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Friday, September 3, 2021

FSU: Changes In Latitude

Dateline:  Flint Lake, IN
Feeling tired then I got inspired
I knew that it wouldn't last long
So all alone I walked back home
Sat at the beach and there I made up this blog...

Happy Labor Day to all.    Although with the increasing number of our brethren joining the ranks of the retired, one wonders what this holiday even means for many of you - a long weekend?  What's that?! Aren't they all? And what is this 'labor' thing of which you refer?

Well, I mock because I love.  And am more than a little envious.  Just a couple more years...

And for those retirees who perceived Sunday nights as a newfound oasis of stress-free existence, allow Notre Dame football to disabuse you of that notion.

Word of the Week

Used in a sentence paragraph
:  As Young Jerrence's ire subsided over the recent to-do involving the offensive nature of the Fighting Irish leprechaun mascot, he began to see his opinion evolving on the subject. 

Perhaps the diminutive torches 'n pitchfork crowd had a point. Like their native American brethren,  the indigenous sprite population of the world had been mocked, marginalized with pejorative monikers, long enough and it was time for a change. 

The Notre Dame Fighting Korrigans had a nice ring to it, oui?

Quote of the Week

"I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I am saying."
Oscar Wilde

Meet the new blogger.  Same as the old blogger. 

Game 1 Thoughts

Get started, start a fire...

It certainly looked like we were starting on fire Sunday night, didn't it?

To be upfront about this - I'm taking a decidedly pollyanna, 'glass half full' approach to what we saw that evening... it was the first game of the year, for chrissakes, and for every team in the country not named Alabama or Georgia, 'uneven' performances were pretty much SOP.

So here's some thoughts, in non particular order...

1)  2nd play of the game and Zeke Correll jumps.  If we are Tight End U and/or O-Line U, we also have to be in the conversation for False Start U.  

2) Jack Coan.  That soul sucking sound you hear is the state of Wisconsin watching the Badgers and Irish QB play this past weekend and asking themselves, "Dear God, what did we do?"

3.  Grading (on a curve*) the Coordinators:
  • Rees:   B.  At times, especially early, seemed like he was trying too hard to be overly clever but otherwise pretty solid.  You should win any game you put up 38 pts. in regulation time.
  • Freeman.  C-.  What was with the 3-man fronts?! 
    • Fun fact:  ND's D was on the field for 9:40 of the 4th quarter.  
One blogger's opinion:  I loved the pressure, attacking attitude.  And FSU's QB was (is) more elusive than most.  And I can live with giving up the occasional big play.  Kelly made an interesting comment after the game, that Freeman is now finding out just who he really has.   Or maybe, hasn't. 

And for anyone pining for Clark Lea, recall that he had a full year as an assistant with the team - to know who/what he had - before becoming the DC.  

*versus the other coordinators I saw over the weekend.  

4.  Michael Mayer.  You're a stud so you get a one game 'hall pass.' But those drops cannot keep happening. 

5.  To quote Brian Kelly, "What do you have to do to get a roughing the kicker call?" 

6.   Kyle Hamilton.  Could he actually be better than we thought?

7.  Maybe this is more of a commentary on FSU's team speed but I don't think Kyren is a fast as the ND coaching staff thinks he is.

8.  Carrot Top!  Dead solid perfect.

9.   Finally, can someone explain to me how FSU can still get away with the Indian chief -in-war paint- on-horseback mascot, and the tomahawk chop?  If something as generic* as a Cleveland Indian is problematic, how the hell do they get away with that?!  Just when you think you can't be surprised by Florida any more...
*Or as imaginary as a leprechaun. 

Buddy's Buddy

"He went to Paris 
Looking for answers  
To questions 
That bothered him so..."

So for the past nine months, as a few (many?) of you might know, we've been playing foster parents to our daughter Shea's dog, Jack.

And for those of you familiar with Brian Doyle's novel, "Chicago", just know that Jack is the essence of Edward, a dog - and one of the book's central characters - of some significant erudition and insight.  Like Edward, Jack has been equal parts pet and confidant but perhaps more importantly the beta test in the marriage as to whether Jerrence was up to being able to, ultimately, take care of a dog of his own.

Well, good news and bad news:  Jerrence passed that test - huzzah! - but the pilot program has now been terminated. 

Last week, Jack (call me Jacques) has joined Shea back in Paris, ostensibly to sample the full spectrum of French wines and cheeses, ride the metro, people watch at sidewalk cafes  and occasionally seduce unsuspecting jeune fille.  

And, likely, never to return to these parts again.  

But we'll always have Flint Lake, Jack.

(And see you at Christmas.)

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

One of the more over-used (and increasingly irritating) expressions that's crept into journalistic vernacular is the "there's a lot to unpack" observation.

Unpack? What are we, valets?  

In any event, Sunday night did give ND Nation several things to re-hash (and there was much rejoicing for that in the blogger universe).

On the top of that list had to be the universally dismissive critique of the Freeman defense.  So let's hear from someone with greater acumen on the topic than any of us:

I feel everyone is overreacting to Marcus Freeman’s defense. The first three quarters were suffocating, and more sacks would have occurred if Jordan Travis wasn’t so mobile. Clearly the three down linemen is not a tactic he is going to use unless up big. Is it just me or is this total overreaction?

Andy C.

It’s difficult to look back at Sunday night, compare it to the “reaction” from fans and figure out whether people are overreacting to a an incredibly uneven defensive performance or not. What makes Freeman’s three-man fronts unique is that he plays them with 4-3 personnel, basically taking Isaiah Foskey and sticking him at inside linebacker. This is something Freeman did at Cincinnati, although he didn’t have any Foskey types on the roster. The concept of spacing defenders all over the field is supposed to be an RPO killer, but Florida State was not having a ton of success in that scheme.

For example, in the first half Notre Dame used the 3-4 front on four snaps. Florida State had two carries for seven yards, plus two completions on two attempts for 16 yards. That’s fine. In the second half, Notre Dame used three-man fronts on 21 snaps. Florida State has 12 carries for 87 yards (7.25 yards per carry). The Seminoles also completed 5 of 9 passes for 38 yards and took a sack.

It’s worth remembering Brian Kelly hired Marcus Freeman after watching these exotic 3-4 schemes at Cincinnati and presumably endorsing them. Was Notre Dame in three-man fronts too much in the fourth quarter on Sunday night? Yes. But it’s not like Freeman should just scrap the concept that helped him get hired at Notre Dame in the first place.

So again, what’s the reaction? That Freeman doesn’t know what he’s doing defensively? That would be an overreaction, yes. Just like naming him coach-in-waiting before he had coached a single game here was an overreaction. Personally, I want to see where Freeman goes next with his package. Changeup? Base? Trash can? The hunch is the 3-4 becomes more of a changeup (not to be confused with the 3-3-5 nickel package) the rest of the season.

Look, Freeman got an education at Florida State. This isn’t Cincinnati anymore, where performances (good and bad) go under the radar. Everything at Notre Dame matters all the time. That’s what Freeman signed up for coming to South Bend (the same would have applied to Baton Rouge). Honestly, I’m more interested in how he adapts personnel usage than scheme. Does D.J. Brown continue to get work at the back? How does the linebacker rotation work? Is there a third corner outside of nickel? In re-watching the game, you’ll notice a lot of reserves on the field for Florida State’s biggest moments. Perhaps the Irish aren’t as deep as they thought.

By the way, it’s OK to give Freeman some space to learn on the job. This is all new for him. Expecting perfection on opening night on the road is a bit much.

Cocktail of the Week

What's the appropriate libation for a perfect Labor Day weekend and yet thematically justifiable for the game we witnessed?

It should be seasonally relevant and represent perhaps, slyly, a geographical tie-in.  It'd be great if it could also be epic - after all, we had a packed stadium and a 7M person viewing audience.

There needs to be, of course, a dollop of drama, albeit perhaps more so than is necessary. But we're creatures of excess, no?  Ultimately, wildly enjoyable, at least to those without any personal connections... hmmm.  

Gone With The Wine
Gone With The Win (1936)
By Margaret Mitchell

When Margaret Mitchell proclaimed that Wind was a story of survival, she was likely referring to her heroine, Scarlett O'Hara, who starts off a southern belle and ends up losing the hoop skirt to scavenge for food.                                                                                                                          You'll call yourself a survivor, too, when you get through the 1000'ish pages.                                                                                                                                                                               A Pulitzer winner for the plucky Mitchell - her second marriage was to the best man at her first marriage - Wind is an enduring money-maker.   

Gather a group, skip the movie, scour the book and cool off a boiling discussion with this sangria:  red as the earth of Tara and packed with proper Georgia peaches.


*  1 bottle red wine (~ 3 cups)

*  2 oz. peach brandy 
*  2 tblsp. sugar
*  1 peach, chopped into cute little squares
*  1 orange, cut into bite-sized wedges
*  2 1/2 cups ginger ale, chilled

Pour the wine, brandy, sugar and fruits into a large pitcher and stir. Place the pitcher in the fridge and allow to infuse for at least an hour.  When guess need a break - you'll know, because someone will refer to Ashley as a girl; this person did not read the book - top the pitcher off with ginger ale and serve over ample ice.  

It's cool down time.

SourceTequila Mockingbird
Cocktails With A Literary Twist
by Tim Federle


 5                     @Florida St.    W
11                    Toledo    - 1st Stayer Tailgate in 2 years!  
18                    Purdue
24                    Linipalooza X - FRIDAY NIGHT!
25                   @Wisconsin (Soldier Field)

 2                    Cincinnati     
 9                    @Va. Tech 
16                    BYE            
23                    USC
30                    UNC

6                    Navy          
13                  @UVA               
20                  Ga. Tech
27                  @Stanford

The Wager.

For those following such things, there are five (5) future opponents presently ranked in the Top 25:  
  • #7, 14, 18, 19 and 24th 

"8-win Al" has got to be feeling pretty comfortable right about now.


Archetype (Embodies)



Miracle On Ice


To be clear, ND running the table wouldn't come remotely close to approximating the USA ice hockey victory over Russia in '80.  

Nothing in my lifetime will beat this.  Nor will anything exceed the guilt I still have for ruining this for Castellini.

Still ND going 12-0 seems similarly tough to envision with the little we know right now.


Brian M.


John P.

Bryan G.

Gary H.

Pat B.

Dave M.


Kerry Strug

One final vault.  Hit it, basically perfectly, and your country wins the gold medal.

No pressure.  Oh and you just tore two ligaments in your ankle on your prior attempt - you can barely walk.

But apparently, you still have one more sprint in you.  Boom!  Done.

ND winning 11 games is not really analogous to this but right now, it's looking just as iffy.


Jay F.

Bill B.

Bob J. 

Dave G.

Peter B.

Jim S.

Jim B.

Daryl M.

Dennis R.

Mike C.


Super Bowl III


In hindsight this probably wasn't nearly the shocker it was at the time - but it sure made the NFL sit up and take notice.

At this point in the Kelly regime, ND winning 10 games is no longer unexpected. 

And yet, they have a similar imperative (as the AFL did) to do this in order to get the football world to really buy in that ND is elite again. 

Sloane B.
Phillip S.
Jerry P.
Kevin M.
Jim T.
Tim S.
The Dim One
Bob S. 
Blair R.
Alex S.
Ted C.
Tom F.
Ted C.
Randy R. 
Mike G. 


NC St over Phi Slamma Jamma


The 'improbable' relevance to ND success gets shakier as the win total gets lower... 

A great game but unless you had money on it (I didn't), it was a fleeting feel good. 

Relevance to 9 wins? None. But on this continuum this is where this sits.


Brian W.

Garrett R. 

Mike B.

John L.

Ward H. 


Villanova over Georgetown

 In terms of improbability, you could probably flip this game w NC State's victory - they were both pretty awesome in a vicarious way.

These rankings all being relative vs. the others, it's feeling 8'ish even if it probably deserves better.  



Albert B.


ND over Miami, 1988 

Was this improbable at the time?  Depends on who you ask - and if they're honest.

Miami owned ND in the '80s.

And yet, Holtz & Co. made everyone believe.  

Impressive, definitely.  But on a scale of 1-10 as unlikely, maybe a 7.



ND over Clemson, 2020

This victory - as necessary as it was for the program - gets somewhat devalued in terms of improbability:

1) ND was genuinely really good last year.   And playing at home.

2) Candidly, no Trevor Lawrence.



ND over Florida St., 1993


After the '88 Miami win, with Holtz still in charge... while never a 'lock', beating FSU was certainly no great surprise.

And ultimately tempered by spitting the bit the next week against BC.



If anyone wishes to play down here... 


3 my guest.



Readers of this space may recall that, this time of year I am typically whinging about the month of September being 'schedule the cupcakes' season. Nary an opportunity to revel in a spirit-lifting loss of a team you loathe.

Well, apparently, no longer. Big games to kick off the season seem to now have become de rigueur.  Unless you're Michigan. (Enjoy it while it lasts, coach Harbaugh.)

And why anyone schedules Alabama as their first game - unless you really, really need that money - is beyond me.

1)   UNC.   You could argue that we should want our opponents winning right up until they play us but schadenfreude doesn't work that way.  The heart wants what it wants.  And Jerrence's heart wants the world reminded just how mediocre of a coach Mack Brown really is.

2)  Wisconsin.  Call this the Jack Coan 'How Ya Like Me Now?' Bowl.

3)   LSU.   There are a lot of very nice people from Louisiana - many of whom, presently, have far more to worry about than a football game.  But for a program that seems to get mentioned, at least recruiting-wise, in the same breath as Bama/Georgia/Clemson, boy have they been bad.  And since we seem to be more actively recruiting there, we could use for that program to lose some of its gravitational pull on their local athletes.

Terry's Tools.

Okay, this week, let us start by offering a blinding glimpse of the obvious:

Coach Kelly, perhaps stand up comedy is not as much in your wheelhouse as you may seem to believe.

Nonetheless, hardly a hanging offense.  And for those outraged by his butchering of an old John McKay witticism ("What did you think of your team's execution? I'm in favor of it."),  I'd quote Sergeant Hulka, "Lighten up, Francis." 

I think there are better, far more deserving, candidates this week:

1) Mike Norvell.     I could be arguably accused of kicking a man when he's down but as the expression goes, "If you get the chance to ice your own kicker in OT, you just gotta do it."

2). ND Nation.    You'd think that after all these years, I'd be able to control my emotions about my whiny, know it all, mommy-still-does-my-laundry ND fan brethren (present audience, of course, excluded).  They're so freaking predictable.  

And yet. 

You knew the 'Fire Freeman' tweets were gonna come but I was still surprised by the vitriol aimed at the announcers.  I know, predictable Jerrence!  

Except that, the announcing team was consistently complimentary about ND...  McElroy was SPOT ON in his "why are they using a 3-man rush" observation and the McKenzie Milton gushing - yes, over the top - was totally WARRANTED!  

The kid almost lost his leg (!), hadn't played in two years and in his first snaps under center, he's leading a comeback on national TV against an iconic program?!   If that had been an ND QB, the fanbase would've bitched about them under-selling the moment. 

The point is, announcers make sacrifices to pagan gods for that once-in-a-career scenario.  I swear, we could have Knute Rockne broadcasting our games and there'd be ND fans bitching about his Norwegian accent.

3) Bishop Sycamore.  Or ESPN? Perhaps you read about this:  IMG, the Florida-based top ranked high school football program waxes a team 56-0 on national TV.  Nothing especially unusual about that. Except there was something very unusual about their opponent.  Like they'd already played two days before, the credentials of their players weren't nearly as lofty as indicated and perhaps the school itself wasn't even, um, real.  

There's a cat fishing joke in here somewhere. 

4)  PGA.  What to do about the fans that cross the line during sporting events - be it the spewing of racial, sexual or cultural epithets?   I think we can all agree there's no place for that and in such cases, should be dealt with swiftly and powerfully.  

Not sure, however, where the incessant shouts of "Brooksie!" should fall (if at all) on that continuum.  

And yet, the PGA Tour, seemingly acquiescing to one of its marquee players with the delicate sensitivities of a 12 yr. old school girl, has deemed such utterances as an act of the highest impropriety, to be banished from the kingdom.  Good grief. 

While you're at it, PGA governing body, maybe you could get said snowflake it hurry the f*** up when he plays.  I like watching many of the tournaments but Bryson, we've got other things to do than wait for you to calibrate God knows what... 

Oh, and this song's for you, Patrick Cantley...

5)  Unknown UNC guy.'  File this under 'Dad, what were ya thinking?"  One of Life's great truisms:  you can't fix stupid

Final Thought

Want a family 'feel good' film to watch after seeing your favorite team struggle on the national stage for four quarters, in turn making you wonder about your life choices especially, but not limited to, those involving the last weekend's TV viewing and/or what region of Scotland to visit next weekend because your brain's ability to quickly minimize painful experiences is nearly inexhaustible?

Try CODA.  

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