Sarah over at Bad Trade bravely picks us up out of the ashes of the Pitt loss and into UConn week:
1. The Pitt loss: give me something good about it, something bad about it, and something ugly about it.
The "bad" and "ugly" portions of this answer are easy - take basically any moment Notre Dame had, from kickoff to final gun, and you can probably apply either. "Good", conversely, is not as easy. With that prelude, here are my choices:
Good: Golden Tate's 87-yard punt return for a touchdown proved, yet again, why he's one of the most electric players in all of college football and, in a more just world, would be the leading Heisman candidate.
Bad: A dynamic Notre Dame offense with one of the best quarterbacks and two of the best receivers in the country managing just three points in the first half and 15 points all game.
Ugly: Notre Dame's porous, awful defense allowing 6 yards-per-carry against Pitt. Since they've sucked against freshman QBs this year, I suppose it's only appropriate they suck against freshman RBs, too. Just terrible.
2. UConn this week. Does the sellout streak end? Do you care if it does end? And if it does, does this have any meaning beyond it being the end of yet another ND streak during the Charlie Weis era?
Ok, a few questions here, so let me take them one at a time:
A) No, the streak doesn't end. ND still manages a sell-out at home.
B) It wouldn't ruin my weekend or anything, but I would be a little bothered that Notre Dame fans would care so little about this year's seniors that they'd avoid their last home game and moment of recognition.
C) If ND does fail to sell-out this weekend, I think it's further evidence that Weis has lost the Irish fanbase. It's one thing for all of us to bitch and gripe online, but voting with your feet (and wallet) represents much more tangible evidence of dissatisfaction.
3. UConn is coming off of a bye week, with three losses just before that, including close losses to West Virginia and Cincinnati. The last time they won was just before cornerback Jaspar Howard was killed. These factors - along with ND's sorry performances recently - suggest to me that UConn is a dangerous team for a Notre Dame team that could really use a win going into Stanford. Should I be worried about this game? And what should I be worried about?
Given the manner in which Notre Dame has played this year, I scarcely think there are many teams Irish fans shouldn't be worried about. UConn, in particular, is a much better team than their record would suggest. They are currently 4-5, but those five losses have come by a combined 15 points. Moreover, they've gone on the road and taken both Pitt and Cincinnati to the wire (losing by three and two points, respectively). In light of those factors, not to mention the continued motivation of playing for their tragically fallen teammate, the Huskies represent a real challenge to be overcome for the Irish. What most concerns me is the state of mind in which ND finds itself. Have the players given up? Are they rallying for their season and/or Weis? Does it even matter? I do think Notre Dame will find a way to prevail on Saturday, but I would not at all be surprised if this were yet another nailbiter.
4. Notre Dame will be seeing a familiar face in UConn quarterback Zach Frazer. Is there anyone who transferred out of Notre Dame, or who the Irish nearly got in the recruiting process, that you think would have made a significant difference on this year's team?
One of each that might have made some difference:
Transferred out: Joseph Fauria. With Kyle Rudolph going down against Navy, having another big, talented tight end to use would have been very helpful.
Missed out on: Given the struggles Notre Dame has had against the run in the last two weeks, I would say either Justin Trattou or Omar Hunter (assuming Hunter would have been healthier in South Bend than he's been in Gainesville).
I definitely think that, in both cases, these players would have made a difference, though I can't say that it would have been significant enough to change the trajectory of this season.
5. I, for one, was very optimistic at the beginning of the season. Now, at 6-4, I am nearly disgusted with this team, and I admit to some actions regarding Notre Dame football that I never thought I would engage in. I can't imagine I am alone. Have you done anything this season - turn off games at halftime, leave early, not watch at all, etc. - that smack of desperation and disgust with this team?
Over the last three years, specifically, and 15 years, generally, I have run the gamut of both emotions and rituals. This year, the one thing that I have re-implemented is watching games on mute. I find that listening to both the asinine banter and verbal fellating of the other team by whomever is announcing makes the games completely awful for me. I've debated turning on the Criqui/Pinkett radio broadcast while watching the muted game on TV but, for me, the silence tends to be better for my blood pressure.