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Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Clemson: Clark & Tom's Excellent Adventure

Explain all this controls
I can't sing but I got soul
The goal... is elevation.

Dateline: Val D'Isère, France 2004.

Have you ever caught yourself experiencing nearly pure bliss? Having a moment of intense introspection where you know you're really, really happy - almost like an out of body experience.  They don't have to always be 'big' moments - while living in Milan, being at an enoteca in Piemonte with some other ex-pats, three bottles of wine and a mountain of reggiamo cheese in front of us.  Super simple.  By no means opulent.  Just some very nice local wine makers, a table and the picture postcard vineyard in front of us. And all one could think was, "This. is. fucking. awesome."

The Europeans have this brilliant concept of 'white week' at the end of February - a winter school vacation which encourages families to get away, bond.  Skiing is a popular venue and for la famiglia Corrigan, one we took advantage of.  

Our last year in Italy, we were driving back from France (3-4 hr. drive) when dad was giving his daughters yet another music lesson, U2 and Irish rock.  

The Corrigan girls are nothing if not fast studies and were already familiar with their latest CD, All That You Can't Leave Behind, when Elevation came on.   Jerrence sensed a silent call from the back seat to (and I'm paraphrasing here) 'crank that bitch'... with much enthusiastic singing and indiscriminate hoo hoo'ing resulting.  Madame Defarge indulged us. 

That was an exceptionally happy moment, and I remember being very aware of it at the time.  

Last Saturday was, now, another really happy experience.  And I went to bed knowing that too.

Word of The Week

Used in a sentence paragraph:  Young Jerrence was having trouble processing what he had just seen.

Why? Was it the single single malt he'd been drinking for the past three hours?  

Had his wife dosed the popcorn she made for him at halftime? I mean, why did she have ketamine in the pantry - we don't even have horses anymore.  

And she had left the room in a suspiciously rapid fashion, practically throwing the snack at him, like he was some sort of caged zoo animal, to be fed but with a by all means 'keep your hands and feet away from his mouth' attitude.  Odd.

And then there was the periodic sideline shots of Trevor Lawrence and a head of hair that could only be described as luxuriant, mesmerizing actually - hello, Pantene endorsement.  

From a Jeff Spicoli lookalike as a freshman to now, Fabio.  Sensory overload for Jerrence. 

It was all simply too much for his little brain.

More likely, Jerrence's dull-wittedness was merely Reality catching up to his own intellectual limitations.  Whatever the root cause, reflecting on seeing Notre Dame's offense transmogrify into an unstoppable machine over its final three possessions against the vaunted Brent Venables Clemson defense - after virtually an entire game of "not quite there" inconsistency - well, that transformation was making his head hurt.

On second thought, Jerrence was pretty sure that actually was the single malt. 

Quote of the Week.

Now hold on there, cowboy.  Beating Clemson after a few tough losses is really nice but there's a certain matter of Boston College and 1993 to avenge... your mission isn't over yet.

Game Observations.

Won't you help to sing
These songs of freedom?
'Cause all I ever have
Redemption songs... 

NostraRasmus.  Mr. "Ya Gotta Believe" Op-Ed Beautiful Dreamer.  Why did we ever doubt you?

NostraJerrence.  Avery Davis.  Hey, better late than never.

NostraFlaherty.  The man who said at halftime, "we need two more TD's."   True dat.

Other random acts of observational revelry:

1) Redemption.  
Mayer - McKinley - Book.  Every one of these guys has messed up, been vilified - some in Saturday's game, some throughout the season - and every one has bounced back.  And you knew they would.  

2)  DJ Uiagalelei.  Outside of his own team and Ohio State, I defy anyone to tell me that kid wouldn't start right now for every other college program.  Including the Chicago Bears. 

So as for the prior concern of this representing a Trevor-free, discounted victory?  Fuck that

3)  Lea & Rees.  It's funny to say that they did a great job, when one gave up 40 pts. and the other took 59 minutes in between scoring TD's.   But... they did a great job. And shutting down Etienne was the absolute right priority. 
  • I hate to get ahead of myself - but is Lea this generation's Barry Alvarez, the DC who'll have to seek greener pastures and never come back?

4)  Mike & Tony.   Really warming up to the Tirico - Dungy show.  The former just knows what he's doing and while the latter will never approach Mike Mayock-level insight, he's calm and clearly getting more comfortable with college football and his role on the telecast. And you could see it progress through the telecast.  My favorite moment:

Start of the 1st OT.  DJ throws an apparent TD on the first play and Dungy matter-of-factly says, "that didn't take long..."  

HA!  So true - but can you imagine if Flutie had said that?  

5)  Joe Montana and GuinnessGood things come for those who wait.  Fuck, yeah!  (And talk about "perfect Brand message meets perfect media buy.")

6) Points Left On The Table.  While one can't count on 65 yd runs and defensive TD's in future contests, one can take solace in recognizing ND's offense left at least 15 pts. on the table, between Mayer's uncharacteristic goal line lapses and Book's premature "I'm gonna score... whoops no I'm not" fumble.   

That ought to represent some legitimate 'hey we didn't even play our best game' confidence.

Not today, Satan!
7)  Special Teams.  Okay, as more than one pundit said, "the 57 yd FG thing? Yeah, let's not do that again..."  

BUT otherwise, they were spectacular.  

And Jay Bramblett - could one play garner a coveted Buddy's Buddy nomination?  

Hell, yes - any other week than this one. But man, that tackle was clutch. 

8) Kurt Hinish.  Honestly, what's not love about this guy?  His western PA roots, the proclivity to go full Braveheart with the face paint, his Tom Thibodeau 'just do your job' work ethic...  

Never as splashy as JOK or Daelin / Ade / Isaiah but if you want a compelling reason for why Etienne didn't do jack shit, you could do a lot worse than starting the discussion with him.

9) "Wendy, baby, I think you hurt my head real bad..."  Clemson's attrition at the end of the game wasn't a coincidence.  ND beat the living shit out of them.  All night.  On both sides.  Who are the nancy-boys now, ESPN?  

It was glorious.

And can we hear it for Kyren "None Shall Pass" Williams - not just for his running (which seems to be increasingly revelatory by the week) but for his pass blocking!  I'm guessing he was probably one of those little pediatrician-waiting-room-shits I referenced last week who, had I called him out on it, probably would've planted me on my ass as a 6 yr old.  

The sequence below is just too much fun to watch.  One wonders what he and Tremble do for fun. Check that - I don't want to know.

10)  Dabo.  Becoming still very difficult to hate (and for me, that's saying something).
  • Are you angry about him working the refs?  Please.  If it were Kelly you'd have loved it.  It what good coaches do.  And bad refs allow. 
  • Totally gracious after the game - he avoided the dreaded explanation every winner hates to hear from the losers ("we beat ourselves") so thank you for that, coach.  Plus I'm sure he's reasonably confident there'll be a Round II.

11)  Rushing the field.  Hmmm, hard to reconcile (and defend) here what the scientific Letter of the Law demanded and what college-age human nature was inevitably going to dictate.  In hindsight, a few reactions:
  • let's see how COVID testing for the team checks out this week.  Fingers crossed - ND's pregame protocols would suggest a pretty clean audience in attendance.
  • While the story was covered nationally by the media, mildly surprised there wasn't more condemnation proffered.  Probably because no other community is acting appreciably better.
  • Not a good look for Fr. Jenkins, after his Rose Garden appearance, to be the one chastising the student body for their behavior - couldn't you have assigned that communique to the Provost or the Dean of Students? 
By the way, did Kelly channel his inner Digger Phelps* in telling the team, beforehand, how to act when they win? 

*If you don't understand the reference, ask Abe. 

Buddy's Buddy.

"That guy has brass balls..."
Matt Fortuna
Writer, The Athletic 

For those of us who've had the pleasure of meeting Matt (and enjoying a few cocktails with him), he has one quality in particular that separates him from a great many other sports journalists - making for a wonderfully enjoyable night out - unfailing objectivity.

So the quote above, referring to Ian Book  comes not from any place of homer-inspired hyperbole.  It's his watching a guy, after experiencing what coulda been a soul crushing / game-losing fumble, say "I got this" and take his team 91 yards in 1:16  (using no time outs) to tie the score.  After the offense hadn't scored a TD since the 2nd play of the game - for those counting, a gap of 59 minutes.

And then do it again two more times in OT. 

Fuckin' A, bubba.  Talk about exorcizing some demons.  And this blogger couldn't be more happy for a guy who's had his share of up's and down's...

I declare this henceforth an Ian Book criticism-free blog! 

They say every man needs protection
They say every man must fall.
Yet I swear I see my reflection
Somewhere so high above this wall.

RE-PETE (a shameless, illegal lift of Pete Sampson's weekly mailbag).

I've begun to wonder whether Mr. Sampson dreads the questions he gets more after a big win (like this week) or a loss.

One on hand, everyone's an expert either way... the former incites premature delusions of grandeur (like 'how do we beat Clemson next time' - a topic this writer absolutely won't entertain until after, maybe, the Syracuse game) while the latter fuels attitudinal death spirals and thoughts of modern day coaching staff lynchings ('Pete, do you have the coaches' home addresses...').

This week's The Athletic Mailbag sample question attempts to strike a practical middle ground - legitimate concern w a dollop of optimism:

Was the breakout performance Saturday of the passing game due more to the fact that Notre Dame took those shots down the field much more frequently than games past, or because Clemson “allowed” us to take those shots in ways that other defenses hadn’t yet? How do you think opposing teams will change how they defend Notre Dame after they have proven to have a downfield passing attack?

Brian C.

Interesting question. As the great Michael Scott said while quoting Wayne Gretzky, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” And against Clemson, Ian Book took some shots. He attempted eight passes of 20-plus yards. He’d averaged 2.3 in Notre Dame’s first six games. Did Clemson allow that? That’s one way to look at it considering the Tigers showed they were poor against the deep ball a week earlier against Boston College. It was on Notre Dame to see if that was fluke or a trend. Seems like it’s a trend. But then you have to have receivers actually make plays on the ball, which has not always happened for Javon McKinley, Ben Skowronek and Avery Davis. On Saturday, McKinley and Davis had huge nights.

The second part of your question is whether the Clemson game will change how other teams defend Notre Dame. I don’t think it will, and I think that’s a very good thing. If Notre Dame didn’t develop that part of the passing game, it would have led to opponents overloading the box until Ian Book forced them to stop it. That had not quite happened yet, but it was going to, similar to the 2017 team after Brandon Wimbush got found out a little bit. There was a straightforward game plan for that offense. There really has not been for this group, and Saturday night ensures that there won’t be. Teams will continue to play the run first against Notre Dame, obviously. But they can’t begin to overcommit to it because of how the passing game flashed.

Source:  The Athletic

Cocktail of the Week

What's the one word everyone heard, post-game, be it from ND or Clemson personnel, to describe Saturday evening's match?


A game like that, therefore, deserves a cocktail (or at least a literary reference) similarly grand.  Both bold and sustaining... something that'll kick ass right down to the very last drop.  Or play.

Except this time, no one will be bitching about the series ending.

The Drinking Game of Thrones
A Game of Thrones (1996)
by George R. R. Martin

Every battle royale has its casualties...
Maybe it's the Tolkien-like setting, or the references to fur as lounge-wear, but George R. R. Martin's Game of Thrones universe seems to have been around forever - though the book only debuted in the mid-1990's.    

Martin has now killed off so many characters - dropping like Clemson defensemen in the 2nd half of Saturday night's game - and written so many pages that he is said to rely upon his vast fandom to help keep all the subplots straight.

This drink will have you seeing sideways - with a goblet full of fire and ice.

(Hail Sur Jerome!)

* 2 oz. scotch

* 1 oz. Fireball
* 1 oz. ginger liqueur
* 1 oz lemon juice

Pour all the ingredients into a shaker with ice, shake for several seconds  

Strain into a goblet (or Collins glass) and settle into your throne (or comfy chair).  

Go Irish!

Source:  Are You There God? It's Me, Margarita
More Cocktails With A Hollywood Twist
by Tim Federle


12                     Duke               W
19                     USF                 W
10                    FSU                W
17                    Louisville       W
24                    @Pitt.             W
31                    @Ga. Tech    W

7                    CLEMSON        W    
14                  @Boston College
21                    Bye
26 (Friday)  @UNC
5                  SYRACUSE                    TBA    / NBC
12                Wake Forest

The Wager.

You can't get to 12 wins (or 13 or 14) without getting to seven...


Archetype (Embodies)



Marcel (Lunacy).


This construct, not officially Jungian... would surely exist had Carl met Dave.  New Jersey meets California with a sneaky, sly madness and a dollop of WTF.  The result?  A "he did not just do that" kind of guy.

Yes, he did do that.  He'll go for 14 wins if you let him.  


Gary (14)

John (14)

Moon (14)

Raz The Elder (13)

Peter (13)

Gutsch (12)

Bob (12)

Jim S (12)

Bryan (12)

Marcel (of course)


The Magician (Power).


 "Dreams really can come true" albeit in somewhat unfathomable ways, defying common belief... the Magician is a true Visionary where one sees ND running the table, at least to the point of making it to the ACC Championship and, likely, beating Clemson at least once.












The Hero (Mastery).


 Primarily motivated by proving their worth through courage and determination, this archetype suggests an ND season where nothing is easy and considerable success is achieved despite daunting, unforeseen obstacles.


Rev. Mark


The Ruler (Control).


 This is all about Dominance through Intimidation.  Confident, in control.

For ND, a solid year where an authoritarian mentality may not get them all the way to the BCS finish line. 





Mike G


The Jester (Enjoyment).

Here, we're all about having fun and seeing the glass half full.  8 wins could mean an undefeated season in a truncated, pandemic affected season.  Or it could just be '8 more wins than any of those Big 10 wussies had...' 

Either way, we had a pretty good time. 




Jim T


The Creator (Innovation)


 With a desire to create something new and exceptional where there previously wasn't, does a 7-win season indicate some unforeseen growing pains w a new OC and several inexperienced skills position players.  

A season where less than a full slate is played could still be a successful one, setting up a great '21 campaign.



The Explorer (Freedom).


Manifesting a palpable inner drive to push themselves outside their comfort zone - it's a "we understand the risks we're taking!" attitude.   Unfortunately ND can't overcome them all, whether they're internally or externally driven.



The Sage (Understanding).


 Seeker of Truth, Knowledge and Wisdom, this archetype may suggest a 'I told you it was a bad idea to play a contact sport during a pandemic'  scenario.  The 2020 season gets cancelled halfway through. "But, still, we were 5-0..."



The Outlaw (Liberation).


This figure digs anarchy, with a "you not the boss of me" disdain for rules. For the ND season that may suggest a 'go for it' mentality where the wheels ultimately come off - either from a team meltdown or a season's premature cancellation.


3 or less

The Innocent (Safety).


 A positive personality that craves safety while wishing for all to be happy.  Honest and with no ill-will... no agendas... they believe everyone has the right to truly be who they are.

Unfortunately, in an ND football context, The Innocent sees virus spikes with students back on campus and by the end of September, feels prudence demands that the plug be pulled on the football season. 


Mike C



We've entered the November period where the games are bigger, the stakes higher, the schaden deeper and the freude sweeter.

That is, unless you play in the Big 10 where one is now more concerned with how to spin Maryland as a trophy win.

Or the Pac-12, where you're still trying to talk yourself into believing the rest of the country is going to take your 7-game season seriously.

1)  Michigan.   Are we yet at the point where one says, "Jerrence, give the Wolverines a break - now you're just piling on... isn't it time to lighten up?"


2) Big 10.  Some fun facts:
  • Indiana / Northwestern / Purdue, collectively 8-0
  • Michigan / Penn State / Nebraska, a combined 1-7
Q.  I understand the world thinks Ohio State is really good - undoubtedly so - but with that conference, how can you tell?

3) Georgia.  Can we please dispense with the narrative that UGA is elite?  Or that Kirby Smart is a particularly good coach?  Teams in the SEC are the perfect example of "born on 3rd base, think they hit a triple" entitlement. 

Terry's Tools.

One would think that with Jerrence's heart swelling over the team's biggest win in almost 30 years, that his thoughts... his attitude... would be full of open-minded beneficence to all. 

"Sure they're simple minded yahoos but they're good, God-fearing people too...", that kind of stuff.

Well, one would be incorrect.  This week's list is blissfully short and very ACC directed.

Do you even know what pass interference is? 
1) ACC Leadership.   So.  You've known this was your conference's Game of The Year for how long?  A year?  

Even as COVID struck, you were probably lighting vigil candles to ensure this game would get played.  

Honestly, I'm surprised Kay Corrigan didn't get a call from you. She is that wired to The Big Guy.   

And yet.  That's the best you could do for an officiating crew?

2) Pat Narduzzi.   Most of you have seen this already, that doesn't mean it shouldn't be documented for the time capsule.  It would seem that coach Pat is upset.  And he chooses now to declare, "ND, bend the knee!  You need to declare your fealty, join our conference or we're done with you!"

Psst, coach, did you see the NBC audience numbers the game pulled?  Ka-ching.  
The ACC Commissioner be saying, "Wait, Jack!  He doesn't speak for us!"  

I'm also guessing Narduzzi's wife doesn't let him get anywhere near a poker table.  Or any negotiation for that matter.

Moral:  you can take the guy out of Michigan State but you can't take the Michigan State out of the guy. 

Final Thoughts.

"If you lose this game, you'll 
take it to your fucking graves...."

Herb Brooks
(not Mike's dad)

Brooks' words and 'The Miracle On Ice' achievement are an apt, cautionary reminder not because of the feat - beating the Russians was a slightly bigger accomplishment than beating Clemson.                                                                                                                                                                      Rather because, even after winning, Team USA still had to go out and defeat Finland to win the gold medal.                                                                                                                                                                                                    ND has bigger objectives in front of them.  And I, for one, hope Kelly does remind the team about 1993 (Pete fucking Bercich... right between your numbers!) and has them ready to step on BC's neck from the very first play.

History ain't repeating itself.  ('Cause you know BC will be bringing it up all week long.)

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