Saturday, October 31, 2009

Dear Diary...Notre Dame-Washington State

This week’s diary comes to you live from McLean, VA. This should be a relatively peaceful and enjoyable game compared to the borderline apocalyptic ordeals of the past month and a half.

7:33 Wow, is that really the stadium? The Alamo Dome is pretty hideous from the outside; it almost looks as bad as Beaver Stadium. Who am I kidding, nothing looks as terrible as Beaver.

7:34 There is a pretty good number of empty seats in the upper decks but it sounds like an enthusiastic crowd. It almost sounds louder than a normal home game on television because of it being indoors. I don’t know, I thought the neutral site home game was kind of dumb but now that it’s here it’s actually kind of cool. I could see C-Loss’s eyes roll as I typed that.

7:35 While Tom “the HD Gremlin” Hammond introduces himself and Pat Haden let's recap the goals for the game that we talked about in the preview.

1. Get off to a fast start
2. Finish in the red zone
3. Pad Jimmy’s Heisman stats early
4. Make Jeff Tuel look like a freshman quarterback
5. Lots of reps for the second stringers—namely Dayne

7:38 Alex Flanagan is yapping as they show a map of where Notre Dame players are originally from. That graphic is pretty nuts if you think about it. Do you think any other school attracts recruits from so many states? It really is crazy how we have so many people from all over the country. The national appeal is definitely an advantage but at the same time it makes recruiting much more work. We don’t have a batch of high quality kids in our backyard like a lot of major school (USC, Texas, Florida, etc.) so our staff really needs to bust their butt to go out there and get guys. Tip of the cap to Charlie and company.

7:39 There are 38 recruits on hand to watch this game, including our latest commit Toney Hurd. If having a game in Texas every year helps us tap into the Texas recruiting pipeline then I will always support it.

7:42 Steve Filer makes the stick on the opening kickoff. He’s becoming a special teams monster. He’s so raw but if Bryant Young and Randy Hart can get him totally comfortable with the scheme and playing without thinking so much he’ll be a monster. The thought of Darius Fleming and him rushing the passer from opposite sides makes me drool.

7:44 After a holding on second down pushes the Cougars back to 2nd and 20 they had a wide open man for about 20 yards but he was underthrown. Robert Blanton had fallen down. Come on boys, none of this crap today.

7:45 Irish get pressure and force the Cougars to punt. They unload an Eric Maust special (34 yards) and the Irish take over in good field position at their own 44.

7:46 Jimmy completes a pass to Rudolph on a bootleg and the big tight end rumbles for a 15 yard gain. Good to see him getting involved early…and it’s coming back. Personal foul after the play on Eric Olsen. Facepalm.

7:47 Hughes busts up the middle for 15 yards. The line absolutely manhandled the Cougars there.

7:48 Two straight passes, two straight first downs to Golden and Rudolph. We are just moving the ball at will.

7:48 Pat Haden utters analysis that seemingly makes time stand still: “Kyle Rudolph has hands the size of small dogs.” Have you been living under powerlines the past week Pat? Small dogs? Do his hands have legs? Do they pant? Even HD Gremlin had to have given him a “what the hell was that” look.

7:49 It’s staggering how overmatched Washington State is. Panzer sums it up well with his text: “This is like playing a girl in a video game.”

7:49 Hughes runs for another four yards but tried to spin out of a tackle instead of driving the guy backwards. Stop trying to be a ballerina Robert and run some people over. That’s how you won your job back.

7:50 SMALL DOGS?!?!

7:50 Toma inside the ten. First and goal. We need to finish this with six. I don’t want to settle for three points until the second half. This was one of the goals.

7:51 Hughes hit in the backfield and fumbles but recovers. I was going to blame that on Sam Young but that there were two tight ends to the right of him and it was total miscommunication on their part. Hughes didn’t have a chance.

7:51 Incomplete on 3rd down to Duval Kamara, who was falling down as he tried to get the ball in the endzone. Imagine that. To be fair it wasn’t a great pass, but that still doesn’t take away from the fact that he just falls down all on his own way too much.

7:52 Nick Tausch field goal is good. 3-0 Irish. I don’t think there’s one person who is happy with that result. We’re already behind on achieving Goal #2.

7:57 Fleming busts through the line to stop Wazzou on second down for a loss. He should have a field day. This is followed by another incomplete pass and another punt. These guys are really terrible. First down Irish. That literally all took ninety seconds in real time to happen.

8:02 Robert Hughes goes up the middle for a gain of four but Trevor Robinson is hurt. Really hurt. They show the replay and it was a defender rolling up his leg. That doesn’t look good at all.

8:04 Hughes picks up a first down on 3rd and 1 thanks to a really good block by Mike Ragone to spring him off left tackle.

8:06 After a sack and a short run by Hughes, Clausen’s third and three pass falls incomplete. Irish are forced to punt. Ben Turk promptly bobbles the snap and then shanks one off the side of his foot for a nine yard bomb. I guarantee his average wouldn’t rank in the top five of interhall football at ND.

8:09 On first down Ethan Johnson comes BUSTING through the line for a sack. Brutal hit, quarterback didn’t even have a chance. This is what I’m talking about; bully the crap out of them. No mercy.

8:11 Tuel completes one but short of the first down. The whole “why run a seven yard route when you need nine” rant by commentators is one of the most annoying things in sports. Commentators pointing out that they caught a ball and should’ve gotten a first down but didn’t adds absolutely nothing to my viewing experience.

8:14 Notre Dame’s drive starts with a pass interference on the Cougars. I want seven more points by the end of the quarter. We have a shade under four minutes left to do it.

8:16 Golden runs for ten yards out of the Wildcat, then rips up the middle for a 33-yard gain out of the Wildcat. Really good blocking but also a great job by Golden to get through an ankle tackle, something Armando has yet to learn how to do. I really like Armando but he has to figure out how to do that—it turns eight yard gains into 33 yard ones.

8:17 Hughes rumbles for another eleven out of the Wildcat. Offensive line is flattening the d-line. Another four yards out of the Wildcat for Hughes. The entire drive has been the Wildcat, kudos to the offensive line for dominating.

8:18 They flash a graphic showing the average weight of each of the lines. Notre Dame defensive line averages 315lbs. Washington State defensive line averages 266lbs. Well that partially explains why it look like we’re playing a high school team. Take note of this for the Navy game—their line is probably even smaller.

8:20 TOUCHDOWN IRISH. Duval Kamara puts one foot in front of the other, stops without losing his balance, and reels in the touchdown. Good drive by the Irish, great running, great blocking.

8:21 The extra point is blocked and returned ninety yards only to have Mike Ragone chase him down at the five yard line. Unbelievable hustle by Ragone saves two points. Whoever was the person directly left of the center was just shoved to the side allowing a defensive lineman to get right up the middle to block it. Pretty terrible blocking, just another example of being sloppy on the little things.

8:22 Dip texts, “I know one person who is going to get a pass on wind sprints at practice this week.” Truth. Thumbs up Mike Ragone.

8:24 Quarterback keeper on first down by Tuel gets Wazzou 14 yards to end the quarter.

8:25 First quarter grade for the Irish: C-. That last drive was somewhat redeeming and the defense was good, but we had a blocked extra point and couldn’t punch it in the endzone on the first drive. Not particularly pleased.

8:27 Kerry Neal gets to Tuel on first down for a loss of eleven. There were four different people who could’ve come up with that sack, Neal beat the others by half a second.

8:28 Tuel gets ROCKED as he throws a pass on third down that Kyle McCarthy breaks up down the middle of the field. Here comes another punt. Tate fumbles the punt after a moronic attempt to field it on a short hop but Jamoris Slaughter comes up with it so no harm is done. Come on Golden, quit screwing around.

8:30 A pair of runs by Theo Riddick gets us another first down. The guy is faaaaaaast. He came in with little to no fanfare—in fact he was one of the lower rated prospects we brought in this past year too—but you can already tell he’s going to be an impact player.

8:33 Kamara makes a catch on a laser to the sideline by Clausen…then turns upfield and falls down before anyone hits him. I mean good catch and way to settle in the coverage for Jimmy to find him, but his lack of balance is borderline comical.

8:34 TOUCHDOWN GOLDEN TATE OUT OF THE WILDCAT. It looked like it was just going to be a two or three yard gain but he spun out of two tackles, bounced outside, turned on the jets, and turned the corner. Fantastic run. I have no idea what the hell he was doing with his celebration but I laughed out loud at it. Jumping jacks? Heckling the WSU fans? I don’t know. 16-0 Irish.

8:40 Am I the only one who finds that Under Armour commercial with the jacked, eleven year old black kid on the bus a little weird? I know it’s been on forever but every time I see it I think “shouldn’t that be followed by the old anti-steroid commercial with the deflating balls?”

8:43 Harrison Smith breaks up a pass. He’s been on the field but off the radar today. This is a step in the right direction.

8:44 Another incomplete pass leads to another punt. Wazzou is just overwhelmed by the blitz. This is when a Tenuta defense is most deadly—when his players have more talent than the opposition. I suppose being more talented makes every defensive scheme deadly, but it’s really highlighted when you’re constantly blitzing and pressing.

8:47 Irish are rolling with 1st down inside the 30 as Washington State calls a timeout.

8:52 Pat Haden breaks down a replay and says “there are four people over here to the left of the center”…only there are clearly only three players lined up to the left. He labels them 1-2-3 and then just puts the 4 on the grass and says “you can’t see the fourth one.” Put down the paint chips Pat.

8:52 The Irish are down to the one yard line. Third and goal. JAM IT DOWN THEIR THROAT.

8:53 TOUCHDOWN IRISH, ROBERT HUGHES JUMPS OVER THE PILE FOR SIX. We shouldn’t celebrate running over Washington State, but I am pleased to see us step on the gas and finish. 23-0 Irish.

8:56 Irish have held Washington State to 37 yards and two first downs so far. Very pleased by the defense’s performance.

8:57 Pat, don’t turn to the side. We went however many years without me realizing you had a brutal comb over. Am I the only one who just totally missed that all this time? Maybe it usually works out perfectly with how the headset normally sits on his head but man, he’s a first ballot inductee into the Gene Keady Hall of Combovers.

8:58 Cougars take over and immediately they start moving the ball. Two plays, back to back rushes, back to back first downs. They literally just doubled their entire offense for the half on those two plays. Come on, there are only three minutes left in the half, let’s keep them off the board boys.

9:01 Wazzou converts a third and six with a wheel route in front of Gary Gray, first down inside the 15.

9:02 Touchdown Washington State, right over Robert Blanton. Really disappointing to give up a solid drive like that at the end of the half when we’d totally shut them down all game. 7 plays, 76 yards. 23-7 Irish. I want a response before the end of the half. We’ll have a little more than a minute to do it.

9:04 Irish ball at the 25 yard line with 1:10 left. Come on Jimmy, lets pad those stats.

9:05 First down pass is complete for nine yards to Chihuahua Hands, clock still running.

9:05 Second down is another laser to Rudolph where he carries SIX defenders for an extra five yards over midfield. Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd it’s coming back for an illegal formation penalty on Matt Romine. Gun. Foot. FIRE.

9:07 After a first down throw to Theo Riddick Eric Olsen is called for another idiot penalty after the play. Charlie calls him over to the sideline so he can ream him out face-to-face, then sends him back to the huddle with his tail between his legs. They just replayed the penalty. YOU ARE A MORON ERIC. Only 29 seconds left now and we’re back at the 20.

9:09 A short throw to Riddick is followed by a seed from Clausen to Kamara on the sideline. We’re up to our own 38 with 16 seconds left.

9:10 Theo Riddick takes a dump off pass just over midfield and the Irish burn their final timeout with seven seconds left.


9:14 Walking into the locker room Weis says he’s going to keep the pedal on the metal in the second half. I like it. Destroy them.

9:15 Let’s do a little checkup on the goals.

1. We wanted a fast start…it wasn’t a sprint out of the gate, but 30-7 at halftime is pretty good. I give them an A-.
2. We wanted to finish in the red zone…not completely satisfied after botching the first drive, but we finished another two. I’ll give them a B- on that goal.
3. We wanted 300+ yards and 3-4 TD’s for Jimmy midway through the third quarter to pad his Heisman campaign…so far so good. He’s 18 of 21 for 239 yards and 2TD’s. He owes Golden a beer for making that stat line look infinitely better with one jump ball. A+ on that goal.
4. We wanted to make Tuel look like a freshman. I’d have to chalk that up as a success. He hasn’t done squat really except two good throws on the last drive. A- for that goal.
5. Get the subs reps. This one is incomplete, we’ll have to see in the second half.

9:41 The opening drive stalls and the Irish have to punt. Well that’s certainly disappointing. Come on Irish, step on the gas, get two quick touchdowns, and then turn the keys over to Dayne so he can run the show for a quarter, maybe a quarter and a half.

9:42 Ben Turk with 52-yard great punt to the two yard line! I’m speechless—I’m without speech.

9:45 Wazzou starts their drive in the shadow of their own goal post. On first down Blanton breaks up a long pass down the left side. He should’ve picked that off but a broken up pass beats a completed pass any day.

9:47 McCarthy comes from clear across the field to sniff out a third down run and knock the runner out of bounds. The Cougs are forced to punt. Irish get the ball with good field position again, this time at the Wazzou 45.

9:52 A good run by Hughes up the middle and a checkdown by Jimmy to Hughes on second down gives us a first down at the 28.

9:53 Timeout Notre Dame. It seems like we always burn one timeout at the beginning of a half because we don’t have the right play in or it comes in too late. I know it doesn’t matter in this game and I know that it hasn’t come back to bite us this season—Charlie actually is VERY good at managing his timeouts at the end of a game—but at the very least it’s frustrating to watch.

9:57 Theo Riddick converts a 3rd and 2 and he almost took it to the house—an ankle tackle by the last defender brought him down.

9:58 First down Irish inside the three yard line after a swing pass to Goodman and a rush up the middle by Theo. Let’s either pound it down their throats or lob it to Golden to beef up both Jimmy and his stats.

9:59 Stoned on first down.

10:00 Jimmy trips over his own feet trying to escape the rush for a big loss. He also tweaked his toe injury on the play so he may be done for the day. Dammit to hell, why couldn’t we just jam it in and get him out of the game. Irish timeout.

10:01 Crist is in the game for third down. Alright Dayne, let’s see what you’ve got.

10:02 A screen to Kyle Rudolph is stopped at the five yard line because Eric Olsen whiffed on a blocked. That was set up beautifully but all it takes is one man missing an assignment and it’s all for naught. Not a red letter day for #55. Tausch kicks a field goal and it’s 33-7. We’re definitely failing at the goal of finishing in the red zone.

10:05 Nick Tausch kicks it out of bounds so the Cougars take over at the 40. These stupid little mistakes just never seem to disappear.

10:07 INTERCEPTION ROBERT BLANTON. Great one-handed catch over his shoulder when Tuel tried to throw it away. That’s big for him. I really think he just needs one or two plays like that and the swagger that made him so good last year will return. He has the ability to be a big-time difference maker in the secondary; he just needs to start playing with confidence again.

10:08 HUUUUUUUUUUUGHES rumbles for 19 yards to go over the 100 yard mark. Haden makes the observation that they’ve all come up the middle but they haven’t necessarily been tough yards. Very true, there have been plenty of runs where Hughes hasn’t seen anybody until he’s already run six yards. This is a dominating performance by the offensive line.

10:09 Hughes runs over a few defenders in the secondary after another 15 yard runs, but it’s coming back because Kyle Rudolph clamped his cocker spaniels on a defender illegally and held him…and tack on another 15 due to unnecessary roughness on Chris Stewart. That’s about a 35 yard swing. Did you ever think you could be so upset when you’re up 33-7? Stupid penalties will be the end of us. It’s not necessarily coaching, it’s just stupidity on the players’ parts.

10:11 Dayne short hops a pass to Golden and Tate shows his displeasure. Be supportive Golden, no need for the attitude in this situation. Dayne is just as ticked off as you about the pass.

10:12 The Irish are forced to punt. This is yet another instance of stupidity sabotaging a promising drive. Instead of having 1st down over midfield we had to deal with 2nd and 24 at our own 35 because of penalties. It’s really tough to be totally pleased when things like that still happen with such a high frequency.

10:15 The quarter comes to a close when Ian Williams stuffs a quarterback draw. One more quarter to go. Let’s see some subs in there and let’s see Dayne do some damage.

10:18 Irish force a punt as Pat Haden continues to harp on the fact that Golden Tate should be out of the game. We get it Pat, give it a rest.

10:20 Theo Riddick takes a draw up the middle for ten yards, then runs another one for five yards. He looks good—he runs really hard, he’s shiftier than Armando, and he’s fast as hell. As he learns how to pick up blitzes effectively he’ll get more and more reps.

10:22 Two incompletes by Crist leads to a punt. He doesn’t look particularly good. This is followed by ANOTHER terrible punt by Ben Turk. Goodness gracious.

10:24 We come back from commercial to Charlie Weis berating the offense on the sideline. I like to see that, this is not an acceptable performance in the second half.

10:26 KLM takes the running back down for a loss…which is followed by Darius Fleming just absolutely blowing by the left tackle for a sack…which is followed by Steve Filer DESTROYING Tuel on a sack from the blindside. Good Lord, Tuel is going to be wearing a full body cast tomorrow morning. Filer looked like a missile on that one.

10:29 Theo Riddick breaks off a great run down the right side for about 30 yards after juking a cornerback out of his jock strap…ANNNNNNND IT’S COMING BACK. Dammit to hell, this is like a broken record.

10:30 TOUCHDOWN IRISH, DAYNE CRIST THROWS A LASER ON A POST ROUTE TO JOHN GOODMAN IN STRIDE. BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL THROW BY CRIST. That’s the five-star quarterback we know—it’s exactly why we need to get him plenty of reps when we get the chance. Once that confidence grows he’s going to be a great one. 40-7 IRISH.

10:35 INTERCEPTION IAN WILLIAMS! What a great, athletic play to tip it to himself and come down with the catch on Washington State’s first play from scrimmage.

10:36 Jonas Gray drops a pitch and has to fall on it for an eight yard loss. If you ever want to see the field again you’ll never let go of the ball again Jonas. With such a talented stable of running backs you just can’t afford to put the ball on the turf. Go check how many carries Terrence Howard got after he fumbled on the first play of the 2001 Nebraska game.

10:37 Dayne scrambles and goes down awkwardly, fumbling in the process. My heart just dropped through the floor. Wazzou comes up with the ball but I couldn’t care less. They show the replay and he rolled his ankle and then turned it a second time when he stumbled. The pain was so much that he just let go of the ball.

10:40 Wazzou is driving thanks to some pretty crappy tackling by the second team defense.

10:41 They show Dayne walking. The last thing we need is for him to have an injury that keeps him out for six-to-nine months.

10:42 Touchdown Cougars. That was very easy. Kind of disappointing that the second team defense looks so bad, there’s still a ton of talent out there and there isn’t an excuse to let Wazzou slice through us like that.

10:46 Wazzou kicks off to Robby Toma who gets WRECKED with a helmet-to-helmet hit. Jeez, that was pretty dirty and unnecessary; he was already headed out of bounds. Tack on 15 yards.

10:48 Jonas runs for 14 on 3rd and 5 for a first down. Good run, really good blocking by the second team offensive line. Like clockwork they commit a false start the play after I compliment them.

10:49 They report that Dayne Crist is being taken in for a closer look at his knee. I want to throw up. Jimmy, I’ll personally insure you for an extra million dollars if you come back next year. Please for the love of God come back, win a national championship, a Heisman, and write one of the greatest chapters in Notre Dame lore. Please. PLEASE. Golden, you too.

10:58 Pretty uneventful end of the game. ND punted, Washington State is put together a decent little drive, but Paddy Mullen got a sack as time ran out.

Five Snap Judgments
1. Washington State is definitely one of the worst hapless teams we’ve played this decade, if not the worst.
2. Dominating performance by the offensive line. The stupid penalties were disappointing, but play-to-play they flattened Wazzou. I don’t remember the last time we did that. Pitt in 2003 maybe?
3. Golden Tate is ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous. It makes my head spin thinking about what an offense of Jimmy, Golden, Floyd, and Rudolph can do. I know we had that the first two games, but I think everyone can agree that Golden has taken “the leap” since the Michigan State game. Seriously, what do you do against those two on the outside now? One of them is one of the most dangerous people in college football with the ball in his hands; the other is 6-3 220lbs and is averaging 27.5 ypc and 2+ touchdowns per game.
4. There is a definite pall cast on this game due to injuries. First of all there’s Trevor Robinson (I almost forgot about it because it was so early in the game and my focus shifted to the other noteworthy injury). He’s been great this year and is a huge reason we’ve been able to run the ball so effectively. To lose him for an extended period of time would be a big blow. Then of course there is Dayne Crist’s injury. I’d rather him broken an ankle than tweaked a ligament. One of the things that made him such an exciting prospect was his mobility. If he tore something and is out for the spring that’d be devastating if Jimmy indeed does go pro.
5. Charlie really lighting into the team on the sideline of a 33-7 game sticks out to me. I like the sense of urgency and the attempt to squash any sort of complacency or self-satisfaction. We won handily and that’s great, but this was far from an A+ performance across the board. Come Monday they better be ready to hit the ground running and keep working to improve.

In the end we got what we wanted: a nice relaxing victory. Let’s hope that Dayne and Trevor are alright and Floyd is ready to go for Navy.


No comments:

Post a Comment