October 21, 2006. The Day I Fell in Love

Ladies relax, your boy is still single.

October 21, 2006: The day I fell in love with Notre Dame football.

So a little back story, I’ve been a Notre Dame fan since the day I was born, and that’s not even in the discussion. I’ve watched over 80% of the games since I was 7 or 8 probably. When I was a young kid, yeah maybe I only watched some of the game or didn’t watch at all, but since I was 11-12, I’ve rarely missed a game. Do I remember the players when I was 7? Very few. ( Brady Quinn, Anthony Fasano) But I did watch the games because Notre Dame football was born into my blood without any connection in the world. The generic looking jerseys, the gold helmets, the hype, all of it. I couldn’t get enough of this team and still can’t to this day. I’m pretty much convinced my cause of death will be a heart attack during a Notre Dame game, and there isn’t a way I’d rather go out. (Obviously, give me 50 more years or so) All of my love for Notre Dame football comes straight from my dad. When I saw my dad react to the moment Matt Leinart fumbled the ball out of bounds and how pissed he instantly became after the Bush push, I knew then there wasn’t another route for me but to just fully accept Notre Dame football.

Back to October 21, 2006: My dad was given free tickets to go see Notre Dame vs. UCLA. I’ve been watching this team on TV for years now, so this is just a dream come true for the 10-year-old stud of myself. I didn’t know when going to this game that Notre Dame had the most beautiful campus that I’ve still ever seen to this day. I knew about touchdown Jesus and the Golden Dome and all that, I didn’t realize how spectacular these buildings were going to look. 10-year-old me is blown away by how a place can just be so much nicer than anywhere else I’ve ever been. Notre Dame is beautiful, you get it. Getting into my seats in Notre Dame stadium is something I will never forget. Seeing Brady Quinn, Jeff Samardzija, and Tom Zbikowski warming up was me basically seeing my heroes on the field for the first time. Eyeing down the smokeshow UCLA cheerleaders in front of me was clearly a plus, sup ladies. I remember very little from the game because it wasn’t like a high scoring game or anything crazy, just a pretty basic game. But the one thing I do remember, it was the 4th quarter it feels like Notre Dame is going to lose 17-13. Quinn hikes the ball with 40 seconds left, UCLA zero pressure Quinn steps up and throws a strike to Samardzija. And the rest is history, I remember that play like it happened yesterday. The moment Samardzija scored is the exact moment that I fell in love with Notre Dame football.

With Notre Dame 12-0 and going to their first playoff, it felt like a good time to let everyone know when my love for this team started. Notre Dame football needed this playoff berth for the sake of tradition. No matter how low or how high Notre Dame goes my fandom of Notre Dame football will never change.

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Brandon WINbush is going to be fine.

You’ve heard the news, Ian Book will not play against Florida St this weekend according to multiple sources. What that means for the Irish as they try to continue their perfect season? That Brandon WINbush is going to have to win them a game one more time. I feel 100% fine about it. 100% fine. WINbush is 12-3 as a starter for Notre Dame, and it’s going to be 13-3 after his win on senior day against Florida St. Brian Kelly once stated that at some point they would need WINbush and Saturdays the day. Let’s not forget that Brandon has the best win out of any quarterback in the ENTIRE country. Even though it won’t come to this point, but if he struggles early Phil will be coming in to save the day. Brian Kelly isn’t going to let Notre Dame’s perfect season end just so that his backup quarterback’s feelings aren’t hurt. Brandon WINbush will have an excellent senior day as the Irish win, and we will see Book at Yankee Stadium against Syracuse.

GIMME BAMA!

Nah, I’m kidding; I don’t want Bama yet. Alabama is on their own tier this year compared to every other team. That doesn’t mean they’re going to be healthy when the year ends. It’ll take a miracle for them not to be healthy knowing that they only play the starters for a max 2 quarters every game, but you can only hope for the best. (Just kidding, they’re just kids. I wouldn’t wish something like that on my worst enemy.) Enough Bama talk, on to what matters. NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL. WAKE UP THE FUCKING ECHOS. IAN BOOK IS THE REAL DEAL. Ian Book after 3 games has 874 passing yards and has 11 total touchdowns. Knocking off 2 ranked opponents. Is Dexter Williams the best running back in college football? Some people are saying it. I’ve never seen Notre Dame play as good as they have these past 3 games and that’s considering the 2012 season. Yes, the 2012 defense was better statistically, but they didn’t have the 11 deep that this team has. The 2012 Irish didn’t have a cornerback on the team worth mentioning, some MAY even have me blocked on Twitter because of some choice words. This team has multiple good talents at every single position on both sides of the ball. Alex Bars, Notre Dame’s best offensive player the first 5 weeks of the season, suffers an injury causing him to go out for the season and Dexter still runs for 178 runs and 3 TDS. I’m not saying Trevor Ruhland is as good as Alex Bars or anything like that, what I’m saying is this team has a motive that I’ve never seen in my 22 years of life. Brian Kelly is even relaxed for the first time ever. This blog is completely all over the place because this isn’t an Irish team like I’ve ever seen before. Being projected by at least 66.6% of the remaining half of games is something I’ve never seen. They could possibly even be double-digit favorites in every remaining game. Even with how much I love Brandon Wimbush, this never happens without Book. I’m not even saying we wouldn’t be undefeated with Wimbush, we wouldn’t dominate like they have been. Ian completely opens up the offense. Way before the season started I wanted Ian Book to start. After the spring game, I wanted Ian Book. I let the dumbass media people convince me that Wimbush should start and I thought to myself that they have seen more than I can so I believed them. They were wrong. Sometimes you have to trust your gut when you understand Notre Dame football more than anyone alive. In the medias defense, I thought he would average 200 yards a game, not 300 yards a game. I didn’t think he would complete 70% plus of his passes, I felt more around 60%. Ian Book has been incredible for 3 weeks now, and it’s here to stay, and I’m here for it.

We Survived. (Notre Dame Week 2 Recap)

Alright, Notre Dame beat Ball State 24-16. Let’s spin this.

It was clear after the first drive Notre Dame thought Ball State would fold over and just let it be easy. This wasn’t the case. Ball State came into this game motivated, and they played well against the Irish. Notre Dame’s defense is clearly elite, I think we can all admit that. Te’von Coney is the best linebacker Notre Dame has had since Jaylon Smith, and I’m not accepting another answer. DLine didn’t look like they played great based on stats but Riley Neal is extremely mobile, and from what I saw, he’s hard to bring down. The DLine didn’t play fantastic by any means, but they did force Neal to get out of the pocket and make tougher throws than he would have liked. Resulting in Jalen Elliott getting two INTS. Now, we all seen how the defense has played for 2 weeks now, so I’m not going to sit and bore you on that. The main topic of this blog is Brandon Wimbush.

BRANDON WIMBUSH IS FINE. BRANDON WIMBUSH IS FINE. BRANDON WIMBUSH IS FINE. BRANDON WIMBUSH IS FINE. BRANDON WIMBUSH IS FINE. BRANDON WIMBUSH IS FINE. BRANDON WIMBUSH IS FINE. BRANDON WIMBUSH IS FINE. BRANDON WIMBUSH IS FINE. Wimbush is fine. Yes, he did throw 3 INTS, but it happens. The second interception wasn’t his fault, and you can make an argument that the first one wasn’t his fault. Would we be discussing this if he threw one interception and still had 297 yards and completed 54% of his passes? No, so we need to relax. Yes, he missed on a few passes that he shouldn’t miss on but guess what? We don’t have Baker Mayfield, we have Brandon Wimbush. Chip Long didn’t allow Brandon Wimbush to run the ball. I don’t care what the press conference said, they told him not to run and work on throwing the ball as much as he can. (A blind person could have seen that) Wimbush is made to run the ball 10-15 times a game and throw the ball 22-28 times a game. He threw the ball 31 times and had 3-4 designed runs, why? We were playing Ball State that’s why. Brandon is fine, and he’s going to be fine. He played good against Michigan and struggled at times Saturday. Wimbush is our best option to win big games. That’s why you make him work on throwing against Ball State so that you have film on him doing certain things that he can improve on and so that you see what can be added to the playbook. I can’t be the only one with a working brain that is a Notre Dame fan. We knew coming into the season he would struggle at times. HE STRUGGLED AGAINST BALL STATE, THAT’S A BLESSING FOR THE IRISH. If he struggles like this against any big-time opponent, Ian Book will come in. Brandon Wimbush is 11-3 (counting LSU) in games he starts in, and Notre Dame fans think he can’t play. FUCKING INSANE. Most Notre Dame fans don’t understand that if Ian Book comes in the size of the receivers is wasted because he struggles to throw the ball down the field. Book is a good football player, but he isn’t made to throw the ball down the field, AT ALL. Brandon taking shots down the field with Boykin and Claypool is the best way to actually not waste their size. Sometimes throwing the ball down the field will result in 50/50 balls and Ball State won a 50/50 ball Saturday and that’s not the last time it’ll happen this season. If you want to complain about the offense complain about the actual problems, the OLine. They didn’t play great against Michigan which was expected knowing Michigan’s front 7. Weirdly, they performed worse against Ball State then they did against Michigan, and that doesn’t make any sense. I don’t have much to say about the offensive line, but if they want to talk about winning the Joe Moore, then they need to play like they give a fuck.

 

Side Story from the game: If the women that sat behind me and to the right is reading this, next game please just SHUT UP. This lady is lucky she brought her little kid with her because that was a shield from me explaining to her that she doesn’t understand a fucking thing about football. Every single incomplete pass she would say out loud ” We want Ian Book,” No bitch you want Ian Book, keep it to yourself the rest of us want to win this fucking game. Side note for all the ladies coming from the ladies man himself, if you don’t understand sports, it isn’t even slightly attractive if you yell in my ear about how much you think you know about sports. (She was yelling this stuff during the first quarter.)

Notre Dame Football Expectations (From Someone Who Actually Knows)

First things first, if you choose to write about Notre Dame football then you better know that what you’re writing is true. There are too many “college football” writers nowadays that write about anyone with a big following so that they can get clicks. Notre Dame might fall into the “writing for clicks” category more than any team I have ever seen. I’ve read just about every single article talking about Notre Dame football in the last few months, and it is effortless to tell who’s full of shit and who’s not by the end of the article. One writer stated, “they lose a lot on defense, but return their nucleus.” One starter, meaning someone who started the whole season, graduated. Yes, they did lose a few players who played a lot of snaps, but this is The University of Notre Dame I am very confident they can find players to play snaps so guys can catch a breather. I’m going to, give a massive shoutout to Pete Sampson, a Notre Dame writer for The Athletic. He is one of the only people who write articles/pieces that you can tell he follows the program he isn’t just writing for clicks. Now my rant is over time to dive into this season.

Expectations

If you’re a Notre Dame fan, you should never want anything less than playing in the playoffs every year. I understand that we aren’t Alabama or Clemson, but there is no reason we can’t have the same success as Ohio St/FSU type of programs. So my expectations going into the season is always to have one of the four playoff spots. Goes without saying, we can at MAX only lose one game before the playoffs. If there is a team I’ve ever had confidence in, it’s this one. This 2018-19 schedule may do us a lot of favors. This schedule will most likely this finish high on the strength of schedule rankings because of nostalgia, and I can admit that. Some of the teams on this schedule I don’t think will be as good as it seems (USC, Stanford, FSU). As of now, it sounds like USC’s three best players are all TRUE freshmen. I want to see three freshmen take the entire workload for a whole season. Am I worried about USC still? Yes, it’s in November. Stanford being in the middle of the season scares me less than being in November, but wild take I think Notre Dame blows the breaks off of Stanford. The Cardinals front seven is going to struggle, and if they do, Notre Dame will be able to do anything they want offensively. The Florida State community is jumping the gun on how good they’re going to be. Willie Taggart has yet to prove ANYTHING as a coach. Let me remind you, his coaching record is 47-50. Most of those games were in either The Sun Belt Conference or The American Athletic Conference. If you’re a good coach, then you find a way to win in those conferences. Florida State should consider it a win that the fans didn’t burn down the stadium after this hire. Coming to South Bend with Wille Taggart, I am not worried. Don’t worry; I didn’t forget about the Michigan game.

ND VS Michigan.

I’m glad that this is the first game of the season (most of that was a lie). Anytime you open your season against actual talent there are plenty of positives and negatives that come with it. Positives: you immediately know if you’re for real or not. Negatives: you immediately learn that you’re not for real and you just waited eight months for this game. For Notre Dame, we are going to learn the positives (Let’s hope). The most significant focus of this game is the quarterback position. Shea Patterson VS Brandon Wimbush. I’m going to have to slow Michigan fans down here; Shea Patterson is not the savior to Michigan football. Shea Patterson is a quarterback who was not good enough to play in the SEC. “But Derrik, he had 2259 yards in 7 games.” Shut up. 40% of his yards for the total season came against powerhouses South Alabama and UT Martin. Shea Patterson has thrown more interceptions than games he’s played. He played in an Air Raid offense; he was going to get stats. Explain to me why he only had 281 total passing yards in two games against Alabama and LSU, if he’s so talented? (Side note: zero touchdowns and five picks in those two games, Ian Book against LSU 164 yards, two touchdowns, and a single interception. OH, A WIN TOO.) I’m not going to sit here and tell you that Brandon Wimbush is as efficient as Shea Patterson, oh wait, yes I am. Wimbush played in 9 wins LAST year. Shea Patterson posts a solid 4-6 overall record in his career. Ole Miss had more offensive talent than Michigan, and he posted a 4-6 record. Michigan does have a better defense than Ole Miss could even dream but if there is still no talent on offense, then it’s going to be tough to score. I’m not going to mention Harbaugh being 1-4 in rivalry games (well shit, I guess I said it.) I like Jim Harbaugh, but he has yet to win big games, that should give Notre Dame fans hope. I’m done with my Michigan bashing. Michigan is good at defense, and I have no way of making that look bad (well there terrible schedule, but I’m not going to do that.) I don’t expect this game to get into the 30’s. Michigan always has talent in the front seven and Wimbush running the football might be Notre Dame’s best offense at times this year, especially early when they’re trying to find an offensive identity. Michigan does have smaller DB’s against a possible Notre Dame formation with four players who are 6’4 and athletic running routes which could end badly for Michigan. Michigan is a good football team, which I know is hard for you to believe after all that bashing. Michigan has to cause multiple turnovers for them to win this game because their offense alone isn’t going to do it.

Now, this is the part where I compliment Notre Dame against Michigan. I am worried about the quarterback position for the Irish but maybe not as much as everyone else. Brandon Wimbush can play football, for some reason Notre Dame fans are all convinced that he can’t play at all. When Brandon Wimbush is rolling, he is as good as anyone in the country. When he’s not, he’s not. The reason I worry less about the situation than everyone else is because we have Ian Book as the second string quarterback. I originally stated that I wanted Ian Book to start, I’m going back on that. Brandon Wimbush brings an entirely different offense that can score a lot more points than an Ian Book offense. Best case scenario for a Book offense is slowly moving the ball down the field, one big play a game, and a ton of field goals, which you don’t want to play Michigan’s game against Michigan. Wimbush gives you the big play factor on every down that you need in college football. Wimbush will keep a Michigan defense honest. That being said, Wimbush is going to have to be better on crossing routes, and short passes for this season to be a success let alone the game against Michigan. If he can’t do it, then I feel okay with playing slower with Book and a great defense. I think with Shea Patterson being the starting quarterback for Michigan that Notre Dame’s defense will capitalize on mistakes made by Patterson ultimately making the offenses job easier leading to a Notre Dame victory. With everything being said, Wimbush will struggle against Michigan. They’re good on defense; this isn’t a fair test to determine if Wimbush is the guy or not.

The 2018-19 Irish

The offense could end up being really good and everyone looking like dumbasses. The offense does have talent in Claypool, Boykin, the offensive line, Wimbush, Book, Finke, Tony Jones, Dexter(after four games most likely), Kmet, and Armstrong but if I had to guess the offense will be fine with a great defense that makes the offense better. Notre Dame’s defense is going to be next level this year. They return 10 of 11 starters from the previous season. The defense as a whole should have an outstanding season. They have multiple good players in each group, and they have as much depth as they have had in the Kelly era. At times this season, the defense will look completely unstoppable. Starting up front, Kareem, Hayes, Tillery, and Okwara will be an excellent defensive line. Those won’t be the four starters, but those are going to be the four playmakers up front, which that being said they also have depth at those positions too. Tillery has gotten better and better every single year at Notre Dame, I expect this to be his best year yet, and that’s going to start with how Kareem, Okwara, and Hayes play to take doubles away from Tillery and move them elsewhere or take advantage of 1-on-1 situations. The less pressure on Tillery to make a play is only going to make him better. I don’t want to have to worry about the D-Line this year, and I don’t think I will have to that often. Moving on back to Tranquill and Coney. These are two players you won’t have to worry about doing their job. My only worry is this being Tranquill’s first year as a middle linebacker, but I worry less knowing Coney and Tranquill’s speed might be something we’ve never seen in my days of watching the Irish. Coney and Tranquill will cover sideline to sideline similar to Teo and Jaylon Smith days (I know it was a different defense). Tranquill also doesn’t get enough credit for how well he rushed the passer last year. The actual stats aren’t there saying he was great at rushing the quarterback but he helped defensive linemen get sacks on multiple occasions because he went straight through the line forcing the quarterback to move up or out of the pocket. I’m excited to watch Tranquill and Coney. I would write a big piece on who the rover is going to be in this group, but I don’t think Notre Dame is even sure. It sounds like Bilal is going to take the opening snaps against Michigan, but I don’t expect him to also play close to as many snaps as Tranquill did a year ago from the same position. On any passing down, I would assume you’re going to see Crawford, Griffith, Colemen or Studstill to come onto the field to play the rover. The rover just isn’t going to be as big of an impact position this year as it was last year. It’s going to be a constant rotation of players when last year it was mostly just Tranquill. I would go more in-depth with the rover position, but it’s still a big question mark. Now the defensive backs. The defensive backs might be my favorite group on the field. I don’t think people realize how good this group is going to be. The DB’s have four starting caliber players at both safety and corner, and if you’ve been a Notre Dame fan in these recent years, that’s completely unheard of. As of today, Gilman and Colemen are going to be starting at the safety position, which has improved from last year. The safeties last year didn’t make a positive difference in any game. Gilman alone will find a way to make a difference at least just tackling in the run game. As a freshman at Navy Gilman posted 76 tackles and five tackles for a loss. I expect to see Gilman coming down and making plays this year. Colemen and Griffith(True Freshmen) will most likely make up the majority of the snaps at the other safety position. Colemen is coming off of an excellent fall camp, which I think credits Griffith because Colemen knew he had to be better or he wasn’t going to play. Griffith playing this early in his career means big things for the Florida kid. Julian Love and Troy Pride Jr. make up the two starting corner spots. Before coming into this fall camp, we knew what we had with Love. Troy Pride to be just as good as Love in camp is not something Irish fans expected, but we are going to enjoy. Pride and Love having to defend Claypool and Boykins every day in practice is only going to help them when they start going against customarily sized receivers. No matter how well a 5’11 corner guards a 6’4 receiver if the ball is well thrown then the 5’11 corner shouldn’t have a shot at it. Now when you play a team where the receivers are 6’1-6’2, then it’s going to be more comfortable for Love and Pride to make a play. Very few teams will be able to have four 6’4 athletes on the field at one time like Notre Dame has had in camp. If I’ve ever seen a year where the Irish are going to be able to bring tons of blitzes to put pressure on the quarterback, it’s this year. The DB’s have excellent ball skills which allow you to try and apply more pressure on the QB because you trust your guys in 1-on-1’s. Everything I’ve said about the DB’s starts with how well the front 7 of the Irish play.

Notre Dame has the talent, especially on the defensive side of the football, to be playing in the playoffs in January. If this Notre Dame team fails to make the playoffs, then this season failed expectations, and Brian Kelly should probably worry about his job. I am not on the train that Brian Kelly has been a failure like a lot of Notre Dame fans are. Recruiting at Notre Dame isn’t easy, and maybe he wasn’t putting in his best effort in his middle years at Notre Dame, but he has been doing a great job the last few years since he has realized it’s win or leave. The 4-8 season isn’t all on Brian Kelly. You can’t expect a coach to win if half the team gets injured. Brian Kelly by no means is just a flat-out excellent coach, but he’s the coach of Notre Dame, so I’m going to ride or die Kelly.

Final Statement: Notre Dame will play in the 2018-19 College Football Playoffs.  

Is it Book or is it Wimbush?

Maybe the biggest known quarterback battle this spring features Notre Dames Ian Book and Notre Dames Brandon Wimbush. This is BIG for Notre Dame fans. Brandon Wimbush, who had 1,870 passing yards 16 touchdowns and 6 interceptions and also contributed 804 rushing yards with 14 more touchdowns on the ground, seems to obviously be the clear favorite to be the starting quarterback when 2018 rolls around. But just wait the sophomore Ian Book seems to be turning a lot of heads after he came in and bailed Wimbush out of the Citrus Bowl and pulled off the win against at the time the 9-3 LSU Tigers. Ian Book who had 456 passing yards with 4 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, also 206 yards on the ground. (started 1 game) So going into the spring I don’t believe that Wimbush is already sealed into the number 1 quarterback spot as weird as that sounds. We have seen this all before as ND fans. Dates back to the 2014 Music City bowl when Zaire got his first start of his career and won the quarterback battle that spring and was the starter for the first two games for the Irish before suffering a broken leg. Brandon Wimbush is clearly better at running the football than Ian Book. He is built for it, he has the quickness and he has the speed. But without a doubt, Ian Book throws the ball a hell of a lot better than Wimbush can. Ian Book takes shots to keep the defense on their feet. Wimbush doesn’t. Ian Book completes 61% of his passes and Brandon Wimbush only completes 49%, which has to be a lot higher if you want a team in the playoffs.

The offense seems to have a lot more confidence when Ian Book is on the field. Wimbush seems to always shy away from pressure and just lofts everything when he nervous. Ian Book, I am assuming didn’t take very many snaps with the first team last season but when he was in he always made the most of it (except against Miami). If you can’t tell I want Ian Book to be the starting quarterback in 2018. The kid just wants to win and you can tell by the few times he has been on the field. Wimbush plays like he is irreplaceable and just doesn’t give a fuck. Ian Book proved to me in the Citrus Bowl that his time has come and it is time for him to take the reigns. Multiple plays I watched Book keep a play alive and make a great throw in the clutch of the game and all I could think was Wimbush couldn’t do that. When your second string quarterback is on the field that thought should never cross your mind. A fan shouldn’t feel more confident with your backup on the field than your starter. Ian Book if it is up to me, you’re the starting quarterback of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Also, little side note Book could possibly be the best looking quarterback in college football and that might make my opinion a little bias.  GO IRISH!ian book