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Friday, June 8, 2012

Week 1 (2011): Could Be Worse

Could be raining.
"Your dad used to coach my dad..."
Ouch.  Even with fancy pants Doppler radar, I don’t think any of us saw that performance coming… 

And as if unemployment wasn’t sufficiently sobering news for me, last week I was also diagnosed with early onset coulrophobia

"Who is muy scary?!"
Granted, coulrophobia is fear of clowns  and it was, admittedly, a self-diagnosis.   But that doesn’t make it any less real or traumatic.  And after seeing ND’s circus act,  complete with laser light show and soooo many creepy clowns masquerading as football players, who else amongst us wouldn’t lay claim to the same debilitating disease?  Plus it might just get me Cook County handicapped parking privileges – sweet!
Word of the Week

Shambolic.  [sham·bol·ic adj \sham-ˈbä-lik\]

·         chiefly British
: obviously disorganized or confused
·         Origin of SHAMBOLIC
probably from shambles
·         First Known Use: 1970

Used in a sentence, “Notre Dame’s performance from start to end could only be described as shambolic.”
So what happened?  Damned if I know. I am not that smart. But here’s a few things I saw:

1.       Senior leadershipOr lack thereof.  Here’s a list of senior ‘contributions’:
a.       David Ruffer – Mr. Automatic misses a chip shot that I could’ve made (-3 pts.)
b.      Jonas Grey – misreads the hole and allows the Strip That Changed The Season (-10 to 14 pt. swing)
c.       Harrison Smithback to back 15 yd. face mask penalties, leading to USF field goal (-3 pts.)
d.      Gary Gray – two 15 yd. penalties (one forgivable) which led to USF’s only 2nd half points (-7 pts.)
e.      Ethan Johnson – stupid unnecessary roughness penalty allows USF to burn crucial time in the 4th quarter. (-3 minutes)
"Who is muy tragic?"
       f.        Dane Crist -  I almost hate even bringing him up – his performance reminds me of my favorite Jay Leno joke (“Why do they call dead people ‘late’? They’re not late, they’re not coming.”)   I just don’t think he is ever gonna get to where we all thought he’d be.  At any rate, his really poor read inside the 10 yd. line - missing Floyd crossing and forcing an INT – was a killer. (-3 to 7pts.)

Playing a complete game.  Coaches love to say that – and ND did. Completely awful.  How complete?  Even the public address announcer contributed by delivering an emergency evacuation warning while the team is trying to get a playoff.  (Dude, two questions:  a) you couldn’t wait until the play was over – the storm was still 90 minutes away and b) you didn’t think the players might perk up their ears when you’re telling the crowd to get ready to get their asses the hell out of Dodge?)

      Chicken or The Egg?   Coach or the players? Where to lay the blame? There are many out there who are probably excoriating Kelly for his team’s unpreparedness  - and indeed Kelly made the choices to put those players on the field… but I sat there and couldn’t help but think that Kelly couldn’t
a.       Make Crist’s decisions for him
b.      Hold onto the ball for Jones
c.       Turn TJ Jones’ head for him
d.      Punt for Turk
e.      Catch for Riddick

Stonehenge v. Stonehands, both unfathomable in their own way...

But lest this be a total downer, I’d like to spend a little time accentuating the positive.  And actually there were more than a few positives… the defense played pretty tough, dominant even for stretches… the offense in the 2nd half actually went up and down the field almost at will…

Accordingly I am initiating the coveted Buddy Award, named in honor of the late, great Corrigan family dog, who made everyone’s life better - typically while in a blissfully unaware state.  The award will therefore recognize those who did the most good for ND each week and if they do it in an effortless fashion, well, all the more Buddy-like.  This week, one could argue several guys merit serious consideration:  Michael Floyd, Tommy Rees, Cierre Wood, the entire Offensive Line…  And the award goes to…

Cierre Wood Not only didn’t he have any gross negatives – no INT, no TD reversing holding penalty – but ran hard between the tackles, blocked well in pass coverage and would’ve had a monster rushing day if the offense didn’t have to pass the entire 2nd half.  Congratulations, Cierre, on winning the 1st Buddy.

"Who is muy magical?"
            Tommy Can You See Me, Can You
            Feel Me Near You?  Personally I         don’t see how Kelly can’t start Rees.  Michigan has become a must win if this
            team wants to see anything north of 8 
            wins. He’s always going to look like he should be quarterbacking Keenan Hall’s team, at best Northwestern.  And I suspect he’ll always have one bad forced pass a game. But (sadly) unlike  Dayne, the game never looks like it’s too big for him and one has to believe he’ll continue to improve on a freshman year performance, even if his athletic ceiling is lower than the other QB’s.

"Who is muy volatile?"
            III.     Mount Kelly.  Much was also made of Kelly going apoplectic on the sideline after TJ Jones’ drive-killing impression of Alfred E. Neumann.  “Ooh, he’s embarrassing himself and the school...”  No, the players were embarrassing the school and if they didn’t have enough pride to get their head in the game, they deserved a verbal boot up the asses.  I loved it.  (Check the tapes of St. Lou if one's concerned about the efficacy of such actions – his players needed rain coats after the amount of spit that Lou spewed during a typical vent.)

IV.                Mike Mayock“It doesn’t get any worse than this…”  I didn’t think anyone could make that game watchable but once again, his commentary was insightful, funny even, without piling on.  He’s really good, in my humble opinion.

"I'm from Albany and I spent 18 hrs. on a train..."
V.                  Gabby Johnson.  Hang with Peter and you’ll always meet interesting people. Including one fellow at the first suspension of play, who had no teeth - but an unbridled enthusiasm for Notre Dame (apparently) god knows what (I couldn’t tell what he was saying).

Schadenfreude of the Week.
·         The U.  Can we not just agree that without even playing a game, Miami has cemented it’s place on this list for the season?
·         Oregon.  It’s hard to find a ranked team who’s on the short end of the score during the season’s annual first game cupcake tradition.  And they should get some credit for playing LSU… but my dad would’ve called this game a ‘root for a tie with lots of injuries’ type game
·         USC. You didn’t lose but beating Minnesota by 2 pts. should give them fair warning that this year is likely to be a mediocre-at-best season for them.  Awesome.

Terry’s Tool Time.
·         Antwon Jones.  Former ND football player and current HS coach of South Bend Washington. This past week he allowed his star WR, Gehrig (‘mom was a Yankee fan’) Dieter to break a national high school record, 447 yards in a game – despite being up by 50 pts in the 4th quarter. One of his other players, David Perkins (a 2012 Notre Dame commit by the way), initiated a bench clearing brawl. Nice message you’re sending, coach Jones.

Song of the Week
Taken from a fairly obscure ‘unplugged’ recording by the seminal Los Angeles punk band, X.  “I See Red” works on many levels for this game:  literally – everyone was seeing red after that performance.  Then there is the figurative connection to ND’s red zone ineptitude (2-for-6 with two turnovers and more than enough points taken off the board to have won the game). Finally there are the lyrics themselves which speak to late hours, heavy drinking and visceral, irrational actions…  Yep, I think that pretty much sums up the USF debacle. Enjoy the song.

“I see red when I see you
Bells ring at 3am.
I get mad, drinks get spilled,
5 past 2 I don’t feel sad.
But then I see you… and I see red.”

Finally, back to clowns.  At the end of Leoncavallo’s opera, “Pagliacci” (whose music is used in practically every movie when a popular main character is getting whacked, typically while the amoral mob boss makes pasta in his simple but impressively fortified villa), Cano the clown steps forward – after stabbing Silvio, to tell the audience, “La commedia ѐ finite…”

Clown Time is indeed over for ND and my bold prediction is this:  This team will be okay.  Tommy will start and succeed… managing the game better with a year of experience, Cierre will be terrific,  Michael will be AWESOME (so will Eifert, actually) and the defense will be stout.

“In this week’s performance the role of Silvio will be played by Denard Robinson…”

Notre Dame 27, Michigan 24.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Until next week!

2011 Schedule.

3             South Florida                  L                                 
10           @ Michigan (NIGHT)
17           MSU      LINIPALOOZA!!
24           @ Pitt
1           @ Purdue (NIGHT)
8           Air Force
15         OPEN
22         USC (NIGHT)
29         Navy
5           @ Wake Forest
12         @ Maryland (D.C.)
19         Boston College
26         @ Stanford (NIGHT)
2011 Wager

Brother Kevin, thanks for playing.  And a shout out to Team Rasmus for being the first to pay up.

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