I’m writing this entry from the administrative offices of the Waterford Estates in lovely South Bend, IN. The wireless internet in the hotel is down and the people at the front desk graciously offered to let me use their personal desktop computer. I know, cool story Hansel.
Tomorrow our boys will take the field at Notre Dame Stadium for the last time in 2009. There's a very odd feel on campus. It’s almost a foregone conclusion that Charlie will be gone but no one really knows who they (realistically) want to be the next coach. The pep rally—or at least what they now call the pep rally…I’ll devote an entire entry to how depressing that was though—had by my estimation literally less than ten students (excluding the band/cheerleaders) in attendance. Charlie Weis was not at the pep rally, which I believe may be the first time since we started doing the rallies the coach didn’t show up. There just wasn’t the buzz around campus that there usually is for a home football weekend. The palpable energy that electrified campus four falls ago simply no longer exists.
Will this have any effect on the team tomorrow? Will they be as flat as the masses seem to be? They better not be because UConn is far from a pushover. Notre Dame has lost their four games by a combined 18 points…UConn has lost their five games by a combined 15 points. The Huskies lost Donald Brown to the NFL Draft last year but continue to churn along averaging over 400 yards per game, including 168 on the ground.
Truth be told as disciplined a team as UConn is and in spite of the fact that it would be easy to predict Notre Dame just folding I just don’t think the Huskies can pull an upset. The biggest reason I believe that is our old friend (and former O'Neill Hall resident) Zach Frazer. Zach is a great guy and a nice kid, but he simply isn't a very good quarterback. He's been susceptible to making some really boneheaded decisions, a tendency that should be exploited by our (overly) aggressive defense. Their defense (and specifically their secondary) has been relatively weak and has not seen an offensive with the explosive ability the Irish team possesses. All week I thought this would go down to the wire just like every home game (except Nevada) has this year, but the more I examine the opposition the more I think we should cover the six point spread Vegas has pinned on the game.
I see this game being an ugly one in the first half where UConn hangs around and everyone in the stadium gets that “here we go again” feeling. As the third quarter closes we’ll find ourselves up by a touchdown but with UConn on the move in Irish territory. One last time Charlie will hear the Overture and unfortunately one last time he will hear boos raining down from the student section. The final quarter will belong to the Irish though, starting with a Frazer interception on the potentially game-tying drive. We’ll kick a field goal to make it a ten point lead and one last turnover by the former ND signal caller will ice the game for good in favor of the home team.
Unlike the players who graduated last year, Kyle McCarthy, Eric Olsen, and the rest of the seniors will get to enjoy their final lap in the Stadium. It’ll be a time to let the bittersweet emotions of four tumultuous years hit them and an opportunity to absorb every last moment of their time in The House that Rockne Built. It’s one last chance to soak in what it’s like to don the blue and gold.
I can only hope that Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate dig deep and find a way to send their seniors—and more than likely their head coach—off that field one last time a winner.
And I can only hope they'll both be back next year to make the lap themselves...
Notre Dame 27