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Thursday, October 20, 2022

Week 6: Chutes And Ladders

On a hill, under a raven sky
I have no idea exactly what I've drawn
Some kind of change, some kind of spinning away
With every single line moving further out in time....

Dateline:  Morris Inn, Notre Dame IN

Last Saturday had more to do with loss than I - or, one suspects, any of us - anticipated.

Yeah, there was The Game and what arguably ranks as a new low, performance-wise, in the Marcus Freeman Era. Which is already saying something - I'd like to say we've hit rock bottom but most of us thought that milestone was achieved a month ago against Marshall, so who knows if we've entirely 'deep dived' yet.

But there was also human loss - which brings me to Dave Gutschenritter, 'friend of the blog' who had his father pass the day before Saturday's game, and who still made an appearance at the Stayer tailgate. 

Dave auditions candidates for his new boy band.
Let me tell you about 'Gutsch.'  

If the Grace Hall roommates of Castellini-McGuire-Brunett-Gutschenritter were the Beatles* (and let us take a moment to savor the delicious absurdity of that analogy), Gutsch would have been George Harrison

The quiet one.  
The underrated one.
The smart one.  
The normal one.  

Well, a little more normal.  After all, here's a guy who when he said he was going to run home to see his family in Niles, MI, he actually RAN HOME.  Literally.  10'ish miles.  Probably, I'd imagine, with his dirty laundry on his back. 

At any rate, Dave and I opted to watch the 1st half of the Stanford game bellied up to the Rohr's bar.  But mostly, just talking about family (some 2022 stories happier than others) and probably walking away, thinking ND's sucky performance wasn't really that all important in the grand scheme of things.  

Hey Dave (and I know you know this):  Getting a father like that for his 99 years** and your 65 years?  That's a walk off, grand slam-level victory.

*A better comparison might be The Monkees, in which case, Dave would clearly have been Michael Nesmith. 

** No truth the rumor that he considered Queen Elizabeth II a total slacker for only making it to 96.

Quote of the Week

"Must be a really slow news day, dad."

Julie Castellini 
Upon hearing of her father's exploits, 45 years ago, making the WSJ.

Ah, youth.  So jaded.  Family are always the toughest critics. 

Word of the Week

Used in a sentence paragraph
:  Perhaps it was the multiple Tools beer consumption at the tailgate - that sh*t was kinda addicting, what exactly is in that stuff - but Young Jerrence found himself having an even-more-than-usual difficult time grasping what ND's coordinators (both offensive and defensive) game plans were all about.

The abstruse nature of Rees' playing calling, frankly, made Jerrence feel stupid.  He just couldn't understand it - had he missed something?  Were these games now evaluated on something different than points scored?

Moreover, it was giving him PTSD from his one recruiting trip to Stanford.  Jerrence knew he was a couple sandwiches shy of a picnic, intellectually speaking, but didn't need a football coach to make him feel even more inadequate.

 And coach Golden's use of a non-tackling strategy, while surely cutting edge, looked especially counter-productive to his untrained eye.  Some guy named Filkins was running through them like we were playing flag football.  Were we playing flag football?  If so, ND didn't look very adept that either.

Boy, if this was the future of sophisticated college football strategy, Jerrence was beginning to think, maybe it's time to start that lacrosse blog.


Game 5:  Thoughts

Loose string
Find the pieces don't fit in...

Let's keep this brief:

Point:  Giving up 16 points shouldn't get you beat. 
Counterpoint:  Yes but when did we stop practicing tackling?

Point:  Stanford's defensive game plan - overplay the run, take away Mayer - shouldn't have been a surprise.
Counterpoint:  Pyne was objectively awful.  And when your players don't even know where to line up (see Mayer's TD that was called back), would a more clever plan have even mattered?

Point:    Freeman's honeymoon is emphatically over.
Counterpoint:   When does anyone's attention turn to Rees and Golden?

There has to be something positive to take away, doesn't there?

Thinking about... what am I going to do with all that free time I seem to have in front of me?

TV.  The Corrigans are recommending Apple + "Bad Sisters," a 10-episode series featuring 
 the worst, most despicable human you'll ever see characterized on TV - ironically named JP but commonly referred to as 'The Prick' - and know immediately that he dies.  

As one character surmises, "He's Satan's problem now."

What you don't know is how or by whom, just that more than few people were motivated.

Based in Ireland, funny and clever.

.  More Irish content: "Banshees of Inisherin" described as two lifelong friends who find themselves at an impasse when one abruptly ends their relationship with alarming consequences for both of them. 

(Sounds like The Brian Kelly Story.)

Starring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, from the director who brought you (with those same two stars) the hugely underrated "In Bruges."

Baseball.   Desperate measures for desperate times.  Anybody but the Astros. 

Space Travel, anyone?

Corrigan & Co. Luxury Travel Outfitters is now a licensed provider for Virgin Galactic's commercial space-line.

Drinking.  Always an option. 

Reading.   Or you could just try picking up a book. 

Buddy's Buddy

The thought of awarding this week's Buddy to Tobias Merriweather was more than a little compelling.

It'd allow me to make some kind of obscure Dickensian reference - does his name not just scream a character out of Victorian England - while fairly pointing out that he represented possibly the only glimmer of optimism in an otherwise mind-numbingly frustrating game.

But how much did he actually play - like, count on one hand # of plays?  That'd be like Dame Judy Dench winning an Oscar for 8 minutes of screen time in "Shakespeare In Love."   Questionable, at best. 

Can't do it.  Plus he'll surely win this legitimately soon. If he doesn't transfer first. 

No, this week the call out needs to go The Stayer Lot hosts.  

Entirely in full force this weekend, the tailgate was excellent:
  • Behrens' Bloodies
  • Belknap's Brats
  • Rasmus Tenderloin
  • Tools Beer
  • Celebrity Guests
At least someone lived up to expectation.  Thanks, guys.

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

Once again, I'm betting Mr. Sampson isn't going anywhere near his digital mailbox with a Hazmat suit on.

We want answers, dammit.  We want the truth!

The truth?  You can't handle the truth!

You're probably right. 

But Pete at least has the courage to take a shot at providing some working hypotheses, of which I've opted to cherry pick a few of the more talked about positions.  

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Welcome to the halfway point of a season Notre Dame didn’t see coming.

For all the preseason unknowns that surrounded Marcus Freeman as a first-time head coach at a program that has historically chewed up first-time head coaches, the idea Notre Dame might struggle to qualify for a bowl game, lose a Sun Belt program and rate among the worst offenses in college football was not under consideration. What has gone right and wrong, with an eye on the season’s final six games? 


If this season’s most important evaluation was Marcus Freeman as a bona fide head coach, its second most important was Tyler Buchner as a full-fledged QB1. Whatever happens in the season’s second half won’t do anything to clarify the read on Buchner, who played 120 snaps before being slammed to the turf against Marshall and suffering a season-ending shoulder injury. All Buchner can do now is watch from the coaches’ box as offensive coordinator Tommy Rees tries to deploy the talent he has available. Things would feel slightly better for Notre Dame if the Buchner-led offense had clicked from the opening kickoff at Ohio State, but the Irish averaged just 1.25 points per drive with the sophomore running the show. That’s worse than Notre Dame’s offensive production under Drew Pyne if the sample size were limited to only Cal and Stanford (1.72 points per drive).

The Irish can still give Pyne opportunities to rediscover the level he showed against North Carolina and BYU, while also getting an honest look at freshman Steve Angeli. It will not be possible for Notre Dame to know everything it needs to know at this position by Thanksgiving weekend. Buchner’s injury removed that from the discussion. But the Irish can learn what they have in Pyne and Angeli to determine how much that may factor into a potential transfer next winter. It feels like good business for Notre Dame to add at quarterback this offseason, but how the rest of this season unfolds might dictate what kind of addition the Irish need.

Even if Freeman wants Notre Dame to be led by its lines, it’s impossible to win in the College Football Playoff without a dynamic quarterback. Maybe Buchner can still be one. Pyne’s skill set feels like a step down from Ian Book. Angeli is a total unknown. Even if all three return next year, finding a quarterback with starting experience would help the room. At a minimum, if Buchner or Pyne beat out that TBD quarterback, it would signal they’d improved from their current state.

Wide receiver

Privately, Notre Dame knew this could be coming. This was the season when the bill for haphazard recruiting and poor development may come due. And it has, with interest. Notre Dame hasn’t had a 100-yard game by a receiver yet. Its leading receiver is averaging 45.8 yards per game. Its star incoming freshman has one catch, although it was a 41-yard touchdown. Its fifth-year senior starter has less than 100 yards, although with better quarterback play he could have scored at least three touchdowns. As much as running back has been a pleasant surprise, wide receiver has been a disappointment through six games.

Where the position goes under Chansi Stuckey should be obvious. Tobias Merriweather needs to be in the rotation, not just in on 10 plays per game. He’s been on the field for just seven passing plays all year and took DNPs against Ohio StateMarshall and North Carolina. Even if Lorenzo Styles, Braden Lenzy and Jayden Thomas click together, Merriweather still brings something the others do not. The other factor for Stuckey is recruiting, where Notre Dame has three four-star prospects committed with intentions to take a fourth.

Notre Dame can’t keep living like this at receiver. The position is holding back the offense. The rest of this season is about creating potential for the future. Only six Power 5 programs average fewer passing yards per game than Notre Dame’s 208.3: IowaKansas StateColoradoRutgersGeorgia Tech and Auburn. Two of those already fired their head coach, another may soon, one fired its offensive coordinator and another has an offensive coordinator under nuclear heat. Notre Dame might be stuck here this season, but there’s no reason to remain in that company with Stuckey working the position.

Defensive line

It’s hard to get a read on Notre Dame’s defensive line through six games. Isaiah Foskey was supposed to play himself into a surefire first-round pick. It hasn’t happened, although Pro Football Focus rates him as the top player on the defense. He is stuck on three sacks and hasn’t been a gravitational player coming off the edge. Meanwhile, NaNa Osafo-Mensah was supposed to be a supporting actor in the background. That hasn’t happened either. He just played his best game at Notre Dame against Stanford and has been a steady force all season.

So, what is Notre Dame’s defensive line? A group of good players who have played good football. Great football? Not yet.

Justin Ademilola leads the position in tackles (25) despite being fourth in snaps and starting just twice. Harvard graduate transfer Chris Smith went from playing 18 snaps against Marshall, Cal and North Carolina combined to playing 63 against Stanford. Jacob Lacey had two sacks against Cal, then left the team with plans to enter the transfer portal the next week. Rylie Mills was supposed to be a dominant defensive end but is now playing more on the inside. Gabriel Rubio was a non-factor in September and a fringe starter in October.

It still feels like there’s more to be shown by the defensive line in the season’s second half, particularly against the woeful offensive lines of UNLV and Boston College. How it will be judged, though, comes down to the USC and Clemson games. Get Caleb Williams and DJ Uiagalelei on the ground, and the season will take a different tone.


Notre Dame opened the season with four linebackers it believed could play high-level football: JD BertrandBo BauerMarist Liufau and Jack Kiser. It’s not clear any of those four have been at full power each week. Bertrand has missed more than a full game with targeting suspensions. Bauer played through a shoulder injury before a knee injury during practice ended his Notre Dame career. Liufau hasn’t come close to the levels predicted for him before his leg injury in training camp a year ago. Kiser has been the most steady of the four, but last weekend against Stanford he got the least snaps, subbed out as the Rover for a nickel back.

The position is at the center of a defense that has been woeful at forcing turnovers, getting red zone stops or creating havoc of any real kind. While that’s not all on the linebackers, they bear an outsize burden for some of that production. Combined, these four linebackers have totaled 819 snaps of defense this season and combined for just six tackles for loss. They haven’t played on the other side of the line of scrimmage enough, which is part of the reason why the Irish have been mediocre on third down and in landing TFLs. It’s also part of the reason why Notre Dame rates among the nation’s worst red zone defenses. Notre Dame has allowed points on 100 percent of opponents’ red zone trips and touchdowns on 78.8 percent of them. More disruptive linebacker play changes that outlook.

By far, the biggest opportunity for the defense the rest of the way is ramping up Prince Kollie’s involvement. The sophomore was not a box-ready player when he enrolled, but in his second season he has made some impact. Notre Dame needs to find out if he has starting potential during the next six games. Junior Tuihalamaka could use some more work (10 snaps in six games). Jaylen Sneed still seems a year away despite his recruiting ranking.

Source:  The Athletic
October 19, 20212

Cocktail of the Week

While working out at Sand Creek CC, I saw that FOX News (state TV, it would seem, for all such clubs) ran a story, "Is Gin The Next Big Thing?"

Well, duh.

So in honor of that (and the team playing like Victorian Era women)... 

The Portrait of A Pink Lady
The Portrait of A Lady  (1880-81)
By Henry James

A woman's liberty is at the pink, beating heart of Henry James's transatlantic novel, one of the finest in a life measured in words rather than women (James was an avowed celibate). 

Of course, Victorian-era independence is different from Victoria's Secret-era independence, and rather than go sad and single, the heroine chooses the least terrible suitor she can find and ends up wealthy, wed - and woeful. 

Our variation on a classic cocktail is best served to a group of ladies (insert ND football team or coaching staff joke here) holding out for Mr. Right - or even just plain right.

No matter how many sweethearts they may have to sift through.

Makes About 12 Drinks (but if you're watching ND football, SERVES 2.)

1 liter, gin

3 cups, pink lemonade

6 oz. grenadine  
1 liter, club soda

Combine the ingredients, except the club soda, in a big punch bowl.  

Show off a little by adding one of those big, glamorous blocks of ice.

Stir in the bubbles and sip away the troubles - the grass is always pinker on the other side of this cocktail.

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

 8                    @BYU (Las Vegas)     W
15                    Stanford                    L     
22                   UNLV            
29                   @Syracuse

5                     Clemson  
12                  @Navy                     
19                  Boston College  
26                  @USC 


Stating The Obvious:

With six games left, including Clemson and USC (in Los Angeles), there's the very distinct possibility (probability?) that no one is winning the pool this year. 

Not a whole lot else to say.





"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, SloaneDave 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

I consider The Dark Knight a genuinely great film and one of my favorites. 

Fun fact:  Sean Penn was actually offered the role of The Joker before Heath Ledger got it (and made it the 'creepy fabulous' gold standard).

It's a week like this that reminds me I'm only beginning to understand why it resonates with me.

Consider me, football-wise, one of those men this year.

1) Alabama.    Ugliest game winning kick, maybe ever. But as the saying goes, they don't ask how, they ask how many.  You just know that 'Roll Tide' will still end up in the BCS playoffs - I think it's in the NCAA rule book - so enjoy this while you can.

2)  USC.  I suppose I should be celebrating Utah's coach for the ballsy go-for-the-win 2 pt. conversion at game's end.  But, accentuate the positive?!  That's not what this section is about, not even a little bit.   

Nice clutch defense, Trojans.

3)  Penn State  You suck.

No, really - you actually suck.  Michigan was (is) better than I thought - using motion and misdirection in your offensive scheme, that's legal? - but the Nittany Lions are not good.  

As Lloyd Bentson might've said, "I know mediocre and you're not mediocre."

Terry's Tools

Perhaps because I'm filled with more than a little self-loathing related to the time I've wasted invested in Notre Dame football this year... 

But I'm finding it harder than usual this week to point the finger at  others in the sports industry for their idiocy.  Seems a little like 'people in glass houses' hypocritical.

So one must look elsewhere. 

1) Liz TrussCongratulations to the lettuce.

The UK's Daily Star created a livestream on October 14th to see whose shelf life would expire first.  Purchased at a Tesco for 60 pence, the plucky cabbage won.  Well done.  Going forward, no report on what the leafy vegetable's thoughts were on UK monetary policy.

2) Kanye West.  Where does one start?  How about, for this week, we just go with him having his name officially changed to just, "Ye."  As in (and I'm speculating here):

 I am Ye as you are he as you are me and we are all together...

A bit derivative, especially for a self-proclaimed genius, but sure.  And if that's the case, I would like to be called 'rence.

Or just, 'ree if you're into the whole brevity thing.

Final Thought

I don't know a soul who doesn't badly want coach Freeman to succeed.  If central casting was drawing up a Notre Dame coach, they'd be hard pressed to do better than Marcus.  

And yet, ND Nation has a fairly binary, pass/fail approach to having one win its affections.  

It's not Defcon 1 yet, coach, but understand who you're dealing with:

A fanbase that has never been known for its patience.  

Mean and strong like liquor,
Mean and strong like fear.
Strong like the people from south Alabama
And mean like the people from here.

Take it from me, we ain't never gonna change... 


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