After Notre Dame's 17-13 victory over Michigan State, I went out and partied my ass off. You don't understand… the kids were sent to their grandmother's house while Empress Kiki and I went out and painted the town green till the sun came up.
It felt good. We really haven't done it up together like that in a long, long time. What also felt great was having a Notre Dame victory in my pocket. While this may sound simplistic and cliche', but I am fully jumping on the "a win is a win" bandwagon. This team is too frustrating right now, to NOT just say "to hell with it" and ride the season out like it was a wild bronco trying get you off to get you dead.
Now, I don't have the will power to just sit idly by when the team stumbles and fumbles and bumbles its way around the football field, but at least I can keep the "bigger picture" commentary to a minimum for now. That should be enough to help me enjoy this season a little more. I mean, after all, the Irish are still 3-1 with a great opportunity to go 6-1 after the next 3 games, and really make a statement.
On to the hangover…
Strong Arm. Clear Eyes. Didn't Lose.
Tommy Rees's 14-34, 142 yard and one touchdown game did nothing but fuel the ever burning flame of hatred that his detractors have for the Irish quarterback. That's too bad, because despite playing a poor game, Tommy still led this team to a victory and he committed a grand total of ZERO turnovers.
When Brian Kelly talked earlier in the week about passing the ball to set up the running game, there were many rumbles throughout the fanbase. Nonsense. Lou wouldn't do that- neither would Ara. Well my friends, he could have been proven right this week.
Tommy's new found "arm strength" is allowing him to push the ball down field a lot further. The problem may be that he hasn't locked in his accuracy while in "game mode." Notre Dame's receivers were open. If Tommy hits just a few of those passes that endlessly seemed to sail over the receivers' heads, maybe that would have been enough to loosen up Michigan State's tight defense within the box and open up a few more running lanes for Irish ball carriers. Perhaps.
As much as I and many others have admired just how well Tommy reads defenses presnap, I think he may have too much on his plate and the Irish offense needs to run a more "tempo" game. I just have this feeling that Tommy needed settled down and running a quicker style offense would have allowed him to just play.
I'm not ready to cash in all of my Tommy chips just because he had a "bad game" that saw zero turnovers and won the game, but I am ready for some not so subtle changes in how this offense functions presnap- and that has more to do with the coaches than with Tommy.
It didn't surprise me at all that Notre Dame's premier names on defense had a much better day on the stat sheet. The Michigan State offense has struggled this year, but it was also because they run an offense that matches up with Notre Dame's strengths. Nix had 6 tackles (10 non called holding penalties) and a pass break up. Tuitt had 6 tackles of his own, a sack, and a quarterback hurry.
Those aren't numbers that will blow anyone away, but it's a step back into the right direction for two players that have been ridiculed for not making enough plays thus far this season (unjustly I might add). More importantly, as a unit, I saw this defense play with more fire and focus than in the previous 3 contests. Just seeing that ND held MSU to 254 yards and 13 points is something that we should rejoice in.
The defense will most likely never reach the level that the 2012 unit achieved, but that doesn't mean that they can't turn themselves back into a really, really good defense. There are still things to fix, and depth up front is a major concern, but if they continue to do the little things right and play fundamentally sound football, they will keep the Irish in every game they play and perhaps win one or two for the team when needed.
It wasn't great, but it certainly gives hope, and hope is something that they can use to overcome the mistakes from earlier this season.
Oh You Silly Refs
Michigan State had 10 penalties for 115 yards and the Irish had 8 of their own for 86 yards. That's a lot of hidden yardage. The most talked about calls were all of Sparty's defensive pass interference penalties. they had quite a few, and while some may argue that one of those was fairly poor, I could probably point out about 4 others that should have been called- and maybe more.
If you want to add more "misses" to the mix, how many no calls for holding were there on Nix and Tuitt? Those no calls have basically become a theme for the year.
Generally, it was just an ugly game that got uglier with each piece of yellow laundry that fell on the grass. Maybe it was too ugly? After all, the refs did miss one very big one during the game
For everyone who saw an MSU guy punch an ND guy w/no flag: congrats, you have better vision than a ref 2 inches away: http://t.co/5qtjrBTl98
— First Down Moses (@1stDownMoses) September 23, 2013
But again- THAT'S HOW UGLY THIS GAME GOT. So ugly, that Notre Dame's best offensive weapon was throwing the ball up and waiting for the ball to come down, only to be followed by a yellow flag and a first down (the Irish got 7 of their 14 first downs for the game via penalty).
I'll take it for what it was, and the end result was victory and securing the Megaphone for another year.
On To Big Game Bob & The Sooners
I want to say that the Irish will now take on their biggest challenge of the year, but even if that was true, I'm not sure HOW true it really would be. Oklahoma is coming off of a bye after playing 3 mediocre (at best) teams. Will the Irish use this years Oklahoma game the same way as they did last year, to help solidify themselves as a really good team in the hunt? The odds are stacked against the Irish- how's that song go again?….