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Monday, September 10, 2012

Week 2 (2012): Curb Your Enthusiasm. And Expectations.

"There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It's an area which we call the 'A' Lot... " 

Conventional wisdom says that team's make their greatest jump in improvement between Games #1 and #2. So what are we to conclude, then, about the Irish (and their leadership) after Saturday?

*  "They rock!" (Periodically.)
*  "Even a stopped clock is right twice a day."
*  "This a marathon, not a sprint..."

I do know, factually speaking:
  1. Senior captain Kapron-Lewis Moore didn't play a down after the 1st series.
  2. Senior leader of the secondary Jamoris Slaughter didn't play the entire 2nd Half.
  3. Senior captain Tyler Eifert didn't play after 11:20 left in the 4th Quarter.
  4. Kyle Brindza was Kickoff Guy, not Mr. Field Goal, until shortly before the game (also due to injury.)
  5. Everett Golson was playing his 2nd game involving live action since 2010.
But so what?  From the post-game chatter it would seem the masses wanted... expected... something more. A lot more.  Like "return to Holtzian Era glory right-freaking-now" more.

And always, it seems Brian... and Tommy... are at the center of the discussion.

What’s The Frequency, Brian?  

Personally, I thought I saw a lot of good Saturday.  But it's fair to wonder, this being Year 3 of the Kelly Reign of Terror... with play call communication difficulties still on-going, an offense that behaved nothing like what was seen in Dublin, questionable 4th quarter play calling and potential indecision regarding who, exactly, is the The Man at quarterback...

What's The Plan here, coach?!  A few possible clues:

               Strategist                                                  Cunning Plan
Sun Tzu

Mr. “The Art of War” himself advocated ‘pretend inferiority and encourage your opponents’ arrogance…’

Notre Dame's plan, apparently, for the past 20 years.  Flawlessly executed, I'll give them that.

King Lear

“We will do such things… what they are yet, we know not. But they shall be the Terrors of the Earth…”

Loosely translated:  "I’ve got a plan... kinda ‘loosey goosey’and  It. Is. BAD ASS!  

Sadly,  I’ll be buggered if I'm gonna tell you.  You're just going to have to... trust me.  :)

Our Man In Havana

Graham Green’s protagonist is recruited by British Intelligence to be their Cuban ‘eyes on the ground’.

Flying by the seat of his pants, he totally fabricates all his spying, almost getting himself killed in the process.  But everything turns out a-ok in the end, including scoring the girl.

Implication:  Making it up as you go along Just. Might. Work!

The Joker

In The Dark Knight, our villain asks the question (not rhetorically), “Do I really look like a guy with a plan?”

No, he does not.  Chaos is his plan.

It worked for him. (Well, largely.)  As for ND...

I'm a Shakespeare fan but Christopher Nolan's vision continues to have unfortunate relevance.

Song of the Week
Justified or not, with the disappointment palpable after the Purdue game, with frustration seemingly mounting, it begs the question, "What would you give... what would you do... to see ND 'return to glory'?"  .

"I would swallow my pride, I would choke on the rinds, 

But the lack thereof would leave me empty inside, 

Swallow my doubt.  
Turn it inside out .

Find nothing but faith in nothing. 

Want to put my tender heart in a blender, 

Watch it spin 'round to a beautiful oblivion. 

Rendezvous, then I'm through with you 
Can Oblivion be beautiful?  (Thanks, Ryan, for the song!)

Word of the Week

  • tru·cu·lent adj \ˈtrə-kyə-lənt also ˈtrü-\
1.   feeling or displaying ferocity : cruel, savage
2.   deadly, destructive
3.   scathingly harsh : vitriolic <truculent criticism>
4.   aggressively self-assertive : belligerent

— tru·cu·lent·ly adverb


Latin truculentus, from truc-, trux savage; perhaps akin to Middle Irish trú doomed person
  • First Known Use: circa 1540
  • Synonyms: aggressive, agonistic, argumentative, bellicose, chippy, combative, confrontational, contentious, discordant, feisty, militant, pugnacious, quarrelsome, belligerent
  • Antonyms: nonaggressive, nonbelligerent, pacific, peaceable, peaceful, unbelligerent, uncombative, uncontentious

Used in a sentence... The increasingly truculent reaction of the Notre Dame fans to the offense's slow pace of play-calling surprised even hardened cynics like Terry and Tim.

Observations Of The Game
  • My annual pilgrimage to the bookstore reveals that the school has yet to stock any of 2012 Kovacs Book award winner Dr. Timothy Corrigan's writings as part of this year's film program syllabus. Disappointed.  Particularly egregious was not seeing The Film Experience: An Introduction on shelf.  (Available at, I can tell you from personal experience it makes a wonderful Christmas present, with lots of pictures for the business and engineering majors on your list.) 
  • Inaugural tailgater report:  excellent, if still something of a work-in-progress.  The Management breaks in the next generation of early morning logistic planners. The Bloody Mary bar has yet to be established (crushing the spirit of at least two in attendance) and there was only a threadbare cast of luminaries. That said, all the food groups were represented including every salted snack in the entire Frito-Lay portfolio.
  • An Alex Flanagan siting - pretty in pink!  I wonder if she missed me.

1st Quarter - Where'd Last Week's ND Team Go?
  • In the stands w. Messrs. Sullivan and Castellini - woo hoo!
  • A Purdue zealot immediately makes his presence known. He is L³... loud, large and limited in vocabulary.  I shall call him 'Leon' because it starts with the letter 'L' and it's short enough for him to conceivably spell.
  • Pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass.  Good to see us playing to our strength.
  • After a false start (foreshadowing) #93 goes past Cave and Golic like their turn-styles.  Eek.
  • Beware the wheel route against ND.  I never fails to succeed. Our LB's are terrible in coverage.
  • 2nd and 6 in the Red Zone. And our center apparently doesn't know the snap count. Not good. 

2nd Quarter - A Glimpse Of The Future?
  • Another Braxton Cave penalty. Ah, senior leadership.
  • Sack by Louis Nix. Irish Chocolate!  As opposed to Tuitt who actually looks slim carrying 300 lbs., Louis definitely looks venti-size.
  • ND is running a ton of guys in, at both DL and DB.
  • Bad decision by Neal, fielding a put on the 4 yd. line.  On the bright side, the 9 yd. gain doubled all of last year's cumulative return yards.
  • Golson eludes rush, throws on the run, for a 30 yd. gain to Niklas. And that's why he's the starter.
  • 3rd and 3, rifle throw to Daniels for 41 yds.  I could get used to this. 
  • Purdue tackles really well.  We do not.
  • Purdue finds a running game. Antavian Edison scores easily for Purdue to tie the game. Mt. Leon erupts! Somewhere Antavian's brothers, Antebellum and Antediluvian, are beaming with pride. 

  • Judy C. arrives at our seats and there is much rejoicing!
  • Leon rests.  And there is much rejoicing!

3rd Quarter - All The Young Dudes
  • Golson's got a really strong arm but he clearly has yet to learn to look off the safety. The operative word being 'yet'.
  • Incredibly poor tackling. Understandable from the young secondary. What's your excuse, Carlo? Dan?
  • These two teams might be the two worst clock managers in the country. 
  • Tuitt's facemask looks like the deer-protective grill on SUV's. Which would give me pause if I were an opposing QB or RB.
  • "You really think I need a trim?"
  • Where's GAIII?

4th Quarter - "How Ya Like Me Now?"
  • Eifert on the sidelines with no explanation.  I know exactly what's going on - he cut his hair!
  • We've burned every one of our time outs due to play call communication problems.  Hmmm.
  • 2:12 left and it's Tommy Time.  More importantly, I've just lost my side bet to Sullivan / Brunett (that Rees would not see the field in Sept.) in world record time.  Perhaps gambling isn't my calling.
  • A short prayer:  Please God, just don't send this game into OT.
  • 3rd and 7... karmic payback!  John Goodman hauls in a prayer of a throw after Tommy almost pulls a Chris Weber, calling a TO we don't have, as the play clock goes to zero. (In fact, it did expire.)
  • Troy Niklas is going to be really good once he learns how to actually play the TE position.
  • Kyle B. bi-sects the goal posts. 20-17.
  • 100 yds. outside the stadium and it's Davenport, IA on the phone, extolling the "ye of little Tommy faith" line. Can't you just let me enjoy the win for a minute, mom?

Summary Thoughts

  • "There is no QB controversy.  Golson is the starter."  I want to believe you, Brian. Especially since I think Everett played awfully well, two bad plays at the end notwithstanding.  But I also didn't really see any hand injury so your embrace of the truth remains shaky, at best.  Ironically, with the benefit of hindsight, I was impressed with the decision to use Rees. Golson showed no ability to manage a 2 minute drive. It took cajones - you would've been eviscerated if it hadn't worked out.  So, time will tell.
  • How good is Purdue?  Pretty sure we'll find out their interior D-line is really good and overall, a better team than any of us anticipated.  That said, our vaunted, experienced O-line got embarrassed and by the end, utterly intimidated.  That does not bode well for an MSU game in Lansing.
  • One can only hope that tackling practice has been elevated on this week's practice agenda.
  • Ditto play calling communication.  Using all of your timeout's - as necessary as it was in virtually every case - wouldn't appear to be a sustainable long-term strategy.
  • Tommy. Bravo! But. Past experience would suggest that being good for 2 minutes absolutely doesn't extrapolate to being good for 60 minutes.
  • Without having specific numbers to quote, there were a TON of youth in play on Saturday.  Especially on defense. Especially in the 2nd Half.  And with the exception of some shoddy tackling for stretches of time, they didn't acquit themselves too badly.
  • My sole disappointment of Everett (beyond the 'learn from your mistakes, young man'):  I thought he'd be more elusive than he actually seemed.  Probably a little early too roll out the "Poor Man's Denard" label...

Continuum Of Elusiveness

     Tommy           So. Bend         Co-Eds in       Everett                                        Denard
                            Police Dept.    High Heels

If This Week's Game Were A Movie Poster, It'd Be...

"They Have A Plan... But Not A Clue"

The Coen Brothers' 2000 skewed interpretation of Homer's Odyssey, set in the 1930's deep south offers two possible relevant analogies to ND's performance (and season) Saturday:

- It's a journey and not necessarily a linear one.
- You can end up where you want. Even if the guys in charge appear to be complete idiots
- When the music improves - and Saturday's use of The Dropkick Murphy's and only one Ozzie usage suggests a quantum leap in that area - everything becomes more enjoyable.

Buddy's buddy

As is typically the case, there's a few guys who really flashed and could be comfortably bestowed this week's Buddy:  Everett (only his 2nd game of competitive action in two years, threw for almost 300 yds. and did things no other QB on that roster could possibly do), Tyler (several big, timely catches), Tommy (of course)... but I'm looking at a pretty impressive (and deep) D-line with one guy in particular standing out, Louis Nix.   Consistently applying pressure, batting balls down and being generally disruptive.  They say strength up the middle of your defense is critical, let's hope 'Irish Chocolate' can keep it up.

Tool Time
"We're not monsters. We're just ahead of the curve."
Michigan State.  Ah, the joys of social media.  Team Sparty couldn't contain their glee over Bama's rout of the maize 'n blue.  Understandable. So they had to tweet about it during the game, mocking Denard... as if a) The Tide wouldn't have hung 60 on their asses and b) they had a QB that could carry his shoelaces.

 If he had any.  Which he doesn't.  But that's besides the point.  I didn't really care about their in-state rivalry before but now I hope UM just tears MSU a new one when they play.

Art Modell.  Yeah, I know.  RIP. You were a Titan of the NFL... with George Halas, Art Rooney, the Maras et al. Blah blah blah.  But you totally bailed on Cleveland, a blue collar town not wholly unlike my Packers. I know what it would've done to Green Bay if such a thing had had happened there... unforgiveable.
ND Fans.  Booing Tommy during the final 2 minute drive.  Really?

    Answers to last next week's 'Career Path' challenge:
            School                           Job                                    Why?
    1.  USC
    Disneyland character
    Trojans are all about the show! Plus the perks are great...
    1.  Miami
    Night Club Bouncer
    Two words:  South Beach. 
    1.  Northwestern

    Ann-Margret, Warren Beatty, Charlton Heston, Ed Wood (!) and of course, the incomparable David Schwimmer. Say no more.

    1.  Oregon

    Nike Employee
    They're already Team Nike. Consider this the firm offer of employment after the internship.

    1.  LSU
    Dog the Bounty Hunter was too aspirational for this team.
    1.  FSU
    Footlocker sales
    Free Shoe University.
    1.  Michigan
    Sports announcer
    Bill Fleming, Rich Eisen, Adam Schefter.
    1.  Stanford

    Hedge Fund Mgr.
    The most arrogant, self-absorbed group of condescending punks I've ever interviewed. And all of 'em surely now have net worths I can only fantasize about.  

    1.  So. Carolina

    Gas station attendant
    Lane Kiffin once told a recruit that if he went to So. Carolina, he'd be pumping gas for the rest of his life, just like all the other kids who go there. Classy.  But not necessarily incorrect.

    1.  Florida

    Gun runner
    30 arrests during the Urban Meyer Era in the 'shoot 1st, ask questions later' State. Can you say 'growth industry'? Sure. I knew ya could.

    1.  Ohio St.

    Tattoo parlor mgr.
    A wise man once said, "If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life..."

    Schadenfreude Winner.
    Week 2 in college football is typically the time when most colleges undergo serious buyers remorse for scheduling even a halfway difficult game in Week 1... so they take it out on the patsies they've scheduled the following week.  Thus, not a lot from the past weekend to Get Happy over.
    1. Wisconsin.  Respect Barry Alvarez. Impressed by the athletic programs'consistency across several major sports. Think Bret Bielema is a classless weasel.  Ergo, love it when you lose.
    2. Nebraska.   They live in Nebraska for godssakes, haven't they suffered enough already?   No.
    3. Arkansas.  Any time the SEC loses, it's a good day. But take heart, Hogs, the Fighting Louisiana-Monrovians are a classic trap team.
    4. Oklahoma State.  You had no moral conflicts ringing up 84 points on Savannah State last week.  How'd it feel getting lit up for 59 by one of the country's elite party schools?
    5. Andy Roddick.  For probably the only time ever, the 'winner' (loser) here is happier than I am. Why?  Because he gets to come home to Brooklyn on a full-time basis. It's a wonder he made it to age 30 before retiring.

      Wager 2012.
      We're 2-0, albeit not in the most impressive manner.  One would assume that probably everyone involved in the wager had these first two games in their win column as part of their prediction. So consider it like holding serve.  With 10 games to go, the pre-season's over....


      ND-Scorsese connection 

      Contestant’s prediction



      Sweet, compelling mystery that shows the virtues of faith and resilience. Everyone walks away happy and pleasantly surprised.


      JP, Lini, Dave


      Awesome film about fulfilling one’s potential and realizing your dreams… even if it is becoming a gangster.  (Q.  Does ending in Witness Protection qualify as a happy ending?)
      Bryan, Ted, Ray, Tim S, Bob S

      Jay, John, Peter, RazKevin M, Tim C, Mark

      Jerry C, Matt, Jerry W, Jim B, Tom, Mike C, Jim T, Mike G
      Garrett R

      The Departed

      A terrific story about two Boston Irishmen’s different destinies set from childhood. So very close to a happy ending. And yet, so far.
      Terry, Jim S, Jerry P, Brian, Blair R

      Kevin C, Alvin, Randy



      Taxi Driver

      Mentally unstable Viet Nam vet w. wildly unrealistic delusions of heroism.  He’s a total loser, albeit an incredibly   dangerous one. Sadly everybody knows it (incl. Rick Reilly) but him.




      Final Thought
      Why The Packers Are Totally Awesome (Part I)

       I'm pretty sure their GM was formerly the front man for Talking Heads...

      "With their 1st pick in the draft,

      Green Bay select Brian Eno."

      Laugh From The Past
      For the 801'ers who were (and remain) easily amused... I've got one thing to say about the following video clip:  egg-a-muffin.  Enjoy.

      Thank you, Dr. Tim for showing me this awhile back...

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