Thursday, November 23, 2006

A little motivation

Pat at Blue-Gray Sky has a good post on why the Irish should have no problems getting motivated for Saturday's game against USC. Three of Charlie Weis's four losses have come against top-ranked teams, and if Notre Dame wants to cement its recovered credibility, we need to get this win, this Saturday, against this team. Weis said last Saturday that he'd seen every single play of USC's this season, and that two-thirds of last week's practice plays were - unbeknownst to the team - for Southern Cal. After three years of losing by 31 points, and then last year under Weis the gut-wrenching last-second loss (so, a four-game losing streak), and given USC's absurdly long home winning streak, well, it's about time for both streaks to end. The Irish players seem determined to walk away with a win, and they're not concerned about merely staying close to SC, or merely trying to play a spoiler role:

Travis Thomas: "I think that's [the losing streak] something you can use as motivation. I mean, if you haven't beaten a team in so many years, you obviously want to end that streak. It's something hard to go against knowing that the team sort of owns you. Yeah, it's definitely something we use."

Zibby: "It's very big. Last game of the season. Stakes are high. College football in November - every game is pretty much big. When it's USC week, you definitely feel it earlier in the week and are ready to go earlier. . . . Still got a little bitter taste in my mouth from last year. You know, when you watch film, you watch a little bit of the game from last year, you replay that ending a thousand different ways. Definitely gets to you a little bit. . .

"We don't have the belief that we can hang with them. We want to play to be beating them."

Brady Quinn: "We're not going to play - we're not going to look at it playing as a spoiler. We're going to look at it as an individual game. The way Coach Weis has talked about it, it's a playoff series. This is really our third game of a playoff. In order to advance, you got to get a win. That's the only thing we're worried about right now, is just getting a win. . . . My goal right now is beating USC. Nothing else really other than that."

NBC Sports has some good coverage online here, as they have all season, so check out their preview and other pages before the game. Now, it's about time to head out for some turkey and NFL football, so have a happy Thanksgiving, and go Irish!

Vote for Brady

All the pundits have already as much as gift-wrapped and delivered to Troy Smith the Heisman this year, but the voting hasn't actually taken place yet, and I think if Brady Quinn has a great game against USC and wins, his stats (already better than Smith's, and with one fewer game) ought to count for a lot. In the meantime, we can at least vote for Brady to be Nissan's Heisman vote here. He's got 37% right now to Smith's 47%, but with enough Irish votes (ND Nation has already been beating this drum for awhile) we could at least get this one first place vote. Vote for Brady!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Conservative rock stars

If you're sitting in a room full of lawyers, the rock stars would have to include Justice Scalia, who last Thursday night received such sustained applause at the Federalist Society dinner it reminded me of President Bush's reception in Nationwide Arena in 2004. With the Society honoring his twenty years on the Supreme Court, Justice Scalia brought up on stage his nine children, including Father Scalia and Major Scalia, and his wife, and joked that he was much more used to critical audiences, so he wasn't sure how to handle appreciation. Justice Alito, who of course is now a new favorite of the group, then gave the keynote address. He has a very mild manner of speaking, but with a few good lines about law school culture, Ronald Reagan, and the confirmation hearings, he had no problem keeping his audience. All in all it was a very nice event that I was happy to get to attend - as with the NRO anniversary dinner, these are the reasons to be in Washington, right?

Friday, November 17, 2006

There might be a few games tomorrow

First on everyone's mind, of course, is Ohio State-Michigan, and I'll be watching that game like everybody else. I can't say I'm sorry not to be in Columbus, though. I have lived through some pretty feverish Michigan weeks, but I can't even imagine what it's like this week. Others have no problems with this: EDSBS provides some funny imaginings of what might be happening as we speak. Michigan's alumni association offers visiting Michigan fans a cautious travel alert on how to stay safe, such as "don't drive with Michigan license plates" and "stay away from High Street." I would add, watch out for burning couches and people pelting your band with flying objects. Those have been known to occur . . .

But who does Notre Dame want to win? Ask Charlie Weis: "I root for Notre Dame. Whatever is best for Notre Dame, that's what I'm rooting for. Tell me what that is and that's what I'm rooting for." On the game itself, Weis allowed that "it should be an interesting matchup. We obviously played one of the teams this year and played one of the teams last year and we lost to both of them." Ahem. Well, no way to get around that. The amazing thing is, thanks to the great weekend of college football last week that resulted in four one-loss teams losing and ND moving up to #5 in the BCS, it is possible that we might have a shot at the winner of that game in the title game this year. Still remote, but not quite as remote as this time last week.

Of course, that all depends on us winning out, and the first order of business there is Army. It will be the seniors' last home game and as the players have pointed out, they've had multiple "trap games" already this year and haven't come out flat, so there should be plenty of preparedness and motivation to take care of business this weekend. I'm posting a picture sent by my parents from the last home game to get into the spirit of things. What a great time of year.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Irish links

Nice look by NBC at Notre Dame's team-record-setting pass offense here. Find Nevin O'Donnell's latest highlight video here - he had more fun with last week's offensive show than with some of our grind-it-out games earlier this year, and it shows. And here is Charlie's press conference from earlier this week, wherein he makes Air Force sound very dangerous again and talks about defensive tackling and why John Carlson is such a threat down the middle.

Knocked off in New Jersey

Great game in Piscataway last night - and who would ever think you'd be saying that about Rutgers and Louisville? Despite the perfect record, I wasn't taking Rutgers too seriously until last night, figuring that on their big test against a top-ranked team they'd come up short. (They hadn't beaten a ranked team in twenty years.) They had only been allowing 11 points per game, which looked good until you noticed that came against teams like Howard, UConn, and early-season Illinois. Still, watching them smother Louisville's explosive offense last night was impressive. The coverage was good, the pushback from the defensive line, the incredible pressure put on Louisville's Brohm (five sacks), and the strong tackling were fun to watch. I still have a really difficult time believing this team belongs up with Ohio State and Michigan, they of the even-more-smothering defenses, but they did pass their test last night. Kudos.