As many in the Notre Dame blogosphere are aware, sophomore defensive end Andrew Trumbetti has missed some practice time due to a viral infection. While some are willing to chalk this up to the omnipresent threat of viral infection as a part of civilized life, or the cold, damp South Bend winters, I refuse to be that naive. In an effort to demonstrate, without a doubt, that this missed practice time was a direct result of Coach Brian Kelly's lack of player development, let's break down some film.
To begin, Trumbetti's cells should have been adequately prepped on how to read the influenza's offense. Influenza tips its hand every time by displaying two proteins on its coat, hemaglutinin (blue arrow) and neuraminidase (yellow arrow). This is quite possibly the simplest read a defensive player should be able to make, and the inability of Trumbetti's cells to recognize these obvious markers shows a gross lack of preparation that goes all the way up to the head coach's office. Admittedly, influenza undergoes antigenic shift, effectively giving the defense different looks during different games, but this makes preparation and film study all the more important.
The virus makes its living being small and elusive. As illustrated in this picture, the influenza virus (yellow circle) is much smaller than the cell that it will infect (pink star). A properly developed player would have the technique and finesse necessary to mitigate these spread concepts.
By now the virus as entered the cell simply due to poor recognition at the beginning of the play. All is not lost at this point, as the virus (green arrow) is contained within an intracellular vesicle (red arrow). However, this is where the worst breakdown in fundamentals and discipline occurs.
Within seconds, the virus (green arrow) has broken contain (red arrows) and is proceeding along a cytoskeletal filament (yellow arrow) on an unimpeded dash to the nucleus.
Right before entering the nucleus, the virus engages in some taunting by throwing off its protein coat (yellow circle) and sending its RNA genome toward the nucleus (red box and arrow). A properly developed and motivated player would take this as the ultimate sign of disrespect and make the influenza pay. As we shall see, this will not be the case.
The nucleus is separated from the rest of the cell by a nuclear membrane (red line and arrow). This is the last line of defense. Once the virus gets its RNA across the membrane, it's won. This is where defenses need to hang tough, especially against interior runs. Alas, you can clearly see the viral RNA (green star) penetrating through a wide-open hole in the membrane (green arrow). This nuclear pore, while necessary for the normal functioning of Trumbetti's cell, was exploited by a far inferior opponent. A player with such talented cells should not be beaten at the goal-line so easily.
Once inside the nucleus, the virus replicates its RNA by means of an RNA polymerase (yellow hexagon)...
...and re-packages itself into a new coat (another flagrant uniform violation).
To make matters worse, the nascent viruses now leave the cell to infect other cells (blue stars), causing a wholesale loss of morale in the cellular locker room.
As presented above, breakdowns in antigenic recognition, intracellular defense, and effective immune response are sadly characteristics of players under Kelly's tutelage. With this in mind, I fail to understand how a coach, whose crowning accomplishment is taking a gritty team at an academically rigorous institution to a national championship game, can remain at the helm.
Happy April 1st!