I know that most of you aren’t all that interested about football, so I figured I’d sneak a football post in on Labor Day when most of you will be away from your computers.
I went to the Notre Dame-USF game on Saturday and endured 91º heat and two major lightning storms that necessitated two different stadium evacuations. Here are a few things I learned from the experience.
- People will tolerate one storm delay. In fact, they’ll even make the best of it. Add on a second one and people start getting pissed — especially when their team is losing to a team they should be killing.
- Notre Dame fans are out of practice. They haven’t had to root for a really good team since about 1993 so they’ve forgotten the finer points. The crowd is about 20 seconds behind and often needs prompting from the scoreboard screen. They get loud after the opposing team is already at the line, not when they're calling the play in the huddle. Every team has a silent snap count they can use, they don’t all have a good way to call the play when it’s noisy. If the crowd gets loud for a 3rd and 1 and the defense gives it up, they pout for the next three plays instead of cheering the defense on to a big play on first down. Maybe that’s because the frustration level is so high with all the recent losing, but the fans in the stadium are there to help the team by getting loud at the right times. No pouting allowed.
- I think the crowd was actually louder after the first delay when there were only about 65,000 as compared to the 81,000 before. My buddy speculated that everyone might be a little more comfortable and willing to cheer in a less crowded stadium.
- I really, really hope that T.J. Jones and Theo Riddick dropped all those balls because of first game jitters, not because they don't have good hands. On the drive home, the ND radio announcers called Theo Riddick’s drops “uncharacteristic.” When a dude drops three passes and two punts in one game, it seems that drops are completely part of his character.
- Cierre Wood is a stud and we really can't afford for him to get hurt. He and Rees were the major bright spots on the Notre Dame offense. Floyd too, but we expected that.
- Dayne Crist is done a Notre Dame. Once he got pulled and Rees got the offense moving, he lost the job forever. I even think he lost the backup job. When Rees took a big hit, the freshman Everett Golson got his helmet on, not Crist. If Crist, who is a senior, isn’t the starter then he has to sit. They need to work on their quarterbacks of the future. It’s pretty amazing that it took him one half to go from first string to fourth string.
- The refs seemed as rusty as Notre Dame's offense. From where I was sitting (northwest corner of the stadium) they were wildly inconsistent on their calls. Especially the late hits out of bounds. Floyd got pulled down from behind while three yards out of bounds and there was no flag, but a USF dude had one foot out of bounds and there were flags all over the place. Plus, there should have been a pass interference call on Crist’s interception in the end zone. However, it was still a bad throw.
- Notre Dame’s defense is good. They kept the Irish in the ballgame. They gave up one big play (18 yards). Everything else was contained. I would have liked to see a turnover, but they were facing a veteran QB and a smart coach who was playing it safe with the lead. Bob Diaco (the defensive coordinator) dialed up a couple interesting packages where he replaced his defensive linemen with linebackers and ends. It had USF confused.
- If the Irish offense can eliminate the turnovers and mental mistakes, this will be a very good football team. Too bad they had to have a game like this to start the season.