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Tuesday, September 12, 2023

NC State: I'd Keep Playing. I Don't Think The Heavy Stuff Is Coming For Awhile...

...Caught up in a summer shower
Drying while it soaks the flowers.
Maybe we'll be caught for hours
Waiting out the rain...

Dateline:  Flint Lake, IN

As Jerrence watched the ESPN Game Day telecast, seeing Joe Namath and Lee Corso in the midst of some kind of discourse - if that's what you can call it - he was thinking how it takes a great deal to make Corso appear to be the more cognitively grounded... several other epiphanies came to mind:

Who is cutting Broadway Joe's hair these days, Theodoric of York? 

And who's dressing him, a grandchild?

And what ESPN producer thought it was a good idea to book Namath in the first place?

All in all, Jerrence thought it sad to see, although relieved that the Alabama legend didn't appear to be all liquored up, mindful that Joe probably has lived by a "it's 5 o'clock somewhere" credo for much of his adult life.  And one can never be sure about these things, even with a morning telecast... 

And appreciative that the network was undoubtedly smart to ensure the Game Day broadcast team was all male given #12's history... know, that painful "fool me once, shame on you / fool me twice, shame on me" lesson is one that's surely seared into every TV exec's memory banks when it comes to Mr. Namath.

Which got Jerrence to thinking, do we actually learn from our mistakes?  More specifically, how much do we learn from them?  For ND Nation, tt would seem we're all watching, in real time, the Marcus Freeman learning curve - after all, last year had more than a few missteps - and right now, that curve is looking pretty steep:

-  How to prepare for the decided underdogs.
-  How to prepare for the rabid away game environment.
-  Thinking on the fly when Acts of God intervene.
-  How to keep the young, high potential athletes content before it's their time to star.
-  How to keep your team from looking ahead - we'll see this week how well that goes.

But, so far so good.

Quote of the Week

"Cookies are for closers."

                                                          Baby Boss

Grandpa, don't you have anything more... substantive?
So, the granddaughter and I were discussing the above film - which is to say what would it have looked like in Scorsese's hands or better yet, Cronenberg or del Toro's (Sloane suggesting 'think Pan's Labyrinth Meets Lion King') - as she mocked me for being SUCH A WEENIE BOY during the 1st half of Saturday's game, wringing my hands over the Irish's slow start.  

"Man up! And put down the cocktail shaker for godsakes - that can't always be your go-to when things get even a little bit dodge-y.   You had to know that NC State was always going to come out fired up..."

"Plus, Sam Hartman's a gamer... the very textbook definition of a closer, my Grand-Dude.  This game was never in doubt.  The sooner you recognize that, the happier your football fandom life will be."

Gee, Sloane, when you put it like that...

Word of the Week

Used in a sentence paragraph:  In post-game reflection, Jerrence was ashamed of the dysphoria he had allowed to creep into his psyche during the game's 1st half.  

Sure, he was used to rando thoughts of a dark (and occasionally perverse) nature to creep into his head - but those were usually invited in, like the guys you see only at Reunions who, unchanged from college, you know you shouldn't be hanging with but oh what the hell, I only see them every five years...

No, this was something entirely different, something born out of... laziness.  He knew better.

He prided himself in maintaining a balanced, if not entirely grounded, sense of perspective regarding his expectations for Notre Dame's prospects this year.  They were clearly better than the Wolf Pack - but the Irish were also a fairly young team, 24 year old QB notwithstanding, and this being their first foray into an adversarial environment with Wrath of God weather adding an additional complication... well, some early dysfunction was to be expected.

Easy to say (see) that now.  And it didn't help to have the toddler telling him, "I told you so."

Game 3 Thoughts

I've heard into every life
A little of it must fall 
If there's any truth to the saying
Lord, let it be a southern rain... 

Be careful what you wish for, Wolf Pack.  That said, whom amongst us didn't have a more than a mild sense of foreboding - oh, great, another monsoon-like weather event to completely level the playing field...

Other top-of-mind impressions:  

1. Sam The Man
.   If this is what a bad game looks like for Hartman, I'll take it 100 out of 100 times.   
And what does one do for an encore after leading last week's two minute drive in :38?

Execute a drive this week in :36.  It was the third consecutive game that Hartman led a TD drive to close the 1st half.  He's 14-16 for 221 and 3 TD's.  

That'll work.

2.  Tight End U.    Quantifiably, the position's output for the game represented 6 receptions, 127 yards and 3 TD's.    

None of the TE's may be at Michael Mayer's level but it would seem that coach Parker and Hartman are still making the position a priority.

3.  Marist.   I think he's gonna be really fun to watch this year. 

4.  Safety Dance.   Depending on how much one read prior to the season's start, you'd have likely been left with this consistent narrative:  the defense could be pretty good, especially the CB's, but the safety position?  Shaky.

Well, it's only one game, albeit the first one with an opponent with semi-legitimate passing game, and that particular position showed out!  

Hope springs eternal - because ND is going to need them.

We can dance, we can dance
Everybody's taking the chance... 

5.  Freeman.  Loved, loved, LOVED seeing Freeman get in the grill of the referee team.  And can't help but believe that a couple calls that went ND's way after that (e.g., NC St's offensive interference) perhaps weren't of the make up variety.

6.  Can we talk kickers for a minute? Typically, at least of late, ND's placekickers have been - let's be honest - diminutive little shits, much like this blogger, where one would worry 'can they get it there?' as one approached 50 yds in distance.

Not any more.   BTW, Shrader's 54 yd. FG - his first for ND, established a new team record for distance.  

Given that the second one he tried - from 56 yds. - would've been good from 60, the guess here is he'll get a few tries to break that record.

7.  Fansville.  Apropos on nothing other than one's personal sense of humor - and prior professional sensibilities - but this season's Dr. Pepper commercials rock!  They mock everything screwed up about college football - realignment, transfer portals, strength of schedule.   You can tell the creative team knows their shit - and loves the sport.

I'm assuming the ads must be effective if the campaign is still on-going.  I sure hope so.

"Zero.  Like the odds of you making the playoffs."

Buddy's Buddy

You're probably thinking, how's Jerrence going to award this week's Buddy Award to Sam Hartman?  

He hardly had the most stellar of performances.

And yet, we got to see a new side of the QB, we'll call it 'Damp Sam' - still looking so good, still so comfortably in the moment that nothing could possibly seem to be bothering him... 

"Come to mommy..."

...reminiscent of Aragorn II, Ranger of the North in Lord of Rings... played by Viggo Mortensen (or as he's simply known in the Corrigan family, The Viggo) who was so impossibly attractive despite continually looking like a drowned rat... hair wet, unkept and straggling.

I believe Defarge put it best when evaluating his appearance, "Woof!"

But I digress.  How Hartman doesn't have a lucrative NIL with P&G's Pantene brand I'll never know.  Someone's not doing their job for the guy.

Still, all-weather good looks and poise alone do not (always) a Buddy Award winner make.  And this week, big play ability needs to take precedence.  

And arguably, no play was bigger than Audric Estime's 80 yard run immediately after the prolonged weather delay, giving the team a little breathing room and shaking ND out of its 1st quarter torpor.  

What also should be called out:  there was nothing close to a fumble from Audric on any of his 14 carries.  And if one knows his history - not the cleanest in that regard - within the context of a very wet field, that's an achievement not to go unrecognized. 

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

When a game doesn't go perfectly, especially for Notre Dame fans, questions are raised and often, fingers are pointed.

Inevitably, it all leads back to the coaching staff: their strategy, team preparedness, in-game adjustments.  

And when the head coach / coordinators are relatively new at their respective positions (at least within their Notre Dame tenure), the spotlight gets turned on them pretty quickly.

  So Pete, what'd you see?

One of Gerard Parker’s subtle adjustments against NC State helped both quarterback and offensive line find their groove: moving the pocket. Hartman’s ability to sell play-action and then roll out of the pocket froze NC State’s linebackers and made it unclear where Notre Dame’s launch point would be. Instead of teeing off on the pocket, the Wolfpack rushers had to think about where they were headed.

It wasn’t all perfect, obviously. But Parker figured out NC State would gamble, then made defensive coordinator Tony Gibson pay for it. The NC State defense couldn’t help itself from crowding the box, turning tight end production into an all-you-can-eat proposition for Hartman.

The quarterback could choose between open tight ends after he didn’t find much open at receiver in the first half. Rewatch Davis Sherwood’s 10-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter and you’ll see that Mitchell Evans was running wide open, too. Some touchdown passes are the result of the player. Hartman’s touchdown to Jaden Greathouse was more a credit to the throw than the play call. But all three touchdown passes to the tight ends were on the play call more than the player.

Notre Dame did a textbook job defending Armstrong as a runner. The Wolfpack quarterback finished with 11 carries for 33 yards (removing Donovan Hinish’s sack on the final drive). These are the distances of those runs: minus-one, two, zero, six, nine, three, eight, one, six, one and four. But the Irish containment of Armstrong’s legs was even better than those single-digit gains suggest. The 9-yard and second 6-yard gains were third-down scrambles when NC State needed at least 15 yards to move the chains. In other words, they were scrambles of last resort, not strategic runs. Take those gains out, and Armstrong finished with nine carries for 18 yards, with just one first down scramble in that mix.

Golden’s defense got the balance right in keeping Armstrong in a cage while also getting upfield to make that confinement feel even more acute. Freeman wondered whether the pass rush got stuck on a “leash” in the game plan, which asked the Irish to be less aggressive. Armstrong never got comfortable with what the Irish were doing and how quickly they got pressure.

Source:  The Athletic
September 11, 2023

Cocktail of the Week

This week's cocktail has less to do with any North Carolina-based theme although if I could've found a Telladega Nights or Bull Durham drink, we'd be having a different story below. 

No, this week is a bit of an homage to Paris-based daughter Shea who made her annual U.S. fly by this past week... always a joy (and source of vicarious thrills for her parents) as she regales us with stories of navigating the city's bars, restaurants and patisseries/boulangeries with her faithful wingman, Jack the dog.
Love Shea.  

Love Jack.  

Love this drink.  

Not exactly the French 75 but close enough for this blogger.

The French Concoction
The French Connection (1971)
Directed by William Friedkin

Based on a real-life, late 1960's case in which two New York City police officers brought down an immense overseas heroin ring, this movie - the first R-rated flick to win Best Picture at the Oscars - was shot so fast, loose and dirty, portions of it practically play out like a documentary.

Famously, French featured a porkpie-wearing Gene Hackman in what many consider to be the craftiest (and subsequently most-imitated) car chase ever caught on pre-Steadicam film.  

Calm your jitters with a Marseilles twist on a throwback concoction that was first smuggled into the states from Harry's New York Bar - in France.

1.5 oz.  gin
0.5 oz.  lemon juice
0.5 oz.  pastis
3 oz.  champagne
Lemon twist, for garnish

Combine the gin, lemon juice and pastis in a shaker with ice.  Shake well, strain into a flute and top with champagne.  Garnish with the lemon twist - and find out how to say "delicious" in French.

Source:  Gone With The Gin:
Cocktails with With a Hollywood Twist
by Tim Federle

 Schedule 2023

26            Navy (Dublin, Ireland)                W

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

7                @Louisville
14                USC
28             @Pittsburgh 

4            @Clemson
18            Wake Forest
25          @Stanford

Wager 2023

If any of the 8-9 win folks were speculating about where the Irish might stumble against a non OSU-USC-Clemson opponent, NC State might've been one of your nominees (although Duke is now looking like a better surrogate).

Well, bummer for you!  Huzzah for the rest of us!   


ND Lacrosse God



Kevin Corrigan


A Corrigan as national champ?



Brian M., John P., John L.


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.

DarylDave M., Peter, Ray


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.BillRyan, Matt, Garrett, Cinco, Bucks,  Sully, Raz, Ted, Lini, Jim B.,  Spit the Elder,  Spit the Younger, Mike B.


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., GutschJim T.Jerry P., UngieCoat Man, Alex, Mike G., George


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


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.



Gerry Byrne


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.



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



How are the fencers looking this year?


Schadenfreude of the Week

This time of year, when truly meaningful (and competitive) contests are still rare in the college ranks, one hopes to be able to use the initial pro games as appropriate fodder.  But sadly, no.

Chiefs and Giants - you had one job.  

Fun fact:  this might be the only weekend in history where one sees Mahomes, Burrow, Herbert and Josh Allen all lose - even if none of them gave Jerrence any joy.

As for the Bears?  Even as a lifelong Packer fan who still suffers PTSD from the Super Bowl Shuffle, all I feel is profound sadness for that franchise, their fans less so.

Then there's the J-E-T JetsJ-E-T Jets!   But they didn't lose... 

Oh yes they did (Karma's a bitch, Jets fans.)

So.  This section will try to hang until October (or late September - looking at you, USC v. Colorado) and hope we can celebrate something meaningful until then.

And while I'd say last weekend was more of a 'quality over quantity' type output, we're not complaining. 

And who doesn't love the inevitable panning to the upset victim's fanbase whose dreams have just been crushed?

Not a rhetorical question - does that make me a bad person?  I think it might.

  • SEC!  SEC!   Misery (in the conference) loves company, so come on down, Alabama and Texas A&M.  Regarding the former, it sure must've felt like deja vu for Tommy Rees - weeping 'n wailing 'n gnashing his teeth from up high while watching his QB unable to execute his plays.  And as for A&M vs. Miami (where's a rogue meteorite to hit a random stadium when you need it?), I wonder what Jimbo's buyout # is at these days...

Terry's Tools

You've heard that expression before - "there's one in every bunch," right?

That seems to typify the textbook Tool, daring to be achieve a whole new level of stupid (often succeeding) in an attempt to be that special Rules Don't Apply to Me visionary.

Well, in point of fact, The Rules - often prosaically referred to by many of us as The Law - do apply.  Bummer for them.

This week we've got a few that cross that line.  And a few where a line should've been drawn to begin with. 

1) Deion Sanders.   Lest I be perceived as having it out for coach P**** (I'm already done with that name), I'll acknowledge that the attribution below may be misplaced... but Sanders strikes one as a coach who allows nothing without his okay - so I'm blaming him.  

A 'Turnover Throne", really?  Could you be any more derivative? And WTF, Deion, you're a Florida State guy and you're copying Miami?!   Ugh. 

2) Mel Tucker.  The 1st rule of "Keep All The $ Associated With Your Long-term Contract" club:  Don't get fired for cause.

The 2nd rule:  Don't have the charges involve sexual harassment.  

The 3rd rule:  Don't have the sexual harassment charge involve a rape survivor and activist.

Note:  At present, coach Tucker has been suspended without pay, awaiting completion of the full investigation.  But it ain't looking good for Mel.

3)  Carl Williams.  Father of star USC QB, Caleb Williams who, this week, opined that his son just might stay in school next year if he doesn't like the 'environment' of the team he'd likely go to.  Looking at you, Arizona Cardinals.  

These babies aren't gonna paint themselves...
I call 'bullshit'.  

Certainly the kid (family) is making a ton of money with NIL - just check out all the commercials he's doing these days - and his playing the "you not (yet) the boss of me" pre-draft card, so effectively used by La Famiglia Manning, is a valid option.  I just don't see that kid defering the pro life for another year.

His fingernail bill, alone, can't be cheap.

But that's not my primary criticism of Mr. Williams. No, it was his idiotic follow up critique of the NFL draft as some sort of rationale for keeping Caleb in school:

"The system is completely backward.  The system is constructed for you to go to the worst possible situation."

Um, yeah Carl.  That's how the draft system works IN EVERY PROFESSIONAL LEAGUE.

4)  Justin Scott.   Consider young master Scott this week's Gran Torino "Get off my lawn" Award winner.  This kid - a recruit that ND is apparently still chasing - surely thinks this is a cool move.

Cool?  I think it's incredibly douchey.  You've already 'committed' - clearly using the term extremely loosely - to a school (even if it's Ohio St.) but you're gonna wear another team's branded apparel - and make sure everyone in the world sees it?  Nice.  I'd like to think someone - a coach, a parent - reamed the kid for such a low class gesture... 

Okay, I'm due back on earth now. 

5) Reza Baluchey.   Any time a news blurb starts with "Florida man..." and references a Giant Hamster Wheel, it begs calling out.  

In this case, the story of a man, after being granted asylum from Iran, who created a large hamster wheel-like vessel (made of buoys and wire) that he was going to propel to the UK by running inside it. For 4000+ miles.

Run, Forrest, run! 

Unfortunately, the US Coast Guard took a dim view of his innovation, evaluating it as "manifestly unsafe... the Hamster Wheel of Doom" (that's a little harsh) and after more than a few entreaties by the authorities for him to call it quits - he initially resisted, threatening suicide - he finally relented.   His hamster wheel captain days would seem to be over.

Or are they?  Insofar as this wasn't his first attempt at his hamster-craft, the guess here is this is not the last we'll hear of Mr. Baluchey. (And may I say, boy I hope not.)  There's actually a lot more to this story... his history... if one is interested.  Check it out here

Final Thought.

September 16th:  1st Stayer Tailgate of the year.  


Forecast at game time:  70F and perfectly clear (if not entirely sunny).

It feels like years since it's been here... 

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