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Notre Dame Football

The Back Corner Fade

September 28, 2022

NOTE:  Mike Kane is a Notre Dame fan writing a weekly column about the lighter side of college football from a fan’s perspective.  

Yes Virginia, there is an offense……

45 points and 500+ yards later the Irish left Chapel Hill with win #2 and looked awfully good on both sides of the ball in doing so. Yes, it was “just” a 13-point win, but let’s be honest, that was a beat down and not even close as final score indicated. From the 2nd quarter on, they were the better team and looked like the ND team that we expected to see back at the beginning of the month. 

Even as happy as I was, like I’m sure the vast majority of you are, let’s be honest, they still have a ways to go to even be considered a “good” team. They are what they are: a team with a new coaching staff ironing out growing pains and trying to make this a cohesive unit. Steps were taken in the 2nd half against Ca,l and they played three quarters of very good football over the weekend. It’s getting there and frankly; I didn’t expect to see 2-2 after the mess that was the Marshall game.

UNC is a nice win, but let’s not fool ourselves, they’re a 7-5, 6-6 team. That defense is so bad, I honestly believe they might be a middle-of-the-road defense in FCS. Mack Brown made a major mistake hiring Gene Chizik. My God, that guy makes BVG look like Buddy Ryan. I really believe Mack Brown is a good man and one of the best recruiters of all time, but, he’s as bad a game-day coach as you’ll find. See you boys in a few years where we’ll hear all week about your scary offense……and then drop 40+ on you and call it a day…..just like every time ND plays Carolina.

So what did we learn this week……..

There are certain things in life that just make me smile: solid BBQ, the sound of the ocean crashing into the shore, splitting a fairway with a 300+ yard scud (ok, 240 yards; I’m not gonna BS you) and when Miami loses. Losing in front of hundreds of fans against an ACC opponent is one thing, but getting Lipton-sacked by MTSU is even more awesome. “The U is back! Mario is the man! 305 Baby!” Pump the breaks, lads. You just lost to a team that got beat by James Madison (nice win against Appy, by the way) by 37 points. Early season Heisman hopeful Ryan Van Dyke has been as effective as 96-year-old Dick Van Dyke probably would, and the U is back to status quo, namely having absolute dudes on both sides of the ball that never mesh.

Water is wet, Louisiana is the Pelican State, and OU will lose a game every year to the back half of the Big 12. This time it’s K-State who plays the spoiler sending the Sooners title hopes into survival mode. This simply was Brent Venables initiation into OU Football. Big Game Bob and All-Offense Lincoln lost a head-scratcher every year in conference to a team that will end going to a bowl game with “Cheese,” “Potatoes” or “.com” in the name.  This was bound to happen. My guess is they were looking ahead to Texas who got upset on the road against another Big 12 bottom feeder in Texas Tech. The SEC is going to love these guys in a few years.

The same Cal team that’s offense looked as crummy as ND’s did, just put 49 points and 600 yards of offense up against Arizona on Saturday. Jaydn Ott, who did nothing against the Irish defense, ran for 274 on the Mildcats. Yes, I realize Cal beat a bad UA team, but it shows that ND’s defense is pretty damn good. 600 yards is 600 yards.

I look at that and feel all warm inside for about 30 seconds and then I snap back to reality knowing that Marshall had a sizzling 174 yards of total offense, a whopping 78 yards in the air, and 7 points against Troy State. 

Michigan State lost at home by 27 to the Boat Rowers. I wonder if in a small way Sparty is having buyer’s remorse for giving Mel Tucker that long contract. I mean, who would ever do something that stupid after one season (or half a season?)

What do we have to look forward to this weekend?

Michigan will head to Iowa City to try, once again, to prove that they’re more than worthy of the No. 4 ranking in the land (they sure didn’t look like it against the Terrifying Tortoises this past weekend) with a match-up with the most boring team in America better known as the Iowa Hawkeyes. I fully expect this to be another ho-hum, run it between the tackles affair that only Bo and Hayden could love. I guess I’ll take Michigan in a game that will make ‘Masterpiece Theater’ look like ‘First Blood.’ Weasel’s 23-10.

Chance for a real good one as Mississippi and Kentucky get together both ranked in the Top 15. Neither team looked very good over the weekend sleepwalking their way through Tulsa and N. Illinois, probably looking ahead to this one. Lane Kiffin is slowly becoming a ISD favorite after being loathed for years from his days on Rocky Top and and in Watts. Now, he’s the colorful smart ass that has some great Tweets…..especially about dancing coaches. I’m going with Lane and the boys and The Grove will be bumping on Saturday night. Rebs 28-24.

Deal of the Week on Vivid Seats: Colorado vs. Arizona for $5. If you’re hitting this one up, you either must take the kids out of the house for a few hours since your wife volunteered your dojo for her second cousin’s gender reveal party for her 5th baby, you have a buddy whose kid is on the team and you promised you’d come out for a game, or the Arizona Band’s halftime show is featuring the music of Bell Biv DaVoe.

Oklahoma State and Baylor hook up for what should be another fun one in Waco. If you remember the Big 12 Championship game last year, Baylor turned the Pokes away with a tackle on the goal line to win the game. Oklahoma State just does what they always do in winning games and stays off the radar. Mike Gundy is a hell of a football coach and probably doesn’t get the due credit he deserves. OSU keeps marching along: Pokes 31-24.

I always hate bye weeks because there really isn’t much to say. The fellas will practice, try to plug some holes in the boat where needed, and get healthy. The coaches will hit the road, try to sure up commits and hopefully climb the ladder with some of the ‘24’s and new ‘23’s who have popped up on the radar. 

This is prime time for Drew Pyne to continue to mesh with his WR’s (Colzie and Merriweather, I’m looking at you), the O-line to work on technique, DB’s to sure up coverages, and for the LB’s to all get faster by leaps and bounds……ok the last one might not be possible. Seriously, this break comes at a perfect time. It’s been an emotional month and it’s a great opportunity to clear the cobwebs, get healthy, get better, and get after it in the classroom.

BYU won’t be easy in Sin City, but this looks a whole hell of a lot more doable than it did just two weeks ago. 

Go Irish!


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