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Here we go again…

Nov 19, 2009, 7:30 AM EDT

Lost in this week of coaching speculation and doomsday ravings is the fact that there’s a football game this Saturday. Not just any game, but the final home game of the season and senior day at Notre Dame stadium.

Last season’s senior day provided the low water mark of the Charlie Weis era: a loss to woeful Syracuse. This season, the Irish come into their first matchup with UConn leaking serious oil, and it’ll be up to the veteran leadership on the football team to put together a complete football game and beat a very able opponent.

As a Notre Dame fan, UConn would scare me silly. They’ve lost five games by fifteen points: they had an early two-point loss to North Carolina, they blew a 15-point lead against Pitt to fall on a last second field goal, took a 24-21 lead against West Virginia with 3:50 remaining in the game only to lose 28-24, gave up an improbable 81-yard touchdown pass with 22 seconds remaining to lose to Rutgers, and then came within two points of a come from behind victory against BCS darling Cincinnati. Combine that with the tragic loss of cornerback Jasper Howard to an on campus murder, and this team is bound for some good luck.

In many ways, this feels like a chemistry experiment, or at the very least one of those tricky algebra problems that start with, “If team A is sinking at 30 miles-an-hour and team B is sinking at 45-miles and hour.” The key for an Irish victory is finding a way to stop the UConn offense, no easy task for an Irish unit that hasn’t been able to stop anyone save the opener and Washington State. But probably more important than any on-field element is battling the psychological war that these players have had to put up with these last few weeks.

Since the loss to Navy, you can almost feel the negativity suffocating the team. This isn’t an excuse for the inconsistency, merely an observation that the Irish are a team that’s clearly pressing. You think Darius Fleming roughs a punter who’s pooch kicking if he isn’t trying to do too much? You think Eric Maust can’t kick 30 yard punts in his sleep?

Even with all the heart break this season, the rallying cry for UConn this Saturday is a much easier sell than the one the Irish are facing. Even if you’re to believe that 18- to 22-year-olds don’t watch ESPN or read the internet, the team is well aware that the fate of their coach may have already been decided. Already saddled with the emotions of a final home game, a team with close to zero confidence will be playing an opponent that has played every team on their schedule to within four points. Combine that with the Irish’s flair for the dramatic, and we’ve got another must-see Saturday coming.

  1. Brendan M - Nov 19, 2009 at 7:46 AM

    No, I don’t think Eric Maust can punt 30 yards in his sleep, he can barely do it when he’s awake. Has he had a punt over 45 yards this year? How many punts over 40? You can combine the two and count ’em up on one hand. Eric Maust has been an unmidigated DISASTER, we have the worst punting game I have seen at any level of football minus Pee-wee. HIGH SCHOOL punters out punt the shlubs we send out there on 4th down.

  2. mrrandolph - Nov 19, 2009 at 8:04 AM

    They scare me too. They are also on scholarship and they have produced NFL talent also. Donald Brown-Colts
    And, I do expect ND to struggle. Why would game 11 be different than games 1-10.

  3. A Quick Remark - Nov 19, 2009 at 1:11 PM

    UCONN has been waiting for a huge win. I hope it doesn’t happen at ND.

  4. Thaddeus Hale - Nov 19, 2009 at 1:28 PM

    It pleases me to see the result the college has gotten with Charlie Weis, after the treatment of Coach Willingham. Notre Dame deserves everything they get and continue to get. Nothing will come good to this institution because of the treatment of Coach Willingham and not keeping him for his five year contract, like they have with lesser coaches. Charlie Weis is an arrogant and foul-mouthed individual who could never obtain the integrity that Ty Willingham has, and, for a college that says it prides itself in its reputation, it never made sense that they would want someone like Weis at their university in the first place. “The chickens have come home to roost.”

  5. StephenOfTroy - Nov 19, 2009 at 9:34 PM

    Well, Thaddeus Hale said it all, albeit with a bit more vitriol than I’d use. It’s an understatement to say that Weis’s public persona doesn’t match the standards that ND claims to hold for itself. Still, no sense piling on…
    I will, however, say that this post reads like an attempt to lower expectations. You’re seriously expecting us to believe that ND “should” have trouble beating UConn (UCONN???), at home (at HOME???), on Senior Day (after losing last year on Senior Day to SYRACUSE???), in a game that most people view as critical for Charlie Weis’s dwindling chance of hanging on to his job?
    Come on. “Play like a champion.” And think like one. I expect the Irish to win this by 24 points. It would be a bigger surprise than losing to Navy again (NAVY??? sorry, couldn’t help myself) if they don’t win this one.

  6. mike - Nov 20, 2009 at 8:48 AM

    I can’t believe that you don’t think charlie has the integrity that Ty did. Did you not see the Boston College Game or what about the other year when that little kid was dying of a brain tumor and he let him call a play “throw left” and they were on their own like five yard line but he called it anyway. Any of this ring a bell. Some of you people have such short memories as soon as it doesn’t go the way you think it should you say what a bad guy he is. Why did none of this come up when we went to back to back BCS bowls… first time since Lou was there. And if you still think Ty has more inegrity than Touchdown Charlie then maybe if Ty would have spent a little time recruting and showing some emotion or not leaving in the middle of the game to go to the bathroom…Rutger several years ago when we were ranked fourth. Charlie is the man for the job and they should kee him till he wants to leave

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