The Anti-Preview: Sun Bowl. Miami. December 31, 2010

Hey everyone, it’s the Anti-Preview; live and in full color, ready to smack the shit out of your lazy asses. Well, maybe just my lazy ass. The bowl game has finally arrived, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Some fans were disappointed with the Champs Sports Bowl decision to take a pass on the Irish this year in favor of West Virginia… don’t think that will ever happen again. That choice actually improved the “choiceness,” of the bowl game.

The Fighting Irish are on a roll. Brian Kelly has delivered on his promise to develop a team to be better in November than what they were in September- and with all of the injuries that Notre Dame has suffered this season, that promise is as good as Noah’s rainbow from Ole’ Jehovah Himself. 

Mentally and physically tough is not usually how one would describe Notre Dame’s football teams in December- but lo and behold here we are. The defense has been playing as well as anyone in the country (we can honestly say that without snorting our Budweiser through our noses) and the offense has played a more physical brand of football with a renewed interest in the power running game as they protect freshman Tommy Rees at quarterback.

The Sun Bowl is where the Irish must make their final stand of the 2010 campaign. A season that almost drowned in injuries, a few bad losses, a tragic death, and an imaginary scandal produced and directed by the Chicago-Tribune. It has been a tough season, but one that has the chance to have a nice ending and provide a true hope for the future. A loss won’t negate all the positives, but it could derail some of the momentum the program has picked up from a stellar November. What stands in the way?

Miami. I’m not going to get too detailed in this opener about Miami as KGG will provide some very good analysis in his Slant, but I do have a few things for you to chew on.

Fuck Miami. That should go without saying, but you know I’ll say it anyways. 

The “Catholics VS. Convicts” thing is getting blown way out of proportion in my view. Yes this game provides a bit of nostalgia for both programs, as it harks back to the glory days for both programs- but those days are long since past, and both programs are trying to climb their way out of mediocrity and back into a perennial power.

It will be more than interesting to watch this Miami team, and see how they respond to the coaching change. Statistically, I could be wrong and i refuse to take the time to look it up, but teams that have had a coach fired before the bowl game have tended to play flat and have struggled. This is opposed to teams that have had their coaches leave on the coaches own accord, and those teams have generally come out and performed well and with passion. I could be wrong, and i know there are examples of both scenarios doing the opposite over the years, but I would bet that overall my thesis is correct. Prove me wrong, but bring a lot of examples, not just one. 

Also, I find it to be a huge distraction for everyone involved that Al Golden will be on the sidelines for this game. If he isn’t coaching, he should get up in the press box with the athletic director. I really don’t see anything good coming from this, and I jump with joy. 

What should you be drinking? I hope you fucking bastards are ready for this one, and if i catch word that the Henson family drinks something otherwise; I’m bringing  my squad of Ninjas to Columbus to machete their asses. 

Subway Domer’s Blue Sombrero 

  • Jose Cuervo 1800 Silver Tequila
  • Full Throttle Blue Agave (Formerly known as ‘Blue Demon’)

Pour two shots of the 1800 Silver Tequila in a blue Solo cup filled with ice. Fill the rest of the cup with the Full Throttle Blue Agave. Repeat as necessary until you are speaking Spanish and have transformed into a first class knife-fighter.

Tequila is the obvious choice with the game so close to the border, and I understand if some of you pussies feel like you need another type of cocktail laced with the Mexican nectar. If this be the case, make sure this is your soundtrack: 

What should you be eating? Once again, this choice is heavily influenced by our drug-rich friends to the south. However, the game is still in Texas, and in Texas, big bloody slabs of beef are king. 

steakSteak Tampiquena

  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil 
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 2 limes, juice of, only 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • fresh coarse ground black pepper 
  • 2 white onions, finely sliced 
  • 2 beef rib eye steaks 
  • 4 flour tortillas 
  • 8 tablespoons enchilada sauce 
  • 9 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated 
  • guacamole, to serve 
  • green chilies, sliced, to garnish

Mix together the vegetable oil, garlic, lime juice, salt, black pepper and white onion. Coat the meat with the onion mixture, cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the tortillas with enchilada sauce (reserving a little), fill with cheddar cheese (reserving a little) and roll up over the cheese. Place the filled tortillas in an ovenproof dish. Spread with the remaining enchilada sauce and sprinkle over the reserved Cheddar. Bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes until the cheese has melted. Meanwhile, preheat a grill or griddle pan until very hot. Cook the steak on the grill or griddle until cooked to taste. Serve the freshly grilled steak with the tortillas and guacamole, garnishing with the green chili.

Irish Stew: For the second straight bowl game, Notre Dame will be wearing jerseys with their names on the back. This “tradition” was used in the Hawai’i Bowl in 2008, 21 years after the last time the Irish wore those type of jerseys in the 1987 Cotton Bowl. So, in “honor” of this occasion, be sure to take a piece of masking tape and put it on the back of your special gameday jersey. Give it any special name that you like. Just don’t use mine: ‘Jacory Hate Me’

What’s in a name? Ray Ray Armstrong. This was an easy choice and a bitter choice, as I remember Notre Dame recruited Ray Ray fairly hard. Notre Dame has struggled to land a quantity of quality safeties over the past years, and Ray Ray is a reminder of that failure. Big, strong, and fast- this kid can play, and his name is Ray Ray. Ray Ray.

jacory harrisKGG’s Slant: This is week is bowl week. Its finally here. These past couple weeks may have been extremely beneficial to the younger players on this Irish team in terms of practices, but its been painful as a fan. With a lack of huge bowl match-ups thus far this season, Friday cant get here soon enough. The Irish will face the Miami Hurricanes this week in the Sun Bowl and we should all be pumped. This heated rivalry renews with two very different teams in terms of where each stands. The Irish are riding a hot defense that led them to an undefeated November and wins against Utah, Army and USC. Miami recently fired Randy Shannon, hired Al Golden and has a quarterback that isn’t playing with a lot of confidence. If the Irish continue to play stout on both sides of the ball, we should be in for a fun game.

Offensively for the Canes, it looks like it will be Jacory Harris under center. Backup Stephen Morris rolled a kankle in practice and he isn’t believed to be able to go this Friday. Jacory Harris has thrown for 1,756 yards, complete 54% of his passes and has 14 TD’s and 12 INT’s. He has been erratic at times and has lead his team to victory at others. Miami will rely heavily on their running game which check in at 26th in the nation and is lead by senior Damien Berry and freshman Lamar Miller. Leonard Hankerson has been their go-to receiver catching 66 balls for 1,085 yards and 12 TD’s.

Defensively for the Canes, its a different story. Miami’s defense has been a stalwart all year. Miami enters the game as having the 16th best defensive unit in the country. More importantly, Miami is 2nd in the nation in passing defense. Miami is only allowing opposing QB’s to complete 49% of their passes and they have 16 INT’s to only 7 TD’s allowed through the air. This defense is good and it starts up front. In 12 games they have 37 sacks, averaging over 3 a game. When your team is only giving up 19 points a game, the defense is playing pretty tough. Where the Hurricanes have struggled is against the run. They are giving up 171 yards a game on the ground and thats how its gotten beat. With the recent emergence of the Irish rushing game, this is where the Irish will look to exploit the Hurricanes.

brian smithOffensively for Miami, they will try to establish the run early and often to take as much pressure off Jacory Harris as possible. Interim head coach Jeff Stoutland is an offensive line coach so he may look to get the big uglies moving early and often. Establishing the run will be crucial to help Harris settle into this big game. In Miami’s biggest games against Ohio State and Florida State, Harris only has 1 TD pass and 5 INT’s in what were two losses. The Canes should try and hammer the front of the ND line which  is receiving a boost this week with the return of Ian Williams. Ian will need to play stout football to keep the pulling linemen off of the talented duo that is Manti Te’o and Brian Smith. In a major surprise in the later part of the year, the light has turned on for Brian Smith. Brian has stepped up of late is playing great football. Look for him and Te’o to shutdown the middle of the Miami rushing attack, but the push needs to start up front. KLM and Ethan Johnson need to get good push on the O-line to free up the rushing presence of Kerry Neal and Darius Flemming. The Irish could stack the box with someone like Motta or Slaughter to try and force the Hurricanes to beat them with the pass. If the Irish are able to stop the run with only 7 in the box, then the Irish defense should come out on top again.

Offensively for the Irish, it all comes down to the run game. Miami has shown they have the talent to get after the quarterback. Combine that with shutdown corners and ball-hawking safeties, mixed in with a freshman quarterback, establishing the run is first priority for ND. The Canes have struggled to stop the run of late and guy like Robert Hughes could really shine. Look for Kelly to go with his larger package later in the game for some serious pounding. The fact that Kamara didn’t make the trip means that another freshman, T. J. Jones will start outside. Sub Eifert for Rudy, Rees for Crist and Wood for Allen, and Coach Kelly has the closet lineup he has had to the start of the season. That being said, some argue Wood has been better than Allen, and Eifert has stepped in admirably. Oh yeah, Tommy Rees is also undefeated as a starter. The spread offense will be on display and I think the playbook will be opened up a little bit more. I have said it all season but it looks like Kelly might call for some more QB rushes this game. With the spread opening holes early in the game and Rees playing smart by using slants and screen passes, the Irish should be poised to take this game over in the 2nd half like they did in the USC game. A whole bunch of Robert HUUUUUUGHES down the stretch should lead the Irish to victory and establish a great foundation for next years team.

Irish win this game in the 2nd half, 30-17.

robert hughesOffensive MVP: Robert Hughes. When you sit back and analyze this upcoming game, one thing continually pops out at you- and that is the weakness of the enemy. Miami’s pass defense is solid- like one of the best, solid, in the country. So, that brings us to the running game.

Robert Hughes has proven himself to be one of our most valuable players in the last quarter of the season. It’s too bad that he was unable to shine in this matter earlier in the year- but no matter, no matter. Hughes has been the “North-South” runner that we have all hoped he finally settle in on in the backfield.

Notre Dame will use a rotation of backs, with Hughes and Cierre Wood getting a majority of the carries. However, it will be the runs by Robert that may determine this outcome. Will he be able to put his head down and punish Miami? Because if he can, I really look for Hughes to be the difference in all 4 quarters. 

harrison smithDefensive MVP: Harrison Smith. I love being able to pick Harrison Smith as my predicted MVP of the game. Smith has come a long ways in his development from last year to now. The defense as a group, has improved greatly over the course of the year, but Harrison has done a knockout job in 2010 from start to finish.

Miami quarterback, Jacory Harris, can get reckless with the ball at times, and I see Smith sitting back in his zone waiting on a mistake for him to gobble up and shit down the throats of all of the Cane fans that may scoff at him (Irish fans too).

Look and listen for Harrison Smith’s name to be called quite often by the geriatric, Verne Lundquist during the entire game. Miami can run the ball quite well, but the Irish front seven has been stellar as of late, and play with confidence as Smith backs them up on the runs and makes plays against the pass. This game could set him (and Gary Gray for that matter) on a Thorpe Award run.

Something else to watch for… As much as I think that Notre Dame will try to establish the run, Brian Kelly is still coaching this team and calling the plays- and Tommy Rees is still his quarterback. There will come some points in this game where Tommy will have to throw the ball downfield to help keep the running lanes open. It will be interesting to see when and how this will happen. Will the Irish try it early, or will they use it as a “last resort” sort-of-speak to move the ball? While the running game should be the key to victory, the vertical passing game could keep it in motion while also opening up some space for Theo Riddick. There are many possibilities, but it is finding the possibilities that move the chains ad put points on the board that intrigue me.

So who’s gonna win?Miami is a team on the ropes. The Canes have lost two straight games heading into this Sun Bowl, and their head coach got shit-canned. I think any emotion or hope they have, could get crushed early by a stout Irish defense, and methodical offensive drives directed by Tommy Rees. I believe the irish to be the hungrier team, and the team with the most to gain from a victory. It will be close, but insanely accurate kicker, David Ruffer, will be the final edge in this renewed battle of Notre Dame VS. Miami. IRISH win 20-17. 

About The Subway Domer

Warlord and Emperor of the Subway Alumni... also, I do this "dad" thing pretty damn well.