Monday, November 1, 2010

Dear Diary...Notre Dame - Tulsa

Welcome to another edition of the running diary. Today we come to you live from Vienna, VA. Today the Irish carry the burden of unimaginable emotional baggage as they take on the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. Who would’ve thought there’d be any question that this game would be a question mark when it was announced last fall?

Let’s get to it.

2:30 A solemn start to the broadcast. The team comes out of the tunnel to a very lukewarm cheer. There’s also a noticeable chunk of the freshman student section missing—maybe it’s the fans directly next to the freshman, but it at least appears to be in the normal frosh section.

2:31 The stadium sounds absolutely dead on TV. It’s almost eerie.

2:34 Another montage with photos from mass. Notre Dame did a phenomenal job with that mass—students and administration alike. For all the negativity that is surrounding the entire school right now due to the tragic events it’s nice to see the ND Family band together. It reminds you why it’s so special.

2:35 Tom Hammond very rightly says, “There is no joy today.” Being in that stadium has to be like being in bizarro world.

2:35 A powerful moment of silence, players like Manti Te’o and Dayne Crist are visibly choked up. This is just heartbreaking. A big part of me now thinks this game should have been cancelled. How the hell could anyone be in a mood to play a football game right now? I hope against hope the boys rally around this but I’m more inclined to say Pregame Scenario #1 is very much in play.

2:40 Brian Kelly is half-heartedly trying to get people loud for the kickoff. Good Lord, when the head coach is begging the fans at the beginning of the game it tells you all you need to know about the atmosphere. The Irish will get the ball to start the game.

2:42 TJ Jones catches a nice pass from Dayne but it’s coming back because of an illegal shift.

2:43 Zach Martin gets blown away by the defensive end and the Irish will go three and out on their first series. Ben Turk gets off a nice punt and Tulsa will take. I cannot stress enough how dead the stadium sounds.

2:47 25-yard gain out of the Wildcat. We’re in serious trouble. The Irish look like zombies (understandably so) and Tulsa is playing like it’s the biggest game of their careers (understandable as well).

2:48 Tulsa is already inside the Irish 10, first and goal. Crap.

2:49 Te’o makes a great stop on first down, blows Kinne up in the backfield.

2:50 Touchdown Tulsa, Thomas absolutely destroyed Blanton on a quick slant, had him totally turned around. Brutal start. Tulsa 7, Notre Dame 0.

2:56 Dayne breaks a great run down the right sideline to convert a 3rd and long but then takes a MONSTER hit and he’s down. At first I thought it was another concussion, but he’s limping badly. The replay shows him banging his knee on the sideline, doesn’t look like it twisted or anything. Hopefully it’s just like when you bang knees in basketball setting a pick and nothing more serious. Tommy Rees is in the game—very glad to see him instead of Montana, but still not happy to see him.

2:59 Thank you Tulsa for committing a stupid roughing the passer keeps the drive alive.

3:00 Two good passes by Rees have the Irish down inside the 15-yard line.

3:02 TOUCHDOWN IRISH! Rees zips one to Michael Floyd in the front corner of the endzone. That’s a great job by the Irish to take advantage of the Tulsa mistake that kept the drive alive. Rees looks about 10,000x more comfortable than he did against Michigan. For all the warranted criticism Kelly received for how unprepared Rees was for emergency duty against Michigan, he deserves equal praise for bringing him around.

3:04 Tulsa blocks the extra point and brings it back for two points. Unbelievable. Tulsa 9, Notre Dame 6. Jiminy Flipping Christmas, WHY MUST THIS CLOUD HOVER OVER OUR FREAKING TEAM????

3:10 Dayne Crist is going to the locker room with his right knee totally immobilized. Now that they’re showing it in slow motion it looks like the knee twisted awkwardly at the last second on the ground…Not good. The only consolation I have is it’s not the knee he shredded last year. This is almost a year to the day he injured it last year. This is just terrible.

3:12 Brad chimes in with a text that sums up the situation very well: “This is like if the Hindenburg crashed into an orphanage.”

3:13 Tulsa wastes no time in ripping down the field. A reverse out of the Wildcat picks up 24 yards and Tulsa is just outside the redzone.

3:15 The Irish dodge a serious bullet when a wide-open Tulsa receiver drops a pass in the endzone on 3rd and 3. The Golden Hurricane brings out the field goal unit and splits the uprights to extend their lead. Tulsa 12, Notre Dame 6.

3:18 Great return by Bennett Jackson gives Notre Dame good field position over the 40-yard line. Come on Tommy Boy, let’s keep it going.

3:20 Rees comes out of the gate with three passes and three straight completions. He looks very, very good and Tulsa’s defense looks very, very bad. For whatever reason they’re not getting the heat on Rees that they brought on Dayne.

3:21 TOUCHDOOOOWN IRISH WITH SOME TRICKERATION!!!!!! TJ JONES CAUGHT A PASS AND THEN LATERALLED IT TO CIERRE WOOD WHO WAS STREAKING DOWN THE SIDELINE. Beautiful little play there and great execution by TJ Jones, who reeled in a pass that was a little high. Hopefully this sparks the Irish, COME ON BOYS! Irish 13, Tulsa 12.

3:25 Notre Dame stuffs the first down run and Mayock mentions that was the first time he saw Notre Dame defense flying around the ball with passion. Spot-on analysis.

3:26 The Irish snuff out the Wildcat on third down and brings up a Tulsa punting situation as the first quarter comes to a close. It seems like the team is waking up and the crowd is responding as well—that was the first time all day where you heard the stands get loud. Of course that momentum will be curtailed by the commercial break, but what are you going to do.

3:29 Well Tulsa apparently called timeout with two seconds left so they could punt with the wind.

3:30 John Goodman muffs the punt and Tulsa will retain possession at the Irish 14. Damnit to hell, you have got to be kidding me. Whatever energy was in the stadium has been completed muted now. Now the quarter officially ends. I need something more than a stress ball to weather Notre Dame Football.

3:32 Gary Gray sacks Kinne on the cornerback blitz. COME ON BOYS, LET’S FIND A WAY TO KEEP THEM OFF THE BOARD.

3:33 False start by Tulsa backs them up to the 24.

3:34 The Irish halt their drive when KLM bats down a pass at the line. Field goal attempt dead into the wind coming up.

3:35 FIELD GOAL IS WIDE LEFT AND THE IRISH HOLD! GREAT STAND THERE BY THE DEFENSE. That’s the second terrible snap from Tulsa, this time it came back and bit them. Notre Dame ball at the 20-yard line. COME ON BOYS, LET’S GET AFTER THEM.

3:37 Tulsa gifts the Irish a first down on 3rd and 5 when they jump offsides. I’ll take them any way we can get them. Rees responds by hitting Michael Floyd right away for a 10-yard chunk and another first down.

3:38 Another short completion by Rees—he’s now 13 of 14 for 115 yards and 2 TD’s. He’s doing a great job managing the game and Kelly’s doing a great job putting him in a position to do so.

3:40 The drive stalls and Notre Dame is about to punt. Rees has been a bit shaky on the last couple passes. Let’s hope he doesn’t go through stretches like Dayne that will short-circuit the offense.

3:41 FIRST DOWN IRISH ON A FAKE PUNT! WHAT A GREAT PLAY, A LITTLE END-AROUND TO BENNETT JACKSON. Kelly’s doing everything he can to kickstart this team, I love it.

3:42 Rees finds Eifert down the middle for 21 yards. Hummmmin baby!

3:44 HUUUUUGGGHHHHEEEESSSS rumbles inside the 10-yard line for a first down out of the Leprechaun formation.

3:45 TOUCHDOOOOOOOOOWWWWNNN IRISH! TOMMY REES THREADS THE NEEDLE TO MICHAEL FLOYD IN THE BACK OF THE ENDZONE FOR HIS THIRD TD PASS OF THE DAY! Ruffer bangs home the extra point and Notre Dame jumps to an eight point lead. Irish 20, Tulsa 12.

3:51 First play from scrimmage on the Tulsa drive is a big 22-yard gain by Thomas on a quick slant. Slaughter missed a tackle that could’ve kept that to a much shorter gain.

3:52 Dr. Flanagan reports that there’s nothing official on Crist but it doesn’t sound good at all. It sounds like someone told Rudolph what the diagnosis was and he immediately limped off the sideline toward the locker room to console him.

3:54 The Notre Dame defense holds and forces a punt. They’ve really stepped up after a sluggish start, playing great.

3:57 Goodman drops a pass that would’ve converted a 3rd and short. That’s two drops today. He’s going to find himself plummeting down the depth chart if he doesn’t yank his head out of his butt.

3:58 Ben Turk draws a running into the kicker penalty and the Irish drive has second life! Let’s make them pay just like we did last time they gifted us a first down.

4:01 Rees missed a wide-open TJ Jones on 2nd down, which brings up 3rd and 10. The Irish have to burn a timeout.

4:03 Rees can’t find Floyd on a screen pass and Notre Dame will have to punt. A good punt by Turk and an Unnecessary Roughness penalty by the Golden Hurricane backs Tulsa up inside their own 15. There’s a little under five minutes remaining in the half. Come on defense, let’s give the offense a chance to extend this lead. How bout a turnover.

4:07 A stupid penalty by Ethan Johnson gives Tulsa a first down just short of midfield. Come on Ethan, just stupid.

4:08 Harrison Smith drops an interception on a deep pass. That ups our total interceptions dropped since the ’93 Boston College game to 12,496.


4:13 Rees has back-to-back passes almost intercepted on passes down the field. Kelly seems to have opened up the playbook a bit which I don’t think is particularly judicious. I’d like to continue to dink and dunk them and then try to run it a bit more; Rees just isn’t ready to handle more.

4:14 Flanagan reports that Dayne Crist ruptured his Patellar Tendon, which means the end of his season and most likely means he’s out for the spring. God, your heart just breaks for the kid. He’s just completely snakebitten.

4:15 Notre Dame fails to take advantage of the turnover and punts the ball away. Rees is now 4 for his last 12. Come on defense, let’s keep smothering them.

4:19 Tulsa picks up a third down with just under two minutes left. They’re at their own 25-yard line so there’s a long way for the Golden Hurricane to go to get into field goal range, especially with how the ND defense is suddenly playing.

4:21 The Irish defense holds again and forces a punt with 1:14 left on the clock. The offense will get a chance to sneak into Ruffer’s field goal range and put points on the board before the half. The Irish have a strong wind behind them so

4:22 Robby Toma with a great catch and run for 22 yards and we’re into Tulsa territory. Very nice throw by Rees and a nice little run by Toma. A Roughing the Passer penalty has Notre Dame down to the 30 with 50 seconds left. Let’s get six here baby!

4:24 Tulsa intercepts a screen pass that was deflected and races 65 yards for a pick-six touchdown. Just unbelievable, the entire game has just been turned upside down. We were completely in control and now it’s back up in the air. Tulsa goes for two and fails so it’s Notre Dame 20, Tulsa 18.

4:27 Very nice return by Bennett Jackson gives Notre Dame the ball at their own 45.

4:28 Tommy Rees makes a horrendous decision to throw across his body into triple coverage on the sideline and the ball is intercepted. What a terrible, TERRIBLE pass. It was originally ruled incomplete but the replay overturns it and Tulsa will take over.

4:31 The half ends with the score 20-18 Irish. Some quick thoughts:

- The team did an admirable job overcoming a lethargic start, which is something you can’t blame them for with the pall hanging over the game. It didn’t feel right to be playing after the pre-game moment of silence and prayer, but they’ve rebounded well.

- Tommy Rees has done a very good job. He started out hot but has run into a Dayne-esque cold streak. I think Kelly has to go back to some simple passes to the flats to jump start him again.

- We need some semblance of commitment to the running game. We have a freshman quarterback in the game and we’ve had him throw 29 times already. I know it’s obvious this will be a theme all year (or worse, Kelly’s entire tenure) but it still needs to be stated.

- All the credit in the world to the defense. Great performance, especially after the first drive.

- It always seems we follow every step in the right direction with a step backwards. Once again we should be dominating the game on the scoreboard but a blocked extra point returned for two and a pick-six have us in a dogfight. I still think we should be able to pull away (a la Western Michigan) but I’m certainly not overly confident.

4:54 Tulsa gets the second half kickoff and is driving right away. Within five plays they’re already over midfield.

4:56 This is the first time since the opening two drives where Tulsa has moved the ball. Momentum is clearly on their side.


5:00 Back-to-back passes in the flat to Toma and Floyd net two straight first downs. I applaud Kelly’s decision to get back to some manageable passes out of the gate.

5:02 Wood rips off a very nice run on a counter over the right tackle and Notre Dame is inside the Tulsa 40.

5:03 Another nice run and catch by Robby Toma in the flat for a first down. I have a strong inclination that he’s going to be a huge contributor over the next couple years, I REALLY like this kid.

5:05 TOUCHDOWN IRISH! TOMMY REES HITS CIERRE WOOD IN THE ENDZONE TO CAP A BEAUTIFUL DRIVE. Much better mix of running and passing on that possession too. Irish 27, Tulsa 18. NOW BURY THEM DEFENSE.

5:12 The Irish force a three and out and Tulsa’s out to punt again. Great job there by the defense, it’s time to deliver the dagger here. We need to learn how to do it, why not start now?

5:18 Three and out. It’s absolutely maddening how we can’t land the knockout blow.

5:18 Touchdown Tulsa on a punt return. I want to throw the remote at the television. I don’t understand what it’s going to take to get this team to take a step in the right direction. Notre Dame 27, Tulsa 25.

5:22 Bennett Jackson avoids a huge disaster by coming down with the kickoff off a weird bounce. I don’t know what I would’ve done if Tulsa came up with that ball but it probably would’ve involved broken glass.

5:24 The Irish are moving again—a few nice passes and a good run by Cierre Wood has Notre Dame over midfield. Why do we only have this sense of urgency when it’s a close game? Can’t we bring the hammer to close a goddamn game out?

5:27 Tulsa sacks Tommy Rees on a third and long and Notre Dame is going to have to punt with less than two minutes left in the third quarter. Turk bangs it into the endzone and the Fighting GJ Kinnes will take over at the 20. This game has had so many stupid momentum swings in Tulsa’s direction. The thing is we’ll piece together a nice, methodical drive to take control…then do something stupid to quickly hand momentum back.

5:31 The Irish defense comes up big again and forces another three and out. Will we step on the gas and pull away? If the first play of the drive is an indication (a short loss by Cierre Wood) then the answer is no. The quarter draws to a close and (surprise!) we’re in a dogfight even though we shouldn't be. We’ve handed Tulsa two touchdowns and a two-point conversion. The defense has actually done a fantastic job all day limiting the high-powered Tulsa offense, it’s a shame that we keep shifting pressure to them by firing rounds of bullets into our foot.

We cannot lose this game. Period. I don’t care about the circumstances, the injuries, anything—we CANNOT afford to lose this game.

5:36 The Irish go three and out and must punt again. Once again we’re leaning on the defense to come up with a stop. COME ON DEFENSE, DO IT YOURSELF. HELL, RETURN SOMETHING FOR A TOUCHDOWN SINCE OUR OFFENSE DOESN’T SEEM INCLINED TO PUT THIS GAME AWAY.

5:39 Big third down coming up for Tulsa here.

5:41 KERRY NEAL WITH A SACK ON THIRD DOWN TO FORCE A THREE AND OUT!!!! WHAT A GREAT JOB BY THE DEFENSE TO COME UP WITH A BIG PLAY AGAIN. I love it, way to step your game up this week Bob Diaco. Great little return by John Goodman has Notre Dame in great field position at the Tulsa 43.

5:44 Another three and out for Notre Dame. GOOD LORD WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU OFFENSE. Ben Turk’s so pumped up about the fact that he’s kicking the ball far that he’s forgotten how to pooch punt. He demonstrates this by blasting one through the back of the endzone, which is good for an 18-yard net punt. Mental errors galore.

5:49 After a first down on the first play the Irish force another third down at the 36. COME ON DEFENSE, KEEP IT GOING.

5:50 Kinne sails a ball high and Tulsa’s going to have to punt again. Can’t say enough about how well the Irish defense is playing, they’ve done more than enough to not only win this game but make it a rout. They’ve only truly given up 10 points to an offense that averages over 30. Notre Dame will take over at their own 16 after the punt.

5:52 I blinked and Notre Dame went three and out. That’s four straight possessions we’ve had to punt. The only good news is the defense has achieved the same feat and forced four straight Tulsa punts. There’s 8:10 left in the game and man we could use a turnover to give us a really short field. I’m officially have that “oh no, not again” feeling.

5:55 Tulsa picks up a big a third and one conversion.


5:58 A 10-yard pass gets Tulsa back to right around the original line of scrimmage so they’ll be facing a third and long. Head Coach Todd Graham calls a timeout to mull the decision over with 6:17 left in the game.

History says we’re going to give this up, today’s performance says we’ll hold. Tough to overcome the scars and have faith. COME ON DEFENSE.

6:01 Of course Tulsa picks up the first down with a big play down the sideline BUUUUUUT it’s coming back thanks to a weak, weak offensive pass interference. HUGE break for Notre Dame. It’s now 3rd and 26. TAKE ADVANTAGE.

6:02 Kinne completes a 31-yard pass for a first down. Unbelievable, I want to throw up. First down Tulsa at the Notre Dame 42.


6:03 32-yard gain on second down and Tulsa is down to the Notre Dame 16 with four minutes left.

6:05 Tulsa’s drive stalls but they kick a field goal to take the lead. Tulsa 28, Notre Dame 27. I am sick to my stomach. I am in the midst of a never-ending nightmare. Can Tommy Rees lead a comeback? He’ll have 3:23 to do it.

6:09 Notre Dame takes over at the 22-yard line. Come on Tommy.

6:09 First down he throws it away.

6:10 Second down is a great run on a pass in the flat by Cierre Wood for a 14-yard gain. First down at the 36.

6:10 First down Michael Floyd makes a ridiculous one-handed stab for six yards, 2:26 left.

6:11 2nd and 4 is too high to Floyd which brings up a huge third down. Tulsa takes a timeout. Come on Tommy. I’m like numb.


6:13 Good throw underneath to TJ Jones to the 24 to set up 2nd and short.

6:14 Cierre Wood picks up the first down on the next play. Notre Dame first down at the 21.

6:14 Short run by Wood brings up 2nd and 8. Tulsa calls timeout with 42 seconds left.

6:15 Interception Tulsa. This game is over. I can’t even speak, I just cannot believe it.

6:21 The student body is booing Kelly. Amazing how quickly the mob turns.

This is the worst 10-day stretch in the history of Notre Dame Football. I’m numb and I don’t even know what to do or what to think. I’ll need a couple days to coherently collect my thoughts.

Welcome to Rock Bottom…until two weeks from now when we try to dig deeper.


  1. Actually the students were booing the Tulsa band and their fans who kept on playing their fight song during the singing of our Alma Mater.

  2. Wrong! There was booing as the team was moving toward the student section well before the band was on the field. Only lasted a short time and did start up again louder concerning the playing of the Alma Mater.

  3. Anonymous #1 - The students were absolutely VEHEMENTLY booing Kelly (not the team) when he was being interviewed during the post-game Overture of 1812.

  4. Brian Kelly should be severely, publically reprimanded by the University for that last pass play call and then his flipping off of the ND fan base and alumni by telling them to "get used to it".

    That was utterly stupid. There's aggressive and then there's dumb. Calling for a pass in that situation was dumb, dumber than many of the "4th down go for it" calls by Weis. Top that off with the arrogance of stupidity he demonstrated at the press conference and you see he is just not the type of coach we need at ND.

    BK is showing that he does not belong as a coach at this level of football. Indeed, if you viewed the truly embarrassing video by Dicao from Oct 26, where he admitted he didn't know what to do about, or how to adapt to, the alterations in the Navy offense, what you begin to see is a coaching staff that's too inexperienced and in way over their heads, to compete against well coached, high level programs like Stanford, MSU, Utah, USC and even Tulsa.

    That coupled with the obviously poorly conditioned team members (i.e. I have NEVER see this level of hamstring injuries in any football team) makes you understand that BK is just not up to the challenge.

    The kids are playing their hearts out for a coaching staff that reminds me of a combination of Charlie Chaplin, the Marx brothers, Abbott and Costello, and Jim Carey - i.e. dumb and dumber and dumbest. They deserve better than this.

    I predict our final record for the season will be 5 wins, 7 losses, unless Dicao can't figure out Army, either. Then it will be 4 and 8.

    This is a tragedy for the team and a travesty for the fans and the University.

  5. No, a tragedy for the team occurred last Wednesday. Get your perspective right.

  6. It was indeed a dumb call, that can't be disputed. And there is more learning from failure than success. Give Kelly time and he will do the job. It's way too early to throw in the towel, but that said, he DOES need to learn the lessons that are right there for him to see. Let's see if those lessons will "take".

  7. Mattare 1 Jim Kress 0