Friday, September 24, 2010

What Do You Say We Drop The Hammer On These Punks...?

We will win this game.

I guarantee it.

There are 2 conditions to this guarantee.

1) We are turnover free.

2) We don’t give up any big plays in specials teams (long returns, blocks etc.)

That’s it. The rest will take care of itself.

I did not anticipate feeling the feelings I’m feeling about this week’s game against Stanford.

The Notre Dame section of my brain took the equivalent of a sledge hammer to the temple last weekend, and the dull fog carried over until Wednesday when I became capable of emotionally processing the Irish after 3 games.

After running through a few things I felt had to be addressed in my post Wednesday, I found myself driving home from work listening to the Dome and Domer podcast and getting very antsy.

It dawned on me that we have a tremendous opportunity this weekend to completely flip the momentum of this season by beating the cardinals. As dark as I and the rest of ND nation felt last Saturday night, there is still a chance to get what we all so desperately need.

A quality win.

A win against a top 25 team

A win we are “supposed” to lose

A 9-10 win season.


Thanks to Stanford’s lopsided scores in their first 3 games (thanks even more to Harbaugh being a call-time out-up-40-to-ice-the-opponents-kicker dirtbag) the bandwagon is chugging nationally. Everyone loves Stanford and Luck and marvel how they have “taken on the personality of their head coach” blahblah.

This all plays in our favor b/c the better Stanford is perceived the greater the victory will be.

So I have asked myself why am I getting so ridiculously fired up/anxious/excited about this game? I get fired up/anxious/excited about every game….but this is ridiculous-USC levels.

I think b/c there is such an urgency to get the taste from last week out of our mouth, and I know we have what it takes. Plus I do not like Jim Harbaugh approach to himself, life and football. He needs to be taken down a peg or 4.

Positions vs. Position Breakdown


Quarterback – Edge Stanford

Luck is fine quarterback. He has a strong enough arm (though far from the strongest) and can move his 6”4’ frame fast enough to be considered a threat (He is not a running quarterback though, he is stiff and can’t avoid tackles). What makes him truly good is his intelligence and accuracy. He is one of those valedictorian guys (true) who is just born smart and the coupling of this with above average accuracy for a college quarterback, you can see why so many are high on him.

That being said, the only leg up on Crist he has is an extra year of playing experience. Crist is sharp in his own right and has a stronger arm and comparable poise/moxy/awareness. He is not as fast as Luck, but is plenty mobile. This time next year when his accuracy gets to the next level we will be talking about a possible Heisman much like Luck is being talked about this year.

Running Back – Edge Irish

It is well documented how Stanford has spread the carried out to 8 backs at times to compensate for the departure of Toby-one-kanobi. They have skill and athleticism, but none are above a “B”. The primary reason for their terrific yards per carry is the lack of competition and one of the best offensive lines in the country. None of them can dominate and consistently make people miss/break tackles to the point where they keep any defenses up at night. Of course with their offensive line it doesn’t really matter.

I would argue that Notre Dame’s 4th string tailback is better than anyone Stanford has. I am and have always been a Huge Hughes fan (the misuse of his talent throughout his career is a topic for another post) and have also watched every snap Stanford has played this year. Without question we have better backs.

Wide Receiver – Edge – Irish

By far their best receiver is Whalen who is out for this game. He is the clone of Blair White, Michigan States starter from a year ago and simply catches everything, knows how to get open and has underrated athleticism. Owusu has the juice but is not a pure receiver and is one game back from a moderate knee injury. Baldwin is a veteran who up until this year has not played a whole lot and is a lot like David Grimes…and David Grimes was not very good.

I don’t think I even have to justify ND’s personal b/c that would be redundant.

Tight End – Edge – Irish

We have Kyle Rudolph and you have Conrad Reuland.

Offensive Line – Edge – Stanford

Now ND ‘s line has played exceptionally well, especially considering it has 3 first time starters. But Stanford’s line is very good, like top 5 in college football good. They are all about 6’5” 300lbs and they are all upperclassmen. They move people and do it with an attitude.

That being said, their one weak link is right tackle where they have a senior who is a 1st time started with very little playing experience outside of this season. He is a “C” player at best and can be exploited.


D-Line – Edge – Irish

This is close, but I give the nod to I am Williams and Co. b/c both units have been equally productive but the Irish have a higher ceiling talent wise.

Stanford’s best D-Lineman is Sione Fua their nose and he is legit. All three of them are seniors and play solid.

Williams, KLM and Ethan are more athletic and have played well this season. I must add that they have in no way played as well as they are capable and can potentially dominate

Linebackers – Edge – Push

The Irish have struggled getting off blocks in the run game and generating a pass rush. Although Fleming “flashed” against MSU, he nor his fellow backers have yet to play up to their potential and have overrun their gaps on too many occasions for me to give them the nod.

Stanford backers are led by 2 way super-hero Owen Marecic who is rarely out of position and brings a physical presence. They also have Shane Skov, a young talented player with some athleticism who had his first action of the season against Wake and played alright. He is very block able however once engaged.

Secondary – Edge – Irish

With Slaughter back this week (maybe the most talented safety on either team) ND gets the advantage. Stanford returns 3 starters from last year, but last year they got torched. Walls and GG are both better than anyone Stanford has.

SPECIAL TEAMS – Edge – Stanford

With bother kickers and punters cancelling themselves out, it comes down to coverage and returns. Stanford has Owusu who I think took 3 to the house last year on returns and is the prototypical return man (think Tamarick Vanover….god I loved watching him).

With Kelly publicly putting Cierre “on notice” I would not be surprised if he rips one this weekend. And don’t sleep on John Goodman. He can fly and not just for a white guy…his track times in high school were high 21’s in the 200 which is legit.

So that leaves the final “score” ND–6 Stanford-4

Now here is the thing. Any respectable follower of college football will point out that despite what Nolan Ivers think, it is obvious that Stanford is far superior to ND. They have the 3rd ranked offense and I think 5th or 6th ranked D. On top of that they have the #1 ranked D against the pass.

So obviously the Sum is greater than the parts.

Well they played Sacramento State who is awful even for a I-AA school, then UCLA which is without question the worst offense I have seen this year (5 fumbles didn’t help), and then a Wake Forest team running the triple option (and running it poorly I might add).

You flip the schedules of these 2 teams and damn I would love to see the results.

But that is stupid talk b/c you can’t do that and thus far ND has turned the ball over and given up big plays against 2 good teams while Stanford has played flawless against truly bad teams.

Now I think ND c an flat outplay Stanford if they eliminate the self destruction….but the real reason I think they win this game is b/c I have a feeling. Now this feeling is not totally ethereal, bur based on everything I have heard in every interview of every coach and every player. And that feeling is…

Enough is Enough.

A team/program can only take so much pain before something snaps. Now it can be a bad snap (see 2009) or a good snap, and I think the good snap snaps on Saturday. I think the pain they have endured turns into outright violent rage that will for once and for all put its foot down and say No More.

I think they are primed to fuckin lay the wood this weekend and put together a performance we have all been waiting for.

Its gonna be fun to watch.

p.s. I am well aware that this line of thinking has been thought before only to deepen the darkness in all ND fans hearts after a gutbusting loss. I don’t care, and this is why I am a fan.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

One Hand Clapping: My First Ever ND Football Post

These are my first public thoughts about Notre Dame football. I have run a mailing list comprised of 15 or so friends who I email regularly with info/commentary about the Irish, but have shied away from blogging or even commenting (on other blogs) due to a number of reasons no one cares about and don’t matter.

So I would like to thank Mark Allen here at ND Sports Report for posting the “Writers Wanted” post and inadvertently nudging my over the edge into the dense world of the ND blogosphere.

I was waiting till after our inevitable wins over Michigan’s schools to pen my first post on a high note, but instead I am compelled to write today out of frustration.

Ok, enough with the bullshit.


I am 29 years old. This means I have witnessed some god awful losses to Michigan State in my lifetime (Charles Rodgers you bastard). There is just something about our games against them that always makes me weary. And no game has ever sucked the life out of me so violently than this year’s game.

That being said, I hate them almost as much as USC. When that scumbag Eric Smith planted their flag at the 50 of ND Stadium in 2005 something inside me snapped and to this day I have no respect for him or that entire program…in fact, even though I know it is ridiculous, if I meet anyone who is either a graduate or fan of that school, I assume there are scumbags on some fundamental level. I know this is not the case but I think it anyway (it could be the case I haven’t done enough research).

To the game…

Overall I have loved every word that has come out of Brian Kelly’s mouth since he was hired (I also loved every word out of Weis mouth but that is for another time). As someone who has spent a lot of time playing with good and bad coaches, I felt like he was the perfect anecdote for ND football’s problems.

With that said, he has made 2 calls that are 100% wrong.

1st was not kicking the field goal at the end of the half against UM. Not to re-hash a very hashed subject, but there is no debate about that call. You kick the field goal. Every time. End of story. Anyone who thinks otherwise is wrong and it is to frustrating and inane to get into the actually “argument” b/c there is no argument. If you think otherwise…better luck next time.

And the fact that BK said he never even considered kicking it is either A) a lie or B) a really really troubling statement.

The 2nd call was going for it on 4th down against MSU in the 4th quarter. I don’t care if Jesus Christ himself signals you a call from heaven, you don’t go for it there. Not some of the time, not maybe….you punt the ball every single time. Again this is such basic football I feel stupid even justifying the punt. But even if you didn’t have a young inexperienced quarterback, and even if you weren’t on the road, and even if your defense wasn’t playing well at the time or you were on the 50 instead of your own 40-something….you still punt every time.

Unless you are a bad coach. And this is where things get dicey.

Call it cognitive dissonance or just call it pure confusion, but there is something incongruent with the way BK has represented himself and his coaching style/football philosophy and the way he has coached in games that has left me truly stupefied.

This has been said already by others, but if you are truly trying to win the game, not make a “statement”, you do not make some of the decisions BK has made (including the 4th down @ MSU).

And you know what, that 4th down was a perfect play call. Floyd and Rudolph crossed at the snap and Big Mike was sitting 4 yards up field WIDE the heck open. The outside backer completely ignored him and jumped Rudolph immediately. Unfortunately Dayne decided to throw it to Rudolph as soon as he broke the huddle.

Even if he had hit Floyd for the 1st it still would have been a 100% bad call (although I would have been happy as shit).

Now there has been debate about other calls made by BK that are legit. For example I did not have a problem with him going to overtime against MSU instead of trying to get a field goal. Given the field position, the inexperience at QB and our defenses momentum, I had no problem with that call.

And in case you were unaware, we had the fake field goal covered assignment wise. They did not “catch us sleeping” but Harrison Smith and Carlo got tangled up and couldn’t keep their feet. Assuming their exhaustion (especially Smith’s) I’ll toss that up as stuff happens.

As far as the play clock and the phantom clipping call and receiver forced out of bounds no-call, I’ll say this… I don’t want to hear it. ND fans (actually all fans, but especially ND) do not realize their ridiculous bias that filters everything they see. I know we have gone through an extreme rough 15 years or so, with some terrible calls not going our way, but if you tracked it, their has been many many calls that have gone our way. In the end there is no football karma that is against us and to suggest otherwise disrespects the integrity of the game (when we win is it b/c of karma or b/c we earned it?). Does everyone forget the absolute GIFT MSU handed us last year? Cousins missed the back out of the backfield wide open then threw a brain dead pick when all they needed was a field goal for overtime. We should have lost that game.

I was going to go on about my thoughts about our entire team and look ahead to Stanford, but I realize this is already to long. So I will cover that stuff in another post tomorrow most likely.

Final thought of my virgin voyage into ND blogging…

I read everything, literally everything that is published about the Irish. So it goes without saying that I have great familiarity with all the blogs and writers out there. I just want to say that I have the utmost respect for those writers/sites that share my interest in ND football. I would say a big factor in me delaying the decision to start writing about the Irish is that most of what I think/feel is already articulated somewhere out there on the internet.

That being said, I still feel there is room for one more voice.

I was born a Notre Dame fan thanks to my father and have had an unconditional love for ND football for my entire life. I don’t buy jerseys or have a ND welcome mat or anything, but I truly feel like I am watching family every Saturday.

I played for just over 10 years before hurting my neck my sophomore year of college (keep your head up when tackling kids) and have logged more hours watching football than I can admit without feeling embarrassed.

I hope to provide some insight and perspective that related directly to what happens on the field rather than the perception of what happens on the field which is so common.

Tomorrow I will talk about how Stanford is not as good as you think.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Help Wanted - Writers

Domer Sports Report is looking for someone who loves The Fighting Irish and would like to write for the site. This is a good site. We want to keep it going for a long time. If interested, email Mark at

Go Irish!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

SaturDame: Purdue 2010

A win by the Irish was expected and necessary. Also, it was never really in doubt. Sure, the Weis nerves came back when Purdue cut the lead to eight, but this team closed the game out well.

Only two penalties all game. I love teams that don't make the game harder on themselves than it already is.

Dayne Crist does not have the same touch on his deep balls that Jimmy did. It's probably just rust but it's something he needs to do work on. Just giving Floyd, Rudolph and Jones a chance at a ball could be the difference in some games. Brian Kelly gave him a lot of short routes and he completed almost all of those.

Armando Allen looked like a different player out there.

Cierre Wood looked Vierre Good. Probably should have seen the field last year, but I'm sure Brian Kelly appreciates the extra year he gets with him.

David Ruffer did not fade after earning the kicking gig. A touchback and three field goals including one that put the game out of reach.

Manti T'eo's hits sound different when he lines someone up, I think it happened twice today. Need more of that.

Darrin Walls played an outstanding game, changing the momentum with the early pick and making tackles as well.

Can Rudy2.0 get a pass thrown to him at once a quarter? Is that too much?

The Dash scores a touch down in his first game. Tai-ler Jones appears to fit in nicely.

Michael Floyd is still Michael Floyd on jump balls.

The defensive line made more than enough plays, well the starters did. Thought the interception before the safety would be a game ender.

I liked Brian Kelly taking responsibility for the safety, by saying that they have to coach the line better. Very few coaches teach their team not to block people on a running play is all I'm saying.

The grab by Floyd on third down that enabled the team to run out the clock, was an awesome reach back for a poorly thrown ball catch.

I will happily never see Ryan Kerrigan in college again. Monsterish, have fun Big Twelven Quarterbacks.

Would like to see Theo Riddick get some more chances in space.

Carlo Calabrese had a good game in his first start at ILB.

Going to be interesting next week, with Michigan beating a supposedly pretty good UConn team handily. The biggest game under Brian Kelly is the next one, at least the first 6 weeks of this year.