So let’s get strummin’.
Notre Dame playing games in San Diego is a great idea. Set aside that it’s a town I like to visit, it’s a town a lot of people should like to visit. The weather is almost always great. The airport is east to get into and out of. There are loads of quality hotels, and the Gaslamp District has great restaurants and bars. Public transportation is top-notch. The local alumni club, I’m sure, was eager to get a chance to host this kind of event since SD isn’t on ND’s regular rotation, and from my perspective, they did a great job. Unlike some other destinations, San Diego’s diocese has over a million members, so we’re truly bringing the ND experience to people who will appreciate it. The Irish can’t come back here soon enough for me.
Notre Dame playing games in SDCCU Stadium is a terrible idea. Dear God, that place is a crap heap, and it starts before you even get in there. The exterior is in desperate need of a power wash. One of the entrances to the parking lots was kept closed for an extra half hour even though the others were open. They had a 2013-title-game-esque number of porta-johns — maybe 20 percent of the number of they should have had. The lines to get into the stadium were incredibly long because half the gates weren’t open. Half the menu items weren’t available, half the space in the bathrooms was wasted. I understand why the Spanos family pulled out of the city, because that place sucks.
Jafar Armstrong is a lot of fun to watch. Vannie and I spent most of the game asking each other where Tony Jones was, but with Armstrong an excellent complement to Dexter Williams, it’s good they were able to give him some rest and keep him fresh for the stretch. The offense missed his contributions when he was laid up, hopefully he keeps himself healthy.
This team still has a ways to go. When we weren’t asking each other about Jones, Vannie and I were asking each other if Northwestern and Syracuse were going to allow ND to make the mistakes they were making, especially in the second half. The cornerbacks will need to get a lot more physical to put the Wildcat receivers out of their comfort zone. A bad read by Ian Book is more likely to result in a sack than a scramble. I’d feel better if I’d seen a full quality game by both sides in the last couple weeks.
Why the hurry? When you’re playing a team like Navy, the goal is to get out to the big lead and then make sure the game is as short as possible. So I found Notre Dame’s tendency to rush up to the LOS with a large lead and more than 20 seconds remaining the play clock befuddling, as it lengthens the game and increases the amount of time your defense has to deal with the triple option. Equally befuddling was the decision to throw the ball 33 times against a Navy defense easily physically overwhelmed by the Irish. I realize the hurry-up is part of their offensive game, but surely they’re flexible enough to move away from it when the game situation dictates.
NDN tailgaters are always fun. I was so glad to see old friends like Porp and SnowBowl and meet folks like Rosecrea and IrishArab. Thanks to everyone who stopped by, and I encourage people going to Athens next year to set some time aside.