Friday, October 31, 2008

Keys to Victory: Wannestache edition

I've been busy the last couple of weeks, and it has really cramped my blogging (jury duty sucks, by the way).

However, I do have a couple of minutes to roll out this week's keys to victory for the upcoming gridiron battle between the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame and the Pitt Panthers.

Limit the touches of LeSean McCoy.

There are two ways we can do this - either by getting up early and forcing the Panthers to throw the ball, or by selling out against the run and forcing whichever QB ends up playing to beat us over the top.

Of the two, I'm hoping that we can get an early lead, because LeSean McCoy, much like Javon Ringer who we saw earlier this year, will eventually find a way to gash us if they can commit to running the ball all day.

Gash them over the top.

Pitt has shown a tendency to get burned deep this year, especially in their loss last week to Rutgers. With our receivers, we should be able to use our long passing game to great effect this week.

In order to set up the deep passing game, look for a lot of runs and short underneath passes early in the game to pull the safeties up close to the LOS, and then some go routes and fades for long gains.

Improve consistency in the kicking game.

This should be a competitive contest, and we need to be able to convert drives into points. We can't afford to be going for it on 4th and long like we did against Washington last week. When we stall in the 30-50 yard field goal range, we need to take those shots at field goals, rather than trying to force a conversion.

So there you have it, the goals to victory against the Panthers.

I'm really excited about this game, as I have (almost) all of my favorite people going to the game with me, and we have a big tailgate planned in the Joyce Handicap lot. Feel free to stop by and try to find us if you're in for the game - we should have a Honda Pilot set up with tables and chairs and whatnot.

Notre Dame 34
Pitt 24

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Irish Blogger Gathering IV: Bloodbath

1. A loss to Washington would have been spooky, but we were able to pull it out. What was your favorite part of the victory?

The first four drives of the game were the best 10 or so minutes of football I've seen from an Irish team in decades. 3 and out. Touchdown. 3 and out. Touchdown. All with such precision and confidence.

I haven't even cracked my first beer of the game, and we are already completely in control.

Whether that's due more to Washington's sucktitude or our improvement, I don't care. It was beautiful.

2. Charlie's Nasties does a Duds and Studs segment to reflect on every game. Name one player/coach that could have done better against the Huskies and one player/coach that stepped it up.

Dud. Our return game. Not one touchdown. Disappointing against such a hapless squad as Washington.

Stud. The entire defense. Holding the other team on the wrong side of the 50 until the 4th quarter? Damn impressive.

3. Halloween involves people abandoning reality for awhile to dress up and imitate something that they are not. Pick one Halloween costume with traits you would like to see from the Notre Dame football team the rest of the season.

Captain Morgan.

I want to see them play with some swagger and confidence going into the USC game. Act like the latest opponent is just another keg of rum to be discarded after you've finished it.

4. When trick-or-treating as a kid, there always seemed to be at least one house that handed out apples. What aspect of the football team this year is the biggest apple in your candy bag (aka biggest disappointment)?

The return game. I joked about this earlier, but the Irish just can't seem to find that explosiveness in the return game that I was raised on when Tim Brown and Rocket Ismail were returning kicks. Even Zbikowski had a little bit of that flash in his career. Where is my Vontez Duff for 2007?

5. This year, October 31st is coincidentally also the opener for ND's Mens Basketball team (preseason against Briar Cliff). Say a few words about one player that will make have the biggest impact on the success of the team this season (apologies to non-bball fans, but I couldn't resist).

Harangody. While I admit to having a much bigger obsession with my undergrad basketball team, the Hoosiers, I still find the time to keep up with my Irish. And from what I saw last year, the sky's the limit for this kid. He is the kind of talent that elevates the team around them, and his size makes us a much more physical team.