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Friday, November 6, 2020

Ga. Tech: Death or Glory

They had you crying and you came up smiling
They had you crawling and you came up flying
And the last laugh, baby, is yours... 

Dare to dream.

Dateline:  Flint Lake, IN

Recently, Madame Defarge and Jerrence were binging the Amazon Prime series, Utopia - an unnervingly prescient (pre-COVID filmed), dystopian story involving comic book geeks, QAnon-like conspiracies, man-made contagion and a sneakily impressive body count.  

For the missus, just what the doctor ordered after seven months of doing precious little and having her husband far longer than she was led to believe.

After significant career-driven geographic separation, be careful what you wish for, Lisa.

But I digress.  The central, re-occurring question the series returns to is, "what have you done to earn your place in this crowded world?"

Um, really?  That sounds... profound.  I thought I was signing up for something a little less consequential, like 'if a genie granted you a couple wishes, what would you ask for?  

(Ability to drum like Ginger Baker.  Villa on Lago di Maggiore.  Non-stop ND national championships.  Duh.) 

Okay as one pondered the question, the first thought was... changing the channel in my golf club workout room from Fox News to MSNBC every Sunday morning... does that count?

Probably not.  But psychically helping - let us not forget the power of Macallan 2 years ago - ND beat #1 ranked Clemson, that would definitely do it, wouldn't it? 

Jerrence is on the case.

Word of The Week.
Used in a sentence paragraph:  Young Jerrence stared into the bottom of his beer mug, its frosty nature, the tactile rush so thrilling when first poured, the melted condensation now the only clues of its original, optimized state.

He pondered the emptiness of the glass, sadly indicative of how he felt about du Lac's victory over Ga. Tech.  Sure it was nice to have another largely stress-free viewing experience. But he thought he should feel... fuller.

He knew the victory was over an Engineering School, a genus of undergraduate known more for its pocket protector fashion sensibility than athletic prowess, Jerrence's colleagues notwithstanding. 

Where was the football program headed?  Especially in The Age of COVID, when every week represented a new challenge in player availability, the Notre Dame seemed to be coddiwompling its way through its 2020 schedule, with no one -in or outside the team - really knowing how this season was going to play out.  But so far, so good.

Quote of the Week.

“He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad...”
Rafael Sabatini

The opening line to Mr. Sabatini's "Scaramouche" - a novel about a young lawyer during the French Revolution who turns, ultimately, from cynic to idealist.

Lawyers and revolution.  Any resemblance to present day circumstances - and Notre Dame football - surely are purely coincidental. 

Sure they are. But I'm going to embrace that quote on Saturday night. And it will comfort me.

Game Observations.

Oh I know it don't thrill you
I hope it don't kill you...
You gotta do it til you're through it
So you better get to it...

Who wants to re-hash the Ga. Tech game? 

Bueller?   Bueller?

Okay, no one.  So like our esteemed coach, lets focus on Clemson.

1.  Bob Rasmus.  If he were to have written an Op-Ed, which obviously he did not - how would he have spun this one?  Possibly like this:
  • The Irish were workman-like: no big deal, nothing to see here, check the box and move on.
  • The Irish held a lot back: neither Rees or Lea were going to tip their hand
  • The Irish were consciously distracted:  mirroring their coach who has been public (and honest) for most of October that they were laser-focused on 11/7 and Clemson
  • The Irish are peaking: still working through that three week layoff
Choose your answer.  All of these can be true.  

2. Who steps up?   As much as has been (and will be) made about Book needing to play the game of his life, it can't be just him alone.  Allow me to nominate a few:

  • O-line:  the more we can control the clock, the less time for Etienne and their O.
  • WR's anyone.  Skowronek?  Dr. Jekyll & Mr. McKinley?  Don't be hugely surprised if it's Avery Davis. 
  • Daelin:  keep it up, gotta get some pressure on the freshman QB.
    • Short of that, please play Foskey a lot.  They're gonna need his athleticism.
  • LB's:  I can't even keep our LB's straight anymore - Bauer, White, Kiser - one of them is gonna have to be really disciplined, fundamentally sound.  Which mean getting guys on the ground immediately when you have the chance.
3.  Coach Lea / Rees.    Whatever you have in your bag of tricks, now is the time.

4. The campus COVID story is not trending great.  Let's hope there are no surprises tomorrow morning.

Hey, who are those guys in the Clemson press box...
5.   Signal Stealing.  And no, we're not talking about the Astros.  Apparently it's not much of a secret that Clemson is very skilled at stealing signs during a game.  But rather than suggest it being something illegal, consider it more a stealthy skill set where the onus is really on the offense to be better at disguising their calls. 

At any rate, something to watch for Saturday night.

6. The prediction.  Have to be honest, even with the number of key players (more than just Lawrence) the Tigers won't be playing, I'm still not terribly optimistic.   

It's just not a great position to be in when your team's biggest variable... biggest question mark... is its QB.

Doesn't mean I won't live and die watching it.  I maintain this is as big of a must-win game as any in Kelly's tenure.  I'm hopeful, just not overly confident.

How do you always get the best of me?
I'm out here living in a fantasy
I can't enjoy a goddamn thing...

This week has not been good for the blood pressure. 

Buddy's Buddy.

If I'd have known Daelin Hayes was gonna play that well again this season, I might've held off on his 
recognition two weeks.

That said, a nice problem to have - the team is going to need him playing at that level for the rest of the season.

So because I am a slave to my own wildly inconsistent, arbitrary and frankly, unfathomable rules for recognition in this space, we're going in a less obvious direction - call it a vote of confidence.  Or even a lifetime achievement award.

Avery Davis
.  A couple things to point out:  

1) no one has had his career jerked around more, positionally speaking, than this guy.  Came in as QB, moved to RB, then DB, back to WR, now something of a Swiss army knife / gadget guy... runs jet sweeps, screens etc.  

2) Not especially flashy but someone who just keeps drives alive.   

The last few years, Clemson had a guy - his name escapes me - who ALL HE DID was catch 3rd down, drive-extending plays.  

Highly irritating - you always seem to know it was coming to him. Maybe Chris Finke is a better comparison.  
  • Last Saturday, he showed that kind of potential, 4 catches / 29 yds / long of 16 yds.  
  • The week before:  3 / 44 / 21.
In any event, nice to see kid have some meaningful success after showing the resilience - especially when so many others seem to bolt for the transfer portal*.  And a role we may desperately need someone to fill for the offense

*not judging. Well, kinda judging.

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

I rarely talk about recruiting and there's a reason for that:  I have no idea what I'm talking about, and have almost zero interest in diving very deeply into the decision-making processes of entitled 18 yr. olds who've been told since birth that they are special and deserving of a different set of rules than their more ordinary brethren.  

That said, I understand, like it or not, it's the lifeblood of any college athletic program and BIG GAMES like Saturday have a material effect on those teenage divas' decisions.  This week's Athletic Mailbag to Pete Sampson attempts to slake those readers thirst in that regard:

Even as a Notre Dame fan, I can acknowledge that a win this week against Clemson would be a decent-sized upset, and even with a win, beating Clemson again, then Ohio State and Alabama feels nearly impossible. Acknowledging that ND will probably never again be the pro football factory that those teams are, what’s the recruiting key to ND becoming a team capable of actually winning in the playoff?

This is a recruiting mailbag, so you guessed it: Better recruiting. Much better recruiting.

Yes, Notre Dame does a better job than the majority of the country. It’s a team that wins 10 games annually and is always a part of the national discussion, but I hate to inform you that the Irish just don’t stack up athletically to the top four programs in the sport: Alabama, Georgia, Clemson and Ohio State.

Notre Dame is a top-10 program. Right now, the Irish rank No. 8 in the 247Sports Team Talent Composite, which means they have a top-10 roster in college football. So when Notre Dame plays the majority of teams, it should win. But here’s a sobering statistic: Notre Dame has two five-star prospects on its entire roster while Georgia (16), Ohio State (14), Alabama (12) and Clemson (11) all have double-digit five-star players. Notre Dame has 44 four-star prospects while Georgia (51), Alabama (58) and Ohio State (52) have considerably more.

The reality is that there is a huge gap in talent between the No. 4 team in college football and the No. 8 team. There are four powerhouse programs and a group of about 15 or 20 schools that fall into the second tier, and aside from the occasional upset, that second tier can’t compete. Take a look at the national title results. That talent gap is drastic.

I understand that Notre Dame doesn’t have a talent-rich state like Ohio or Georgia to fall back on, and, yes, academic standards and other challenges make things harder for Brian Kelly. But if you want to know what Notre Dame has to do to win a national title, it has to sign three or four five-star prospects every year — not two during a five-year span.

Source:  The Athletic

Cocktail of the Week

Here's how, ultimately, uninteresting I found last Saturday's game against Georgia Tech:

I drank beer. Like for, the whole game, not just a 1st half warm up. 

Could I be any more pedestrian?   Sure, I'm a stealth member of The People's Uprising and must therefore remain in touch with the proletariat but geez, one still needs to have some standards (Glenmorangie / Bombay Sapphire / Patron / Pilar / the Italian Brunello - Barolo - Amarone holy trinity). 

If only Doordash had the Behrens Bloody Mary on its menu.  By halftime I'd have been ringing them up, "before I place my order, can you tell me how long have your jalapeños been soaking in vodka?  And where you've sourced your andouille sausage..."

Alas, not to be.
Billy Budd Light
Billy Budd (1924)
Directed by Herman Melville

You mean other than completing 10 yd. passes? 
Helpful tip:  If you don't want your diaries published, burn them before you head to the great bar in the sky (or throw your phone into the nearest ocean).   

Although Melville is best known for his classic whale tale (looking at you, Moby-Dick) he had been relegated to the footnotes of literature before his eventual biographer uncovered the unpublished Billy Budd manuscript over 30 years after his death.

Melville had a thing for the high seas (duh, who doesn't) and Budd, written during his final years is a tragedy about an innocent sailor accused of a crime he didn't commit.

Find your land legs again before pouring yourself this brawny beverage with a sea-foam finish. 

  • 2 oz. clamato
  • 1 oz. aquafaba (Google it)
  • 1/2 oz. salted water
  • Bud Light, to fill
Pour the clamato, aquafaba and salted water into a shaker.  Dry-shake, without ice, for :10.  Pour  into a pint glass and top with Bud Light. Land ho!

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                  7.30pm    / NBC
14                  @Boston College
21                    Bye
26 (Friday)  @UNC
5                  SYRACUSE                    TBA    / NBC
12                Wake Forest

The Wager.


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



Talk about a dilemma...  Boston College is up 28-10 over Clemson and one's natural reaction is 'yippee!'  

Until one remembers that outcome would not only screw ND next week (one can only imagine the # of F-bombs that the NBC execs were throwing around) but also significantly decrease the odds of the Tigers losing two games in a row... 


1)  Michigan.   This really is too easy.  I asked this question of my older brother Kevin, die-hard 49'ers fan:  "was Harbaugh ever really that good of a coach - or did he just strike gold at San Francisco (ironically coinciding w the Kaepernick years)?"  I guess one gives him props for his Stanford success but even that, how much of that was David Shaw?

So think about this program every time you find yourself beginning to lament ND's inability to break that final ceiling into consistent elite program status. It could be worse.

2) Oklahoma State.  Let's give the Big-12 its props; their "just say no to defense" philosophy makes for a wildly entertaining viewing experience if you have no skin in the game, financial or otherwise.  But, going into the game, OSU's #6 ranking just had to be put to rest. And the sooner the better.  And the fact they put up 34 pts. and still lost, all the better.

3) Boston College.  Not that it isn't always enjoyable to see them lose but this time, for this point only:  can we hold off on the narrative - yet - of Phil Jurkovic as the next Trevor Lawrence? (That guy is who we'll be seeing this week!)  He played pretty well but not necessarily the driving reason for their playing Clemson tough (a 97 yd. fumble return sure helped).  Will he be better than Book over time?  Highly likely.  He is now?  Sorry but no.

Terry's Tools.

I once recall somewhere someone saying about somebody (how's that for specificity)... 

"So and so maybe an idiot. But he's our idiot..."

Could anything possibly better describe the Class of '79 Dillon Hall Tools?  

Like a fine wine strange foreign food, they are something of an acquired taste.  

Or perhaps more like a virus caught in a Third World country that, if you survive it, you're immune for life.  You're both relieved and weirdly exhilarated.

Tools, sorry we missed this year's Florida get together (my invitation must've gotten lost in the unfortunate defunded USPS bureaucracy). With that state - because it's such a paragon of responsible social behavior - each year adding more of our class as residents (or at least, seasonal carpetbaggers), hopefully we'll have something going next year...

1) Javon Wims.   Being a Packer fan is not so dissimilar than being an ND fan - other than the fact that one team wins because of its QB, the other despite... the fact is both programs are seen as very good, just not quite credibly elite.  

So we turn to our biggest rivals for the occasional feel good moment.  

Which leads to Mr. Wims, who in the classic overreaction of one who had got a wedgie in the boys bathroom*, unhinged on a Saints DB and got himself kicked out of the game - and suspended for two additional games.  Well done.

As an aside, the NOLA players lack of retaliation was extremely impressive.

*apparently the Saints player took his mouthpiece.  He must've really liked that mouthpiece. 

Final Thoughts.

C'mon and dim the lights - it's party time!
Switch on the strobe
We're gonna have a ball tonight...

Saturday night.  We're undefeated and playing the #1 team in the country. At home.  Our turf.

Just what we asked for. Bring your A-game.  We're gonna have a ball tonight... 

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