:54 False start on Michigan State on 2nd and 4. About time the opposing team fires a shot into their own foot for us. Stand up d-line.

5:55 McCarthy comes up and stuffs the running back for no gain. Good job penetrating by the d-line.

5:56 Kerry Neal busts through and nails Nichol as he delivers the ball. Time for a punt, great stand by the Irish to start the half. I’d give a lot to put this game out of reach by the end of the 3rd so we can sit Jimmy. Great 23 yard return by Tate gives us good field position. It’s time to put the pedal to the metal.

5:59 Irish are giving up 6.2 yards per play. Pretty bad.

6:00 Michael Floyd has a broken collarbone. My stomach just dropped through the floor. That’s a HUGE blow for October 17th. They flash a stat of our offense with and without Floyd last year. Doesn’t help how my stomach feels. At all. I’m sick.

6:03 Irish are marching down the field, good balance of Armando, Jonas, and Golden.

6:04 Armando Allen just saved Jimmy Clausen’s life with his block as Jimmy gets out of the pocket and completes it to Rudolph. Of course this is called back by a hold on Paul Duncan. 2nd and 17.

6:05 Golden drops a pass at the two yard line. It was an absolutely perfect ball. I don’t know what’s gotten into him. My buddy Pat said that the knock on him coming out of high school was his hands…I certainly never believed him, but after the last two games it seems like that problem is rearing its ugly head. Just a lack of focus.

6:06 Third down falls incomplete and Tausch is in for a 47 yard field goal. I’m already approaching the Brandon Walker Zone of uneasiness. He responds by kicking a ball that looks like a Tiger Woods 8-iron. It starts down the middle and doesn’t budge an inch to the right or left. Beautiful, beautiful kick. 26-17 Irish.

6:10 Cousins scrambles on 1st down and McCarthy stuffs him for a two yard gain. He tried to juke and McCarthy didn’t bite. Every D-Lineman on Notre Dame needs to watch a tape of that tackle.

6:11 Great throw by Cousins on third down for a conversion as Raeshon loses track of the receiver. This is followed by Manti Te’o getting burned by the tight end for 20 yards and they’re back inside our 30.

6:14 Hammond tells us that the player down has Italian and Romanian family…then it turns out it’s a different player. Why don’t we just get Keith Jackson for our games? He sees as much as Hammond and has the most definitive voice in college football history.

6:15 Michigan State converts another 3rd down after a devastating pick by the receiver to spring the tight end inside the 10.

6:16 Stretch play to the left leads to an easy touchdown for the Spartans. ETHAN JOHNSON BLOCKS THE EXTRA POINT! Good Lord that deserves a Bob Davie “(H)UUUUUUGE.” For those that aren’t familiar with Bob he doesn’t pronounce H’s. H’s just get in the way of the best part of the word—the six “u’s.” 26-23 Irish.

6:19 Riddick returns it to the 35…annnnnnnd it’s coming back. Holding on Barry Gallup, back to the 17. 9th penalty of the game.

6:20 Duval Kamara with a catch and a first down. Duval, you need to wake the hell up over the next month. Talk to Maurice Stovall and ask what he did to become a monster his senior year. Follow those steps, we need you dearly now.

6:22 Jimmy completes a second down pass to Rudolph and it’s the end of the quarter. We really have 15 minutes to keep this season from going into the toilet and setting our program back five years. No pressure or anything guys. Why do we always have to deal with these situations, especially against mediocre teams? Ohio State has to answer questions against top five teams, we answer against 1-1 Michigan State.

6:24 Dip texts “if the first play out of the timeout isn’t a handoff to Armando Allen I’m going to kill someone.”

6:26 Dip’s wish is granted, Armando for four yards and a first down. It’s time to show we can grind out a back-breaking drive.

6:27 Two more good runs by Armando result in another first down. Hammond mispronounces his name. Injured player on the field for Michigan State brings us to a TV timeout. Meanwhile Southern Cal is doing everything they can to screw us by losing to Washington. It’s 13-10 in the 4th quarter. Ugh.

6:30 After a four or five yard gain by Gray is followed by a sack, once again allowed by Jonas Gray. We’ve given up two sacks all year, both today and both allowed by Jonas Gray. Once again he’s on the field because Allen is banged up—just like on the critical drive at Michigan last week.

6:31 Great play by the cornerback to knock it away from Tate who was streaking inside the 10. Notre Dame is forced to punt. 12 minutes left.

6:33 After a good gain on first down the Irish stuff them up the middle on second down. Brian Smith fills the gap well with Ian Williams. Big play coming up here.

6:34 59 yard pass as Mark Dell breaks a tackle from Kyle McCarthy. Flashbacks to the Charles Rogers run from 2001. Harrison Smith runs him down. Tom Hammond credits Darrin Walls for the tackle. He just wants to get this game over so he can get back to his Matlock VHS’s.

6:36 Touchdown Michigan State right over Darrin Walls. Our vaunted secondary has made exactly one big play to start the season (McCarthy’s pick on Forcier). Walls has actually been pretty bad, like his head just isn’t in the game. This is just devastating. 30-26, Sparty takes the lead. Once again, tell me how huge the MICHAEL FLOYD TOUCHDOWN THAT WASN’T is right now.

6:41 Jimmy draws the Spartans offsides on 2nd down, making it 2nd and short. Armando catches a pass out of the backfield for a first down. I just feel so uneasy, I’ve been down this path before.

6:43 Busted route where an act of God keeps the cornerback from picking it off. It was like a punt to the guy and he dropped it after Golden cut off his route. Bullet dodged, huge bullet dodged.

6:44 Jimmy gets rid of it as he gets hammered and Rudolph reels it in and rumbles for the first down. Next play is a slant to Kamara for 8 more yards.

6:45 Armando down the gut for another first down. Good run there. On 1st down he breaks one outside and looks like he’s going for a big play and gets taken down by his shoestring. That could’ve been big.

6:47 TOUCHDOWN GOLDEN TATE! HE THEN TAKES A FULL DIVE INTO THE MICHIGAN STATE BAND. I need a picture of that from behind as he splashes into the horn section. That was an unbelievable catch and an even better dive from the top turnbuckle into the band. They review it and much to my surprise they confirm the correct call.

6:52 Spartans take over at the 25. Walls breaks on a ball and almost picks it off. Nice to see he has a pulse, that’s the aggressive, fluid player we expected to get back this year.

6:53 Cousins had a man open but it was a tough catch the receiver couldn’t come down with. Three and out, great stand by the defense. Great punt puts us back inside our own 20. Time for a drive that kills the clock and ends in the endzone. Little under five minutes left. Can’t say I’m comfortable yet.

6:56 Wildcat on first down for five yards…backed up 15 yards for a personal foul after the play by Sam Young. So it’s 2nd down and they stop the clock. Sickening. We do everything we can to beat ourselves. This leads to a flood of texts that include the words: Sam Young, expletives, and the Lord’s name in vain. And Trevor Robinson is hurt. Great.

6:57 Michigan State calls timeout. Boneheaded on their part.

6:59 A GREAT RUN AFTER THE CATCH BY GOLDEN GETS A FIRST DOWN. Unbelievable ability to make people miss gets him an extra seven yards and backs us out of a huge hole.

7:01 We’re in the Wildcat aaaaaaand Golden runs into Armando as it’s snapped and he goes to the ground for a five yards loss. I’m about to punch a hole in the wall (and I will…ask the owners at The View restaurant in South Bend, don’t think I won’t). Timeout Sparty.

7:02 3rd and 6 after a good run by Armando. Jimmy misses Goodman and it’s time for a punt. Good Lord.

7:03 Another crappy punt by Maust is aided by a block in the back. Sparty backed up inside the 20. We need one more stop.

7:04 Three plays, two first downs. 2:34 left.

7:06 They’re inside the 30 yard line after a couple broken tackles on a slant pass…they’re in field goal range. Now we’re into the Hang On For Dear Life Mode I’m so accustomed to as a Notre Dame fan. I don’t even know why I watch football anymore, I feel sick. How huge is that Ethan Johnson blocked extra point right now? They’d be able to just sit on the ball and kick a field goal to win.

7:07 On 3rd down there’s great coverage and the receiver tips it to himself for a great catch and a first down at the 18. Can we get a break?

7:08 Cousins misses a running back who is WIDE OPEN in the corner of the endzone, wasn’t anyone within 20 yards of him. Wow, that’s the break I was asking for. About as big a gift as you could ask for. Total breakdown by the defense. My hands are sweating, this is like a reoccurring nightmare. Billy if you’ve reached this far I know you’re enjoying this and you know what? Burn in hell. I hate you.

7:10 INTERCEPTION KYLE MCCARTHY ON THE FOUR YARD LINE. They brought pressure and Darius Fleming forced Cousins to throw a duck that never even had a chance. Kyle McCarthy is a hero today, just like he should’ve been last week. Mother of God we just dodged an atomic bomb. Holy crap.

7:12 Victory formation, I love you. The Irish escape. Get me out of here.

7:14 Alex Flanagan catches up with Charlie Weis and asks him how important this victory way. He gives a response for the ages: “these kids fought their asses off…excuse me…these kids…these kids…these kids…these kids fought their…butts off.” He wasn’t emotional at all, that was just Charlie being an expert wordsmith. Just go sing the alma mater Charlie.

Alright, ten snap judgments.
1. Our defensive line is atrocious…nothing we didn’t already know. We get no push whatsoever and barely even fill gaps. That pancake fest they had on their one touchdown up the middle was embarrassing. Unfortunately I see no help in sight.
2. It is mind-blowing that in back-to-back weeks we were absolutely robbed by the replay booth. Isn’t it in place to fix blown calls? How in God’s name does complete incompetence happen in our games two consecutive weeks?
3. Kyle McCarthy played an unbelievable game. He deserves all the credit in the world for being the rock of this defense.
4. Second straight week our offense delivered a crucial 4th quarter drive for a touchdown to take the lead. Second straight week the defense came out and made the opponent punt. Second straight week we couldn’t get that final first down to shut the door. This is a bad and extremely stressful pattern. I’m going to have gray hair by the Southern Cal game.
5. This is a sloppy, undisciplined team. 11 penalties is ABSOLUTELY INEXCUSABLE. We are not good enough to give opponents free passes up and down the field—especially not on the defensive side of the ball.
6. Sam Young—I love the fact that you’ve found a nasty streak and that you’re finally playing like a five star…but if you commit one more stupid penalty to sabotage a drive I’m going to drive to South Bend this December and hit you with a fire hose on your way to class.
7. What the hell happened to our vaunted secondary? Walls looked like crap, we let another inexperienced quarterback light us up (this time for 300+ yards), and it seems like we never come up with that big stop on 3rd down on the pivotal 4th quarter drive. Kyle McCarthy—allegedly the least talented of the starters—is the lone exception.
8. Another great game for Armando, who is now averaging almost six yards per carry. He picked up a couple crucial first downs and had a lot of good hard runs. He also is becoming a very good blocker, DWalk-esque. Jonas Gray on the other hand might be the worst blocker in the history of college football. He’s responsible for the only two sacks allowed all year.
9. Losing Michael Floyd is a bigger blow than most people—including myself—want to admit…it will be especially evident October 17th.
10. Another shaky week of special teams. If I could ask for one thing it’s do the little things well. This offense is good enough to put big points on the board and they don’t turn the ball over…but man do we commit so many stupid penalties and screw up little things like extra points and kickoff coverage. We’re not a sharp football team. If we want to take the next step we sure as hell better become one.

All that being said a win is a win is a win and I’m in a helluva lot better mood than a week ago this time. My buddy Kearney posted earlier in the day that "Being a notre dame fan should probably be considered a pre-existing condition. It's not even kickoff and I already can feel my blood pressure skyrocketing." We're all going to end up like Chris Farley's character on Da Bears SNL sketch. I can see us being 40 and watching the game...Kearney will just drop over mid-way through the first quarter, come to in the second quarter, then let us know that stroke makes a baker's dozen. Beats the life of a Boston College fan.
On to Purdont.


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