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  • Fits, Starts, and Quicker Picker Uppers

    by Mike Coffey

    ( Whenever my kids try my patience, I threaten to embarrass them on the Internet. Given the amount of posting I do, it’s no idle threat.

    Today, I was thinking about our ordeal toilet training them. Neither of them made it at all easy. Just when we thought they had it, there would be an accident and it felt like we were going back to square one.

    It drove us mad. We knew they could do it because we watched them do it multiple times, sometimes up to a dozen trips in a row. But then there we’d be with the paper towels, muttering words under our breath we didn’t want them repeating.

    Why did that come to mind? I was sitting in my basement watching the Fighting Irish play in Chapel Hill on Saturday.

    This team, in contrast to the one which preceded it, has been a joy to watch. The offense flows effortlessly. Michael Floyd plays like someone with multiple seasons at the college level under his belt, and has since he first hit the field. Golden Tate’s is developing more each game, sometimes more each play. Armando Allen, since his installation as the feature back, has been tearing it up. The defensive backs haven’t been afraid to challenge top-flight wideouts. Mike Anello continues to play inspired football as the gunner on special teams.

    But then, the puddle and guilty look. Javon Ringer, held in check for the most part the entire game, rips off a 73-yard gallop enabling Michigan State to turn a close game into what looks, to the casual observer, like a handling. Jimmy Clausen, perfect for 10 quarters, throws an interception for a TD going the other way and follows it up with a laws-of-physics fumble. Floyd sheds his mature personna and makes a freshman mistake trying to do too much (seconds before the officials did the same).

    It’s maddening. But it’s to be expected. Youth begets success in fits and starts. They look like world-beaters one minute and pud-beaters the next.

    So, too, is the coaching staff. They’re not young chronologically but they’re definitely young philosophically. Michael Haywood is taking the reins for the first time, and while that means a bit more diversification in the offensive portfolio, not all the picks have been the right ones. Even Charlie Weis is still getting used to the college game after getting his hubris handed to him in last year’s 3-9 debacle, but we’re seeing the changes manifesting themselves in more physical practices and flexibility in things like deferring the ball until the second half.

    But it’s tough getting down with those paper towels knowing what we saw last season and the promise we’re seeing this year. When, Lord? When’s gonna be our time?

    That’s the trouble with the puddles. They get you down. But eventually, you realize you haven’t seen one in a while. And then it becomes so commonplace you don’t even think about it anymore.

    But you’re richer for the experience.

    At least that’s what I’m telling myself. Where’s the Bounty?

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