Search This Blog

Thursday, November 4, 2021

UNC: Hurry Sundown

Ooh Hurry Sundown, the gypsies cry...

Dateline:  Stayer Lot, Notre Dame IN

Probably like the vast majority of us, I am not the biggest fan of home* night games. 

Sure, there is always an immediate benefit in the kickoff time substantially helping out with arrival traffic flow.  And the chance to have a more relaxed morning is undeniable. 

The sting in the tail comes, of course, post-game.  Already past my bedtime, one waits out the inevitable traffic jam... tick tock. Thank God for Peter and his usual Stayer Lot nightcap service.

That all said, ND's record in those affairs has to be overwhelmingly good - if memory serves, the last time they lost a home night game was against 2nd ranked Georgia at the start of the 2017 season.

So, not that one has a say in this but... let's hear it for taking one for the greater good - long may it last, night games and winning.  And with Daylight Saving Time ending this weekend, 'night' is gonna be here by the 2nd half of every game here on out.  That bodes well.

 * The 'away' night games?  Bring it on - me and the evening's Scottish companion love 'em!

Quote of the Week

"The grass is amazing at Notre Dame."

                                                                     Troy Ford, Jr. 
                                                                 2023 LB recruit

"Yeah, my roommate said the same thing about the 2nd floor of Dillon in 1969... I was always at the library, so I had to take his word for it."

Message Boarder #1

"Being a Class of '77 Dillon member, I'm calling bullshit on the library claim."

Message Boarder #2

Word of the Week

Used in a sentence paragraph

As Young Jerrence drove into the Stayer Lot, feeling fat 'n sassy,  his thoughts immediately turned to the 3 hours of tailgate bacchanal that lay in front of him.   One must be strategic, he thought, the day was still young.

That was all to quickly change when word came of there being a betrayal in the kingdom.  One of The Stayer Chosen had cravenly sold a parking pass on-line.

Was it a coincidence that he'd been a senior class officer - holding virtually the highest political position one could as a student?  They say 'power corrupts.  And absolute power corrupts, absolutely.'  Was this yet another example of political office DNA rearing its ugly head?

"Come for the Tailgater, stay for the Tribunal," read the headline in Jerrence's head.   

So when the formal charges were read aloud - "rapacious misuse of Stayer Tailgate resources" - Jerrence shuddered.  That sounded really bad.  Hell, it was really bad. 

He wondered if emissaries had been sent to Naples to inform the accused.   

Perhaps they would've in a different municipality.  But much like Vatican City, Stayer Lot was its own country with its own set of laws.  

No such deference would be extended.

The defendant would be tried in absentia.  The trial (such as it was) and subsequent ruling came quickly. Unequivocally.  

GUILTY.  The local citizenry applauded, knowing justice had been served.

Sentencing to follow. 

Jerrence thought about what had just transpired.  The ruling weighed heavy on him.  Well, not that heavy. He wondered if Belknap had any more brats left. 

Game 8 Thoughts

I'd imagine that if someone had offered up a "44-34 shoot out, ND wins!" scenario back in August everyone would've taken the 'W' and ran with it. 

Then UNC pooped the bed, repeatedly - honestly, Mack Brown, is there any coach  who historically does less with more? - and now the win feels immediately less impressive.  

And yet, Saturday showed the Tar Heels still have got some players too.  

Other thoughts...

1)  Not My First Rodeo.   How to make your Stayer Lot tailgate experience its very best?  Allow me a few suggestions, starting with 'if you're given a parking pass, you'd be well advised to use it, motherf*cker.'  

Once on-site, here's a fool proof sequence: 
  • Apertif:  The Behrens Bloody Mary
  • Amuse Bouche:  Chick-Fil-A nuggets 
  • Entree:  The Belknap (or Mackrell) Brat
    • If a Tools draft beer is unavailable, try pairing with the Rasmus wine
  • Nightcap:  Dealer's choice but one can't go wrong by continuing to hit that wine.  Or a vodka tonic-in-a-Solo cup while navigating the tricky inner stadium pre-game chaos. 
And if you happen to arrive while Michigan is losing, that's a Sign from God to accelerate your party plan, you're playing with house money.

The more I see, the less I know... 

QB Rotation.  Remember last week when this blogger was applauding the coherent QB rotation plan, all the while his date was voicing his bafflement.  Well, forget that.  

Whoa, Nelly! 
"Which one of us deserves to be called The Dim One now, Jerrence?"  

Point taken.  But maybe that's Kelly's plan - confuse EVERYBODY:  fans, players, opposing coaches...  

I will say this, it seems to be working. 

3) Player rotation.  Let's extend that confusion to broader player / substitution decisions, specifically red zone-related.  Conspicuous in his absence on a couple of those goal line trips was... Kyren Williams.  Huh?   I understand needing to break tendencies but there's no one in college football that's going to get you 1-2 yards, when there's no hole, than him.  Curious. 

Not the head, JD! 
4)  Defense.  I know Sam Howell is a pretty good QB and at 225 lbs. (I looked it up), probably not the easiest guy to bring down.  

Still, he's not Lamar Freaking Jackson.  

Objectively, and I'm not just talking about Howell alone here, we are very poor tacklers. 


5)  Mike Tirico.  A week ago, I read someone on-line taking umbrage with the NBC announcer, impugning his name by suggesting he was - gasp - overly negative about ND play.  (Thank you, Mike, but we are very good at taking responsibility for ND negativity without anyone's help.) 

So when I heard him call out that each of the three Notre Dame interior linemen had each been called for a penalty, I thought about that person.  I wonder if he noticed.

(For those keeping track, it was 13;45 of the 1st QUARTER, ND had its first false start.)

The difference is, I applauded Mr. Tirico.  If they won't tell us when the emperor's not wearing any clothes, who will?  Doesn't make him anti-Notre Dame, just lucid.

6)  Recruiting.   A few of you have had this conversation with me.  For virtually forever, I can't
imagine a more distasteful, degrading activity than having to suck up to 17 and 18 year olds.  And it feels like it's just gotten worse over the past decade (even longer?) in terms of the recruits' self-absorption.  To read reports, if you don't stay on a kid daily, for the better part of 18 months, you have no shot.  apparently, they just don't feel the love. 

Give me a break.  Jerrence's 7 month old granddaughter is less needy. 

And yet, recent recruiting success being what it has been for ND, it might be the single biggest reason (Occum's Razor) for their sustained on-field success:  they're consistently getting a better tier of players than they had a decade ago.

Kirby Smart, the human oxymoron, made what might be the greatest self-admission of his career:  "there's no coach out there that can out-coach recruiting."  

Wow, know thyself, coach. Witness Kelly's supporting comment in relation to  Kyren's 91 yd. run:  "it's the player not the play."  Damn right it was.

So when one sees Styles play... and Alt, Diggs,  Colzie et al get meaningful game time, one can't help but think how long-term beneficial that has to be.  

Not only are they having success... adding value during actual game time...  they're sending a message to the class of '22 / '23 / '24 that if you're good enough, you'll play early.

That's gotta be a good thing, right?

7)  Idiots Among Us.     Thank you, Jim Belknap, for the Club Class seats. And thank you, Tim Sullivan, for the advance warning of the human irritants that happen to inhabit your section.    When one sits among the unwashed masses, one steels oneself for a certain boorish behavior.  Not sure I should feel any better about the trolls having seeped into your area.  

Running wild, like you do...

The stiff arm that possibly saved a Jan. 1 bowl game..
8)  Running wild.  At one point, I think I turned to Mr. Sullivan and asked, "has UNC been in 2nd-and -3 the entire game?"  It certainly felt so.  

When I watched the game the next day, it was clear that was basically the situation for both teams, each running almost at will.

The worst being - at the end of the 1st Half (surprising, I know) - when the Tar Heels had to go 40 yards for a end of half FG, they so -  virtually all of it running.  

Buddy's Buddy

If I wasn't so stuck on a 'sharing the wealth' philosophy for this award, I could make this easy on everybody, especially and most importantly, me.

Just re-run last week's section.  Would anyone debate that Kyren Williams is, to paraphrase the philosopher Reggie Jackson, the straw that stirs the ND drink?

And yet, I'm not going there, albeit not straying terribly far away from Mr. Williams.  

So let's hear it, FINALLY, for the Offensive Line.  

Yes, I am shamelessly, maybe lazily, copying coach Kelly's game ball award choice.  That doesn't mean it's incorrect.  

The fact is, the team ran really well:  almost 300 yds, 200+ even when you take the 91 yd'er out of the equation AND kept Coan upright - again - pretty much all night.  ND scored 8 out of 10 times they had the ball.  Clearly, the O-line deserves some credit for that.

Here's another fun fact:  For first 5 games for ND, opposing defenses had Havoc Rates of 20%, 25.7%, 16.9%, 27.5%, and 24.3%. In the last 3 they've all been under 10%. The changes Tommy Rees made and the new left side of the OL have made a big difference. 
Did someone mention 'havoc?'
Now I have no idea what a 'havoc rate' is, or how it's derived - although having both lived at 801 St. Louis and met more than my share of Dillon guys, one can reasonably imagine, when applied to a football context, havoc is something you'd wish to make a priority of reducing. 

As an aside, I'm sure it hasn't been lost on this discriminating bunch that the perception of ND's offense and defense, in a matter of a month, has essentially flipped.

One is hitting its stride (finally).  

The other is looking tired, a little confused and desperately missing its leader.

You can't hide from the turning of the tide...

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

Couldn't wait for Pete's mailbag this week.  Maybe he isn't having one.  Or maybe no one wants to ask questions whihc they really don't want the answer to... 

At any rate, if there is now a nagging question, at least for myself, it's this;  what is going on with the defense?

They started out looking, for sustained periods, a semi-dominant - almost imposing their will on opponents, albeit with the occasional high profile breakdown.

Of late, it really hasn't even seemed they able to muster that (though the big play breakdowns have largely (not entirely) disappeared).  Sampson addressed the issue somewhat in a column this week: 

There’s also the fact that without Kyle Hamilton at safety, Notre Dame’s personnel in the back seven is average. And that might be a generous reading of the situation. How many Irish linebackers or defensive backs from Saturday night would start at Ohio State, Alabama or Georgia? What about Oklahoma, Oregon or Cincinnati?

When Kelly described Kyren Williams’ 91-yard touchdown run, he relied on a coaching adage that’s usually used in moments of magic like that score.

“Heck with the play,” Kelly said. “I mean, it’s about players over plays.”

Well, same thing applies on defense.

Want to know why Georgia is shutting down opponents at a historic rate? Reverse-engineer the Bulldogs’ defense to its recruiting rankings. The top 16 tacklers include seven five-star prospects, six four-star prospects, two three-star prospects and a walk-on. The median recruiting ranking from this group is between four-star Channing Tindall (No. 31 overall in his class) and four-star Lewis Cine (No. 45 overall).

Now compare that to Notre Dame’s top 16 tacklers: seven four-star prospects and nine three-star prospects. The median recruiting ranking falls between three-star Jack Kiser (No. 416 overall) and three-star TaRiq Bracy (No. 434 overall). For the sake of reference, Kyle Hamilton is the highest-rated defensive prospect on Notre Dame’s roster at No. 60 overall, meaning Georgia has nine players rated higher than Hamilton was coming out of high school among its top 16 tacklers.

Marcus Freeman has produced some good plays on defense. But if you’re waiting for an elite defense, Notre Dame needs elite defensive talent first.

Source:  The Athletic
November 1, 2021

Cocktail of the Week

As I would like to think is obvious, each week I attempt to find, however strained the connection might be, a thread of commonality between the week's game - be it the opponent or the blog's theme - and the libation inspired by book or film.

Unfortunately, within the 4-series cocktail compendium that I draw upon, nary a single story is based on an egregious academic scandal at a seemingly elite college, so institutional that an inept athletic governing body would choose to curl, legislatively, into the fetal position while covering their ears, babbling 'nah nah nah nah I'm not listening...'

To be fair, who would want to read (or watch) such a thing?  So it's on to Plan B, something more seasonal, with a greater practicality...  helping the reader to adjust to the change in temperatures with a nice warm drink. At least for those who didn't bugger off to Florida.   

The Hard Cider House Rules
The Cider House Rules (1985)
By John Irving

Few contemporary novelists have been as widely read as John Irving - perhaps because few have had so many of their works adapted for the big screen.  

There was The World According To Garp (Robin Williams headlined that one), Simon Birch (based on A Prayer for Owen Meany), and The Cider House Rules - for which Irving himself won the Best Adapted Screenplay trophy at the 2000 Oscars.  
For this work, which is regularly compared to Dickens in its scope and subject matter, Irving explored the morality of human life from the point of view of a doctor and his protégé. 

Concoct a comforting hard cider for the orphans who figure prominently. 

1 oz.  whiskey                                                  

5 oz.  hot apple cider                                                     

1 tspn. Maine blueberry jam                                               

1 cinnamon stick

Pour the first three ingredients into a coffee mug. Stir with a cinnamon stick and leave it in a mug as garnish.   

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                 W
30                    UNC                W

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


Hey there, 11-1'ers... permission granted to start feeling pret-ty good about your chances (although, if I were you, I'd be monitoring the injury report on the UVA QB's ribs).

Feelin' alright?


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

With this being Week 1 of BCS Playoff rankings - not that ND has any current relevance in that conversation - it's still fun watching other teams hopes and dreams, however threadbare, be crushed.  

Harsh?  To quote Lady Gaga, I was born this way, a cockeyed optimist.  

So, reminding everyone of the classifications:

Category 1)  I've never liked you.  I will never like you. Like Defcon 1, it's 'go time' and with every loss an angel earns its wings so I feel super justified in reveling in your failure.

Category 2)  Defcon 2 - there are other issues I'm having trouble dealing with, my therapist isn't taking my calls and that nuclear football is sitting right in front me.  Sorry all, I just want to see the world burn

Category 3)  It's not personal, just business.  Defcon 3 - there's not a white hot intensity of emotion tied to this.  I'm just being very pragmatic.  I need you to go away.


1)  Michigan.   Category 1 and 3!  A double bon-ii!

While I make a living off of hyperbole - hello, I'm an ad guy - it is no exaggeration to say that when the Michigan game went final last Saturday afternoon, the post-Castellini Betrayal gloom lifted like we were in the final scene from Annie!

Tomorrow! Tomorrow!  Bet your bottom dollar...

2)  Ole Miss.   Category 3.  I harbor no illusion of Notre Dame being a viable BCS playoff choice (nor do I really wish them to be, truth be told).  

But I do fancy them as a New Year's Day bowl contestant - and so, all those possible other teams under consideration, standing in the way, must fall. The sooner the better.

3)  Iowa.  Category 3.  See #2, sorry Hawkeyes.

4)  Houston Astros.   My ability to intensely dislike - one hesitates to say 'hate' these days - people, teams, organizations that I'll never actually meet and can only evaluate through often spurious (at best) online reporting... is both impressive,  embarrassing and frightening.  In baseball parlance, i'm a 3-tool Tool.

So let's just leave it at this:  I was really happy that the Astros lost. 

Terry's Tools

So much for last week's quiet reflection.  How about more like quiet consumption - Hello, Mr. Balvenie - that leads down a rabbit hole of self-loathing and recrimination.

Yes, Jerrence is rounding into the holiday spirit.

And speaking of the holiday spirit, it is time to call out our supply chain issues - don't be even suggesting the world won't be getting it's Pelotons. Someone has to be held responsible.  

Hmmm, Urban has been unnaturally low profile of late.  Perhaps he's on house arrest?

1)  BCS Selection Committee. 
 So the first BCS Playoff rankings came out and they did not disappoint in their ability to totally disappoint. 
  • If you're the Cincinnati Bearcats, you're thinking WTF?!
  • If you're the Michigan Wolverines, you're thinking 'did they even watch our games?'
  • If you're the Oklahoma Sooners, you're thinking 'how soon can we get out of this wretched conference?'

The good news, lotta ball game left. More teams to get shafted.  Except for Ohio State, whose signature win is going to be... Michigan?  Funny how there seems always be a place for them. 

2)  Aaron Rodgers.  Some day we'll get the Rodgers - Mahomes game that Jerrence and Ungie have been pining for.  
Just not this year.

And when we ultimately learn that A-Rod is a Scientologist, no one is going to bat an eye.

You always have to be the smartest guy in the room, don't you? 

3)  Monkey Attack!   Frankly, I don't even care if this story is true, although by all accounts it absolutely is.  

Jerry Perez, there has to be a screenplay in this for you:  

Texas football, Halloween, a former stripper w a stage name of 'Pole Assassin', her pet monkey (and apparent stage collaborateur), a child victim (what role did he play?!), vicious allegations...  

Only you can write this.

Final Thoughts

How can one recognize Halloween this time of year without  a few ghost stories and tales of haunted golf courses...

No comments:

Post a Comment