It’s crazy we’re already here, at the midpoint of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football regular season. Our beloved Irish are currently ranked 14th and 5-1 on the season, with the one loss coming to now-3rd-ranked Cincinnati.
Considering the turmoil and bad offensive line play and the QB carousel and just everything that’s transpired in this first month and a half of football, that’s not too shabby — we all know it could be a lot worse right now, for sure.
So, to treat ourselves during this off week, I decided to revisit an old mainstay in my repertoire and have you all send me Q&A questions to ask our special Q&A guest this week...me.
Per usual, you delivered some absolute bangers of questions, ranging from just checking in on me and my mental health (greatly appreciated, thank you) all the way to asking me a Space Jam/SpongeBob SquarePants mash-up question (incredible).
So, let’s dive into all the key questions you guys were dying for answers to during this Bye Week and prepare ourselves for a low-key weekend of enjoying watching other teams stress about their games while we sit around eating cheeseburgers.
How are you doing this week? Are you OK?— Hayden Adams (@HaydenAdamsZ) October 11, 2021
Pat Rick: *audibly yelps/cries out of happiness and relief that someone asked him how he’s doing*
I’d say I’m more or less holding it together, Hayden, thank you for asking! I mean these days I’m tired most of the time, I somehow managed to injure my knee while sleeping, and half my days at work are spent wrestling with impostor syndrome...but overall I’m alive, healthy, and excited about some trips and weddings (not my own) that I have coming up!
Oh, shoot, I forgot that the first rule of small talk is not being at all honest about any of that. You probably weren’t looking for that kind of answer. Let me start over.
Living the dream, another day in paradise! How are you doing?
Can you recommend any over the counter blood pressure medicines?— O’Butler (@mynotredametwit) October 11, 2021
Pat Rick: Yes! There’s one that I’ve found to be particularly effective and make sure I consume before, during, and after most Notre Dame football games.
Yep, that’s right — there’s nothing better for your blood pressure or your health than slurping down a Hamm’s Premium or ten!*
*Pat Rick Note: this is not true, please consult your personal physician
Besides Hamm’s, the only other medicine I’ve taken for blood pressure was a good ole fashioned dosage of “internalizing all my anxieties and insecurities and then ignoring everything that results from that and hoping I don’t die” — and so far, that’s worked okay too, although it has a few side effects.
How does it feel to be so fully invested in something that has provided you so much heartbreak— Rise and Grime © (@C_Murda14) October 11, 2021
Pat Rick: In three words:
In a lengthier elaboration: it’s honestly a really interesting dynamic that sometimes I struggle to understand, but at other times I find myself so incredibly thankful for. Like, when you think about it, it doesn’t make a ton of sense why any of us unconditionally support a sports team even after years and years and years of that team failing to bring us the ultimate joy that we so dearly want them to bring to us. Oftentimes, even, that team fails to even bring moderate, mid-level joys to its fans...just look at the New York Jets or Charlotte Hornets or Baltimore Orioles or countless others.
I think the big answer here — which has gotten me through those various existential crises I have every time an ND team that suckered me in finally lets me down — is the whole idea of the journey being way more important than the destination.
We want to feel like we’ve been with the team from the beginning, through the tough times, rooting them on despite flaws or odds against them, so that if/when that big championship payoff finally comes, we feel like, at least as fans, we’ve earned that happiness. That makes all the middle stuff much more special. Otherwise, if it were truly just about a team I root for winning a title, I’d just switch to being an Alabama fan and within a year or two achieve that great happiness, right? But we all know there’s more to it than that.
So, we soldier on with our allegiances in the hope that every year of heartbreak will only make the ultimate payoff — whenever that happens, if ever — that much more wonderful. And in the meantime, there are small joys to take pleasure in along the way — the first Clemson game last year, Michigan 2018, any of the recent USC games, MSU and NC State 2017, etc.
Those sustain us and allow us to keep coming back for more punishment and disappointment, because they’re worth it — as is the ultimate prize of seeing the team eventually break through...hopefully.
Tell me what each chart is about, in the context of ND's season. pic.twitter.com/hdLkTJMILL— Jimmy Keena (@JimmyKeena) October 11, 2021
Pat Rick: Let me preface this one by first just saying that I found this activity quite challenging, so I implore you, the readers, to comment with your own ideas as to what these graphs represent from this season. I have a feeling you’ll come up with some better stuff than me, but I digress...
- Chart 1: Drew Pyne’s Stock — through the first two games, his stock is flat, as Jack Coan and then Tyler Buchner both make lots of big plays in wins over FSU and Toledo. In Game 3, Buchner is injured and yet Coan is the only QB to play, which sends Pyne’s stock crashing — clearly, even being the sole capable backup doesn’t mean he’s going to see the field in any real situations. Then, a nice jump in stock thanks to the Wisconsin game, as Pyne had to replace an injured Coan thanks to an injured Buchner already being unavailable, and Pyne FLOURISHED.
In Game 5 against Cincy, Coan’s and Buchner’s failures combined with Pyne coming in in the second half to lead a comeback sent his stock soaring. However, come Game 6 vs. Virginia Tech, the ND coaching staff went with Coan for the start, rode Buchner for most of the game, and then when Buchner melted down, Coan was reinserted — suddenly, Pyne was once again the forgotten man.
- Chart 2: Me Watching the Cincy Game — it was basically just all the way downhill from the start, with things getting increasingly bleaker and bleaker until Drew Pyne came in and helped lead that little comeback, which provides the slight uptick you see between points 4 and 5.
Then, from points 5 to 6 was just Cincy icing the game and putting an end to the undefeated season and the Irish’s home winning streak.
- Chart 3: Clearly a Group of 5 vs. Power-5 Opponent Rating Graph — this one is a no-brainer. It’s clearly showing, game-over-game, how Group-of-Five each opponent has been for the Irish. Obviously Florida State is an ACC team, so they rate very low, but Toledo is a MAC school, so the graph shoots up. Their Group-of-Five-ness is off massive.
Then, it drops back down for Purdue, increases slightly because although Wisconsin is in the Big Ten, their QB looks like a bad C-USA QB, and then the graph shoots back up for Cincinnati, who plays in the AAC. Finally, it drops back down drastically in Week 6, as Virginia Tech plays in the ACC — which we’ve already established is NOT a Group-of-Five conference.
That’s gotta be it, right?
If you inherited a bar within walking distance of the stadium, what would be your hook to stand out?— Isaac Harrington (@isaach10) October 11, 2021
Pat Rick: Karaoke, without question. My bar would have a great, grimy dance floor and cheap drinks and an outdoor area, but the big hook would be it being a karaoke bar right by the stadium — as far as I’m aware, that’s really not something that exists near ND and karaoke is one of the best things ever, so that will be the hook to bring people in — either as performers or as dancers/audience members.
During the football season, we’d have Gameday Karaoke on our patio so that tailgaters and passersby can enjoy and sing/dance along, and anyone who puts on an electric-enough performance wins a free cheap beer (Hamm’s, Miller High Life, etc.) of their choice.
~30 minutes to kickoff, we would then have a ceremonial singing of Cathy Richardson in order to get everyone jazzed up for the game and to close out tailgate time.
My one hang-up in just quitting my job and opening this hypothetical karaoke bar is that I need a good name for it — please, in the comments, give me some ideas.
Where is the ideal spot to play “Walking on Broken Glass” in a wedding reception? Start? Middle third? To close the party?— Pat C (@iamthetweeter) October 11, 2021
Pat Rick: In my humble opinion, it’s absolutely in the middle third.
“Walking on Broken Glass” is a fantastic song that everyone knows and loves, so you don’t want to waste it too early when people might not be dancing yet or might not even be ready to dance yet, but you also want to reserve the close of the party for songs that are a little more electric and better to end with (“Dancing On My Own,” “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now,” “December 1963 (Oh What a Night),” “Monster Mash”).
So, to me it’s perfect right there in the middle — it maintains the energy level on the dance floor and probably shepherds in some stragglers who weren’t out there yet, but also isn’t wasting a top-notch closing song in the middle of the party and risking peaking too early.
Do you want me to include Brendon Clark and Ron Powlus III too? Also should I factor in a discussion of Avery Davis and Jay Bramblett, two former QBs?— Not a Fan of Sports (@Psully226) October 11, 2021
I thought about making you do every single one, took it easy on you. Since you offered, yes, absolutely.— Jimmy Keena (@JimmyKeena) October 11, 2021
Pat Rick: I’m a glutton for punishment and made this answer much harder on myself, as you can see above. Let’s just jump right in:
- Jack Coan: He oftentimes looks like he either is about to start, or just finished, crying, so that can be used to our advantage by drawing out the compassion of the defense. They’ll look at him, give an “awww buddy it’s okay,” and then with 2 minutes left in the 4th Jack will be the assassin he is and toss a game-winning TD on them, which they will no longer be expecting.
- Drew Pyne: This is all I need for my answer:
- Tyler Buchner: As far as I know, he’s the youngest of all these potential starting QBs (I think), and thus he is the furthest away from death. So, starting him is a sensible future investment in terms of longest remaining tenure and eligibility and least likely to physically break down while playing.
- Brendon Clark: He has lots of injury issues, so opponents will underestimate him and maybe even lose their fire/edge — or, perhaps they will over-pursue him, expecting him to move faster than he actually will be moving. In the old NCAA Football video games, I found that running the option with a super-slow QB was sometimes super effective, because the opponent would dive where they thought you’d be, but you just weren’t there yet — or you were able to cut on a dime, because you weren’t going fast enough to have too much momentum to make the cut.
Also, you don’t need high-functioning knees to hand off to Bellyman or toss it up to Michael Mayer, folks — let this man’s ailments lull the defense to sleep and allow those playmakers to get after it.
- Ron Powlus III: IT’S IN THE GENES!!!!
- Cole Capen: He’s the great unknown — other teams won’t know how to plan for him, what he’s good at, etc. Lots of possibilities if you stroll him out there, and the defense will be prepared for none of them.
- Jay Bramblett: Without quoting the stats that are out there, he’s one of the most efficient ball carriers in Notre Dame history — and we know he can punt. If he can even sort of throw the ball well, we’ve got a legitimate triple threat at QB who could literally run, pass, or punt on any given down and in any given situation. Good luck, defense.
- Avery Davis: It would be a storybook ending for him to finish his career playing QB and leading the team to victory there after coming in as a QB and then going through all the position switches he went through for the good of the squad, without complaint. I think he should start at QB on Senior Day, folks.
Pat Rick: This was difficult and pretty dark, but also an excellent call-back to Brian Kelly’s HILARIOUS postgame interview joke that didn’t come close to landing.
Here are my thoughts, with no context or explanation added, ranked from 1 (most likely to be executed by BK) to 14 (least likely to be executed by BK). I also limited this to QBs who had somewhat significant PT under Kelly, plus Monty VanGorder because he was my favorite.
- Nate Montana
- Dayne Crist
- Everett Golson
- Andrew Hendrix
- DeShone Kizer
- Phil Jurkovec
- Malik Zaire
- Drew Pyne
- Brandon Wimbush
- Tyler Buchner
- Jack Coan
- Monty VanGorder
- Ian Book
- Tommy Rees
Pat Rick: I’m gonna go with a popsicle.
The outer parts of the schedule (the beginning and the end) are smooth sailing, at least in terms of toughness of opponents (we all know from the first three games that that doesn’t necessarily mean it WILL be smooth sailing). Similarly, the outside of the popsicle is the delicious, easy-to-eat part.
Meanwhile, like the wooden popsicle stick in the center of a popsicle, the middle of the schedule is tougher, less appetizing, and gonna cause some problems as you bite, if you’re not careful. That’s the Wisconsin-to-UNC stretch in a nutshell.
Finally, the fact that the popsicle will begin to melt as you eat it, and potentially cause a sticky mess the further you get into eating it, is perfectly symbolic of this weird, tumultuous, messy season the Irish (and the rest of college football) are putting together. It’s still been enjoyable for the most part, but wow is there a need for a lot of clean-up!
Pat Rick: *lips pressed to mic* No.
Unless you mean a “Natty” as in the beer, in which case I think he could definitely win one at my karaoke bar after he brings the house down by performing a passionate ballad or popular early 2000s boy band hit.
If you had to rebuild the ND offensive skill positions Monstar style (stealing talent/characteristics from others) but only stealing from SpongeBob characters, who would you steal from for which positions and why?— Tyler Butler Sr. (@tylerbutler95) October 11, 2021
Pat Rick: This is a fantastic question, and I wish more sports journalists found ways to weave Space Jam and SpongeBob SquarePants into their reporting — the world would be a much better and brighter place.
Okay, so for this exercise, I’m going to list the current starter at the position and then give my SpongeBob character I’d use the talent from to produce in the same fashion as they do now. And I’m going to do some bonus choices that round out a first team offense, as well as a couple offensive reserves.
#1 Offense, for the Purposes of This Exercise:
- Quarterback — Jack Coan: SpongeBob SquarePants
SpongeBob is a leader and he’s exceptional at distributing Krabby Patties to hungry customers, including an impressive ability to deliver pizza long-distance. He may not always be perfect and he’s not a super great athlete, but he can get the job done.
Also, we already know how he handles crunch time — the dude is clutch as hell, just like Jack Coan:
- Running Back — Kyren “Bellyman” Williams: Sandy Cheeks
This one felt like the easiest choice — using Sandy to rebuild Bellyman’s role brings a fantastic combination of spunk, swagger, toughness, and athletic ability. Sandy and Bellyman both love to talk shit and then back it up — such a perfect selection, if I do say so myself.
- Tight End — Michael Mayer: King Neptune
Michael Mayer looks like a freaking Roman god, which is why King Neptune was a great choice here. Huge, strong, and with magical talent/abilities, this is who you want to throw to on 3rd/4th down and in the red zone when you need a big catch.
- Wide Receiver — Kevin Austin Jr.: Larry the Lobster
Like Austin, Larry the Lobster has all the physical measurables you could ask for — good size, strength, speed, etc. Also like Austin, Larry may occasionally struggle to reel in passes with those big meaty claws he has (I know, Mr. Krabs was the one with “big, meaty claws.” But it applies here too). To me, Larry is the perfect choice to deliver what Kevin Austin delivers for this offense.
- Wide Receiver — Avery Davis: Plankton
Small, shifty, has been through a lot and yet keeps coming back for more — I think this one also just makes a ton of sense. You can always rely on Avery Davis to be there to help pick up big first downs, just like you can always rely on Plankton to be trying to steal the Krabby Patty formula.
- Wide Receiver — Braden Lenzy: The Flying Dutchman
Lenzy can absolutely fly, and so I needed someone who matches that description. Enter the Flying Dutchman, a literal ghost. Considering Lenzy’s tendency to disappear every other game, the choice of a ghost here had some other applicable parallels, too.
- Center — Jarrett Patterson: Mrs. Puff
A leader and adult who is doomed to be frustrated by those around them — this describes both Jarrett Patterson leading this year’s offensive line, as well as Mrs. Puff trying to teach SpongeBob how to drive.
- Left Guard — Andrew Kristofic: Pearl Krabs
Young and largely unproven, but with good size and promising strength, I think Pearl is an ideal match here. Her energy and size may just be what the offensive line needs, as was shown by a solid performance against Virginia Tech.
- Left Tackle — Joe Alt: Patrick Star
Big, lovable, but still trying to understand everything and learn how to be great — this describes true freshman Joe Alt, but also Patrick Star, who’s constantly confused by new things and trying to better himself, and we love him for it.
- Right Guard — Cain “Dump Truck” Madden: Bubblebass
This may come across as an insult to Madden, but hear me out.
Like Madden, Bubblebass is a wily vet with an absolute Dump Truck ass who’s maybe not quite as trustworthy as we initially thought (he was hiding the pickles under his tongue the whole time!!!), but who still can be a force to be reckoned with thanks to his size and overall prickly demeanor.
- Right Tackle — Josh Lugg: Mr. Krabs
An older veteran with some back problems, but who’s still managing things out there — sounds like Mr. Krabs to me. He’s always looking out for SpongeBob/Jack, even though he doesn’t always do a great job of it. But he scuttles around out there and does his best to use those big, meaty claws (had to reference it more than once) to get things done.
#1 Offense, Built from SpongeBob Characters:
- Backup Running Back — Chris Tyree: Gary the Snail
Gary is a speed demon — this one just makes tons of sense.
- Backup Quarterback — Drew Pyne: Squilliam Fancyson
No one has more swagger and cockiness in the SpongeBob world than Squilliam Fancyson, and so I think he makes tons of sense for Drew Pyne.
- Backup Wide Receiver — Joe Wilkins Jr.: Fred, the “MY LEG!” Guy
Low-hanging fruit here, but considering Wilkins is out for the year with an MCL injury, the “MY LEG!” guy is just perfect.
- Band Director — Dr. Ken Dye: Squidward Tentacles
Need I say more?
Alright folks, I want to give a big shout-out to Pat Rick for answering all those questions, even if he didn’t do a great job and proved himself to be kind of an idiot.
Nevertheless, make you you go to One Foot Down to check out all the ND content they’ve got over there, and please follow the site and Pat Rick on Twitter for any and all hard-hitting tweets and retweets you could need about Notre Dame sports, college football, or lots of other things.
That’s all for this week — Go Irish, beat BYE!!!