Monday, September 27, 2010

Dear Diary...Notre Dame - Stanford

Welcome to running diary 2.0 of 2010! Today the Irish are set to showdown with the Cardinal. Lots of interesting subplots litter this game: ND vs their losing streak against ranked teams, ND attempting to bounce back from the devastating loss to MSU, Brian Kelly vs Jim Harbaugh, TJ Jones vs the team he originally committed to, Matt vs this terribly sneaky hangover that set in around 11am this morning…Let’s get right to it.

3:37 Stanford emerges from the tunnel and the camera zooms in on Jim Harbaugh just in time to catch him spitting out a John Kruk-sized wad of dip. Lovely.

3:38 HD Gremlin, we meet again. It feels like the first time. You should be on radio and that’s that.

3:38 Maycock talks about how Stanford is going to be matching up man-to-man, leaving the corners isolated against the Irish receivers, and throwing a lot of blitzes Dayne Crist’s way. Brad immediately texts that Michael Floyd will have at least two touchdowns if they think they can stop him with single coverage. That’d work for me.

3:40 Tom Hammond says that Stanford kicker (and former ND walk-on) Nate Whitaker has a vendetta and wants to show the Irish what they’re missing. Guess what Nate: you’re a kicker, we couldn’t care less. And for the record, you couldn’t beat out Brandon Walker when you were here. Maybe we wouldn’t have had to burn two extra scholarships on Tausch and Ruffer if you would have been half-decent.

3:42 Riddick catches a pass for a first down on the second play of the game. The emergence of Theo Riddick as a proficient slot guy adds so much to this offense and should help soften up the middle of defenses. Defenses want to concentrate on Floyd and Rudolph? Go ahead, Riddick is more than capable of breaking off huge runs after the catch. Good start, boys…

3:43 Another catch by Riddick brings up 3rd and short, which Armando converts pretty easily. The Irish have come out of the gate strong the last three games with their opening drives.

3:44 Crist gets ROCKED as he lets go of a pass. Jeez almighty guys, we can’t allow that. Every time he gets touched I cringe. Every time he gets hit like that it triggers my gag reflex. He’s still developing, we don’t need him getting jittery in the pocket after a couple hits like that.

3:46 Theo drops a ball that would’ve easily gone for a first down and more. Have to take the good with the bad when it comes to Riddick as of right now…

3:46 First down Michael Floyd. Beautiful quick slant and run after the catch. Glad to see him get a piece of the action early. I appreciate the extra effort he’s giving in runs after the catch this year and I know he’s just trying to make something happen, but he’s not Golden Tate. Barrel ahead and get another couple yards, no need for all the dancing.

3:47 Shayne Skov comes busting through the line for a sack. That was either the best timed blitz in the history of football or he was offsides. He literally sacked Crist before the offensive line got out of their crouches. NBC shows a couple terrible angles that show nothing definitive.

3:50 NBC airs a commercial that advertises that Dr. Alex Flanagan is on Twitter!!!! I’ve never been so happy that we created an account.

3:51 Coming back from the commercial Crist is almost picked off on third down and Notre Dame is forced to punt. What a solid drive nuked by Shayne Skov.


3:53 The first Wildcat formation of the year for a first down…then Theo dances a little too much on the second one and gets stopped…I love his shiftiness but every once in awhile he just tries to juke a little too much.

3:54 Three wildcats in a row. Can’t say I’m thrilled. CLoss probably has buried his head in his hands for the past three minutes. 3rd and goal from the 5 coming up.

3:56 After a Stanford timeout Crist hits Rudolph but a good open-field tackle brings Beaglehands down well short of the goal line. Ruffer comes out and bangs a field goal through to put ND up 3-0. Can’t pass up opportunities like the one the Cardinal put on a silver platter for us there.

4:01 First offensive play of the game for Stanford is a 9 yard run right up the middle. Not a good start for the defense, tighten up boys.

4:02 Hayseed lights UP Owusu on the incompletion on second down. Welcome back from your injury, Chris. This would be a HUGE three and out.

4:03 CARLO WITH THE STUFF ON THIRD AND INCHES AND HE EMERGES WITH THE FULLBACK’S HELMET. God I love this guy. A TERRIBLE spot gives Stanford a first down. Kelly is having a conniption as he should. The replays pretty much confirm that Carlo stopped him short. Kelly is challenging the spot.

4:05 The call on the field stands. Absolute Bullshit.

4:08 Te’o tattoos Gaffney along the sideline. Gafney limps back over to the Stanford sideline—it’s going to be awhile before we see him again. We’re certainly not backing down on defense.

4:08 ND transfer Konrad Reuland burns us for 26 yards gain down the seam for a first down in Irish territory. That stings a bit.

4:09 Two great plays by the defense (a totally stuffed run followed with a great tackle by Walls on a short pass) sets up 3rd and 7. Big chance to get off the field and hold them to three.

4:10 Touchdown Stanford. Luck just threw a jump ball to the tight end and he had a pretty easy catch over Brian Smith, who never even turned around. The spread offense isn’t the main reason the time of possession battle is usually slanted so severely against us; it’s our inability to shut down teams on third down when we have the chance to halt drives. 7-3 Stanford.

4:16 Crist gets sacked by Skov on first down and fumbles, Stanford recovers. Cierre Wood just got run over on the blitz. So much for bouncing back quickly. Mike Maycock comments that “if you can’t make that block you can’t be a D-I running back.” That’s a perfect example of why Wood isn’t playing more.

4:19 Walls drops a sure interception in the endzone. WHY DO WE ALWAYS LET OPPORTUNITIES LIKE THAT SLIP THROUGH OUR FINGERS?!?!? Still, it’s a good hold there by the defense. Whitaker kicks a field goal just filled with spite and it’s 10-3.

4:22 NBC airs a clip of Jim Harbaugh gushing over Andrew Luck for awhile. We get it, he’s good and you like him—maybe even love him.

4:23 Another bad return, this time by Jonas Gray. Really? Jonas Gray? Irish ball at the 16.

4:26 Great throw to Floyd and great catch along the sideline. First down Irish at the 44. Let’s go boys, tie this game up.

4:30 First down Theo Riddick who does a little nifty spin move to get extra yardage. I can hear Reno’s heart skip a beat from miles away.

4:31 Two more completions to Floyd and Goodman for another first down. Crist now has completed eight straight passes. When he gets in rhythm you see exactly why he was so highly touted and you can’t help but get a little giddy about the fact that we’ve got 2+ more seasons with him at the helm.

4:33 Dayne sails a pass to the endzone out of bounds. These are the times you remember he’s still a first year starter. Come on, give Floyd a chance.

4:34 Brian Kelly does everything but castrate Braxston Cave with his clipboard on the field.

4:35 The drive stalls and Ruffer drills a field goal to make it 10-6. We plucked this guy out of an interhall field Nate and he’s better than you.

4:37 Steve Filer motors down the field and comes up with a good tackle. Disappointed—though not surprised—that he hasn’t been able to crack the lineup on defense this season but I’m happy to see him make an impact somewhere. The guy’s a freak athlete.

4:40 Notre Dame forces a third down but Luck picks it up with ease, finding an open receiver over the middle. Those are just so dam deflating, we just never seem to be able to get off the field.

4:42 Another third down conversion, this time on a sweep to the right. I really like Stanford’s offense. It’s just smart, aggressive, and smashmouth. They have a very confident way about them which is obviously derived directly from their head coach.

4:43 Darrin Walls blows a tackle on third down that would’ve stopped the drive and the receiver scampers for a first down. DAMMIT. Could it be that he was scared to go hard at the receiver because of his shoulder injury earlier in the week? Don’t know, don’t particularly care. You HAVE to come up with that play.

4:46 ANOTHER third down conversion, this time a 3rd and 11 is picked up with a 19 yard pass over the middle. Cardinal down to the 20.

4:48 Great tackle in the backfield by Gary Gray. No question in my mind that he’s the best cornerback we’ve had since Walton and probably the best tackling cornerback I’ve seen since Quentin Jammer was at Texas.

4:52 The Irish FINALLY hold on third down to force a field goal. They’re reviewing the play but this incompletion clearly will stand. He didn’t ever touch the field of play.

4:56 Whitaker field goal is good. 13-6.

4:57 Randomly get a bizarre text from Reno, leading to this exchange:

Reno: I have a time machine. Want to know the final score?

Me: Yes?

Me: PS—I hope your jobs don’t require drug testing.

Reno: That was meant for somebody else, sorry for the lack of context.

Reno: (PS—Me Too)

5:02 The Irish pick up one first down but are then forced to punt. Another punt for Ben Turk that fails to travel 40 yards. Am I being unreasonable when I expect Notre Dame to find a punter who can kick the ball 40 yards in the air with consistency, maybe a 50 yarder sprinkled in once in a while? It upsets me so much. I’m going to give a standing ovation to our next punter that unleashes a punt that flies 50 yards.

5:05 Stanford is rolling—a pair of first downs has them up near midfield with about two minutes left. A turnover would be huuuuuuuuge here but at this point I’d be satisfied with keeping them off the scoreboard.

5:06 Two great pass defenses on first and second down (by Blanton and then Te’o) brings up a third and long…annnnnd they convert with a 21 yard pass to the tight end. DAMMIT TO HELL.

5:08 INTERCEPTION JAMORIS SLAUGHTER OFF A TIP BY BLANTON INSIDE THE 5. GREAT PLAY, GREAT COVERAGE, WORTHY OF A BOB DAVIE DROP THE H “UUUUUUUGE” RIGHT THERE. Slaughter brings the return out to around the 30 but it’s coming back thanks to a clip. Stupid penalty, but I’m too thrilled about the pick to care that much.

5:11 Notre Dame looks like it’s going to run the clock out after handing it off on first down. Second down is a drop by Rudolph, third down is a short run and now Stanford is going to have a chance to put points on the board before the half. After completing eight in a row Crist has missed his last five throws. He runs so hot and cold, he needs to iron out those inconsistencies.

5:13 Another crappy punt by Turk. WHY THE HELL CAN’T WE FIND A DECENT PUNTER??!?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!?!

5:14 Luck finds a receiver inside the 30 so they’re going to have a shot at a field goal. Of course he does. I am absolutely livid.

5:15 Whitaker splits the uprights and we’re going to go into the half down 10 instead of 7. Unfortunately the last 2 minutes have highlighted just how far away we are from being a really good football team. Sloppy, poor execution.

Kelly needs to make some serious adjustments; to say I’m disappointed with the lack of progress this week is a bit of an understatement. He talks with Dr. Flanagan about what’s going wrong and is wearing a look of disgust that mirrors my face at the moment. He never seems particularly happy on the sideline.

TOP is much more even this week (16:30 to 13:30). It would actually be titled way in our favor if we could’ve gotten some stops on third downs. We need to take a step forward in the second half—literally and figuratively. Come on boys, let’s make it happen.

5:39 Alright, Stanford takes the second half kickoff to the 36. COME ON BOYS, STEP UP HERE AND SWING THE MOMENTUM.

5:41 The Irish force a 3rd down but as per usual Stanford picks it up easily on the ground. Good tackle by Harrison Smith prevents a huge play.

5:42 Stanford is just streamrolling down the field. Big chunks of yardage on two straight plays had them inside the 20. Notre Dame’s defense is on the heels.

5:45 Two straight passes by Luck are almost intercepted—the second one on a really dangerous throw across his body—brings the drive to a screeching half. Nate Whitaker kicks another field goal and the count is 19-6. If we don’t put 7 on the board on this possession we could be in serious trouble. We need it for the scoreboard and we need it for the momentum—stadium sounds dead right now. Let’s see what BK did to adjust at halftime.

5:49 Great hard run by Armando on the first play from scrimmage. He fights through the mess and picks up 8 yards when it looks like it’d only be 2. How many times could you describe a play by him like that about him in his first couple years on campus? Once? Twice? He’s playing so well this season.

5:50 Armando picks up the first down on a swing pass but it’s coming back thanks to a hold on Rudolph. Our star players are the ones that are killing our momentum this year. You can’t win when that’s the case—we’re not nearly good enough to overcome mistakes from guys who are supposed to be leading the team. Thankfully Armando picks up the first down on a little screen pass on the next play.

5:51 Crist hits TJ Jones for a great chunk of yardage and another first down.

5:52 Scoreboard flashes on the bottom right and shows that Arkansas is up 10 on Bama at the half…PETRINO. SABAN. IT’S THE FALCONS VS THE DOLPH…errrrr, wait…

5:55 The drive hits a wall and we’re forced to punt. Crap.


6:00 INTERCEPTION DARRIN WALLS ON THE DEFLECTION! HUGE HUGE HUGE HUUUUUGE PLAY! That could be a game saver. He typically drops the ball in that situation—and upon review he was thisclose to letting it slip through his hands. Thank God he held on. We’ve got to be aggressive, hit up Floyd.

6:04 Two plays, two incompletions. Third down coming up…We just look clueless on offense.

6:05 Almost intercepted on third down. Another punt coming up. If Ben Turk values his life he’ll kick this at least 40 yards.

6:05 A good punt by Ben! See, threats are effective! Stanford takes over at the 10.

6:07 Huge run on second down up the middle…tack on another 15 for a facemask and they’re already out past the 35. This has to be the most relaxing game ever for a Stanford fan to watch. Even though it’s only a 13 point game they’re totally in control on both sides of the ball. I’ve seen nothing to suggest we can make any sort of push to win this game.

6:08 Te’o puts a huge hit on the running back on first down…unfortunately it’s after a 9 yard gain. They’re dominating our defensive line.

6:10 Darius Fleming gets into the backfield and takes down Taylor for a loss. An incompletion brings up another 3rd and long just over midfield. We need this stop so badly.

6:12 Te’o comes up with the stop on third down. He dominated on that drive; this is far and away his best game of the season. Big stop there by the Irish.

6:13 The Stanford punter pins our anemic offense inside the 5. Well shit.

6:15 Armando’s hurt on the first play, which goes for one yard. They show the replay and it does not look good—a defender rolled up the back of his left leg. He’ll limp to the sideline. We need a freaking miracle.

6:17 Crist delivers a dart to Floyd for a first down. Sideline interference by Stanford adds another five yards. Come on boys, we’ve got to punch one in the endzone on this drive.

6:18 Maycock comments that he doesn’t feel the same pace from ND or the sense of urgency that he saw the first three games. He also says it’s unbelievable how dead the stadium is.

6:18 Jonas Gray has his ankle rolled up on and he limps off. We’re dropping like flies. The third quarter comes to a close and things are looking pretty bleak.

6:22 First play of the fourth quarter is a 20 yard completion to Floyd over the middle. Great throw, great catch. Are we on the verge of finally finding some rhythm here?

6:23 Armando is back! He rips a 9 yard gain on second down setting up 3rd and less than a yard. Come on boys…

6:24 Crist forces a throw down the field to Rudolph and sails it out of bounds. He had Floyd wide open just past the sticks for an easy first down—have to see the field better. This fourth down is basically the ballgame. Kelly calls a timeout to draw up a play…make it good BK.

6:27 Entire offensive line is blown up and Jonas Gray is stuffed for a three yard loss. Stanford ball and the Irish are on life support.

6:30 Two good plays by the Irish defense brings up a 3rd and long. COME ON IRISH, GIVE US A CHANCE.

6:31 Of course Stanford converts the huge first down on a pass to the running back right over the middle of the field. Anthony McDonald got smoked. This is the ugliest, most depressing game I’ve watched in two years.

6:32 Another forced third down, another conversion—this time it’s a short run to the left. These third down conversions have shifted from deflating to demoralizing.

6:33 Gary Gray makes a touchdown saving tackle. Another stop on 2nd down brings up 3rd and inches on the 1 yard-line. Guess what? They convert. First down at the one foot line. Stanford just looks so decisive in everything they do.

6:37 Touchdown Stanford. This is just an absolute beatdown. Harbaugh’s going for two and they convert that as well. 27-6 Stanford with 7:58 to go. Gag me.

6:44 First play of the next possession is a pick six. Someone make it stop. The kid who picked it off for Stanford was the same one who scored for Stanford 13 seconds ago. Isn’t that special. 34-6 Stanford.

6:47 Maycock: “People are going to see the score and think Notre Dame got whipped today but I think the defense really held its own.” That’s a very astute observation. It was by no means an A+ performance by the defense (if only because they allowed Stanford to go like 13/14 on third downs or so it seems), but they really did a good job keeping Notre Dame alive in this game until this point, especially in the redzone. I never had a problem with Pat Haden—in fact I though he was usually pretty good—but I really like Maycock.

6:47 Long pass to Theo over the middle. Great catch and a good job holding on to it after the hit, but he gets up and barks a little afterwards which you have no right to do when you’re down 28 points.

6:49 Great deep ball down the right sideline to Floyd who goes up and gets it inside the five yard line. First and goal Irish.

6:50 Touchdown Theo Riddick on a little pass over the middle. Whipped cream on shit.

6:51 And we’re going for two because??? Pass interference is called against Stanford so we’ll bump it up a yard and a half. I don’t get it but whatever. Maybe Kelly has money on the Over.

6:52 Two point conversion is successful out of the Wildcat. 34-14 Cardinal. Woo hoo.

6:55 We do a weird, tricky but not very effective onside kick that Stanford recovers. Nick Tausch kicked it, which eliminates the chance of him redshirting. That’s pretty dumb—we know how difficult it is to find good kickers, why not preserve a year if he’s not going to be used???

6:58 Stanford scores buuuuuut it’s coming back! Take that!

7:02 Notre Dame holds and forces a field goal. Harbaugh is calling a timeout. Let’s see if he does something to chap Irish fans in the final two minutes. I think if he does a fake field goal the student body may rush the field and kill someone.

7:05 Field goal Whitaker. 37-14 Stanford.

7:08 Robert Hughes rumbles for a 37 yard game on a swing pass on the first play of the drive. Good to see him on the field.

7:11 Crist throws a touchdown to Riddick but it’s coming back due to a blatant hold on Chris Stewart.

7:12 Stanford calls timeout.

7:14 Kelly counters and calls a timeout. Suck one, Jim.

7:15 A jump ball to Goodman falls incomplete and the game mercifully comes to a close.

This is probably an even tougher game to swallow than the Michigan State heartbreak. We were outclassed on both sides of the ball and were it not for some effective redzone defense the score could’ve gotten really ugly. While you could see some progress last week this was just a giant step backward.

The only silver lining I’ll take away is the fact that Manti Te’o is taking huge steps forward. He had 21 tackles today, which has to be the most by an Irish player in a single game since probably Anthony Denman.

It’s going to take a day or two to digest this. In the meantime I’m going to avoid all ND message boards because the complete morons have to be out in full force calling for Kelly’s head. I hope other fan bases have as many irrational lunatics as we do…


  1. This running diary format is a poor excuse for not doing the real work of writing.

  2. This game gave me terrifying flashbacks of 2007. Defense does a respectable job for four quarters, keeping us in the game despite an inept offense that looks like it doesn't even want to be out there, until the fourth quarter rolls along and our worn down D finally runs out of gas. Pathetic and simply inexcusable. Despite all the conference realignment talk, I never thought ND would actually join one, or would be forced to in order to stay relevant. Well if we keep playing like this we'll be doomed to the MAC, since no one will give a shit about the Irish if the next few years look like the last three.
    I need a bourbon.

  3. Better apologize to Whitaker. 5 for 5 on FG & unlike any ND kicker the the last 20 yrs consistently put kickoffs into the end zone! MIA again - outside linebackers - note the announcers comment about Flemming name not being called. OL MIA too - 4 and 1, 43 rushing yards, sacks, need I say more? Coaching gets F on time management at end of half - ball at 10 (Teo block in back)with one minute to go and we've been ineffective all game - get to halftime down just a touchdown. Missed pass plan blows up everything. Down 10 at half. How about moving some of the better atheletes to D. Gray, Hughes, Goodman, Reffer TE? They aren't helping on O that much. We ain't bad, we ain't good either. Start working harder onthe Frosh QB's and turn Crist loose.