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  • Wonder, Think and Know: Trees Fall in the Forest Edition

    by Mike Coffey

    As the late great Mike Royko once said, some things you wonder, some things you think, and some things you just know.

    When you’re running the football for about five yards a pop all game and have first and goal at the four, you shouldn’t need a video review of a downed elbow after a game of Pigpile to determine whether or not you got a touchdown four plays later. You didn’t get it. Deal with it.

    And before the Cleveland Gary comparisons start, let’s remember this was a Pac-12 crew — not a group with a reputation of being friendly to Notre Dame — and video replay was available. The pundits can pundify all they want. They didn’t get it. Deal with it.

    Speaking of officiating crews, it’ll be interesting to watch how the Big East groups handle the Fighting Irish down the stretch. Obviously they’ll owe no fealty to us going forward. The sooner we can transition to ACC refs, the better. At least they’ll have a bit of skin in the game.

    Two or three years from now when Jim Harbaugh’s players have cycled out of the Farm, these ND/Stanford games will be back to the three-touchdown Irish wins they used to be. David Shaw has a long way to go on his head coaching chops.

    Shaw complained about a whistle being blown from the stands. Sour-grapey as it might sound, I’ve heard it too on some of the home broadcasts this season. The nimrod who is blowing it needs to cut it the hell out. Now that it’s been brought to officials’ attention, the chances it’ll come back to bite us at an inopportune time increase exponentially. That’s a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty there, Zamphir. You’re not the ghost of George Gipp helping out. Let the game be decided on the field.

    A similar hand-to-the-head salute to the idiot who thought “Hey Lynch, was Gameday at your Wedding?” was a clever thing to express on national television. Jackass. Remind me again what a great thing GameDay is, outside of giving the Cletus Spuckler branch of the fanbase an opportunity to be on TEE-vee.

    The playcalling in the second quarter when ND was backed up into its endzone that led to the fumble recovery in said endzone was bad. Just the awful kind of bad. I was gratified to see, however, in the post-game interviews that Brian Kelly said he agreed with that assessment. Learning experiences that don’t really hurt you are the good kind.

    I still wonder exactly what we have in this offensive line. Every time ND plays a tough front seven, they have problems out the ying-yang, especially on the right side. Maybe that’s a function of the other team giving out scholarships too, but I’d really like to see a gritty performance in the trenches against a team that isn’t a collection of strawmen. Methinks our next opportunity to see that will be on October 27th.

    I’m not wondering at all what we have in this defensive front seven. And I’m starting to think we have excellent play behind them as well. If there’s a group of youngsters exceeding expectations more in college football right now than ND’s secondary, point ’em out to me because I don’t see it.

    It’s not often you see a college football team with two functional quarterbacks and not see a quarterback controversy. Tommy Rees has skills Everett Golson lacks, while Golson has skills Rees lacks. Situational substitutions have worked well so far.

    People can talk about 2002 all they want. I watched the 2002 season, and the smoke-and-mirrors aspect was obviously pretty much from the get-go when the offense took over two games to score their first touchdown. This team has flaws, but the basis of quality football certainly seems to be there, at least much more so than it was 10 years ago.

    After two back-to-back long trips to play conference games, the second one ending in a loss, anyone else think the West Virginia Mountaineers are reconsidering their choice of conference?

    I had Sirius XM’s College Sports Station on while driving around this morning, and the guest host was none other than our own Tim Brown, who slowly but surely is making a name for himself in media circles. Dare I hope there’s a full-time radio gig in his future?

    I see Illinois got destroyed on the gridiron once again. No wonder their fans were so desperate for DJ — gotta have something to watch over the course of a college season.

    It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to scoreboard-watch and have it mean something. Good times.

    32 Responses to “Wonder, Think and Know: Trees Fall in the Forest Edition”

    1. Good points all. We have been on the receiving end of bad/questionable calls many times. But here, he was stopped without a doubt. How about Golson stepping out of bounds before his fumble! How do they miss those things?

    2. CORRECTION: Zamphir was “Master of the Pan Flute,” not the whistle. Otherwise, all excellent points.

    3. Ed Lanigan says:

      These calls at the end used to bother me but I’ve come to appreciate my Dad’s attitude about it. He loved it when we would win on a disputed call at the end that went ND’s way. He’d listen to the Notre Dame haters complain and then say, “Ah, keep it up boys, the wail of the sucker is music to the ears of the gambler!”

    4. I think that’s a bit disrespectful to a fantastic 2002 defense and a bit in denial about this year’s offense which has scored 20 or less in 4 of 6 games. Quibbling that 2002’s offense was an order of magnitude worse is missing the point. No need to get defensive about these comparisons.

      It is absolutely within the realm of magnitude that a BYU or Pitt (or Purdue if you recall) could take advantage of an orgy of mistakes the way BC did that year, and absolutely possible that an excellent offense like Oklahoma or USC could break the dam the way that Carson Palmer and co. did that year. The challenge for this year’s team will be to prevent those pitfalls and we honestly won’t know until the 2nd half of the season plays out.

    5. Fred Leahy says:

      With all that noise how in the hell could a coach from that far sideline ( let alone the players) hear a whistle coming from the stands?
      Come on……

    6. Hey Lynch, was Gameday at your Wedding?

      That offended you and was classless? You clearly weren’t at the gameday because that didn’t scratch the surface of classless compared to what was out there.

      But that sign is funny. It’s wrong to do that. It is most definitely a very poor representation of Notre Dame fandom. It isn’t fair to Lynch and his family. It’s a shitty thing to do. But it’s funny. Hopefully Lynch never saw it or heard about it.

    7. irishpunk says:

      It’s yin and yang. Not ying.

    8. martinjordan says:

      How soon they forget the “Bush Push.”

    9. Tom Radgowski says:

      The clown with the whistle deserves the lifetime ban from campus. No place for that nonsense here.

    10. You sound pretty upset about the whole gameday thing. It’s a spectacle. Kelly represented well. It gave the school some nice pub. The campus looked good. The team came off as interesting and talented. Take a deep breath.

      I do agree about the ’02 team. This feels much different.

    11. My first visit to campus this year. If you have not been, it is absolutely amazing. Tremendous buzz, noise, and yes, STANDING AND CHEERING through most of the game. I loved it! We now have the opportunity to be a stadium to be feared. Everything about the experience is an improvement: the music, the uniforms, and of course, the winning!

      I have never stood in the rain for four hours straight and had so much fun.

      Go Irish

    12. 02 was 02 and it was a little different as that was the team Ty inherited from Davies and this team is now pretty much Kelly’s kids. It was a good year but did not have the talent or depth this squad does and was also a one and done…..this has the feeling of something lasting and that did not. All I can say about the Lynch thing is too F****ing bad. He jerked us around, finally cam here, had a great freshman year, left so he could go to school where his girlfriend was at and then thought he was going to get to play this year but NCAA said nope…..this is why they have the transfer rules they do. Now he is sitting and on a nothing team (sorry Skip) and will likely play one year and go pro. This is what happens when someone is immature and thinking with his little head! The sign is the least of his or our problems. Whistlegate is crap. Why is it no one on the D heard or on their line, only their RB heard it? Please the play was blown up white or not. Farley was totally unblocked, the play was properly defensed and we had like 4 guys there to stuff it….whistle my ass….this whining isn’t very becoming of a team that is supposed to be a power O…..luck it Stanford….I agree with the article in that this is a SR laden team and once Harboughs guys move on they will not be a force…..

    13. I usually don’t post, but just want to point out that if I heard correctly at the game the on-field refs were PAC-12 while the replay official was from the Big East.

    14. One thing you GOTTA love is Lee Corso in a leprechaun costume!!!! That was freakin hilarious. Especially when he was doin the dukes up thing with Herbstreit and Vince Vaughn. That was something I wish I had recorded. Too good. Only thing better would have been Mark May having to wear it.

    15. ND fan forever and fortunate enough to have oldest Son an ND Junior this year. Love the team and will always but have become realistic fan over the long haul. National Championships are built on years of getting to that point. Can we say we can compete for a NC this year with the offense we have ..really should we even think about it given the 3rd year with Kelly? Defense is ready to challenge against a major bowl offense but do we really want to watch the standings…move up in the BCS and get smashed again in a major bowl game again? Lets let things play out. If it is our time we will crush BYU… win against OK and kill Pitt with both offense and D. So far Golsen is a threat and a nd a liability. Kelly does not show a dominant killer instinct on offensive play calling. Last thing ND needs in my thinking is a 3rd year head coach and team moving up the polls only to get crushed again in a major bowl game.

    16. I’m with you Chaz.

    17. Mark P - ND '79 says:

      Ditto Nd84 — we stood at the top of Sec 135 for the whole game and had a blast. I’d rank the fun/satisfaction level right up there with the ’77 USC Trojan horse game. Was anyone else amazed at how the noise level on the field kept up 20-25 minutes after the final whistle, even in the monsoon conditions??!!

      You know, in past glory years, every week was an expected win, and losses were devastating. This year, every week seems to be greeted with fresh enthusiasm for the fight, and we are ready to live with the outcome. It has made each win sooo much more satisfying, and it continues to build. As they say, stats are for losers — I’ll take 6 W’s and root for 6 more. I say we roll BYU, then take what comes in Norman. They are beatable, and we should give them all they want. Go Irish!

    18. The jerk who was blowing the whistle should have been thrown out after the first time it was blown. I’ve seen ushers escort people out who used the F Bomb. The funny thing is it was blown on occasions when Notre Dame had the ball as well. Obviously, that person is a real vegetable. I would love to have NBC send the tapes to an FBI lab and narrow down to where that whistle came from. It will be interesting to see what the strength of schedule looks like at the end of the year. Purdue and Michigan State are tanking with neither likely to finish above .500 and Stanford is precariously close to falling into that group with them. Pitt, BC and Wake will be just short of spring ball in preparation for the USC game. Coaching vacancies at Purdue and BC at the end of this season.

    19. Whistle from the crowd? No way! No way to hear it with the stadium that raucous! As far as the last play is concerned, the ND defense stopped when the whistle blew and Taylor had NOT crossed the goal line. No TD. His forward progress had stopped. This rule is in place to prevent piling on and potential injuries.

    20. @irishpunk: Mike had it right with ying-yang. Yin and yang is a Chinese concept of the often contrary nature of connected forces – i.e. a day without light is night. Ying-yang, on the other hand, is a mid-western colloquial euphemism referring to the orifice located near the tailbone whose primary function is to expel excrement, and in my unfortunately frequent case, semi-noxious gases.

    21. Number 57 is havin a challenging time being an ESPN celebrity and being a blocker and an offsides expert The acorn does not fall far from the tree

    22. As far as the Lynch sign, meh. Is that really THAT bad? I think it’s funny and probably wasn’t intended to be hateful, just biting and sarcastic. I wasn’t there and don’t know about other signs.

      As far as the whistleblower in the stands, it needs to be killed with fire. Now.

    23. Great article. Watched replay many times, first thought his forward progress was stopped, but realized that was not the case, as he was still moving/squirming and no whistle was blown. Then I thought his elbow was down, but after seeing all angles, it was not, soo they have a gripe, it should have been called a TD. On that topic, Kelvaire shouldn’t be jumping up and down clapping before a whistle was blown, could have been pretty damn embarrassing for the freshman, also Manti, who is a beast, ran off too soon as well. BUT, it doesn’t matter, I will still remember it as The Stand, and I agree, a true turning point in this era of ND football.
      Personally didn’t hear a whistle, but have heard it before, so quite possible.
      I think this is more about the bounces and calls going are way, for whatever reason, which has not always been the case in the previous years. Can’t explain it, positive vibes and energy from the team, playing with confidence, who knows.

      Love this team, truly in shock we are 6-0 with the offense as bad as it has been (let’s be honest, it’s pretty weak)> O LIne is atrocious, watch the replay, not sure why, we have talented guys up front (I think) and experience, could it be the new O-Line coach, because before him the line has been excellent with BK at the helm. This is our biggest problem, and the thing that is going to keep us from running the gamut.

    24. Speaking of signs during College Gameday, did anyone else catch the one that said…


      ? It made it on the air for about 3 seconds, and then not again.

      Stay classy, South Bend.

      P.S. In the interest of full disclosure, I laughed hysterically.

    25. Best sign at Gameday: Hey SEC, this is what a library looks like!

    26. Wasn’t there a play in the Michigan game that the refs called no play because of a whistle in the stands?

    27. Manti ran off because the whistle was blown and the side judge came in waving the play dead. And there is an easy to find GIF out there showing CLEARLY that Taylor’s non-ball carrying elbow was down…come on…

    28. Best sign of the Day “SEC this is what a library looks like” Priceless.

    29. For those uncertain about the offensive line, I think you need to take another look at the game. The Irish have moved the ball on the ground in the second half against both Stanford and Miami.

      Against Stanford they drove the ball consistently in the third quarter on the ground. Only the fumble by EG keeps points off the board on the first drive. Against Miami, they bullied them into flat out quitting.

      Seems to me this line wears people down…. a testament to good conditioning and overall toughness. I think BK even said that a few times. I like these guys.

      If EG could be more consistent in pre-snap reads and decisions, we would see defenses playing the pass more honestly and the Irish running game will have even better results.

      In contrast to EG, look at Rees’ overtime touchdown,

      Rees reads the coverage (single coverage on the left side on both TJ and Toma!!!! … they are rushing 5 and have 3 on Eiffert since both the other TE and back stay in to block), Rees changes the play at the line and throws the quick slant into single coverage to TJ. Single coverage on a matchup you like and Rees made em pay. He knows where he is throwing before the snap. He has the ball out of his hands in under 2 seconds. Good luck defending that……

      I dare a defense to keep sending 5 and 6 rushers while doubling up the TE…… when your QB makes those kinds of quick right decisions. EG is not there yet. Hope he gets there soon.

      • EG gets there soon enough. 6 games played, and he is doing quite well, given the circumstances. Tommy Rees has done some rather unusual things the past two years, and no has continued to do exactly what the coach has asked him to do – be ready, be prepared when needed, remain a team-member, and contribute to the overall growth of Golson throughout the season.

        Golson is the long-term answer for this offense, and I think Rees knows that. But instead of “pouting” as some benched players might want to do, Rees knows his role and plays it well. There is no quarterback controversy, because Rees has decided to be better than that and not make it a controversy. I think Rees’ ultimate goal is to win games, no matter who is behind the center.

        • If I were in Kelly’s shoes, I would be playing a EG too, although against better defenses I think Rees gives the Irish a better chance to win because he can more consistently challenge defenses that attack the QB.

          Kelly knows EG has far more upside and the more he plays the sooner he gets to enjoy that upside.

          It remains to be seen if EG can master the mental skills needed to fulfill his significant physical skiils. Wish I could put Rees’ head in EG’s body …. right now.

    30. Concerning the whistle, whoever is next to someone who does this needs to get the yellow jackets to throw the bum out. However, looking at the replay of the third and two ‘whistle’ play, it does not appear that anyone on the field reacted to a whistle during the play. Just great defense. It’s hard to argue with a line judge 15 feet away and the ref in the end zone also several feet away. Looking at the replay numerous times it does seem that the runner’s elbow was down before the ball crosses the goal line.