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"They are a football team now"

Wow, where do I start? I haven't re-watched the game yet as is my practice but here is my initial two cents on the events that happened at Notre Dame Stadium this afternoon. I will start by openly admitting that I probably need to be on blood pressure meds after watching the game. The first 57 minutes or so worked me over pretty good. Had the offense been able to finish just 1-2 of the 5 drives that ended in field goals the boys would have cruised to a comfortable win. Despite that this team never let up, never got down, and in the end found a way to win....Again! I can't say enough about just how huge that is. Is this team good enough to win the game today by 3-4 touchdowns? Absolutely, but it doesn't always go down like that as evidenced by the last 4 weeks. The difference between good teams and great teams, wannabe programs and solid programs is finding a way to win those games you almost let get away from you. This team did it for the 3rd straight week. I'll have a more intuitive wrapup after I re-watch the game but here are my initial thoughts and observations.

-Jimmy Clausen might be, screw that he is the best QB in the country. The backward pass that went the other way for six was ugly, but Clausen quickly bounced back and overcame. He hit Tate for a 67 yard TD on the next series and was 23 of 31 for 422 yards and 2TDs on the day. How many plays did he keep alive by moving around in the pocket with a bad wheel? The drive and TD pass to Rudolph at the end of the 4th quarter was the type of drive that legends are made of. Unbelievable performance.

-Golden Tate should be in the Heisman race. In my opinion there isn't a more clutch player in the country at this point. The kid just makes plays and for all practical purposes cannot be stopped. The long TD, the other 70 yard completion, the overtime reception on 1st down, 9 receptions for 244 yards, are you kidding me! Amazing performance from Tate today.

-Robert Hughes is a complete beast! I was pretty bummed from the spring through the first three weeks of the season about Hughes. The coaching staff was saying he wasn't "playing big" and he got jumped on the depth chart. I have always had a soft spot for this kid and really wanted to see him do well. Last week he got going and today he was an absolute animal. His 2 point conversion saved the game. What absolute intestinal fortitude. Hughes was stuffed at the 6 yard line and literally dragged the pile across the goal line. That play should absolutely be on every highlight reel in the country this week and on the ND highlight reel at the end of the season. Hat's off Robert your wallet absolutely says "Bad Mother#&*@%$^" on it!

Kyle Rudolph is the best receiving Tight End in the country period. You can't cover him and he catches everything.

-How many huge blocks did Bobby Burger have from the fullback position today? Money.

-The offensive line gave Clausen all day to throw the ball today. Had they opened up a couple of holes on 3rd down earlier it would have been a much less stressful game but they got it done when the game was on the line.

-The whole damn defense! The boys had some bend but don't break moments but damned if they didn't buckle down, strap the lids on and win the damn game! Hats off and pouring some out for every kid that took the field on the Irish defense today. The goal line stands were absolutely unbelievable!

-Nick Tausch going 5 for 5 kicking field goals was clutch. Even more clutch was Coach Weis taking all 5 field goals vice ever going for it on fourth. There is absolutely a time and a place for going for it on fourth but the conservative approach paid off huge today. Hats off to Tausch for nailing all five to include two from 34 and one from 40.

-John Tenuta and the rest of the defensive staff deserve a lot of credit for this win. Great job all around. They made some key personnel moves this week playing Te'o at WILL and moving Brian Smith back to MIKE. Ultimately it paid off today. As an added bonus Toryan Smith did get back in there for the goal line situations and made a big play himself. Everybody wins. Interestingly just about every member of the IBG responded to Subway Domer's question this week about position switches requesting this one and it came to fruition.

-Manti Te'o records 10 tackles in his first game as a starter! Nice work! I can't wait to watch this kid develop.

-Kyle McCarthy had another 12 tackles to include the bone jarring shot that knocked the ball loose and ended the game in OT. I'm still bowing to #28.

-Kapron Lewis-Moore showed up big for the 3rd week in a row. 7 tackles to include 2 for a loss and a sack. KLM is going to be a great one and he's growing up right before our eyes. Another total bad ass with 3 years of eligibility left. I love this kid!

-Ethan Johnson in my opinion is playing out of position at DT vice DE but he showed up today big time. He had 5 tackles to include 2 for a loss and a sack. That sack and forced fumble was gigantic.

-Kerry Neal also had 7 tackles to include 2 for a loss and a sack. Great game from the rush end.
-Where was Darius Fleming today? He was MIA after having great games the last two weeks but Scott Smith played well in his stead. Is he hurt or did Scott Smith just have a great week in practice?

-Gary Gray is looking like our best corner. Nice game and a huge pass breakup late in the game.

Today stressed me the hell out. If you follow my Tweets at all that is obvious. This team is good enough that they could/should have won today by 3-4 TD's. Same can be said for the last three games too. That is the next step and I believe we will see it in the next few weeks. But the bottom line is at the end of the day they found a way to win anyway. I had a pseudo similar post last week and an anonymous commenter left me one that said "Drink the Kool-Aid son." I have also been accused of being a Weis apologist. I appreciate the perspective but neither of those things is necessarily the case. I believe this team
had to start from scratch in 2007 and the fact that they did makes me root for them that much harder. Despite the losses, despite the criticism they just keep working and getting better. The coaching staff keeps recruiting, the kids keep working their asses off and we are witnessing the late stages of an unbelievable transformation. I make a concerted effort to appreciate that and enjoy the ride.

I have my father to thank for my obsession with ND football. He grew up in a South Texas Catholic family that watched the ND Sunday replays when he was growing up. He went on to become a Texas High School football coach and subsequently passed his Notre Dame football fanaticism on to me. My kids call him "Coach" and at this point that is how everyone in our family refers to him. Number one topic of conversation between myself and the old man is ND football. We are on the phone constantly during every game and when this one was over The Coach said it best. "They are a football team now." That pretty much sums it up.