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Saturday, October 1, 2022

Week 4: Level Setting

Can't you just see the sunshine?
Can't you just feel the  moonshine...

Dateline:  Detroit, MI

As Jerrence sat in the St. Clair Shores church pew last weekend, in attendance for a morning memorial service for a relative of Defarge... he found his wife gesturing toward the large Jesus figure on the back wall of the altar.

"Jesus looks just like Mel Gibson."

Hmmm, now that you mention it... the church is St. Margaret's of Scotland - maybe the artist was channeling a Braveheart vibe. 

"So you're saying that if we'd been at St. Margaret's of Ireland, he'd look like Liam Neesom? And which one - Schindler Liam or 'Particular set of skills' Liam?'"

Well, no.

"And why isn't he looking tortured?  It's supposed to be a crucifixion scene, right?  He shouldn't be looking that... composed."

You're given this a lot of thought, haven't you?  And when did you become a bible scholar?  You're like the original pagan baby for all the time you've spent in a church.

Frankly, the conversation was so out of left field, so unexpected that it left Jerrence highly disoriented.  But it wouldn't be the last time that day he'd be experiencing that feeling.

Quote of the Week

"It's what you hope Notre Dame football is going to be about."        
Marcus Freeman 

I believe you speak for all of us, coach.   Although it's worth remembering that hope is not a strategy.

Word of the Week

Used in a sentence paragraph
:  Young Jerrence wasn't exactly sure what he was seeing. 

After watching a 1st half where the Fighting Irish offense appeared to approach something akin to competence - in and of itself something of a shock - he was now seeing a 3rd quarter performance exceeding that, looking more like... dominance.

Sensei, teach me your ways...

Moreover, the creativity of the play calls belied an aplomb Jerrence hadn't seen in the Tommy Rees OC regime since... when?  Maybe the 1st half of last year's Oklahoma St. bowl game?   Before that - he couldn't recall when.

There was almost a swagger to the offense, equal parts "we're gonna run this down your throats" and "don't get too comfortable, we still have a few tricks up our sleeve."

It was fabulous.

Not since Jerrence's introduction to 801 St. Louis's Cypress Room had he felt this feeling of both confusion and euphoria.

Game 4:  Thoughts

I know it seems impossible now
I know it seems like a joke... .. 

One can only imagine somewhere in a luxury box in Chapel Hill late last Saturday afternoon, Jack Swarbrick might've now been thinking, "I'd like to see that clown that I picked up from the Stayer Lot last week.."

True dat, Jack. 

Other things that jumped out to me:

1) Tyree. For all the talk, deservedly so, of the Estime Coming Out Party, I was more struck by how well Tyree ran - speed and genuine power.  Nice to see.

2) Foskey.  Two games in a row, sweet.  Similar to what can be said of the whole team, this is what we thought we were getting, yes?

3) Mills     The 'other' Defensive End.  Who just happens to be really, really good.

4). DB's.  I don't even know what to say about the breakdowns.  You play tough for 90% of the game - the freshman Morrison looks like a total revelation (Mickey, less so) - but giving up TD's of 80 and 64 yards, not good. 

Is the issue at safety?  

5). Bertrand.  Recognizing the targeting can be daunting to get right, even in the best of circumstances but, man, he's gonna have to adapt his technique.  Worse, he's getting a reputation. 

6) Turnovers.  Well, we got one now!  That's a start - let the floodgates open! 

7)  Pyne.  You didn't think we could summarize the game without a comment on him, did ya?  

He remains the key variable, doesn't he?  

And if this is the start of seeing a guy settle in, get comfortable - and it sure doesn't hurt if the O-line finally starts consistently doing their job - the year begins to look decidedly more optimistic.

8) Special teams.  Let's talk about Zac Yoakam.  Who?  The walk-on, freshman back up kicker who's become the designated kick-off guy.  8 kickoffs / 6 into the end zone.  UNC never began a drive beyond its own 25 yard line.  Underrated stat.

Buddy's Buddy

Perhaps I was a week early on the Audric Estime nomination... 

There's no denying what we saw - and one can debate his goal line fumble, whether it was an unforgivable, "you cannot let that happen under any circumstance," an unfortunate mistake driven by well-intentioned extra effort or perhaps, simply, a really good play by the defender.

One note:  he'd carried the ball 6 or 7 straight times so maybe, next time, one might wish to factor in the potential for fatigue.

You could have a bumper car, bumping
This amusement never ends...

Regardless, the kid's a beast.  But he's not my, or Buddy's, buddy this week.  The Committee thinks that honor needs to go to Michael Mayer.

When UNC drove down the field and made it 7-0 who among us didn't think, "uh oh."  

At season's end, we may end of saying that righting the ship, offensively, during that first half might be as important of a stretch as ND has this year.  

Giving Pyne time to get settled, who was his go-to?  

His TE, that's who.  

And frankly, a lot of those passes weren't exactly hitting Mayer in the chest.   

He was basically unguardable and did the team ever need him then.

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

This week's mailbag question goes out to my golf cart ridin' - Savvy Jack interrogatin' - Drew Pyne lovin' friend, Jerome.

And in truth, also shines some light on a question that's bothered me for the past few years (i.e., why is it so hard for ND to identify a stud QB when it's arguably the most high profile position in the country). 

Answer (for those who might not want to wade through the lengthy answer (JP)):  it's actually hard for everybody. 

As Jerome might say, "Oh.  I did not know that."

What is the likeliest scenario for Tommy Rees next year: (a) NFL coordinator, (b) offensive coordinator at Notre Dame, (c) offensive coordinator elsewhere, or (d) QB coach/analyst somewhere?

Related but somewhat separate question: Has he ever talked about his quarterback evaluations over the past five years and why he picked the guys he did (e.g., Tyler Buchner over J.J. McCarthySteve Angeli over Drew Allar before it was too late, going after Drew Pyne early on, etc.)? It seems like that is actually an under-discussed aspect of a program in the media that otherwise picks apart and sorts through every little detail of the program.

James M.

I don’t think Rees will be an offensive coordinator for another college program next year, unless he has no choice. Being an NFL offensive coordinator would be a jump and would have to come at a place where he already has built relationships — i.e., Los Angeles or Philadelphia. Leaving for a quarterbacks coach job or an analyst job would say more about Marcus Freeman’s intentions than Rees’ desires.

That brings us back to Rees in his current post as Notre Dame offensive coordinator. Even if the offense improves under Pyne, it will be hard to erase the first three games when Notre Dame looked like a Catholic Iowa. Does that feel differently in November than it does during the idle week? Could the final nine games make up for the first three? I don’t know how Freeman would see that, especially with recruiting seemingly in a good place at quarterback and receiver.

If you read this mailbag, you know I believe Rees is very talented. I also can’t deny that Notre Dame’s offense has struggled and there’s a new head coach who has his own idea about offense. On top of all that, I’ve never covered a fourth-year offensive coordinator at Notre Dame in my 22 years on the beat.

As for the quarterback evaluation issues at Notre Dame, that predates Rees the coach and goes back to Rees the player. In Kelly’s early years, some of his first quarterback offers included Matt Alviti, Jack Beneventi and Brandon Dawkins. Alviti was a backup at Northwestern. Beneventi ended up at Western Illinois. Dawkins started at Arizona before leaving as a grad transfer for Indiana.

Even the guys Notre Dame chased who were validated with four-star rankings — Hunter Johnson, Malik Henry, Graham Mertz, Blake Barnett — didn’t exactly pan out. Somehow the Irish chased Henry and Jacob Eason in the same class but ended up with Ian Book, who would win 30 games at Notre Dame. When Barnett flipped to Alabama, it opened the door for Brandon Wimbush. DeShone Kizer was a fall-back option. Cade McNamara flipped to Michigan when Notre Dame was all-in on Phil Jurkovec a cycle later. Now McNamara is behind J.J. McCarthy, whom Notre Dame rated behind Tyler Buchner.

The biggest takeaway here is evaluating quarterbacks is hard, and Notre Dame has not done enough to stock that position to account for that reality.

Look at the top 25 quarterbacks per 247Sports Composite rankings from the Class of 2019. There are three hits in that group: Sam Howell (North Carolina), Max Duggan (TCU) and KJ Jefferson (Arkansas). Three!

Seventeen of the top 25 quarterbacks that year have transferred at least once. One changed positions. Three are backups where they signed. Howell, Duggan and Jefferson all clicked at the programs that recruited them. Graham Mertz feels stuck in between hit and bust at Wisconsin.

If a position only pans out 15 percent of the time, it’s critical you take as many shots with that position as possible to increase your odds of a hit.

Source:  The Athletic
September 29, 20212

Cocktail of the Week

Truth be told, finding a drink (and story) in my very specific reference books that marries, with a Carolina theme, hasn't proven easy.

So one has to fall back on unfortunate stereotypes that, were one writing to a less evolved audience, would no doubt get one culturally canceled.

So bring on the Tobacco Road / hillbilly reference, throw in a bit of Europe to really confuse the audience and... voila!

The Moonshine And Sixpence
The Moon And Sixpence  (1919)
By W. Somerset Maugham

Hell hath no mid-life crisis like a stockbroker who wakes up one day, looks at his wife and kids at breakfast - and announces he's taking a one-way trip to Paris to pursue life as a painter... 

Now will somebody please pass Daddy the pancakes?!

Along the way, Maugham's artist - a stand-in for famed real-life painter Paul Gauguin - makes the perfectly logical geographical progression from Paris-to-Marseilles-to-Tahiti, where he finally finds contentment and his own kind of success (never mind his leprosy in the end). 

Sip on this "moonshine" cooler next time you need inspiration to break out of that cubicle and head to the tropic (or maybe what's left of SW Florida).

1 1/2 oz. whiskey

Splash of pineapple juice    
Squeeze of coconut cream (e.g., Coco Réal Cream of Coconut)

Pour the ingredients over ice into a rocks glass (or travel mug!).   Give a good stir, grab your Tahitian For Dummies guide and head for the airport - you're going places!

Source:  Tequila Mockingbird
Cocktails with a Literary  Twist
by Tim Federle

2022 Schedule


 3                     @Ohio St.                 L
10                    Marshall                   L
15                    LINIPALOOZA XII
17                    Cal (Berkely)            W
24                   @UNC                     W

 1                     OPEN
 8                    @BYU (Las Vegas) 
15                    Stanford            
22                   UNLV            
29                   @Syracuse

5                     Clemson  
12                  @Navy                     
19                  Boston College  
26                  @USC 


The good news:  Looking ahead, every single game now seems winnable.

The bad news: Every single game also still looks losable.

But, now at least it's possible to feel a little more confident that someone will win the pool.

You know I'm not in the clear
You are not in the clear.
Don't you go count me dear...





"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few..."


Brian M., John P., JP, Blayney


"Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts..."

Lini, Theo, Sloane, Dave M., Peter


"Diplomacy is the art of telling people to go to hell in such a way that they ask for directions..."

Bob J.Gutsch
Jerry P., Bill, Bob S.,
Mike C.Pat B.,
Jim B., Tim S.,  Feif,
Mike G., Phillip S., George, Mike B.,  Shea


"Never, never give in..."

Jerrence, Raz, Mark,

Bryan, Matt, Jerry C., Daryl, GrahamJohn,  Jim T., Alex, Randy, Pat C., Gerard W.


"History is written by the victors..."




Albert, Garrett R., Brian W.


"When you get a thing the way you want it, leave it alone..."



"The best argument against democracy is a 5-minute conversation with the average voter..."



"If I were married to you, Mr. Churchill, I'd put poison in your coffee.

If we were married, I'd drink it..."




"He has all of the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire..."



"If you're going through hell, keep going..."


Schadenfreude of the Week

Funny how when the highly ranked teams finally start playing real opponents, the spreads get decidedly smaller and the games dicier.

Let the true Schadenfreude Season begin! 
1)  Oklahoma.  So much for dispelling those whispers about how weak the Big12 is these days.  And BTW, who had the state of Kansas being a combined 7-1 on their bingo cards so far?!  

Oh - and the time of this writing, OU is getting absolutely crushed by TCU.  If it wasn't obvious already, there is is no 'D'  in Oklahoma.   

In hope the Bowen brothers are watching this.

2)  Michigan State.  I almost feel bad about this one.  Almost.   Being with a bunch of their alums (relatives of Defarge) and nice people, watching their team get taken apart wasn't all that enjoyable.  

But it did facilitate a group decision to "turn this game off!" (boy, been there on that feeling) and get the ND game turned on.  

Which was fortuitous. 

3)  Miami.  Losing to Middle Tennessee State?  By 14?!

That has to one up our Marshall, doesn't it?!  

Let it go, Jerrence.

4)  Texas.   A loss to Texas Tech isn't quite Marshall-esque - the Red Raiders are now 3-1 but the way they lost and because of the in-state dynamic, it might sting more.  


5) SEC Shorts.  Can't get enough of these... and consider this me buying a 'future' on Tennessee's crash to earth in the next month. 

Terry's Tools

I'll let you in a little secret:  every week, I stress (on Sunday), "I have no candidates for the Tools section."

And by Wednesday or Thursday, I'm fretting over "the whole damn blog can't just be about tool after tool after tool..."

So it was, again, this week.  

And that's without even dipping into the very deep pool of political candidates. 

1) Brett Favre.
 Hoo boy, Brett.  It's not getting any better for you...  

This week:  your charitable foundation has been found to be giving money, $130k to be precise, to the athletic department of your alma mater, Southern Miss.  

I guess charity begins at home. 

2) Disaster porn.  I know this makes for riveting TV - "hey, let's send the weatherman out into a historically bad storm, won't that be cool?"  but this is just plain stupid.   And dangerous.

"Jim, are you alright?"
"WTF does it look like to you - I'm practically horizontal..."

3)  NCAA.  Bravo, for putting the Air Force Academy on two years probation for some bullsh*t improper recruiting contact during a COVID 'dark' period.  

But, sure, let the Miami's, A&M's and USC's of the world throw more money than God at high school kids and turn a blind eye.

Your ability to focus on the really important areas of athletic governance remains incomparable. 

Hmmm.  Who's missing?
4)  NIL.  Speaking of which, this week's Sign of the Apocalypse...

Top 2024 defensive prospect T.A. Cunningham moved from Georgia to southern California. 

So what - high end athletes transfer all the time to better their chances for a scholarship.

His move was... a little different.  Set into motion after representatives from Levels Sports Group, a would-be sports marketing company, sold the Cunningham family on the idea that they'd be able to secure him marketing opportunities if he was playing in CA, where it's legal for HS athletes to profit off their name/image/likeness.

According to an injunction filed on Mr. Cunningham's behalf, "the Levels team promised the family a home, transportation and meals in California, including providing a separate home in Georgia for the athlete's mother."

Good lord.  This doesn't bode well for the Irish recruiting...

NIL legalization, by state

Final Thought - I

#61 - an historic moment with two very vested parties... nice. 

Roger Maris Jr. and Aaron Judge's mother

Final Thought - II

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