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.

Bear with me...

I may not finish my Purdue preview on time this week - I've been distracted by the impending release of the results of the bar exam. I can't seem to focus on anything right now. So, to tide you over for this weekend, here is a re-posting of my feelings about Purdue from last year.


In some weird, twisted way, the Purdue week is both the best and worst football week in my eyes.

My wife ex-wife attended Purdue University.

I asbolutely completely totally and without reservation hate, detest, and otherwise abhor Purdue.

In the interests of full disclosure, I attended Indiana University for undergrad, and Notre Dame for law school, which means that I have a deep-seated hatred for Purdue by matriculation.

But I also hate Purdue for the culture that they espouse. As a Hoosier by choice, I take great pride in my state, and I feel like Purdue oozes the kind of tacky, cliched Midwestern silliness that people deride Hoosiers for. Baton twirlers. A ridiculous drum that claims to be the largest in the world, but isn't even close. The general carnival atmosphere surrounding the program. They just emit this aw shucks, look at us silly cowpokes kind of atmosphere that gives the state of Indiana a bad name.

And, if all that wasn't bad enough, they come out with something like this:

If the fact that the cheese-factor of creating comic book covers for every player on the team wasn't bad enough, Purdue decided to make one for the trumpets, too.

The fact of the matter is that Purdue is a carnival sideshow. I wouldn't be surprised to see the bearded lady and the dog-faced boy as co-mascots with Purdue Pete.

And the worst part of it is that the Purdue grads aren't up in arms.

If Notre Dame pulled some stunt like this, I'd be PISSED.

But, the school that has had more astronauts graduate from their prestigious engineering program doesn't ever seem to care. They embrace their comical image so completely that I seriously wonder sometimes whether they even realize that it is comical.

[Editor's note: The following prediction couldn't be further from what I expect this year, but it's nice to dream...]

As for this week's game, I expect a rehash of last year's game, where Notre Dame's offense comes out fast and builds a big lead, and then ND's second team trades scores with Purdue's first team until the clock runs out.

Notre Dame 56
Purdue 34

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

MSU Postmortem - A Tale of Two Halves

The Notre Dame football program is still struggling through 4 games, although for the first time this year, Notre Dame played in a game that resembled a competitive football game (for the first half at least).

I feel like there is finally something here that we can hang our hat on - an identity that can carry this team through the remainder of the season. This team played with the passion and fire that I expect from a Notre Dame team. The echoes were awakened, albeit briefly.

The First Half: Awakening the Echoes

The opening kickoff was short, giving the Irish some momentum going into the game. Aldridge came out with a short gain, but then on second down, he lowered his shoulder and laid a hit on the Spartans. At that point, I thought we had a chance. Then Allen got the corner, and made it to midfield and got us a first down. Young had a great block, and the Irish line looked somewhat improved. Then on 1st down, our coverage problems reared their ugly head, forcing an unimpressive completion by Clausen. Aldridge was then hit in the backfield, leaving the Irish with a 3rd and long. After a missed opportunity on third down, the Irish punted, and got a great bounce, recovering the lost momentum by downing Michigan State inside the 2 yard line.

The crowd was hopping, and the defense was ready to play. We hit Caulcrick in the backfield on 1st down, and then the magic happened. Fumble on the snap, and the Irish take over on their own 9. I have to admit, at this point, I believed we would win this game. Despite the fact that our offense had struggled, I just knew we would get that elusive offensive touchdown.

An overthrown fade route to Robby Parris left Clausen still without a pass touchdown. Then Weis got back to power football, and Hughes absolutely pounded his way to the 1. Then, Weis gave his 5th year senior the chance to earn a touchdown, and Thomas sprinted to the corner, giving this team their first offensive touchdown, and bringing the crowd into the game.

The Irish then faltered on defense. The offense just did their job, handing the defense a lead and all of the momentum, but they failed to execute. From the very first play, where Hoyer overshot a sure touchdown, the defense played on its heels. Ringer broke some tackles at the line of scrimmage, gaining 15 yards, all after first contact. At this point, I knew our struggles weren't over, but that we were improving. However, the struggles of this team are multi-faceted. While much was made of the offense not carrying the load the past few weeks, the defense has given up lots of points this season. And in this game, they gave up a quick 7 when we really needed a stop. A long pass play, some hard runs, and then a blown coverage in the flat on a quick out, and it's a tie ball game, and our momentum is gone.

For the next few minutes, things seemed like nothing had changed.

On the next drive, the Irish stuggled. After a short run, the O-line gave Jimmy some time, and he completed a pass to Grimes for a 3rd and short. That drive stalled as Schwapp couldn't get a yard. Then I saw something that still bugs me - Charlie sent the offense back out on fourth and short, and then changed his mind when the refs decided to measure. A shanked punt resulted in good field position for Michigan State. There was a bright spot as the defense trotted back out after a 3-and-out. This time, they stepped up and forced a punt by the Spartan offense.

A holding penalty gave us poor field position, and the offense tried again. Aldridge continued to run hard, through holes that were opened up (although barely). Our protection problems continued as Jimmy was sacked, forcing a conservative run in the shadow of our goalposts and another 3-and-out. Once again, penalties and protection problems placed us in a poor position and left the Spartans with a short field.

Ringer slashes through our defense, and another blown coverage in the flat places the Spartans knocking on the door. The interior run defense was tough, but the defense bit on a play action fake, leaving the tight end wide open for an easy pitch and catch. It seemed like the start of another long day.

End of 1st: Michigan State 14, Notre Dame 7
Momentum: All Michigan State, gave up 14 straight points, and back-to-back 3-and-outs by the offense. Only bright spot was a 9-yard drive for a TD. Poor field position. Nightmares of 47-7 final scores were running through my head.

It didn't get mush better, after one nice first down, Jimmy is stripped and we hand Michigan State the ball on our 14.

This looks like the beginnings of a blowout.

But then, this team showed me something. They showed me that they have pride and they have heart. For the next 10 minutes, I got to see (for the first time this year) some NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL.

MSU run for short gain, gang tackled. MSU run for short gain, couldn't get the corner. On 3rd and 6, the student section forces a timeout. Incomplete pass by Hoyer. Michigan State forced to settle for a field goal. Sudden change defense stepped up.

Now, the question is whether the Notre Dame offense could respond. They did.
Clausen roll out, completion for a 1st down - nice catch by Grimes, reviewed and upheld. Aldridge bursts through a big hole, for a gain of 43 - huge hole, great downfield blocking. Hughes for a first down, great receiver blocking (and a nice cutback by the freshman RB) and someone got Schwapped. Aldridge pounds down to the 3, most of it after contact. Then Hughes bulls his way behind big Sam Young and scores his first TD as a true freshman. Power football all the way, with attacking blocks and hard runs, and just enough passing to keep 'em honest. I almost felt like it was 1993 all over again.

Then the defense had the chance to step it up, and keep us in this game. The run stoppers start penetrating and gang tackling. We force another 3-and-out.

The offense is left in another poor position (thanks to special teams). Clausen shows some great poise throwing out of his end zone, throwing the ball away after a rollout. Aldridge made something out of nothing, gaining 5 yards after being hit for a loss. Allen ran hard, tripped up just shy of a 1st down. A 3-and-out, but not a poor showing by the offense.

Defense bends, but doesn't break. A steady dose of Ringer and Caulcrick gets MSU a couple 1st downs, but the David Bruton makes the most athletic play I've seen by a Notre Dame safety. Playing center field, Bruton was at midfield when the QB cocked his arm, and was able to get to the ball and out leap the receiver to snatch the ball at his highest point, pulling it down inbounds for an interception.

The rest of the game was disappointing, and the very next drive was a microcosm of our struggles all year.

On first down, our linemen showed a continued ability to be unable to block in space, robbing Armando Allen (again) of a chance at a big gainer. We got a first down with a pass to Grimes, but then let the entire defensive line into the backfield (again) to gang tackle Aldridge. Then we had another defender back there, forcing an early throw by Clausen (again). Then a delay of game penalty (again - I blame the coaches). Then Jabbie is gang tackled in the backfield (again). Then we punt, and Price drops the snap, getting off a crappy roller for 26 yards, giving the Spartans excellent field position (again).

We manage to avoid a score before halftime, but the second half was more of what we've seen all year.


Biggest problem: Special Teams: Consistently poor field position for us, good field position for them. No great returns, pinned back far too often.

Player of the game: David Bruton. Although Aldridge almost single-handedly solved our rushing problems, Bruton single-handedly kept this blowout from getting uglier than it was, both on defense and on special teams, with key tackles and a timely interception.

Scapegoat of the game: Geoff Price. He couldn't get a decent kick to save his life - so much for having an All-American punter.

Positive stat of the game: 117 yards rushing, 2 rushing touchdowns

Negative stat of the game: Average starting position: MSU 43 yard line ND 25 yard line