Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

The Back Corner Fade

September 15, 2020

Remember back in the day when we use to go to these places to watch movies called theaters? There was that new action flick that you just had to watch on the big screen because the sound and cinematography were suppose to be excellent. You go, pay your fare, spend way too much on popcorn and pops (I’m from the Midwest, I say pop) and the movie, while decent, left you a little disappointed when you walked out. You weren’t angry or demanding a refund, you just felt like it just wasn’t as good as the hype. 

That’s how I felt after watching Notre Dame and Duke on Saturday.

I’m a firm believer in the old adage that a team will make it’s biggest improvement between game one and game two, and I believe this is the case with the Irish. We saw some damn good things on Saturday: Kyren Williams had a coming out party. Joe Wilkins made some nice plays. Michael Mayer? That is a talented and scary young man. Have fun tackling that monster one on one as the poor lad from Duke found out on that great individual effort on third down in the 3rd quarter. 

I’m not going to dwell on “the bad” right now. I really believe Ian Book just had timing issues with a bunch of kids he didn’t throw to at all last year. Is it concerning that he looked like pre-last drive against Virginia Tech 2019 Ian Book (happy feet, not stepping into the throw, indecisive) uh, yeah, but it was one game coming in off zero spring ball and a choppy fall camp. Ditto the offensive line. It will improve….I hope, I mean I think it will, how about it has to or this is going to make for a lot of Tums Classics that don’t need to be.

One last thought on last week: huge thank you to NBC for putting Tony Dungy in the box with Mike Tirico. He’s obviously knowledgeable, doesn’t speak just to hear his own voice, and is highly likable, unlike Doug Flutie. Just imagine if Nugenix Doug was in the box? It would have been 3 ½ hours of gushing over Chase Brice.

So what did we learn this past week?

Well for starters, the Big XII not named Oklahoma or Texas is hot garbage. Kansas lost to Coastal Carolina (and was shut out in the process,) Kansas St lost to Arkansas St, Iowa St lost to Louisiana, and Texas Tech squeaked out a huge win against Houston Baptist. Time to face the facts, Big XII, the Sun Belt is your daddy! 

Speaking of Iowa St, after losing to Louisiana at home by 17, are they the best 0-1 team in the country?

Florida State doing Florida State things as they blow a home game against Georgia Tech (which I predicted last week—not a big deal.) There were 17 penalties, 5 turnovers, and numerous mistakes between the teams, and good reason to see where both these schools are predicted to finish low in the ACC. ESPN trying to spin the game mentioned “what a big upset for the Yellow Jackets.” Really? Have they watched what’s become of the once proud gangster’s paradise that was FSU Football?  It was just bad football all the way around.

I was only able to handle the nauseating love fest that ESPN/ABC has for Clemson for so long before I flipped that drivel off. One thing that did stand out to me: say what we will about how ND looked against Duke, that Duke team is better than Wake, FSU, and Georgia Tech….by a lot. The one ACC team that did look good was Louisville. Now, beating up on WKU is what it is, but they have some serious speed on that offense and it isn’t just Tutu Atwell. 

I wonder how practice in Annapolis was this past week? Navy’s performance on national tv against BYU was as bad a performance we’ve seen from the Squids since before Paul Johnson came to town, and it came down to a true lack of preparation. You can have the great scheme and the great athletes (which obviously Navy doesn’t have), but if you aren’t constantly working on the fundamentals of blocking and tackling, it simply doesn’t matter. Let that be a lesson to any football team at any level. That was an embarrassment.

What do we get to look forward to this week? Sadly, again, not a whole hell of a lot. But there are a few games that might be worth some couch time. ***Note: this article was written on Monday, who knows if COVID claims some of these games before this gets posted.***

Boston College travels down to Duke for their first game of the year and the debut of Phil Jurkovec in maroon and Gerber baby food gold. I wish the kid nothing but the best and I hope he lights the world up as long as it isn’t against us. That being said, he still plays for BC, Duke is a vastly improved team and the Beagles start 0-1. Duke 28-16.

Miami, fresh off that huge win against UAB, heads up to Louisville after their tune-up against Western Kentucky. As I mentioned above, The ‘Ville has dudes on offense and they’re fun to watch. I do think Miami’s defense is much better than last year and actually has a QB that is competent in D’Eriq King. He’s more than competent, he’s damn good. All that being said, The U also has Manny Diaz coaching them. Advantage: UL. Louisville 31-21.

Citadel heads across the state to play Clemson. God bless them. They only have 4 games this season and 3 are against D-1 schools. 

Want a new car? Here, I’m gonna help you get some cash to buy that new Prius you’ve been digging on: Take Pitt only giving 6 to Syracuse. No Pitt isn’t that good, but after watching SU’s offense against UNC, and the fact that Pitt has a very, very good defense, this should be free money. You’re welcome.

USA! USA!......Network. That’s where the Irish will be this Saturday as South Florida comes back to South Bend for the second time. We all remember the first go around. It was as disastrous a home opener as one can ever remember and introduced the world to the term “Purple Face.” Quick side note on that game: I was dating my now wife at the time and made her sit in the stands through that whole fiasco. I knew I had a keeper when she still spoke to me the next day.

As for the game, this shouldn’t be much of an issue. In fact, if it is much of an issue, say past the 1st quarter, ND has some serious problems. I watched USF last weekend against The Citadel, and yes, they won by 21 points against a team that truly would struggle to go .500 against a normal 1-AA schedule. I’ve read on the Boards that USF has “some athletes.” Yes, they’re Division 1 football players, chances are they have some highly skilled athletic ability. That doesn’t make them good football players. Citadel runs the triple-option and USF was simply stuffing the box. The QB for El Cid trying to throw the ball was more painful than watching your drunk 70-year old uncle trying to cut the rug at your 2nd cousins wedding.

I’m going to go ahead and lay the over/under at 9 in terms of references to Charlie Jr being the OC at USF and his “return” to ND. I’m also guessing that the Old Man isn’t making the trip.

My biggest hope is that the ND offensive line comes out pissed at the world and knocks some people around. I hate the passive way Jeff Quinn’s line plays and want to see some nasty for once out of them. We’re not going to lose this game even if we play as “meh” as we did last week. USF is simply bad. What I’d really love  is for the chance to have to scramble for my team roster and put names to numbers by the 3rd quarter seeing some younger guys in there getting some valuable reps. 

I think we see that leap in the level of play this week and the boys take care of business in rapid fashion. Irish 45-13

Beat South Florida.

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