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Oklahoma Mailbag

Sep 26, 2013, 11:59 AM EDT

Tommy Rees, Amir Carlisle AP

Just over 48 hours to go until Notre Dame and Oklahoma take the field. With thousands migrating to South Bend for the game this weekend, let’s take a dig into the mailbag for a few questions and answers.

(With a special guest making her first appearance at the end of the mailbag.)

irish4006: Do you think we are becoming too predictable with the audibles and the adjustments? It’s been pretty visible in a couple of games where defense will line up, wait for Tommy to change the play and then get in a different formation with :02 on the clock. Tommy goes through with the play anyway for yet another incompletion.

I think there’s something to be said for your theory, though I do think you might be underestimating Tommy Rees’ accuracy, as he is the most accurate thrower in Irish football history.

That being said, there’s two sides to this coin. The Irish’s “Hurry Up and Wait” offense does limit defensive substitutions, though Brian Kelly acknowledged last week that the ongoing chess match doesn’t always benefit Notre Dame’s offense.

Expect to see the Irish take the look they get and go with it a bit more this weekend, and ideally that’ll be with a few more runs against an Oklahoma defensive front that many thought was a weak link.

jerseyshorendfan1: do you think we will see any production out of the slot in this game; also I have a feeling that Bryant may get some work this week after his brief appearance last week. Your thoughts?

One solution in the slot could be Amir Carlisle, who spent a little bit of time out there against Michigan State. A productive slot receiver has been an elusive beast for Kelly and his offense, and while CJ Prosise made a nice catch, there hasn’t been much of anything out of that spot, though who lines up where is probably less important, especially with a youngster like Corey Robinson coming on. That means someone like Chris Brown, DaVaris Daniels or TJ Jones can all line up inside or out.

As for the first of many Greg Bryant questions… I do actually think he’ll get the ball this weekend. As a long time Oklahoma commitment, having a chance to run against your almost team would be a nice motivating factor for this week of practice.

ndcanuck: Looking at the rest of the schedule, if ND loses Saturday does that end any realistic hope of a BSC bowl? If so, does that change the coaches approach to the line up going forward (i.e. playing some freshmen)?

It doesn’t end any hopes, but they’ll likely need to beat Stanford at the end of the season. You’ll have a hard time convincing me that a two-loss ND team doesn’t deserve to be in the BCS, especially if their two losses are from September and against Oklahoma and Michigan.

don74: The live blog is fun for a fan but how much of the game do you see when handling comments and commenting yourself? How many times to you need to watch the game to see what went on?

Thanks for this question, Don. Because I don’t think a lot of people realize that it’s tough to manage the chat, watch the game, keep people who can’t watch the game posted… AND make sure people get their comments read/posted.

I’ve gotten a lot better over the past couple of years at watching and live-blogging, but it’s a big reason why it takes me a little bit longer to get my postgame thoughts up — while most writers are spending the game getting their story started, I’m chatting with a few thousands of my friends.

irishaggie: Since 2010 Tommy is 8-1 as a starter at Notre Dame Stadium and has 14 TD’s, 5 INT’s and completes 62% of his passes. In play action he’s deadly. In single set………….hhmm not so much. And when he throws more than 30 passes his accuracy decreases exponentially. Should Andrew Hendrix be used more as the effective runner he is?

IrishAggie, you make quite a few assertions in this question that I’m not necessarily sure I accept as fact. Perhaps the biggest one is that Andrew Hendrix is an effective runner. Outside of the 78-yard gallop against Air Force, Hendrix has never had more than 28 yards in a single game.

On your points about Tommy Rees, I agree that he’s a better playaction passer than most give him credit for, and that’s something that could help the offense going forward. Then again, giving some credibility to the fake would be helpful, and the Irish need their 100th ranked rushing offense to make some steps forward.

ohiond: I was at the Mich. State game. It appeared to me that “time management” issues reared their ugly head again. ND had to burn a couple of time outs early which made the late 1st half red zone very one dimensional. There were a couple of delay of game penalties as well. Why is this happening with a QB that has been in the system for 4-years? Is this more on the coaches or is it Tommy taking too much time checking out of what is called?

I think this is more on Pat Narduzzi and the Michigan State defense than anything from Rees or the coaches. Burning timeouts in the first half are much different than burning them in the second half. I did think there was one delay where Tommy tried to do too much, but that’s BECAUSE he’s been in the system for years, not despite.

irishlee10: How much of Malik Zaire will we see Saturday? And, in what situations?

You will see Zaire wearing a red hat on the sideline. And that’s about it.

NotreDan: Do you think Kelly should take over the play calling from Chuck Martin? If not, why?

No, I don’t. Then again, I don’t necessarily believe that Martin calls every play either, as there’s constant communication between Martin and Kelly and the game plan and call sheet are decided by both of them throughout the week.

Chuck Martin is a great coach and has done a nice job with the offense. Right now, it’s still figuring out what it wants to be.

idratherbeinsouthbend: Which tire category should i choose to get the most comfortable ride?

The black ones.

don74: Kelly and Belichick played golf together and decided to visit each other’s programs. Is it just a coincidence that the Irish Offense and the Pat’s Offense is out of synch this year?

You know what else both units have in common? They lost their best playmakers from the season before.

ndfaithful: Do you think OU will bring their own “Play Like a Champion Today” sign?

Good question! That was a fun non-story story last year.

@BretMiller: Why does ND have the tendency to play up/down to their opponents. Never blowout games like a SEC team? Lack of ability or choice?

Well, it’s a little bit tougher to blow out competitive Big Ten programs than it is to beat teams like SE Missouri State, Alcorn State, Samford, or Furman. (A sampling of four random SEC schedules I just checked out.)

There’s plenty of ability in South Bend, but I do think it comes down to choice sometimes. Notre Dame shut it down and played to win against Purdue during the fourth quarter and seemed to do the same thing against Temple as well.

The Irish haven’t been all that good against the spread this year. (I believe they’re 0-4.) But that’s a product of elevated expectations as well, and comes with the territory.

@thelumpedpoison: Will ND wear the green jerseys?

Kelly said no. But it’s a green out, so maybe a trick is in store. But highly doubtful considering next weekend the Irish will be rolling out their alternate uniforms for the Shamrock Series in Dallas. 

@dcarlson_rrt: will we see a different combo on the right side of the o-line? Maybe establish a power run game?

I think the best personnel is in the game. Remember, it took last year’s team a little bit of time to get the ground game established (after the cake walk through Navy). The future is bright for Ronnie Stanley and Christian Lombard will figure out how to play guard.

@okerland: based on last few weeks are the Doubting Thomases coming out of hiding? Will Reesus have to expose the middle of the field (AKA the ribs) to make them believers again?

From your mouth to BK’s ears.


As promised, I had my mom take a shot at mtflsmitty’s question from last week. I don’t think she let you guys down:

@mtflsmitty: Based on your experience reading posts from the characters over the years, please write a short, fictional bio for:
– Historian
– Bern
– Dick
– Nude

Nudeman – He developed his persuasive skills in childhood, growing up either an only child, or the eldest of three. From an early age, he spoke in superlatives – everything was “the best” this, “the worst” that. He may or may not have been treated with Ritalin, for what was then called hyperactivity. A hard-worker and a task-master, he saw success in school and likely on the youth and high school football teams. His frustration with the ineptitude of teammates in group sports led him to excel at golf and tennis. First job, post- or during college: door-to-door encyclopedia salesman. He married his high school sweetheart. Subsequently found work in larger companies with larger accounts, selling pest-removal services, then the best Russian sporting equipment ever, followed by the best new microwave ovens, then the top tech supplies available. He did not partake in his company’s Six Sigma training nonsense.

Dickasman – The youngest of seven children, he was alternately doted on and left to himself. One of his earliest memories was watching his mother suffer a neck injury while exercising to Jack LaLanne on television. He enjoyed kindergarten, but still remembers being chastised for eating glue, as well as failing to properly put away the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe puzzle. He was treated with Ritalin for hyperactivity during his grade school years. He was accident-prone, and in 6th grade he broke his leg while jumping from his roof to a snowbank, during a “snow day” off. He was treated for depression, since he felt isolated from his friends, having to stay in for recess during his 5-month recovery. Nevertheless, he played football on the kick-off squad in high school and was nicknamed “Kamikaze.” He played bass guitar with friends in a garage band, and found work running the light board at various clubs. He writes for several local music scene newsletters.

Bern – The second of four children, he is the son of an attorney and was known for his photographic memory at an early age. As a toddler, he was deeply influenced by the look of wise concern on his parents’ faces as they watched the evening news of the Pentagon announcing their plan to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles armed with nuclear weapons. This led to an interest in politics, and while he was class president throughout grades 1 through college, he decided on a career in law, specializing in mediation and arbitration. He serves on many boards, met his wife at a fund-raising event, and his friends often call him “Fred” – after the Fred MacMurray sweaters he wears at leisure. The cardigan is replaced by a sport coat whenever he goes out. His persuasive powers are reminiscent of Marcus Welby, M.D. – he of the soothing, calming demeanor that “de-crescendo’s” into an authoritative, no-nonsense message. Of late, he has been known to enjoy, in fact, join in humor of a bawdy nature, once he knows his audience. His hobbies are fly-fishing, boating, and diagramming sentences.

Historian –  Love the name. A retired military man who grew up in a military family, he spent his developmental years with his family traveling from base to base. An avid Notre Dame fan, he took the 2011 USC loss extremely hard, and seemed to have gone missing of late? Should we be worried? Rumor has it he may have secretly re-enlisted to help instill discipline, focus, and a winning mentality among today’s youth.

Lastly, tell NotreDan to have those drinks while posting, as Nude advised.


  1. NotreDan - Sep 26, 2013 at 12:18 PM

    Mrs. Arnold! You’re the best! Hahahahaha.

    • mcirish27 - Sep 27, 2013 at 11:45 AM

      Stranger than fiction.

  2. jerseyshorendfan1 - Sep 26, 2013 at 12:20 PM

    Hilarious Mrs. A !!! Now we know who has the real talent in the family. Do me next!

    • tburke9601 - Sep 26, 2013 at 2:14 PM

      You completely stole Dick’s line.

  3. jerseyshorendfan1 - Sep 26, 2013 at 12:31 PM

    Keith, I read the haikus over at Subway Domer. I was doing ND Football haikus 5 yrs ago…’re welcome. The real artistry, I have found, is in the limerick which is much more apropos of a team named the Irish than some stodgy Japanese half poem, half nonsense combo. With that said, I offer you the following. Tell your Mom not to read as it is of a somewhat ribald nature:

    Our O sometimes the bed poops
    Our D sometimes whiffs and says, “Oops.”
    But if we play to win
    I’ll have a shit-eatin grin
    When the losing coach is named Stoops.

    • nudeman - Sep 26, 2013 at 12:37 PM

      There once was a QB named Tommy
      So controversial you’d have thought he was a Commie
      He had a cat named Rover
      And a dog named Turnover
      And he spent the offseason working for Romney

      • danirish - Sep 27, 2013 at 10:08 AM

        That was pretty bad

      • nudeman - Sep 27, 2013 at 10:33 AM

        Best I could do on a moment’s notice

        Don’t disagree though

  4. nudeman - Sep 26, 2013 at 12:31 PM

    Jack LaLane reference. Has to be a first here. And bern as Fred MacMurray. Priceless.
    God bless her.

    For the record:
    No on Ritalin, but not saying it would have been a bad idea, even now
    Frustration with teammate ineptitude? Yep, but kept the lip zipped
    Sports: Football = No; Not a big demand in HS for 5’7″ 125 lb DLs. Baseball, Golf, Hockey = Yep
    HS Sweetheart: No. Had one date in HS, didn’t go well. All boys Catholic HS. Didn’t want a “wife” named “Tom”.
    Career: Never sold microwave ovens or pest removal but would have been the best at it if I did, or would have somehow undermined whoever was the best so I could advance

    • bb90grad - Sep 26, 2013 at 1:08 PM

      Nude’s out of yesterday’s doldrums. Just when things look the darkest, Momma Arnold saves all.

    • mtflsmitty - Sep 26, 2013 at 11:18 PM

      Good to have you back, Nude…lame limericks and all.

      GO IRISH!!!

  5. 4horsemenrideagain - Sep 26, 2013 at 12:40 PM


    any chance of making her a permanent contributor?

  6. nudeman - Sep 26, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    I could see this place morphing into Happy Days, Redux, with:
    Mrs. A as Mrs. C (Marion Ross)
    Keith as Richie (Opie)
    Bern as Mr. C (Tom Bosley)
    NotreDan as Fonz
    Dickasman as Laverne
    Goat as Shirley
    Jersey as Pottsie
    Mtflsmitty as Ralph
    idratherbeinsouthbend as Joanie
    jersey as Squiggy

    • NotreDan - Sep 26, 2013 at 2:52 PM


    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Sep 26, 2013 at 3:12 PM

      Please cast Samantha Ponder as Chachi, cause Joanie loves Chachi

    • bernhtp - Sep 26, 2013 at 9:57 PM


      Wrong sitcom. I’m thinking more old vintage “Leave it to Beaver”

      Ward Cleaver: Keith
      June Cleaver: His Mom
      The Beaver: most ironically, Dickasman
      Wally: that’s me – the cool, athletic older brother who keeps everyone out of trouble
      Eddy Haskell: Nudeman
      Lumpy Rutherford: Jersey
      Fred Rutherford: Historian
      Larry Mondello: Goat
      Whitey: idratherbeinsouthbend

      • nudeman - Sep 27, 2013 at 8:55 AM

        Good one. And I can’t argue with being cast as Eddie. I’ve “earned” that.
        dickasman as Beaver: “Gee Wally, what’s a vulva?”

        And btw, don’t know if you saw this but the guy who played Lumpy died earlier this year.
        Moment of silence please

  7. papadec - Sep 26, 2013 at 1:52 PM

    Ahhhhhhhhh – we needed a bit of humor to air out the chat room. Thanks all.

  8. irishdodger - Sep 26, 2013 at 2:43 PM

    “The Irish haven’t been all that good against the spread this year. (I believe they’re 0-4.)”

    A gambler can clean up if he simply takes the opponent any time ND is favored by more than seven points. They have to be the worst at covering a point spread of any favorite I’ve seen. Some of it is the inflated lines by delusional ND fans who will always bet w/ their heart so it moves the line up even more. The other is that BK is not paid to cover spreads, he’s paid to win games so he rightly burns clock at the end of a game in hand…even if he’s in the red zone.

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Sep 26, 2013 at 3:29 PM

      Notre Dame is 21-18-1 against the spread in their last 40 games, winning 26 of the 40 games(they have a 7 -13 record when they are the underdog)

      Oklahoma is 22-17-1 against the spread in their last 40 games

      As to your specific query, favored by more than 7 points, the Irish are 9-10-1 against the spread, but won 19 of those 20 games.

      …which is all simply a testament to how good Vegas is at setting the numbers and also the reason why nobody “cleans up” except for Vegas.

      • mtflsmitty - Sep 26, 2013 at 11:23 PM

        So many things about this little neighborhood that I enjoy. The occasional fact-based post is a welcomed contribution.

    • papadec - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:37 AM

      it would be nice if he covered the spread by 1/2 time – then went into cruise control.

      • 4horsemenrideagain - Sep 27, 2013 at 9:58 AM


        we don’t need no stinking facts.

        never let the facts get in the way of a good story.

  9. irishdodger - Sep 26, 2013 at 2:45 PM

    Keith, I know mailbag is closed, but I’d like your opinion on the outcome. What does ND have to do to win? What does OU have to do to win? Who do you think wins?

    I don’t see ND having many advantages over OU. My hope is that it’s not a Sooner blowout…especially if ND comes out in the gimmicky green jerseys. That hasn’t worked since the Sugar Bowl win over Florida in the early ’90s & has been embarrassingly a failure ever since.

  10. don74 - Sep 26, 2013 at 2:48 PM

    Hat’s off to Mrs. A.

    Well done

  11. irishlee10 - Sep 26, 2013 at 2:56 PM

    Keith! I think you could be wrong about Malik! I hope. Thanks for taking my question. I don’t know if you saw BK said Malik Zaire would be actively involved in the game plan moving forward.

  12. ndgoldandblue - Sep 26, 2013 at 3:41 PM

    Oooooh, I got one. Mrs. Arnold…tag-team match: Demolition (fnc and c4evr) vs. The Rockers (ndfaithful and alwayspositive). Who wins?

    • mtflsmitty - Sep 26, 2013 at 11:31 PM

      GandB, it’s not even close. Read the post below from fnc. Note the resentment he’s been harboring since ’09. Fnc is diabolical, unstable, emotionally stunted, and rather obtuse. That’s a potent cocktail of sickness. In the ring fnc rages against his landlord (I.e. mother) and is capable of almost anything, including turning on his partner c4ever.

  13. fnc111 - Sep 26, 2013 at 4:03 PM

    ND gets jobbed by the refs every time they play in a big ten stadium. I laugh at all the cry baby MSU people out there complaining about the PI calls. Only reason you won in 2010 or got to OT vs ND was because of bogus officiating. Take a dose of your own medicine and deal with it. I’ve never seen worse officiating in my life than at Meatchicken back in ’09. ND got robbed on so many calls that day.

    • papadec - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:42 AM

      fnc – I agree with you – I still get pissed off over the “Bush Push” when I think about lousy officiating!

  14. Hakuna Budi - Sep 26, 2013 at 4:41 PM

    Keith: good stuff as always. You must be the most active ND writer. I agree with three main things you say: 1) the positional differences at Wide Out don’t matter. I think our best slot guy is TJ Jones. I hope they start Daniels and Robinson outside with Jones inside. That will be deadly, with Hercules at TE. 2) I hope they play Bryant, and I think they will. Especially because he was an OU commit. 3) I don’t think there’s a chance we see Zaire. I know Kelly said he’s involved now (and I like your comment IrishLee), but he has barely practiced in the last month. No way he plays or Kelly breaks from Tommy. Don’t know how positive that is, but either way, GO IRISH!

    • ibleedirish - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:08 PM

      I agree with everything you said, with one minor, but important adjustment. In reference to ND’s receiving core you said “That will be deadly”. I’d change that to SHOULD be deadly. Unfortunately thus far it hasn’t been and thats where much of our frustration lies.

  15. orlok23 - Sep 26, 2013 at 7:23 PM

    First off, thanks to Keith and the people who post here. You guys are great – I’ve been reading for a long time, but just now decided to post. fnc, as negative as you can be, I have finally decided you’re not all bad. The UM game of 2009 stands out in my mind as the worst officiating I have witnessed – although I never watched the legendary OU vs. Oregon debacle.

  16. jerseyirish10 - Sep 26, 2013 at 8:38 PM

    Great job Mrs. Arnold…brilliant.

  17. jerseyirish10 - Sep 26, 2013 at 8:43 PM

    As for the game, if our O line fails, so will the team. Not great stretch there but it’s not last year where the D could drag them along. If we have little to no run game, might be a long day.

    • papadec - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:45 AM

      not might be a long day – WILL BE a long day.

  18. mtflsmitty - Sep 26, 2013 at 11:38 PM

    Keith and Ms. Arnold,

    Thanks for having some fun with my question from last week. Ms. Arnold you’re quite the writer, and judicious as well. Focusing so much of your bio on Dick’s prepubescent years was the only way to keep his bio on the right side of PG13.

  19. kansasirish - Sep 26, 2013 at 11:38 PM

    This might be off topic from the current post, but I’m reading on multiple blogs/websites and via Chris Salvi’s twitter post that our fans have given up on the season?……WTF get off your ass and cheer for ND! Why is that stadium sooooo quiet. The players count on us fans to make it a hostile place to play….so make it freaking happen this weekend! Let’s kick OU’s ASS!!!!

    • bb90grad - Sep 27, 2013 at 10:53 AM

      Amen a thousand times over.

      I know at 46 I can still scream as loud as I did, even for a non Holtz squad.

      Fans should be tested for “decibelity”. If you can’t be loud enough, go sit in the car with Grandma.

      From Parenthood: If she’s so brilliant, how come she’s sitting in our neighbor’s car?

  20. ndfaithful - Sep 27, 2013 at 12:20 AM

    Awesome work… the best surprise of the season is obviously the addition of the new weekly mail bag article.

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