Happy Fathers Day to all you Gabby type dads out there....& others too and welcome to my NASCAR updates and other fast stuff. It's been an up and down week temperature wise. Hunid & hot for half a day then a storm comes and cools it down. But my tomato plants are still happy. Lawn is mowed for the weekend & I just cut my herbs back. Cut my iPod ear bud cord too while I was at it. STUPID!!!! Still can not believe I did that. Any how, I have herbs hanging in the kitchen to dry and or use at my convenience now but no ear buds for my iPod. I need to smack myself upside the head with a can of V8.
Wondering how that guy keeps his sunglasses up without a nose. Just one of those wonders of the world.
JEREMY MAYFIELD UPDATE
He is still around folks. Thanks to doing an Alford Plea he has his life back...kind of...and he's back to racing...kind of. About 5 years ago Jeremy got popped for methamphetamine use in a NASCAR drug test. He said it was his Adderall and Claritin D mixed that caused the positive test. NASCAR said no way Jose. You go to the Road to Recovery Drug Rehab program or you don't race. Jeremy said no way Jose and now he don't race in NASCAR. Then terrible things started to happen to Jeremy. He got arrested for having stolen property and drug paraphernaliaon his property. Then he lost his house.
I just watched a long video interview with Bob Pockrass talking to Jeremy. He was very calm during this interview and either he's delusional or he really is telling the truth. His truth being it was just bad luck all the way around and he simply couldn't go into rehab because he does not do drugs. As for all the stolen property he says he bought that stuff.
The Alford Plea is where you acknowledge that there is enough evidence to convict you but your not admitting guilt. He had 22 felonies against him but by taking the Alford Plea it went down to 3 misdemeaners. That would be 2 for possessing stolen property & 1 for possessing drug paraphernalia.
Now if you wouldn't go to rehab for drugs out of your belief that you were innocent than why would you take a plea agreement if you knew you were innocent? That's the mind of Mr Mayfield.
He says he got his life back. He's racing dirt modifieds and plans to work his way back up out of the hole he's in and help other racers that might need a hand. He's also going to be doing a video series about his situation. Explaining everything. I don't know what to think other than things just don't ring true.
NEWMAN LEFT STRANDED AT THE AIRPORT
At the beginning of the week Newman called Dale Jr and asked to bum a ride on his plane to Michigan. It's a common practice amoung drivers. Plane pooling saves resources like car pooling does. But in this situation there was a hiccup.
Dale Jr's PR guy told him he'd booked extra media obligations so they'd leave at 8am instead of 8:30. So Newman showed up before 8:30 and saw Dale Jr's truck but no plane. Luckily Newman saw Dale Jarrett's plane and asked the pilot if they were heading to Michigan. They were and Newman bummed a ride off them. Of course the media guys all had a few laughs and questions about that one.
MCMURRAY VISITS JACKSONVILLE JAGUAR PRACTICE
Jamie McMurray practiced with the team as part of the 56th annual Coke Zero Powered by Coca Cola Media Day. He ran routes, caught passes from all the QB's and generally had a good time. He was amazed at the size and speed of the athletes. Then he decided it was good to be a race car driver.
NEWS OF THE DANICA
There's no secret. Haas has his F1 licence and driver hunting is on the list. When asked if he was considering Danica he said he felt she'd be a successful F1 driver and she was being considered for the job.
The Danica said that he hasn't asked yet and out of respect she'd listen to Haas's offer but she's happy where she is now. Had that offer come 10 years ago she'd have jumped on it but at 32 years old she feels she's too old to be starting a 3rd career in racing. Shall we say...to be continued?
TICKETS FOR THE DAYTONA 500 NOW ON SALE
Starting at $65. There's 3 ways to score your tickets. You can call 1-800-PITSHOP....visit the ticket office at the track or go on line ...DaytonaInternationalSpeedway.com.
Hamlin had the pole but Keselowski took the lead and off he went.
Caution on lap #32 for a smoking guard rail? Apparently peopl were playing with fireworks in the infield and the grass beside the guard rail caught fire.
And Keselowski continues to lead followed by Ku Bu, Harvick, Gordon & Hamlin
Caution #3 on lap #71 sees Johnson slam door on door into Ambrose on pit lane. Lotsof stops to fix that.
Ku Bu is out front now with Stewart, Harvick, Keselowski & Logano
After pit stops later Stewart leads. Then there's a caution. Harvick has a flat, Ku Bu over shoots his pit box and Stewart gets nailed for speeding on pit road.
Keselowski assumes the lead.
Caution on Lap #138 The Danica is in the wall. Right front tire blew
Restart and Keselowski takes the lead. Caution is out again soon after for Kahne & Edwards big wreck.
Restart and Keselowski retakes the lead with Dale Jr in hot pursuit. With about 10 to go Keselowski has trash on the grill blocking air flow into the engine. At 7 to go Keselowski is reporting the oil & water temps are hot.
Keselowski tries to scoot up behind Danica to get the trash off his grill but it doesn't work and it slows him down enough for Dale Jr to drive to the lead and his2nd win of the season.
Top 15 finishers - Dale Jr - Keselowski - Ku Bu - Hamlin - Larson - Johnson - Newman - Gordon - Truex Jr - McMurray - Bowyer - Ky Bu - Stewart - Harvick - Stenhouse
Fast fast fast. That's 2 miles of engine eating fastness. Harvick has the pole with the fastest qualifying lap since Bill Elliot at Dega in April of 1987. Bill's lap was 212.809 mph and Harvick's was 204.557 mph. That's 35.198 seconds around a 2 mile lap. Lift off speed fastness.
Larson, Gordon, Dale Jr, Kahne, & Ku Bu were all fast in practices.
Harvick is pole sitter and finished 2nd in both races here last year. If his motor holds up...Top 10
Gordon has the most laps led here with 954 in 42 races. Has 18 top 18 top 5's & 8 of those were 2nd place. Top 10
Biffle won this race last year. He's got contract negotiations going on so there's something to prove. It's Ford's back yard too. Top 10
Kenseth starts 26th. Just as bad as last week. Scares me. I'll pass
Vickers has a 10th place start. I'll say Top 15
Larson is the rookie with the mostest. He's knock knock knocking on the W door. Really hard. Only a matter of time. Not this week though. Top 15
Dillon was in this race last year. Came in 11th. He'll do it again.
Johnson has issues at this track. No W here yet. Last year he was running 2nd with 3 laps to go trying to run down The Biff & he scccccccccccaraped the wall. I'm saying Top 10 but no W
Stewart needs to not make any more rookie mistakes like getting caught speeding on pit road. He took a Top 10 & threw it away. I say Top 10 this week
Dale Jr blew his motor last year but this is this year. He's on a roll. Top 10
Keselowski doesn't have good showings here. Top 15
Logano blew a tire in the Nationwide race while in the lead. He'll be a Top 10.
Menard would be my dark horse pick for a Top 10. He won that Nationwide race starts 5th today
Ku Bu is fast but unreliable this year. He sits mired back in 27th with 1 W in the points. Only 3 top 5's. Choose him at your own risk.
Kahne blew a motor here last year. He's fast in practice but can you trust him? Only 2 Top 10's this season so far. He's jinxed.
Montoya is in the #12 for Penske this week. Look out. I'm hoping he finishes the race. Top 20?
Moffitt is back in the #66 for MWR. Did me right in my fantasy league last time. Top 25.
So once again I bid you Gabbers & others who are fathers, An Awesome Happy Fathers Day. I hope you have the best Bar B Q ever, lots of family time, great weather to picnic in and just enjoy your day. Congrats to The Kings fans. I hear you won Justin Bieber. That's what it said on Twitter.
I was sitting in the car tonight reading a book while my wife and daughter were visiting the clinic for a second straight day, listening to some Steve Miller, Pink Floyd and Aerosmith, when something struck me kind of odd. Here on the Gab we have rights given to us by "The Beezer" and Sully, the right to speak our minds about anything we want to talk about when its our turn to write a blog, or just stop by and visit one of our other bloggers on the site. The ongoing nightmare that I have seen taking place over the past few years, is that we as Americans are slowly losing our Constitutional rights or freedoms to speak our minds.
I as many of you came from the Sporting News, for which when I first started blogging, I followed Morriseyweb on a regular basis. But as time went by, the Sporting News and other sites began restricting or blogs, taking away our fantasy sports and not allowing us as bloggers the freedoms that we enjoyed when we first started blogging on the site. So like many of you, I decided to leave the Sporting News and stopped blogging altogether until I met Sully and the Beezer. I was first introduced to this site when it was a new site, and to tell truth I was quite surprised to see that it was still around after 3 years of not being on the site.
The problem with our society today, is that most people are afraid to speak their minds, because they may offend the reader or hurt their feelings. There are not enough sites available to speak our minds, and exercise our basic freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution. This is what makes the Gab such a special place, we are able to speak our mind, because most on this site will not be offended and probably have said worse themselves.
I admittedly left for a while (about a year), after my Sunday spot was given to Qwazier. I was a little frustrated with my blogging, and was having a hard time coming up with a good blog. Today however, I would like to remember a few of those who have served, and those who have passed while on active duty serving their country in a bullshit war, started by President Bush. I know "Old Harry" has children in the military, Jerry, Scott and myself have served in the Navy, but let's get real, a lot of innocent lives have been taken for what, to soothe the ego of a Texas oilman and former owner of the Texas Rangers. His daughters had no chance of serving their country during time of war, so what did he care? He didn't, as long as he proved his point. He didn't as long as he got the revenge necessary for 911......
I guess the nightmare of it all is, we have not learned from our past. We go to war with countries that really are insignificant as far as a real threat to our freedoms, a war that we won years ago, or at least thought we did. The War in Iraq and Afghanistan should remind us of a war that occurred when I was a child, the Viet Nam War. But this is not what this site is for, I know that, but I thought just for once I would remember the fallen soldiers from our past instead of sports. Sports will always be here for us, we will always have the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL to watch and argue about here on the Gab. For some, they bleed the colors of their teams throughout the year, and those who just follow them when they can. But we are all fans of one of the sports I have mentioned, which makes them special to us. We create our identity through our teams that we follow, kind of like going to Mass on Sunday. Hell who knows, maybe God is a Lions fan, and the reason we suffer so? God might also be a Rangers-Blackhawk fan, and that is why they seem to be catching a few breaks on their march towards Lord Stanley's Cup. Who will win the Cup, Beezer like a few of us hope it's the Rangers. But no matter what the outcome, we have all won this year, because there is no Sidney Crosby heading towards the finals again........
I have made a few friends here on the Gab, and probably a few enemies as well with my views on their teams in general. In fact, it doesn't really matter much, because it's just my opinion which is one of our basic freedoms that our country fought so hard for to obtain during the Revolutionary War. We should be able to speak our mind without fear of someone holding it against us, or threatening our families with harm if we say something they don't like. I know this wasn't the type of blog you were expecting from me this week, but this was my nightmare and I thought I would share it.
The United States has taken a step back since 911, always wondering which terrorist organization will strike next, and restricting our basic freedoms through wiretapping and probably reading our mail. You can't even be a member of my frickin credit union without acknowledging the Patriot Act. Hell you can't get a job a Kroger without a background check to see if you are a terrorist or something ridiculous like that. I might as well move to Canada and become a Blue Jays or Maple Leafs fan, which will piss Hotch off, because at least they still have some type of freedoms that doesn't exist in America.........
I remember growing up, the worst thing that happened was you got into a fist fight with your best friend, got up and shook hands; after a few days you were back to hanging around each other. Now days this same incident could lead to some punk pulling out a gun and shooting you. This is what in fact is wrong with society today, everyone thinks violence solves every problem, when in fact it doesn't...
This is the reason why I am going to put my education to good use, and become a substitute teacher. Sure the money isn't great, but the lives I can have an impact on may be the greatest achievement I will ever have. It's not about me, or anyone else that blogs on the Gab, it's about the kids in our society today. Most in my area have grown up on welfare, because that's what their momma was on and now they are on it too. Most want to solve their problems with a gun, WTF? We used to solve it with our fists, for which now will get you banned from your educational facility, and even put in jail. Parents can't even discipline their children, because all the kids of today have to do is talk to their counselor, and you can be put in jail, or at the least have Protective Services called on to visit your house.........
As all of you here on the Gab get ready to celebrate the upcoming holiday, I am celebrating the 21st birthday of my daughter Courtney. Still can't believe she is this old now, but that's how it goes. Have a great week, and don't forget to stop by Hal's blog on your way out.....
Hello and welcome to another Wednesday of deep thoughts. This week marks two very significant events. Tuesday was Jackie Robinson day and the anniversary of the bombing at last year’s Boston Marathon. MLB does a great job each year of recognizing Robinson by having each MLB player wear #42. While this is a great tribute, I have a question. On Jackie Robinson day, shouldn’t the Dodgers be playing at home? It really does seem like a slap in the face to me to not only have the Dodgers on the road…but playing at San Francisco. I am really scratching my head over this. I am also trying to understand why someone would leave two dummy backpacks at the Boston Marathon finish line. It is acts like this that make me wonder about the direction of our country. Sick…
BOB mentioned yesterday in his blog about Aldon Smith’s latest screw up. Telling TSA agents that you have a bomb is not very bright. This does not strike me as the act of a mentally stable person, but maybe he is just an idiot. Either way, I think BOB is right, Sheriff Goodell will ask Smith to take the year off. This is really a bad deal for the 49ers as their defense is not the same without him. But, I figure that this is out of the team’s hands at this point. It will be interesting to see if they cut him loose or save a spot for him.
I caught the movie Draft Day last weekend. If you like football, you will definitely like this movie. It was like a big spoonful of football. I would not say it is Costner’s best work, but it is definitely worth watching. It was interesting watching the behind the scene conversations. Given the timing of the approaching draft, it makes the current headlines rather intriguing. I saw on Tuesday that an “anonymous” NFL executive thinks that Clowney is “spoiled” and “lazy”. Teams are looking for any reason to cause a player to drop. Is this truly what this executive believes or is he trying to allow Clowney to fall into their lap? Johnny Manziel is slammed because he scores too high on the Wonderlic test. It is whispered that he may be too smart to be coachable. Vince Young was slammed because he scored too low on the test…maybe he is not smart enough to learn the playbook. It really is a game of chess. The media sucks up the words like a Hoover on steroids. I am not even sure that they realize that they are being played by the teams…either way, they are pawns. There was a time that we could believe what we read in the paper, but those times are long gone.
I have been reading an old book about baseball stories. I found the book at an antique store and figured for a few bucks it would be interesting to read. The stories are an assortment of short stories, poems…each one is different. There was the original story that I suppose the Field of Dreams was based upon. One very short story was about a guy that walked into a bar. A baseball game was on the small TV in the corner. An older guy sitting next to him started talking about baseball and complaining about the way games today (probably 40 years ago) are described. Lanz commented on BOB’s blog yesterday how Vin Scully used words to paint a picture of the game. That is exactly what this old guy was complaining about in this story. He missed listening to a baseball game on the radio; because those play by play guys painted that picture for their listeners…they had to. TV guys have gotten lazy. Most do not understand what it is to do a play by play. They use words like velocity instead of bringing the heat or throwing gas and location instead of nibbling around the corners. As I read this story, I realized that the old man was exactly right. I have spent those summer nights lying in my bed with my eyes closed…seeing the game through the words. I watch the game now, and don’t really listen as much to the words of the broadcast. Often, I think that I see as much or more than the guys doing the broadcast. Baseball is great today and I love being able to watch so many game on TV. But, there will always be something special about listening to a baseball game on the radio.
I think we have all noticed how many pitchers are MIA this year. The dreaded phrase “Tommy John” surgery has been spoken 20 times this year. I started looking around trying to find some answers. One theory is that the MLB strike zone is so tight that pitchers have given up throwing slower breaking balls and now throw a cut fastball, slider and split finger fastball. Hitters spend hours watching video now. They are much more patient at the plate because they know that the tight strike zones favor hitters. There is some potential truth to this. Fastballs are thrown with the shoulder. Curveballs are thrown with the shoulder and wrist. The harder breaking balls all stress the elbow. I can see this, but I don’t think it tells the entire story. So I went to the expert on the matter…Dr. James Andrews. Dr. Andrews believes that there are several factors that are causing the UCL (ulnar collateral ligament) to fray and eventually fail. Kids are bigger and stronger and the UCL is just not able to keep pace with how hard the young pitchers are throwing. Also, baseball has become a year round sport in many parts of the country. He believes that young pitchers are not getting a break like they used to. Instead of putting away the baseball glove and picking up a football or basketball, they simply play on. A comment on the article about Dr. Andrews was spot on. He remembers listening to 2 visiting hockey coaches from Finland. They said if you want to be one of the best 12 year old players around then play year round. But if you want to still be a good player when you are 16 or 17 then drop the game when your season is over and play other sports that interest you because eventually water seeks its level and others will catch up or your zeal for the game will be greatly diminished.
My son began playing tournament baseball when he was 11. But, we limited the amount of games that the kids played. But there are others that do not. I am a firm believer that playing all sports is of great benefit for young athletes. Focusing on one sport at a young age often burns kids out. It also can lead to overuse of a pitchers arm…which is what we are beginning to see at the professional level. There is really nothing that the MLB can do to change this, except perhaps offer direction. Baseball should spend time preparing messages to younger players and their parents. Most kids will never play professional baseball, but the facts should be known. Throwing a baseball is not a natural action. Throwing a baseball hard puts stress on the shoulder and elbow.
Based on this information, it does not appear that anything will change soon. For the record, of those 20 pitchers undergoing Tommy John surgery only one is from outside the US. It is clear that this problem is something that is homegrown. Hopefully, it will be something that we can soon begin to change.
Last weekend was the Masters. The big news leading up to this great tournament was that Tiger Woods would not be healthy enough to participate in this year’s Masters. I have been a big fan of Tiger Wood's golfing. I have watched him perform at a level that few have ever approached. I cheered Tiger on in his pursuit of the major championship record. But, in the back of my mind, I had a nagging feeling like I had forgotten something. This week, I was reminded what I had forgotten. For all of those wins, Tiger Woods will never have something…he will never be the King of golf. There has only ever been one man in golf that completely grabbed the fancy of the country and that was Arnold Palmer. Although, Jack Nicklaus will wear the crown of best player, it is Arnold Palmer that captivated our nation and brought attention to the game of golf. Men wanted to be Palmer and women just wanted him. Class, charisma and charm were characteristics of Arnold Palmer. When Palmer began to make a move up the leader board, he would hitch his pants and eagerly charge toward the next shot. The adoring crowds were called “Arnie’s Army” and they would announce a great shot with a surge of cheers. Seriously, there was no doubt when Palmer sank a long putt or hit a great shot. ..You just knew. He did not so much play golf, as attack the course. As a small kid, I remember thinking that there was something different about this man.
Through all of his professional successes, Palmer remained a hero to every man. You cannot find anyone that will say something bad about Palmer. He has been a gentleman from the beginning. He always had time for a smile and a handshake. Athletes of today would do well to examine the manner that this giant of another generation has handled his business.
Here are a few facts about Arnold Palmer:
Hale Irwin said that he learned from Arnold that the most important part of being a professional golfer was what you did outside the ropes.
Palmer said that his father told him…You don’t need to tell anyone how good you are, you show them how good you are.
You can have a discussion over who is the best golfer of all time, but there is no question that Arnold Palmer has been the most important golfer of all time.
Johnny Bench named his son Justin Palmer Bench. Now, that is impressive.
Palmer represents the values of what America used to be. He is an American icon.
Arnold Palmer loved to add lemonade to his glass of iced tea…now that drink is called an Arnold Palmer.
There is so much more about Palmer to discuss. He beat prostate cancer in 1999, but has never quit his fight to beat the disease. He has donated money and been very outspoken to help raise awareness for fighting cancer. He built a Children’s hospital in Florida that remains one of the most impressive hospitals in the country for children.
Arnold Palmer brought attention and money to the PGA tour. He helped create the Senior Tour and the Golf Channel. He defined how to create a brand, by living his life doing good things. He began flying his own plane in the 1950s. In watching the golf channel story, it detailed how Palmer decided that at 80 years of age that he should leave the flying to someone else. On his last flight from the west coast to Orlando…he got the red carpet treatment from each airport that he was in communication with. Apparently, all of the airports across the country cleared the way for his flight. I am not a pilot, but supposedly, this is just not done. He did not have to wait for anything…which speaks to the respect that the air traffic guys had for Palmer as a pilot. From his humble beginnings, Palmer has created a huge place in American history…and he has done it the right way.
Tiger Woods has been a student of golf and has focused his attention to try to eclipse these records. It is a shame that Tiger does not understand that golf is only a small part of the legacy he will leave behind. It is sad, but I sort of see Tiger Woods as I do Barry Bonds. Both were great players that never realized the true meaning of being a champion. Arnold Palmer is 85 and won’t be with us much longer. It is time we took a moment to acknowledge just how special his life has been.
I think that everyone is ready for the snow to stop...
This is a picture of the Utah Valley University baseball field. The UTPA Broncs headed to Orem Utah to take on the Wolverines last weekend. They took 2 out of 3, but could not close out the sweep on Sunday. Watching the games online, I could not help but admire the beautiful venue...at least until the weather turned bad on Sunday. Blake and his guys managed to just beat the snow out of town. Next week is a home series against Bakersfield. Hopefully, they can just keep winning 2 out of three. Taking a series the rest of the way will allow the Broncs to make the conference tournament in May.
That is all I have today, but I will leave you with a bit of Jack Handey...
"Too bad you can't buy a voodoo globe so that you could make the earth spin real fast and freak everybody out."
"If you're a young Mafia gangster out on your first date, I bet it's real embarrassing if someone tries to kill you. "
Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a few deep thoughts of your own...
The Browns have finally hired a head coach. I’m not really sure Haslan can declare victory, that somehow their plan has come to fruition and that they got their man. In fact, I’m pretty sure ownership has declared defeat and engaged a “strategic retreat.” Now, truly that’s nothing against Mike Pettine. In fact, I’m pretty sure I know nothing about the man – only that which I’ve learned this week. It is to say, however, that his pedigree is less than impressive and really hard to say he fulfills the Browns “Plan” for the future. Hey check it, I'm not the only one saying it, and frankly, I'm being kind.
The Buffalo Bills, under his Defensive Coordinatorship, finished the season 20th in points allowed, and otherwise they were, generally speaking, on the lower end of the middle of the pack. The 2012 and 2011 Jets were equally mediocre. So there’s that track record, and hardly fits the bill of a proven winner. We don’t know he’s not, we just know there’s not direct evidence to support the claim.
We do know, though that just about everyone else who was under consideration either chose not to interview for the job or withdrew from consideration. Kind of like that old school television scene where the drill sergeant asks for a volunteer to step forward, and there’s one guy who doesn’t take a step back.
That said, he probably has the best situation of the new head coaching class this year. He’s pretty much expected to fail – he has no quarterback, he has a dysfunctional front office, among other issues – so, if he fails no big deal. If he actually wins, he’s a freaking genius. And really, as unenthused as Cleveland may be about their big new hire, Pettine’s family is equally impressed with the appointment:
Next weeks’ post will probably be talking about the newly crowned king of the NFL – the passing of the torch to the new generation of quarterback or the old guard hanging in there for one more win. In the meantime, New York and New Jersey are squabbling over who is actually the host of the big game, which only illustrates New Jersey’s illusion that it’s something other than a highway extension of New York City. Yeah, you host the stadium, and of the two professional football teams that play there, exactly none of them claim to be from New Jersey. No one says they’re going to East Rutherford for a good time. Sorry, Jersey. Go back to figuring out the traffic on the Jersey side of the GWB.
Assuming we’re in a candid moment, I’m picking the Seattle Seahawks to be Champion next week. As of this writing, the Broncos are 3-point favorites, but I like the Seattle defense here. Each side will have to play error free football – I’m not 100% certain that Pete Carroll has it in him to instill the discipline that will be required, but I’m sure Manning is capable of making mistakes, and I think the Seattle defense is more likely to make him pay for a mistake than the Denver defense is of making Russell Wilson pay for his. That said, most often when I make a prediction I’m wrong, and be mindful of the fact I’ve got no skin in this game so it’s as good as the paper its printed on. Head over to the Q-of-the-Day and spit out your predictions.
In other news, one of the teams won the Pro Bowl…and Black Sabbath won a Grammy, probably only because Jethro Tull wasn’t nominated. As an aside, I have owned a copy of “Crest of a Knave” for 25 years – I like it. While the flute may be a heavy, metal instrument, the album is not heavy metal.
Last, I want to give a shout out to my fellow Bostonians – the welcome back ovation given to Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett Sunday was just spectacular. Times are few when a visiting player receives this level of acknowledgement, and when two former players – guys who brought home a championship and a bid for a second – come back to this, it restores your faith that Boston is a great place to play and be a fan.
HAPPY BELATED NEW YEAR TO ALL!!! Here we go - Irish Shu is here with a look back at the now-completed Fighting Irish football season. In the last edition I recapped the first 6 games, so now I'll review the last 7 including their bowl game.
USC: This was a game that had me concerned. So-Cal had owned the Irish in recent years and was looking for a big win to continue the era of interim Coach Ed Orgeron who had replaced the fired Lane Kiffin. It did turn out to be an ugly game during which ND’s QB Tommy Rees and S.C’s stud receiver Marquise Lee both left the game with injuries (Lee has hurting to begin with) but the Irish D toughed it out and held on for a gutty 14-10 Irish win. It was the first home win over the Trojans since 2001 and only the third night game played in South Bend in the past 2 decades.
In addition to the relentless pressure from the Irish D, USC also killed themselves with nearly 100 yards in penalties. The win came in spite of a very poor effort from backup QB Andrew Hendrix in the wake of the injury to Rees. I was among the many who had been calling for Hendrix to have a chance to play and prove himself…well, he blew that chance. He looked very uncomfortable, failed to complete any passes and mustered only 27 yards of offense in the second half….that makes it all the more impressive that the Irish won this one.
AIR FORCE: This would turn out to be one of the best played games of the year for the Irish…but when it comes against a Falcon team that was on their 4th quarterback of the season and would finish 2-10, I would have been disappointed with anything less. Rees had a career day going 17-22 for 284 yards and touchdown throws to 5 different ND receivers in a 45-10 rout.
The feat of completing TD throws to 5 men was the first time that had ever happened in Irish football. The Air Force option attack did gash the Irish D for 290 yards, but the inability of the Falcons to finish drives and their turnovers proved costly to them, as well.
NAVY: The Midshipmen came to play and played one of their best offensive games of the year. They gutted the Irish D for 331 rushing yards, finished with a 15-minute advantage in time-of-possession, and committed NO penalties and NO turnovers to 2 for the Irish…but in spite of all that, the Irish still won 38-34. WHEW! Why did this happen? Because the Navy D was not able to stop the Irish O, which finished with over 500 yards and very impressive balance between the run and the pass. Freshman Irish running back Tarean Folston had his breakout game with a 140-yard rushing day and the game ended with a sensational play on D when safety Eliar Hardy and frosh linebacker Jaylon Smith snuffed-out a Navy end-around on 4th and 4 and stopped the receiver for no gain to preserve the win.
It would be the last loss Navy would suffer this season as they would go on to post a 9 and 4 record to match that of the Irish…however, this win and the prior win over Air Force would prove costly to the health of the Irish D-front. Having consecutive games with the 2 service academies which both employ the option and cut-blocking took out several players including lineman Kona Schwenke and Sheldon Day, and linebacker Ishaq Williams. The Irish D was already missing starters Louis Nix and Jarret Grace to leg injuries prior to this, and it made a bad situation worse. The Irish D would go forward dipping further into the reserves from here.
PITT: As well as the Irish had played in their 2 games prior to this one, that’s how poorly they played against the Panthers at Heinz Field. Pitt capitalized on 3 Irish turnovers to their none, including 2 very costly “Turnover Tommy” interceptions (one in the Pitt end zone to prevent a touchdown) and the Panthers avenged last year’s triple-OT loss with a 28-21 win that would knock the Irish out of BCS Bowl contention. In addition to the turnovers, including one Pitt fumble caused by a QB sack in the fourth quarter which the Irish did not pounce on, penalties also proved costly. They didn’t have many penalties, but the ones they committed were big. Defensive end Stephon Tuitt was ejected in the first half for targeting the Pitt QB (and I’ll agree with my pal, the Beeze, when I say that was a BULLSHIT call – Tuitt was lowering his head to try to get UNDER the QB’s head and the QB lowered his head, as well),
and a pass interference penalty on a 4th down play would extend a drive that Pitt would score on. The overall-sloppy play in this game, in-particular, baffles me to this day…but shit does happen, and with all due respect to Pitt, that was shit.
BYU: The Irish had a bye week to shake-off the loss to Pitt and hopefully bounce back against a good BYU team with one of the country’s best running quarterbacks in Taysom Hill.
Despite cold and snowy conditions, the Irish D contained Hill well-enough and won their last home game on senior day 23-13. This time, it was running back Cam McDaniel who had a career day with 117 rushing yards. Folston added 78 yards and a score. Rees’ last home game was an adequate performance for him as he went 15-28 for 235 yards and a score. It was a good tune-up for what would be one of their toughest opponents of the year (of which they had several, as always) in…
STANFORD: The Irish were game in this one and made it close, but still lost to the eventual Pac-12 Champion 27-20. Stanford Senior RB Tyler Gaffney tore the Irish D for 189 yards and a score and the Cardinal D held the Irish O in-check by allowing them only 263 total yards…and yet the Irish STILL had their chances to pull-off the win. Rees threw for 2 touchdowns in the 3rd quarter to help bring the Irish back. Then they had 2 final drives in the fourth quarter to try to tie the game but, alas, both ended in Rees interceptions and the Cardinal held-on.
Incidentally, Gaffney getting close to 200 yards against ND isn’t really a shame when you consider the year he had – he finished his season with over 1,700 yards and 21 touchdowns, so he was tough for most teams to handle. Stanford would go on to win their second consecutive Pac-12 title and go on to the Rose Bowl to lose a close one to Michigan State – a team whose only loss this year was to – guess who? NOTRE DAME!
Pinstripe Bowl vs. RUTGERS: The season ended with a bowl win over a .500 Rutgers team that was a sloppy game for both teams. Sloppy because the Irish were missing about a dozen players with the flu. Sloppy because the field at Yankee Stadium was in poor shape with a lot of torn turf and divots that skill players on BOTH sides slipped and tripped on. Sloppy because both teams had to settle for more field goals than they would have liked in-part due to said field conditions. When all was said and done, though, Tommy Rees ended his career with a 319-yard effort against one of the poorest pass defenses in the country and the Irish did win 29-16 in a game that, with all due respect to the Scarlet Knights, was closer than it should have been. The REALLY cool thing about this game? The MVP award. It went to outgoing senior tackle Zack Martin – the first time an O-lineman received a Bowl MVP trophy in 54 years, and it was very well deserved.
The Irish running game really took over in the second half by repeatedly running to Zack’s side and they had success doing so. Martin will head into the NFL as one of the best Irish linemen to ever play, having never missed a game in his Irish career with a school record 52 career starts…and his leadership will be missed, for sure.
So to wrap it up the Irish football season was overall-disappointing, but not bad when one considers that, of the 12 regular season opponents the Irish faced, 9 went to bowl games, 3 played in BCS bowls and the Irish beat one of those 3 (Michigan State)…still, if the Irish can beat Michigan State and the Pac-12 runner-up in Arizona State, and play Stanford as close as they did, then why, WHY did they choke against Michigan and Pitt???...yeah, I know the answer. Turnover Tommy.
Speaking of Tommy Rees, in spite of his several costly mistakes and lack of natural athleticism and the ability to run, I will give him this pat-on-the-back; statistically he actually did very well in spite of all that. True, throwing 37 interceptions in a 4-year career is not good, but he did finish with 7,670 yards and 61 touchdowns. The yardage put him in 3rd place in ND school history in that category behind only Brady Quinn and Jimmy Clausen. With the Pinstripe Bowl victory, Rees joined Tom Clements, Joe Montana, Tony Rice and Rick Mirer as the only Notre Dame quarterbacks with two bowl game victories as a starter…it does make me wonder how much more impressive his career would have been if only he could RUN.
So, farewell to Tommy, thank you, and I’m REALLY looking forward to next year’s quarterback battle between Malik Zaire and the now-reinstated and supposedly-improved Everett Golson…assuming Golson doesn’t f-up and get himself kicked out of school again.
Other concerns as we head to next year: replacing lost starters.
Thankfully the Offense returns largely-intact; Rees will be replaced by a better running QB and while the O-line loses the awesome Zack Martin and Chris Watt, they get just about everyone else back. TJ Jones and his over-1,100 receiving yards will be missed, but a whole ton of very good receivers come back, including DaVaris Daniels. There is talk that their best tight end in Troy Niklas might declare for the draft, but hopefully he’ll stay. ALL the best Irish running backs will be back next year. The offensive coordinator in Chuck Martin did leave for the head coaching job at Miami of Ohio, so whoever replaces him will have some great athletes to work with.
On defense, though, the losses are more notable. Along the front the Irish lose Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt to the NFL – OUCH! - and a couple linebackers, too, including Carlo Calabrese and Dan Fox who was very good. The secondary also loses a couple. Another big loss is that of the D-coordinator in Bob Diaco who left for the head coaching gig at U-Conn. Hopefully his replacement can get the D to reload rather than rebuild…the losses of Nix and Tuitt, in-particular, will make that challenging. I do look forward to the continued rise of sensational frosh LB Jaylon Smith. That guy made some impressive stops and should only get better.
As for how my other teams fared:
MONTANA GRIZZLIES: Had a good bounce-back year as they went 10-3 and made it back to the FCS playoffs which they do regularly. They did lose in the first round to Coastal Carolina, which became cannon fodder for eventual FCS champion North Dakota State (their third in a row). Oh well, a good year nonetheless.
NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS: Had a pretty good year as they finished 9-4 and beat Georgia in the Gator Bowl, but they are far-removed from the clock-controlling ground game and Blackshirt D that made them champions. Coach Bo Pelini and his sideline tirades didn’t help the program’s image, either…nor did a lot of the buzz that he should be canned. Next year for the Huskers should be interesting given all of that.
COLORADO STATE RAMS: Definitely improved this year! The Rams finished an 8-6 season with a thrilling come-from-behind New Mexico Bowl win over Wazzu 48-45. This is the best they’ve done in some time, so we’ll see if they can build on it.
CUSTER COUNTY COWBOYS: My hometown high school team is a regular participant in the playoffs and has won a few state championships. They did not make the playoffs last year, but did make it this year in spite of having a predominately young team again…however; they lost a heartbreaker in the first round by one point. Next year should be even better, I hope.
Fellow You Gabbers: It is always a pleasure!!! Have an awesome 2014! Take care, Irish Shu