Sunday, October 24, 2010

Dear Diary...Notre Dame - Navy

Welcome to the latest edition of the running diary! This week we come to you live from Charlottesville, VA. Part of my heart is broken that I’m not in Tailgate Lot E with Kearney and company, but the other part of me just thinks I’d be incredibly bitter that it’s a noon start which would completely hamstring our tailgating.

Anyway, the clock is striking 12. Let's get going!

12:00 God I love the CBS College Football Theme Song. It's the embodiment of college football, just jacks me up.

12:06 Either I’m hard of hearing or CBS pulled a total switch-a-roo—Verne is not our play-by-play guy even though I thought he was narrating the opening sequence. Maybe it was Tim Brando? I don’t know. Instead our announcing team is the tandem of Craig Bolerjack and Randy Cross. Bummer.

12:07 Wow, Niumalato is playing the 9-11 card in the locker room before the game in an attempt to fire his team up. I’m afraid to even say anything…Does anyone else think that was a tad over the top? Good Lord.

12:08 Navy comes out to a flyover…scales heavily tipping toward wishing I’d ponied up the money to go to the game.

12:11 “The weather is perfect for running and passing”…Good start for our announcing duo. Damnit, why couldn’t we get Verne. In other news the Irish won the toss and elected to receive.

12:12 Armando is starting and so is Kamara. Floyd is out. I’m not as upset as most probably are about #3 missing today; I don’t think we’ll need him. He MUST be healthy for Utah. Welcome to your last chance to redeem yourself Duval.

12:13 After a pair of Armando runs Crist finds TJ Jones for a first down on his first pass. Good start.

12:14 Dayne tucks it and runs for 14 yards another first down. Good recognition and a nifty little scramble. The Irish have been in the pistol quite a few times early, which is an interesting new wrinkle. That could signal a commitment to the run today, something most fans would be thrilled about I’m sure.

12:16 Armando takes a screen pass for another big chunk of yardage—this one 17 yards. Braxston Cave did a great job getting way down field to deliver a good block and spring AA for an extra five yards. Cave is incredibly mobile for such a big guy. I’m accustomed to seeing our linemen lumbering down the field kind of clumsily on screens. We’re down to the 24.

12:18 Two good runs by Cierre of 5 and 11 yards have us a first and goal inside the 10. The offensive line looks good out of the gate.

12:19 4th and goal at the 1 inch line and the Irish are going for it. COME ON BOYS, PUNCH IT IN.

12:20 Navy stones the quarterback sneak and will take over on downs. Damnit to hell. The Mids got good push low and basically took Dayne’s legs out, he had no shot.

12:23 Bolerjack says that Ricky Dobbs has magic feet. I just feel like that needs to be repeated.

12:24 On 3rd and Inches the Navy upback rumbles 54 yards right up the gut. Well, so much for the whole “I don’t think the fullback dive part of the option will be effective theory.” Please tell me this isn’t going to be a replay of last year’s game.

12:26 Touchdown Navy. I’m in shock. Navy ran a fullback screen that went for 34 yards and the first time a Notre Dame player even breathed on him was the one-yard line. It was almost as if we’d never seen a screen play before; what horrendous defensive execution. Navy won’t win the time of possession battle if they break off 30 and 50 yard chunks. Good freaking LORD. We need to respond and respond NOW. Navy 7, Notre Dame 0.

12:34 After two runs by Cierre Wood net one yard Dayne Crist finds Tyler Eifert to pick up a HUGE first down. We need seven points here—we moved it at will on the first possession and need to keep it going.

12:35 Offense is rolling again, after big gains by Kamara through the air and TJ Jones on a reverse we’re at the Navy 28. Come on boys, let’s get it done.

12:37 The drive stalls when Dayne makes a terrible decision to throw to TJ Jones in the endzone on third down instead of checking down to a WIDE open Cierre Wood.

12:37 David Ruffer rips the 45-yarder through the uprights and it’s 7-3 Mids. The announcer calls him Rufner even though a graphic is flashing about how many consecutive field goals he’s made with his name attached. I don’t like this graphic thing—when his streak ends the jinx of the graphic will undoubtedly be the cause.

12:40 Still saying Ruffer’s name wrong as he kicks off. Would one of his assistants please correct him? Is there a typo on his sheet?

12:41 Navy sprinkled sand from Iwo Jima and Afghanistan on the field before the game…man, aren’t they taking it a bit far?!?!

12:42 Bolerjack: “Ricky Dobbs was going to run away with the Heisman” Who in God’s name ever said that? Bolerjack is HORRENDOUS. He and Cross are doing everything their best to divert my attention away from Navy gashing our defense time and time again.

12:43 We look absolutely clueless on how to stop Navy’s offense…though as I type this Manti Te’o blows up a pitch in the backfield for the first negative yardage play for the Mids of the game. He’s going to have at least 15 tackles, maybe 20.

12:44 The first quarter comes to an end. Notre Dame is actually winning the TOP battle (8:48 to 6:12), which makes me feel approximately 0% better about how the game is going so far. I’m absolutely disgusted by how our defense looks.

12:48 Trick play—reverse pass—by Navy catches the secondary by surprise and Harrison Smith is forced to interfere with the receiver to prevent a huge gain. Navy’s now has a first down inside the 30.

12:50 Teich (the fullback) goes up the middle for another 4-yard gain. We’re screwed if they keep getting this sort of productivity up the middle.

12:51 Teich goes up the middle for another 8 yards inside the 5. After being abused by the upback last year how was that not the focus of preparation this year? Kelly talked about how they’ve been preparing for it for weeks—but how do you truly prepare when you don’t have a fullback to simulate the FB Dive part of the option?

12:53 My Dad chimes in with a text that speaks an encyclopedia worth of truth: “I know it’s different on gameday but ND should kick the crap out of Navy”

12:56 Touchdown Navy. Dobbs was almost untouched until the goal line where we kind of hugged him as he went in the endzone. There’s 11:01 left in the second quarter and the alarm bells are officially sounding. I cannot believe how lost we look on defense. I’m completely shocked/appalled/baffled. We should MANHANDLE their offensive line and we should PUNISH their ball carrier every time they pick up a yard. Cut the crap and WAKE THE HELL UP. Navy 14, Notre Dame 3.

1:02 Navy is also being inspired by a little kid with cystic fibrosis…I mean 9-11, Afghanistan/Iwo Jima sand, and a sick kid? Are they going to unearth John Paul Jones’s remains on place them under the uprights too? Their heads must be about to explode they’re so goddamn inspired. This is for a football game, what cards do they play when they’re actually going into battle?!?!

1:05 The Irish are rolling down the field now. On a third down and short at midfield the offensive line just flattens the Middie line en route to a 12-yard gain up the middle. Come on boys, keep this going, get in the damn endzone.

1:06 Crist finds John Goodman on third down for a four-yard gain and a first down at the 27.

1:07 Dayne tucks it and runs again, this time a nifty little five-yard gain. He’s hesitating less and less to run which is both good and terrifying.

1:07 Duval Kamara makes another nice catch for another first down. He’s been focused and productive thus far which is nice to see. First down at the Navy 12. FINISH.


1:14 First play from scrimmage for Navy is a 12-yard run by Dobbs that could’ve gone for 50 if not for a shoestring tackle at the last second. Glad to see we’ve adjusted. Jiminy effing Christmas.

1:15 Manti Te’o lights up Dobbs on first down. He’s the only person on our defense that doesn’t look lost. BREAK HIM IN HALF MANTI.

1:16 Ethan Johnson breaks through and blows up a 3rd and 4 in the backfield and Navy is forced to punt. Good stand there by the Irish. The Mids run the clock down and calls time out. We’ll get the ball back with a little over two and a half minutes left if the Middies end up punting.

1:17 I’m about to drive to the Meadowlands and slap this idiot announcer in the face if he keeps calling Ruffer “Rufner.”

1:19 Great punt by Navy pins ND at the 3. 97 yards to paydirt, let’s go boys.

1:20 Notre Dame’s three drives thus far: 13 for 71, 10 for 48, 13 for 72. That’s pretty good really.

1:21 Crist throws a duck and is intercepted at the 30-yard line. You’ve got to be kidding me.

1:22 Dobbs is just doing these tight QB keepers off the tackles and we have no answer. He’s not bouncing it wide, just seeing and hitting the hole that opens immediately—and it’s not like they’re small holes. Navy’s inside the 15 with under a minute left.

1:24 Touchdown Navy. Carlo Calabrese got stiff-armed and Harrison Smith was so turned around by a block that he didn’t even realize the running back was next to him, which gave Gee Gee Greene enough time to dive in the corner of the endzone. This is atrocious. The thing I was clinging to over the second half of the season was the fact that we’d improve. This is a HUGE step backwards. The fact that we’re in for another battle with Navy is beyond depressing.

1:28 Crist takes a knee and we head into halftime with the Irish down 21-10. Navy will have the ball to start the second half too. There are so many R-rated texts flying back and forth right now that it’d make Rex Ryan blush.

What can you say other than this is another reaffirmation that we’re about an ocean away from where we need to be as a football team on both sides of the ball. I don’t care what we do against Utah and Southern Cal—if we lose this game then the season is a failure. PERIOD.

The offense actually looked good with the exception of the biff on the goal line and that bad interception on the final drive. Our first three drives were 13 plays for 71 yards, 10 for 48, and 13 for 72. I’m not thrilled only posting only 10 points but still, there’s plenty of reason to believe we’ll put some points on the board in the second half.

Our defense is another story. They look completely lost. I guarantee the Mids haven’t seen this much running room in ANY game this season. They’re gashing us up the middle (9.4 yards per fullback dive…it’s still 4.0 if you remove the big 52-yarder—which of course you shouldn’t remove), averaging 4.7 ypc on the quarterback keeper, and sprinkling in some big gains on the perimeter with Gee Gee Greene for good measure. Navy has scored on three of their four possessions and all three touchdowns have come with relative ease. We have no chance of winning this game without major adjustments.

If the defense doesn’t come out inspired in the second half—I’m talking “we just sprinkled part of a Reckers #33 sandwich on the field” inspired—then I’m going to lose some respect for Brian Kelly. It’s time to show how you’re different than Charlie, BK. Light a fire under this team’s ass and find a way to dominate this second half.

1:48 Brian Kelly’s interview after halftime. “They’re running the veer…a scheme they held back. We made the adjustments at halftime. We need to battle back in the second half and play flawlessly.” Why the hell weren’t we prepared for any version of the option? Are we always going to be that unprepared for a team if they do something that they don’t typically show on film? You better show me something this half BK.

1:49 Our brilliant color guy’s advice for Brian Kelly: “You need your guys to be unblocked.” How can people complain about Mayock when you listen to guys like this?

1:50 Navy is going to take over at the 23 after a mediocre return. COME ON DEFENSE, STEP UP.

1:51 First play is a fullback trap that goes for 13 yard. Great effing start. After another 4-yard gain by Teich he’s at 100 yards on the day.

1:52 “So far not real impressive adjustments out of the Notre Dame defense.” First astute observation from the announcers all day.

1:54 Navy converts a 3rd and 6 with a bomb down the right sideline. Gary Gray totally gave up on the play even though the receiver was 8-yards behind him. I’ve never seen anything like that. He’s had such a great year but he should be benched for the entire quarter for that effort. When Kelly looks at the tape he should make Gray run gassers until he throws up most of his vital organs. What an utter embarrassment.

1:55 Touchdown Navy. Dobbs takes a keeper right up the gut and the Mids look totally unstoppable. 7 plays, 77 yards in 3:37. Navy 28, Notre Dame 10.

“It doesn’t matter about schemes, it comes down to execution and intensity and Notre Dame is not even close to matching Navy’s intensity right now. “

The announcing team is picking up steam—couldn’t be a more accurate statement.

1:56 My girlfriend makes a very poignant comment: “I thought we were supposed to be proud of being ND this year.” It’s true, this team looks like it totally lacks the will to be there.

2:00 The offense comes out with the necessary sense of urgency. Three plays, two first downs and we’re already at the Navy 45.

2:02 Interception by Navy. Dayne Crist stares down Kamara and the Navy cornerback jumps the route to make the pick. I don’t even know what to say. They’ve got the ball, a huge lead, and all the momentum in the world. The scale is tipped so far toward the “glad I didn’t go to the game” that the scale broke. We need a three and out or a turnover. Odds of that are slim to none, but it still needs to be said.

2:06 The Irish force a third down but then give up a huge 12-yard fullback run to give Navy a first down at the 46. Teich now has 123 yards.

2:07 Teich goes right up the middle for another 25 yards. Our defense has no idea who has the ball and the result is holes big enough to drive a humvee through. After the play Carlo and Ian Williams are both hurt. We’re absolutely screwed. This is more embarrassing than the previous two Navy losses and the Syracuse loss. In fact, at this juncture I’d say this is the most embarrassing game since Miami in ’85. We’re getting our asses whipped up and down the field by a team half our size. These players should be mortified.

2:12 Teich up the middle for 14 yards! HOW THE $%# DO WE ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN!?!?!

2:13 Ian Williams is reportedly sobbing on the sideline, pointing at his left knee. That’s heartbreaking to hear…guy deserves better than this, he’s worked his butt off for four years and evolved into such a solid player this year. I hope it’s not as bad as it looks.

2:14 Touchdown Navy. The Naval Academy is now beating the University of Notre Dame 35-10. This is a sad day for the Notre Dame Football Program, a new low—if that’s even possible. Notre Dame has 19:38 to pull off a miracle and save the season.

2:20 Notre Dame is driving again. Armando Allen ripped off a big run on the first play from scrimmage and then Crist completes back-to-back passes for another first down. On the second catch Kamara delivered a huge hit to a would-be tackler who is shaken up.

2:24 Notre Dame’s drive comes to a screeching halt as the Navy defensive line collapses the pocket and sacks Crist on 4th down. Trevor Robinson got blown backwards. Why the hell has Trevor Robinson gone from potential All-American to mediocre lineman?

2:25 Guess what the first play from scrimmage is for Navy? A fullback dive. Guess what it goes for? 17 yards. Teich now has 183 yards. Mortifying. That’s the only word that can capture this performance. I bet Navy fans start doing the effing Wave in the fourth quarter. Maybe they can get a double wave going.

2:27 The third quarter is over. I have nothing more to say.

2:33 Notre Dame holds and after another well-executed Navy punt we’ll have 95 yards to get to the endzone. I don’t even know what I’m looking for the rest of this game. I’d love a miracle but that’s not reasonable.

2:34 My buddy Pat Wolohan—he of the Swamp Attack Tailgate—texts this gem: “This feels like losing to Michigan times getting blown out by USC.” It’s true, this is a unique blend of shock, disgust, and pain.

2:37 Notre Dame punts on 4th and 3 and Brian Kelly has officially conceded this game. I CANNOT BELIEVE that he’s given up.

2:43 Navy doesn’t do anything on their drive. Not that it even remotely matters.

2:44 Tommy Rees is in the game. La de freakin da.

2:45 Rees is leading them down the field, inside the 20 after a long completion.

2:46 The announcers start to talk about how Notre Dame doesn’t have the players to run this offense. Let’s get one thing straight: we should be able to beat Navy running any offense with any players. Period. None of the laundry list of excuses is acceptable for why this travesty is occurring.

2:48 Touchdown Cierre Wood. 76 yard drive. Navy’s just going through the motions right now on defense, this game has an Empire State Building sized fork in it.


2:50 If Kelly doesn’t even attempt an onsides kick here I’m going to be livid. I may turn off the TV.

2:51 Notre Dame kicks it away. I’m so mad I can barely express it. Perhaps you need a history lesson Brian, but Navy was down 20 points two years ago with six minutes left and almost came back and won. YOU GAVE UP JUST LIKE OUR TEAM GAVE UP, THE TEAM TAKES ON THE PERSONALITY OF ITS COACH AND YOU JUST LAID DOWN. WHY? TO TEACH A LESSON?!?! GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE.

2:58 Teich breaks the 200-yard barrier, the first time in history a Navy fullback has rushed for 200 yards in a game. What a distinguished honor we’ve earned.

2:59 The Midshipmen have a mock “Rudy” chant going. Am I in some sort of bizarre world right now? Someone please wake me up.

3:02 This game mercifully comes to an end. This Navy class joins two other classes in their entire history (1937 and 1964) that complete their careers with a winning record against Notre Dame.

I don’t have any final thoughts other than Brian Kelly is not who I thought he was. I’m not saying he’s doomed to fail, but he’s not the coach I thought he was. That’s a sobering and depressing realization.

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