Monday, October 31, 2005

The Weekend in Review
"Three-Hole Punch Kanka" Edition

NCAA Football

  • #2 Texas 47, Oklahoma State 28: Shows what I know. Texas seemed to me to be another one of those ball control teams that played well with the lead, but didn't have the firepower to come back from a huge deficit. You really shouldn't reward a team that gave up 28 points to Oklahoma State. But, at the same time, any offense that can rattle of 38 points like that definitely deserves some respect.

  • #3 Virginia Tech 30, Boston College 10: OK, not fair, I didn't see much of this game, because I had softball that night. Well, I was able to watch a quarter's worth, but even then I didn't see much football, as all ESPN showed was sideline shots of Michael Vick. As for the Michael versus Marcus debate: in the current system, Marcus sure can throw. In this game, the younger Vick was 22 for 28 for 280 yards and a TD.

  • Florida 14, #4 Georgia 10: Well, the loss of DJ Shockley was huge. The Bulldogs may not be in the national title hunt any more, butJoe Tereshinski at QB should make the remainder of the season respectable. Bonus points to Tereshinski for the play where he fell down making a pitch, got up, made a leaping catch over a defender on the throwback, and leaned forward into the end zone for a TD.

  • #7 U of Miami 34, North Carolina 16: I watched this for a little bit, until I realized, "Oh yeah, Miami's supposed to have an easy time with this one."

  • #12 Ohio State 45, Minnesota 31: Ohio State's offense looked good, and it was nice of Ted Ginn, Jr. to finally show up. But, was this game more of a testament to Ohio State's offense or to Minnesota's poor defense?

  • South Carolina 16, Tennessee 15: Talent or results? In Tennessee's two-headed quarterback system, Erik Ainge is the talent, but Rick Clausen has been getting the results. Ainge, completing 40% of his passes, was 8/21 on the day. Clausen, completing about 60%, was 5/11. Kind of, but not entirely like the Jon Kitna/Carson Palmer situation of a few years back. OK, it's probably nothing like the Jon Kitna/Carson Palmer situation.


  • Texans 19, Browns 16:: That really didn't just happen, did it?

  • Giants 36, Redskins 0: I actually didn't watch this game, because it wasn't on in my area. But Tiki Barber had a huge game with 206 rushing yards. And Ellen loves him.

  • Broncos 49, Eagles 21: Defense, anyone? I started to watch this at F-Bomb's place, then left at the beginning of the fourth quarter after Philadelphia had pulled things to 28-21. What happened?

Miscellaneous Ramblings

  • In a blatant attempt to get a mention, "The Wizard of Odds" emailed me the "breaking news" about Charlie Weis' buyout clause. Of course, we all know that the original article was full of crap. Charlie signed an extension through 2015, ensuring that Charlie, Jr. will be getting a nice piece of lambskin from Our Lady's University. (Wow, that sounded awful. Let me rephrase that....)

  • Brady Quinn picked up his ssecond Cingular/ABC Sports Player of the Week award, while Brandon Hoyte was nominated for the Lott Trophy. The Lott Trophy is given to a defensive player for on- and off-field performance. Whether it be academic performance or charity, Hoyte never comes up short in off-field performance, and he certainly doesn't come up short in on-field performance.

  • Recent Onion article on Notre Dame football history (in case you're the one person who hasn't read it yet).

  • Paul Tagliabue is attempting to quell rumors that the Saints may be moving to LA.

  • After a relatively dismal 3-3 start, Tennessee offensive coordinator Randy "Don't call me Andy" Sanders will hand the playcalling duties over to Phil Fullmer, and resign at the end of the season. Voluminous has more.

  • Speaking of Sanders and Fullmer, here's a pertinent rewrite of "Rocky Top", courtesy Tenn Vol Champ.

  • Finally, a hi-larious flash video can be found here. Hat tip to reader Emily. Huge file, takes forever to load, so let me know if you'd rather have me email it to you.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Last Minute Costume Ideas

For those of you still trying to find a Halloween costume, this game might be able to give you an idea or two. Try to match the each description from the numbered list with the name or concept in the lettered list (yes, they are out of order - that's why this is a game). Correct answers to come when I remember to post them.
As a bonus, all of these costumes are football themed.

1. Wear a telephone company uniform and act very sad.
2. Wear a #11 jersey and a tutu.
3. Don a long-haired wig, shark mask, and #83 jersey.
4. Put on your old school monogram sweater and "raise the roof!"
5. Wear a "L.I.R.R. Class of '81" sweatshirt.
6. Dress as the book History of Firefighting.
7. Cover a Maurice Crum jersey in patches.
8. Dress as a computer key and wear handcuffs.
9. Do you best Charlie Weis impression.
10. Wear bubblewrap and wire mesh.
11. Get a group of friends together and dress as giant gloves
12. Attach pictures of Bob Saget and the Olsen twins to the seat of your pants.
13. Walk around with two empty beer glasses, asking everyone where the bathroom is.
14. Walk around with sunglasses and a white cane.
15. Dress as the Notre Dame engineering building and wear a turntable around your neck.
16. Take five phone handsets, number them "1 of 5" to "5 of 5," and attach them to your clothing.
17. You and a friend go together in Ohio State #47 and #33 jerseys.
18. Wear your "Return to Glory" shirt and bring a toy pull train.
19. Wear (or grow) a moustache. Hang a "No Passing Zone" road sign around your neck.
20. Dress as a pear. Wear a shirt that says, "I wish I was as good as all the other pears."

A. "A Patchy Linebacker"
B. Aspirational Pear
C. Bubble Screen
D. Chuck Lennon
E. Dave Wannstedt
F. DJ Fitzpatrick
G. Down Lineman
H. Five Receiver Set
I. Full House Backfield
J. Gimmicks Pulling the Train
K. Hands Team
L. Hot Read
M. Illegal Shift
N. Jeff Samardzija
O. Matt Leinart
P. Nike Uniform Designer
Q. Road Warrior Hawk and Road Warrior Animal
R. Robot Genius
S. Subway Alum
T. Two-Pint Conversion

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

KankaNation Top 15

How They Voted

3Va TechVa TechVa TechVa TechVa Tech
6LSUUCLAAlabamaPenn StAlabama
7MiamiNotre DamePenn StLSUUCLA
9Notre DameMiamiNotre DameNotre DameNotre Dame
10Penn StPenn StMiamiOhio StFSU
12WisconsinOhio StBoston CollegeFSUOhio St
14Boston CollegeNorth westernAuburnWisconsinWisconsin
15North westernTexas TechOhio StNorth westernTexas Tech

Monday, October 24, 2005

ND 49, BYU 23

Quarterback: Assault on the Record Book, Part I: Brady Quinn set three records on Saturday. Quinn's six touchdown passes breaks his own record set in the MSU game (5). His 287 yards in the first two quarters are the most in any half for the Irish. With 20 TDs on the season, Quinn has already bested Ron Powlus' 19 in 1994. And then there are the records Quinn is on pace to break:

attempts, season266456353Quinn '04
attempts, career9411141969Powlus '94-'97
attempts / game38.038.029.4Quinn '04
completions, season175300191Quinn '04
completions / game25.025.016.6Terry Hanratty, '68
completion pct, season65.865.861.6Kevin McDougal, '93
pass efficiency, season161.9161.9161.4Bob Williams, '49
passing yards, season235240322753Jarius Jackson, '99
passing YPG, season336.0336.0242.9Theismann, '70
TD passes / game2.862.861.73Powlus, '94

In addition, Quinn is on pace to finish second in lowest interception percentage (.015 to Matt Lovecchio's .0080 in 2000). And, while he may never top Joe Theismann's 526 passing yards in a game, he already has performances 2-5 (or is it 2-6? shouldn't I be doing this research?), and may finish with 2-10.

Running Back: Infamously, ND rushed 21 times for 11 yards against BYU in 2004. This year, they rushed 23 times for 64 yards. Take away one sack, two screen passes that counted as runs, and the nine clock-killing runs at the end of the game, and ND ran 12 times for 21 yards. Taking it a step further, and again keeping those few plays out, ND ran 31% percent of the time last year, and 23% percent of the time this year. Not an incredibly huge difference. The difference, actually, came in Quinn's pass accuracy. Last year, BQ went 26 for 47, or 55%. This year, Quinn was an astounding 32 for 41, 78%. By the way, Darius Walker ran 7 times for 17 yards, while Travis Thomas ran once for -3. The biggest play by a running back was Walker's 37 yard reception on a misdirectional screen pass. Of course, if you're a fan of the finer points of football, you could count Walker's many blitz pickups as the best plays by an Irish halfback.

Fullback: Asaph Schwapp spent the fourth quarter as the short-yardage halfback. That's a position he'll have to get used to in Rashon Powers-Neal's absence. Schwapp gained 27 yards on 8 carries, with all carries going for positive yardage. Ashley McConnell added one carry for 3 yards.


Assault on the Record Book, Part II: Mo Stovall set records for pass receptions in a game, 14 (besting Jim Seymour's 13 in 1966), and TD receptions in a game, 4 (six people had 3 - most recently Tom Gatewood in 1970). Jeff Samardzija's 11th TD reception this season tied Derrick Mayes' record set in 1994. He also extended his record for consecutive games with a TD. This game also marked the first time two Irish players had 10+ catches in the same game (Samardzija had 10). Now, let's take a look at the records Samardzija is on pace to break:

rec yards, season75012851123Gatewood, '70
rec TD, season111911Mayes, '94
rec TD / game1.571.571.14Seymour, '66

Is it just me, or is Samardzija starting to make catching the football look easy, in an Omar Vizquel way? Well, isn't that the point? (Oh, Matt Shelton and David Grimes each added a catch for 8 yards.)

Tight End: Another solid day for Anthony Fasano, with 5 catches for 55 yards.

O-Line: ND couldn't get the run game going, but then again Charlie Weis had little desire to try. The line held BYU's swarm of blitzers to just 1 sack, which is rather impressive considering they often didn't have any tight end or back help out of 5-receiver sets.

D-Line: On campus this weekend, I saw quite a few t-shirts sporting the phrase, "Play Like Ronald Talley Today." That turned out to be good advice. Playing for Chris Frome, who is now out for the season, Talley had 7 tackles. That's one more than Frome had for the entire season. Talley also added a sack. The youth on Notre Dame's defensive line is finally starting to step up as a whole. Trevor Laws led the team in tackles with 9. Derek Landri had 7 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Victor Abiamiri had only 4 tackles, but he also had 1.5 sacks.

Linebacker: It was business as usual for the Irish linebackers. Brandon Hoyte had 7 tackles, adding another 0.5 to his tackles-for-loss. Maurice Crum and Corey Mays combined for 7 tackles. This may have been Mays' first quiet day of the season, and that's meant as a compliment to him.

Safety: Tom Zbikowski and Chinedum Ndukwe each had 8 tackles. Zbikowski, a week after scoring ND's first special teams TD of the season, scored the team's first defensive touchdown when he jumped in front of a short out and returned it 83 yards.

Cornerback: It's times like this when I wish I had the time, resources, or motivation to go back to the tape. Ambrose Wooden is second on the team in tackles. I noticed that, at one point, he let his receiver catch a pass and then went for a tackle. Ah, I said, maybe that's why he's had so many tackles. Then again, he didn't have any safety help behind him on that play. So, like an outfielder who eschews a dive to avoid letting the ball go by him, Wooden did the smart thing on that play. Meanwhile, Mike Richardson continues his solid season. Along with 5 tackles, Richardson caught his third interception of the season, tying him with Zbikowski for the team lead. I'm starting to notice a pattern with nickleback Leo Ferrine. He gave up one touchdown, but he played well for the rest of the game. Not bad for a guy playing his first season. Ferrine had 6 tackles.

Kicker: DJ, who's now on a first-name (or first/second initials) basis with Notre Dame stadium, made all 7 of his PAT attempts. Can't ask for more than that.

Punter: DJ's 5 punts averaged 44.2 yards, with a long of 51.

Kick Returner: It wasn't always pretty, but David Grimes had 3 returns for 62 yards, while DJ Hord added 2 for 24.

Punt Returner: You can't take all of them back. Zbikowski had returns of 6 and 9 yards this week.

Special Teams: Nathan Meikle averaged 11.8 yards on 4 punt returns, which is rather respectable. His long was 22. Breyon Jones returned 7 kicks for an average of 21.7 yards, with a long of 25.

The Weekend in Review

  • Friday night, Andy, Dave, and I met at The Backer. It was an odd mix of people there. The father/grandfather-aged guys, who normally leave around 10 or 10:30, stayed there the whole night. They were joined only by us and swarms of college-aged girls. Apparently, to those college-aged girls, I fall into that "old guys" group. But, perhaps surprisingly, I wasn't one of the old guys who was creeping out said college girls. Besides the many awkward "Is he dancing with her because he's her father, or because he's hitting on her?" moments, I'm also told that someone overheard a guy say, "This is one of the times that I wish I wasn't married." After a large beer and a trademark Long Island, we stumbled over to Bookmaker's. Good times, good times.

  • Saturday morning, I was introduced to the replacement to the band dorm rep, the phone chain. Paul Epstein, one of my gracious hosts, initiated the chain by leaving the following message on three voice mailboxes: "This is Paul. Initiate band wakeup sequence." Notice that, by this third home game of the season, Paul was talking to three voicemails and not three people.

  • Random Fifer-worthy quote: "I can't get enough of the Bones." - Sarah Paulson. Yes, that is what she said.

  • Andy and I walked over to Dave's brother's apartment for my first ever Kegs and Eggs, sponsored by KankaNation. When I got there, Dave and Michael were controlling the beer pong table. After a win by Dave and Michael, Dave's dad stepped in for Dave. What a ringer - Mr. Schmitt hit 50% of his shots. "That's better than Shaq at the free throw line!" Andy quipped. After a win by Michael and Mr. Schmitt, and another by Michael and Dave, I stepped in for Mike. Big mistake there. I got a whopping 4 cups, only if you count the one that bounced into a cup on the next table. "That was awesome! I'm drinking that one just for you, man!" said one of Michael's very fired up friends.

  • Best exchange of the weekend: Mrs. Schmitt just had to find "mini-Klondike." When she tracked him down, here's how it went: "You're mini-Klondike!" "How did you know?!" (While we're linking to the Bone page, I didn't know that Seth Green was a freshman.)

  • If you're by the library, be sure to check out the new statue of Frs. Hesburgh and Joyce. Unfortunately, the statue is not of Fr. Hesburgh's near run-in with the Bones at the library entrance. Now, that would be a great statue.

  • Random shout out to the former Bones in attendance: Dave, Andy, Aflac, Scovil, Bob, Cathy, and Amber (allegedly). If I missed you, feel free to chew me out on the message board.

  • At the game, I sat in section 106, behind the band. I was next to two rather fired up older alums, and in front of a dad/uncle family friend and his daughter/niece. The older alum asked when I graduated and replied that he "graduated so long ago that he didn't even want to think about it." He also advised me to join the Sorin Society as soon as possible so I could get tickets to all home games.

  • Before the game, former ND player Mike McCoy was honored with an award. Now, not only did he wear his own retro jersey, but he also gave it up for Joe Yonto (and Johnny Ray) and Jesus.

  • The dad/daughter (or whatever) behind me were very fired up about football. Good times. The best part, though, was when the girl saw the Charlie Foxtrot that was the band trying to go from their seats to their halftime positions. Now, as you may know, almost everyone in the band sits on the opposite side that they need to be on, forcing the entire band to cross paths with each other. The girl asked, "Why don't they just switch seats to make things easier?" I turned around and replied, "I tried to tell the directors that about 10 times, but they just don't listen."

  • After halftime, Andy, Aflac, and I met up to buy nachos for the current bones. Oh, those poor girls who scrambled to put together 10 trays for us. They surely weren't expecting it. Unfortunately, they wouldn't let us just take the bag of chips and cheese machine with us.

  • Immediately after the game, someone walked up to me and asked if I used to be on the team. He had spotted my team-issue Fiesta Bowl jacket. As it turns out, he was a walk-on freshman during the Fiesta Bowl season who had torn his ACL that year. So, he thought I was perhaps a senior that year that he just didn't remember. I don't know what position he thought I played (possibly explaining part of his confused look), but this incident was one of the highlights of my weekend.

  • After dinner, Dave, Aflac, and I met with the Schmitt and Bradley families, and others at the mysterious Granger Tavern. The Granger Tavern, as some may remember, is right next to the "Sports Page" bar. Now, where was my spray paint?

  • Saturday night basically consisted of Dave, Aflac, and me (the Eastern Time working men), and Scovil (who generally doesn't sleep enough) standing around Corby's and yawning at each other for 90 minutes. How exciting.

  • Sunday morning, I got to the Basilica 30 minutes early, thinking that would be plenty of time to get a seat. Nope. The place was almost full already. Fortunately, Sarah was there with her family, and they temporarily adopted me for the mass. Sarah said that they had gotten there at 9:05 and the middle pews were already half full. Out of control. Besides the great company, we were also spotted on the Hallmark Channel's showing of the mass.

Not bad for a weekend that almost didn't happen.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A little bit of this, and a little bit of that...

Editor's note: For the ND-BYU preview, see below.

That's how Cleveland sportswriter Hal Lebovitz starts his Sunday notes columns. That is, until a few weeks ago. First, on October 9, there's a note in the paper that Hal (he's known by one name around here) is on vacation this week. No big deal, I thought, a devout Jew is simply observing Rosh Hashana. Then, October 16 rolls around, and there's still no column. Ah, so he really is on vacation. Then, Tuesday night, I get the news at my softball game: "Hey, did you hear Hal Lebovitz passed away?" As it turns out, he wasn't on vacation at all. He was finishing his battle with cancer - a battle he felt that he needn't burden his readers with.

As I've always been a sports nerd, I started reading the weekly "Ask Hal" column at a young age. In it, readers would write in seeking answers on obscure sports rulings. I always tried to guess the correct ruling before I read Hal's answer, and of course I loved it when Hal added a trivia question of his own to be answered the following week. As it turns out, I'm not the only person who started reading "Ask Hal" at a young age. Starting in the late '50s, "Ask Hal, the Referee" was published in The Sporting News, where it gathered fans like Bob Costas. That's why, whenever an unusual play happened during a nationally televised sporting event, it was commonplace for the broadcast booth to give Hal a call for an explanation on the ruling.

Over time, I graduated from "Ask Hal" (although it was always my favorite) to Hal's Monday feature article and massive Sunday notes columns. If you're a sports fan from Northeast Ohio, chances are the first thing you read Sunday morning was Hal. He was a true Cleveland fan. Twice he used his position as sports editor of the Plain Dealer to convince Indians ownership to stay in Cleveland. He was good friends with Art Modell untill the creation of the "Baltimore (Ugh) Ravens." He didn't talk to Modell from 1995 until his death. He was also a Buckeye fan - especially recently, when he could beam with pride about fellow Glennville High alumni Troy Smith and Ted Ginn, Jr.

People liked Hal because you just had to respect him. He'd been there - as a player, coach, and ref, so you knew that he knew what he was talking about. In high school, my favorite sportswriter was Rick Reilly, probably because those page-length articles were just right for my attention span. In college, my Simmons-inspired ramblings led to the creation of this site. Of course, I've been a huge Peter Gammons fan for a while now, but Hal preceeded Gammons in the Baseball Hall of Fame by a full five years. As I became a writer (or, as I thought I was becoming a writer), I realized that Hal was the type of writer I wanted to emulate. (In fact, I don't normally like bringing up deaths on the site. Why mention celebrity deaths as if they're more important than family deaths? And, why mention family deaths when that's a personal issue? But, I may not be here without Hal, so he's definitely worth the tribute.) He saw players as people - not as "targets" of hard-hitting interview questions. For that reason, he befriended many players, including those who wouldn't normally open up to the media. That doesn't mean he wouldn't criticize someone when he disagreed with them. Hal called 'em like he saw 'em, he just happened to like most of what he saw.

I had one chance to meet Hal - and I didn't take it. I had great seats to an Indians game in the summer of '03. There, sitting down further up in my section, was Hal himself. I thought of walking up to shake his hand, but I decided not to bother him. A year later, I asked for The Best of Hal Lebovitz, a collection of his best works, for my birthday. My grandmother wrote him a letter asking for an autographed copy. He wrote her back saying that I could send my book to him and he would gladly sign it. I never did, for whatever reason. I will always keep the note, though, handwritten on a piece of stationary that bears a drawing of his face. It's easy to imagine that, over the years, Hal has sent out thousands of handwritten notes, personal answers to "Ask Hal" questions.

Finally, I leave you with some of the best stories from the man who could compare Grady Sizemore to Tris Speaker like he saw both of them play yesterday.
-His signature story was Never Cut a Boy.
-As a young boy, Hal was a hotdog vendor at League Park, the original home of the Indians. Stationed behind home plate, he said that Babe Ruth would order about a dozen hotdogs per game from him.
-On time, Hal wrote an article ripping Ted Williams for ignoring his teammates after hitting a home run. The next day in Cleveland, after Williams homered, he shook hands with the next batter, the bat boy, and a very confused umpire and catcher. Williams then pointed up into the press box and yelled, "How was that, you SOB!"

So, in the tradition of Hal:
Stay well and see you somewhere, I hope.

ND Football 2005

Issue 7: BYU

BYU Rush Offense vs ND Rush Defense

The brunt of BYU's 115 yards per game on the ground come from Curtis Brown. Brown is averaging 84 yards on almost 18 yards per game. He's averaging 4.8 yards per carry, with 5 TDs and a long run of 34 yards. Lining up in front of Brown is fullback Naufahu Tahi. Tahi has carried the ball 35 times for 202 yards, or an average of about 34 yards on 6 carries per game. Quarterback John Beck looks like he'd be a threat to run, with 24 positive rushing attempts, but the yards he's lost on 14 sacks (101) surpass anything he's gained scrambling (82).
Notre Dame is giving up just over 126 rushing yards per game. The Irish should be able to handle the Cougar run game with ease. Against BYU's two toughest opponents, BC and TCU, Brown and Company gained a combined 105 yards - split 8 against BC and 97 against TCU. The linebacking crew of Brandon Hoyte, Corey Mays, and Maurice Crum, Jr. have combined for 103 tackles this year, including 14 in the backfield.

ND Rush Offense vs BYU Rush Defense

Darius Walker is averaging exactly 100 yards on 22.5 carries per game. It looks like Rashon Powers-Neal will again be out this Saturday, officially questionable with an arm injury. In his absence, Travis Thomas may again be called upon to share the load with Walker. In limited time, Thomas has performed admirably. He has 161 yards on 37 carries. He is tied with walker in yards per rush - 4.4 - and touchdowns - 3. Meanwhile, Brady Quinn is increasingly becoming a threat to scramble, but only when needed. On 30 non-sack carries (5 per game), Quinn has 164 yards and a TD. Of course, why scramble when you can just shrug off a would-be tackler and throw downfield?
BYU is giving up almost 145 yards on the ground per contest. Those numbers are founded on a combined 500+ rushing yards put up by San Deigo State and New Mexico. The Cougars run the infamous 3-3-5 defense: three down linemen, three linebackers, and five in the secondary (which normally breaks down to two corners, one free safety, and two hybrid strong safeties/linebackers). You can tell the BYU likes to blitz from all angles - 20 players have combined for 39 tackles for loss. The people to look out for are linebackers Cameron Jensen, who leads the team with 39 tackles, and Justin Luettgerodt, who has 6 backfield stops on the year. Basically, BYU is going to guess right at least 5 times this game, and Walker will be stuffed for four yard losses on those plays. The Notre Dame faithful will just have to accept that and move on to the next play. If the Irish line can keep pounding the 6-man Cougar front, ND should have no problem picking up good ground with the running game.

BYU Pass Offense vs ND Pass Defense

John Beck, now in his third(?) season as a starter, definitely has the experience to play quarterback. The average game consists of Beck completing 28 of 44 passes for 317 yards. Beck does complete 64.5% of his passes, but he also has 8 interceptions. That tells me he will try to force it every once in a while. Beck's primary targets are Curtis Brown and TE Jonny Harline, each with 29 catches. I would say that this is a sign that BYU uses the short pass to compensate for the run, but 115 rushing yards per game isn't a bad number in their conference. Harline, by the way, averages 75 yards per game, while Brown averages 36. Three other players have at least 20 catches - WR Todd Watkins (23), fullback Tahi (21), and WR Nathan Meikle (20). Watkins averages 60.8 yards per game with 5 of Beck's 12 TDs, meaning he's the team's deep threat. Tahi averages 32.4 yards per game, while Meikle averages 24.5. TE Dan Coats has 13 catches, and WRs Matt Allen, Zac Collie, and Michael Reed have combined for 24, so look for a variety of sets from the Cougars.
Notre Dame, giving up 304.8 passing yards per game, has survived to this point but turning things up a notch in the red zone. A suddenly young defensive line played with a passion last week. Led by Victor Abiamiri's 3 sacks, watch how ND's small, quick line matches up against BYU's big offensive line. Notre Dame's secondary, which will again be tested this week, will need to prove that they can keep things in front of them. That'll take discipline from safety Tom Zbikowski (37 tackles) and a continued improvement in play from corners Ambrose Wooden (43 tackles), Mike Richardson (2 INT), and, when needed, Leo Ferrine (9 tackles).

ND Pass Offense vs BYU Pass Defense

Notre Dame's passing game continues its assault on the record book, led by Brady Quinn and Jeff Samardzija. Quinn's average day is 314 yards on 24 of 38 passing (63.6%), with just over 2 TDs and just under 1 INT per game. Samardzija is close to 100 yards on 6 catches on the average Saturday. His 9 TD catches are already tied for second by an ND receiver over the course of a full season. Aiding Samardzija are Anthony Fasano with 27 catches and Mo Stovall with 26. Right behind Fasano and Stovall is Walker with 21 catches. Matt Shelton is slowly creeping his way up the chart with 15 catches for 164 yards.
As mentioned above, BYU loves to blitz out of their 3-3-5. Justin Luettgerodt has 3.5 of the team's 11 sacks. What the Cougars don't like to do, apparently, is intercept the ball. Safety Dustin Gabriel has the team's lone pick. BYU, giving up a decent 241.3 passing yards per game, will have its hands full with ND. Starting corner Justin Robinson is listed at 5'7" (and that's probably a generous listing, as usually happens when you're 5'9" or shorter). He'll have to attempt to cover one of ND's 6'5" receivers. Pitted against Stovall, who has not been effective in jump ball situations, Charlie Weis can go for the pass interference. Against Samardzija, well, I'm afraid Robinson will just be toast. Meanwhile, TE Anthony Fasano will likely be covered by one of BYU's three safeties. While Fasano likely won't be able to outrun the DBs, he can certainly out-physical them.

Special Teams

BYU kicker Jared McLaughlin has converted 7 of 9 field goals, missing from 48 and 42, but connecting once from 47. His coutnerpart, DJ Fitzpatrick, has also made 7 of 9 now, missing from 35 while also going 1 for two from 48.
Punter Derek McLaughlin (there are also three Becks, two Berrys, four Browns, two Hansens, and two Reynoldses, in case you were wondering) is averaging 39.4 yards on 25 punts, with a long of 60. BYU is a fan of playing the field position game - punting instead of going for it from close - as this McLaughlin has 6 touchbacks and 5 punts inside the 20. For the Irish, Fitzpatrick has punted 24 times with an average of 40.5 yards per. He also has a long of 60, with 6 punts landing inside the 20.
Kick return duties have been shared by BYU CB Breyon Jones, WR Brett Cooper, and safety Justin Robinson. They have combined to average 18.8 yards per return. Jones has the long - 36 yards. DJ Fitzpatrick averages 58.6 yards per kickoff, putting the ball at about the 6. From there, ND is giving up 19.1 yards per return, giving opponents an average start at the 25.
David Grimes is now ND's chief kick returner. On 5 returns, he's averaging 25.8 yards per, with a long of 40. Kickoff information for BYU is not available, but they are giving up 21.1 yards per return, including one 100-yard TD.
WRs Nathan Meikle and Bryce Mahuika combine to return punts for the Cougars. They combine for a 5.7 yard average with a long of 12. ND's coverage team, meanwhile, is giving up 6 yards per punt return.
Tom Zbikowski is averaging 16.5 yards per punt return, with help from a 60-yard TD last week. BYU is surrendering a mere 6 yards per punt return, with a long of 24.

Look for a big game from Samardzija, Stovall, Walker, Abiamiri, Hoyte, Richardson

ND 38, BYU 19: Walker, Thomas, Samardzija, Fasano's first of the season, one by the defense, and one by DJ.

BYU Blogs

BYU Cougar Corner
Fanblogs BYU

KankaNation Top 15

How They Voted

3Va TechVa TechVa Tech
9Texas TechMiamiTexas Tech
10Boston CollegeNotre DameNotre Dame
12Ohio StTexas TechPenn St
13Notre DameUCLAOhio St
14Penn StWisconsinOregon

Monday, October 17, 2005

ND-USC Quotefest

While I attempt to edit Friday's pep rally for those who didn't get to see it, I offer you these quotes and thoughts concerning Saturday's game:

KankaNation Prediction Contest

"ND 56, USC 20... I'm not on the bandwagon, I'm driving it." - Pete Godlewski

"I thought picking USC was actually three extra months in purgatory." - Andy Wolkiewicz

"I was really gonna pick against the Irish, but this is setting up too much like games I've seen before, namely FSU '93 and USC '95. USC '95, Keyshawn and the boys came in with swagger, and then a cold rain came down, and Marc Edwards and the Irish simply ran them over. Lou's last great win....
Charlie has me too jacked up, or "geeked," like Charlie Jr. Watch the video, it's at the end. I think he knows he's gonna win. He knows something we don't know, and Petie boy doesn't know." - Dave Schmitt

Pep Rally

(on Weis) "He does a great job of bringing back the old players." - Kanka's Dad

"There are a lot of beautiful girls out there tonight." - Mo Stovall

"Yeah, like this girl who got you through [class removed to protect the not-so-innocent]!" - Anon.

"If I was Leinart, I would not want to run into Chris Zorich before the game." - Kanka


"Posting Live from Campus!
Just want to let you know I have never witnessed such an electric atmosphere on campus. Not even the 2000 Nebraska game was this huge! The pep rally was great. The weather is absolutely perfect. The new gold on the dome is shining brighter than ever. Just followed the band on their South Quad marchout and stop in front of College Gameday. And now more festivities to follow. I wish you all could be here to experience this too, I'm just getting chills down my spine thinking about this great day! We want this win so much and regardless of the outcome, this will be one of the most memorable days in ND Football history." - Nick Schumacher

LOVE, JESUS" - church sign

KankaNation Horse Trailer

"Bush... but the ND coaching staff did a remarkable job in preparing. Again, Coach said there are no moral victories, but I know he is damn proud of the fight in his boys today, as I think every ND fan should be." - Andy Wolkiewicz

"I'd rank 1) ND Coaching Staff, 2) Reggie Bush
Without Bush, this game would have been a slaughter, with ND coming out ahead. Leinart was off, but the rest of the team made him look good." - Jon Byrer

The Aftermath

"College Football is the Greatest Sport in the World
I think Saturday might have been the most memorable day in College Football history and shows that the emotion of college football is second to none. Of course, there was the remarkable fight between ND and USC. My heart was pounding as Quinn ran it in with just over 2 minutes to go. My fears were coming true as USC drove the field. My dreams came true as the clock ran down to 0:00. My gut twisted as I realized that a ball fumbled out of bounds does stop the clock. And my eyes watered as Leinart crossed the goalline. I never felt so sick after a game in all my life. Yet, despite the loss, (and I know there are no moral victories, as Weis would say) I have never been as proud of an Irish football team(considering I wasn't really an ND fan until I went there.) Charlie Weis is a great man and an amazing coach.
Elsewhere in the college football world, other fans felt the same way as the Irish faithful. Penn State witnessed its perfect season and possible National Championship hopes smashed on the last play against Michigan. Minnesota fans surely thought their team had the game locked up until Wisconsin blocked a punt into the endzone with :30 on the clock to win. Florida fans prayed their team could get into that endzone against LSU one more time, only to have their team fall short. Louisville fans saw their hopes at a Big East championship fade as West Virginia erased a 16 point deficit to take the game to OT where Louisville lost as their QB was unable to get into the endzone on the 2point conversion.
Yes, there are those moments in college football that break your heart. Many teams and fans experienced those moment on Saturday, October 15, 2005. But what makes those moments bearable is the knowledge that someday your team will be on the other side of the heartbreaking moment. It will be your team's quarterback fighting into the endzone or throwing that perfect pass to a wide open receiver or it'll be your special team's guy getting his hand on that punt. And when those moments happen, you'll be happy and the disappointing times won't seem so bad. " - Andy Wolkiewicz

"We wore the green jerseys because Charlie knew it'd be the last time for a long time that we were big underdogs." - seen on NDNation

"I liked the green jerseys. Charlie sure knows his ND history (and he should). For those of you who didn't notice, the jersey numbering - gold with white trim - was very close to the numbering of the jerseys in the '77 USC game - yellow with white trim." - Kanka

"The green jerseys we wore on Saturday were awesome; the old-school color tone is much better than the kelly. That said, I still like the home blue best.
This game can be summed up easiest with Simmons' levels of losing: it was your typical 'Alpha Dog' game. We played as well as we possibly could've played, but were beaten by the best player on the field. That game was all Bush. Without him, ND rolls. Like the old Knicks-Bulls games: it didn't matter how well the Knicks played, Jordan was always gonna rise up as the Alpha Dog and take the game away.
I didn't get too crazy at the end with the clock running down, because I knew the game wasn't over yet. It was pretty clear that the ball went out of bounds. I would've hated to be in the student section, however, because my brother said all they could see was Leinart get wrecked and go down short of the goal line. It looked obvious to him that the game was over. What a nightmare.
USC got a pretty generous spot on that play, but bad spots happen on crazy plays like that. I thought Leinart was gonna 'waltz' into the end zone on that play, but Mays closed it up incredibly fast. What a play!
I was telling Ellen before the game how the last time we beat a #1 team, Shawn Wooden batted down the FSU pass in the end zone to end the game. I noted that 12 years later, we have another corner named Wooden, and how sick would it have been for the game to end similarly? Well, it doesn't get any closer than that. Leinart saved his one good play of the game for when they needed it most. Incredible throw. Wooden's arm comes across a split second too late. Damn.
Pat Haden's... halftime interview of the ballerina was nice, as well; he actually called him out on his class schedule, which, to Leinart's credit, he didn't try to talk his way out of.
Charlie has us back. I am swallowing the Kool-Aid flowing from a beer bong. The next few years are going to be a lot of fun. I wasn't sick to my stomach after the game; sad, disappointed for what could've been, but not sick. The best is yet to come. The game was an all-timer, and everyone involved in it will be better for it. Especially Pete Carroll. He will relish and cherish this game, and show the tape to this grandchildren someday. And when they ask to see tapes of the 2006 game and those that follow, he will have conveniently lost the tapes. Then again, they will not be suitable for viewing by children, anyway." - Dave Schmitt

Finally, two links of note:

Sunday, October 16, 2005

USC 34, ND 31

Quarterback: Brady Quinn didn't put up gaudy numbers this week, but he did play with the heart of a champion. After a very rough start, Quinn ended with completions on 19 of his 35 pass attempts for 264 yards. His "token" TD pass to Jeff Samardzija made this game Quinn's 11th straight with a touchdown pass, breaking John Huarte's school record. Quinn was able to run the ball effectively, picking up 41 yards on 10 carries (and -20 yards on 3 sacks), including a late go-ahead touchdown.

Running Back: With Rashon Powers-Neal suspended for a violation of team rules (he's rumored to be in Charlie Weis's doghouse), Travis Thomas needed to step in. He did an admirable job sharing the load with Darius Walker. Thomas had 18 carries for 58 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown run. Walker contributed 74 yards on 19 carries, his average output when sharing playing time with Ryan Grant last season. Walker was also an important and reliable safety valve for Quinn, picking up 43 yards on 4 catches.

Fullback: With RPN out, Asaph Schwapp got all the snaps at fullback. He had one catch for one yard.


Courtesy AP/Tom Strattman

Ho hum, another big game for Jeff Samardzija. The Shark had 6 catches for 99 yards and a TD. Mo Stovall probably wishes he still had a few years of eligibility left in this new coaching staff. He had 3 catches for 30 yards, but also a drop or two. In retrospect, it seems like every big run play this season has been run in his direction. That's a testament to his blocking skills. Wish I had the ability (or time, or motivation) to go back to the game film to verify my observation. Matt Shelton added one catch for 5 yards. David Grimes picked up his first two career carries on end arounds, which is a great example of the teaching abililty and patience of this staff. On his first run, Grimes was stopped for no gain. On that run, he kept trying to move sideways, when there was a small hole just as he got past the tackle. Most coaches would have put that play away for weeks, if not for the season, after Grimes failed to gain anything. Not Charlie. I'm assuming that a coach pulled Grimes aside and told him where the hole was. Later in the game, Grimes' number was called again, and on his second opportunity he picked up 8 yards.

Tight End: Despite his fumble, Anthony Fasano did have big catches in big situations. Fasano ended the day with 4 catches for 86 yards.

O-Line: You make the call. The Irish gained 417 yards against the #1 team in the country. USC made 6 stops in the backfield, including 3 sacks.

D-Line: I would call this the d-line's best effort this season, especially considering the hype surrounding USC's veteren offensive line. LenDale White, a terror in the PAC-10, picked up a scant 29 yards against the first physical front 7 he's faced this season. Except for one 8-yard TD run, White was simply stuffed every time he touched the ball. Matt Leinart was only sacked twice, but he was getting hit hard all through the second half. Derek Landri had a fine day with 7 tackles, tying him for the team lead. Victor Abiamiri had a sack, and officially hit Leinart two other times. Trevor Laws, starting at tackle, had a sack. Ronald Talley, filling in for the injured Chris Frome had four tackles. If anything, the line's future is promising.

Linebacker: Well, they still can't contain that Reggie Bush guy. Even so, the unit still combined for 16 tackles. Even though he tied for the team lead in tackles, this may have been the first game in a long time where Brandon Hoyte was kept out of the backfield.

Safety: Well, either Tom Zbikowski was unofficially moved to free safety in this game, or USC simply gameplanned to pick on his side of the field all day long. Several times, Zbikowski bit on playaction or a short route, and was beat deep. All part of the learning curve, I suppose. Chinedum Ndukwe was fairly quiet in this game, except for an endzone interception off an Ambrose Wooden tip.

Cornerback: Once again, Ambrose Wooden tied for the team lead in tackles. I still haven't determined if that's a good thing or not. He did have the great pass breakup mentioned above, tipping the ball to Ndukwe. Momentarily, Wooden also saved the day by running down Dwayne Jarrett after a long run late in the game. Of course, at the same time, it was Wooden who gave up that reception in the first place. Mike Richardson continues to quietly get better, as he added 6 tackles and an interception in this game.

Kicker: DJ Fitzpatrick made one of his two field goal attempts on the day. He hit from 32 but missed wide right from 35.

Punter: DJ had five punts, averagind 39.8 yards per with a long of 45. He had 2 punts land inside the 20.

Kick Returner: David Grimes had returns of 15 and 21, while Ambrose Wooden had a return of 13 yards.

Punt Returner:

Courtesy AP/Tom Strattman

For me, this was the least exciting punt return TD ever. Just as Zbikowski caught the punt, I saw Terrail Lambert enter the shot and the referee throw something. So, I was sitting there waiting for the return to be called back. As it turns out, the ref threw the blue change of posession beanbag, and, as I had originally thought, Lambert had done nothing close to a hold or illegal block. Touchdown Irish, and this game was starting to resemble Nebraska 2000. It was an exciting moment that demonstrated Weis' opinion of Zbikowski's moves in the open field, and of Zbikowski's toughness.

Special Teams: It was a good day for the Irish coverage teams, with two small exceptions. Desmond Reed had a 31 yard kickoff return that gave USC the ball near midfield. Terrail Lambert attempted to tackle Reggie Bush after Bush called for a fair catch. But, other than that, the Trojan return men were held at bay. Kudos go to Lambert and Leo Ferrine for their work as gunners.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The other 5 to keep an eye on...

by Andy Wolkiewicz, KankaNation Assistant Legal Correspondent

There are two nice appetizers at noon this Saturday, MSU v. OSU and Wis. v. Minn. Then, the big show starts at 3:30 with 4 great games: USC v. ND, UF v. LSU, PSU v. Mich. and UT v. Colo. (This will be a Saturday when I wish I had 4 TVs and a Domino's in my house.) Of course, USC/ND has gotten a lot of coverage this week. Let's take a look at some of the other games...

#13 Michigan State 4-1(1-1) at Ohio State (3-2)(1-1) 12 ET, ABC
-- A battle between the best Scoring Offense in the Big Ten (MSU) and the Best Scoring Defense in the Big Ten (OSU). Meanwhile, MSU is #1 in Total Offense while Ohio State is dead last in the Big Ten. Both teams need the win to keep their hopes for a Big Ten Championship alive. Ohio State might have a solid defense, but I think the Spartans will overwhelm Ohio State and the defense will keep a struggling Buckeye offense from doing much. Winner: MSU

Wisconsin (5-1)(2-1) at Minnesota(5-1)(2-1) 12 ET, ESPN
-- Another big Big Ten Matchup. The records are the same and each features an excellent RB: Calhoun for Wis. and Maroney for Minn. (each averages over 140 yds/game). QBs Stocco and Cuptio are averaging about 200yds a game in the air. Each team gives up about 23 points/game. All things considered, home field might make the difference in this game between two near identical teams.
Winner: Minnesota

#12 Florida (5-1)(3-1) at #11 LSU (3-1)(2-1) 3:30 ET, CBS
-- This one should be a pretty tough, emotional game. Both teams are coming off convincing wins against inferior teams (LSU over Vandy and Florida over Miss. State.) Statistically, team offense and defense are pretty even. There will be a lot of pressure on one these first year coaches. They'll look to their QBs to step up as leaders. Russell will outplay Leak and even though they lost at home against Tennessee, LSU will prevail in front of their loyal fans in Baton Rouge. Winner: LSU

#7 Penn State (6-0)(3-0) at Michigan(3-3)(1-2) 3:30 ET, ABC
-- Did I mention there are some big games in the Big Ten this week? Penn State travels to Ann Arbor with an undefeated record. Michigan, on the other hand, has had one heck of a roller coaster year to say the least. PSU boasts a better offense and defense than Michigan, but the Wolverines do have a lot of talent (way too much to be playing as poorly as they have.) Of course, Paterno has proven he can still find talent as demonstrated by his phenomenal crop of freshmen. So, after the big win over Ohio State, will Penn State relax a little and get suprised by Michigan? I doubt it. Paterno knows that there is no better statement than beating two of the most revered teams in your conference in back to back weeks. PSU's defense will stuff Michigan and their freshmen will shine. Winner: Penn State

Colorado (4-1)(2-0) at #2 Texas(5-0)(2-0) 3:30 ET, ABC
-- Colorado has been playing fairly well this year, shutting out Oklahoma State and pasting Texas A&M. They could very well be the best team in the Big 12 North. Yay for them. Texas is desperate to show they deserve to be #1 and are praying (probably as hard as the Notre Dame faithful) for an Irish upset over USC in South Bend, especially since Virginia Tech is breathing down their neck. Of course, the only thing Texas CAN do is play well and dominate their schedule. They should whoop Colorado pretty well as long as they aren't looking ahead to a possible undefeated showdown with Texas Tech next week. Winner: Texas

(Kankanation Top 15 Rankings used)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

ND Football 2005

Issue 6: USC

USC Rush Offense vs ND Rush Defense

USC has not one but two runners averaging 120 yards per game. LenDale White has hit the end zone 10 times on the ground. He doesn't do much dancing in the backfield - he only has 4 yards in the "loss" column this year. White averages "only" 7.6 yards per carry, compared to Reggie Bush's 8.6. Bush has reached the endzone 6 times on the ground, with a long run of 76 yards. As a team, USC has averaged 291.2 yards rushing a game. Their low mark this season was 177 yards against Hawaii.
Notre Dame, lead by a trio of fine linebackers and two hard-hitting safeties, is giving up 116 rushing yards per game. Brandon Hoyte is leading the team in tackles with 42, including 10.5 in the backfield. Hoyte and the rest of the front seven will have to step up and make tackles in this game. If those safeties to have to creep in to help out the run, the corners will get burned all day long. This game will be a spotlight of Maurice Crum at the Apache Linebacker - a position created to control hybrid backs like Reggie Bush.

ND Rush Offense vs USC Rush Defense

One of the keys for Notre Dame will be the ability to control the clock and keep USC's offense off the field. Darius Walker has topped the 100 yard mark four times this year, and his per game average is 105.6 yards. Notre Dame's number 2 back in terms of carries is Rashon Powers-Neal, who has gained 100 yards on 31 attempts. RPN, the short-yardage back, has also picked up 6 touchdowns along the way. Quarterback Brady Quinn has been an effective weapon this year when he chooses to run. Not counting sacks, Quinn has picked up 123 yards on 20 carries.
USC is said to have an inexperienced front 7, so that is something the experience ND offensive line (which should include a healthy Bob Morton) will have to take advantage of. The Trojans' leading tackler is MLB Oscar Lua. Lua has made 32 tackle, but his 0.5 sack is his only backfield stop. USC is giving up 90 yards per game on the ground. However, that number is a bit deceiving. WAC/PAC-10 opponents averaged 64 yards rushing against USC. Arkansas, the one team with a run-based offense, rushed for 197 yards against the Trojans.

USC Pass Offense vs ND Pass Defense

Returning Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart is averaging 329 yards per game. Leinart also has 12 TDs to only 3 interceptions. His primary targets are his two wide receivers. Dwayne Jarrett has been the go-to guy, with 35 catches for 467 yards, an average of 7 catches and 93.4 yards per game. Jarrett has also found the endzone 9 times this season. While Jarrett is the reliable option, Steve Smith is more of a big-play guy. Smith is has picked up 575 yards on only 27 catches, which calculates out to averages of 115 and 5.4. Even with his 21.3 yard-per-catch average and long gain of 67 yards, Smith has only one touchdown. After the two receivers, the ball has been spread evenly to Reggie Bush (13 catches), fullback David Kirtman (12), and tight end Dominique Byrd (10). One noticeable thing - when LenDale White is in the game, he isn't much of a threat in the passing game. White has only 3 catches on the season.
Once again, Notre Dame will have to play ball control on offense to keep their defense off the field. The Irish secondary has shown that it has the talent to be good in the future, but in the present they're still shaky. ND is giving up 305.6 yards per game in the air. Notre Dame has played five good passing teams this year, and for the most part they've been able to rely on their own offense's production and opportunistic turnovers (in addition to Wannstedt's stubbornness and Breaston's hands of stone, of course). One thing that has been missing is a good push from the defensive line. Of ND's 11 sacks, only five have come from lineman. With the linebackers preoccupied with Bush and White, the likes of Victor Abiamiri and Trevor Laws will have to step it up big in this one. Otherwise, this game will be the fourth straight "Heisman Showcase" for a Trojan QB.

ND Pass Offense vs USC Pass Defense

Two thoughts, which may or may not be related to this game. I read a comment over on Fanblogs that considered the Heisman a two-year process: first comes the "hype year," then the year when the trophy is one. Think of it: two years ago, Leinart got tons of hype, while Jason White took home the hardware. The next year, Leinhart won, while Reggie Bush got the hype. This year, Bush is again a favorite, but Brady Quinn is starting to pick up some hype. He's still a longshot, both in this year and the next, but "I'm just sayin'." Thought two: Carson Palmer looked flat-out overmatched for years against ND, until 2002, when everything clicked and he won big. Quinn (along with the rest of the team) has looked overmatched for two years against USC....
OK, enough of that. Back to the analysis. Quinn has numbers eerily similar to Leinart's at this point (Leinart's numbers in parentheses): 1621 yards (1646), 324.5 per game (329.2), 65.3 completion percentage (65.1), 13 TDs/3 INTs (12/3). Rhema McKnight "might play" in this game, but his absence hasn't been too noticeable as of late. Jeff Samardzija has become a manchild, picking up 499 yards and 8 TDs on 28 catches (99.8 yards, 5.6 catches per game). After him, Mo Stovall has become (usually) a reliable posession receiver. Stovall has 388 yards and 1 TD on 23 catches (77.6 yards, 4.6 catches per game). Also with 23 catches is tight end Anthony Fasano. Fasano also has 249 receiving yards, or 49.8 per game. After the big three, Darius Walker has 17 catches and 116 yards out of the backfield and Matt Shelton has 159 yards on 14 quick slants.
I would predict Jersey Boy Fasano to have a big game based on the rumored guests for this Friday's pep rally. However, he and John Carlson may be preoccupied helping tackles Ryan Harris and Mark LeVoir with defensive ends Frostee Rucker and Lawrence Jackson, who have combined for 8 sacks and 12 backfield stops on the season. Overall, USC has 16 sacks, which breaks down to 3 by the linebackers, 1 by a cornerback (Justin Wyatt), .5 by a safety (Josh Pinkard), and 11.5 by the line. The Trojans also have 10 picks, led by CB John Walker and S Josh Pinkard with 2 each. The breakdown on INTs is 3 by corners, 5 by safeties, and 2 by linebackers. What that tells us about USC's coverage schemes, I don't know, but hopefully Rick Minter does.

Special Teams

USC walk-on kicker Mario Danelo has made two field goals from 36 yards, and missed from 42. He is, however, perfect on 36 PAT attempts. Counterpart DJ Fitzpatrick is 6 for 7 on field goal attempts, including 1 for 2 from 48 yards. DJ is also perfect on 23 PAT attempts.
USC has punted 13 times this year, 12 by Tom Malone. Malone has an average of 42.8 yards with a long of 60, 2 touchbacks, and 4 kicks inside the 20. DJ Fitzpatrick has punted 19 times, with an average of 40.7 yards, a long of 60, 1 touchback, and four inside the 20. Fitzpatrick has also been blocked once.
USC's kick returners are running backs Reggie Bush and Desmond Reed. Guess who's having the better season? Bush is averaging 17.5 yards per on 8 returns, with a long of 30. Reed is averaging 40.8 yards per, with a long of 51. I still wouldn't kick to either. DJ Fitzpatrick and Carl Gioia have shared kickoff duties for the Irish, although it is usually Fitzpatrick who is called upon in key situations. Fitzpatrick is averaging just under 58 yards per kick, which translates to an average start at the 12 yard line. Gioia is just behind at 56 yards per kick. DJ has 4 touchbacks to Gioia's 2. ND coverage teams are surrendering 19.5 yards per return, giving opponents an average start between the 30 and the 35. Lately, coach Charlie Weis has lived by the philosophy of kicking it high and placing it well to avoid a big return - so taht is something else to take into consideration.
Notre Dame's kick return duties have been shared between Justin Hoskins, Brandon Harris, and David Grimes. Grimes has taken over the primary role with his long of 40 yards and 31 yard per return average. Comparatively, Hoskins has an average of 23 and long of 24, while Harris has an average of 17.7 and long of 22. Freshman Troy Van Blarcom has been the kickoff specialist for the Trojans. Van Blarcom has a 63.6 yard average with 12 touchbacks and 2 kicks out of bounds. His average gives opponents a start at the 1.4 yard line. From there, the coverage team is giving up 26.6 yards per return, meaning opponents start around the 28 yard line.
Reggie Bush has been USC's punt returner, but he has been less than impressive. On 7 returns, Bush has an average of 5.7 yards, including a long of 24. Opponents have punted the ball 28 times, which means 75% of the time, they just avoid Bush. Notre Dame's punt coverage team has been great this year - yielding 5.4 yards per return.
Safety Tom Zbikowski is the Irish punt returner. On 7 returns, he has averaged 13.5 yards, with a long of 25. The Trojan punt coverage team is yeilding a mediocre 17 yards per return.

Look for a big game from Quinn, the O-Line, Samardzija, BHoyte, Laws, Fitzpatrick, Weis.

ND 41, USC 38: Samardzija, RPN, Walker, Fasano, Zbikowski, and two by DJ. Wanna fight about it?

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Rumor Mill Smells Like a Newark Factory

by Dave's brother, aka Michael Schmitt

I got a late e-mail from my Dad last night asking about that Bon Jovi rumor. My Dad seems to know everything about sports, and I seem to know everything about everything else. So, I think we can deconstruct this rumor down to a good logical guess about whether or not ND booked everyone's favorite composer of Backer Ballads for this Friday’s pep rally. Let's take a look at the facts, shall we?

All rumored celebs for this next pep rally include:

1) Bon Jovi
2) Joe Montana
3) Lou Holtz
4) Vince Vaughn
5) Jesus
6) The Beatles

Scientifically speaking,

1) Bon Jovi

The last big rumored guest was Ara and Ara showed, but due to typical slow/rude service at CJ’s and the added tension of David about to pop the question, David and Ellen as well as hundreds of other undergrad students were locked out of this Pep Rally. I however, ran and broke in through the Hockey arena, went up the back stairs, lapped through a dungeon-ish locker room, burst up through a Men’s Fencing practice that was taking place, stopped to ask directions, and then went through another passage way that put me right out in front of the Heismans. I caught the last second of Ara’s speech wherein he guaranteed victory (as most speakers who played or coached before Lou Holtz tend to do at pep rallies) thus jinxing that incredible defeat. I don’t know what any of that has to do with Bon Jovi.

The result of so many people turning up for the last rally was that they decided to move the USC rally to ND Stadium for the first time in ages. Bon Jovi is an arena rocker fond of playing open air stadiums in such exotic locales as the Meadowlands Arena. South Bend has a larger appropriation of mullets per townie than a Parisian café has mullets per latte. Score one for Bon Jovi.

The marching band has been practicing "Living on a Prayer" for two weeks now. Having played this tune for the last three or so seasons in a row, one should think that by now they would want to save it for a very special occasion... e.g. the composer of said Backer Ballad decides to rock the USC pep rally. Score two for Bon Jovi.

7 layers of truth:

1) We had Carson Daly at last year’s USC pep rally. Carson Daly dated Jennifer Love Hewitt. 2) Jennifer Love Hewitt’s career right now consists of making it onto absurd VH1’s hottest countdowns. 3) VH1 used to play lots of Bon Jovi before they traded 80’s music videos for a celebrity format similar to the E!-channel. 4) ESPN and most sports networks have lately adopted a similar celebrity format to keep girlfriends from switching the channel on their pussy-whipped boyfriends. 5) USC quarterback Matt Leinart and boy-band extraordinaire Nick Lachey are tremendously pussy whipped boyfriends who love to 'chill' and watch Jessica Simpson’s latest classics. 6) The vomit inducing 'classic' Dukes of Hazzard remake starring Jessica Simpson was executive produced by Bruce Berman. 7) Bruce Berman produced a few good movies, one of which was Mystic River starring Kevin Bacon.

Score 7 for Bon Jovi.

Charlie W is a Jersey boy who attended college right around the time that groups like REO Speedwagon were making way in the music biz for acts like Jon Bon Jovi.

The conversion is good! Score 8 for Bon Jovi.

All signs seem to point to the Jersey Kid.

This would be a terrible rumor to be false—not to mention a terrible rumor to miss if it’s true. I’m hedging my bets on this one being true.

2) Joe Montana

I saw Joe Montana on “Best Damn Sports” show last night doing a Niners/Joe/Jerry sycophant special. He wouldn’t admit whether or not he would be speaking at the pep rally when asked—so that means he definitely will be. Reggie Bush was in the audience instead of doing push-ups in his room, whereas Ronnie Lott who is retired and probably only plays golf now, was so busy that he had to phone in to the show to speak with Joe.

3) Lou Holtz

Lou will probably be there, but I’m guessing he won’t speak. Just a hunch.

4) Vince Vaughn

Vince did a stand-up show here last Saturday. I missed it, “Big whoop, do you wannda fight aboud it?” Someone probably should have tried to sit Vince down at the Backer and keep him drunk until the pep rally, but I’m guessing he won’t be back in South Bend for a while.

5) Jesus H Christ

No seriously folks, I got an official e-mail from student affairs informing me that the guy who learned Aramaic and smattered himself with fake blood for our beloved Mel Gibson's Passion will be speaking at the grotto on Thursday. The topic will be his spiritual journey or some other business that nobody but writers for Advocata Nostra and the Irish Rover would sincerely care about. I’m definitely going to Tivo that one out of my weekend.

6) Fab Four

I heard somewhere that they’re bigger than Jesus. Must be a rumor.

Thanks for reading all this garbage, can somebody write my midterm paper for me now??????????????????? Ellen??????


Monday, October 10, 2005

2005 Baseball Awards

Inspired by the great work Tom Verducci does at Sports Illustrated, including his under-25 team, here are my year-end awards. For each position, there are multiple categories of winners: the overall category, the "rising star," and the no-name. The "rising star" is a player under 30 with less than 3 years of playing experience. The no-name is someone that most people haven't heard of, and who usually doesn't fit into the rising star category. For each category, there are three winners: the Verducci winner, the Gammons winner, and the Kanka winner. Tom Verducci seems to be quite into statistics, so the Verducci winner is the person with the best statistical year, according to CBS Sportsline's Player Rankings. Peter Gammons goes more on gut feeling than numbers, so there I went with whomever he may pick. Then, since this is my site, I also threw in a Kanka winner, based on my own criteria.
Without further ado, here they are:


Verduccily Speaking: Victor Martinez, Indians. .305 AVG, 20 HR, 80 RBI. Martinez proves that it's not how you start, but how you finish. Early in the season, Jason Varitek was flirting with .350 while Martinez was struggling to stay above the Mendoza line. After an incredibly hot August and September, Martinez, who shared the catcher Silver Slugger award with Pudge Rodriguez last year, will likely be the sole recipient of that trophy this year.
Gammonsesquily Speaking: Martinez
Kankaly Speaking: Martinez
Rising Star
Verduccily Speaking: Martinez
Gammonsesquily Speaking: Martinez
Kankaly Speaking: Martinez
Verduccily Speaking: Bengie Molina, Angels. .295 AVG, 15 HR, 69 RBI. Wait, this guy is batting 5th for a playoff team?
Gammonsesquily Speaking: Ramon Hernandez, Padres. .290 AVG, 12 HR, 58 RBI. Injuries have slowed his progress, but he's a good hitting catcher.
Kankaly Speaking: Javier Valentin, Reds. .281 AVG, 14 HR, 50 RBI. Jose's brother put up those numbers in a mere 76 games as a backup catcher/first baseman. He may never be a star, but he'll be a solid catcher.

First Base

Verduccily Speaking: Mark Teixeira, Rangers. .301 AVG, 43 HR, 144 RBI. Both Derrek Lee and Albert Pujols hit in the .330s and had more runs and stolen bases. (Lee also had 3 more HR.) But, apparently RBI are the most important to CBS Sportsline.
Gammonsesquily Speaking: Pujols. Just a natural baseball player. He can flat-out hit, and he's excelled at every position he's been put at.
Kankaly Speaking: I'm a huge Pujols fan, but you have to give Lee some credit here. He did lead first basemen in home runs, and led the entire league in average. Plus, he's always been a Gold Glove first baseman. No need to punish him just because his team fell out of the playoff picture.
Rising Star
Verduccily Speaking: Teixeira, assuming Pujols is an established star.
Gammonsesquily Speaking: Teixeira, for the reasons above.
Kankaly Speaking: Teixeira
Verduccily Speaking: Teixeira
Gammonsesquily Speaking: Chad Tracy, Diamondbacks. .308 AVG, 27 HR, 72 RBI.
Kankaly Speaking: Shea Hillenbrand, Blue Jays. .291 AVG, 18 HR, 82 RBI. Not bad for a guy who was driven out of Boston for not taking enough pitches.

Second Base

Verduccily Speaking: Brian Roberts, Orioles. .314 AVG, 18 HR, 73 RBI, 92 R, 27 SB. Started the season like gangbusters, before an injury took him down for a few weeks. Somehow, Roberts' numbers edge out Chase Utley's .291 AVG, 28 HR, 105 RBI, 16 SB.
Gammonsesquily Speaking: Utley.
Kankaly Speaking: Ron Belliard, Indians. .284 AVG, 17 HR, 78 RBI. The numbers don't look like much, but what he did for the Indians this year can't be put on paper. Of course, his defense can be put on "Web Gems," and his clubhouse and on-field antics can be put on audio tape.
Rising Star
Verduccily Speaking: Roberts barely still qualifies for this category.
Gammonsesquily Speaking: Utley
Kankaly Speaking: Roberts. He had shown glimpses of greatness while sharing time with Jerry Hairston. In his first full season, he showed how great he is.
Verduccily Speaking: Placido Polanco, Tigers. .331 AVG, 9 HR, 56 RBI. Don't look now, but that .331 average led the league.
Gammonsesquily Speaking: Jorge Cantu, Devil Rays. .286 AVG, 28 HR, 117 RBI. Big potential to move into the "Rising Stars" category next year, and big potential to pick up some Rookie of the Year votes as well.
Kankaly Speaking: Cantu. People talk about Robinson Cano because he plays for the Yankees, and Cantu because he's a great hitter. If they changed teams, no one would be talking about Cano.

Third Base

Verduccily Speaking: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees. .321 AVG, 48 HR, 130 RBI, 124 R, 21 SB. There's still a huge difference from playing heads-up baseball and cheating, Alex.
Gammonsesquily Speaking: Morgan Ensberg, Astros. .283 AVG, 36 HR, 101 RBI.
Kankaly Speaking: Chone Figgins, Angels. .290 AVG, 113 R, 62 SB. Led the league in steals by a slim margin over Jose Reyes, Scott Podsednik, and Juan Pierre. Plus, did you really expect me to not pick the utility guy? (And yes, split infinitives are now gramatically acceptable. I don't think starting a sentence with the word "and" is, however.)
Rising Star
Verduccily Speaking: Figgins
Gammonsesquily Speaking: David Wright, Mets. .306 AVG, 27 HR, 102 RBI, 17 SB. Again, not bad for the first full season of work. Plus, he turned in two of the best defensive plays of the year.
Kankaly Speaking: Wright beats out Hank Blalock in an off year by Blalock.
Verduccily Speaking: Ensberg
Gammonsesquily Speaking: Ensberg
Kankaly Speaking: Ensberg


Verduccily Speaking: Michael Young, Rangers. .331 AVG, 24 HR, 91 RBI. Tied for the highest average in the AL, and second only to Miguel Tejada (26) for home runs by a shortstop. Not bad numbers for a natural second baseman.
Gammonsesquily Speaking: Young.
Kankaly Speaking: Not Derek Jeter.
Rising Star
Verduccily Speaking: Felipe Lopez, Reds. .291 AVG, 23 HR, 85 RBI, 15 SB. Not bad for his first full season in the bigs.
Gammonsesquily Speaking: Jhonny Peralta, Indians. .292 AVG, 24 HR, 78 RBI. In spring training, he was fighting Brandon Phillips for a roster spot. Then, he was hitting 9th and not playing every day. By the end of the season, he had worked his way up to the third spot in the lineup, and he proved that he can be an every day Major League shortstop. Honorable mention to Clint "Deer Meat" Barmes of the Rockies.
Kankaly Speaking: Peralta. Yes, I know he "can't" spell his first name. Have you seen him turn a double play with Ronnie Belliard? And how clutch is he in the late innings?
Verduccily Speaking: Jimmy Rollins, Phillies. .290 AVG, 41 SB, 115 R. He shouldn't be a no-name by any sense of the imagination. But, for some reason, no one talks about him.
Gammonsesquily Speaking: Julio Lugo, Devil Rays. .295 AVG, 39 SB, 89 R. Plus, he finally learned how to play defense consistently.
Kankaly Speaking: Jack Wilson, Pirates. .257 AVG, 8 HR, 7 SB. OK, so 2004 was the only season where he hit above .260. But, have you seen what this guy can do on defense?

Left Field

Verduccily Speaking: Manny Ramirez, Red Sox. .292 AVG, 45 HR, 144 RBI. Hey Ellen, here are some pictures of Manny being huggy.
Gammonsesquily Speaking: Miguel Cabrera, Marlins. .323 AVG, 33 HR, 116 RBI. OK, so it's hard to top Manny. But Miguel certainly tried.
Kankaly Speaking: Cabrera. Still some mention should go to Jason Bay, whose .306 AVG. 32 HR, and 21 SB somehow wedged him between Manny and Miguel in the Sportsline rankings.
Rising Star
Verduccily Speaking: Bay
Gammonsesquily Speaking: Cabrera
Kankaly Speaking: Carl Crawford, Devil Rays. .301 AVG, 15 HR, 46 SB. Let's put it this way: If you're building a young franchise, and you can't get Cabrera, don't be too upset if you're left with Crawford.
Verduccily Speaking: Pat Burrell, Phillies. .281 AVG, 32 HR, 117 RBI.
Gammonsesquily Speaking: Carlos Lee, Brewers. .265 AVG, 32 HR, 114 RBI, 13 SB. In the hunt for the HR and RBI titles for a while.
Kankaly Speaking: Randy Winn. .306 AVG, 20 HR, 63 RBI, 19 SB. Why not. You only hear his name when he gets traded, but he is a career .288 hitter who can play all three outfield positions. (Which is approximately three more positions than Carlos Lee can play.)

Center Field

Verduccily Speaking: Andruw Jones, Braves. .263 AVG, 51 HR, 128 RBI. He still can't hit for average, but this year he made up for that. Plus, even if he's starting to lose a step, he's still ahead of most center fielders defensively.
Gammonsesquily Speaking: Jones
Kankaly Speaking: Jones
Rising Star
Verduccily Speaking: Grady Sizemore, Indians. .289 AVG, 22 HR, 81 RBI, 111 R, 22 SB. Not bad for a guy who didn't even break camp with the team. Verducci even put Sizemore at #7 in his list of AL MVP finalists.
Gammonsesquily Speaking: Sizemore. The Tribe lineup gelled when Sizemore was moved to the leadoff spot.
Kankaly Speaking: Sizemore. When the Indians Team Shops started selling pink "Mrs. Sizemore" t-shirts, they sold out in one day. The women in Cleveland love him, and most of the men have man-crushes on him.
Verduccily Speaking: Vernon Wells, Blue Jays. .269 AVG, 28 HR, 97 RBI. Don't know why he's still a no-name, but here he is.
Gammonsesquily Speaking: Brady Clark, Brewers. .306 AVG, 13 HR, 94 R, 10 SB. A breakout year for Clark, buried by Carlos Lee's surge and the Brewers lack of success.
Kankaly Speaking: Clark, but only because Jim Edmonds' .263 AVG/29 HR/89 RBI season is an off year for him.

Right Field

Verduccily Speaking: Gary Sheffield, Yankees. .291 AVG, 34 HR, 123 RBI. Hey, he does have great badspeed and a Stan Musial-esque ability to keep his bat level.
Gammonsesquily Speaking: Vlad Guerrero, Angels. .317 AVG, 32 HR, 108 RBI. The numbers speak for themselves.
Kankaly Speaking: Guerrero
Rising Star
Verduccily Speaking: Craig Monroe, Tigers. .277 AVG, 20 HR, 89 RBI. I kid you not.
Gammonsesquily Speaking: Jeff Francoeur, Braves. .300 AVG, 14 HR, 45 RBI. That's in only 70 games.
Kankaly Speaking: Francoeur.
Verduccily Speaking: Geoff Jenkins, Brewers. .292 AVG, 25 HR, 86 RBI. Hmm... good veteran outfield, three Baseball America Top 100 infielders, a proven #1 starter, and a solid closer (see below). Can the Brewers start to turn it around?
Gammonsesquily Speaking: Jermaine Dye, White Sox. .274 AVG, 31 HR, 86 RBI. Hey, it doesn't look like much, but it was enough for this team.
Kankaly Speaking: Jenkins

Designated Hitter

Verduccily Speaking: David Ortiz, Red Sox. .300 AVG, 47 HR, 148 RBI. An MVP candidate, and very worthily so.
Gammonsesquily Speaking: It's hard to argue with Ortiz.
Kankaly Speaking: ...unless you're an Indians fans. Travis Hafner, Indians. .305 AVG, 33 HR, 108 RBI. Pronk is an absolute manchild. Even after missing almost a full month thanks to a Mark Buehrle curveball to the face, Hafner was still third in Verducci's list of AL MVP finalists. Verducci has a great point - Hafner is a very valuable member of the Tribe lineup.
Rising Star
Verduccily Speaking: Hafner
Gammonsesquily Speaking: Hafner
Kankaly Speaking: Hafner
Verduccily Speaking: Raul Ibanez, Mariners. .305 AVG, 33 HR, 108 RBI. That's a great season that went almost entirely overlooked.
Gammonsesquily Speaking: Ibanez, although special mention goes to Dave Dellucci, who hit 29 HR out of the leadoff spot for the Rangers this year.
Kankaly Speaking: Ibanez

Starting Pitcher

Verduccily Speaking: Dontrelle Willis, Marlins. 22-10, 2.63 ERA, 170 K. Let the debate begin.
Gammonsesquily Speaking: Chris Carpenter, Cardinals. 21-5, 2.83 ERA, 213 K. I believe that Verducci actually placed Carpenter just ahead of Willis in his NL Cy Young finalist list.
Kankaly Speaking: Carpenter, although I honestly just flipped a coin to decide that.
Rising Star
Verduccily Speaking: Willis
Gammonsesquily Speaking: Willis, but only because Johan Santana doesn't qualify, and Jake Peavy's 13-7 record is an off year for him.
Kankaly Speaking: Clifford Lee, Indians. 18-5, 3.79 ERA, 143 K. Bartolo who?
Verduccily Speaking: Carpenter
Gammonsesquily Speaking: Roy Oswalt, Astros. 20-12, 2.94 ERA, 184 K. Is he only a no-name because he plays in Houston, or because he plays along side Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte?
Kankaly Speaking: Carpenter. I had Carpenter, Jason Marquis, and Rodrigo Lopez as finalists for my last fantasy baseball roster spot. Of course, I took Lopez.

Relief Pitcher

Verduccily Speaking: Mariano Rivera, Yankees. 43 SV, 1.38 ERA, 80 K.
Gammonsesquily Speaking: Chad Cordero, Nationals. 47 SV, 1.82 ERA, 61 SV. By the way, he's the Major League saves leader this year.
Kankaly Speaking: Bob Wickman, Indians. 45 SV, 2.47 ERA, 41 K. He wasn't fun to watch, but the Tribe wouldn't have been knocking on Chicago's door if it wasn't for him. Wickman tied for the AL lead in saves.
Rising Star
Verduccily Speaking: Derrick Turnbow, Brewers. 39 SV, 1.74 ERA, 64 K. How he beats Brad Lidge's 42 SV, 2.29 ERA, and 103 K, I'm not sure.
Gammonsesquily Speaking: Huston Street, A's. 23 SV, 1.72 ERA, 72 K. Project out over a full season, Street would likely beat Turnbow, Cordero, Lidge, and Frankie Rodriguez (45 SV, 2.67 ERA, 91 K).
Kankaly Speaking: Lidge. Does that make me a "Domer Homer?" Lidge and BJ Ryan were the only closers to top the 100 K mark. Lidge is said to have one of the best sliders in baseball.
Verduccily Speaking: Turnbow
Gammonsesquily Speaking: Todd Jones. 40 SV, 2.10 ERA, 62 K. It was a great comeback season for the not-so-openminded Jones.
Kankaly Speaking: Jason Isringhausen, Cardinals. 39 SV, 2.14 ERA, 51 K. Why has no one heard of this guy?


Verduccily Speaking: Tony LaRussa, Cardinals. The Cards' 100-62 record was a game better than the White Sox 99-63 record.
Gammonsesquily Speaking: Ozzie Guillen, White Sox. Everyone thought he was crazy bringing small ball to US Cellular Field, but he made it work, and he's still making it work.
Kankaly Speaking: Eric Wedge, Indians. He's still learning on the job, and his teams can be downright terrible at small ball, but he's managed to turn a bunch of youngsters into a pennant contenders.

General Manager

Verduccily Speaking: Ken Williams, White Sox. He somehow managed to make the Esteban Loiaza for Jose Contreras and Carlos Lee for Scott Podsednik deals look good, and added key pieces in Tad Iguchi and Jermaine Dye.
Gammonsesquily Speaking: John Schuerholz, Braves. Normally, teams have to rebuild to get the young talent the Braves have. Eighteen rookies! Where did they all come from?
Kankaly Speaking: Mark Shapiro, Indians. Technically, Shapiro should be the Gammonsesque pick as well, but someone deserves credit for what the Braves have done. But, even more credit goes to Shapiro. The cupboards were bare when he came in, and he traded away the present to restock them. In the Bartolo COlon trade, Shapiro got two players who may be All Starts as early as 2006 (Lee and Sizemore). His philosophy of using players with good character led to the trade of Milton Bradley, for whom Franklin Gutierrez was acquired. The Bradley trade also allowed Coco Crisp, and eventually Sizemore, to play every day. The Indians have a bright future for years to come.

KankaNation Movie Reviews

Saw a few movies this weekend. Here are the mini-reviews:

  • Waiting: Went to see this in the theater with F-Bomb. Good choice, considering the characters in the movie were basically me and F-Bomb's friends. There's not much of a plot - it's more of a "day in the life" movie. But, the one liners and random moments more than make up for plot. It was a good show, if not raunchy. Overall, it's the type of movie you enjoy, but maybe don't want to admit to enjoying.

  • Family Guy Presents: Stewie Griffin, The Untold Story: Basically three successive episodes combined into one story. If you only watch the show for Quagmire or Cleveland, you're out of luck. But, if you're a fan of the main characters, prepare for many laugh out loud moments.

  • Napoleon Dynamite: I've only seen this once, so technically the jury's still out. But, I think I know now why so many of my readers suggested this to me: like my writing, this movie is just very absurd. Funny, but absurd.

  • Team America, World Police: Hilarious if you're not easily offended. As you can expect from the creators of South Park, it's a great social commentary as well.

  • Monty Python's The Meaning of Life: OK, actually haven't seen this one yet. It's next on the list.

Rumor Mill

Judging by the Google searches that have been leading to my site lately, there must be a rumor going around campus (ND's campus, that is) that Bon Jovi will be at this weekend's pep rally. Has anyone else heard this?

...and some randomness

Check out Five Bucks to Friday, a comic by a Notre Dame grad. Do these two strips remind you of a certain group of friends?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Second Kankaversary

Sunday, October 9, is KankaNation's second anniversary. The shark jumping all began here.

It's been said before, but I couldn't do it without my readers. Actually, I wouldn't do it without my readers - it'd be kind of pointless then, wouldn't it? So, whether you're an occasional reader, a longtime lurker, or a "loyal KankaManiac," please post to the message board to let us know who you are and what you think of the site.

As regular readers know, I don't have much of a life, but I do have an active imagination. In that spirit, here's a look at what the KankaNation Second Anniversary Party might have been like:

The scene is the Fisher 1B quad. Kanka, Andy, and Scovil are present.
"Wow, it sure was nice of Fr. Rob to let us have the entire 1B hall for this anniversary party.
"It sure was," answers Kanka. "But, do you think it was too much to make this a Halloween party, too?"
"Not at all," replies Andy. "By the way, how do you think my Strongbad costume turned out?"
"Every time I look at it, I can't believe how awesome it is!"
"Hey, thanks," says Andy. "By the way, what are you going as?"
"Not sure yet. Hey Chris, nice Christmas tree costume. Come over here so I can get a better look."
"I can't," Chris responds. "Yonto put up all these Christmas lights, and now I can't move!"
"Speaking of which," says Kanka, "where is Yonto?"
"He went to pick up his uncle, The Coach," says Andy.
Just then, Mike and Meg Hatton enter. "Mike! Meg! Thanks for coming," says Kanka. "How's 'Charlotte' doing?" he adds, lining up to yell "Football!" into Meg's belly.
"Very funny," answers Meg.
Mike quickly changes the subject: "Hey, Kanka, we brought you a present!"
"Let me guess, it's a woman," Kanka says, with a mixture of sarcasm and hopefulness.
"Is it Woman?" Kanka asks with must trepidation.
"Wait, what, no!" Mike replies, giving his best Klondike impression. "It's a 'Best of the Backer' CD."
"Well, great, throw it in!" Kanka says excitedly. Then, in the roundabout way of thinking and talking that only he has mastered, Kanka adds, "Speaking of Klondike, as we were... kind of... well, not really. Did we remember to invite him?"
"No," replies Mike. "We need to call him. Who has a phone?"
"I do," Kanka quickly answers. "Oh, wait, no, nevermind."
Andy asks, "do you think he'll come? He is at least two hours away."
Mike and Kanka simultaneously reply, "Of course."
Mike remembers that he himself has a phone, so he calls the erstwhile Alaskan to invite him to the party.
Klondike begins with his familiar excuse: "I don't know; I have work to do."
"Brittany can come, too."
"We'll be right there."
Just then, an ominous figure fills the room. "Hey guys, can I borrow your computer?" asks KankaNation Hall of Famer Darrell Campbell.
"Do you have to talk like that?" Andy reflexively answers.
Realizing the possible trouble, Kanka quickly changes the subject. "Hey Darrell, how would you like to be Securitah for the party?"
"Dude, securitah? Sweeeet." Darrell rips a sleeve off his yellow shirt and places it on his head, then takes post at the door.
Just then, a train whistle is heard. Everyone rushes to the window to see what's going on. (Well, everyone except Scovil, of course. He still can't move.) A giant train had pulled into the courtyard between Fisher and Pangborn! Just then, Yonto and The Coach (another KankaNation Hall of Famer) walk out.
"Hey guys," Yonto starts, sheepishly. "Sorry I'm so late. The train broke down. I tried to get the Leprechaun Legion to pull it, but they were no help."
"I told you," Coach Yonto says.
"So, wait," asks Mike, "when did you learn how to control a train?"
"I can't," replies Yonto. "But Aflac can. He's an engineer, duh."
At that moment, Aflac steps out of the train carrying Dave's Katie Holmes poster. "Hey guys!"
As if on cue, Dave and Ellen come in the door. Ellen looks awkwardly at Dave. "Um, I need to use the bathroom."
"Um, me too," replies Dave, as they slowly move away from each other.
Right behind Dave and Ellen enter F-Bomb and Sarah Paulson. Kanka greets them at the door. "Hey, Sarah, good to see you here! Wasn't there a sax party going on right now?"
"Oh, yeah, um...." mumbled Sarah.
[At this point, F-Bomb goes off on a 45 minute rant. The only words I can print here are "man," "saxes," "mother," and meatloaf." I'm still not sure how meatloaf came up.]
Breaking up the rant, Dave walks up. "Hey Kanka."
"Hey Dave."
Seconds later, Ellen walks up. "Hey Kanka Love!"
Dave gives Ellen an odd look. "Wait, did you just ditch me for Kanka?"
Ellen replies, "Um, maybe. Wait, did you just ditch me for Kanka?"
"Um, yeah."
"Hey, I'm hungry from all that ranting," F-Bomb interjects. "Does anyone know where I can get a turkey hot dog?"
"Turkey hot dog? Do you know what you're getting yourself into?" Yep, it was Jon Byrer.
Meanwhile, at the door, Darrell is inspecting the jacket of a certain suspicious ne'er-do-well. "Is this gin or vodka in this flask?"
"It's gin," replies Klondike. Then, reaching into another pocket, he pulls out a second flask. "This is the vodka. I have rum and whisky, too, if that's what you're into."
"Oh James," sighs Brittany in mild disappointment.
"Hey guys, look who I found!" Klondike exclaims while walking through the door. "It's Scott and Kim!"
Conveniently, "Techno" comes on the stereo at that very moment. Calls rise for the piccs to shimmy. Reluctantly, those calls are answered.
Mike suddenly comes to a realization. "Hey Klondike, you've been here for 3 minutes, and you haven't called Amber yet!"
"You're right. Hold on a second." Klondike takes out his phone and punches in his #1 speed dial. (In case you were wondering, Brittany is #3 behind a killer cigar shop in downtown Aurora.)
"Hey Amber."
"We're having a party, and you're not here."
"Well, gotta go!"
"Look, Klondike, I'm really sick of the whole '...' joke. It's old. I do talk! Oh wait, I shouldn't have yelled. I'm sorry. I need to get back to living in LA and being on TV. I'm sorry."
Just then, F-Bomb comes tearing by Klondike. "You guys. Seriously. You guys. Cronk's sister and Pete's sister are making out right now in the other room!" Kanka and F-Bomb rush into the other room, while a spattering of the other guys slowly follow. The group enters the room to find that, in fact, Cronk and Pete, and not their sisters, are the ones that are making out. Lisa, Cronk's sister, and Pete's sister stand in the corner, each wearing the Cronk Face. Kanka turns to leave, only to be greeted by F-Bomb giving him "the goat."
A car pulls up outside the window of this side room. Inside the car are Emily and four random blonde women. "Pete! Pete's sister!" Emily yells. "Hurry up, we have to get back to the Amazing Race."
"Wait," Pete says. "Are we actually related?"
Emily looks at each of the girls in the car, then to Pete and his sister. "I have no idea."
As Pete and his sister crawl out the window, everyone heads back to the main party room. In the hallway, they're greeted by Marcus Barlow and Gary Godsey. Marcus, of course, is flanked by a group of hot Corby's girls.
"Hey Marcus," says Gary, "this isn't the Backer."
"I told you, I have to hit this party. That's how I roll."
Upon entering, Gary sees Jessi and Ellen (but not Ellen's butt). Realizing that this place must be cool after all, he grabs a beer and finds a seat in the corner where he can just be Gary Godsey.
While Kanka and F-Bomb were in the other room, Kanka's Lorain friends my buddy Matt, Fired Up Friend Todd, and Infamous Cousin joined the party. Just wanted to point that out.
The next person to enter is Dave's brother Michael. Kanka spots him and says, "Hey, Mike, great Jeff Samardzija costume - love the hair!"
"Uhh... that's not a costume...."
"I can take care of the hair," said Nick Schumacher, entering in full fencing gear.
"Uh, no, I'm good," replied Michael.
Kanka compliments Nick on his costume. "Oh, yeah, costume, right...."
Changing the subject, Michael mentions the guy he saw lying on the ground on his way in. "He was wearing a Packers #4 jersey, and he was really beat up."
"Wow, I knew Brett Farve was having a rough year, but..." said Kanka, trying to make a joke. "Wait a minute, that's the Catholic Packer Fan! I warned him to stay away from Mike; we all know how much Mike hates the Packers."
"Um, yeah," said Michael, "I also saw someone in a #22 women's basketball jersey."
"Alicia?!" Kanka excitedly exclaims.
"No, it was a dude."
"Oh. Hey, that must be The Backer!"
"Wait, wasn't Pat Quill coming to this?" F-Bomb asks Dave.
"Nah. He's either hanging out with random hot girls or designing state quarters."
Just then, Andy's voice comes over the stereo system. "It's karaoke time!"
A voice comes from the crowd. "ND band play 'Fins!'"
"Chad!" exclaims Ellen, running over to give him a huge hug. "Wait a minute, I have something to do."
As Enrique Iglasias's "Escape" blares through the speakers, Ellen and Kanka put on the most spectacular singing and dancing exhibition EVER.
As "Escape" ends, Dave comes up to the microphone. "It's our turn now." Dave and Kanka begin to reprise their performance of "Gin & Juice" from the FSU trip.
After about the seventh "BIATCH," a cool figure slinks into the room. The music gives the traditional "record player screeches to a halt" sound, which is odd, considering the song was on a CD. "Now wait just a minizzle," says Snoop Dogg. "Let me show you how it's done." Pulling out a microphone he just happened to keep in his jacket pocket, Snoop starts laying down the lyrics to his early hit.
Just as the song ends, Fr. John I. Jenkins, CSC walks into the room. "I am releasing the following statement. The University has determined that Kanka will not be retained as writer of this blog. The success of this blog consists of three things: Writing with integrity, giving the readers superb information, and excelling at humor. Meeting all of these goals is a tremendous challenge. But I believe we have found a person in Bill Simmons who can lead us to such multifaceted success."

That's my story the end.