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Monday, September 17, 2012

Week 3 (2012): 50 Lawyers At The Bottom Of A Lake

"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... " 

"A good start."   So goes the cruel-but-broadly-accurate answer to the question this post's title suggests.  And that's all anyone should take away from Saturday night's performance.

Backing up a bit, the Michigan State game always engenders conflicted feelings for me. They play like thugs, inevitably play us tough (quite often successfully) and consistently do classless things. Yet I simply can't engender the same amount of enmity for them like I do our Evil Twins in Ann Arbor. In a similar fashion,  I struggle with Aquaman's place in the pantheon of superheroes.  He's an (apparently) respected member of The Justice League of America - and one would think that has to count for quite a lot - but seriously, how legitimate are his credentials?

"You weren't in LA in November 1978, were you?"
His super powers, such as they are, involve the ability to control water and talk to sea creatures. It seems to me the latter doesn't do dookie for you unless you're battling evil Nazi U-boat commanders...

And as for the latter skill set... not that he isn't 'special' but, geez, I've seen Ray Volk communicate with fish...

 Michigan State, The Aquaman of ND rivals. Another reason to  probably not get overly excited about last week's victory.

Song of the Week
I miss coach Holtz.  Sure, the Dr. Lou act is a little embarrassing now. And back in the day, his habit of building up every single opponent like they were the 2nd Coming of The Pittsburgh Steelers Steel Curtain got old in about Year II.  And the habit of spitting on everyone has always been awkward.  But man, could that guy ever game plan. Give him two weeks and he could beat practically anyone, college or pro.

Obviously, we haven't seen much of that strategic cleverness in quite a long time.  All of us have surely wondered if we'd ever see anything like it again. Steve Earle's "Someday" touches on similar feelings of longing - the plaintive renderings of a guy confronting the hard, near hopeless, reality of life in his backwater town while still believing things are gonna change.  The song ends with no promises, just a hint of optimism.

Someday I'm finally gonna let go
'Cause I know there's a better way
And I wanna know what's over that rainbow
I'm gonna get out of here someday

Maybe last Saturday was a glimpse of ND's lot changing.  

Editor's note:  This song should be on everyone's iPod.  And not just because it's almost a sure 'get out jail free' card if you get stopped in the Deep South with a broken tail light and a cop who approaches you with a "yer not from around here, are ya boy?"  Hope you enjoy it.

Word of the Week
PIQUANT      pi·quant adjective \ˈpē-kənt, -ˌkänt; ˈpi-kwənt\

1  agreeably stimulating to the palate; especially : spicy
2  engagingly provocative; also : having a lively arch charm
— pi·quant·ly adverb
— pi·quant·ness noun

Origin of PIQUANT
  • Middle French, from present participle of piquer
  • First Known Use: 1630
Synonyms: pert, poignant, pungent, salty, savory (also savoury), zesty, zingy
Antonyms: insipid, zestless

Used in a sentence:   Coach Kelly's play calling was piquant in it's ability to consistently keep State's defense off balance just enough...

Observations Of The Game
"If you tease my school, I'll kill ya..."
  • Great Nissan Heisman House commercial with Tim Brown. For all those out there declaring 'but it makes fun of him and ND...' I say this:  "lighten up, Francis."
  • Heather Cox has staggeringly full, lustrous hair. Pantene marketers on line 1, Heather.  I'm in a committed fantasy relationship with Alex Flanagan but should the NBC contract change... 

1st Quarter
  • Let's just forget the first :07, shall we?
  • John Goodman and an homage to fellow hoosier The Shark! (I shall never make another Big Lebowski reference about you again.)
  • Why that catch was especially important:  interference in college is only a 15 yd. penalty, not spot-of-foul.  Who knows if we would've scored at all on that drive?
  • Man, Michigan State are a mouthy bunch.
  • Love the play calling.  Already notice that even when Golson breaks containment, he ALWAYS looks to pass, even when there's a wide open field.  That's probably a teachable point.
"Brent, you have disturbed me almost to the
point of insanity. There. I am insane now."

2nd Quarter
 Already, I find Brent Musberger banal and tiresome.
 Two basic rules for ND's offense:  1) Don't turn it over and 2) Stay out of 3rd and long.  The two are not necessarily unrelated.
 Kirk H. makes a St. Iggy reference!
Misdirection. What a concept!
  •   Golson does things no one else on the roster is capable of, like not turning the ball over in the red zone.
"He's hitting that scotch pretty hard.,
does he even know what he's watching?"

  • Up 14-3 but not feeling entirely confident. The Highlands beckon! Switching to single malt.
  • Watching the game on the front porch with my friends, the woodland creatures.  Lisa does not seem to miss me, not one bit.

"May I suggest a... safer... reference?"

3rd Quarter - 
  • Elijah Shumate is pretty good.  I shall nickname him "The Prophet"!  No wait.  Maybe not. Better not exacerbate Arab Unrest (and have 'em go all Salman Rushdie on me).
  • Early Buddy candidate:  Ben Turk?!
  • William Golson is one tall drink of water and from his face paint, seems to be channeling his inner William Wallace.

4th Quarter - 

  • ND keeps throwing. And why not?  It doesn't look like the defense is letting up anytime soon. 
  • Welcome back, Cierre! 
  • Tommy in for no apparnet reason - what is up with that?!  Other than me losing my 'Tommy won't see the field in September' side bet.  Again.
  • 6 minutes left and the announcers are talking like this game is over.  Slow down there, boys.
  • I think Brent's been hitting the hospitality bar.
  • ND in the final kneel down, 'victory' formation and State's #42 tries to pop EG.  Nice.  MSU football, where character goes to die.
Summary Thoughts
  • Somebody was practicing their tackling this week.  Long may that continue.
  • Be gentle, part I:  Golson throws way too often into tight coverage and across the field.  He's got a really strong arm but my guess he won't stop doing it unless it costs him. 
  • Be gentle, part II:  Our secondary is so young it could be a kindergarten.  They've played pretty well and get will surely get better. But you know they're going to get lit up at some point.
  • Has anyone noticed - maybe only me, the poncy ex-kicker - how deadly accurate Brndza's been?  That last FG may have been meaningless but it was 47 yds. and he bisected the goal posts.        
If This Week's Game Were A Movie Poster, It'd Be... The Sting

"All It Takes Is A Little Confidence"

Okay, the filmmakers might've had a different kind of confidence in mind but the point is this:  Michigan State's persona is a thuggish one.  They hit you up to 2nd whistle, they yap about it, get in your face (literally) and bascially try to take you out of your game. And when we last saw ND's offense, they were being thoroughly intimidated by a Purdue team of indeterminate competence.  Eek!  And yet, even with The Most Embarrassing of opening :07 and a sparkling 1-for-13 3rd down success rate, ND never looked all that rattled. Golson certainly didn't.  Kelly's play calling exuded confidence in his QB.  And the defense actually had... swagger.  Cool!

Buddy's buddy
Maybe Allen Pinkett was right... if Prince "I'm Good for One Personal Foul Every Game" Shembo's performance was any indication.  Cierre Wood showed why he should be the first option at RB.  And Everett, while statistically unimpressive, never looked out of control or intimidated by the MSU punks.  But this week's Buddy can only go to one guy, Manti.  They needed him to play big and he didn't disappoint.  Plus his incredible grace under the most difficult of circumstances was a lesson for young and old.  When one looks up 'role model' in the dictionary, they should embed his picture.

Tool Time
"We're not monsters. We're just ahead of the curve."
Don Calhoun. UConn's crusty basketball coach retiring as The Big East collapses around him.  Lifetime Achievement Award!

Bob Ryan.   I have many fond memories of my two years in Boston, the vast majority involve Mary Flaherty's cooking, The Boston Celtics ("Danny Ainge, Latter Day Saint!")  and a magical front porch where Better Living Through Creative Chemistry wasn't just empty rhetoric.  But Bob Ryan wasn't ever one of 'em... a bitter, self-important BC grad once again rises to the occasion with ND's announced move to the ACC:

Hey Bob, What do Notre Dame and Boston College students have in common?  They both got into BC.

ND Fans.   My rant against you this week entails two points:  1) the apparent inability to enjoy the most substantive win in the Kelly era by nitpicking everything they didn't do well and 2) doing your best Oliver Stone impressions that the world, especially the Commie loving, tree huggin' leftish media is all against us. Did anyone listen to Herbstreit gush for 3/4 of the game about how athletic and dominating we were? News flash:  recognizing that on the bell curve distribution of sports writers out there, you're gonna have some haters no matter what... when we're good enough to have nice things said about us, it'll get reported.

Lane Kiffin.  You just can't help yourself, can you?  First, you lose a game, totally out coached, by a team that has owned you for the last 4-5 yrs. (Tough to say you were looking past them to Cal.)  Then you try to indirectly attribute it to your missing center.  And when that doesn't work, you throw your All-American QB under the bunch.  I want to party with you. You are just too much fun.

Schadenfreude Winner.
Week 3 in college football... game start to get a little bit more interesting. Some more than others:
  1. USC.  Bummer for you, huh Matt B? Good news bad news I suppose for ND Nation:  anytime SC loses, it's just so... delicious.  But that 10/13 Stanford game just became a whole lot more concerning.
  2. BC.   First two time winner this year! Inasmuch as you lost to Northwestern, this is really just an excuse to give Pat Fitzgerald a sincere shout out... if you ever want to pull an 'Ara' in another couple years, give Jay or Jerry a call, they can probably make it happen.
  3. Tennessee.  I really don't dislike you, yet.  But your coach does seem to have latent qualities of being a 1st class tool and I just can't stomach the idea of you resurrecting your program before we do.  So I must recognize, and celebrate, your Not Ready For Prime-time performance.
     2012 Schedule.
1    @Navy (Dublin)            W
8    PURDUE                       W
15  @MSU                          W
6    MIAMI (Soldier Field)*
20  BYU
27 @Oklahoma
3      PITT
10    @BC
24    @USC
*Linipalooza III

Wager 2012.
Don't go counting your money too quickly, Team '10 Win'.  Maybe the best thing one can conclude is that (happily) the 5 and 6 win folks are probably looking a little shaky.  This team is surely not great but it's hard to see us going 2-7 or 3-6 the rest of the way.

But who knows? One game at a time.


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.
TerryJim SJerry 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 #1

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em...

Final Thought #2
The campus will be crawling with U of M zealots (more than a few who are way cool students with a close association to my way, way cool daughter).  That said, and as a public service, I thought you might want to know what you're otherwise... broadly... in store for.

*big thanks to JB for showing this to me...

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