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Remarks from the glass is half empty camp

Sep 28, 2009, 5:15 PM EDT

There has been plenty of rumbling and grumbling about the last few games, mostly from the camp that believes the last three games should never have been this close. But the facts remain: The Irish are a play away from being 4-0, and a few tough breaks away from being 1-3, and sit at 3-1 after four games.

The same camp that buried Weis for being unable to win the close ones is now on him for the games being too close. Fans that derided his aggressive play-calling in Ann Arbor ridiculed his willingness to play the clock game against Purdue. And while usually the noise becomes static because certain “passionate” Irish fans are filled with more delusions than logic, there’s a pretty good argument to be made by the glass-half-empty camp this season.

And it was made yesterday by Yahoo!’s Matt Hinton:

The positive spin out of those escapes is that both teams remain
winners — Michigan is 4-0, Notre Dame 3-1 — and got “gutsy” efforts
from their starting quarterbacks, Tate Forcier and Jimmy Clausen, both
of whom returned from injuries to throw the winning touchdown pass.
Charlie Weis said Clausen wouldn’t have played in the second half at all
if Purdue hadn’t cut into Notre Dame’s 10-point halftime lead. In that
sense, these were great efforts from two feted SoCal kids scratching
out victory in the hardscrabble Midwest, etc.

But these aren’t really inspiring wins, in general: Notre Dame’s three
wins are over teams that are 1-6 outside of their losses to the Irish,
with losses to Central Michigan, Colorado State and Northern Illinois
in that record. The Irish have barely gotten out of two straight,
three-point wins against Big Ten also-rans whose only victories are
over Toledo and Montana State, respectively, and which have each lost
three in a row after those initial cupcake dates. On one hand, the
Irish have kept alive their solid record against losing teams (they opened 5-1 against a similar schedule last year), but offered few hints — especially on defense, where they
currently rank 94th in total D and 106th against the pass — that
they’ve progressed enough to reverse the years-long skid against
winners, now at 17 losses in the last 18 games against teams that
finished above .500.

The glass-half-full counter to that statement could be multi-pronged, but I’d start it somewhere around here. To call the Michigan State team that came to South Bend the same one that played Central Michigan would be misguided. Ditto for a very game Purdue team that played passionate but sloppy football against the Irish, and came within a play of beating an Oregon team at Autzen Stadium that ran Cal out of the gym at home two weeks later.

The Michigan game is what it is: A game that snowballed out of control and should have been won by the Irish. But the most important factor for the Irish other than their health is their mojo, and two close wins, regardless of how the team played, is very good for the mojo. If the Irish manage to make it through Washington and get to their bye week at 4-1 and take a week to get healthy before USC, anything can happen.

Stepping away from the half-glass of anything constraints, games like Saturday continue to exist if only to remind people that’s why you play them. A quick rundown of the Top 25 this week will remind you that nobody knows anything this early in the season in this generation of college football.

  1. ND1 - Sep 28, 2009 at 8:25 PM

    Thank you Mr. Arnold for having a fully functioning brain that realizes that “A quick rundown of the top 25 this week will remind you that nobody knows anything this early in the season in this generation of college football”. I guess you dont get to write on here about big time college football without being competent. Also, thank you for pointing out that the Michigan game “snowballed out of control and should have been won by the Irish”. Anybody who watched that game knows EVERYTHING that entails. So, it goes without saying. In addition to that, you pointed out that purdue came within a play of beating Oregon who would then go on to absolutely obliterate the former #4 Cal. Not to mention Michigan State. Again, I see your logic very clearly. I’m a Notre Dame fan through and through and it really is quite comforting to know that someone who actually writes about the team can scratch beneath the surface of the obvious and subliminally provide adequate evidence that Notre Dame has played better football teams then they were written up on paper and beaten them. At least thats how i interpreted it.

  2. ND1 - Sep 28, 2009 at 8:29 PM

    Oh, and i can maybe see my comments being taken as sarcasim which they are not intended to be. Its just that with all of the ignorant and illogical fans its rare that you come across somebody who actually “gets it” if you know what i mean.

  3. Keith Arnold - Sep 29, 2009 at 5:41 PM

    Thank you… I think?
    I think many of us that write about football try and categorize teams and hold them in place even after it may not apply. It’s been pretty clear that Notre Dame’s schedule hasn’t been all creampuffs, and that there have been challenges that people might not have seen coming.
    Usually, we can comfortably say, “In the end, this will all work out.” Hopefully that will be the case this year. 3-1 is easy to say fluke. 7-1, 10-2, those things are a little more concrete.

  4. Lewis Banfill - Jan 13, 2010 at 6:20 PM

    That is some inspirational stuff. Never knew that opinions could be this varied. Thanks for all the enthusiasm to offer such helpful information here.

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