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Thursday, October 5, 2023

Duke: Making Flippy Floppy

And don't you dare sit back.
Now don't you don't sit down...
And don't you dare speak up!

Dateline:  Valparasio, IN

I'm sure there are moments for everyone when one feels like the universe is sending you a message - and that The Cosmos might even have a bit of a sense of humor, yanking one's chain as it were.

Last week was one of those times.

It probably went unnoticed by many of you, not having the benefit of living in a cultural mecca such as Valpo... but there was a re-release to the Big Screen of what Jerrence (and Spike Lee) believe to be The. Greatest. Concert. Film. Ever.

Jonathan Demme's "Stop Making Sense." Re-mastered and re-mixed - capturing the 1984 tour of Talking Heads.

Of course Jerrence had to go, especially insofar as he will never get to see the band play live.  

Sadly, Valpo does not have an IMAX theatre, which is probably just as well, since seeing David Byrne THAT LARGE would surely send him into therapy-driven insights he isn't yet prepared to confront.

But I digress.

The point was, Jerrence should've understood the universe was forewarning him that the Saturday night game in Durham was going to make zero sense.  And this became abundantly clear by the middle of the 2nd quarter.  

This was Duke after all, a basketball school... but football-wise, basically the Stanford (pre-Harbaugh / Shaw) of the East coast.  

And while undeniably better than Duke's historical football output, ND would surely exert its will after the team shook off the inevitable post-Ohio State game malaise, right?

Apparently not.

Quote of the Week

"It was one final bright spot for a Notre Dame offense that has the feel of an 18 wheeler driven by a golden retriever - lumbering, erratic and dangerous...


Yep.  That about sums it up.


Word of the Week

Used in a sentence paragraph
:  As loathe as he was to admit it, Young Jerrence had given up.

This team was the proverbial 'dead in the water'... 95 yards away - wait, check that, 98 yards away - with no evidence to suggest any resuscitation was happening anytime soon.

Jerrence began to wonder, what does one drink at a wake?  It'd been awhile since he'd been to one.  This being Irish in nature, the Redbreast / Jameson / Green Spot bottles in his cabinet seemed like worthy candidates to slake one's misery-based thirst. 

But before he could pull that trigger, something unexpected happened. With their preternaturally calm QB at the helm, the ND offense began to make... plays?  

Escape a safety? That's a start.  

Get a gift pass interference call (Jerrence didn't see it as any more catchable than the earlier PI they waved off)?  We'll take it

A vital 3rd down completion to none other than the TE.  But of course

And yet another 1st down reception to the freshman WR.  Hmmm.

Then came 4th and 16.  

If last week's 3rd and 19 lives in infamy - both defended in an eerily (and disastrously similar) fashion - the ensuing play from this down and distance will have Mr. Hartman drinking free in many cities for an extremely long time.

Suddenly, ND was alive again.  So it would appear that revenants, those creatures like vampires and zombies of mythic lore, really do exist.  Because Jerrence just witnessed one. 

Game 6 Thoughts

No time left for you
On my way to better things... 

October 1st and the season is half over.  Ponder that.  Now consider this:  do we have any better of a fix on this team's potential than when the season started?  Debatable. 

Other stream-of-conscious observations from Saturday night:

You've all seen this by now but who cares, it's still awesome. 

  • We need to talk about the coaching.  Sports Illustrated had an insightful article (check it out here) last week about how the whole counting the # of guys on the field thing isn't as easy as it looks... but beyond that, this was another game where the coaches - not the players - just didn't look... prepared... at really key moments of the game.  

  • Sam the Man
    .  At the risk of sounding like a Harman apologist - which I totally am - I'd argue his mediocre statistical performance was less about him being "off" and far more about 1) having no time to throw, 2) no space to set up to throw and 3) no one open.  But other than that, sure, it wasn't his best game.  
          Until it maybe was.

And that doesn't even account for the character he displayed after the game.

  • The O-line got whipped.  Plain and simple.  Some thought they played their best game of the year against Ohio State.  So much for "stacking success."  Was it the crowd noise, Duke's scheme, ND's play calling, one side wanting it more?  Yes.  No.  I don't know.  But it better get figured out.
  • What to do about the officiating?
       Because the bad, game altering, calls just seem to keep coming. I'm sure Swarbrick is burning up the phones, not that it's resulting in any material improvement in the officiating.  
          And it's pissing me off.

This game begged more than a few questions:
    • Punts? How do you not know the rule about reviews of punts?
    • Pass Interference?  Without a tape measure, show me how uncatchable vs. catchable  (the Rico ball looked less catchable than the Tobias one) the two 4th Quarter PI calls involving ND were?
    • Offensive Pass Interference?  WR's and DB's hand check each other well down the field on Every. Single. Play. yet you choose to call Merriweather at game's end?  
    • Targeting?  Never has such a well intentioned rule been so absymally enforced.  I don't even know what to say about a guy's helmet hitting another player's hip.  Technically, the letter of the law but...  

  • Al Golden
    .   I know there are many who are not yet in a forgiving mood about the last few plays in the Ohio State game but I think it's worth giving the DC some credit for how well the defense is playing (which is really well).  
If one considers their team Top 10 and/or BCS Playoff caliber, you shouldn't lose any game where you only give up 14 (or 17) points. 

  • So, what to make of the Offense?  I found it weirdly ironic that the message board that I'm a part of - full of the most ridiculously self-absorbed, glass-half-filled know it alls - were largely defensive of Gerard Parker's game plan, citing the thin depth / inexperienced WR's and the seeming under-rated Duke DL.  Okay. I'd still would've hoped for some positive adjustments in the 2nd half - and it appeared to me we got worse.

  • Whew...
    .    I couldn't be the only one who was ecstatic that we didn't have to win the game on a kick.  

That said, here's my fearless prediction:  we will need Shrader to win a game this year.  (And he will.) 

  • Riley Leonard.  I mean no disrespect but... after hearing all week of how he's a sure 1st round draft choice in April, after Caleb and UNC's Maye... I just didn't see it.  Maybe it had something to do with Golden's game plan but he missed throws and his long runs seemed to be more the result of broken coverages.   Sorry.

  • Mike Elko looks like a damn good coach.  No one liked the way he left ND, and if it wasn't for Clark Lea's near seamless picking up the Defensive Coordinator torch, many of us might still be bitter... but the guy is looking like the real deal - and his team is playing like they're legit. 

Something to leave you with - a somewhat more objective opinion.... should one still be conflicted about how to feel about the Duke victory (Personally, I am not.)

Every week, Hartman proves himself to be the best 'acquisition' ND's made (maybe ever?) and an outstanding representative of the school.

Buddy's Buddy

Raise your hand if you saw "Melvin and Howard", the 1980 film by aforementioned Mr. Demme, which told the possibly (!) true story of total loser Melvin Dummar who, one night, helps an old man who has a motorcycle accident in the Las Vegas desert.   Turns out the guy was Howard Hughes, who leaves Melvin part of his estate in his will.

Hijinx ensue.  Fun movie.  Check it out. 

I present to you now, its sequel:  "Mitchell and Howard", while sounding like the name of a small, midwestwern actuarial service, or fine names for a faithful dog though if I were to ever get one again - unlikely at this point - I'm committed to the name, "Edward" after the wisened dog in Brian Doyle's brilliant novel, "Chicago." 

But I digress.  

Mitchell and Howard.  The equally unlikely story of two vastly underrated, presumed role players, who are showing out big time.

Mitchell Evans, whom you already know about.  Turning in back-to-back performances that St. Michael (Mayer) would've been proud of - suggesting not only that he's no flash in the pan but, rather, a critical and necessary offensive weapon as the WR corp (hopefully) matures.

And frankly, Howard Cross III shouldn't be the revelation that he seems to be - he plays well virtually every week.  But because his measurables don't stack up to prototypical DL, he's consistently overlooked.

Perhaps not anymore. 

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

So the theme this week - such as it is - is equivocation.  

What conclusions, quantifiably halfway through the regular season, can we draw about the team? 

While not necessarily an entirely bad thing, there still seems to be a work-in-progress aspect to the 2023 program - weirdly, perhaps less so about the players and maybe more so about the coaching.

Good or bad. 

Is Notre Dame any more resilient today than it was last week? Is it any grittier? Any tougher?

I’m as guilty as anyone for taking the result and reverse engineering it to fit a narrative. Winners get to write history, though, which is why Ryan Day can scream about Lou Holtz one week and Marcus Freeman can call Notre Dame a “great team” the next (these were not equivalent statements, but bear with me). It’s just hard to know how much greatness the Irish should subtract because DJ Brown dropped an interception or add because safety Terry Moore couldn’t get Sam Hartman’s third down floater the play before his 17-yard scramble.

Notre Dame was good enough to beat Ohio State. Duke was good enough to beat Notre Dame. Both games were incredible theater, but one result shouldn’t be a referendum on an entire program. At least not in September. Notre Dame is plenty resilient, gritty and tough. That could be equally true if the program was 6-0 or 4-2.

Source:  The Athletic
October 3, 2023

Cocktail of the Week

Who better to link the Duke game with than Earnest Hemingway?

A writing style that is often described as unusually bare... simple... to the point... 'less is more', frequently repetitious. 

And yet, consistently powerful.  Prose that stays with you.

While clearly Jerrence isn't a disciple of that writing style, it does fairly describe last Saturday's game. 

Vermouth The Bell Tolls
For Whom The Bell Tolls (1940)
By Earnest Hemingway

You'll need a drink for this one, a clench-jawed war classic that follows one Robert Jordan, an American abroad during the Spanish Civil War, and part of a daring underground mission to destroy an enemy's bridge. 

With a reporter's unflinching eye for the miseries of battle, Hemingway tells much of the novel in an English idiom that feels directly translated from Spanish, with a distractingly choppy narrative that's worth the slog (lest you miss the earth-moving sex scene midway through).

You'll be a prisoner of more to our cocktail, featuring Spain's own sherry.  Serve the result and you'll be building more bridges than you burn.

2 oz.  sherry
1 oz.  sweet vermouth
Dash of Peychaud's bitters

Combine the sherry and sweet vermouth over ice in a rocks glass.  Stir well and add the bitters.  

Serve to a longtime rival as a peace offering - and offer to take the first "poison control" sip.

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

 Schedule 2023

26            Navy (Dublin, Ireland)                W

2                  Tennessee State                         W                                   THE CALM BEFORE...
9                  @NC State                                  W
16                Central Michigan                       W
23               Ohio State        NIGHT              L
30               @Duke             NIGHT            W

October                                                                                                       THE STORM.
7                @Louisville      NIGHT
14                USC                 NIGHT
28             Pittsburgh 

4             @Clemson                                                                                    BEFORE       
18           Wake Forest                                                                               FINISHING...  
25          @Stanford

Wager 2023

Las Vegas doesn't ask 'how', they ask 'how many'...  

Team 11, you're still alive.


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.



Brian W, Jay, BillRyan, Matt, GarrettCincoBucks,  

SullyRaz, Ted, Lini, Jim B.,  Spit the Elder,  Spit the Younger, Mike B., Bryan


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.

I can tell you one team that won't be on my future Schadenfreude list:  Duke.  Sure, I despise their pretentious, entitled student body (while respecting their academic reputation) and, at times, I wish awful things to happen to the Cameron Crazies, to which I have much subsequent self-loathing...

But for at least this year, I admire their 2 and 3-star athletes who compete really hard and make every game a hard fought contest.  Hopefully, that QB is indeed back on the field before the year's over - he's a gamer.

So,  no Duke.  But everyone else is fair game. 


Every LSU fan's wish right now... 
Here's a fun fact:  Brian Kelly is 4-4 in his last eight games as the Tigers' head coach
In those 4 losses, LSU's defense has averaged giving up 47 points a game.

"Not great, Bob."

Oh Brian.  At least you have your fam-uh-lee.  (Don't you?)

    Colorado.  When is a loss as good as a win?  Sadly, when you're Deion Sanders and you're playing USC - who simply doesn't seem to care about defense when they know they can put up 40 pts without breaking much of a sweat.  

    Still, having Sanders lose makes me happy. Although let's give this only a '5' on the 10 pt. Schadenfreude scale.

    Utah.  File this under, "It's not personal, just business."   As ND hangs on to Top 10 relevance, we really this season to remain as chaotic as possible.  Having the team lose, which was ranked directly in front of you, is a nice start.  

    Even if one doesn't derive the same emotional benefit associated with textbook schadenfreude.

    Terry's Tools.

    Bouncing back!

    If Notre Dame can do it, albeit in a more-dramatic-fashion-than-was-really-necessary way, so can Jerrence.

    This week's nominees:  more eclectic, more multi-cultural... 

    And in one instance, less human.

    1)  Commander.   You know that expression, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me?"   

    How about fool me 11 times? 

    Such is the track record of POTUS's dog, who apparently has not taken a shine to his Secret Service detail and has manifested his angst by having 11 "biting incidents."  

    Justified bites or not, Commander, I'm sorry, it needs to be "off to Delaware!" for you.

    2)  Joe LaCava.   Back in the halcyon days of the industry, when Chicago was a great advertising town, a Client Service fellow such as I, would occasionally have a blunt conversation with a senior Creative Director about their needing to control their emotions when throwing a tantrum, typically aimed at a junior team member.

    The conversation typically amounted to reminding them to be an adult, that they've accomplished nothing other than satisfying their own ego and given their seniority, they should know better.  In other words, cut that shit out, you're not David Ogilvy

    I was reminded of this when I saw Mr. LaCava who, the last I checked, is still just caddie... decided to let his emotions get away from him in literal, in-your-face fashion while celebrating a critical win in a Ryder Cup match.

    A match that was far  more emotionally charged than typical (which is really saying something for this competition).  

    Um, Joe.  Remind me but it's my understanding that...

    #1    First Rule of Caddies:  you're never, ever supposed to be The Story.
    #2   You've got 20+ years of experience, carrying the bag for some of the biggest names in the game (and in the most pressurized tournaments):  you should know better

    And BTW, Patrick Cantley, I don't know if there's any truth to Cap-gate, but I am not buying at all the "cap doesn't fit" story.  You don't think the team could get you something customized?

    3)  Chase Claypool.  A few words of advice for the former ND Man:  get better career counsel.  

    Your lack of maturity - excusable in your college years because a) you were super talented and b) who are we to be making immaturity accusations - but now you're a pro on a struggling team that doesn't need your flaky self-absorption.  

    You're in the process of blowing your career. 

    4)   Tim McFarland.  Forgive me if I'm already mentioned this... on WSCR 670, a Chicago sports talk radio program, they used have a weekly bit, called "Florida or Ohio Man?" where the segment hosts would be read an outrageous story whose headline inevitably started "______ Man does such and such."

    If one simply bet the straight "Florida Man" ticket week after week, you'd have been a big winner.  But not this week.  Maybe you saw this:

    In a town south of Cleveland, Mr. McFarland, a high school football coach was dismissed after his team repeatedly used "Nazi" as a game call vs. an opponent from a well known JEWISH suburb.  


    Mr.McFarland indicated that it never occurred to him that the term would be construed as antisemitic.   
    I bet it didn't.  Football coaches are not exactly Renaissance Men when it comes to broader awareness of, or sensitivity to, anything.   

    Still, in this day and age, unless Nazi is paired with the word 'soup' you gotta know it's a high risk gambit.  Bet he knows now.

    5)  Romana Didulo.    Arguably, one could accuse this blog of periodically really, really reaching - every piece of content can't be a home run - but how often does one get the chance to combine QAnon conspiracist, Canada (and a challenge to their constitutional monarchy) in one news blurb?

    And where are the South Park guys when you need them to create a new episode about it?  

    In any event, introducing Ms. Didulo, a Phillipino who emigrated to Canada when she was a teenager, now 48, who started a fringe political party as well as...  it wouldn't be inaccurate to say, a cult.  

    Hello, Netflix on line 2! 

    After traveling around the country for years, she and her merry band of zealots recently settled in a small village in Saskatchewan.  Unfortunately, the local townsfolk aren't so keen on their arrival and want them gone - though it seems to have nothing to directly do with Romana's declaring she's overthrown the government ("tell no one!"), installing herself as Queen.  

    You go, girl!  

    To be fair, it helps that she's issued decrees 'absolving' her followers of all bills and debts.  And while the government has taken a dim view of this action, resulting in those same followers losing homes / cars / possessions by heeding her directives, it must be said, "No pain no gain!"

    Suffice it to say, the local villagers do not see these new immigrants as likely to make a positive influence on the local culture.  Yet, how to get 'em to leave?  Unclear.

    But hey - who doesn't love a disrupter?  

    Stay tuned.  

    Drop of the hat and its already started
    Just like the deed is done.
    What I'd give for that hat to be medicine.
    The time is now to be on the run...

    Final Thought.

    Happy 38th anniversary, Defarge. 

    You make everything... groovy.

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