I’m going to be honest with you. I really wanted nothing to do with writing this Hangover post. I have been letting this game simmer on my brain and have watched it a couple more times, and I just have to sit down and pound this thing out.
Why would I have such a hard time writing this little wrap-up after a nice opening day win? Because I don’t want to come off too “RAH-RAH!!!” The game actually exceeded my realistic expectations. When that happens, I usually have to take a step back and rethink the whole enchilada. Did that really just happen? Did the defense play solid? Did the kicking game look like a Division 1-A product instead of something out of Division 6 Ohio High School football?
Oh my god… I’m doing it again. We just need to get this shit rolling…
Brian Kelly is fist pumping his Irish ass off. I wanted to punch everyone for Kelly. You know what I’m talking about. How many times did he get asked about “running out of the tunnel” for the first time? Seriously. Do these reporters not see what one another does on the team that they are covering? When a question gets asked about 7 times before you get to it. Just stop.
Kelly did everything perfectly on Saturday. OK, so I am sure that he could get criticized on a few play calls, but it doesn’t really matter. He cruised threw the game like a cheetah passes a sloth on the jungle freeway. He looked like a REAL head coach. It’s hard to put your finger on what exactly he did so well… but the fact that the team was prepared physically and emotionally and played hard for 4 quarters let you know that he did something right. That, and we all aren’t sitting here bitching about something he did helps too.
Fashion Police Alert! I have to throw this little tidbit in here. I can not believe how many people were bitching about the uniforms and the helmets on the message boards. I read things like:
- The blue was too blue.
- The helmets aren’t shiny enough.
- What the fuck was going on with Dayne Crists cutoff jersey?
- The numbers are still too big.
Just fucking get over it people. That is off season topic du’jour. I am as much of a “Uniform Hound” as the next asshole, but c’mon. We got the ND back on the sleeves and at least the helmets didn’t go all primer gray on us. Just relax… we will have January till August to disect the uniforms like we were on Bravo.(Watch what happens).
Dayne Crist feels a lot like Brian Kelly right now. You know he has to feel good that his first start is over and he walked off the field as a winner. Crist was 19-26 with 205 yards and 1 touchdown . ZERO INTERCEPTIONS. He did have a fumble… but we’ll just ignore that for right now. His 73% completion percentage was robust, and it could have been a little better if it weren’t for a few drops. The ones that weren’t were overthrows in the redzone. A lot of good can be took from Crist’s performance.
The biggest part, was probably how he handled the game. He looked like he was a veteran and in control of the ins and outs of the offense. He was a leader for the offense, and a leader for this team. Crist did what was asked , and he played within himself.
With all that said… Crist has a a cannon. Seriously. He throws the ball on a rope down field. This arm is stronger than its predecessor, and if it can start to get a little more accurate downfield, than watch the fuck out. Crist is for real, and the best is yet to come.
Can we kick it? Yes we can! Notre Dame finally looks like it might have a consistently good kicking game, and special teams ALL-AROUND.
- David Ruffer looks like an accurate field goal kicker and has a strong leg.
- Ben Turk punted better than his 31.5 avg would dictate. He had to punt short a few times.
- The kickoffs looked longer than in the past- but more importantly, the coverage was locked in.
- Speaking of coverage, Bennett Jackson is the newer, faster, younger version of Mike Anello. Holy shit he flew down on punts.
- The returns by Allen and Wood on kicks and punts were eye-fucking me. They looked like something out of ND’s past. Solid returns with decisive runs by Allen and Wood.
This is a phase of the game that the former staff talked about improving all the time- but they never accomplished much. This staff said the usual, but the difference is night and day.
Don’t look now… but the running game might be on track. Kelly wanted to have a balanced attack and he pretty much nailed it. The official stat line has 36 rush attempts by Notre Dame compared to 26 pass attempts. In reality, the ratio was a lot closer when you take a few of Dayne’s runs away and look at them as plays that were supposed to be passes. Wood and Allen combined for 151 yards of the 153 gained by the Irish.
Wood looked ELECTRIC. His play helped kick start Allen’s play- and so began a nice ground attack. Wood lived up to most of the billing as he gained 58 yards on 7 carries with an average of 8.3 ypc. Nice. Hell, if you take away the one -5 yard run when the entire Purdue defensive line arrived when the ball did- than he averaged over 10 FUCKING YARDS A CARRY!!!!!!! That’s what we need. That exactly.
Allen’s play can not be overlooked because of Wood’s excellence. With 93 yards and a 22 yard touchdown run, you would be an asshole to think otherwise. Allen ran with decisiveness and with a little bit of power too. The quotes from the Purdue defense after the game spoke about the power that Allen ran with. Fuck “Thunder & Lightning” when you have two lightning bolts of kick ass. This needs to continue.
Carlo Calabrese wants to hurt you, and take your girlfriend out for a milkshake. I was impressed to the max with the play of Calabrese against Purdue. Carlo had 9 tackles, which tied for the team lead with Manti Te’o and Gary Gray (more on Gray in a sec). 7 of those 9 were solo tackles. Solo tackles in space by a linebacker that is considered to have some concrete in his cleats. This guy has the passion and the physicality for the position, and now he has proved that he is becoming a gamer. Once again… this needs to continue.
Notre Dame has fast, physical corners. Seriously, we really do. Gary Gray and Darrin Walls changed the nations perspective of them in one half of football. Both of these guys played better than they had ever shown for an entire game.
- Gary Gray was a beast. A sick, blood-lusting beast. He came up against the run and made plays on the ball carrier. Not just contain, change of direction plays, but serious hard-hitting tackles. Gray ended the game with 9 tackles, with 8 of those being of the solo variety. His pass coverage wasn’t bad either. A lot of Marve’s problems stemmed from good coverage downfield, and Gray was a part of that.
- Darrin Walls looked equally physical and ended the game with 7 tackles notched on his belt. He had two BIGTIME plays Saturday. The first was his interception. He baited Marve to throw that ball and Marve took the bait. When was the last time you saw that from a ND cornerback? It’s been a while. The second was a tackle in space on a screen that had the potential- until Walls took him down with authority.
- We might as well give some credit to Harrison Smith and Jamoris Slaughter too. Both safeties had to play a variety of coverages that included some man. Both played well, there isn’t anything to really bitch about when it comes to Smith… so that’s always good.
Fresh legs win ball games. One of the nicest things about the game, was that Notre Dame substituted a lot- particularly on defense in the front seven. Kelly talked about winning games in the 4th quarter, and one of the ways you do that is with that extra bounce in your step. Guys like Nwankwo, Williams, Filer, and Cwynar played a lot during the entire game. Not only does this help keep guys fresh and avoid injury, but if there is an injury, the next guy in is ready to rock and kick some ass. The ability to substitute and play fast is a trademark of a good defense. It’s about time.
What about the freshman? So many recruiting nerds (like myself) can’t wait to see how some of the freshman play inthere first action. Well, here you go. (I totally copied and pasted some of this from UND.com Just thought you should know).
- TJ Jones registered his first career reception on Notre Dame’s fourth offensive play from scrimmage. The catch went for 15 yards and resulted in a first down on a third and six play. Recorded a five-yard touchdown reception with 10:20 left in the third quarter to give Notre Dame a 20-3 lead. The TD catch was the first of his career.
- Bennett Jackson recorded four tackles on special teams, all on kickoff return.
- The Irish played a total of six freshmen in today’s game: WR TJ Jones, LB Danny Spond, DB Lo Wood, WR Austin Collinsworth, LB Prince Shembo and WR Bennett Jackson.
It was a nice mix, and shows the nice depth that Notre Dame has on the team.
Tom Hammond is still in the booth. That part sucks, and it sucks a big one. The good news is that Mike Mayock doesn’t completely suck. In fact… he’s good. He messed a few names up, but I’ll give him the “first game benefit of the doubt” pass. He gave more in-depth analysis than Haden had in all his time, and he stayed away from the human interest story shit that Haden clung onto for the entire game. Mayock wasn’t perfect, but he was different in a good way. Hammond… there is no hope. No hope at all.
Final ramblings of The Subway Domer…
- Offense: It wasn’t a perfect day for the offense, but they got the job done. The balanced attack helped ease in Dayne Crist as a first time starter, and hopefully sets a tone for the season. There are still redzone issues, and I think Notre Dame left a lot of points on the board. The offensive line looked much improved at times, and the same old mess at others. Kelly will be a lot more critical, and he will work them towards better play. They were more “crisp” than I thought they would be for the first game in a new system. So, good for them. Now, get better.
- Defense: They played solid. The scheme change, and a better focus on fundamentals looks like it has made all the difference. Te’o missed a few tackles, but he also put himself into some big plays as well. I wouldn’t worry about him. The biggest concern I have, is that Marve was able to get to the edge a lot. Only the TD run of his was for a long distance (and that was due to no contain), but some of his short runs would have been bigger if they were from the next QB the Irish face… Denard Robinson. I was really impressed with the way that the defense played with emotion and poise throughout. Diaco has these guys well prepared, and that will make all the difference. Not so slow now…
So, that’s it. I was impressed, but not overly impressed. It was a good win and a good start for a team that could make a lot of noise if it gets on a roll for the next 5 weeks. Hopefully the first game curse cast by Davie, Willingham, and Weis stays clear the hell away. I’m pumped- but still “cautiosly pumped.” Until next week…