Sunday, November 8, 2009

Dear Diary...Notre Dame-Navy

It’s time to fire up yet another running diary. This time we’re renewing our series with the Midshipmen of Navy. Like I said in the preview I fully expect a solid Notre Dame performance that will set up a showdown next Saturday night in Pittsburgh. Let’s get going!

2:33 Right off the bat they flash scenes from pre-game warmups and Michael Floyd is snaring a catch. Seeing that has to just jack up every Irish fan watching. Think of what our offense is capable of now that he’s healthy…not a doubt in my mind that we’d have beaten USC had Floyd been healthy.

2:37 They flash scenes from the 2007 game. We went over my feelings on that game in the pre-game. I’ve got more respect for Navy than any team in college football, but I want them flattened today. This needs to be a thrashing to somewhat atone for what happened on that field two years ago.

2:40 NBC shows some footage of the SS New York, a battleship that was just christened, pulling into the harbor outside New York City. Part of the material used to make the ship was steel salvaged from Ground Zero. They show the ship sailing past the city with the crew on deck saluting the city. Incredibly powerful stuff.

2:41 Watching the Mids during the national anthem puts a lot in perspective. Charlie Weis has handled this entire rivalry with such class and dignity, from going over and respecting their Alma Mater to rearranging the pregame routine so that the teams were both on the field for the anthem.

2:42 Flyover. Balllllllin.

2:45 Floyd is fired up and seems to be itching to go. That’s such terrible news for Navy. Terrible, terrible news. We’re going to steamroll their secondary, I almost feel guilty.

2:46 That’s a lie, I don’t feel even a little guilty.

2:47 Haden points out the fact that Jimmy’s completion percentage is even more impressive because it’s not like it’s just a bunch of short passes—he goes down the field a lot. That’s very true, most people don’t really think about that when looking at the stat.

2:47 Completion to Michael Floyd! WELCOME BACK #3!

2:49 Robby Parris catches a pass near midfield but goes down awkwardly and lets go of the ball. Initially they rule him down but Navy challenges the play. This looks like it’s going to be overturned. Not a particularly good start. Come on, you’ve got to secure that ball better Robby. He was carrying it like he was palming a basketball.

2:52 Navy ball, 1st and 10. Dammit. Charlie is arguing but that was the right call.

2:54 Two plays and a first down for Navy. Manti Te’o assignment on that play was the running back and he blew him up, Dobbs just decided to keep. Unfortunate that we gave up the play but good to see people are sticking to their assignments I suppose.

2:55 Ricky Dobbs takes it right up the middle for another first down. There’s no silver lining in that play.

2:56 Ian Williams comes busting through the line to smother Dobbs

2:57 Dobbs throws up a duck after the rush gets to him in less than half a second, but Sergio Brown doesn’t even try to make a play on the ball and the receiver comes down with it for a short game. What the hell was the thinking on that Sergio? That was atrocious, that could’ve been a pick six. I don’t even know if Dobbs was legitimately trying to throw it to the receiver or just throw it away. At the very worst that should’ve been incomplete and Navy would be facing 3rd and 14. Every yard you can push an option team backwards you need to take advantage of.

2:58 Dobbs runs it for 10 yards and it’s 4th and inches. Navy is going to go for it. See, suddenly that stupid completion we allowed becomes more important.

2:59 Navy tried to draw the Irish offsides but the Irish stayed put. Timeout Middies. Good discipline there by the defense.

3:02 Navy goes for it coming out of the timeout and sneaks it for a first down without a problem.

3:03 Fullback takes the first down run right up the middle for a first down inside the five.

3:05 After a false start sets the Mids back, they pound it back inside the 2. 3rd down.

3:05 The defense holds on 3rd down when Ricky Dobbs slips up. It’s fourth and goal inside the one and they’re forced to burn another time out to debate going for it. This would be a huge stop for ND. I’m not even close to being worried yet, but this would deflate a whole lot of air out of the Navy balloon.

3:09 Touchdown Navy on a sneak from Ricky Dobbs, wasn’t even close. Disappointing start. Navy chewed plenty of clock on a short drive, converted two 4th downs, and moved the ball very well. The only way they’re going to win though is if we beat ourselves with turnovers. Last year they went right down the field early in the game too and then we tightened up. Hopefully the same thing happens this year.

3:12 The first three plays are the Robert Hughes show. A run and two dump offs results in about 15 yards and a first down.

3:14 Michael Floyd for another catch and 23 yards. He broke a tackle and got down the sideline for an extra fifteen yards. There is NO ONE in Navy’s secondary that can match up with him.

3:16 Irish drive stalls at the 25. Hammond proclaims Tausch is currently holding the record for most consecutive field goals made. Seriously, shut up Tom, you can say it after he makes it. Of course the kiss of death leads to a pull and the kick sails wide left. Horrific start by the Irish. We continue on the path of beating ourselves. It just makes my stomach churn.

3:19 Darius Fleming gets penetration on first down and trips up Dobbs for only a short gain.

3:20 Huge gain on the option pitch when the Irish lose contain puts Navy over midfield.

3:22 Brian Smith gets run over by the Navy fullback which gets the Middies up to 3rd and inches. I don’t think I’ll feel even a little confident that we can every stop them in this situation all day.

3:23 Dobbs sneaks it easily for four yards at least, first down inside the 31.

3:27 First quarter comes to an end with the Mids leading 7-0 and driving. If you’re a Navy fan you have to be thrilled. If you’re a Notre Dame fan you have to be thinking “why the hell do we make everything more difficult than it should be?”

3:30 Navy Touchdown right up the middle. Fullback went untouched for 25 yards and the Mids are up 14-0. Is this really the path we’re going down? Are we really going to play this flat and be forced to pull another rabbit out of our ass to win? I’m sure if I look back at all the diaries there has been a point like this in just about every game where I’m just utterly disgusted.

3:32 Good return by Theo gives us the ball at the 40. Come on boys, let’s start rolling, enough of the garbage we’ve shown thus far.

3:33 Two plays and it’s an Irish first down at midfield. Theo had a nice hard run to pick it up.

3:34 Fourteen yard dart to Michael Floyd on first down. Unstoppable.

3:35 The homeless man’s Kim Andrews lets us know that “Navy is ecstatic to be up 14-0.” She also said that Ken Niumatalolo said no one is allowed to smile on the Navy sideline. He's in the right frame of mind.

3:35 Theo Riddick busts up the middle for two straight runs, the second one going for 20 yards inside the 15. He’s going to be a helluva back.

3:36 Floyd takes it inside the five yard line and gets pushed out of bounds about 10 yards from where he broke his collarbone. Terrible flashback there.

3:37 Riddick takes it for a first down inside the three, probably would’ve scored if he didn’t run into his own linemen.

3:38 Navy stacks Robert Hughes up on the outside and gets him behind the line for a loss on first and goal. Second and goal gets stuffed as well. I’m going to be livid if we can’t punch this in.

3:40 Incomplete pass to Floyd on a fade—his feet got tangled with the defender’s. Fourth down Notre Dame and we call a timeout to figure out what to do. This is disheartening to say the least. I know Navy gets all jacked up to play us but when you hear about how Temple moved the ball at will against them it and we’re doing nothing…I mean it’s just infuriating.

3:43 Incomplete pass, Navy takes over the ball at the Notre Dame 3 yard line. Ram Vela—aka the guy who jumped over Armando’s block and blew up our 4th down attempt late in the’07 game—blows up the play.

3:45 Three and out from Navy. Tack on a personal foul for a blatant clip on Robert Blanton and the Mids will have to punt from inside their own ten. One of the most underreported things about Navy is how dirty a team they are—their entire offense is based on chop and cut blocks. Getting out of town without anyone getting hurt is always an accomplishment.

3:46 Very good punt by Navy—I’ve really begun to appreciate competent punts/punters—but John Goodman returns it over midfield so the Irish will start with great field position. I want a three play drive here; I’m not interested in grinding out a five minute drive. Remind them what we’re capable of, STEP ON THE GAS BOYS.

3:50 First play is an 18 yard pass to Duval Kamara. Good start. Second play is a five yard pass to Golden.

3:51 Golden out of the Wildcat gets us up to 3rd and 2. Riddick converts on the next play for a first down. Apparently Hughes has headed to the locker room, which is not good news.

3:53 Huge cushion on a pass to Floyd, like shooting fish in a barrel. How the hell have we not scored to this point?

3:54 Illegal formation on the Irish, pushing us back. They’re showing Hughes on the sideline so I’m not exactly sure what that locker room report was about.

3:54 Incomplete pass to Golden Tate in the corner of the endzone as he crashes into the drum section of our band. Another incomplete pass to Tate and it’s fourth down. Tausch is in for another field goal attempt.

3:55 Wide right. Unbelievable, this is like a bad dream. WHY THE HELL CAN’T WE JUST STOMP TEAMS LIKE THIS?!?!

3:56 Ineffective in the red zone, allowing big plays on defense, bad special teams. Jeez, who’s heard this story before?

4:00 After a big play on the first play of the drive the Irish tighten up and force a 3rd and 6 with just over two minutes left. COME ON IRISH.

4:01 Dobbs breaks a weak tackle from Brian Smith and goes for a huge gain over midfield. Shaky tackling, that’s another lovely reoccurring theme.

4:02 Navy rolling inside the 30 yard line after converting another 3rd down. Only 28 seconds left.


4:05 Navy calls timeout with three seconds left, they’ll try to kick a field goal to take a 17-0 lead at the half. I’m beyond disgusted.

4:08 NO GOOD, WIDE RIGHT. That helps.

4:08 Alex Flanagan wisely interviews the Navy coach going to the locker room instead of Charlie. Coach Weis may have unhinged his jaw and eaten her whole.

4:10 Halftime Reaction: same story, different day, different team, same sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach. Navy is dominating the line of scrimmage on offense and tightening up in the redzone on defense. They’re doing just enough to allow us to hang ourselves when we get the ball.

4:12 Halftime Stat of Note: Notre Dame is 1-4 on third down conversions, 0-1 on fourth down conversions. Navy is 3-5 on third down, 2-2 on fourth down. Gag.

4:30 Wow, we begin the second half with a touchback, which has to be the first one of the year. Thank you, David Ruffer. NOW LET’S GO RIP THEIR BLEEPING HEADS OFF.

4:31 STUFFED on first down. Dobbs has run it 18 of the 29 Navy rushes, I want him buried.

4:32 Navy converts third down with a 19 yard gain on third and long. Totally broke contain on the outside…INFURIATING. IN-FUR-I-ATING.

4:33 Two plays go for about four yards bringing up another 3rd and 6. We need the ball now. NOW.

4:34 First down Navy. Kerry Neal bit hard on the fullback fake, allowing Dobbs to run free.

4:35 After stuffing Dobbs on first down the fullback takes it up the middle for five yards, bringing up another 3rd and 5. Holtz used to say when the fullback is effective in the triple option it can’t be stopped. That’s proving to be true today.

4:36 Darius Fleming stuffs Dobbs short after Brian Smtih misses a tackle bringing up 4th and 2. They’re going for it, huge play.

4:37 They try to draw the Irish offsides again but fail. They take the delay of game and are forced to punt. After blasting it into the endzone the Irish will get the ball on the 20. Good stand. It’s time to put seven on the board right away, let’s get the momentum rolling the right direction and unleash an avalanche here.

4:40 On first down Jimmy completes a seed to Golden Tate over the middle for 14 yards.

4:41 Second play is a great run by Robert Hughes for another first down. He showed some shiftiness there and then ran over a few guys for the last couple yards.

4:43 After a sack on first down and an incomplete pass on second down the Irish call time out. We really can’t afford to come away with nothing on this drive. Please draw me up something good Charlie.

4:46 First down to Golden Tate. Great pre-snap adjustment by Jimmy to switch up the blocking.

4:47 Jimmy completes another laser to Golden Tate over the middle for another fourteen yards. Tack on another 15 yards for an illegal horse collar tackle.

4:48 Jimmy finds Golden for another completion on the next play…buuuuuuut it’s coming back thanks to a hold on Paul Duncan. Another fantastic attempt to sabotage a drive by the Irish. We are deadly accurate when we aim the gun at our foot. Deadly. It’s now 1st and 20 at the 25. A draw to Hughes goes for three yards and we face second and a mile.


4:50 HUUUUUUUUUUUUUGHES FOR THE IRISH TOUCHDOWN. Ten plays, 80 yards in 3:57. Great drive there by the Irish, huge catches by Golden on third down and Floyd on second and long. Tausch tacks on the extra point and the deficit is cut to seven points. Navy 14, Notre Dame 7.

4:55 Well any hopes of sustaining the momentum with a three and out are squelched right away with a 15 yard run right up the middle by the fullback. Missed tackle from Sergio Brown helps the cause. Not a red letter day for #31.

4:57 Touchdown Navy, Ricky Dobbs hits his receiver wide open over the middle. Robert Blanton bit hard on the run leaving his man totally uncovered. Navy 21, Irish 7 with 3:29 left in the third. Panic is setting in.

4:59 That was their first touchdown through the air since September 26th against the Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky. Awesome. Someone hand me a pencil so I can jam it in my eye. Tell me if you’ve heard this line before: Charlie, the next 18 minutes could determine your fate at Notre Dame.

5:04 Two plays by the Irish and we’re already over midfield. Rudolph rumbled for 14 but it looks like he might’ve broken his collarbone. Good Lord, talk about a snakebitten team.

5:06 Mike Ragone is in for Rudolph. Jimmy hits him for a completion and then he promptly fumbles. It barely gets out of bounds before Navy recovers it. They’re going to review whether it actually did get out of bounds. This shouldn’t be overturned but Jesus Mike, HOLD ON TO THE BALL.

5:08 Ruling is confirmed, it’s now 2nd and 7 with 1:40 left. There seems to be no sense of urgency. It’s 3rd and 2.

5:09 Hughes has a great run for a first down. Come on Irish, get it in the endzone before the end of the quarter.

5:10 Incomplete to Floyd in the endzone. He was clearly interfered with.

5:11 First down Irish to Robby Parris. Come on Irish, PUNCH IT IN.

5:12 Jimmy scrambles ten yards to the goal line and FUMBLES on the one inch line. Navy recovers. Jimmy is hurt and not moving. The season is flashing before my eyes. Charlie’s career is flashing before his eyes. I cannot believe this, someone please wake me up from this nightmare.

5:16 On first down Navy goes right up the middle with the fullback for FORTY YARDS. I cannot believe my eyes. The next play is another 12 to the fullback right up the middle. Every good thing we did over the last month is being destroyed. If we don’t force a turnover we’re done.

5:18 Navy is over midfield and now has over 300 yards rushing on the day.

5:19 Irish hold on 3rd and 6. Te’o is limping. Great. After the Navy punt goes into the endzone it’s Irish ball at the 20 with 12:03 left. Jimmy appears to be coming back in the game.

5:20 This next twelve minutes could have such a negative impact on our program it’s staggering. We’re going to the well yet again—Jimmy needs to find a way to pull this one out of the fire. We need to unleash the hounds of hell here. We’ve moved the ball at will on our two drives this half. It’s time to do it quickly. COME ON IRISH, FIND A WAY.

5:22 First down pass to Robby Parris goes for ten yards. Alright, good start.

5:23 Jimmy completes a seed over the middle to Mike Ragone on the next play for a 32 yard gain. Great throw and catch, we’re over midfield.

5:25 Huge 3rd and 10 here at the 39. COMPLETE TO MICHAEL FLOYD RIGHT OVER THE MIDDLE. BIG TIME, GREAT CATCH ON A LOW BALL. Under 11 minutes left.

5:26 Golden Tate comes back to the ball and almost rips a completion away from a defender for another first down at the Navy 12.

5:27 Interception Navy. Jimmy threw a pass that hit Floyd in the back, square in the number 3…it popped up in the air and Ram Vela aka the Irish Killer picks it off and runs back 20 yards. Jimmy gets called for a late hit after the play. That could be the season. I’m so sickened, I’m just speechless.

5:30 First play is fullback option up the middle for seven. We are getting destroyed up the middle. DESTROYED. This is an EMBARRASSMENT. TENUTA, MAKE A &%$&^$ ADJUSTMENT YOU STUBBORN/RIGID MORON.

5:31 NBC flashes a graphic that shows exactly why we’re in this position: two lost fumbles, two missed field goals, 1 interception, on turnover on downs. Three of those disasters happened in the red zone.

5:33 Harrison Smith stops Dobbs in the backfield on third down and Navy is forced to punt. We’ll get the ball back at the 10 yard line with under seven minutes left. We need a miracle. I’m not ruling it out Jimmy, prove me right.

5:38 Second down completion to Floyd for a first down, just over six minutes left. Next play is a 15 yard gain to Tate.

5:39 Another laser to Tate in between three defenders over midfield.

5:40 Hughes takes a shovel pass and rumbles for thirty yards. 5:28 left and we’re at the 21 yard line.

5:42 First down to Michael Floyd on the right sideline.

5:43 A fade to Michael Floyd falls incomplete but PI is called. Irish ball at the 2.

5:44 Illegal snap on Notre Dame. Five yard penalty. I want to punch a hole in the wall.

5:45 Incomplete pass to Golden Tate. Should’ve been a hold on the cornerback. There have been a lot of missed calls. They’ve been subtle and by no means are they even remotely a factor in us losing this game, but there has been a lot of uncalled holding on Navy cornerbacks. That’s to be expected with the matchup problems they’ve been facing all day. 2nd and goal, 4:52.

5:46 False start on Dan Wenger. Move it back another five yards. I consider it a blessing that my girlfriend has removed all sharp objects from the room.


5:52 Great kick there by David Ruffer and Navy takes over inside their own 15. COME ON BOYS, GIVE JIMMY ONE MORE CHANCE.


5:53 Ricky Dobbs got four yards on a play that looked like it would go for nothing. It’s third and long. COME ON IRISH, STUFF’EM ONE MORE TIME.

5:54 First down Navy. Another third and long conversion. DAMMIT TO EFFING HELL. We’re now under three minutes left.

5:55 Notre Dame stuffs them on first down and calls timeout. 2:50 left in the game.

5:56 The Irish blow up the play on second down, Manti Te’o and Ian Williams on the stop. Irish burn their last timeout. Navy is facing a 3rd and 8. This is the ball game…PLEASE IRISH, PLEASE COME THROUGH.

5:57 TE’O WITH THE STOP ON A BROKEN PLAY. Steve Filer blew up the play in the backfield but Dobbs wiggled for extra yardage. Navy calls a timeout as the play clock expires.

5:59 Notre Dame ball at the 19 yard line after a big 55 yard punt by Navy. 1:48 left. This is where legends are made Jimmy. Sad we’re asking you to do this against Navy.

6:00 Michael Floyd was wide open and dropped it at midfield. Good Lord, why? My jaw just fell through the floor.

6:01 Second down pass falls incomplete. Parris was wide open in the right flat but Jimmy tried to force it down field.

6:02 Clausen is sacked inside his own five yard line. Sam Young, what the %$#& are you doing cut blocking someone half your size? 4th down and 20 for Notre Dame.

6:02 The defensive lineman blows by Paul Duncan and gets Clausen for a safety. Navy is going to win this game. This is two straight losses to them on our own field. Charlie, your seat went from lukewarm to a blazing inferno.

6:03 Lizz’s Mom texts a derogatory “HA!” When your friends’ mothers are texting you to rub in losses you have officially hit rock bottom as a fan.

6:04 Golden Tate recovers the onside kick after the safety.

6:06 Touchdown Golden Tate. He gets the ball at the 15 and eludes four or five tacklers and leaps over a guy to get in the endzone. It was a helluva play by Tate; too bad it won’t even be a footnote on this catastrophic event. Tausch tacks on the extra point and it’s 23-21.

6:08 Navy recovers the onside kick. Game over.

This is a feeling we know all too well. Once again an inferior opponent comes in to Notre Dame Stadium and hands us a devastating loss that sends our program into a tailspin. All the positive feelings and momentum we had built since our close loss to USC has been destroyed. Suddenly focus will be shifted from whether our quarterback is returning for his senior season to whether our head coach will return for his sixth season.

The texts that are rolling in aren’t derogatory anymore; they’re people asking if I’m ok. I’m too sick to type anything rational right now. I’m totally numb with anger, disappointment, and disgust.

Welcome to the life of a Notre Dame fan in 2009.

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