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Thursday, October 14, 2021

Va. Tech Dazed and Confused

I don't know why sometimes I get frightened...

Dateline:  Flint Lake, IN

The last two months have been pretty special with The Granddaughter around.  

And no one was more excited than I about the special bonding opportunity involving watching football with grandpa.

But the truth is, the September initiation into ND football with gramps didn't go so well.  (A little known fact about the under 1-year old cohort:  they're very intuitive.  

Like piranha and other tiny predators, they smell fear.  And desperation.

Which made Young Jerrence a very bad date for the little one. For much of last month, she was having none of my self pitying, "our O-line couldn't block you, Sloane" angst.  

I am not amused. 
Rather, her attitude (and it turns out, lungs) screamed, "Hey Old Man, this is NOT the ball of laughs you suggested when you carried me down here.  
And while I was, relatively speaking, born yesterday, I see what you're doing and do not appreciate the bait 'n switch which you have clearly perpetrated."

Turns out, she wasn't wrong.

Looking back to the last time I did this, the autumns of 1989 (Ryan) and 1992 (Shea), I recall the indoctrination to ND football going significantly smoother.  But then again, ND went 12-1 (finishing #2 in the polls) in the former and 10-1-1 (finishing #4) in the latter year - with most of those games involving relatively little stress.

At any rate, it's safe to say the October edition of Notre Dame football has not improved markedly on their ability to play down to their competition.  And while I'm saddened that the littlest Corrigan blood relation has returned home to Virginia Beach at September's end, I feel good that she didn't have to see the team or grandpa last weekend.  And that I haven't entirely warped her with bad football and my associated psychoses. 

There's always next year. 

Quote of the Week

"They (ND football) do a lot of stupid shit - but they have heart..."
ND Message Board

Sometimes the on-line cretins do get it right, not unlike the proverbial stopped clock that's right twice a day.   In this particular case - halfway through the season - let's indeed celebrate one thing in particular that we can all agree this team does well:  they DO NOT give up.  Ever.

Word of the Week

Used in a sentence paragraph:  Young Jerrence recognized what was building up inside him, even before kickoff.  And he wasn't talking about just the tequila he was sucking down. 

Though the tequila was building up like a squirrel stores nuts.  Jerrence considered it preventive medicine, endorsed more or less, by three key operatives in his life: Lisa Minnella, Ryan Corrigan and Jay Flaherty.

Not exactly The Holy Trinity but one could do worse in assembling a triumvirate on which to base a football game cocktail choice.

About that pre-kickoff tequila.  It wasn't helping. Nor did the subsequent Paloma refill (in for a penny, in for a pound).  Not after the obligatory Coan sack on the first series.  And definitely not later, after Zeke Correll's false start at midfield on 4th and 1.

So, three hours into the debacle, after Notre Dame let the one-armed Va. Tech QB score (on yet another 3rd and long that the D just couldn't get it together for), Jerrence was not terribly surprised by the paroxysm of anger that overcame him.  Va. Tech was objectively mediocre. And yet... 

Even the subsequent comeback did little to quell his frustration - he began to obsess about both his life choices and where he had set down his cocktail.  Luckily, the USC  game was still on and they were losing big.

The night was still young and full of upside. 

Game 6 Thoughts


Actually, no, I wasn't. (I thought I had made that clear by now.) Although I suspect the overwhelming majority of the viewing world was, no doubt wildly so.  A card-carrying liberal nancy-boy, I prefer my football entertainment more of the "42-13, over-by-halftime, time to start planning one's celebratory romp through Scotland's single malt regions" ilk.

Not, 'how can we play down to another mediocre ACC team while making a QB who won't even play in the Arena league look like a Heisman candidate.'

But as the philosopher Albert J. Brunett might say, that's just me. 

Okay, a few more random thoughts... 

Maybe they're seeing something we don't. 
Let's give 'em something to talk about...


1)  Brian Kelly.  I get why he is so hard to like.  He makes some (many?) decisions that to those outside of the program (and maybe inside as well) appear counter-intuitive.  He offers no explanations or apologies.   He literally does not give two fucks about what anyone else thinks about him and/or his methods.   

But I also understand why his players probably love him. As much of a hard ass as he might be on the practice field, he clearly has their backs when it hits game time - no matter how it appears to the viewing millions and the inevitable memes it sets off.

This has got to be a really whacky, challenging year for him.  Nothing seems to ever go entirely to plan.  And I bet he's quietly loving it.

2) Tyler Buchner.  So maybe we just saw what Kelly sees every week - and what he's been trying to tell everyone - the kid has incredible upside followed by set-your-hair-on-fire inconsistency.   

He is The Future.  
He may not be The Present.

Or maybe he is. Who knows?  I'm not sure even Kelly does.  

But it wasn't lost on me this past weekend that both Oklahoma and Alabama were (are) playing freshmen QB's who made on Saturday alternatively great and boneheaded plays.  And the stakes are no less high for those programs.  So do you love the good and accept the bad?   

Buchner got thrown into the deep end of the pool - here's the full playbook, oh we haven't run that for you before?  too bad - in one of the more hostile environments in college football.  And for at least one quarter, he saved our asses.  Maybe if he gets a little more practice time w the 1st team...

3) Drew Pyne.  More than one of you have asked me - what did he do to piss off Kelly?!  Great question.  Hard to not see him putting his name in the transfer portal about January 3rd. 

4)  O-line. A few things to opine, and as a former place kicker, I feel uniquely qualified to speak from a place of credibility:

  • Youth has been served.  Joe Alt looked pretty damn good. 
    • and it must be said, Zeke Correll is pretty damn bad. 
  • It cannot possibly be a coincidence that the run game got 100% better when Buchner was in the game (and seemed to revert back when he wasn't)
  • While ecstatic about it, what's less clear is why O-line stayed so stout in pass protection for the final, Coan-led series
    • Theory #1:  With Alt and Kristolic in, the group has finally gelled.  Dare to dream.
    • Theory #2:  Fatigue; after chasing Buchner for 2 1/2 quarters, Va. Tech's front wore down.  (Time of possession, lost by ND doesn't exactly support this.)

5)  Youth served.  Seven (count 'em 7!) freshmen played on O, including 5 at one time:  QB - RB - WR - TE - OT.  Yikes.  And yet, they were pretty damn good.  

5)  Defense.  Say what you will about the O-line, at least they are (were) consistently bad.  What is it with our D and their inability to grasp that each half is fully 30 minutes long.  Maddening. 

6)  One cannot under-estimate the impact of not having Michael Mayer.  Props to coach Rees and the 'O' (okay it took a full quarter) for figuring out how to succeed without your #1 option.

7)  Kevin Austin.  Channeling Dwight Clark?  Actually Dwight never had anyone trying to take his head off when he was making The Catch.

8) I typically don't like to jump on the referee conspiracy bandwagon but man, there was some extremely questionable calls - at key moments - that went against ND:

  • Hamilton's roughing the QB - violent yes (hello, this is not flag football) but not even remotely a late hit
  • Evans' blind side - the Va. Tech guy was facing directly in front in him for practically the entire play

9)   How about that post-game skirmish?  

I loved it.  

You can take your mouthy, Metallica-lovin', militia joinin', strobe light flashin', cracker asses back to whatever holes y'all crawled out of - because that shit ain't flying with The Irish.

Oof.  (I didn't say that out loud, did I?)

Looks like, perhaps it's special medicine time for grandpa, Sloane.  

Buddy's Buddy

If this game didn't show us empirical evidence of The Duality of (Sports) Man, what will? 

Or maybe it's just yet another example of  "Those crazy Gen Z'ers.  Can't live with 'em.  Can't shoot 'em."

In any event, picking a 'buddy' for this game almost demands time-sensitive context - it's not like anyone was the model of consistency:

Q1    Zeke Correll
Q2    Tyler Buchner
Q3    Kyren Williams
Q4    The O-line / Kevin Austin / Jon Doerer

We're going with Jack Coan.  You've heard the expression, "coffee is for closers" and boy, did he embody that.  But more than just the results, he seemed to remind us that character matters:  a guy who didn't retreat, go into a shell... he stayed ready.  

And when called upon, he answered.  

This game will probably not go down in the annals of ND lore but it punched his ticket for me as a legit ND guy.  Welcome at any future team reunion.

BTW, loved your Joe Montana imitation on the 2 pt. conversion, Jack.  Just don't make a habit of it - it's not likely to end well, probably, ever again. 

One last footnote
Avery Davis should go down as one of the great unsung heroes of this team over the last two years.  

No one ever talks about him as a key to a game - yet all he does is seem to make plays, at critical junctures, when the team needs it most. 

This man's opinion.

Don't worry about a thing
'Cause every little thing is gonna be alright... 

RE-PETE (A shameless, illegal lift of Pete Sampson's weekly mail-bag)

I would not like to suggest that I'm checking out on this year's team...

It just appears that, halfway through the season, one can somewhat reasonably chart the trajectory of the team - and it doesn't suggest a BCS Playoffs destination.

Perhaps (hopefully) a winnable January 1 bowl but that's even TBD until we see some sustained improvement in a lot of places.

Nonetheless, given the amount of promising underclassmen we're now seeing hit the field, one cannot help but maybe start thinking 'how high is up' next year even as we focus on finishing this year strong.  Apparently, so is Mr. Sampson. 

What if Notre Dame can prepare for next year and win this year at the same time? Because that’s what’s happening, even if it’s getting lost in the conversation about who’s playing and how much.

Let’s get something out of the way: Notre Dame doesn’t need to prepare for next year at the expense of winning in October and November this year. That’s how coaches lose locker rooms. That’s how recruiting classes go sideways. But what the Irish did Saturday night at Virginia Tech was both a look ahead to next season and a reminder that what’s done in service of 2022 can also serve 2021.

“We’re reaching the halfway point. We’re going to be who we are,” Kelly said. “We gotta get these (young) guys in the game and get this experience if we want to win the rest of the games we play. They gotta get in this game, they gotta feel it, they gotta be part of it.”

Freshmen Logan DiggsTyler BuchnerMitchell EvansCane Berrong and Joe Alt all had season-highs for snaps played in Blacksburg. On one snap, Buchner handed to Diggs who ran around Alt for a 10-yard gain. On another, Buchner miscommunicated with freshman receiver Deion Colzie, which turned into a pick six. Freshman receiver Lorenzo Styles was featured only lightly, but he had a key catch a week earlier against Cincinnati.

A source inside the Gug told The Athletic on Saturday night that the freshman class has a chance to be outstanding, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. That doesn’t mean Notre Dame needs to force the issue by playing talent that’s not ready, but it does mean players in the freshman class are now clicking to the point that they’ve earned time. That helps get the Irish ready for their trip to Columbus a year from now, but it also helps Notre Dame get ready for USC’s visit two weeks from now.

Source:  The Athletic
October 12, 2021

Cocktail of the Week

More than once in my post-college adulthood, both Boston and Chicago-related, I would wake up on Saturday or Sunday morning and ask myself,

Last night.  Did that really happen?  
And Ungie wasn't even always involved.

Last Saturday's game left me in a similarly baffled state of mind:  part David Lynch (I have no idea what is going on), part Lars Von Trier (I think I'm following the story and I'm really not liking where this is going) and part Wes Anderson (sure the sweet, quasi-surreal ending was really nice but did you have to take so freaking long to get there).  Requiring a book / drink evocative of those feelings:

The Hitchhiker's Mudslide To The Galaxy
The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy (1979)
by Douglas Adams

With a Monty Python-esque sense of the absurd, Douglas Adam's Hitchhiker actually began as as a BBC show before becoming an out-of-this-world-hilarious novel (not to mention video game, a movie, comic book spin-offs and countless parodies).

As a road-trip comedy through the cosmos, starring the world's last living man, the universe of Hitchhiker titles contains nothing less than the answer to the meaning of life.

Brace for impact with this Mars-worthy Mudslide that defies gravity. 


1 oz.  vodka                                                              
1 oz.  Irish coffee liqueur (e.g. Bailey's)                                                     
1 oz.  coffee liqueur (e.g. Kahlua)                                                         
Heavy cream, to float
Mars bar

Pour the vodka, Bailey's, Kahlua into a rocks glass over ice.  Slowly pour the cream on top. Chase it with a Mars bar - and brace for impact. 

Source:  Are You There God? It's Me Margarita
More Cocktails with a Literary Twist
by Tim Federle


 5                     @Florida St.    W
11                    Toledo              W
18                    Purdue             W
24                    Linipalooza X   W
25                   @Wisconsin    W

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

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


Point:  1) ND will be favored in every game left on the schedule,  2) none of the opponents are likely to be even ranked and 3) the team has not lost to an unranked team in 36 games.  

So, hello 11-1, right?

Counter pointHave you even been watching this team?! 

One thing's for sure, I'm real confused
And so it begins, fantastic delusion


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.
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.


Schadenfreude of the Week

If last week was an abject lesson in misery loving company (even while hating the company its keeping), this week is more like the Halloween candy haul from one's youth, where one goes home, dumps out all the booty to see what ya got.

And finding something familiar, solid - not necessarily bad - but kinda what you thought you'd get to consider it a successful night. 

Then you find at the bottom of the bag, something truly exceptional, like your favorite chocolate wrapped in a $5 bill.  Whose house was that?  That was sorta this weekend:

1)  Alabama.   Could this be the beginning of the end of a glorious-but-inevitable run of dominance?  

Don't bet on it quite yet.  

But their aura of invincibility, especially defensively, sure seems have dissipated. 

2)  USC.  This will NEVER, EVER get old.

3)  Penn State.  Don't worry, coach Franklin, LSU's is looking like a solid back up if the USC opportunity falls through.

4)  BYU.   See you in Vegas next year, Mormon Nation.  Prepare to lose badly there too. 

Terry's Tools

 This probably feels like a re-hashing of the same lament... but can we all agree that world is not in a particularly good place right now?

And sports - amateur or professional - quite often seems to shine a pretty bright light on a dysfunction borne out across the rest of society.

Still athletes, and their minions, have made being bad / stupid / evil / whatever an art form.

I find myself conflicted.  Am I a whistleblower or sycophant?  Honestly, some weeks it's hard to tell.  Sometimes the idiocy is just so impressive. 

1.  Spencer Rattler.   On the heels of watching our guy handle his benching much differently, I give you OU's seeming Heisman candidate.

Plays like dookie, OU gets down by 18 to historical arch-rival.  Gets replaced by a highly touted freshman (sounds familiar?)... even after the replacement has some success, he retreats to the bench to sulk and plot his transfer portal strategy. 

A real leader. 

2.  Laser Boy.  There was that small matter of ND needing a 48 yard FG - not exactly a gimme - to win Saturday's game.  

And from a guy who has not been the model of consistency (yet, weirdly, always seems to be absolute money when the game is on the line).

And while, at the time, the TV cameras seemed to focus on a Va. Tech fan's use of a flashing, can-we-induce-an-epileptic-seizure type of light.  Later it was reported the offending laser that got Kelly so excited was of a more insidious type, the singular dot kind and apparently aimed at Doerer's eyes - the strategy apparently being:  

  • Best case: I blind him. (Tough to make kick like that!)
  • Worst case: I make him think I've got a sniper trained on him. (Très distracting, oui?)  

To Jon Boy's credit, while Kelly was trying to get that stopped, our fearless kicker was telling him (and I may be playing a little fast and loose with the anecdote), 

"Screw that mickey mouse bullshit, coach. Let's kick this thing and get the fuck out of this hell hole."

Kickers rule.

3.  John Gruden.  As Notre Dame fans ever uncomfortable with any association to impropriety, do we call this (after Urban Meyer) Bullet Dodged #2 in the 'be careful what you wish for in your head coach candidates' list?  

Whereas Urban had to be reminded that everyone has a camera these days, it would seem coach G re-learned a painful lesson in 'the spoken word may be ephemeral but emails are forever.'

Especially if someone has an axe to grind against you.  

And, at that level of the sport, someone always has an axe to grind. 

4)  Kyrie Irving.  Mr. Flat Earth himself, not a stranger to this space and the poster child for asking the question, 'what exactly is the value of a Duke education?'

Mr. Irving has decided that getting the COVID vaccine is no bueno - very 'on Brand' for him - while the Nets management has, in turn, said 'well, Kyrie, no tickee - no washee.'  Which is to say, you're not playing - you're not even practicing - without being vaccinated.  We've got other players (better than you) to think about. 

For a team with very legitimate championship aspirations, Kyrie's "personal decision" seems a bit... selfish. 

But then, he is a Man of Science.  

Final Thoughts

Go, Pack, Go!  Why do I love the Packers?  Those team values passed down over the decades. 

Enjoy the week off, everyone. 

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