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Monday, August 14, 2023

August '23: Houston, We Are Go For Launch


And I'm searching for a rainbow
And if the wind ever shows me where to go...


Dateline:  West Harwich, MA

In the initial stage of retirement, Jerrence found himself concentrating his energies into travel, like some kind of arthritic Frankenstein:  part Thelma & Louise, part Jack Kerouac, part Weary Traveler - that insipid little Hummel figurine that our mom so loved and actually I just found out if they're rare can still be worth some serious coin I hope we didn't throw out the collection in any of her moves note to self check next time you're in Iowa we don't want this to be another lost revenue opportunity like Tim and his baseball figurines even the ones with missing limbs I think he lost out on a substantial sale bummer for him...

But I digress.

A three hour tour...
The fact is that he'd been traveling, from the Atlantic to the Rockies, communing with the  vast spectrum of God's evolutionary test kitchen.  

Saw much.  Learned much.  And yet...

Something was missing:  his tribe.  But where does one go looking for that?  Back at the point of origin, of course.  

Like Founding Fathers-level origin.

Land 'o Pilgrims.  And Plymouth Rock.

Cape Cod.  

And hanging with the Grace Hall / St. Louis Blvd. homies.  



Oh.  And Dimmy
.  

Wouldn't be a party without The Dim One, the Pride of Alumni Hall.   

And it wouldn't have been a thoroughly edifying experience without the rest of the crew.  

And the single malt.  Lots and lots of single malt:
  •  Glenfiddich
  •  Macallan
  •  Glen Dronagh


Houston, the Osprey Eagle has landed.
Did I learn much?  How to quantify something like that?  Let's just say I left the Cape... enlightened: 
  • The '69 moon landing was faked (well, duh)
  • The moon is actually hollow (hello - it's made of Swiss cheese)
  • Jonah and the whale was a real story.  Should be a Netflix doc.  But it happened on the Cape and he was lobsterman.
  •  Monetary policy may have us rocketing toward recession 
    • Sorry, Gutsch, I may have misinterpreted that.  I had a little trouble focusing at that point.  I heard something about long-term Treasury bond yields not meeting expectations... just as the second Perez Old Fashion + single malt night cap started really kicking in.




To sit with elders of a gentle race
This world has seldom seen....


"I think it's safe to say nobody here is gonna be splitting the atom..."
(Rust Cohle, True Detective Season 1)






























One last thought, which came to me in a dream haiku. 


Oh gummy, My gummy!


Wondrous confection!

The tribe shaman has giveth.

It'd be rude to refuse, no?

Quote of the Week



"...It's important to understand one underlying truth about college football that to the heart of the sport's prevailing sense of chaos.  

And that is:  Nobody's in charge."



'Bowls, Polls and Tattered Souls' (2007)
Page 3 


The state of college football in a single expression.  From 16 years ago. 
                                     

Word of the Week



Used in a sentence paragraph
:  
Jerrence stared across the room in disbelief.  There had to be a rational explanation for what he was seeing.  But was anyone else seeing this?  It appeared not.

Sure, he'd heard the tales from childhood.  Passed on through generations of Corrigans but he believed them to be merely apocryphal stories - made up by his older brothers to ensure his submission.  As if making Jerrence play the frisky calf in their sadistic "Rodeo Round Up" game wasn't enough.

The one you call Cincotta doesn't inhabit this body any more...
Beware The Cryptid," they'd whisper.

Ah, the cryptid - Half Man-Half Idiot... who comes to simple-minded youth in their dreams.  

Jerrence thought he'd have aged out of this horror by now, if in fact it ever really existed. 

And yet there it was, right in front of him: making Star War references, talking of playing bridge as if it was a real sport and salivating over impending delivery of new Volkey wedges.

Real scary stuff.

Football season can't come soon enough.



2-Weeks-To-Go Thoughts




What do we know with less than two weeks to go?  

Beats the sh*t out of me.

Well, I do know this:  if you're looking for insights from this blogger, you're worse off than I thought.  And my estimation of you was already exceedingly low.  

But let's go with this potpourri of useless 'state of the world' information:

1. Pre-season 
 Rankings.   Here's what the consensus 'experts' seem to see ND's place in the college football world, circa 2023.



Seems about right for us.  As a starting point.  Perosnally, I believe we will over-achieve.  

In Sam I Trust.


2.  Conference Realignment    Seems to be the topic du jour.  Maybe the only topic.  Here's the future Big 10 18:
 


One man's opinion:  Given the considerable data associated w success (or lack thereof) when a team has to travel more than one time zone, the west coast schools - looking at you, USC - may regret this from a wins and losses standpoint (certainly not from a monetary one).


3.  Independence.   The very definition of irony:  for 30 years everyone's hated Notre Dame for being on their moral high horse about staying independent.  Now, that same stance is viewed as laudable for both not chasing the big conference money and perhaps being the future model that everyone should adopt.  Funny.



4.  ND Relevance.   And should anyone think that ND's lost their leverage by not joining a conference, allow me to disabuse you of that notion:


For those keeping score, that's SEC (total) 4 games, Notre Dame (solo) 3. 


5.  NIL.    Sign of the Apocalypse?   More like, "Who couldn't see this coming?"



6.   The Future   Could look a lot like this - I call this the JP McGuire Vision.  (Chip Kelly may be on to something.)





7.  Basketball.  While I'll await both Season 1 (and Messers. Feifar / Marcel's subsequent critique), the ND basketball team may soon be worth paying attention to.  Giving six months ago, the team didn't even have enough scholarship athletes to field a 5-man team, I'd say coach Micah is killing it right now.  



On a personal note, maybe we'll actually pull off a hockey / hoops tailgate weekend - something that gets talked about every year but never actioned.

Or maybe it ought to be a fencing / lacrosse 2-fer so we can be reasonably assured of seeing winners.


8.  AI.    Recently, someone asked AI to develop a picture of a stereotypical resident of each state in America.  A couple examples:



Yes, I'd say AI is something to be feared.


Buddy's Buddy


Taking the month off.

I'm sure there's probably someone worthy.

"But they'll still be there the next day / week / month."

The retiree's mantra.



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



A dozen'ish days until football.  Many of you are only now checking:  has my passport expired?

Hope you have better foresight with your prognostications.  

The season should be a fun one.  I know the tailgates will!

Remember to get your winning guesses in by the morning of the 26th - not sure what time kickoff in Dublin is, but guessing  it'll mean a morning viewing in the States.

Good luck everyone!
  

Marcus Freeman settling in as Year 2 begins: Lessons from Notre Dame’s preseason camp


SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The Notre Dame Fighting Irish put an official end to preseason camp on Saturday with a nearly 100-play scrimmage, an inflection point as the program shifts toward Navy in full. With two weeks until Dublin, the Irish are far from a finished project, both by design and by circumstance. But that’s different than saying Notre Dame is behind schedule heading into Marcus Freeman’s second season.

In fact, so much of the past two weeks have been informed by Freeman’s first year, from the recovery plans for playing in Ireland to how much he asked from the roster day-to-day in camp. It’s where Freeman feels more settled than last season’s succession of volatile swings as he learned on the job.

“Last year, I had a blueprint based on other individuals’ experiences being a head coach, right? I gathered my own ideas but I’d never done it,” Freeman said. “This year you can make enhancements based off your own personal experience.

“What I’ve done, really, is say, ‘OK, what things that I learned from being a head coach last year, what ways can you enhance and give your players a better chance to perform at the level we need them to?’ So, there’s no substitute for experience.”

If those are macro lessons, the Notre Dame head coach has picked up plenty of micro intel during the past 15 practices, too. There have been some surprising position battles and unexpected strengths. There’s a position seemingly stuck in neutral. And perhaps a quarterback situation that’s more than Sam Hartman. No, Notre Dame probably won’t have a grasp on what it is for another month as the Irish play their way into an identity.

But Freeman already knows some of what’s coming, and not just because the offense won Saturday’s scrimmage by only turning the ball over once.

Here are the big lessons learned from Notre Dame’s preseason camp based on interviews, observations and sources.

Will stars matter at offensive guard?

Preseason camp opened with right guard Andrew Kristofic and left guard Billy Schrauth looking like solid bets to keep their positions into the season. Kristofic is the most experienced of the guard candidates, having started last year’s opener at Ohio State and most of the season prior. What he lacked in explosive mobility, Kristofic made up for with game reps. Schrauth was the opposite, a previous can’t-miss four-star recruit who former offensive line coach Harry Hiestand adored to the point that Schrauth made the travel roster and season’s end.

So much for that.

For the past week, Rocco Spindler has grabbed hold of the right guard job while Pat Coogan is a surprise leader at left guard. Spindler was a national prospect out of high school but languished on the bench last season, never getting a true sniff at time. Coogan felt like a developmental story, perhaps growing into a contributor by his senior year. Now both seem to have won jobs as Notre Dame moves out of camp.

“Rocco Spindler has been doing a heck of a job, had a really good camp. And Billy has, too,” Freeman said. “So, you want to have four guards, right? And I think right now we feel really good about three going in there. And I look forward to evaluating today’s scrimmage with coach (Joe) Rudolph and the offensive staff and saying, ‘OK, who’s going to be the third and fourth guard that we say can go into the game at any point?

“But man, I love the competition that they’re having. Nobody’s comfortable at those guard positions.”

Notre Dame should have a strong offensive line regardless of its guard play, which is how good Joe Alt and Blake Fisher have looked at tackle. Center Zeke Correll, who may have picked up a minor injury during the Saturday scrimmage, gives the Irish a reliable presence in the pivot, even if he lacks overwhelming size. And while the offense hasn’t always been explosive during camp, the run game has done enough to win over Freeman and the staff.

There’s legitimate defensive line depth

It’s still not clear if Notre Dame has a College Football Playoff-level pass rush, but the defensive line exceeded outside expectations the past two weeks. That’s especially true on the interior, where Jason Onye and Gabriel Rubio moved from depth options to legitimate contributors. Rubio got somewhat regular work last season with 184 total snaps, including a season-high 44 against Stanford. Onye saw action in just one game, the blizzard blowout of Boston College.

This fall they’ll both be asked to be 200-snap players at least. That idea felt like a potential tripwire last winter. Now? Notre Dame’s coaching staff welcomes it.

“They take after their coach (Al Washington). That’s a passionate dude, man,” Freeman said. “To coach with him, he is an energy provider. He’s a great football coach, but an energy provider.”

It’s fair for Freeman to credit Washington for the player development uptick after a debut season that felt inconclusive. Second-round pick Isaiah Foskey was good, but he didn’t always show in big moments before opting out of the bowl game. Rylie Mills appears set for a breakout season but got stuck between two positions, mastering neither. And the Ademilola twins (Jayson and Justin) battled injuries and inconsistencies. The defensive line was fine, it just felt like it could have been more.

Maybe this group can overachieve if Rubio and Onye do more than just back up Mills and Howard Cross. Defensive end remains a question, although Jordan BotelhoJunior Tuihalamaka and Josh Burnham have at least had moments at vyper end. At the other end, NaNa Osafo-Mensah and Javontae Jean-Baptiste should be solid.

Perhaps Notre Dame’s best pass rush will come up the middle.

Receivers playing catch up

If Chansi Stuckey didn’t know the perception of Notre Dame’s receivers before Friday, he did walking out of the Irish Athletics Center. That was the receiver group’s scheduled pass through the media gauntlet and the questions lobbed at the group were to be deflected more than they were supposed to be caught. Because when reporters start asking about outside expectations, distractions and even if any freshmen might help, well, it’s a sign that things aren’t going exactly to plan.

“If they’re here with not high expectations, we’ve got the wrong guy, first of all, OK?” Stuckey said. “So, we should have the best in the country at each position here and I think we’re getting to that at the receiver position.“But you meet each guy where he is. You don’t want to put more expectations on him than other people do.”

Those expectations seem to have dropped the past two weeks as Notre Dame publicly and privately searches for a go-to receiver. One didn’t pop in last week’s open practice. Freeman didn’t stump for one after Saturday’s scrimmage either, where team sources indicated the two most impressive wideouts were freshmen Jaden Greathouse and Jordan Faison, who’s a walk-on. This isn’t how it was all supposed to look for Sam Hartman, although Jayden ThomasTobias Merriweather and Chris Tyree figure to start against Navy.

Can those three receivers deliver after a preseason camp that was more down than up? Of course. But that would mark a course change from the past two weeks for a position that lacks a true No. 1 (and perhaps No. 2) option.

Backfield is more than Audric Estime

For a scrimmage that was supposed to mean something, the running game chose to play short-handed. With no utility to running Audric Estime into the group with a minor injury, Notre Dame chose to lean on its backup running backs on Saturday. They were good enough to power a run game that carried the offense to a scrimmage victory. And even that second-choice backfield was limited as Jadarian Price played only a series or two.

That’s where Devyn Ford and Jeremiyah Love took advantage.

“You saw them perform in the run game with Jeremiyah LoveDevyn FordJadarian Price. Guys that haven’t proven it so much here yet,” Freeman said. “And you saw them perform in the run game, protection for the pass game. Today was great. But I hope this ain’t a peak for what we’re going to see in the future.”

Love provided one of the bigger flash plays of the scrimmage, taking a swing pass for a huge gain. The freshman from St. Louis looked like a sports car in shoulder pads when camp opened but picked up a minor knock that limited him last week in the open practice. While it’s not clear if he’s back to full speed, whatever speed he’s at was enough to impress on Saturday.  The Irish need at least three backs ready to go to have a depth chart durable enough for the season. It seems Notre Dame is there.

It’s worth noting that despite the interior defensive lineman impressing in camp, the run game can still thrive with various backs and different guard combinations. As much as Notre Dame might be trying to transition to more of a pass-friendly offense, the Irish attack hinges on the backs, line and blocking tight ends.

The question for offensive coordinator Gerad Parker may be more of how he takes advantage of that outlook, even with Hartman at quarterback. That might include running Hartman, who had a rushing touchdown in Saturday’s scrimmage.

Cornerback depth peaking

Could this be Notre Dame’s deepest cornerback group since … when exactly?

Freeman opened camp with a modest lament that the Irish needed to find a fourth corner after Cam Hart, Ben Morrison and Jaden Mickey. That slotted Clarence Lewis and Thomas Harper as the nickel/dime backs. Two weeks later, freshman Christian Gray has bubbled up into the two deep, not as a placeholder but as a legitimate contender for time.

“He’s had a really good camp,” Freeman said. “Chance Tucker has been down with an Achilles a little bit. And so, it’s gave Christian valuable reps versus really good wide outs. And I’ve seen him perform. And so, he’s really developed some trust in coach (Mike) Mickens and myself to say, ‘OK, hey, I can be the fourth corner.’”

Morrison and Hart are the unquestioned starters and Mickey has practiced more like the Uber-confident freshman of 18 months ago than the young athlete who struggled last training camp. Gray missed the end of spring practice following a knee procedure and started camp modestly before turning it on last week.

If Notre Dame can keep these four cornerbacks healthy, plus those two nickelbacks, the Irish should be able to mix and match with pass-heavy offenses in a way they couldn’t last season. That reality might not impact many game plans, but Ohio State and USC will be two of them.

Source:  The Athletic
August 12, 2023

Cocktail of the Week

I have a confession to make:  I've grown rather fond of the Dillonites - with their naīve, 'masters of the universe' self-image, freakish skill in making a legitimately high quality craft beer, surprisingly underrated penchant for interesting book recommendations and Northwestern University-esque football proclivity toward mounting their dorm mates*.

*I suppose it's not sexual assault if it's consensual.

Thank you, sir, may I have another?

But one has yet to see them come close to manifesting excellence in mixology.  

(Opening a bottle of a premium Napa varietal doesn't count.)

Which brings me to extolling the virtues of one Jerome Perez, the class of '79s consummate cocktailier.  

With all due respect to the Stayer Lot Bloody Mary Maestro, Jerry is The Man when it comes to making spirit-based dreams come true.

The following recipe isn't one of Jerry's - although the 'Dangerous Libations' title could fairly describe the Cape Cod weekend - but when he starts embedding recipes in his screenplays, watch this space...


Dangerous Libations
Dangerous Liaisons (1782)


Before it was a late-80's Oscar-winner starring Glenn Close, John Malkovich and Michelle Pfeiffer, Dangerous Liaisons's danger-doing characters appeared in a stage adaptation inspired by the scandalously sexy 1700's-era novel.

If you've ever hidden the cover of Fifty Shades of Grey while riding public transportation, you'll relate to this book's most Dangerous readers - including none other than Marie Antoinette, who couldn't get enough of its lusting lovers. 

A story told entirely in scorching hot letters, you'll savor this inky-black drink that's dangerous to the last drop.


1 oz.  creme de cassīs
1 oz.  lemon juice
1 tspn. activated charcoal (optional, for color)
4 oz. champagne

Combine the crème de cassis, lemon juice and activated charcoal in a shaker with ice and shake for :05.   

Strain into a coupe glass, top with champagne, and share with your (nearest) friend!



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


 Schedule 2023

August
26            Navy (Dublin, Ireland)

September 
2                  Tennessee State
9                  @NC State
16                Central Michigan
23               Ohio State
30               @Duke

October 
7                @Louisville
14                USC
28             @Pittsburgh Wake Forest

November 
4            @Clemson
18            Wake Forest
25          @Stanford


NOTEThere is no Linipalooza this year, for a variety of excellent reasons, including but not limited to, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD CAN WE GIVE THESE PEOPLE A BREAK, JUDY IS BARELY THROUGH HER THERAPY SESSIONS OF HAVING TO CONFRONT WARD, LOHN AND THEIR MERRY BAND OF MISFITS AT HER APARTMENT DOOR THE FOLLOWING MORNING LAST YEAR.

And if you were otherwise holding out for a better home schedule in '24 to make your 'Prodigal Son Return to Campus', in the hopes of catching a 'good' game, you may wish to re-think that:










Wager 2023


Two weeks to kickoff in Dublin!  Get those wagers in!  Recall last year that Proposition 801 passed, enabling those that predicted correctly, even if they didn't win the final tie-breaker, have their $25 entry fee waived:  Ward, Brunett, Garrett

For those of you traveling to the game, be safe.  

Make us proud (I don't care if 23 and Me says you're 2% Irish, don't be an ugly American).



Wins

ND Lacrosse God

Domer




12



Kevin Corrigan

 

A Corrigan as national champ?


Perfection.


 


Brian M., John P., John L.



11



Matt Kavanagh

 

The first of the Kavanagh clan, his career mirrors that of how an 11 win season might be construed - undeniably excellent, just not quite good enough.


Daryl, Dave M., Peter, Ray




10


Pat Kavanagh

 

Nobody embodies 'tough' more than this guy... suggesting a 10 win season, with all the unknowns on the team (e.g., WR's), may say more about the team's fortitude - and future - than two losses might.


 

Jerrence, JP,  Brian W., Bill, Ryan, Matt, Garrett, Cinco, BucksSully, Raz, Ted, Lini, Jim B.Spit the ElderSpit the Younger,



9



Chris Kavanagh


How would a 9-win season be viewed?  The guess here is "wow, that year was crazy, a little unhinged, certainly unpredictable!"


Which seems to be the most perfect description of the youngest Kavanagh. 

 

 

Jim S., Bob J., Gutsch, Jim T., Jerry P., Ungie, Coat Man, Alex, Mike G.




8



Sergio Perkovic.


The pride of Bloomfield Hills, arguably the Austin Carr of his era (check out sometime how he singlehandedly brought the team back in a NCAA semi-final vs. Denver).


Yet no one remembers him in light of the team's recent success.  Just like no one will choose to remember an 8-win outcome.


 

Albert, Jerry W.,  Feif, Blair, George



7



Liam Entenmann


7 wins, ugh.  No one would be happy with that - yet out of it may reveal a preternatural performance or two (ala our man Liam in Philadelphia), setting up an optimistic 2024 scenario.


Dare to dream.


 



6



Gerry Byrnes

 

Nothing optimistic about 6 wins or less.  Just looking for someone to blame.  In this case, why not point the finger at the former 2nd in command to Corrigan, architect for a top tier defense strategy who (got tired of waiting and) left for the top job at Harvard.


Not fair but so what.


 



5




This is lacrosse 'when it was a club sport' territory...


 



4



How are the fencers looking this year?

                                                          



Schadenfreude of the Week

Much like the entire country of Italy (and most of Europe), Schadenfreude has taken a holiday for the month of August.

Heading to the beach.

Hitting the links.

Thinking positive, other-directed thoughts of empathy toward their fellow man.

Yeah, right.

Until next month, losers.

Bye-bye, so long, farewell... 



Terry's Tools


Consider the lack of section 'content' for this week Jerrence being uncharacteristically kind. 

Or lazy. 

In any event, just one nomination - a guy who probably deserves a Lifetime Achievement Award for his enduring commitment to questionable life choices. 



1) Phil Mickelson.   This week's "Lucy, you got a lot of esplainin' to dooooooo...." award winner.

So perhaps you heard.  New book about Phil Mickelson hit the street this week.  About his betting history, by apparently his best (and fellow degenerate gambling) buddy.  

Not exactly new news.

Except maybe the magnitude of those wagers... yikes. 

Bets totaling $1B+.  Yes, that's a 'B.'
Losses totaling $100M+.  





Final Thought.


Got my first 'Save the Date!" communication from ND for Reunion 2024 (if you haven't received anything, check your spam file and/or, perhaps, take the hint.)


May 30 - June 2nd.


And hear me now, Gerard Wills - you WILL be there, even if we have to go full Harriett Tubman Underground Railroad to get you there!

There's miles between us
But boy, you should've seen us in the good old days!
It was just like Disneyland...