IBG: The Midnight Ramblers Ramble Into Ann Arbor With Blood On Their Minds

The Mouth of the South breaks down this week's matchup, with a little help from the Rolling Stones.

1) Well that result really sucked. Please describe how you feel about the loss using lyrics from a pop diva (eg Brittany Spears, Rihanna, etc) song. Bonus points for video or pictures. (something good has to come out of last week)

I'm a man of duality. I thrive on optimism, but love dark imagery. So instead of focusing on last week and quoting coked-up shoplifters with daddy issues, I'll preview this week's game and instead quote the Stones:

Did you hear about the Midnight Rambler?
He'll leave his footprints up and down your hall
Did you hear about the Midnight Rambler?
Did you see me make my midnight call


And if you catch the Midnight Rambler
I'll steal your mistress from under your nose
Well, go easy with your cold fandango
I'll stick my knife right down your throat
Baby, and it hurts!

The Rolling Stones - Midnight Rambler Live 1976 (via binemaya777)

Before we were The Fighting Irish, we were The Ramblers. The Midnight Ramblers. Because of our penchant for creeping into Ann Arbor in the dead of night and slashing Michigan throats. Sunday morning, many a wolverine will wake up with a slit throat.

Teo_medium

Te'o has already demonstrated his proclivity for throat-slashing via the Haka.

2) While we all want to move on, last week's game can teach us many things about the '11 Irish. After seeing what Week 1 brought us, do you find yourself more confident, less confident, or still confused as hell about our chances vs the Skunkbears? Why?

I'm as confident as ever about our chances against the skunks. It's whether we will go out to Ann Arbor an do what I know we can. We should be in the midst of a streak of drubbings the likes of which Michigan has never seen. We instead find ourselves trying to break their two-game win streak over us.

I'm confident that Coach Kelly gets it; he called the South Florida game "one of the most frustrating experiences that [he's] ever had as a football coach...." I'm confident that he understands that his seniors shouldn't be committing stupid personal fouls, nor getting flagged for late hits. I know that he realizes that one red zone turnover is about the worst mistake you can make, to say nothing of four (I AM counting the missed field goal). I'm certain that he realizes what a travesty special teams were. I know Coach Kelly understands these problems and will do everything in his power to fix them. The only question is whether everything in Kelly's power will be enough. I'm haunted by the fact that Kelly's turnover ratio numbers have not been great since he's been here. I'm holding out hope that Kelly gets the problems fixed and we beat Michigan by a touchdown or more.

3) Other than QB, which position group pleasantly surprised you this past week? Which disappointed? What player absolutely MUST see more time in Week 2? Again, no QBs.

I wasn't pleasantly surprised with any group. There were some bright spots, don't get me wrong-offensive line, Cierre, Floyd, Eifert, the defense-but I expected a high level of play out of all of them, so they didn't surprise me. I'll take up for our defense, because they did basically everything they could. They allowed only one sustained touchdown drive. They gave up no big plays. Once South Florida took the lead, they implemented an ultra-conservative, protect-the-ball-at-all costs offensive gameplan. Sacks and turnovers were highly unlikely at that point.

This team was supposed to be different. Better. They were supposed to play up to potential, and they did for the most part. "For the most part," unfortunately, doesn't cut it, when the rest of the part involves major offensive errors and defensive penalties. Like dad said, "I'm not mad, I'm just disappointed with...":

Seniors-Harrison, Ethan, and Gary all racked up stupid personal fouls. I'll give Ethan a pass. He was probably frustrated as hell that we weren't up by three touchdowns, so I attribute his personal foul to just trying too hard. Gary's was dumb, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt too. Harrison needs to know better. His transgressions were too early in the game to be attributed to frustration. A 5th-year Senior All-American should know that you can't tackle by the facemask, and you damn sure can't do it twice, and you double damn sure can't do it twice in a row inside your own 20. Crist didn't show us anything. Jonas Gray again put the ball on the ground.

Special teams-Muffing two punts, giving up an explosive punt return, missing a field goal, failing to put together anything on punts or kickoffs. If your coaching staff is any good at special teams, you should figure that special teams will be at worst a push, week in and week out. Special teams was an outright liability for us last week. This really must change. We need to get some blocking on kickoffs. Everyone comes down on Theo for muffing two punts, but it's pretty tough to catch-much less return-a punt when you have two guys in your face before the ball gets near your zip code.

Offensive skill position players-I hate to hit these guys too hard. Theo knows what he needs to do. Just catch the ball. TJ needs to quit celebrating after every catch and focus on the little things. Jonas needs to hit the right hole and have two hands on the ball.

Coaching-turnovers, penalties, and poor special teams play usually aren't a sign of good coaching. This brings up an interesting debate. Who do you fault when several seniors make boneheaded decisions: Jonas Gray not holding the ball with two hands; seniors and fifth-year seniors racking up personal fouls; your senior quarterback throwing the ball away when we're in a position to score? Who's to blame? These guys definitely have the experience. They should know better. I like to listen to Mike Frank's Power Hour. Frank and Coach D seem to fault the experienced players for just not doing what they've been taught. But when so many people are losing focus and not doing what they've been taught, do you still blame the players?

4) Tommy Rees will lead the Irish Offense this week. Do you agree with Coach's call? Either way, what part of Crist's game will the Irish O miss the most, if any?

You can't read/watch Keith Arnold's "Crist vs. Rees" breakdown and say that Crist should start against Michigan. Rees did a pretty damn good job coming off the bench and picking apart a pretty good defense when they were expecting the pass. Imagine what he'll do if (a) he's not starting at a 16-point deficit, (b) receivers other than Michael Floyd consistently make plays, and (c) we manage to, I don't know, not commit 10 major offensive errors.

Crist really just couldn't put anything together. I was expecting a Brady-Quinn-'05-ish season for Dayne, but now I'd be surprised if he ever saw the light of day again. Crist had three advantages over Rees: arm strength, athleticism, and size. We didn't see many downfield throws from Crist, so I doubt we'll miss his arm strength. The coaches called zero zone reads with Crist-which surprised me given the quality depth behind Crist-so we weren't using his mobility. All Crist had over Rees on Saturday was height. This is not exactly a ringing endorsement of Crist or a resounding indictment on Rees. The offense just clicks with Tommy at the helm and won't miss a beat without Dayne.

5) What's the key to beating the Wolverines this week? Just 1 thing. Not 2. 1.

Execution. If we just play up to our potential, we should beat Michigan by three touchdowns. If we just execute, scheme will take care of itself. Intensity was not lacking last week. I think we showed that we have the athleticism, strength, , and mental and physical toughness. WE JUST NEED TO EXECUTE.

Of course we also know that the ND-Michigan games are not played on paper. We've managed to lose back-to-back games to grossly inferior Michigan squads. They are always "making with the funny schtuff" in the Big House, but the officiating usually doesn't matter if you're big guys are blowing defensive linemen off of the ball and crushing the other team's quarterback.

That's why I'm focused on execution, and that's why Coach Kelly says that we just need to be focused on what we do. On being our best possible selves. If we do that, Michigan doesn't stand a chance. We're too strong, too fast, too smart, too tough, and we want it too bad.

6) Make your Over-Under Picks:

Over-under on Floyd's receiving total for this coming weekend: 154

Under. Floyd takes the double teams, and Theo and TJ step up.

Over-under on Robinson's rushing total: 100

Under. Shoelaces becomes the object of our aggression, and we refuse to let him beat us.

Over-under on ND Number of Turnovers: 2

Under. I know that Kelly gets it. He says that he's corrected the turnover problems. I'll believe him. Though I believed him when he said that the team was focused and Crist was sharp, and we know how that turned out.

Over-under on Number of Times Kelly is caught Purple Monstering Out: 2

I think Coach Kelly is going to be more conscious of what he does on the sidelines from now on, if we're to believe what he said in his press conference. I personally have no problem with his behavior. While he may have gone just a bit overboard against USF, I can't blame him. When your seniors and returning starters are playing that stupidly, when they're just not doing what they've been taught, yeah, I guess I too would "catch a buck" so to speak. It was somewhat refreshing to see him that upset, because as frustrated as I was, he was a lot more frustrated. My only problem is with the apparent loss of control. The head coach's aggression must be controlled if he wants his players to be in control. I would say that he should be slightly more under control, but he's the one that's been doing this for 20 years. I have no compunctions about a Notre Dame head coach yelling at his players.

Over-under on ND Total Yards: 425

Over. Ann Arbor succumbs to the Midnight Ramblers.

7) Michigan: Just Another Opponent, Enemy, or Rival? Explain. 1 Bonus point for each use of the word 'suck'.

Michigan is more of an enemy than anything else. They've constantly tried to beat us off of the football field when they were afraid that they couldn't do it on the field. They blackballed us from the Big Ten, which actually worked out pretty well for us. They try to bully us into playing back-to-back games at Michigan. They pretend to be what we are-a place where athletes actually get meaningful degrees and educations. Just compare our athletes' graduation rates, and look at how many of their football players major in kinesiology and general studies. They're posers. They could have been our rivals, but they were too afraid to keep playing us. They're our enemies. To paraphrase, "To hell with [Michigan]."

8) It's Michigan week. Name 1 thing in the world that sucks as much as Michigan, if you can.

I would have to say the Suck-n-Cut, because as we know, it certainly does suck. If you don't know what I'm referring to, your Thursday night homework assignment is to immediately watch Wayne's World.

9) RichRod is back, announcing for CBS. Can't wait to see how that goes. Bet he's horrible.

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