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Friday, October 20, 2023

USC: Whiplash


IMPORTANT (didn't want this to get lost amongst the rest of the dross below).

The Julie Rittenhouse funeral service timing as been established:

Please share -- her obituary can be found here  -- and hope to see some of you there. 


Now back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Well there's 1,352 guitar pickers in Nashville
And anyone that unpacks a guitar
Can play twice as better than I will...  

Dateline:  Nashville, TN

Jerrence hadn't planned for it to be like that, it just sorta worked out that way.  He found himself Sunday on a plane to Nashville after watching his team step on USC's (and Caleb Williams') neck, metaphorically and, at times, almost literally.

You're St. Mary's seniors on Fall break?!  Do tell. 
And before he knew it, he was in an establishment with his pal Ray Volk, listening to one of probably 50-100 bar bands playing somewhere on Broadway Street at any given time, with a whiskey-based cocktail in his hand.   


Indeed, in a post-USC drubbing context, it was not an unpleasant, occasionally surreal, experience. 

And in between attending shows we were actually in town to see (Jason Isbell at the Ryman Auditorium / The Time Jumpers at 3rd & Lindsley) - it was an experience that was repeated a few times over the two days in town. 

Much like trends he saw during Saturday night's football game (e.g., USC's O-line is awful), he noticed similar consistencies with the bar bands and their members' roles:
  • Lead singer:  Must wear a hat.  For female leads, it must be something broad rimmed, preferably a cowboy hat, while men have the flexibility to go cowboy or the baseball hat route.  The latter should typically promote an obscure industrial manufacturer and appear fairly weathered. And as long as they had their cell phones for reference, those leads will sing anything you ask for. 
  • Lead guitarist:  Can look like whatever they want, big or small, clean cut or unkept. But they must be able to shred, with a guitar that cost them several months wages.
  • Bass guitarist: Invariably physically large and silent with the presumed mobility of a refrigerator and a vaguely sinister, unstable demeanor.  Whether they contributed to the band's performance was none of your concern.
  • Drummer:  The introverts of the group and other than having underrated tempo skills, it was clear they must also wear a hat, specifically of the baseball variety and it must be worn backwards.

Were these hard rules or merely guidelines?  Unclear, more research required.  

Yet Jerrence, an inveterate rule follower, took great solace in the assurance of knowing pretty much what he was in store for at each venue, even if the range of music genre differed greatly from bar to bar.

Ands well as his Irish had played that weekend, he pined for a similar level of consistency -  and high quality - in their play as he was witnessing in Tennessee.  This 2023 roller coaster ride of ND viewing experience was getting a little tiresome.

Quote of the Week

"Just to see the fans and the support we get continuously and The Walk and just the football culture here, I hope it never changes. 

If I'm blessed to have kids, I hope I can bring them back and they play
a highlight. 

Probably won't be as cool as Joe
Montana, but - you know, I met Joe Montana today. That was pretty sweet. 

Probably add that: USC victory (one), Joe Montana (two). 

And I think that that is going to be something I can kind of cherish for the rest of mv life."                                                                                                                                
                                                     Sam Hartman

Regardless of how he finishes his Notre Dame career (year), how can you not be a huge fan of this fellow?  

Shaving the beard might've been a mistake, however.  Although the TikTok below - which I heartily encourage you watch - 3 funny freaking minutes - expresses my opinion well. 

"I want his face for Halloween..."

Watch here.
If that link doesn't work, try it here.  


Word of the Week

Used in a sentence paragraph
:  Even in his semi-anesthetized state (having the second Behrens bloody mary might've been a tactical error, at least as far as enhancing his already limited cognitive abilities to recognize and analyze anything football-related), Young Jerrence saw that something was just not right... a little off... but likely in a good way for his Irish. 

The mood at the tailgater had reflected the weather itself: hardly optimistic and yet not terrible.  Overcast but not the dire rainy clime forecasted. Yes, a tad unseasonably poor for mid-October but definitely not Arctic tundra-esque either.

And yet, he was seeing several of the USC players wearing balaclava's as if they were playing a January game in Green Bay.  

Huh?  Hell, Jerrence didn't even see the weather as drinking glove appropriate - and he had kicker DNA, the very poster boy for wussies.  

If the Trojan Weenie Boys were already that fixated on 50F temp's, this boded well for their lack of fortitude... 

Game 8 Thoughts - 

I'll be back in the high life again
All the doors I closed will open once again...

No one's offered to Op Ed for me this week so it's back to my lame observations.  Much like the team - who clearly rallied better than me - eight weeks in, I'm running on fumes. For almost the only time this year, I re-watched the game and here's a few quick hitters:

  • DropsHartman, Games 5-8 doesn't look nearly as accurate as in Games 1-4... and there's clearly several reasons for it, a few outside his control, including drops.  I counted four in the 1st half, all of which would've kept drives going.  
  • AudiblesSomething that's been on my mind for awhile - does Hartman have any autonomy in changing the play at the line?  Here's a guy who's taken, what, 4000 snaps in his career?  That's a lot of experience.  Seems a little misguided, not to be able to have him be able to check out of plays he can see are not going to work.
  • Bertrand
    .   Our LB's take a lot of grief.  They're old, slow and white - to be blunt.  Not a lot of perceived athleticism and with a couple highly regarded recruiting classes at the position, perhaps more than a few people thinking 'give the kids a try.'  
And yet, arguably, in a game with several big plays for ND, JD made one of the biggest - blowing up a 4th-and-short when the game was, well, still a game.   

Maybe it's time to recognize that while he likely won't play on Sundays, he's pretty valuable right now.

  • TyreeSame thing.  More than a few of us tend to focus on his shortcomings - punt return decisions being at the top of the list - but he continues to get better at the WR position in a year where there's not a whole lot of better options... and seems to be part of a VERY big play at least every other game.  
Perhaps we ought to fixate on that a bit more.

  • Storming the field
    .  It'd be reasonable to believe that everyone in ND Stadium Saturday night was a bit confused by what they saw - Caleb sucking, ND's defensive pressure actually getting home, short yardage situations getting converted (well, a couple times at least)... 
So when the final gun sounds with a 28 pt. victory over one's fiercest rival, it looked like 80,000 people were still processing what they had just witnessed, leading to the oddest, most laid back "I guess we should run on the field?" storming.  Funny.
  • The Big 10.    This thought did occur to me:  if SC is going to struggle with playing in South Bend in mid-October, wait til they see Iowa City or State College (still the coldest I've ever been at a football game) in November.  I gotta believe the conference was loving what they saw Saturday night - and cannot wait to welcome the Los Angeles teams.

  • Finger nails
    .   Going into the game, I would've put the over / under at 3 for the # of times we'd be seeing Caleb's nails.  
Perhaps because they were so frequently smudged by the turf, I don't recall a single visual.  Good.

  • NBC Announcers.  I've finally been turned.  For a fellow who's never cared much about the ND game announcers to date, last week was a bit of a watershed moment:  Jason Garrett is smart but painfully dull and Jac Collinsworth is worse.  I'm starting a "Let's draft Gruley for play-by-play" movement!  That is, if he can't hang on to his starting WR position (the lacrosse kid has gotta be pushing him). 
Run, Forrest, run! 

  • Coach Parker.  While ND's total yardage number was a bit deceiving - they started with short fields a lot (and converted when they had to), and yes, when you get up by 18 you probably call a more conservative game... but I don't think you're out of the woods yet as far as job security goes.

Lord knows I like to roll the dice
And I don't give the best advice
But this ain't it.... 


Buddy's Buddy

Some weeks are just slam dunk easy to identify Buddy's pal.  

Though, truth be told, if the defense keeps this up, Al Golden is gonna have to get his name up on the wall.

Remember that well known Mark Twain quote, "There's lies, damn lies, and statistics..." 

Well, this isn't the week to cite that.  

Check out this stat line for Xavier Watts:

  • 7 tackles (6 solo)
  • 2  INT's
  • 1 pass defense
  • 1 forced fumble
  • 1 scoop and score
Nationally, named the Bronko Nagurski Player of the Week.  

(I wonder if they give you a leather helmut for that - that would be cool.)

Regardless, he's been starting for less than a year and seems to already have become the talent equivalent of our CB's.  

Which is nice. 

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

I can only imagine professionals like Messers. Sampson, Fortuna et al are driven crazy by a season like the one ND is having.

They're supposed to be experts, with their finger on the pulse of the program better than anyone - and yet, from week to week, the narrative changes radically.

Maybe they like that - gives them tons of the "didn't see that coming" type content to write about.  

So in that same vein, rather than steal an observation about a topic that's been well covered (e.g. Hartman, the WR's, Parker), perhaps a few words this week about some guys who aren't necessarily in the public consciousness quite as much...

As much as Notre Dame needs development stories like Xavier Watts, where would the Irish defense be without Javontae Jean-Baptiste and Thomas Harper? Jean-Baptiste has turned into the defensive end Notre Dame hoped he could be but Ohio State never truly saw. Harper is every bit the nickel of TaRiq Bracy last year, if not superior. The Irish missed him at Louisville.

It’s not that Notre Dame hit on every graduate transfer this cycle. Kaleb Smith retired during training camp after not making a dent on the receiver depth chart, which is hard to rationalize considering his production at Virginia TechAntonio Carter II has been in and out of the lineup after coming over from Rhode Island.

But the impact of the hits — Hartman, Jean-Baptiste and Harper — have changed the program’s foundation for the year. And kicker Spencer Shrader has connected, too.

Source:  The Athletic
October 18,  2023

Cocktail of the Week

Nothing screams 'unhinged, unsupervised youth running amok' more than Nashville's Broadway Street...

And that's just on a random Monday in October.

Whereas Tennessee is bourbon whiskey capital, not rum, but when you factor in the role of THE PIG - ham! bacon!  BBQ! - there's more overlap with this week's literary cocktail selection than one might otherwise perceive.

Lord of the Mai-Tais
Lord of the Flies (1954)
By William Golding

The plot that started a dozen TV franchises:  throw a group of disparate souls on an island after an airplane crashes, and, in a Clearasil-ready twist, make sure none of them are old enough to drive, let alone drink.

If you went to a high school that favored broadened minds over banned books, you'll remember devouring this fable of order and disorder, schoolboys-turned-savages, and one very trippy pig's head.

Recommended reading during your next flight to Hawaii, escape to the galley if things get bumpy and throw together this Polynesian nerve-calmer.  

It's fit to be served in a conch shell but don't turn your back on the other passengers.

2 oz.  cranberry juice
2 oz.  orange juice  
1 oz.  coconut cream
1 shot  light rum
1 tspn.  grenadine syrup
Orange slice or pineapple wedge, for garnish (optional)

Shake the ingredients with ice -- odds are, it'll all turn out bloody red -- and pour everything, including the ice, into a Collins glass.  

Get creative with the topical garnishes:  pineapples, oranges, eye of piglet...

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              L
14                USC                 NIGHT              W
28             Pittsburgh 

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

Wager 2023

Okay Team 8, perhaps we got a little ahead of ourselves in anointing you the blog groups' Nostradamus.  But with this team, it's week-to-week, right?


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.PeterRay


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, MattGarrettCincoBucks,  

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.

Schadenfreude can be a lot like portfolio management. One might not always have a limitless amount of joy to expend and, from week to week, a variable number of people / teams to spend against.

This week is going to be like putting that surprise spot bonus money almost entirely against one really great bottle of wine.

From the Southern California vineyard.

  With four ranked teams in your final five games (including Washington and Oregon), I would recommend you get used to your position in this section.

Interesting that Riley suggests "we're were right in it" up to the kickoff return... really?

Texas A&M.  Here's some fun facts for all you Jimbo fans:  
  • The team currently sits at 4-3 with trips to Ole Miss (Lane has beaten you the last two years) and LSU.
  • Jimbo has never won 10 games since being at A&M
  • Fully half of his top 5 recruiting classes the last few years have left.
  • He has $78M left on his contract.
And we open the '24 season with them in College Station. 

Miami.  Losing to North Carolina and their highly rated QB isn't anything to be ashamed of.  Question:  Insofar as you had 2 INT's on top of fumbling 2 other times... do you still get out that insipid turnover chain when you do it?

Terry's Tools.

New week, new events - what is going on in the world these days - and new nominees... 

...but with some very familiar faces.

Of special note this week, Rep. Gym Jim Jordan was nominated for Tool consideration but didn't receive sufficient votes from The Committee. 

Ba boom ting!


1)  Michigan.  What is it with Team Harbaugh and their inability to follow the rules or, minimally, figure out how to cheat properly like the SEC?  Earlier in the year, Harbaugh gets suspended during team's September MAC schedule for flouting recruiting rules - now it's stealing other teams signals by attending their games (expressly forbidden for, like, 20 years) and sussing out what plays they run.

Gee, one would think that's gotta take the shine off their Defensive Coordinator's reputation a bit.  I mean, how hard can it be to defend something WHEN YOU KNOW THE PLAY THAT'S COMING?

But fear not, the school has suspended their G. Gordon Liddy-esque staffer, an ex-Marine hired a few years back as an analyst.  Can you say, "Fall Guy?"

Perhaps you have more pressing things to worry about.
2)  Caleb Williams.   There is hubris and there is USC QB-level hubris.

Word came out again this week (it's not new news) that Young Caleb, the presumptive #1 pick in next Spring's NFL draft, wants as part of his compensation package equity (i.e., partial ownership) in the team he goes to.

Perhaps he doesn't realize that Aaron Rodgers tried to get that from the Jets - it's illegal in the NFL - and anyway, if he ain't getting it, you sure as hell aren't. 

Or maybe be does. In any event, you do you, C-Man.  And enjoy playing for the Toronto Argonauts.

3)  Colorado PA AnnouncerOccasionally, I like to re-visit some of my darker sports-related fantasies... like establishing a rooftop sniper, ex-Special Ops, with a bean bag rifle that would pop any player for the unnecessary 'look at me' celebrations that occur after every single freaking play.  The shot wouldn't harm them but the repeated sting would surely get their attention. And I'd imagine the crowd would get into it. You'd think DB's and WR's would represent a very target-rich environment.

So I was taken by the news that one courageous official tried to get control of another irritating New Age habit:  stadiums that play the loudspeaker music virtually right up to the snap.

I understand that the Colorado Buffs are unaccustomed to having anyone pay attention to them - and their coach is the king of Look At Me! tactics - but I'm saying bravo to cutting that shit out.  And interesting that Stanford came back to win that game.

That said, I wonder what song they were playing...   

Final Thought.

What do you do when someone shows up with the 1975 Notre Dame Dog Book and hands it to you?  

You go through it very slowly.   And take pictures.   

Who can go 12-for-12?

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