So....lots to say. Bear with me; it's going to be a long one. I've decided headings would be helpful to help me subdivide my thoughts, so...so that'll be good.
I know I've had a night to sleep on it and everything, but it's just...it's so hard to think about. I've been thinking about this Rush Limbaugh quote: "Sports are the one thing in life in which you can invest total passion without consequence."
This has always been one of my excuses for being so ridiculous about football.
But...I'm not sure if that's true anymore. It's just a game, I suppose. But...the effect it has on people...on our student body...on the fans...on our school as a whole.... It's kind of ridiculous all the pride that's wrapped up in it...isn't it? It's so humiliating to think about us...and....yesterday.....
F$%^*. F*** this and f*** the f***ing Trojans and their f***ing f***ing f***ing!!!!!!
On another note, someone please just rip my heart out, cut it into little pieces, and redistribute it among the members of the Notre Dame football team. I can't take this, and maybe they need it more than I do.
On the fans
My MVP for the game: The Notre Dame student section...Freshmen.
The whole student body is great, obviously...except for the people who WENT HOME EARLY and sold their tickets....and except for the people who decided to LEAVE EARLY and stop supporting our team in the lowest moment of their season.
But the freshmen pretty much blow me away. They cheer the longest and the most often, and (the seniors will say this is just because it's their first year here and they'll get over it...but I hope they don't) they come to more pep rallies and they do all the arm motions more consistently and instigate more cheers than the rest of the student body. And at the end of the game yesterday, their stands were the fullest.
And I'm not knocking the rest of the student body or the band or anything (yay band), because I know there were thousands of others who stayed until the bitter end...but if you just left because you were disgusted, you weren't doing your job (as they remind us every Friday at the pep rallies) as a member of the greatest fan base in the country.
Do you have any idea how many (SO MANY) recruits who are won over by Notre Dame mention the fact that the entire student body stays until the very end to sing the alma mater? That that is one of the things that made them want to go here? It impresses the hell out of most people.
I mean, I understand how painful it is. I really do. And how frustrating, and disappointing, and...yeah. And maybe people had to catch flights and buses and things, but even so. If you're going to come out for the game, come out and stay. Stay until the bitter end. Give more than you're getting back. It'll come back around eventually.
Anyway, enough of that rant....kudos to the ND Freshmen. The highlight of the game for me was probably when you started chanting at Pete "yes, I am a total douche bag" Carrol after he called a review on that pass COMPLETION that he probably could have just...let go.
Maybe the Freshmen cheer was inappropriate (well...besides the fact that it was completely appropriate) and a little less than classy...but, I mean, it's USC we're talking about here. Petey Pete was probably so busy jamming his head even farther up his own ass (I mean, how do you think he gets his face to LOOK like that?) that he didn't even notice.
Three cheers for the student body.
Our beloved team
This is pretty much the toughest season to be a member of the ND football team in living memory. We know that no matter what we do now, we're going to have a losing record. (Although P.S. as of this morning, the International Bowl website still had the ND fight song playing as its intro. Maybe they're still crazy about us. Or maybe they just think it's the NCAA's official anthem or something because it's so popular and amazing. Who knows?) And I know this was true of Ty's team a few years back (5-7 ouch), but um it still...it still...it still wasn't this.
I would personally like to pelt Kevin White with rotten beets for scheduling the USC game on the first weekend of fall break right after midterms. I know it shouldn't make a difference, but I feel like it does. It's been a tough, tough season. This will be our first bye week of the year. Half the student body is sick, and I would be surprised if that didn't extend to some of the football players as well. If the players aren't out-of-their-minds exhausted at this point.....well, no. I can't think of another scenario. They all must be.
Look, I know none of the football players read this, but what I have to say to the team is this:
I am still with you, damn it. We are still with you.
Cheering for another team doesn't even compute in my mind....giving up is not acceptable...maybe I'm just completely psychotic, but loving anyone but the Irish is simply inconceivable.
I don't really care what's going on in the rest of the college football world. It doesn't matter. Cheering for the Irish, even when they're losing, means more than cheering for any other team to win...ever. And it'sbecause the students stay until the bitter end. It's because we're more than just football, too. We're the Notre Dame family, and...you can't turn your back on your family.
At the pep rally on Friday night, the '77 team looked so excited to be back. All the speakers from that team seemed to mention that the guys just loved being around each other. They loved being a team.
Does our team love being a team? Do they love being around each other?
I feel like...I feel like maybe not.
This is such a hard year. Everything gets amplified when you're losing...every mistake you make, you take so personally...every little thing that bothers you, bothers you that much more, and I feel like...in the face of disappointment, it becomes so much harder to be tempered. To let things slide. To regulate yourself, your emotions. You experience the highest highs...and the lowest lows...and everything in between is this sort of blahh zone where it doesn't really matter if you're getting the little things right or wrong, because it's the big things that are screwing you up. And you forget...you forget that if you work on those little, little things...if you get those straightened out...it becomes easier to handle the big things.
All right, well, maybe I'm just babbling now. But I think, if you remotely follow what I'm saying, that all of that is true for life, too, not just football.
But we're talking about football, aren't we?
Here's the point I'm trying to make: We are ND.
The crowd didn't start chanting that at the end of yesterday's debilitating loss for no reason.
And if we are delusional Notre Dame fans, that's only because there's really no other way to be. It's all about keeping the faith....damn it.
Hi, Offense. We need to talk.
OK so...I'm not really sure I understand some of Charlie's game-calling. I mean, the big problem on offense yesterday wasn't so much the play calling as it was Failure To Execute, but...really, Charlie? Running it on third-and-really-long? Why do we continue to do this? Why? WHY?
We can't even run it on second-and short. Why does it seem like third-and-long is going to be any better?
We didn't get our run game going until the very, very end. At first I was angry about this, trying to run the ball when maybe we should have been trying to sling it downfield, but...I realized Charlie was trying to end the game on his own terms. We finally got ball control, for perhaps the first time all season.
It would've been so, so much nicer to get a score at the end of that very long drive (during which we got more first downs than we had for the entire rest of the game...), just for...some small dignity's sake. And I like that we kept going for it instead of punking out and going for a field goal.
But it also says a lot in that...maybe Charlie just didn't think we could get it done in the air.
I don't know how I feel about Evan Sharpley anymore. I still feel like the main reason he's been successful coming in to run the two-minute drill, or just taking over halfway through for Jimmy is because...he's a different QB, and coming in halfway through he put the other team's D on its heels for a drive or two...until the defensive coordinator for the other team made some key adjustments. And then...he proved just as ineffective.
I don't know what it is anymore. It's the same problem as last week--too many problems to name. A lot of Evan's balls were simply uncatchable...he overthrows long balls when he's under pressure. And let's face it...when is he NOT under pressure trying to throw the long ball?
I was very, very disappointed at the way our O-line broke down in the latter part of the game...and Evan got sacked, what, five times? I mean, the fact that Armando Allen managed to run ten whole yards on one play, and he actually found some holes and everything during that last drive was nice to see. But it was way too little, far too late. I feel like we've regressed. All the problems are still there, and they're not getting better.
We're pretty much going to put this one on the coaching staff. The players just don't look ready. Still. I feel like this all goes back to training camp, to the practices not being physical enough, to the players just maybe not being well-conditioned enough and not understanding the fundamentals well enough. If you don't have the fundamentals (as we have already learned this season), NOTHING ELSE WILL HELP YOU.
D, D, D....Don't Kill the Offensive Players in their Sleep.
Look, our defense is really pretty good. That they can't keep it up for sixty minutes of football is a shame...but considering how little time they have to rest in between drives, kind of understandable. And there are other things the rest of the team isn't helping them with....the Trojans' first score, for one, was not really the D's fault. It was the special teams' fault.
I mean, overall, 38 points is too many to give up. But also, overall, the Defense did not lose that game for us. They kept the Trojans' punter quite busy...in the first half, anyway. The Trojans only got within scoring range twice (of their own accord), and one of those times our D held them to a field goal.
As for the second half...
I'll confess that midway through the third quarter it was so painful to watch, I couldn't tell you how or when the Trojans scored, and I pretty much stopped caring. All I wanted was for our offense to find the end zone once. Or even split the uprights once.
And I will say this: I still think the Trojans are overrated. I don't think they played all that well, honestly; I don't think they're that impressive, and I don't think they played a very clean game.
Which brings us to our
Surprising Stat of the Game
Notre Dame didn't get a single penalty until the second half. I think they ended the game with just two penalties, total. The Trojans had way more, and although this certainly doesn't surprise anyone...it's really sad. We played a very clean game, and got pretty much nowhere. So what does that say, really? It's easy to point out penalties and say, "damn, we keep shooting ourselves in the foot." But um...we didn't really do that in this game, and we sort of still managed to shoot ourselves in the foot.
I feel like Charlie's going to lose a lot of sleep over that one.
Special teams? ...they certainly are.
Hi guys. We need to talk, too.
I feel like some of the blocking on returns was better, so that's good. But also I feel like we haven't had any sort of return for a touchdown since...I don't even know when. Did we get one during the UCLA game? I feel like no. Maybe Penn State? Maybe it's just that the other teams' special teams are getting better, and they know who to go after. But I feel like...we should be better at this. Especially since we seem to be getting so many opportunities to return kickoffs these days.
And...well, I know that the offense isn't helping you out any with the field position battle, but...when Geoff Price punts well (which he's doing more consistently these days), and you're running down field, you know, and you have a chance to wallop the guy who just caught the ball...PLEASE DO SO. I mean, I'm glad they didn't get any punt returns for TD's or anything (at least...they didn't while I was watching...I dunno, I went to the bathroom once, maybe I missed something), but all the same...we've been having these problems with missed tackles.
Plus it was USC yesterday. You shouldn't ever need an excuse to launch yourself at those players with all you have and knock the patooty out of them. Come on, guys....1967.
And as for the other battle that went down on the field yesterday....
In his most inspiring speech thus far this season, I think our head drum major actually said it best: the Trojan band members are a bunch of ass clowns.
I know...that's completely un-classy of me. I apologize.
But also...I think it's true.
One of the Trojan band members yesterday could not find his spot on the field. He ran around for a little while, clearly lost, and then finally gave up and ran to the sidelines and told one of the directors, in a completely elegant fashion: "I can't find my f%^*-ing spot!"
The band director replied: "Just get off the field. Go."
Trojan band member, resplendent in dorky fake helmet and douche-y sunglasses, right in the middle of a gaggle of ND band members patiently awaiting their turn on the sideline: "FUCK!"
And he stormed off angrily.
Not even kidding. There are multiple witnesses.
Look, I don't want to nitpick here or anything, but...
HOW DO YOU NOT KNOW WHERE YOUR SPOT IS ON THE FIELD?
I mean, it's not like we use some super-secret yard line marking formula or something to prevent people wearing douche-y sunglasses from finding their spots. College football fields are pretty much the same...I don't know, everywhere.
Also...the band director did not reprimand this kid for using extremely foul language in public, in full uniform, in front of another team's band. He just let him walk away.
Even if this little interlude had not been followed by what was possibly The Most Boring Halftime Show Ever, it still would have pretty much closed the door on whatever minor, deep-seeded, band member to band member respect I had for the marching Trojans. I still hate the OSU band more, but that's only because I have some respect for OSU and what they do as musicians and marchers (aka...they actually march). It's really hard to despise the Trojan band when I have pretty much zero respect left for them. I sort of just...feel bad for them. It must be really embarrassing to be part of an organization that doesn't respect itself.
Somewhat Classless Rant Terminated.
Enough about the Trojan band.
Here's where we stand for the rest of the season:
Fall break and bye week. Dear God, I hope the players get some rest and have time to bounce back, because...man. We really need to win out.
Navy. 43 years so far. If this is the year we lose to the Middies...Charlie better watch out.
Air Force. I have a lot of love and respect for our military...but we should win this one regardless.
Duke. My cousin's coming to this one. Let's win it, shall we?
Stanford. Suddenly looking intimidating, aren't they? Let's win our next three games...then we should be able to handle Stanford.
I'm just going to say, once again, that I'm really glad these things are not in my hands.
Charlie's got a week to sort of reevaluate everything and get our team mentally prepared to handle the rest of the season.
And I hope the underclassmen are really bonding over this....
........because I want to go win a bowl game next year, dang it.
Have a good fall break, everyone. I'll be ready the next time the Irish take the field....
And, just because yesterday's game was so depressing, here's a highlight that always cheers me up:
Tommy Z is a monster. Never forget that.
GO IRISH BEAT NAVY!