We go to school, we go to work. We have good days and bad, good weeks and bad. Life sometimes goes our way, sometimes it doesn't. But usually, usually we get through the week just fine and ready to enjoy some Notre Dame football on Saturday. And we tune in tonight and we see Manti Te'o. A young man who had a worse week than most of us could imagine. And we see him play through immeasurable sadness. And we see him not just play, but lead--truly lead--his team into battle. And we know that the souls of his grandmother and girlfriend were with him. My thoughts and prayers go out to Te'o's and his girlfriend's families. My respect and gratitude go out to Te'o: warrior poet philosopher king.
And now, your Notre Dame-State Feathers and Black Eyes.
Feathers In The Cap .
Ahhhh. 20-3. At Sparty. Visions of Irish 'backers crushing Andrew Maxwell will dance through my head tonight. In retrospect, it looks like Purdue's defense--and their tackles in particular--were one of the better units we'll see this year. Even if the rest of their defense isn't great, a pair of good defensive tackles can really take over a football game. Anyway--3-0, baby!!!
Defense. Period. Full Stop. Were we playing a new starters at cornerback? With a piecemeal secondary? And did we lose our starting safety? I didn't notice. Defense, I love you.
EG. Throwing for less than 50% in a Brian Kelly offense is not exactly stellar, but Golson played within himself, took care of the ball, and made the big plays necessary to put us up so the defense could put State away. And throwing back across the entire width of the field to hit John Goodman in the corner of the endzone 36 yards down field? Golson really made some big time throws tonight.
Offensive line. Once again, it was tough sledding in the run game, but the offensive line held their own in the first half, gave Golson the time he needed when he really needed it, and did just enough to let Cierre Wood take us down the field and take 6:35 off of the clock in the fourth quarter. It wasn't always pretty, but it was a nice bounce back game for them. Oh, and we outrushed State and the vaunted Le'Veon Bell.
Running backs. Cierre Wood gave us a big spark off the bench in the fourth quarter. Huge. George Atkinson again made the most of his touches, and really makes Irish fans wonder why he doesn't touch the ball more often. And Theo was Theo. A tough little S.O.B. that just needs a little blocking in front of him.
Tight ends. Eifert and Niklas made some critical blocks in the run game in the fourth quarter, including a BEAUTIFUL seal by Eifert on potential-first-round-draft-pick William Gholston. If you would have tole me that we'd win this game 20-3 without getting Eifert or Niklas a single reception, I probably would have smacked you across your silly face. Good thing for both of us you didn't tell me that.
Receivers. The little guys again made some big plays. And TJ did something that impressed me very much when it didn't really count. As the Irish were kneeling the ball to run the clock out, a State defender makes a bee line for EG. TJ, giving up a good thirty pounds, throws a big block on the State defender. Protect your quarterback, TJ. I see you. Oh, and Toma was Toma. Throw that kid the ball. Also, John Goodman? Another timely big play. Why don't we see what happens if we throw it to him a few more times? Get just a little more out of that redshirt? Whatever. Actually just keep winning, guys.
Le'Veon Bell. Well State didn't win, but Bell jumped over someone. So there's that.
Coaching Staff. The Irish offense took the field for the first play from scrimmage. Sans a tight end. Who then proceeded to run out onto the field just a little late. The Irish then call a time out before running a single offensive play. At that point, I paused the game and proceeded to enjoy my delicious brisket dinner and marinate in my anger towards Coach Kelly. "What a fool!" said I. "He went undefeated at Cincy. He recruits well at Notre Dame. What is the freakin problem?" Then the rest of the game happened. Them's was jokes, Coach Kelly!
Andrew Maxwell. Tough S.O.B. I definitely enjoyed--well, enjoyed is such an ugly word--yes, enjoyed seeing our front seven crush him over and over again, but it reminded me of Brady Quinn getting destroyed in his first career start against Purdue. Maxwell didn't take that kind of punishment, but he took his licks and kept on battling. Respect.
The first two plays from scrimmage.
Notre Dame's schedule. I think we'll find it much easier to make hay offensively against Michigan, Miami, Stanford, and BYU, so hopefully EG and the offense really hit their stride by the time we get to Norman, but son of a biscuit is this schedule ridiculous.
Lack of second half offense. Psych. CBK knew that State was powerless against his defense, and he refused to let his offense lose the game. I ain't mad atcha, offense.