Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Palace of Dim Night

Notre Dame 17, USC 31

What fray was here? Yet tell me not, for I have heard it all.

I admit that, in my heart of hearts, I was nervous when Dayne Crist took the field and drove the team all the way down to the one-yard line. We hadn't had a turnover in so long. There was really no reason to fear. I thought to myself surely—surely—not again. Just because Crist is on the field doesn’t mean we’re more likely to commit turnovers. And anyway, the last time we fumbled on the one-yard line it was Jonas Gray’s fumble, not Crist’s, so surely—surely




………………….…never mind.

Seriously, WHAT’S with the turnovers this year? We’ve had more fumbles, botched snaps, interceptions, ball-bounced-off-the-shoulderpads-and-right-into-the-arms-of-the-nearest-defender than I can remember seeing in a single season. Even in the Season of Five Sacks Per Game we did not have this many turnovers.


Geez, guys. Get your sh*t together.

You’d think I’d have come up with something cleverer by now to direct toward those beloved boys in blue & gold, but apparently stagnant frustration inspires no wiser words. Plus it’s football. Football should simple. HIKE! TACKLE! GO FIGHT WIN! STOP GETTING OUTSCHEMED BY INFERIOR OPPONENTS AND MAKING INEXPLICABLE REGRESSIONS FOLLOWING BYE WEEKS WHILE PLAYING YOUR BIGGEST RIVAL!

And can we PLEASE not abandon our run game in the first half? Even if we're down by two scores early, we know our passing attack is not what it could be, and we know USC—even as a shadow of what it once was—is the best defense we’ve face so far this season. So whyyyyy would you fail to establish a rhythm with the run game? WHY? Especially when there doesn’t seem to be much of a rhythm going with your receivers in the first half, either.


Mis-shapen chaos of well-seeming forms

Dear Brian Kelly,


I know you once said you don’t really care about time outs, and as far as you’re concerned you don’t really need to take them, but I’m pretty sure THAT ONLY APPLIES IF YOU’RE WINNING, and personally I don’t care if you’re down by three or ten or thirty—you gotta at least PRETEND like you’re gonna play until the whistle blows.

Were you saving the time-outs to use on offense? Is that what you were doing? Or did you just honestly give up with six minutes left to go in the game? Because that’s what it looked like, and nothing in the whole entire game – not Dayne Crist’s fumble, not the botched lateral to Cierre Wood, not the defense’s apparent inability to put real pressure on the Trojans until way too late in the 4th quarter – made me angrier than watching the clock tick down and tick down and tick down with absolutely no attempt to stop it.

You could make the argument that our defense wouldn’t have been able to stop them from converting first downs and running the clock out anyway. You could also argue that the offense was doing its best impersonation of incompetence for most of the evening and Tommy Rees REALLY REALLY needs to figure out how to play as well in the first half as he usually does in the second, so perhaps a clutch, game-winning drive was out of reach for us anyway (which I personally don’t believe because the offense has already shown us this year that they’re capable of being perfect in the clutch even after a whole night of suckfest), so I reiterate--


It ain’t over til it’s friggin’ over, man. You can come back and score twice in two minutes if you’ve got the balls.

Obviously I don’t know what was going on on the sidelines, but come on, if you wanted this team to be BCS-caliber, why aren’t you treating them like they’re BCS caliber? You can’t win BCS games by giving up with six minutes left to go in the half. Did someone on defense decide they’d be able to stop the Trojans so they didn’t need to take the time outs yet? Is that what happened? Because if so, that argument falls apart after the first 1st down conversion. And even if at that point you don’t think our defense is going to be able to stop them and it’s not worth it to call the time outs because really the game is probably over—



I hope the players understand wtf you’re doing, because over here on the fans’ side we’re all befuddled as shit. Not even ONE timeout? Not ONE? Even just as a showing of good faith. “Here defense, here’s an extra thirty seconds, let’s give you a little more time to think about this one, then maybe you can finally sack this f***er.”

You know what, Brian Kelly? You have been many things in your life, I’m sure, and seeing as it’s Wednesday I should probably get over this and move on to thinking about the Navy game, but right now all I can think is that you are a vile, pernicious waster of time and I will find it hard to forgive you until there is another giant trophy sitting in the Gug. Or until we beat Stanford. Or until next season when we beat USC again. Whichever comes first.



I hate the word, as I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee

Dear Lane Kiffin,


First of all—you know what’s like the Superbowl? THE FRIGGIN’ SUPERBOWL.

Second of all—you know what’s a lot more like the Super Bowl? THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP.

And biggest rival or not, night game or not, playing USC in the regular season—especially this regular season—is NOT like playing in the national championship. Just isn’t.

And let’s face it, Laney—nobody going into this season (except possibly a few rabid delusional USC fans/coaches) thought USC was going to be our biggest game. In terms of making a statement about the state of our football program at a national level, everyone’s eyes were fixed on Stanford, right from the start. (Stanford. STANFORD! Sometimes I still can’t believe it’s true.)

Furthermore, I don’t know why you keep commenting that we “changed it to a night game,” as though it was some sort of last-minute switch on USC’s behalf. Yeah, sure we changed it to a night game. In MARCH. Pay attention, bleach bucket. Pay attention.



Thou detestable maw

All right, Notre Dame football. I will follow you down into the tomb. I will bemoan the fading of your glory. I will marvel at the raiment of your former life.

And then I will bitch-slap the sh*t out of you until you wake up—because what the hell are you doing down here playing dead anyway? Get the f*** up already, we’ve got things to do, let’s get the hell out of this whited sepulcher and create our own damn destiny. I’m sick of this kowtow-ing to the stars sh*t.

Everybody’s been waiting for you to wake up, Sleeping Beauty. Or Juliet. (Whoever you are in this metaphor.) There may have been some wailing and gnashing of teeth—even some moments of downright despair in the soft October night—but rest assured, when that rosy glow on your cheek translates to waking, you will not arise to discover that all who love you have dropped dead beside you. No, we’ll just be standing here going, “GEEZ man, TOOK you long enough—what are you waiting for? We have some Trojan/Wolverine/Cardinal/Spartan/Eagle/Hurricane/ Sooner/Tigerband ass to kick. Let’s GO.”

No need to shake the yoke of inauspicious stars from this world-wearied flesh or anything; just stop playing like you’ve taken the Draught of the Living Death and everything will be dandy.

The time and my intents are savage-wild

Right, so, no BCS bowl game this season obviously, unless everybody in the top 10 decides to start losing and we somehow win out the rest of our schedule. (Ha.) But nonetheless I’ve got that Thanksgiving weekend game against the Cardinal buzzing on my mind. If we can get to that game, and get there clean, and then show up and play a real game….

Well, it’ll feel good, certainly, and undoubtedly catapult us into the rankings if we can manage to win out. But unfortunately a win over Stanford—even a win in a good bowl game—won’t erase a lot of the questions or lingering doubts we’ve accumulated this season.

Because we looked good at the end of last season, too—so what guarantee have we that it’s going to carry over? How can we trust that the team knows how to prepare if they don’t know how to prepare by now? How can we watch without fear of turnovers after what happened last week?

I’m not sure even the coaches know what to do at this point, except to keep on doin’ what they’re doin’ and hope that at some point it clicks. And then you’ll have a team that doesn’t need wake-up calls. That doesn’t have to be reminded how important it is to get out there and p’own the line of scrimmage on every play. That doesn’t lose games it should’ve won three turnovers ago.

All I can hope is that this season—with all its stumbles and pitfalls and great gaping maws of seemingly surmountable defeat—is the stinging, vinegar-soaked marinade we need to squeeze all the sweet succulent juice out of the next.

In the meantime, all we need is another victory to smooth things over. Preferably one where the defense shows up for four quarters and the offense scores on every drive. Another kick return for a touchdown from THE THIRD wouldn't hurt, either. Let's show the option who's boss. Again.


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