WHOA!!!! Hey there. Welcome Gabbers and others to my NASCAR updates and other fast stuff. I think I could call this the fast food edition. Exit....stage left even.
Fall is in full color mode here in the northeast. I've crawled up a ladder twice now to dig the leaves out of my gutters. I took my gutter guards off in the spring because they took such a beating this past winter they had to come down. The wind twisted up a section and warped another section so they were done. I will be calling for some quotes on some new ones.
OT has been in full swing too. I'm really tired. The 6 days a week thing gets old after a while. I'm taking next week off for vacation. A clean up vacation. Clean up the gutters, clean up the garden, clean up the carport & put the lawn stuff away. You know what I mean.
Was at the mall last weekend. Took my neice in to see Darth Vader, R2D2 and a storm trooper at the Vans grand opening. She ended up being petrified of Darth. She did get her picture taken with R2D2 though. Very authentic looking. AND the picture was free. Very nice. While I was there, I went to see the bright shiney Apple. I went to look at the ear buds. Very interesting display. Bose and Beats were side by side on the shelf. I tell ya folks, it'a Coke & Pepsi all over again. Free publicity never hurt any one.
ESPN EMPLOYEES VISIT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS
5 years ago ESPN VP Rich Feinberg thought it would be a good idea to round up some employees and take them to the world of racing. He figured that ESPN covers all sports but is mainly of a stick and ball culture. Taking employees to a NASCAR function would help them learn about it and write about it better.
So SportsCenters anchors Jay Harris, Chris Hessell, Darren Haynes, Lisa Kerney & Jaymee Sire along with ESPN radio host Freddie Coleman and some other ESPN employees went to Hendrick Motorsports in Concord, NC. They checked out the race shops for all 4 Hendrick cars, the motor shop, training field, gym and pit road.
On pit road they split up into 2 groups and challenged to change a tire. Yes they were timed. Don't know who won though. After all that fun they were off to the Charlotte race on Saturday night. And I KNOW they had plenty to write about. More on that later.
CONGRATS TO KYLE & SAMANTHA BUSCH
It was announced via Twitter that Samantha is expecting their first child in May of 2015. I did not expect that to happen as she has a modeling career. So I guess she's putting that on hold. Congrats.
JACKMAN FOR HAMLIN'S CREW HURT
Saturday nights race was crazy in so many ways. On the 3rd stop of the night jackman Nate Bolling tore his tricep. JGR back up Kenneth Purcell stepped in for the rest of the night. After an MRI it was determined that surgery was needed to repair the bicep. He will be out for the rest of the season and back up Kenneth will fill in.
DAYTONA RISING UPDATE
-----> Surpassed 1 million man hours
-----> Installed 89% of total steel
-----> Poured more than 105 million Lbs of concrete
-----> Installed 26 escalators & 4 elevators
DALE CALLS NOW AVAILABLE
That's right kids. Get your very own Dale Call at the Dega race this weekend for $24.99. I saw them at Racing USA for $29.99. Of course plus shipping. This new toy comes with new commercials too. I like the one where his girlfriend blows into it and she wants him to get her a Diet Dew and chips. There's one with his mom calling him with the Dale Call also. Very cute. Even Harvick is getting in on it. He posted a video of his son blowing on one. So I guess we all need one. All the cool kids are doing it.
CHARLOTTE MOTORSPEEDWAY & CAR WARS FUED RECAP
Holy crap what a race. Tempers flew along with fenders and fists. So lets talk about it. Our pole sitter was Ky Bu and it started off like any other race. Gordon took the lead on lap 14 and our first caution came on lap 25. It was a competition caution to check tire wear. It had rained heavily in the afternoon. So far so normal.
Ky Bu takes the lead on the restart and Gordon takes it back by lap 38. Dale Jr is complaining of a vibration. Bowyer's motor goes poof on lap 104.
On lap 136 our 2nd motor casualty is Menard. The vibration Dale Jr was having has developed into a broken shifter. I do believe this is #3 for Hendricks cars. Time for a new manufacturer. He was running 9th. Harvick has taken over the lead.
Lap 122 motor #3 goes up in smoke. It's Josh Wise. Dale Jr's team is still working on that shifter when they get caution laps. Harvick still leads.
With the next couple of cautions and restarts Keselowski, Hamlin and Kenseth are getting into each other. Keselowski squeezes Kenseth into the wall which damages Kenseth car. Hamlin is keeping Keselowski back but not doing anything unusual. The last restart is ugly. Vickers motor goes up in smoke and sets up a 2 lap shoot out.
Harvick wins the race and Keselowski decides to play car wars. On the cool down lap Hamlin brake checks Keselowski who is right on his bumper so he plows into Hamlin. He also tries to turn Hamlin's car into the wall, unsuccessfully. Then Keselowski runs into the left side of Kenseth sending him into Stewart who doesn't know what's going on. Stewart is now mad and backs into Keselowski who is making a bee line for the garage with Hamlin in hot pursuit. Hamlin tries to box him in so he can get out and...talk to him but Keselowski manages to get back to the garage.
Hamlin gets out and is met by his crew and a NASCAR official. They keep him at bay but Kenseth runs in between the trailers and puts Keselowski in a head lock. I swear I saw him punch Keselowski.
The interviews went as such....
Keselowski said he was sorry for getting Stewart involved and knew that after he saw all the video that he'd understand. He said Hamlin brake checked him during the cool down lap and Kenseth drove into him when he got his lap back after the last caution and ruined my car.
Hamlin said Keselowski was out of control doing burn outs in the garage and knocking somebodies transmission across another stall. He also said a NASCAR official told him he had too much to lose and he should drop it.
Kenseth said that he had taken off his helmet and HANS devise as well as put his window net down when Keselowski hit him going 50 mph and he ended up hitting Stewart who didn't know anything was going on.
Mean while Harvick has blown his left rear tire doing a victory burn out for the fans on the front stretch.
NASCAR fined Keselowski and Stewart for the horse play on pit road but let Hamlin and Kenseth slide. Harvick bet that they wouldn't do anything at all. He said they love this. The guys are fighting. That means they got the excitement back in the Chase. In deed it was all over NASCAR.com. All the pit road bumper cars and the garage scrapping going on. They even asked if NASCAR got the fines right? I'm not liking WWF or E or whatever it's called these days in my NASCAR.
I'm thinking Dega could be a death trap. If Keselowski did the burn outs IN THE GARAGE like Hamlin said than that's enough for me to say that he needs to sit for a race. They sat Ky Bu for a race when he ran Ron Hornaday into the wall during a caution in a truck race. Fair is fair.
That would be Michael Waltrip, his dance partner/instructer from Dancing With The Stars and Brian Vickers. It was Brian that won the pole this week. Michael is the car owner and will be driving the #66 this week.
Terry Labonte will be in the #32 for Frank Stoddard. It will be his 890th career race and he says his last. He wishes he were 10 years younger and could do more.
Of course this is our wild card high speed crap shoot race in the Chase. Some how after the events of Charlotte last Saturday night I'm kind of afraid. Harvick and Logano are at ease knowing they already have their free passes to the next round.
Of all people Dale Jr and Johnson are tied on the bottom with 3031 points. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?!?!?!? Keselowski has 3038 and Kenseth above him has 3056. Only a win will do today. Logano in 1st has 3088 points. See what I mean?
NASCAR decided to change qualifying again. They devided the first session into 2 groups and made it 5 minutes. As a result some teams did not get off pit road on time to make a full speed lap. The following had to take owners points or champions provisionals to get in.....Stewart - Hamlin - Harvick - Logano - Ky Bu - Larson - Gordon
You would think the Chase drivers would be assured a spot no matter what. Right?
Nemechek - Stenhouse and Allgaier did not qualify. AGAIN!!! HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN?!?!? Referring to Stenhouse (Danica's honey) some smart guy on Twitter said...."That really sucks dude. Will you be watching from Danica's pit box?" Ouch. I must admit that that was my first thought too. I'm sorry but I really want to be a fly on the wall of that RV right now.
So as far as who will be in the top 10? OMG!!!! You know this is a crap shoot. Right? Just pick your fantasy team and hope your guys can make it through the big one.
Your Top 15 in the May race of this year - Hamlin - Biffle - Bowyer - Vickers - Allmendinger - Menard - Harvick - Kahne - Larson - Stenhouse - Cassill - Ky Bu - Almirola - Mears - Dillon
It's Sunday and beautiful and I'm off for breakfast and a news paper. Enjoy your Sunday however which way you like it. Little bit of cream & sugar? Sunny side up? Yup. It's casual.
And I'm outta here.....
World Series. We here in Northern California are lucky, we have Jon Miller calling SF games and he let out a beaut when Ishikawa blasted the homer heard round Northern California. It was the sweetest sound to 20 folks sitting in a classroom Thursday Night screaming while an unsuspecting professor who isn't a sports fan was wondering what the hell was up.
CFB. Not a particularly great “name” team week, but let’s face it there’s only one true big matchup and that is Notre Dame @ Florida State. If Notre Dame wins down in Tallahassee, they may have punched their ticket to the playoffs, though they still have some tough matchups. If Florida State loses, they can forget about the playoffs, weak schedule and not enough time to make up ground, but if they win, they pretty much have punched their ticket - it would take a herculean idiotic collapse for them post-Notre Dame to lose one game. As for the rest of CFB:
- ACC: It’s all about Notre Dame/Florida State, but I also like this Clemson @ BC matchup.
- B12: K-State/Oklahoma, OK State/TCU.
- B10: I guess Sparty/Indiana is best name game, but Iowa/Maryland could be a good one, and don’t sleep on Nebraska/Northwestern.
- PAC 12: Utah got a break and Jerry’s former teammate at JUCO Devonte Booker at Utah is going to be a big player on Sundays. Stanford/Arizona State looms large now.
- SEC: TAMU/Alabama, Georgia/Arkansas, LSU/Kentucky.
Mix in some non-“Power Conference” games and that only helps:
- MWC: I like Utah State at Colorado State, and Nevada at BYU.
- AAC: #19 ECU. Marshall is #25?
- MAC: Uh, never mind here.
CFB – Upset Alert. Last week I was 4-1 on upset alert (6-3 thus far), so let’s see if I can do better this week with one game per power conference, and I’ll slip in the MWC just for fun:
- ACC: Virginia over Duke in Durham.
- B10: I’ll go with Northwestern at home over Nebraska.
- B12: Kansas over Texas Tech.
- PAC-12: I don’t feel real good about it but Cal over UCLA in Bezerkeley.
- SEC: Arkansas over Georgia.
- MWC: Nevada over BYU.
CFB – Not Buying It.
- ACC: Louisville. The fact they are 5-2 is irrelevant. They beat Murray State, FIU, and Syracuse, while losing to Virginia and Clemson. Paper Tiger, and it hurts the ACC.
- B10: Nebraska. They have taken advantage of a weak ass schedule to be 5-1 and got exposed by Sparty.
- B12: West Virginia at 4-2. Have they heard of defense recently?
- PAC-12: Oregon. I’m just not impressed with them in a very competitive PAC 12, especially on defense. Very weak OOC as well (South Dakota and Wyoming?).
- SEC: How in the hell is Texas A&M ranked #21? Not buying it.
Here’s a shock: Nick Saban being pissed at critics. The latest is him complaining about folks who mock Alabama’s one point win over Arkansas. Hey Nick, that’s the price you pay for your success, so stop bitching and start looking at what’s different on your team. Perhaps A. J. McCarron was right…
Laugh of the Day. Hey Jameis Winston, you know you’re approaching rock bottom when everybody in the world is coming out to say they gave up trying to help you - the latest being what I consider to be one of the two greatest athletes ever, and fellow Winston home-towner Bo Jackson. When you aren’t listening to that man’s advice, a guy you claim to model yourself after, then dude their ain’t no hope for you. Enjoy Canada and Minor League Baseball Jameis.
And memo to the teams of the NFL, if you take a chance on Winston considering his decision making ability, then you are dumber than he is.
Laugh of the Day #2: I can't help but laugh at these idiots: SEVEN North Carolina State Football players caused $880 dollars damage two cars while having a BB Gun incident. Five of these players are redshirt freshmen. Are you freshmen for real? You’re trying to find ways to get to play, not screw yourselves over. College kids being college kids, you know they’re gonna do ignorant dirt/stuff, but I find this one really stupid.
Well folks, it’s that time of the week again… time for another visit with your old pal IHM. This week, I got the opportunity to fill in for the legendary Ol’ Harry two days ago. Hope you enjoyed the trip OH, and you know I’ve got you covered any time you need it my friend. But now it’s Saturday… and time to sit back, relax… wait, that’s not what I do here… I rant, rave, and do the sort of things that develop ulcers! Well, at any rate, here’s the blog!
While filling in for OH, I got into a discussion with BOB about what has happened to the sports card and collectibles industry. For me, this is an important subject, as I very much enjoyed (and still occasionally do enjoy) the hobby. Growing up, my father was an avid collector, and it was a great way for him, myself, and AFD to bond and spend some time together. Heck, me and AFD used to go to the KB Toy Store at the mall and split a $5 box of cards. We’d buy the box, split the packs, and make trades, swap doubles, offer the old man any cards he didn’t yet have or needed for a team set. A lot of very fun memories doing that. I can remember heading a mile up the road to the Diamond Connection (local card shop) and checking out all the display case cards (i.e. cards I couldn’t afford in my wildest dreams) and dropping my allowance money on a few packs of Upper Deck basketball/Topps baseball/etc.
But then something happened; the collectibles end of the sports card hobby started moving in on the sports cards end. Memorabilia cards, autograph cards, “graded” cards, and “premium products” started flooding the markets and the prices started to skyrocket. Back in 1990, a pack of Topps Baseball cost fifty cents, affordable for just about anybody. Today, you’re looking at a minimum of $2.00 a pack, and that’s only if you find them at a store. You don’t see them at the grocery store any more… you have to go to one of the retail giants, such as Target or Walmart to find them… and then you have to wonder if some idiot already came through and sorted the entire freaking display box (“investors” will literally plop their fat, acne riddled, living in my mom’s basement ass down in an aisle and check every pack to see if it is a little thicker than the others, indicating a “hit”, or a memorabilia/autographed card. They literally spend all day driving from store to store to store doing this, then usually sell them on EBay.)
Card shows were another thing we used to look forward to as a family… they would have them at local malls, etc., and there would be nearly a hundred booths packed into that mall, and there was always a current/former player signing autographs… FOR FREE! I got to meet plenty of Tigers legends this way, and I still have every autograph I picked up this way in an album. Some of the highlights included Mickey Lolitch, Aurelio Rodriguez, Denny McLean, Norm Cash, Gates Brown, and even Tony Clark during one of his more productive seasons with the Tigers (although the team was still terrible). Now, we have no more mall shows… in fact, we have to drive to a trade center twenty miles up the road to get to a card show in our area (and even that is becoming abysmal). While AFD has moved to Pennsylvania, my dad and I still make the trip on occasion to see if we can’t add a couple pieces to our collection. But even at the trade center things have taken a dive… the showroom used to be full of tables, and it now only takes up about half the room. There are no signers, and even when there are they charge $25-50 to have anything signed… not worth it to me, for sure. I’ve paid for an autograph once in my life, and that was to meet the legendary Ted Lindsay at the Diamond Connection… it was ten dollars and the proceeds went to children’s charities (mostly Autism research, which I didn’t know so much about then as I do now!) My dad had to spot me the extra five bucks of allowance money that week, but I’d say it was money well spent!
And why are things drying up in the collecting business, you ask? People are being priced out. No longer can little kids afford to go spend their allowance money on a couple packs of cards… if your kid gets five bucks a week in allowance, they’re lucky if they can get two packs with that. Hell, most cards these days don’t even give you stats on the back… if they do, it’s one year and the career totals… not the full breakdown you’d get on a Topps base card back in the 90’s, 80’s, 70’s, etc. Anything from the 70’s and before you need to pay an arm and a leg for… and anything from the 80’s or 90’s is barely worth the cardboard it is printed on due to over production. You can’t collect an entire set; they have all these damn “variations” and insert sets that make that impossible. You can’t even build a team set anymore, which is what my dad always did, because most card companies don’t print cards of anybody that isn’t either a rookie or a known player. It is a sad state of affairs, for sure.
But the biggest leeches in the business are the memorabilia dealers… the same ones that approach a guy like Todd Gurley or Jameis Winston and ask them to “sign a few items for them for a little pocket cash” knowing full well that it is a violation of NCAA rules. Sure, the players know it too, but most of these guys are flat broke (or close to it) and really need the money. These greasy faced freaks then turn around and sell what they paid maybe a hundred bucks for for thousands of dollars, after, of course, they get it “authenticated” by a company such as JSA, the company involved in the current scandal involving Winston and Gurley. Then there are the idiots buying this stuff… which will be worth the price of a footlong sandwich at Subway in a few years if either one craps out in the NFL… which really serves them right if they’re buying this kind of stuff knowing full well the athlete gets zero cut and some middle aged professional loser is the only one benefitting.
Big night in sports Thursday night, as the Giants won the National League pennant, and the Patriots were able to hold off the surprisingly spry Jets with a blocked field goal in the final seconds.
The Giants and Cardinals only played a five-game series… but it was a classic for sure. Some great finishes, including game five. The Cardinals held a 3-2 lead going into the 8th inning, but in the 8th, Michael Morse hit a solo shot to tie things up. In the bottom of the 9th, with two runners on, Travis Ishikawa sent a 401 foot bomb out of the ballpark to give the Giants the pennant, their third in the last five years.
So starting Tuesday, the Giants and Royals play for baseball’s richest prize. Both teams should be at full rest, but recent history has the least rested team winning it all. Personally, I’m not a fan of either team, but how do you not root for the Royals here if you’re not a Giants fan? Hell, even if you ARE a Giants fan… NLCS MVP Madison Bumgarner takes the hill against “Big Game” James Shields for game one. Personally, I’ll take the Royals in six or seven… but this is going to be an evenly matched series… both teams seem to have a knack for getting a run when they need it, any way they can. Both teams are damn solid defensively, have solid rotations, and damn good bullpens. It might not be the “ratings bonanza” that Major League Baseball prays for, but it will be quality baseball between two deserving teams.
The Patriots got a real scare Thursday night from Sexy Rexy and the Jets, but were able to block a 58-yard field goal attempt as time expired to escape Foxboro with the win, 27-25. The Jets outrushed the Patriots 218-63, but were unable to get the ball in the endzone, settling for four Nick Folk field goals on those drives. That Tom Brady guy wound up looking pretty solid, throwing for three TDs in the win as the Pats improved to 5-2. The Jets loss drops them to 1-6, and puts them in great position for that #1 pick in the 2015 draft!
Good news for Jets fans... the team has dealt a conditional 2nd-4th round pick to the Seattle Seahawks for veteran WR/KR Percy Harvin. The bad news, they didn't throw in a quarterback in the deal... so you're still stuck with Geno Smith or Michael Vick. That, and the fact that Harvin has a grand total of 22 catches for 133 yards on the season.
The Lions kicking woes continue… they signed Matt Prater to remedy the situation last week. Matt Prater, the guy who missed one field goal attempt all of last season… problem solved, right? WRONG! He proceeded to go 1/3 on field goal attempts, making the team 5/15 on the season. Since everything has to have a name now, I’m going to go ahead and call this the “Curse of Kickalicious”, the guy that all Lions fans wanted before the start of the 2013 season, but they went with David Akers instead (although even Akers is an upgrade over this shit!).
The Lions face the Saints Sunday, and are likely to be without Calvin Johnson once again. As for the Saints, things are looking up in terms of Jimmy Graham’s availability for Sunday… great.
Bad news for Browns fans, as C Alex Mack is now out for the season. Mack hadn’t missed an NFL game going into last week, but was injured during the Browns surprise win over the Steelers. Still, the Browns have a solid shot at another win this week as they play the winless Jaguars.
The biggest college game of the weekend is the top five matchup of #2 Florida State and #5 Notre Dame in Tallahassee. Honestly, I don’t know how this one goes down, but I’ll be rooting for the Irish to pull off the road win… but after not being able to shut down North Carolina last week (luckily the offense stepped up and scored enough to win), I’m not all that confident here. The Seminole defense is a step or two better than the Tar Heels D.
Other ranked vs. ranked games include #23 Stanford traveling to play #17 Arizona State for your late night viewing pleasure. In the Big12 we get two such games, as #15 Oklahoma State travels to Texas to play #12 TCU, who look to avenge their tough luck loss last week at Baylor. #14 Kansas State heads to Norman, Oklahoma to face the #11 Sooners. In the SEC (yeah, there’s always one SEC ranked vs. ranked game), #7 Alabama hosts the #21 Aggies of Texas A&M. Can Kenny Hill repeat Johnny Football’s upset performance against the Tide from two years ago? This Alabama team is ripe to be upset… their offense seems to have zero rhythm.
Should be another fun day of college football today; hope everybody enjoys the games, or whatever else you decide to do with your day. Have a great weekend, Gabbers, and I’ll see you all next week.
I shared a couple of thoughts on the upcoming game with BOB earlier, but there are a few different LSU-related topics here.
I hadn’t really talked about just how LSU is coming along as a team and x’s and o’s in a couple of weeks, so I thought I’d do that now.
Miles tells reporters to “have a great day” before LSU beat Tennessee to win the SEC in 2007.
This last game was Les Miles 100th win at LSU. Maybe it’s appropriate that we didn’t beat Mississippi St. in the last second. It just would not have been fitting for win #100 to have been a blowout win over New Mexico St. Florida was the 23rd Les Miles win in which the Tigers trailed at some point in the fourth quarter. That’s nearly 1/4 of his wins.
Here is a video tribute I enjoyed:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmJ0FuTHPqI (I would note that Miles is not the “winningest” coach at LSU: Charles McClendon is still 37 wins ahead of him.)
To refer to one of his quotes in the video, it does seem like LSU’s game plan includes a “muddle around” period.
LSU is .500 in such games under Miles, much better than any other team. I read that Texas is second with 18 wins after trailing in the fourth quarter, but that’s against 32 losses.
I added a new section to the LSU/Florida rivalry blog about how this was similar to a couple other wins at the Swamp in the last 10 years.
I also wrote a complete LSU/Kentucky rivalry blog.
I was counting on Jeff Driskel to screw up and hoping Anthony Jennings didn’t screw up too badly, and that’s about what happened. I did think LSU would manage more than 110 passing yards for the game though (41 were on one play, and the only passes of more than 10 yards were in the fourth quarter). That’s the main problem that I didn’t foresee going into this season. I thought we would be consistently 225-250 yards per game passing by this point.
LSU does still average 205 per game, which isn’t good, but it’s deceivingly good nonetheless. It’s inflated by the Mississippi St. game where LSU threw for 341 yards, most of them in a second-half comeback effort.
The other major area of weakness so far has been rush defense, but I think this game was a much more reasonable gauge of that than Auburn or Mississippi St. were. LSU only allowed 123 rushing yards by Florida. That’s respectable against a team that had about twice as many rushes as completed passes. Especially a fairly competitive SEC team (they weren’t pretty games, but the Gators are 2-0 in the East) in a road game.
When I watched TCU on Saturday, I was reminded of the difficulties LSU had in kick coverage against the Horned Frogs last season. It was weird that they demonstrated precisely the problems I remembered, especially being that Dubose had run back a kick for a touchdown against LSU before.
LSU seems to have a reasonably good location punter. I don’t know why they waited until the last punt to kick it out of bounds. So basically they replaced the rush defense problems with the kick coverage problems. Otherwise, this might have been a somewhat comfortable win.
Back to the rush defense, this next game might tell a bit more. LSU has struggled in the past against the wildcat, but I don’t think Kentucky has the likes of Felix Jones and Darren McFadden. Also, the scouting reports indicate Kentucky has very little ability to throw from the wildcat, so that might be a comfort.
I think I’ll be more worried about the other plays. QB Patrick Towles has completed over 62% of his passes and has thrown for over 1500 yards (more than 8 yards per attempt). He also can throw to just about any wide receiver on the field, which can strain pass coverage of course.
On the other hand, many of those yards came against UT-Martin and Florida (which was a 3OT game). If you take out those two games, Kentucky has fewer passing yards per game than LSU does.
Towles can run a little bit though. He’s no Dak Prescott, but he ran for 59 yards against Ohio, for example.
I didn’t mention place-kicking earlier. I didn’t see anything wrong with the missed extra-point attempt other than it missing. Hopefully, that was just a fluke event. PK Colby Delahoussaye said he just got too close to the ball. At any rate, it was nice to make up for it with a 50-yard field goal. It’s good to know he can do that.
Not to delve into philosophy too much, but he probably wouldn’t have had a chance to win the game had he made the extra point. Florida likely would have gone for the end zone had they trailed by four. If rather than a tie game, Florida had a three-point lead on the last drive, Driskel may not have thrown the pass that was intercepted. If Florida had failed to score altogether, the kick at the end would not have been necessary either.
Anyway, because of some of the things I mentioned earlier (as well as the recent LSU-Kentucky games I wrote about in detail ), I ‘m thinking of doing a blog about crazy LSU wins. There was a fair number under Saban as well. Seasons like this one might be an exception (assuming we lose four or five instead of two or three)., but Saban’s teams tended to be a little more unpredictable overall, so that helped. I don’t think they had the same knack for falling behind teams they shouldn’t though.
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College football season is already half-done…DAMN!!!
(Yeah, this is my ex-wife when she saw my dick for the first time…I wish!)
…And so comes Irish Shu with his mid-season review to look back at the first 6 games for his beloved Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.
The short version? Well, they’re undefeated and ranked number 5 after their first 6 games, which is one win better than I had predicted by this point. WELL DONE, INDEED!
The biggest and best surprise has been a young-and-inexperienced, but very aggressive and game defense.
New D-coordinator Brian Van Gorder (yeah, he DOES look like “Uncle Rico” from Napoleon Dynamite, doesn’t he?) loves to be aggressive and send the house on D, and the strategy has paid-off more than it has hurt the Irish. The D did have an “off day” against North Carolina last weekend and was gashed for 43 points and over 500 yards in a game the Irish still won, but other than that, they’ve been solid. Nationally, the D ranks 34th in total Defense with 348.3 yards per game and 8th in scoring D with 17.2 points per game (tied with Marshall)…VERY impressive when one considers the youth, plus the sloppy Carolina game being factored into that.
Offensively they have also been lighting it up…at least where the passing game is concerned.
Quarterback Everett Golson has had a very good season overall thus far, going 135 of 216 on his passes for a 62.5% completion rate with 1,683 yards and 16 touchdowns against 4 interceptions. Midway through the season he’s already thrown for 4 more touchdowns than he did in his entire freshman year when the Irish made it to the national championship game. He’s been sharing the wealth with most of his receivers, although Will Fuller has been the closest thing to his “go-to guy” with over 500 yards of receptions and 7 touchdowns…
However, Golson has also taken his lumps. After being nearly-flawless in the first 3 games, he’s been doing an impression of “Turnover Tommy” from last year in the last 3 games. His 4 interceptions all came in the last 3 games and 2 of those were pick-6’s, he has also fumbled 5 times in those same 3 games. Against Carolina, his turnovers were especially costly as the Tar Heels cashed them in for 21 of their points, so the Irish were fortunate to win that one.
While the passing game is going well despite the turnovers, the running game could also be better. The running-back-by-committee approach has gotten the Irish only 983 yards this year. Granted, it could be worse, but more than half the nations’ teams are doing better in that category.
In Notre Dame’s defense, though, it’s not all on Golson or the halfbacks. The O-line has had a tough time with consistency on both pass protection and opening the running lanes, so there has been some shuffling with the O-line that has played-into that inconsistency. They’ll need more time to gel.
With that, let’s recap the first half game-by-game:
RICE: As far as season openers go, I could not have asked for better. The Irish came-out firing on all cylinders on both sides of the ball and routed the Owls 48-17.
Everett Golson started his season with a bang, throwing 2 long touchdown passes to Fuller and CJ Prosise and running for 3 scores himself in what was his thus-far best played game. The Irish D did allow the Owls to score on 2 long passes, but otherwise kept them in check and forced 2 turnovers to their none. It was a good start over a Conference USA team which has quietly been putting a decent season together after their 0-3 start. They’ve won their last 3 games since and have a manageable schedule left, so they could make it to a bowl game.
MICHIGAN: So, Notre Dame “chickened out” by taking your team off the schedule, eh, Coach Brady Hoke?...they handed your teams’ ass to you 31-0, pal, that don’t sound like chickening out to me.
In doing so, the Irish shut-out the hapless Wolverines for the first time since 1985, ending their NCAA-record streak of games without being shut out at 365. Golson threw for 3 TD’s and 226 yards and the only Michigan player who had any success was receiver Devin Funchess who caught 9 passes for 107 yards…and has struggled with injuries since. Michigan QB Devin Gardner otherwise screwed the pooch as he was responsible for 4 turnovers including 3 interceptions and a fumble. He also threw a pick-6 in the closing seconds of the game that should have counted for 6 more points for ND, but didn’t due to a bullshit blocking call for a legal hit on Gardner after the threw the pick. Since then? Nothing but trouble for Meat Chicken: Hoke’s head is being called for as-is that of athletic director Dave Brandon, not only for his teams’ poor performance (the ND loss started a 4-game losing streak) but for his failure to protect QB Shane Morris after Morris took a shot to his head in the Minnesota game, got up woozy and was allowed to stay in the game…don’t even get my pal, the Beezer, started on that!
PURDUE: The Boilermakers always seem to play tough against Notre Dame even in years where they play shitty against everyone else, and they did this time, as well.
Wearing the coolest-looking “Shamrock Series” uniforms I’ve seen in years, the Irish did win 30-14, but started to look vulnerable when they let Purdue hang around for the first half before putting them away in the 2nd. Golson was sacked 4 times, and the secondary started coming apart at the seams when safety Max Redfield was ejected for targeting, and 2 other backfield players left with injuries. Still, the Irish got the win over a Purdue team that now sits at 3-4 and will be lucky to finish at .500 with the bulk of their Big Ten schedule left to go.
SYRACUSE: An UGLY game, and not just because ‘Cuse wore those ugly gray uniforms, either.
This was where Golson started his current struggles to maintain possession of the football as he threw his first 2 interceptions of the season and also lost 2 fumbles, but he also offset those mistakes by completing 82% of his passes, including a school-record 25 in a row at one point (one short of tying the NCAA record) and the Irish won 31-15. 5-star sophomore receiver Torii Hunter Jr. FINALLY recovered from his injuries and saw his first action as an Irish player as he caught his first TD pass in the win. Will Fuller, being a rock for Golson, caught 2 other scores. Syracuse, meanwhile, has struggled since then as they lost their starting QB in Terrell Hunt to a broken leg and have lost their last 4 games. With the bulk of their ACC schedule left, they’ll be lucky to finish at .500.
STANFORD: Thus far, this has been the biggest game the Irish have played this year…and man, they really came through! Both teams struggled on offense against each other’s tough D units and some very wet weather, and Notre Dame left some points off the board via 2 missed field goals and a Golson fumble on Stanford’s 10-yard-line, but the Irish D did just enough for the team to come away with a 17-14 win. The highlight of the game was Golson’s 4th-and-11 touchdown pass to tight end Ben Koyack with a minute left to clinch the win.
The Irish won’t face a stronger defense for the rest of the regular season, but it may not matter if the O keeps turning the ball over. We shall see. As for the Cardinal? They did bounce-back to beat Wazzu last week and snow sit at 4-2 and back in the rankings at #23, but with #17 Arizona State, #9 Oregon, #20 Utah and a very good UCLA team still left for them to play, an appearance in the Pac-12 championship game and another Rose Bowl may be too much to ask of them.
NORTH CAROLINA: PUKE!!! Sloppiest, ugliest game the Irish have played this year.
Golson remained turnover-prone with 4 of them and the Defense had their worst game in years as they yielded 43 points and 510 yards…however, it should be pointed out that the Tar Heels, with QB Marquise Williams running for a career-high 132 yards, really threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Irish, including a few Wildcat and gadget plays. They also did some up-tempo no-huddle offense to keep ND from rotating defensive players in…it was an Irish win, though, 50-43, and also the highest-scoring game ever played at ND Stadium. The Tar Heels, meanwhile, stand at 2-4 but the good news for them is that don’t play another ranked team for the rest of the season and, if they play anything like they did against Notre Dame (A BIG IF), most of those games are winnable for them.
So with the first 6 games in the books, we look ahead to the last 6…this is where the real test starts.
Of course, the biggest game of the year looms as the Irish face the #2-ranked Seminoles at Florida State this Saturday night. Can the Irish win it? Hell yes!...but only if Golson stops turning the ball over and the defense goes back to playing the way they did before Carolina came to town. After that, it doesn’t get much easier as the Irish have to then face 2 currently-ranked Pac-12 teams in Arizona State and USC, as well as a pretty good Louisville team and a Navy team which has been challenging in recent years. It’s possible that Notre Dame could lose one of these games and still make the 4-team playoff, but I like their chances better if they finish undefeated…clean up the mistakes of the last 3 games, and they can. If not, they’ll lose a couple. We shall see.
Team health is not bad for this stage of the game – it does suck that their defensive captain in safety Austin Collinsworth has had trouble staying healthy and will miss the next 4 games with a shoulder injury – this after he missed the first couple of games with a bad knee. Last years’ leading tackler in Linebacker Jarrett Grace has also not been able to return from his leg injury from last year, but other than that, they seem healthy overall.
And last, there has FINALLY been some finality regarding the 5 players on academic suspension which I referred to in my recent “Shit or get off the Pot” blog, as such:
- Cornerback KeiVarae Russell and d-lineman Ishaq Williams both will not play the rest of this season, but hope to be back next year.
- Safety Eliar Hardy has been invited to return to the team and hopes to return to practice after the Florida State game.
- Receiver DaVaris Daniels and linebacker Kendall Moore both Tweeted that they are “done” at Notre Dame.
So now, at least, we can start to close the book on that one.
We’ll see how the last 6 games play out! GO IRISH!!!