Monday, September 7, 2009

Dear Diary...Notre Dame-Nevada

We're going to take a page out of Bill Simmons's book and do some running diaries throughout the year. No better way to kick it off than with the home opener for the Irish. I think we should be able to take care of business handily. Mark May says Nevada is going to win. Mark May also endorses beastiality. Just sayin'.

After a six hour drive from Washington DC to Virginia Beach, VA I arrive at a friend of the family’s house and get in front of a TV six minutes before kickoff. The trip was supposed to take three hours but apparently this section of the country forgot the highway is not the place to play bumper cars. There were five different accidents, including two in a twenty mile stretch. The only excuse for something like that is if people are driving through a blizzard. My brain is fried right now, but I’m entrenched on the couch with my Charlie’s Army shirt, my old school #3 Champion jersey, my girlfriend, and a huge cat.

Our female reporter for the day has some breaking news—Charlie Weis is calling plays! This means “he’s going to concentrate on offense in addition to being head coach.” It seems like she’s stuck between being a legitimate reporter and someone from an old SNL sketch. She has the concerned/serious interview face down, all she needs is some information to tell us that wasn’t available last January. In relevant news Nevada wins the toss and defers.

Freshman Theo Riddick is back deep with Aldridge. He wasn’t very highly touted but he’s blown people away in camp. Best case scenario is that he turns out to be Armando Allen with more wiggle. Worst case scenario is he turns out to be Munir Prince part deux. All signs seem to point to the former. Good return and he holds onto the ball—something I always worry about when it’s the first time an excitable freshman touches the ball.

Second play of the game is a little tight end screen to Rudolph. He jukes a linebacker and gets 11. The kid is bound for greatness. Not only do I guarantee he’s going to be an All-American, I’d put good money that he’s going to be a Pro Bowler a few years down the road. He’s an absolute monster.

4th and 1 and Weis is sending in Aldridge. Here’s the first test for the O-Line. We need to be able to impose our will in these situations…

First down without much of a problem. Not dominating but certainly better than the past few years,

We unleash the Wildcat and after a single play I’m already over the Wildcat. We’re rolling without it, put it in a drawer along with Demetrius’ spread option. It’s 3rd and 16 and Weis calls a time out.

TOUCHDOWN KYLE RUDOLPH. Clausen threads a beauty down the seam and the 6-6 Rudolph plucked it right over the defenders helmet to cap a nice six minute drive. Rudolph’s ability cannot be overstated. With him, Floyd, and Golden Jimmy should be in the Heisman race if he has ANY time to throw. Jimmy looks very good, very calm in the pocket. I guess that’s what happens when you have time to throw and you have two years to forget the sieve that protected him his freshman year.

Nevada gets the ball and after four plays the first alarm bells are ringing. Three plays in a row over ten yards from Nevada, including two straight right down our throat. We need the interior D-Line to step up in the worst way. I was much more worried about the ends—Ethan Johnson and Ian Williams were supposed to be the anchors we didn’t have to worry about.

Nevada gets inside the 30 but the defense buckles down and holds. Field goal attempt doesn’t even sniff the uprights. Beautiful start.

Jerome Bettis sporting a Pine Valley Golf Club hat on the sideline. Pretty shocked. I could name a thousand other hats I would’ve expected him to see him wearing before a Pine Valley hat—including but not limited to a MILF HUNTER trucker hat, the conductor hat Ricky Barnes wore in the US Open, and the top hat T-Pain wore in the “I’m on a Boat” video.

Clausen and Tate connect on a bomb that’s initially ruled out of bounds but gets overturned. Great touch by Jimmy, unbelievable catch by Golden. He doesn’t bobble balls—they hit his hands and he’s got possession.

The first quarter comes to a close with the Irish driving. I’m absolutely thrilled with the offensive line at this point. They’re by no means dominating, but the strides are apparent and they should only get better over the course of the year. Jimmy looks like this is the year he’s making the leap. He’s got serious zip on his throws and his pocket presence has been great. The only turd in the punch bowl is our run defense. To say I’m very concerned about how easily Nevada gashed our defensive line would be a colossal understatement.

Clausen throws another laser this time to Floyd. 14-0. I’m giddy. First noteworthy text of the day comes from Dip: “MMMMM DRINK IT UPPPPPPPPP”. I’m bathing in Kool-Aid. It’s like Niagara Falls here. We cannot be stopped. If our defense wakes up we can legitimately start talking about great things.

Manti Te’o: 1 play, 1 first down saving tackle. If he gets a sack on play two they may start making plans for a statue on campus. He defines the term running downhill. When he locks into someone for a tackle it’s literally like the route he takes is on a downward incline. He explodes into the ball carrier. He’s a beast. Offense is headed back on the field.

Floyd takes a pass out in the flat to the house. I may spike the cat soon. This is just wonderful. Not only are we a thousand times more talented than Nevada’s defense, we have them totally off-balanced with the play-calling. I want to put up 100. No mercy. Also, in the first hour of the season we have confirmed that we have the best pair of receivers plus tight end in the country. Someone please name a group that’s even close.

Pat Haden highlights the block Golden Tate delivered to spring Floyd. It just seems like we’re doing all the little things. We’re a focused, well-disciplined offensive machine right now. These are the things you want to see that lead you to believe there’s a chance of taking it to the next level.

John Ryan knocks down a third down pass, forcing another Nevada punt. The countdown until my buddy Brad texts me begins. He likes to point out every good thing John Ryan since he knows I’d rather see Nolan Ryan lined up at D-End than him. He did this with Luke Zeller in basketball. By the time I’m done typing the above the text arrives: took 29 seconds.

Nevada goes for it on 4th and inches on the ND 18, absolutely STUFFED. Toryan Smith and Brian Smith bust through the line and get him two yards before the line of scrimmage. These are the stops we haven’t made in, oh I don’t know, 15 years.

Some second stringers are starting to trickle in, including Jonas Gray who just busted out a twenty yard run to the one yard line. We are a well-oiled machine. I think Gray is going to be the best of all our running backs. He’s fast, shifty, and has a physique that would make man-crusher Barry Every ask for Jonas’s phone number. Armando scampers to the outside for a touchdown on the next play. There is now way I can express in words how happy I am with the offense. If the O-Line continues this upward trend then there’s no reason this won’t be the best offense in the Weis era.

They just showed defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta in the press box standing up leaning against the window and screaming. I love this man. By the way, Clausen is 11-13 for 210yds and 2TD’s. Ho-hum.

Two straight plays where ND had Kaepernick for a sack and he escaped. Flashbacks of Ronald Talley in the Fiesta Bowl are playing through my head. Please just bury him in the ground already. The shutout is kept alive though as Blanton intercepts a Hail Mary in the endzone as time expires in the second quarter.

Halftime assessment: have to be happy with the mistake-free football we played and, of course, the 28-0 curb-stomping on the scoreboard. I’m thrilled with the offense but all I can think about is how terrible we were against the run—specifically right up the middle. There will be a large elephant in the room after the game if this keeps up, even if we continue rolling on offense. Also at halftime they show some Penn State highlights. I know people have been making jokes about how Joe Pa’s old for years and really they’re pretty played out…but the PSU highlighted started with him walking around on the sideline looking like he had NO idea where he was. How does he still get credit for wins? Could we just declare Knute Rockne our coach and start jacking up his career win total? He wouldn’t do any less for Notre Dame games than Joe does for PSU.

Nevada’s opening drive of the second half stalls after one first down and they pin the Irish inside their own 1. I did not realize you could step in the endzone and have it not be a touchback in college as long as the ball doesn’t cross the line.

Michael Floyd catches a bomb down the sideline, breaks a tackle, and is GONE for an 88yd touchdown. He now has four catches for 189yds and three touchdowns. Someone explain to me why he’s never mentioned in the same breath as Julio Jones and A.J. Green? He’s a man-child.

Kyle McCarthy picks off Kaepernick and the Irish are marching again. Texts are pouring in. I’m so relaxed. To say this is the polar opposite of last year’s opener would be the understatement of the century. At this point last year I was slapping myself trying to wake up from what had to be a bad dream. People forget that had it not been for a fluky fumble on the one-yard line there’s a good chance Charlie might not be coach right now.

John Ryan makes a tackle and Pat Haden talks about him taking the next step after a good freshman season last year. First of all, he’s a senior. Second of all, the next step will be his first step. He’s playing well today, which is great, but he’ll need a five sack game to atone up for the 2007 Navy game in my eyes (where he played 75% of the snaps at defensive end yet failed to register a single tackle against an option team).

Nevada fumbles inside the 10 yard line on a pitch that would’ve been an easy touchdown if he handles it. God seems to be throwing Charlie bones in every way possible today.

Golden Tate catches a nice little comeback pass, makes two defenders miss, and gets an extra 5 yards after the catch. The guy has such unbelievable balance and hands. He’s just fun to watch.

Do you think Mark May will have any crow left over for Tom Reynolds after this game? I hope Reynolds uses the $40 he made from the four idiots that bought his green shirt and uses it to buy a Michigan jersey. Go find a new team you smug, self-righteous turncoat.

Female Sideline reporter tells us that James Aldridge cant lift his arm as we see him on the screen without pads and with a huge ice pack on his shoulder…she deduces that it’s a shoulder injury and sends it back to the booth. Someone give her a treat for digging up that nugget. She also lets us know that Charlie Weis is not on crutches today and Ross and Rachel got back together in the last episode of Friends.

Te’o delivers two big hits on back-to-back plays. He’s going to be a beast sooner rather than later.

It’s garbage time and Charlie thinks Jimmy has put up enough numbers to begin a Heisman campaign. Time to see the reserves. Dayne Crist comes in for Clausen and delivers a strike to Deion Walker right out of the gate. That’s followed by Riddick breaking off an 8yd run. This is far and away the deepest team since 1992—and it’s not even cloooooooooose. I feel very comfortable in about 75% of our reserves. If nothing else Charlie has stocked the cupboard with a ton of top level talent at just about every position.

FINAL: 35-0 IRISH. A great start to the season.

In the postgame interview female sideline reporter digs deep and asks a question where I really want to hear an answer: “Coach what were you happiest about from this performance.” Weis’s response was that it was the opener and it didn’t look like the opener. I couldn’t agree more. This was a sharp football team that was extraordinarily well-coached on both sides of the ball. Weis and his staff deserve a lot of credit—especially when you look at how sloppy 90% of the games were this opening weekend.

There are a couple things that need to be worked out, but I really believe this was just about the best case scenario for an opener. There were marked improvements in just about every facet of the game and a swagger and confidence that hasn’t been there since 2005. Tom Hammond and Pat Haden kept harping on how it seemed like a different team in their demeanor and it’s true. They’re a confident and focused group. I realize this was against Nevada, but it’s absolutely a great step in the right direction. These first three weeks will determine what this team can achieve. Bring on The Big House.


  1. Excellent and entertaining. Go Irish.

  2. Was jerome wearing a pine valley member hat or just a regular pine valley hat?

  3. Billy its been 3 days since the Lions played...step your game up and post!


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