Saturday, December 22, 2007

New Blog

With the basketball season now in full swing, I thought I would diversify my blog experience and start writing about my Indiana Hoosiers (currently ranked 13th in the country) in addition to my Notre Dame football blog.

I'll still post here as often as I can, and my hope is that by adding another topic to my blogging, I won't get burned out as quickly, and can post more often.

Maybe I'll even start a Redskins blog someday, who knows?

If you like college basketball, check out my basketball blog here: Hoosier Heaven

Thanks for reading, and I promise (again) that my season recap will be coming soon. I just need a little more time to lick my wounds.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

It's the most wonderful time of the year.

I'm working on the season breakdown for the Fightin' Irish, but I wanted some distance from the disappointing season before I finish it, to try to make sure my analysis is not tainted by my personal disappointment in our final record.

Lucky for me, it's bowl season, which means the same thing it means every year: BCS controversy. So, I'm setting up my annual playoff bracket which I do every year. It's all broken down below, but the most important aspects are the inclusion of at least 2 non-BCS teams, so that the Hawaiis of the world get their shot at the MNC.

Here is how my system would play out for this season, with my picks (or actual winners) in bold:

Week 1: Championship Week
- require all major BCS conferences to have a championship game
- this is the first round of the playoffs

ACC Championship game: Virginia Tech vs. Boston College

Big East Championship game: West Virginia vs. Connecticut

Big Ten Championship game: Ohio State vs. Illinois

Big 12 Championship game: Oklahoma vs. Missouri

Pac-10 Championship game: Southern Cal vs. Arizona State

SEC Championship Game: LSU vs. Tennessee

Independence Bowl: Independent/BCS at-large Hawaii vs. Non-BCS Boise State

Capital One Bowl: BCS at-large Kansas vs. Non-BCS Brigham Young

Second Round
- played over Christmas

Cotton Bowl: SEC Champion vs. Big 12 Champion
LSU vs. Oklahoma

Gator Bowl: Independence Bowl Champion vs. Big Ten Champion
Hawaii vs. Ohio State

Fiesta Bowl: ACC Champion vs. Capital One Bowl Champion
Virginia Tech vs. Kansas

Orange Bowl: Big East Champion vs. Pac-10 Champion
West Virginia vs. Southern Cal

Third Round
- played over New Year's

Rose Bowl: Gator Bowl Champion vs. Orange Bowl Champion
Hawaii vs. Southern Cal

Sugar Bowl: Cotton Bowl Champion vs. Fiesta Bowl Champion
LSU vs. Kansas

Championship game (played the week after New Year's):

Rose Bowl Champion vs. Sugar Bowl Champion
LSU vs. Hawaii

This system allows the remaining bowl games to remain in place, comprising the teams that are bowl eligible that did not get into the playoffs. Under this system, the only people who currently play in bowls but will not are the losers of the Conference championship games, and a couple of the fringe teams that don't really deserve bowls for a .500 season.

The games are all played during traditional bowl times, except some New Year's bowls are being moved to Christmas. The other bowls could be used to fill up the season between Championship week and the second round.

There are no complaints from non-BCS schools, as they get two slots (from five conferences). There may be some complaints about who gets the at-large BCS slots, but they can't complain too much, because they didn't win their conference.

It maintains traditional bowl matchups in most seasons (SEC-Big 12 Cotton; Big 10-Pac-10 Rose, etc.).

And, most importantly, it gets decided on the field.

Now we just need to make it happen.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

ND Heisman Candidate?

I've heard some rumblings on the sports networks lately about the possibility of a defensive lineman ala LSU's Glenn Dorsey or Virginia's Chris Long being considered for a Heisman invitation. A pair of defensive linemen in a year where no offensive player has stepped up to the plate to claim their stake to the Heisman. Intrigued by this possibility, I thought I'd compare some statistics.

Which of these three players would you invite to the Heisman ceremony?

35 solo tackles, 26 assists, 61 total tackles
11.5 tackles for loss for 48 yards
6 sacks for 40 yards
3 pass breakups, 4 QB hurries

30 solo tackles, 39 assists, 69 total tackles
17 tackles for loss for 104 yards
12 sacks for 104 yards
1 interception, 7 pass breakups
21 QB hurries
1 forced fumble, 1 blocked kick

47 solo tackles, 57 assists, 104 total tackles
7 tackles for loss for 36 yards
3 sacks for 23 yards
5 pass breakups, 6 QB hurries
2 fumble recoveries, 2 blocked kicks

Looking at the numbers, it's clear that the second two lineman stand head and shoulders above the first, and the numer of tackles and turnovers by the third candidate are truly impressive for a defensive lineman.

So who would you invite?

The #1 candidate is the highly touted LSU lineman Glenn Dorsey, the leader in support for Heisman votes for s D-lineman.

The #2 candidate is Chris Long out of Virginia, who is clearly diruptive in the passing game, but not exactly dominant against the run.

The #3 candidate is our very own Trevor Laws, who has been shut out of this discussion due to his team's dismal record.

I submit that Trevor Laws is quite simply the most dominant defensive lineman in the country, and that if anyone should be invited to New York off the defensive line, it should be him.

Just a little more support for my contention that the Heisman goes to the best player on the #1 team at the end of November, not the truly best player in college football.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I'm done for the year.

Oh, I'll post evey now and then, and I'll take my lumps from the schadenfreude obsessed ND haters, but as far as this season goes, I'm checking out.

This display of football on the field has been quite simply pathetic, and despite there being some talent on its way up the ranks in the underclassmen and incoming recruits, there is little from this season that shows that the Weis regime is more than a 1-trick pony, great recruiters who can't develop talent.

I hope the offseason shows that that isn't the case, and that Weis and Co. are able to develop this young talent into something that resembles a competitive football team.

However, I hope that the powers that be at this University start examining that short list of potential coaching replacements, because as much as I like Coach Weis as a person and as a representative of Notre Dame, next year is quite simply make-or-break for him. And I have no idea whether he can turn this team around over such a short span.

The delusional Notre Dame fan in myself believes he can, but that nagging realist has some real concerns over being able to compete against the USCs and Michigans of the world anytime in the near future.

Let's review the damage so far:

9 losses for the first time in history

Started 0-5 for the first time in history, having never started worse than 0-3 before.

Lost 6th straight home game to an opponent (MSU) for first time in history.

Worst home opening loss in history (33-3 to Georgia Tech)

Worst home loss in history (38-0 to USC)

I could go on and on, but this list of historical lows is positively Willingham-esque. The only positive I can take from this season is that we have talent coming in. It could be worse - if Willingham were still coaching, this season would probably have gone completely winless, with no positives in recruiting in sight. But I digress.

Now, keep in mind, I'm not calling for Weis' head. And I love the Weis family, and hope it never comes to that. I'm just saying that at 1-9, with what is undisputedly the worst season in Notre Dame history starting to wrap up, maybe we should start thinking about that conversation.

As for this week, I'm going to limit my posting, but I think we squeak out a win against 1-9 Duke. And, yes, I sad squeak out. This Duke team is a team that based on talent alone we should be able to beat by 30 with our second string.

But this year's team is like Humpty Dumpty.

All the king's horses and all the kings men...

Monday, November 05, 2007


I needed a bit of perspective to get myself moving this morning, and an e-mail from an old friend provided that this morning. I thought I'd share the bit that cheered me up:

"It took the catastrophic, systemic, once in a generation (and possibly, and God willing, once in a lifetime) IMPLOSION of Notre Dame for Navy to manage to snap that 43 game losing streak--in 3 overtimes."

The world still feels... wrong... but at least the room has stopped spinning.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

History Lesson

I just posted this over on NDNation (my first post there in months - I hate their new elitist board system, where you have to become one of the "cool" kids to post on Rock's House). It was in response to someone's question about how past ND coaches who won champonships had fared in their worst seasons. I didn't do an exhaustive research job, but I think I pretty much covered all the bases:


These are the worst records that National Championship coaches have posted at Notre Dame during their tenures, as well as the worst records they posted in their careers:

Rockne: 5-4 (.556)
Leahy: 4-4-1 (.500)
Parseghian: 8-3 (.727) at Notre Dame, 0-9 at Northwestern (1957)
Devine: 7-4 (.636) at Notre Dame, 5-6 at Missouri
Holtz: 5-6 (.454) at Notre Dame, 4-7 at Minnesota (before ND), 0-11 at South Carolina (post-ND)

With Weis staring down the barrel of (at best) a 4-8 (.333) season, there is no historical precedence at Notre Dame of this level of failure prior to winning a National Championship. Only Parseghian has a worse record in his coaching career before ND, during his time at Northwestern.

It took Parseghian almost a decade to go from 0-9 at Northwestern to a NC at Notre Dame.

However, I still hear a lot of folks whispering about 2008 and 2009 like they are some sort of magical talismam that will "return us to glory."

I like Coach Weis, and am willing to give him more time, but I'm not sure if this ship can be turned around that quickly.

For perspective, other turnarounds (by the same coach) from loser to champion include:
Bobby Ross: First year 2-8, then 3-9, then two years later 11-0-1 (1990 Georgia Tech)
Paul Dietzel: 3-7 to 11-0 in two years (1957 LSU)
John McKay: 4-6 to 11-0 in first three years (USC)
Howard Schnellenberger: 5-6 to 11-1 in 4 years (Miami)
Woody Hayes: 4-5 to 10-0 in 2 years, 4-3-2 to 10-0 in 3 years (Ohio State)
Don James: 5-6 to 12-0 in 15 years (Washington)
Bobby Bowden: 4-7 to 12-1 in 19 years (Florida State)

Only Bobby Ross seems to have pulled off a turnaround of this magnitude, and he had his losing seasons in his first two years at the school. Going from winner, to loser, and back to winner has only been done by Woody Hayes.

Sure, there's a first time for everything, but if history teaches us anything, the type of turnaround we are hoping for would be unprecedented in college football (modern era - I was too lazy to go through every single championship...)


So, with that information in hand, do you all think, as I still do (although my confidence is fading fast), that Coach Weis is the right coach for the Notre Dame football program?

Dumbest. Call. Ever.

In the history of Notre Dame football, there has never been a more egregious mistake on the part of the coaches than not kicking the 41-yard field goal with 45 seconds left to attempt to ice the game for the Irish. Nothing Davie, or Faust, or even the Coach Who Shall Not Be Named-ingham has ever approached the hubris and utter ignorance of the decision not to kick a field goal in yesterday's game.

And when asked why he didn't even attempt the kick, Coach Weis said that they needed four more yards to have confidence in the kick. Four yards. Twelve feet. That's 111 feet instead of 123 feet, not even a 10% difference between a 41-yarder and a 37-yarder. And he had a kicker that made a 48-yarder just scant weeks ago against UCLA. Then Coach Weis talked about the wind factoring in. Bullshit, I say. I was at the game, and the wind was negligible. Hell, if the wind was so damn important to his decision making, why not defer and choose to kick with the wind in the fourth quarter when he won the toss at the beginning of the game?

I love Coach Weis' resume, his recruiting ability, and think he is one of the best Notre Dame men around off the field. Paraphrasing Dr. White, he is the perfect Notre Dame football coach from Sunday to Friday. And he showed that again this week with the way he handled the tragedy in Robert Hughes' family.

But on the football field Saturday, he really stunk up the joint.

And, having listened to Coach Weis' press conferences for so long, I think I realized why he struggles sometimes with making the right call on the field.

He overanalyzes and micromanages the game.

I'm amazed he doesn't sit up n the press box with practice and game film, a calculator, slide rule, and the statistics from every college football game in the history of the world and call plays from there.

"We go by what we see." He says. In practice. On tape. By the numbers.

In the pros, this is the only way to call a game, where the margin for error is so small and the players on both sides execute everything at such a high level.

But in the college game (DRINK! Thank you, BGS) the odds and practice tape and schemes only get you so far. At some time, in the words of Coach Holtz, YOU GOTTA BELIEVE. Believe, not because the down and distance and game situation call for this specific play in your telephone book sized playbook. Believe, not because your starting kicker has made only 7.435% of the field goals from this hashmark at this specific yard line in this stadium at this temperature and wind speed in practice situations. Believe in your players. Believe in your coaches. Believe in the Notre Dame family 80,000 strong sitting in the stands.

Most importantly, Coach Weis needs to believe in a little thing we call the luck of the Irish.

In Notre Dame football, I don't care how bad the kicker is, when they line up for that 41 yard field goal attempt, and a hush falls over the crowd as 80,000 Notre Dame students, alums, and subway alums silently pray a Hal Mary, special things happen.

Like in 1993, when Shawn Wooden believed that the Seminole's desperation heave would come his way to seal the victory.

Like in 1992, when Rick Mirer refused to stop believing as he scrambled through the snow and found Reggie Brooks in the back of the endzone.

Like in 1988, when a haughty Miami team entered Notre Dame Stadium with the swagger of champions and left with a black eye and a 31-30 loss because Pat Terrell believed he would knock down that pass.

Believing like those young kids from a small midwestern Catholic school who rolled into West Point in 1913 and stunned the vaunted Black Knights with their untested aerial attack.

Notre Dame's football success is built, like other football powerhouses, on recruiting and training the best players in the country. But what separates Notre Dame's 11 national championships from the rest of the pack is a willingness to believe in triumph against all odds, believing in the players who represent Our Lady, believing in divine intervention, and believing in the luck of the Irish.

But I don't think Coach Weis puts much stock into such things. He breaks every play down to its minutiae, ignoring the greater glory of Notre Dame football.

We didn't beat Navy 43 straight times by playing it safe.

And you know what? I saw a two teams on that field yesterday that had that belief in something special. But I only saw one head coach who believed it.

Those Midshipmen of Navy struggled mightily as the game wore on, believing as they do every single year that this year, THIS would be the year that they finally beat the Fighting Irish. But as the game clock wore down to :45 seconds, the Navy players and fans had a moment's pause, remembering all to well the numerous last minute feld goals that had iced the game for the Irish.

And when Coach Weis opted to go for it on 4th and 8, the Navy faithful KNEW they would emerge victorious. You could feel it in that stadium, that this WAS gong to be the year that Navy beat Notre Dame. And then Navy's Ram Vela pulled a Waterboy-esque flying sack of Evan Sharpley to kill Notre Dame's chances at victory and drain the belief from the Irish faithful who were stunned that we didn't kick the ball.

The players gamed on, forcing three overtimes before finally being unable to match Navy's clockwork offense on a short field. But Weis had not believed.

Kudos to the Naval Academy, and all of their players, students, alumni, and all Naval officers and seamen across the world. Like every Navy game, they fight to the end of every game, just like they fight to the end of every battle. I did my best to congratulate the Naval officers I saw yesterday after the game. They believed in their guys, and earned a long-awaited victory.

But shame on Coach Weis, who let a golden opportunity pass him by.

[Note: I'm still on the Weis bandwagon, and think the program will be fine long-term, but I can't stomach his playcalling. I believe, as I've stated before, that he needs to hand off the reins of the offense to someone else, and focus on his head coaching duties ONLY.]

Friday, November 02, 2007

Bump in the road

Life has once again gotten in the way of my football obsession, but I will be drafting a full postgame breakdown of Navy later this weekend (I was far too upset to blog about the last game, against Those Who Shall Not Be Named).

I did want to do my part to send my condolences to Robert and the whole Hughes family, as they deal with their tragic loss. The prayers of myself and the whole Notre Dame family are with them as they deal with the loss of Earl Hughes.

Go Irish! Beat the Middies!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Media Savvy

Every time I start to doubt Coach Weis, he manages to pull a rabbit out of a hat and renew my confidence.

After the 38-0 drubbing I witnessed on Saturday, I felt numb and had lost all confidence in Coach Weis as I walked across campus. I got back to the car, and listened to the press conference.

Then I heard the carefully worded sound byte that lifted my spirits (albeit briefly) and gave me hope coming down the stretch:

"Enjoy it now."

Three little words, but words dripping with such confidence (or perhaps some would say arrogance) that I couldn't help but be buoyed by the though of smoother sailing ahead.

So that covered the sound byte for Saturday night and Sunday morning, temporarily deflecting the national media spotlight from the fact that this was the second worse loss in the history of Notre Dame Stadium.

So what trick did Coach Weis have up his sleeve to keep the program from being ripped to the ground by a mob of angry alums and fans after being embarassed by our main rival?

A five-star receiver named Michael Floyd.

Say what you will about Weis' on the field struggles with this young team. But him and his staff are damn fine salesmen.

Weis getting Floyd to commit to the Irish this weekend is like selling a car with no wheels to a stock car driver for his next race.

I was talking to my buddy Justin via text message on Saturday while I was at the game, and we both lamented that this loss had to be very, very bad for recruiting. We were worried about kids jumping ship and going someplace with a little more stabilty.

So Coach Weis flipped the script. It has long been rumored that Floyd was all but committed to the Irish shortly after they offered, but Floyd chose to be responsible and work through the entire recruiting cycle to weigh his choices. He stayed out of the media spotlight and just started sifting though his offers.

This weekend, Charlie closed the deal with Floyd, creating the perfect story to deflect the ongoing criticism of his on field struggles on offense.

I have no inside knowledge of Floyd's recruitment, but I'd bet a dollar to a doughnut that Weis and Floyd have known for a little while that he would be Irish. There are some who know Floyd that were convinced that he was only waiting for the All-American game to pull the trigger.

But Coach Weis knew that after this game, we the fans were going to need something to hang our hats on, something to give us hope and confidence. So he asked Floyd to pull the trigger and announce.

I've said time and again on this blog that I think Coach Weis is the right man to run this program. On Saturday evening, I was ready to leap head-first off of that bandwagon.

Now, I'm merely teetering on the edge.

Oh, Coach Weis still needs to turn the offense over to someone else - someone whose FULL TIME JOB is to make sure that it is effective and runs smoothly. He still needs to hire a legitimate special teams coach, and replace Latina as O-line coach. He still needs to work a little harder on fundamentals and assignment football in practice, and a little less on X's and O's. He needs to trust his very talented staff, and focus on player development like he used to as a position coach.

But as the leader of this organization - as a celebrity with a blistering spotlight on him - Coach Weis is as steady as a rock.

The players on this team are behind him, and the freshman class coming may be the best in the history of Notre Dame football. And considering our record, that is a major achievement. To see exactly how hard it is to land a top class with a bad record, look at the past 5 years top 10 recruiting classes and final records of those teams (losing records in bold):

12-1 #1 USC
13-1 #2 LSU
11-2 #5 Miami
10-3 #11 Florida State
10-3 #6 Michigan
11-3 #7 Georgia
12-2 #3 Oklahoma
8-5 Florida
10-3 Tennessee
10-3 #12 Texas

10-3 #13 Tennessee
9-3 #14 Michigan
9-3 #15 Florida State
10-2 #7 Georgia
12-1 #3 Oklahoma
13-0 #1 USC
8-4 #20 Ohio State
10-2 #8 Iowa
10-2 #9 California
5-6 Nebraska (Callahan's first year)

12-1 #2 USC
9-3 #12 Florida
13-0 #1 Texas
10-3 #10 Georgia
9-3 #9 Notre Dame
11-1 #3 Penn State
11-2 #6 LSU
8-4 #22 Oklahoma
9-3 #14 Auburn
7-5 Michigan

13-1 #1 Florida
11-2 #4 USC
10-3 #13 Texas
9-4 #25 Tennessee
11-2 #3 LSU
11-2 #9 Auburn
8-5 South Carolina
6-6 Pittsburgh
7-6 Oregon
11-2 #8 Michigan

1-7 Notre Dame
5-2 UCLA
5-2 Georgia
6-1 #12 USC
5-3 Miami
6-2 #19 Texas
6-2 Texas A&M
4-3 Florida State
4-4 Nebraska
7-1 #6 Oklahoma

In the past 5 years, there has only been one team that has finished the season with a losing record, but still had a top 10 recruiting class. More than halfway through arguably the worst season in Notre Dame history, we have the #1 recruiting class in the country. And that was even before Floyd's commitment.

Weis clearly understands how to sell the program. And he has assembled a staff of stellar recruiters. His salesmanship is astounding, and the timing of his commits announcing their school choices displays a level of media savvy that is unsurpassed. If every player currently committed signs, we'll have a top 10 class regardless of what other schools do at the end of the recruiting cycle. And lest we spend too much time obsessing over the transfers, consider for a moment that Weis can now use those scholarships to attract even more players with his recruiting momentum.

With the last 4 games appearing to be winnable, don't be surprised if the maturation of the younger players results in a bit of a winning streak and some momentum going into signing day. Also, with the Irish out of bowl contention, Weis can spend December tirelessly hitting the recruiting trail.

For all of my frustration surrounding the USC game, and the fact that I believe it marks a bottoming out of historical proportions, I can't help but still believing that the program is - long-term - headed in the right direction. Pete Carroll, one of the best recruiters in the game, admitted in the post-game press conference that he saw this season coming 3 years ago, the same thing that anyone who follows recruiting wll echo. Therefore, I can't hlep but buy into Charlie's somewhat arrogant statement in his post-game press conference:

"[Notre Dame haters] better enjoy it now, have their fun now."

'Cause we're not gonna be trampled on for much longer.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Rushing Offense Woes

A little over halfway through the season, I was wondering whether our rushing woes are due to the caliber of opponent defenses, or a function of our own ineptitude, or both.

I was surprised when I saw the cumulative rankings (our losses in bold, win in italics):

1 Boston College
5 Southern California
9 Penn St.
11 Georgia Tech
24 Michigan St.
37 Michigan
52 Purdue
62 Air Force
73 Duke
75 Stanford
88 Navy

This pretty much confirms what I suspected, that our schedule has as much to do with our lack of success running the ball as our youth and inexperience. We've played the top rushing defense, 3 of the top ten, 4 of the top 12, and 5 of the top 25. Every team has been in the top half of the rankings. And this week, we face another top 5 rushing defense in USC.

I think that we will continue to struggle running the ball, but we were able to squeak out a win against one of those vaunted rush defenses despite our struggles.

And if anyone out there still doubts our ability to win the last four games on ou schedule, consider the fact that they can't stuff the run like our first 8 opponents, which should bring some balance to our offense. And this ranking list supports my previous contention that we should have beaten Purdue soundly, and our first half performance in that game was atrocious.

I'm not mentioning this to excuse our performance thus far, but to provide hope that we can win the last four games by establishing the running game early.

Which means that we have a good shot of going to a bowl game with a win this weekend.

Southern Cal vs. Notre Dame Preview

University of Southern Calfornia
Trojans (5-1)

Ranking: BCS #14, AP #13 Coaches #9
Head Coach: Pete "The Poodle" Carroll
Coaching Record: 69-13, 7th season
Last Year: 11-2 (7-2 Pac-10)
Last Week: Beat Arizona, 20-13


University of Notre Dame
Fighting Irish (1-6)

Head Coach: Charlie Weis
Coaching Record: 20-12, 3rd season
Last Year: 10-3, Lost to Louisiana State in Allstate Sugar Bowl (#17 AP / #19 Coaches postseason ranking)
Last Week: Lost to #4 Boston College, 27-14

Location: Notre Dame Stadium (aka The House That Rock Built)
Date and Time: October 20, 2007 3:43 p.m.
Series Record: Notre Dame leads 42-31-5

Notre Dame Quarterback and Receivers vs. Southern Cal Secondary
Notre Dame is starting their third quarterback this season, as Junior Evan Sharpley got the nod over Freshman Jimmy Clausen on the heels of his second comeback leading performance of the season against Boston College.
The hope out of South Bend is that Sharpley will continue to show the poise and confidence that he showed in relief, and will finally give Coach Weis the confidence to open up the passing offense. However, we don't know if Sharpley will show up all game like he did when the pressure was on with a big lead to overcome.
Southern Cal has a very good secondary, but they haven't picked off a lot of balls. Their pass efficiency defense is one of the best in the country, and that makes this a tough challenge for Sharpley in his first start. However, they give up about 200 yards per game through the air, so there is some hope that we can move the ball in the passing game, especially if the Coach finally opens up some intermediate and deep routes early in the game.
Edge: Draw

Notre Dame Running Backs and Tight Ends vs. Southern Cal Linebackers
Notre Dame's rushing offense continues to sputter this late in the season, and I haven't seen anything that gives me confidence.
Southern Cal is loaded at linebacker, althought they have been banged up. Maualuga has a hip pointer, and is a game-time decision (although it doesn't look like he will play at this point). Brian Cushing has been practicing, and it looks like he will go, but his injury may slow him down a bit. Either way, this matchup looks to favor the Trojans.
Edge: Southern Cal

Notre Dame Offensive Line vs. Southern Cal Defensive Line
Southern Cal hasn't put a lot of pressure on the quarterback, and Notre Dame's blitz pickup has been steadily improving over the last three games, so Sharpley should have some time to throw. However, the big hosses in front are very good at shutting down the run, spearheading one of the nation's best rushing defenses.
Edge: Draw

Notre Dame Defensive Line vs. Southern Cal Offensive Line
Laws and Kunz are beasts, and the Southern Cal O-line is shallow and pretty banged up. Hopefully, this will present an opportunity for the D-line to disrupt the Trojan's powerful running game. I expect the Irish to once again win the battle in the trenches, but the question is whether it will be enough to slow them down.
Edge: Notre Dame

Notre Dame Linebackers vs. Southern Cal Running Backs and Tight Ends
Any other team in the country, faced with the number of injuries to the running backs that Southern Cal has faced, would be struggling to run the ball. However, SC is so deep at the postion that it hasn't hurt their production that much, with them averaging almost 200 yards a game on the ground.
Hopefully, Mo Crum will be back from injury and able to play at 100%. It is because of this question mark and our history of struggling against the run that I'm giving the nod to SC here. However, if Mo Crum can show up like he did against UCLA, this could change.
Watch out for Fred Davis, the USC Tight End, who creates some matchup problems over the middle. Also, they have a fullback in Stanley Havili who has soft hands and can create some problems for us in the flat.
Edge: Southern Cal

Notre Dame Secondary vs. Southern Cal Quarterbacks and Receivers
This is the big matchup in this game, once again. Booty is trying to get back on the field, despite a broken finger on his throwing hand. Sanchez is waiting in the wings if Booty can't be productive, but his inexperience limits the offense somewhat.
If Booty isn't 100%, this matchup should go to the Irish, although they are facing the biggest receiving corps of the year so far, and will struggle to defend against jump balls with leadng receiver 6'5" Patrick Turner and 6'4" David Ausberry. With Fred Davis also standing at 6'4", we are going to need a solid pass rush to stay competitive in this game.
All of that said, the Irish secondary has continued to be solid against the pass, ranking in or near the top 25 in both total pass defense and pass efficiency defense. This will be interesting to watch, as this is the most talented receiving corps we've faced.
The big question here is whether Booty can be effectve as a passer with a broken finger. If not, the Irish should win this matchup going away.
Edge: Draw

Notre Dame Coaches vs. Southern Cal Coaches
Although Coach Weis out-coached Pete Carroll in their first meeting in 2005, over the span of their careers as head coaches, Carrol has proven to be by far the more consistent coach across the board, leading Div I-A in winning percentage.
Carroll is struggling a bit this year, with a loss to Stanford and struggling last week against a bad Arizona squad. While I'm giving this edge to SC, this game presents an opportunity for Coach Weis to salvage the season and silence some of his critics, by placing this team in a position to battle for a bowl game down the stretch of this disappointing season.
I know that Weis wants this one more than any of the others, although he'll never say so to the media.
Edge: Southern Cal

Quarterback and Receivers vs. Secondary: Edge Draw
Running Backs and Tight Ends vs. Linebackers: Edge Southern Cal
Offensive Line vs. Defensive Line: Edge Draw
Defensive Line vs. Offensive Line: Edge Notre Dame
Linebackers vs. Running Backs and Tight Ends: Edge Southern Cal
Secondary vs. Quarterbacks and Receivers: Edge Draw
Coaches vs. Coaches: Edge Southern Cal

Analysis and Prediction

This is the granddaddy of them all, the greatest rivalry in college football.

It's become cliche, but it is often true that when these two teams meet, you can throw out the records.

Notre Dame wants to win this game for respect. Respect for their coach, and respect for the rebuilding they have done to this point in the season.

With only one loss, Southern Cal is still thinking national championship, although their confidence is shaken.

With the lone exception of Ty's blowout loss to the Trojans four years ago, the Trojans do not come into Notre Dame Stadium and beat up on the Irish. Here is a list of the last 10 games played in Notre Dame Stadium:
2005: SC 34-31
2003 (Ty): SC 45-14
2001: ND 27-16
1999: ND 25-24
1997: SC 20-17
1995: ND 38-10
1993: ND 31-13
1991: ND 24-20
1989: ND 28-24
1987: ND 26-15
Therefore, despite this being a down season for Notre Dame, I expect a competitive battle in Notre Dame Stadium. There is no atmosphere in sports that compares with gameday between Notre Dame and USC in South Bend. It is quite simply magical.

Thus, despite the fact that the matchups appear to favor the Trojans, I simply refuse to allow myself to believe that we will lose this game. It means too much to the players and coaches for them not to come out and play the game of their lives on Saturday morning.

I'm hoping that a couple years from now, when we are celebrating our 12th national championship, I'll be able to say that I was in Notre Dame Stadium for the turning point in this program, when the Irish started something special that woke up the echoes, not just for a fleeting week or two, but for good.

This week could serve as the foundation for the building of a dynasty. It's that important.

Notre Dame 24
Southern Cal 20
Final - Overtime

Monday, October 15, 2007

Boston College Postmortem

"They are who we thought they were!"
Dennis Green's immortal quote has never been more apropos than this week. I felt good about our chances against Boston College, largely because we matched up well with them schematically. Let's review the matchups from my preview, and see how close I was:

ND QB's & WR's vs. BC Secondary:
I gave the edge to: Notre Dame
The edge in the game was: First half - BC, Second half - Notre Dame
Jimmy Clausen was inneffective against the BC defense through the first three fifths of the game, throwing for only 60 yards and 2 interceptions. He never tested the BC secondary, instead continuing the annoying dink-and-dunk offense from the rest of the season.
However, once JC was pulled in favor of Sharpley, we began attacking the BC secondary, and gashed 'em pretty good for the last part of the game, throwing for 147 yards and 2 TDs (although one of the TDs was called back on a phantom holding call).
Sharpley clearly is more comfortable with the intermediate and long passing game, allowing the Irish to stretch the field.
I really like Clausen, but he can't seem to pull the trigger down the field, and he should be benched until that problem is resolved. Sharpley has proven that he deserves the chance to start, as he gives us a better chance of winning now.

ND RB's & TE's vs. BC Linebackers:
I gave the edge to: Boston College
The edge in the game was: Boston College
I knew that we wouldn't be able to run against this front seven, and I didn't think we should have spent a lot of time trying. Instead, we ran the ball 21 times for an atrocious 27 yards (1.3 per rush). This attempt to run the ball cost us drives - look at the drive that started wth 5:36 left in the first quarter:
PASS - 6 yards!
RUSH - 1 yard.
RUSH - 2 yards.
Now compare that to Sharpley's first drive:
PASS - incomplete
PASS - incomplete
PASS - 28 yards!
PASS - incomplete
PASS - 2 yards. ROUGHING THE PASSER - 15 yards!
PASS - 15 yards!
PASS - 19 yards! TOUCHDOWN!
When we started chucking the ball all over the field with Sharpley and abandoned the run, we did have some success. There are a lot of things wrong with our running game, which I'm going to attempt to go over later this week.

ND O-line vs. BC D-lne:
I gave the edge to: Notre Dame
The edge in the game was: Notre Dame
"Fredo's defensive line isn't that scary, compared to the other teams we've played. Indeed, only Purdue's pass rush is weaker than Fredo's. They don't have a lot of sacks or tackles for loss, considering the caliber of opponent they've played. They are good run stuffers, but we don't need to run the ball this week."
Well, they stuffed the run pretty good, but they struggled with creating pressure most of the game. They had trouble getting pressure on the QB all day, getting only 2 sacks. The QB's had enough time to throw, which was what I predicted. I didn't think we'd run the ball as much as we did, but I admitted that they were good run stuffers.

BC QB's & WR's vs. ND Secondary:
I gave the edge to: Notre Dame
The edge in the game was: Draw
Boston College came in averaging 310 yards per game, 2.5 TDs per game, and 0.833 interceptions per game. Boston College finished the game with 291 yards passing, 2 TDs, and 1 intercepton (returned for a TD).
Boston College was just shy of their averages for the game, but the Irish secondary did get points off of one of Ryan's errant passes.
Overall, this matchup was a draw, where many people thought that BC would have a decided edge with their vaunted Heisman contender. Ryan is good, but not Heisman material.

BC RB's & TE's vs. ND Linebackers:
I gave the edge to: Boston College (barely)
The edge in the game went to: Boston College
I said going in that Boston College would be forced to run the ball by our secondary. While that didn't happen, they still managed to gash us in the run game, in particular on the very first drive. They finished the game with 168 total rushing yards (right between the 185 we've been giving up, but more than the 145 they've been averaging). More importantly, our inability to hold Boston College on third down in the first drive, instead giving up a 52 yard romp and setting up their first touchdown, robbed us of momentum early in the game.

BC O-line vs. ND D-lne:
I gave the edge to: Notre Dame
The edge in the game was: Boston College
This is the only matchup where I completely whiffed.
The defensive line played well, but could not get any kind of consistent pressure on the quarterback. Also, this is why I think we lost this game. We couldn't knock Ryan off of his rhythm, and he got his yards through the air, despite a valiant effort by our secondary. Even when we did get pressure, Ryan did an excellent job of getting rid of the ball at the last second, without drawing a single intentional grounding flag (although I felt he deserved a couple).

Coaches vs. Coaches
I gave the edge to: Notre Dame
The edge in the game was: Draw
Jagodznski had an effective game plan that ended up winning the game, but the Eagles looked pretty sloppy all game, and were gift wrapped many of their points off of our miscues. They didn't appear to be a well-coached ball club.
Weis' team had a decent game plan, but have still been plagued by untmely mental and physical breakdowns, which cost us the game. (See Coach Weis' six plays that changed the game) These are coaching errors, and they cost us a chance at victory over a top 5 ranked team.
In the end, both teams looked like they were poorly coached, and therefore I'm calling this one a draw.

My prediction for the game was a 24-21 victory for the Irish. We lost, 27-14.
This young team is still too prone to mistakes to play a complete game, but had we eliminated just two mistakes - take your pick of Clausen's first interception, the phantom holding call, or Price kneeing the ball on the punt, and the final score could just have likely been 21-17, or 28-27 in favor of the Irish. Granted, changing any of those plays may not have changed the result of the game, but the Irish were clearly in the game with only minutes left in the 4th quarter.
I've gotten some flak from commenters about my predictions about winning this game, and been called everything but delusional. However, I wasn't as far off as many people seemed to think.


Biggest problem: Offense. Again. Clausen couldn't move the ball. The running backs couldn't move the ball. If not for Robby Parris, we would have had very little to hang our hats on.

Player of the game: Robby Parris. With no running game, and an ineffective QB for 3/5 of the game, the young receiver still managed to rack up 4 catches for 94 yards and a touchdown, not to mention the 12-yard touchdown he was robbed of by the refs.

Scapegoat of the game: Jimmy Clausen. 60 yards, no touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. Compared to his backup, he looked just awful.

Positive stat of the game: Honestly, the stat line just isn't that good. Even Sharpley's performance was hardly awe inspiring, if effective. Price averaged 42.2 yards per punt, but he also had the miscue, downing the ball on a low snap.

Negative stat of the game: Notre Dame: 27 rushing yards BC: 186 rushing yards

Friday, October 12, 2007

Midterm Report Card

With the first half of the season under wraps, it's time to grade out this team at the halfway point in the season.


Quarterbacks: C
A rough start in the first game carousel certainly set this whole offense off on the wrong foot, but as Jimmy Clausen has settled into the offense, he has shown an ability to manage the game and avoid the game changing mistakes. He has a long way to go to become a weapon. One of Jimmy's strengths is spreading the ball around, havng 5 receivers averaging over 20 yards per game. Helping the grade is Sharpley's quiet readiness and patience as the backup.
Jimmy Clausen: B-
Evan Sharpley: A
Demetrius Jones: W

Running Backs: F
Although our rushing woes are largely due to the offensive line, truly great running backs can gain positive yards more often than not just by running hard and bringing the wood. Aldridge has shown flashes, but flashes aren't nearly enough to redeem the nation's most disappointing rushing team. This is a situation where the final grade is worse than the sum of the parts.
James Aldridge: C
Robert Hughes: B
Armando Allen: C-
Travis Thomas: D
Junior Jabbie: C
Asaph Schwapp: D-

Receivers: D
The receiving corps has been a major disappontment this year, as the passing offense hasn't really opened up, except briefly during the Purdue game. The big surprise here is that our leading receiver is not the experienced David Grimes (played in 12 games last year), the phenom Duval Kamara (true freshman), or the explosive Golden Tate (26 YPC average). It is the quietly reliable Robby Parris, with 178 yards on 15 catches, for an 11.9 yard per catch average. Not flashy, but getting the job done. These receivers need to do a better job of creating plays.
David Grimes: D
Robby Parris: B+
Duval Kamara: A
George West: D
Golden Tate: B
D.J. Hord: F

Tight Ends: C
Largely hamstrung by the offensive line failures keeping him in on max protect, Carlson's numbers are nowhere near where everyone expected them to be at this point in the season. That said, perusing the season statistics I was surprised to find that Carlson is leading the team in receptions, with 18. He could have graded out higher if not for a few untimely drops. The young tight ends are gaining valuable experience, but haven't contributed as receivers as of yet.
John Carlson: C
Wll Yeatman: B
Mike Ragone: C
Konrad Reuland: W

Offensive Line: F-
Despite recent improvements, there is no way that this unit gets anything other than a big fat F for failure. John Sullivan was supposed to be a leader and a calming force on this unit, but all I've seen thus far is a center who can't even take care of his own assignment, much less help the rest of the line with theirs. All of the starters get F's,
John Sullivan: F---
Paul Duncan: F
Sam Young: F
Mike Turkovich: F
Dan Wenger: I
Matt Carufel: W/F (he left the team mid-season as a starter. Demetrius Jones and Konrad Reuland I understand, as they had been passed. But this guy was starting, and quit the team. I don't even want him to come back. Screw him.)
Chris Stewart: D (would have been an F but for his decision not to quit on this team)
Thomas Bemenderfer: B
Eric Olsen: C
Taylor Dever: C

Offense Overall Grade: F-
The stats don't lie: Last in the NCAA in total offense. Last in rushing offense. Last in sacks allowed. Next to last in scoring offense. 109th in passing offense. 108th in passing efficiency.
This offense is the worst in the NCAA at the halfway point, and that is quite simply unacceptable.
They had better step up their game. NOW.


Defensive Line: A
This may be a generous grade for a D-line that is part of the 96th worst rushing defense in the country, but they get a boost for effort. Trevor Laws is leading the team in tackles and has become a force inside, week in and week out. Pat Kunz is doing an amazing job as an undersized nosetackle.
Trevor Laws: A+
Pat Kunz: A
Dwight Stephenson, Jr.: B
Derrell Hand: C
Paddy Mullen: C
Ian Williams: C
Justiin Brown: B-

Linebackers: D
The recent breakout of Maurice Crum, Jr. has saved this unit from a failing grade. The linebackers were not getting enough pressure on the QB, and had given up far too many yards against the rush early in the season. I hope that the UCLA game marked a turning point for this unit, as they looked damn good.
Maurice Crum, Jr.: C+
Joe Brockington: D
Toryan Smith: C
John Ryan: D
Kerry Neal: B+
Anthony Vernaglia: F
Scott Smith: D
Steve Quinn: D
Brian Smith: B
Morrice Richardson: D

Secondary: A
I don't care what you say, this secondary is the 4th best unit in terms of pass yards given up, ranking in the rarefied air of LSU, South Carolina, and Clemson. And even if you consider pass efficiency defense, we are still in the top 25, ranking near undefeateds like Cincinatti and Boston College. Against the opponents we've faced, that is quite simply a stellar achievement.
More importantly, it signals a major change from years past. Consider this: the longest pass we've given up this year was a 51 yarder against Penn State, which didn't result in a touchdown. Last year? 88 yards for a TD against Purdue. 2005? 85 yards for a touchdown against Ohio State.
Minter is gone, and the new boss has fixed the one thing that has haunted us under Minter - giving up the big pass play. Corwin Brown has cut a full two yards off of opponent's average yards per pass from 7.7 and 7.8 in 2005 and 2006 to only 5.7 in 2007. Eveybody gets at least a B.
Tom Zbikowski: B+
David Bruton: A+
Darrin Walls: A
Terrail Lambert: B+
Ambrose Wooden: B
Leo Ferrine: B
Raeshon McNeil: B
Munir Prince: B
Kyle McCarthy: B
Sergio Brown: B
Jashaad Gaines: B
Harrison Smith: B
Ray Herring: B
Leonard Gordon: B

Defense Overall Grade: B
This would have been much, much lower a grade if not for the UCLA game.
This defense single handedly took this team on its back and drug it out of the gutter. Also, I was a little more forgiving of the poor scoring defense (74th in NCAA) considering the poor positions the offense put them in.
After the opponents we've played thus far (the 3rd toughest schedule in the country), and the ineptitude of our offense, our 41st ranking in total defense is a major achievement, and gives this young team a strong foundation to build upon.


Kickoffs: B-
No kickoffs returned for touchdowns guarantees a passing grade, and 0 touchbacks guarantees that I'm not giving out an A. We give up a little too much yardage on returns, but not so much that it's a major concern.
Nate Whitaker: B+
Brandon Walker: B-

Kickoff Return: B
We haven't broken any really impressive runs on kick returns, although we've seen the potential in these young kids. Golden Tate ranks 62nd in the country in kick returns, which isn't great, but it's not horrible either. No major blunders here, so they get a solid B.
Golden Tate: B+
Armando Allen: B-
Junior Jabbie: B

Punting: D
Geoff Price was a preseason All-American at punter, but a long string of inconsistency by him, when we needed him most, killed his grade here. Overall, though, his punting is average. I'm just dinging him for not meeting expectations.
Having Eric Maust around is encouraging for the future.
Geoff Price: D-
Eric Maust: B

Punt Return: D
The punt returns haven't been the strength that it should have been at this point. Penalties on big returns have robbed the Irish of golden opportunities at crucial times, which could have changed games. Zbikowski's returns have been good when he's had some space to run.
Tom Zbikowski: A

Field Goals / PAT: F
The Purdue game alone was enough to give this unit an F for the first half of the season. UCLA was encouraging, but it isn't enough to overcome a season long weakness for this team.
Brandon Walker: B (4/5 FGs, 5/6 PATs, 1 blocked kick)
Nate Whitaker: F (0/1 FGs, 1/2 PATs)

Field Goal / PAT Block: F
No blocked kicks, and opponents have gone 13/15 in field goal attempts. We aren't getting any disruption here.

This grade includes player development, as well as in-game strategy.

Head Coach Charlie Weis: D-
Weis had to see this coming with the recruits on hand. However, he wasn't able to be successful in fielding a competitive football team. The only reason this isn't an F is because Weis was willing to change strategies when things didn't go as planned, and the team has improved as a result.

Offensive Coaching Staff: F
The offense is bad. Really bad. And there is no excuse for that.
Charlie Weis, playcaller: F
Michael Haywood,, Offensive Coodinator & Running Backs Coach: F
Rob Ianello, Receivers Coach & Recruiting Coordinator: B (credit for top ranked recruiting class)
John Latina, Offensive Line Coach: F-
Ron Powlus, Quarterbacks Coach: B
Bernie Parmalee, Tight Ends and Special Teams: C

Defensive Coaching Staff: A
Brown has worked wonders with this defense, making it the strength of the team, rather than a weakness, and did so very quickly.
Corwin Brown, Defensive Coordinator: A
Bill Lewis, Defensive Backs Coach: A
Jappy Oliver, Defensive Line Coach: A
Brian Polian, Linebackers and Special Teams: F-


Team Overall Grade: F

You are what you are, and right now you are a 1-5 football team. There's no chance of an A come the end of the season (and a B- would require us to win out), but if this team continues to make strides, they can earn a passing grade by season's end.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Boston College vs. Notre Dame Preview

Boston College
Eagles (3-0)

Ranking: consensus #4
Head Coach: Jeff Jagodzinski
Coaching Record: 6-0, 1st season
Last Year: 10-3 (5-3 ACC)
Last Week: Beat Bowling Green, 55-24


University of Notre Dame
Fighting Irish (1-5)

Head Coach: Charlie Weis
Coaching Record: 20-11, 3rd season
Last Year: 10-3, Lost to Louisiana State in Allstate Sugar Bowl (#17 AP / #19 Coaches postseason ranking)
Last Week: Beat #25 UCLA, 20-6

Location: Notre Dame Stadium (aka The House That Rock Built)
Date and Time: October 13, 2007 3:43 p.m.
Series Record: Notre Dame leads 9-7

Notre Dame Quarterback and Receivers vs. Boston College Secondary
Here's a little statistic for you, concerning the teams we've played this year, as far as pass defense is concerned:
Penn State #13 - 172.67 yds/gm (144 yards passing)
Michigan #40 - 205.33 yds/gm (ND: 85 yards passing)
Georgia Tech #71 - 233.8s yds/gm (ND: 130 yards passing)
Michigan State #78 - 241.17 yds/gm (ND: 86 yards passing)
UCLA #79 - 242.83 yds/gm (ND: 94 yards passing)
Purdue #84 - 247.50 yds/gm (ND: 377 yards passing)
Boston College #110 - 290.83 yds/gm (ND: ???)
The Fredo defense hasn't stopped a passing offense this year, and the only success we've had through the air this year was against Purdue, the weakest secondary we've played. Fredo's secondary is far weaker than Purdue's, so don't expect Charlie to play a conservative game this week. I'll be surprised if we attempt much in the way of running the ball, as their is no need to. Jimmy Clausen has his breakout game this week against Fredo.
Edge: Notre Dame

Notre Dame Running Backs and Tight Ends vs. Boston College Linebackers
Boston College has the 3rd ranked rushing defense in the nation, giving up less than 50 yards per game. Since our run game only averages a pitiful 33 yards per game, it's no doubt that Fredo gets the edge in this one. The good news is that there is no reason to rely on our running game, with the vulnerable Fredo secondary.
Edge: Boston College

Notre Dame Offensive Line vs. Boston College Defensive Line
Fredo's defensive line isn't that scary, compared to the other teams we've played. Indeed, only Purdue's pass rush is weaker than Fredo's. They don't have a lot of sacks or tackles for loss, considering the caliber of opponent they've played. They are good run stuffers, but we don't need to run the ball this week.
Edge: Notre Dame

Notre Dame Defensive Line vs. Boston College Offensive Line
Laws and Kunz have established themselves as dominant defensive linemen. Boston College's offensive line has been very good at protecting Matt Ryan so far, but they haven't had to deal with a lineman like Trevor Laws. They did a decent job picking up Georgia Tech's blitz packages, but they are vulnerable to 1-on-1 matchups, being almost as young as our offensive line. Expect us to bring some basic pressure packages, and relying on our stellar defensive backfield to diffuse this attack.
Edge: Notre Dame

Notre Dame Linebackers vs. Boston College Running Backs and Tight Ends
Fredo has enough of a rushing attack to keep their passing game going, but the Eagles haven't been placed in a situation where they absolutely have to run the ball. Notre Dame's defense is getting much better at stopping the run, but still
grade out as one of the worst rush defenses in the country halfway through the season.
Edge: Boston College (barely)

Notre Dame Secondary vs. Boston College Quarterbacks and Receivers
This is the big matchup in this game. Fredo has the 11th ranked passing offense, averaging over 300 yards per game. Notre Dame has the 4th best pass defense in the country, allowing only half that.
Also, last week's game against UCLA showed that the Irish pass defense is not just a function of their poor rush defense. When this defense got a lead, they brought pressure and gobbled up passes like they were tic-tacs.
Say what you will about the Irish defense, but they are not weak against the pass.
This is strength versus strength, and if the Irish D can continue to be stingy through the air, this bodes very well for the Irish overall.
Edge: Notre Dame

Notre Dame Coaches vs. Boston College Coaches
Charlie is in his third year as head coach, and has learned how to overcome adversity. Jagodzinski is in his first year as a head coach, and inherited a solid senior QB, experienced rusher, and good receiving corps - they haven't faced any adversity yet this year. In fact, this year's Fredo team is deja vu of the 2005 Irish, just waiting for someone to exploit their glaring weaknesses.
Fredo isn't use to the type of hype and success they've been experiencing, and will be overconfident coming in to the House That Rock Built this week. Jagodzinski hasn't done anything to show that he is an above average coach, except for handling an early season game against the Yellowjackets.
Weis has all the film he needs to study the new head coach, and Coach Brown and him can surely identify some weaknesses.
Edge: Notre Dame

Quarterback and Receivers vs. Secondary: Edge Notre Dame
Running Backs and Tight Ends vs. Linebackers: Edge Boston College
Offensive Line vs. Defensive Line: Edge Notre Dame
Defensive Line vs. Offensive Line: Edge Notre Dame
Linebackers vs. Running Backs and Tight Ends: Edge Boston College
Secondary vs. Quarterbacks and Receivers: Edge Notre Dame
Coaches vs. Coaches: Edge Notre Dame

Analysis and Prediction

Notre Dame is, by far, the more seasoned team at this point in the season. Boston College's only quality opponent thus far was Georgia Tech. Notre Dame has faced 6 straight talented high level bowl quality opponents.
Notre Dame's young team is just waking up, and have suddenly learned how to win a game and sustain their effort through 60 minutes.
Brown's defense turned the corner two weeks ago against Purdue. Charlie's offense won't be far behind.
More importantly, this team is chomping at the bit to play spoiler for a team that has made their entire reputation playing spoiler for others. Coming home after a long, tough string of games, this team is going to be fired up and ready to hit.

Fredo has no idea what's coming for him.

Notre Dame 24
Boston College 21

Sunday, October 07, 2007

UCLA Postgame Breakdown

Photo courtesy South Bend Tribune

Injuries are a part of the game, and it doesn't diminish our achievement.
Much will be made in the coming week by Notre Dame haters about us lucking out by playing against a 3rd string walk-on QB. However, I've always felt that injuries are a natural part of the game, and you play with the team you can field.
If you really want to trot out that excuse, how about considering that we were playing without our top receiver and a starting offensive guard. For that matter, we lost a top cornerback recruit for the season during spring ball, and dime back Ferrine was sitting out as well. Every team has to battle through injuries throughout the season, and it is an insult to this Irish team to blame the win on UCLA's injuries. I still contend that the Irish would have won last week if Jimmy had stayed healthy, but you don't hear me blaming the loss on him sitting out the 2nd half. We rolled in Sharpley, and had to suck it up and compete. There are 11 players out on that field for each team every play, and the loss of one is no excuse for losing the entire game.

This defense is quckly becoming a Corwin Brown defense, and forgetting the bad habits from the Minter era.
You can't talk about this game without becoming impressed with the young Irish defense. Led by the upperclassmen Laws, Zibby, Bruton, and especially Crum, the rest of the defense played largely mistake-free bend-don't-break defense, holding the Bruins offense well below their average in all phases of the game.
I loved the heads-up play of the corners, staying with receivers, getting their heads around, and knocking balls down. I felt that we played too soft at the line of scrimmage and should have been in more bump-and-run, but I'm no professional coach and the game plan of Corwin Brown worked in spades.
I think this week was that week where the players finally bought into Brown's system. The reason I think this isn't just the results, but how those results manifested. In a 3-4, the best inside linebacker becomes your gamebreaker, disrupting the opposing offense. Crum's breakout game is a symptom of the rest of the defense doing their jobs. After this week's game, I bet Filer is drooling for the opportunity to play on this defense.

The offense is still 'Under Construction,' as Coach Weis is still searching for an offensive identity
Deion Walker and Michael Floyd, please please PLEASE come to Notre Dame.
Our protection is improving, but we still need breakout receivers to kickstart this offense and take the pressure off of the running game. Too many times I watched Clausen stand in a beautiful pocket, lacking only a receiver to throw to.
As long as Coach Weis is calling the plays, we are going to have to get used to using the pass to set up the run. We have the best freshman QB in the nation, but for some reason the elite receiver recruits haven't followed. With another 5-star QB on his way in next year, I hope our two top receiver targets take notice and come to a team where they can play early and be difference makers and superstars. They'll be the first option, and get plenty of opportunities to get their hands on the ball.
The offensive line still needs to work on their aggressiveness in the running game, but they are starting to come together and look like a decent competitive unit. If they continue to work hard, they will be a very good unit by the end of the year, and will be in a position to dominate starting next year. If we can find a breakout receiver or two.

The Special Teams weren't a liability!
Welcome back, Geoff Price. Nice to have you here, Brandon Walker.
I nominate David Bruton to replace Travis Thomas as Special Teams Captain.
For the first time this season, the special teams play of the Irish contributed to the team's success, rather than digging us into holes. Two for two on field goals (contrary to media reports, the 48 yarder did not hit the crossbar, it hit the center post behind the crossbar, and would have been good from almost 50). A 40+ yard punt average, with most of them pinning the Bruins inside the 20, including one inside the 1. Good coverage (especially by the solid Bruton), and a couple of decent returns. All in all, I was happy with the special team play.

This was a team playing Notre Dame football.
They weren't always successful, especially on offense, but I finally saw 60 minutes of Notre Dame football. This team played together, played hard, and never gave up on themselves or each other. There wasn't any bickering or confusion, and everyone played with a quiet air of confidence, all the more impressive considering their 0-5 record coming in.
At no point while I was watching that game yesterday did I feel like anyone on that field thought they could lose. That kind of attitude could lead to some special moments over the next couple of weeks, as we play highly ranked opponents.


Biggest problem: Offense. Only 140 yards on offense, and no rushing game to speak of. With a +7 turnover ratio, we should have won this game by 40. Instead, the Irish offense couldn't move the ball enough to run clock late in the game, forcing us to sweat out the win. And 1st-and-goal from the 1 should never, ever, EVER, result in something other than a TD.

Player of the game: Maurice Crum. I was tempted to give it to Trevor Laws or David Bruton, but ultimately I couldn't argue with Crum's numbers. Four total turnovers by one guy is DAMN impressive. More importantly, it is what you would expect from this 3-4 scheme - big plays from your best inside linebacker.

Scapegoats of the game: Finally, a win. No need for scapegoats!!!

Positive stat of the game: + 7 turnover margin

Negative stat of the game: Notre Dame: 140 yards of total offense UCLA: 282 yards of total offense.

Look! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a ... pig?

The craziest college football season I've ever seen continued unabated today, as there appears to be nobody in the country that wants to challenge LSU on the way to their championship.

Consider for a moment this list of unbeaten teams:
LSU, Ohio State - not a big surprise at this pont
California, Missouri, Arizona State, Boston College - middle of the road BCS teams having a good year, we'll have to see if they hold up through a long season
Hawaii - the obligatory non-BCS unbeaten
Kansas, South Florida, Cincinnati, Connecticut - Seriously, WTF? Did anyone, anywhere, pick these teams to be undefeated halfway through the year?

Besides LSU, how many of those teams did you have picked in your preseason top 5? 10? 25?

I'd recap all of the zaniness this season, but I'd rather stick to the basics of this week.

We'll start in Southern California, where there were a pair of college football games going on at the same time across town from each other.

USC were 41-point favorites over Stanford, and were protecting a record 38 game home winning streak. Easy win, right? Apparently, Stanford didn't get the memo, beating the vaunted Trojans 24-23.

Across town, Notre Dame was staring down the barrel of their 0-8 start, sporting the nation's worst offense and no significant signs of life. UCLA almost beat Notre Dame in their own stadium last year with Brady Quinn at the helm with almost all of the same players, and now they got the Irish in their house with revenge on their mind. Easy win for the Bruins? Apparently Maurice Crum didn't get the memo. Notre Dame won 20-6 after forcing 7 turnovers.

Earlier, the 12th ranked Georgia Bulldogs were supposed to roll over a .500 Tennessee squad en route to their showdown with Florida in a couple of weeks. Apparently, Georgia's offense didn't get the memo until the second half, when it was too little, too late. Georgia got smacked down to the tune of 35-14.

#5 Wisconsin just had to dispatch the long-suffering and unranked Illinois squad to keep their national title aspirations alive. I'm beginning to think the guy that was supposed to deliver the memos should get fired, as Rashard Mendenhall didn't get his memo either, rolling over the Badgers to lead his team to a 31-26 victory.

Add on the 7 Top Ten losses from last week, and you have a lot of tired poll voters tomorrow morning.

With the LSU Tigers battling back against the Florida Gators, picking the top team in the country isn't too hard. It's 2-25 that gets kind of tricky.

My rankings at the halfway point:

1. LSU
2. California
3. Ohio State
4. Missouri
5. South Florida
6. Kansas
7. Cincinnati
8. Arizona State
9. Boston College (I just threw up a little bit in my mouth)
10. Connecticut
11. Hawaii
12. South Carolina (L at LSU)
13. Virginia Tech (L at LSU)
14. Oregon (L vs. California)
15-T. Purdue (L vs. Ohio State)
15-T. Illinois (L vs. Missouri)
17. West Virginia (L at South Florida)
18. Kentucky (L at South Carolina)
19. Wisconsin (L at Illinois)
20. Indiana (L vs. Illinois)
21. Virginia (L at Wyoming)
22. Wyoming (L at Boise State)
23. Oklahoma (L at Colorado)
24. Florida State (L at Clemson)
25. Boise State (L at Washington)

These rankings reflect what a team has earned on the field this year, rather than hypothetical postulating about neutral fields and reputation. So I don't want outraged comments about how SC would beat so-and-so. 'Cause they lost to Stanford - find me a worse loss among my top 25. The top 10 include ALL of the undefeateds, as I feel that you deserve to be at the top until you lose. And don't even bitch about your [insert 2-loss team here]. That means you, crazy Florida fan. You lost twice. You no longer matter, to me or to anyone.

Saturday, October 06, 2007


Notre Dame Fightin' Irish 20
UCLA Bruins 6

With a defense like this, who needs an offense?

This defense, which has given up 30+ points in every one of our last 7 losses, stepped up this week.

We got consistent pressure on the quarterback, knocking Ben Olsen out early. Then this defense started to smell blood in the water, and absolutely dominated the Bruins. Sacks. Fumbles. Interceptions. Negative plays. Stuffing the run. And that was just Maurice Crum. I lost count of all the turnovers.

But most importantly, this team was playing with sustained passion and intensity.

This is the team I expected to see this year out of the gate. Not great, maybe not even good. But good enough.

We still have some glaring issues that need to be addressed.

We need a consistent rushing game. We were effective enough at the end of the game in the rushing game to run clock and survive. And despite struggling in the ground, we don't put the ball on the turf.

We need better protection on Clausen, and also need our receivers to work off of coverage and get open. Too many times open routes were missed because of pressure, or good protection was wasted because nobody could get open.

But there is plenty to hang our hats on.

Clausen is a great quarterback in the making. Far better than Brady Quinn at this point in their careers. And unlike the hype surrounding Powlus that quickly sputtered, Clausen has shown an ability to be consistent and improving. In a kind of backwards way, Powlus' first win was the worst thing that could have happened to him, while Jimmy's struggles and trials are exactly what this team needed long-term.

The 3-4 defense is disruptive to opposing offenses, and allows the players to use their athleticism to make plays.

We are also making huge strides in some of our other weaknesses as well.

We are getting better in the kicking game, and on special teams in general. (David Bruton, by the way, is a beast in space on defense and special teams)

Our offensive line is beginning to gel. We still give up too many sacks, but we also have given Clausen opportunities to stand in the pocket and pick apart the defense.

Our rush defense is improving somewhat, as the younger players learn to tackle and be aggressive. Like their leader Trevor Laws has been all day.

We are committing fewer penalties, and playing with more discipline across the board.

By getting the win today, the story swirling around the Irish is no longer going to be about the Irish descending into new levels of ineptitude. Now the story is about the progression of this young team, building chemistry and learning to compete.

And don't feed me a line about the Bruins only losing 'cause Olsen went down. We knocked his ass out of the game. It does not diminish the achievement of this Irish team.

Next week we face a red-hot Boston College team, ranked in the top 10 in the nation.

But we have some confidence and momentum.

And, suddenly, something to play for. With the win today, we are sitting at 1-5 with 6 games remaining. Four of those are against teams we should beat (although Stanford is suddenly scarier than I thought, after knocking off USC).

Which means that with one upset win over BC or SC, we could become bowl eligible and get another giant monkey off our back. Unlikely? Yes.


Ask Stanford if it's impossible. Ask Appalachian State. USC is beatable. Boston College is playing above themselves so far (I'll explain in my preview later this week).

We have the talent. We have the pride. And now we have some confidence and momentum.

Go Irish! Beat Fredo!

Indiana within 1 game of bowl eligibility

My Hoosiers doubled up the pathetic Minnesota Golden Gophers today, 40-20, to bring their record to 5-1 on the season.

Having had the chance to watch every team in the Big Ten this year, Indiana may be the third or fourth best team in the Big Ten, behind Ohio State and Illinois. They should beat Michigan State next week, although the game is in Lansing. With Michigan and Ohio State off the schedule, the toughest remaining game is at Wisconsin. Everything else is winnable.

[This Indiana update brought to you courtesy of Gwar420's earlier snide comment]

Friday, October 05, 2007

Check out Legends of South Bend

I'd lke to thank Aaron Taylor for putting together this great site over at Legends of South Bend. With his access to former Notre Dame players, he can bring us interviews like this one:

I'm hoping this weekend that Coach Weis can inspire some of that attitude in the Irish as they (for the third time this year) face a crowd of 100,000 plus and yet another 3 touchdown point spread.

We're supposed to be the bullies of the college football world, and we need to remember some of that pride.

I hope on Saturday we come out and punch UCLA in the mouth and watch them flinch.

Save Bruins Nation's ass for me!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Notre Dame at UCLA Preview

University of Notre Dame
Fighting Irish (0-5)

Head Coach: Charlie Weis
Coaching Record: 19-11, 3rd season
Last Year: 10-3, Lost to Louisiana State in Allstate Sugar Bowl (#17 AP / #19 Coaches postseason ranking)
Last Week: Lost to Purdue, 33-19


University of California at Los Angeles
Bruins (4-1, 3-0 Pac-10)

Ranking: AP: unranked, Coaches: #25
Head Coach: Karl Dorrell
Coaching Record: 29-21, 5th season
Last Year: 7-6 (5-4 Pac-10)
Last Week: Beat Oregon State, 40-14

Location: Rose Bowl
Date and Time: October 6, 2007 8:12 p.m. (EST)
Series Record: Notre Dame leads 3-0-0

Notre Dame Quarterback and Receivers vs. UCLA Secondary
The UCLA Bruins have an average pass defense, ranking 57th in the country.
Notre Dame's pass offense had been DOA all season until last week's second half against Purdue. By way of comparison, Purdue has a top 25 pass efficiency defense.
If this O-line can continue protecting Jimmy, and if the production of our running game can improve somewhat, the Irish can win this matchup.
Edge: Notre Dame (barely)

Notre Dame Running Backs and Tight Ends vs. UCLA Linebackers
Notre Dame had some success running the ball aganst MSU, but we haven't shown any consistency in the running game. UCLA has the 16th ranked rush defense.
This doesn't look good for us, but I hope that this growing team will rise to the challenge.
Edge: UCLA

Notre Dame Offensive Line vs. UCLA Defensive Line
This doesn't really look good for us, as UCLA is 16th in the country in sacks. However, this offensive line has shown some heart of late, and has begun to play as a unit. That said, there is no evidence that they can eliminate enough of the miscues to win this battle.
Edge: UCLA

Notre Dame Defensive Line vs. UCLA Offensive Line
This is one intriguing matchup. The UCLA offensive line has done a good job of opening holes for their running game, but they do give up some sacks (84th in the country in sacks allowed). Our defensive line, led by Superman Trevor Laws, has been pretty solid this year, and consistent to boot. The rush defense falls more on the linebackers than the D-line, so I'm giving this matchup to the Irish.
Edge: Notre Dame

Notre Dame Linebackers vs. UCLA Running Backs and Tight Ends
UCLA is 27th in the country in rushing, which places their rushing attack on par with Georgia Tech, Michigan State, Michigan and Purdue. And we all know how those games went for us.
Edge: UCLA

Notre Dame Secondary vs. UCLA Quarterbacks and Receivers
A lot of people have said that Notre Dame's 7th ranked pass defense is due to the fact that nobody has to throw against them. There may be some truth to that, but the Irish secondary is better than people realize, and have shown a knack for forcing turnovers. Olsen is an experienced veteran, but doesn't wow you.
Edge: Notre Dame

Notre Dame Coaches vs. UCLA Coaches
Both coaches are in their third seasons, but their paths and situations have been so different that it's really too difficult to compare raw numbers.
Dorrell is erratic as a coach, beating #1 USC last year, then bringing almost everyone back and getting blown out 44-6 by unranked Utah. Weis is a little more consistent, with his team's performance more closely resembling their talent level.
Edge: Weis

Quarterback and Receivers vs. Secondary: Edge Notre Dame
Running Backs and Tight Ends vs. Linebackers: Edge UCLA
Offensive Line vs. Defensive Line: Edge UCLA
Defensive Line vs. Offensive Line: Edge Notre Dame
Linebackers vs. Running Backs and Tight Ends: Edge UCLA
Secondary vs. Quarterbacks and Receivers: Edge Notre Dame
Coaches vs. Coaches: Edge Notre Dame

Analysis and Prediction

This game is a bad matchup for the Irish. UCLA is a strong running team that is stout against the run on defense. Notre Dame hasn't stopped a running game all year, and has struggled moving the ball on the ground all year.
There isn't a whole lot for the Irish to hang their hat on, except that they have built some confidence.
If Coach Weis isn't too stubborn in trying to establish the running game, our passing game could outgun the Bruins.
The biggest thing that needs to happen for the Irish to win this game is improved run defense. I don't expect it to happen, as that is the one area that has shown no signs of life. However, if this linebacking corps can have a breakout game, this is a winnable game.

7 games left, we need 6 to get to a bowl game (which at this point would salvage the season). USC is almost unbeatable right now, so each game s a must-win from here on. Another loss, and we might lose this team.

First one to 30 wins.

schizophrenia is setting in...

Prediction from the head:

Notre Dame 24

Notre Dame continues to make progress as a team, but just can't muster enough offense to keep pace.

Prediction from the heart:

Notre Dame 30

The Notre Dame rush defense finally steps up, and the Bruins don't make it to their magic number (Dorrell is 19-2 when they score 30). Weis lets Jimmy chuck the ball all over the field, allowing us to score like we used to with Brady at the helm.

Purdue Postmortem

This is going to be pretty brief, as it is about time to move on to the UCLA Bruins, but I wanted to take a couple of minutes to talk about the big stories coming out of South Bend post-Purdue.

Our kicking game is atrocious, and I blame Brian Polian.
As I watched our kickers miss 2 extra points, and drill our end-of-half field goal try into the backs of our O-line, all I could think in my head is how much I want Coach Weis to fire Brian Polian at the end of the season and do a nation-wide search for the best kicking coach in the country.
We have used two scholarships in recent years on kickers, and neither one has earned their scholarship on the field. Our All-American punter has slipped so far that he's been benched. We aren't kicking it far enough on kickoffs.
With a young team like this, and an offense that has shown explosiveness, if not consistency, a good kicking game can relieve some of the pressure on our offense.

There is no quarterback controversy here.
The only controversy is whether Clausen can overcome his hip injury.
It's nice to know that Sharpley is a very good backup, but he just can't compete with Clausen in mechanics and accuracy. Sure, he showed some moxie in tossing that 4th down completion to Golden Tate, but that pales in comparison to Clausen trying to battle through his injury and lead this team to victory.
Mark my words - if Clausen doesn't sustain that injury, we win that game.
Clausen has a quicker drop, better footwork, and a quicker release. Clausen has better touch, and similar velocity to Sharpley. Most importantly, Clausen has better pocket presence. He knows when to step up, roll out, and can deliver the ball efficiently just before getting hit. It's something that Brady Quinn has in spades, but that is difficult to measure. However, if you want a measurable statistic to hang your hat on: Clausen - sacked 0 times. Sharpley - sacked twice.

Golden Tate is damn fast with great hands, but he's not a starting receiver.
I've read post after post all around ND Nation begging Weis to have Golden Tate in on every play. I disagree.
Golden clearly has the elite (dare I say Rocket-esque?) speed which we've been looking for in a receiver. However, you can't put a player in just to run go routes on every snap. Connecting on a go route is not a high percentage play, especially when a safety can key on it. Until Tate has shown an ability to run other routes (in particular the curl and stop-and-go), he won't be able to consistently fool a defense.
All that said, I do expect a heavy dose of Golden Tate in the UCLA game. And probably we'll see him get an end-around or reverse or two as well, as his experience was more as a running back. He'll probably be our 3rd receiver, giving him enough time on the field to stretch the field and put pressure on the UCLA defense.

Our offensive line is no longer the problem - our defense is.
Yes, we struggled on short yardage. Yes, we stuggled to run the ball effectively. However, if you remember that before the MSU game we had less than 10 net yards rushing on the season, the 49 net yards was more a function of our play calling than our inablity to run. With the exception of Aldridge, our other leading rushers all averaged more than 4 yards a carry.
On the other hand, the defense that gave up 23 points in the first half failed to step up when it mattered, with the Irish down only 7 and plenty of time left on the clock. They gave up too many rushing yards, which hurts us not only in field position and scoring, but also kills us in time of possession.

Purdue is who I thought they are.
They have a good passing game, and a nice rushing game to maintain some balance. But, of you hit them in the mouth, they'll collapse like a house of playing cards. I blame this week's loss on our schedule - if we had even one win to hang our hat on going in, we would have believed in ourselves enough to come out firing, instead of waiting until the second half.


Biggest problem: Special Teams. Much like Michigan State, our kicking game killed us. Consider this: if we had not left 5 points on the board, we would have been down only 2 with 7 minutes left. The difference in emotional boost you get from being down 2 and down 7 is significant. Down 2, a field goal wins the game. Down 7, you still have to score twice. (I consider 2-point conversions as if they are another score, whereas extra points are SUPPOSED to be automatic.)

Player of the game: Golden Tate. His long pass plays provided the spark to kick start this passing game. If Tate and Aldridge both show up on the same week, we may just get ourselves a win.

Scapegoats of the game: Brandon Walker and Nate Whitaker. Leaving 5 points on the board is inexcusable.

Positive stat of the game: Notre Dame: 426 yards offense Purdue: 371 yards offense

Negative stat of the game: Notre Dame: 2/4 in red zone Purdue: 7/7 in red zone

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The College Football World is on LSD... (or is it LSU? I'm so confused...)

Cal #3
South Florida (yes, South Florida, that's not a typo) #6 (again, not a typo)
Kentucky #8
Indiana 2/3 of the way to a bowl game at 4-1, with a win in Iowa City behind them. (GO HOOSIERS!!! -alma mater love spilling over-)
Michigan loses to Div. I-AA team.
Notre Dame still winless after five games, while Fredo flirts with the Top Ten (#7).
South Carolina at #11.
Hawaii at #16.

If there was ever a sign that the world is approaching the end of days, this is it.


There appears to be a trend in college football developing - teams that just seem to have another team's number.

Florida is a better football team than Auburn, but they couldn't beat them to save their lives. Stat, last two seasons: FLA vs. AUB: 0-2; FLA vs. EVERYONE ELSE: 17-0

Texas won a championship a scant two years ago, but they just suffered their second consecutive loss to Kansas freakin' State.

Indiana couldn't beat anyone three years ago, but they are well on their way to a bowl game, after beating Iowa. Again.

Last week Michigan State won their 6th straight at Notre Dame Stadium.

South Florida (yes, South Florida, that's not a typo) won their second straight over
a Top 10 ranked West Virginia.

These teams aren't better than the teams they are beating, but they are quickly becoming a perennial thorn in the side of their traditionally more successful opponents.

And very soon may spawn the creation of some of the more virulent rivalries in sport. (Think Notre Dame - Boston College... one team takes their only pleasure in ruining the aspirations of the object of their obsession). Like Notre Dame really needs another one of those rivalries. (BC, Purdue, Michigan State, enough is enough!!!)



I don't have the energy to talk about the continued ineptitude of the Irish (despite the strides this team took in the second half), so for a little while, please indulge me.

I'm switching this blog (for a couple of days at least) to an Indiana football blog.

That's right, folks, my heart (and liver) can't take much more of this Irish losing streak, so I'm climbing up onto the Hoosier bandwagon for a rest.

This team isn't getting much press (yet), but it will, especially when it works it magic against Michigan State in a couple of weeks to become bowl eligible.

They lost their head coach to a brain tumor in March, but they have rallied to show that they are a more competitive team than anyone gave them credit for. This team plays with passion for the memory of their coach, and Indiana hasn't been to a bowl game since 1993.

I love my Irish more than anyone (I got a friggin' tattoo on my arm, for cryin' out loud), but this year's team hasn't won a game.

My Hoosiers, with far lest talent, have been playing with heart and pride, and winning as a result.

Go Hoosiers! Beat the Gophers!

EDIT: This doesn't mean I'm giving up on the Irish, or somehow not being a Notre Dame fan, and if you took it that way, I apologize. I simply wanted to give some props to my alma mater, who is having unprecedented success (for them) this year. My Purdue roundup and UCLA preview will be forthcoming.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Another Episode of Drunk Blogging!!! Purdue Preview Edition

I know it's barely 5 o'clock, but I found out I passed the bar exam at 8:30 this morning. I think I've shown great restraint waiting until now to begin drinking heavily. Due to the steadily increasing blood alcohol content, must warn my younger readers to turn away, as massive doses of obscenity and profanity is sure to follow. We are 0-4, after all, and I have much bitterness to vent. This could get very ugly, very fast. You have been warned. Seriously, change the channel. You may be corrupted.

Fuck Purdue. And their cartoony mascot, Purdue Pete. And that cardboard choo-choo they roll around the stadium. Fuck the baton twirlers. Wait - maybe not. Or at least double wrap your shit if you do. Even the gold one. And the black one. And the silver twins. They can take that tiny little "World's Largest Drum" and shove it up their pansy asses. If I wanted a carnival atmosphere, I'd go to Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus, not a college football game. Wake up, Purdue the rest of the world is laughing at you.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I don't care if they are 4-0. We own Purdue. Charlie owns Wilford Brumley. If Boston College is a safety school (and it is), Purdue is ITT Tech. Unless you are a farmer geek, and then it's a safety school.

I could go on for hours about how Purdue has no championships in any sport worth noting. Unless you count pistol shooting. But I won't, 'cause then I'd be accused of focusing on the past, rather than the present.

So let's look at this year.

We'll start with Curtis Painter, whose 16 TDs versus 1 INT this year have people thinking he's the next coming of Drew Brees. (Which is really sad and pathetic, if you think about it) But he's never faced a 3-4 scheme run by Corwin "I will kill you. Really. I'm not kidding. Dead. Really dead." Brown. And I know that Zibby is unhappy with his performance so far. He wants SO BAD to kill some one. Dead. Really dead. And he just might. He is too talented and too full of pride to take this shit laying down.

Kory "I pissed my" Sheets is no Tashard Choice, Mike Hart, or Jehuu Caulcrick. Heck, he's not even Austin Scott. He will get crushed by this improving front seven.

And don't get me started on the defense that just gave up 31 to hapless Minnesota.

Unlike our first four opponents, Purdue sucks. They haven't played anyone, and they will lose this game. I don't care how bad our offense has looked, and how we've had our butts kicked.

We lost to top line ACC power Georgia Tech, preseason top 5 Michigan, potential Big Ten Champion Penn State, and the perrenial thorn in our side Michigan State - without Johnelle to throw the game for them :(

Purdue isn't on that level. They may have their best team in decades, but that still means they are a middle of the pack Big Ten team. And we are better than that - even if we do have our youngest and most inexperienced team in decades.

We may not have a win coming out of these first four games, but we do have something far more valuable - experience against quality opponents. And we're getting better. We're making fewer mistakes. Giving up fewer sacks. Running the ball. Stuffing the run more consistently.

I say again, my friends, FUCK PURDUE.

Notre Dame 77
Purdue 0

Wait a minute, I got a little riled there. How about something much more reasonable, like:

Notre Dame 24
Purdue 17

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Quick note on the transfers

With the announcement this week that Chris Stewart and Konrad Reuland are leaving the team, many people around Irish nation are wondering about the state of the program.

I'm not worried. I have no inside knowledge, but I have an idea I'd like to float about the recent transfers...

Here's a quote from Coach Weis' recent press conference:

[W]hen you look in guys' -- look in some of their faces and you see them to the point where -- not losing it but like where it's that important to them, where you look in their face and it's that important to them, that's when you know they're the type of players you want playing on your team. And sometimes it's one guy, sometimes it was two guys, but there was a bunch of them yesterday that looked like that. That is a very, very strong positive when it's that important to that many people. ... I think that's a really important part of my job is to see for guys that you think are going to throw in the towel. I think that's an important part of our job. As I said to them in the locker room after the game, I said, "fellows, you're either all in or all out, it's one or the other. The boat is going to sail with or without you. It's okay if you want to be out, but you're either all in or all out." And I'd say for the majority of the people, the majority of the people were all in.

I'd like to reiterate that this is rampant speculation, the kind of dodgy internet speculation that makes people hate amateur internet blogs.

But, maybe, just maybe, these guys weren't all in. And THAT'S why they're leaving.

And guess what? This ship is going to sail without them.

'Cause I'm all in.

Go Irish. Beat the Boilermakers.