October 21st, 2011 by JVH

1.  I’m taking an old friend of mine to the USC game.  They were born and raised in South Bend near Notre Dame, and developed a dislike for the University at a young age from dealing with the frustrations and messes that come from Notre Dame home football weekends.  She’s never been to a Notre Dame game before (she’s an Ohio State fan).  We’re going to go tailgate and do all the usual tailgating stuff.  Any suggestions on what I could do to help her let go of her animosity towards Notre Dame?


Take her to the actual game and let her see how classy fans act.  She won’t see any batteries thrown at players, fans picking fights with the band, or bags of pee reigning down from the student section.  It will be an eye opening experience for her, as it would be for any Ohio State fan.


If she still persists: start dating her.  Lavish gifts on her and pay a ton of attention to her needs.  Then buy a ring and let her find it, getting her hopes up.  Right when she’s all lathered up and at the relationship is at its peak dump her in a humiliating fashion.  Serves her right for being an Ohio State fan.

2.  On a related note, do you have any suggestions for improving the Notre Dame game weekend experience generally?  Are there traditions lost that you’d like to see restored, or new ideas that you’d like to see implemented to improve the gameday experience?


Not much has changed from the game day experience since I was a freshman 20 years ago except for the cracking down on tailgating.  Here’s the IRT’s top ten ways to improve the Notre Dame game day experience:


10) Make the pep rally student only.  Hold it in the Stepan Center.  No video cameras allowed.  Serve Beer.

9) Get a mechanical bull on campus

8- Kill the Mums.  Some other ideas for what to do with those planter boxes can be found at this link

7) Put James Earl Jones in the PA box.

6) The band needs some new go-to numbers.  Play all the old stuff, but get a few new

5) Eliminate the gameday players mass.  This is controversial, no doubt, but Mass is for Sundays.  The players should be watching Gladiator or 300 getting fired up to maim their opponent.


1-4 all revolve around making the stadium louder:

4) Pump in music during the game.

3) Install a Jumbotron with a live Twitter feed scrolling along the bottom.

2) Build suites opposite the press box.  Put the blue hairs in there.

1) Stop honoring dining hall staff during timeouts and play old highlights on the Jumbotron we spoke of in number 3.


3.  (a) USC is (and always will be) our biggest rival.  Do you agree or disagree with this statement?  And if you agree, why do you feel that this is such an important rivalry? (b) Rank your top 10 college football rivalries and provide justifications for each.


I somewhat agree with the first statement.  USC is Notre Dame’s biggest rival.  But I don’t know that they will always be going forward.  Two issues with the current rivalry.  1) USC cheated massively in the 2000’s. USC needs to earn the rivalry status and the privilege of playing Notre Dame on a yearly basis through fair play.  2) The conference landscape is changing fast.  This could lead Notre Dame into a scheduling predicament.


We’ll make a bold prediction on the future of this rivalry.  Texas will go independent and become the de facto rival for Notre Dame over the next 20-30 years.


4.  Southern Cal is 5-1, with their only loss on the road at Arizona State.  They are unranked, sitting right behind us in the “also receiving votes” category.  How good is Southern Cal this year?  How do you see this game playing out?


Notre Dame is favored by 8.  If they can continue to protect the ball(10 quarters without a turnover) Notre Dame could win by two touchdowns.  Tommy Rees figured something out at the half of the Pitt game.  He started to throw the ball away when the play warranted it.  Instead of forcing the issue and risking a turnover he is wisely getting rid of the ball.


That coupled with the excellent protection from the offensive line is the difference between 12 turnovers lost in the first 10 quarters of the season versus 0 turnovers lost in the last 10 quarters.


5.  It appears that with a win over USC, we’ll re-enter the Top 25 rankings.  Now that we’re halfway through the season and have some actual evidence available to us from real games, how do you see the rest of the season playing out?  Predict:

(a) Notre Dame’s final record (indicating where we will lose if at all) 9-3(Stanford)

(b) Notre Dame’s bowl destination, opponent and outcome. Champs Sports Bowl vs. Clemson

(c) The BCS Championship game and result. Stanford vs. Wisconsin with Wisconsin winning

(d) Notre Dame’s final AP ranking. 16

(e) The winners of the major awards, including:

(i) Heisman Trophy Andrew Luck

(ii) Home Depot Coach of the Year David Shaw, Stanford

(iii) Davey O’Brien Award (best QB) Andrew Luck

(iv) Doak Walker Award (best RB) LaMichael James

(v) Fred Biletnikoff Award (best WR) Michael Floyd

(vi) Chuck Bednarik Award (best defensive player) It would have been Tyrann Mathieu if he didn’t get suspended.  Let’s go with Manti.




Pumping in Music

October 12th, 2011 by JVH

I heard a rumor today that Notre Dame might pump in a little music during the Notre Dame-USC game this weekend.

Watch this and then tell me it’s not a great idea:


Air Force Flyover

October 8th, 2011 by JVH

Fire It Up, Ski

October 7th, 2011 by JVH

IBG: The Answers You Seek

September 29th, 2011 by JVH

We are getting excited for the answers to this week’s Irish Blogger Gathering to roll in. The Irish bloggers represent the best of the best in our humble opinion. They make us laugh. They make us cry. They make us fear for our women and children. Most importantly, they make following ND football a hell of a lot more fun.

We’ll link the responses here when we get them.

IBG: Purdue Is A Big Game… No Really.

September 26th, 2011 by JVH


If you haven’t jumped on the Irish Blogger Gathering(IBG) bandwagon yet, you must not bleed blue and gold. It’s the brightest minds in ND football(and the IRT) coming together on a weekly basis to break down the Notre Dame football team. One blog asks the questions. Multiple other bloggers answer said questions. We even have a snazzy logo:

What would most people pay for this? $800/year? Notre Dame season tickets? Maybe give one of their kidneys? Well you can put your checkbook and/or scalpel away. This is free. It’s the best deal since Grab-n-Go at the North Dining Hall.

You can tell how big and important an Irish blog is based on how big their IBG game is. So who did we get? What!?… No, really. What week do we get? You gotta be kidding me. Purdue? We got Purdue. Notre Dame is heading to the circus and we have to cover it. Well, leeeehhhhs go!

1) Excluding Aaron Lynch, who is your top newcomer of the year thus far (freshman or player that hadn’t seen much playing time in prior seasons)?

2) We asked our Twitter followers for questions to use in this week’s IBG. Here’s a sampling of what we got. Choose ONE and answer:
@TheSubwayDomer: If the #NDFB quarterbacks were female super models, who would they be? What would they endorse? #IBG
@PerrasW01: Why has the #NDFB program gone to hell since Holtz left?
@rpleary: You know that sign that says “Play Like a Champion Today”? What does our offense have against the sign?
@chadros: Based on our offense’s performance to date, is the current play calling mix(run vs. pass) the right one? Should we be running the ball more?
@yetiisready: Will this be the week we see the “change-up package” AKA “the Leprecat?”

3) If you could have 1 play back this season, what play would you want a do-over? How would that have changed a game’s outcome? Are you sure your do-over would work in ND’s favor?

4) In 140 characters or less “tweet” a summary of the season so far. Bonus points for hashtags or mentions.

5) Lou Holtz asked 3 basic questions of every player and coach, “Can I trust you? Are you committed? Do you care about me?” In your opinion, which player would every other player give a resounding “Yes” to each of these questions and why?

6) Jumbotron. Good idea or terrible idea. What would you do to make it a great idea?

7) Every week we try to fire up the masses with a “Fire It Up” video. Sometimes these videos are inspirational ballads of kick-ass Notre Dame football. Sometimes they are of a Japanese game show with dudes getting hit in the junk. Submit a video to Fire Up the Irish faithful for the Purdue game.

Fire It Up!

September 23rd, 2011 by JVH

From Nate Dogg: “Irish need to be dogs”


IBG: How do you fight someone from the ‘Burgh?

September 20th, 2011 by The Hammer

You punch them in the mouth so they will shut up and start fighting.  Whiskey at One Foot Down is this week’s host of the IBG, and the IRT, like the Irish, are coming out fighting.

There is no doubt Terry Hanratty had to settle some disputes with his fists when he arrived in Pittsburgh from Notre Dame

1.  For the first time this season, Notre Dame was outgained in yardage by its opponent.  Some have expressed concern that Notre Dame maybe doesn’t beat State without a kick return for a touchdown and an 82-yard interception return.  Still, Notre Dame won for the first time this season.  What does this win say about this team?  Did we see progress on Saturday?

Notre Dame controlled the MSU game from the first drive until the end.  We made big plays on offense, defense, and special teams.  Did we see progress?  Hell yeah.  We moved the ball very well on three drives and scored touchdowns.  We ran the ball when we needed to, and we used the passing game efficiently, and save for one play where Rees presumably did not see a linebacker in coverage, we were mistake free (although Riddick breaking off his route early on one play kept us from watching a speed clinic as he would have raced into the end zone).  Our defense showed that we can contain an offense and shut down the running game.  We forced MSU to chuck the ball 54 times.  Most importantly, we came off of a tough road loss and beat a ranked team at home….convincingly.  Yeah, this team progressed on Saturday, and they know how to win.

2.  What three facets of our game do you focus on in practice this week if you’re Brian Kelly?

Facet #1:  Call Observer offices.  Place want ad: “Can you fair catch a punt?  Could per diem help supplement your budget?  Come out to practice on Monday and audition to return catch punts for Notre Dame.”  We are averaging 0.71 yards per return in 2011.  In all seriousness, let’s figure this out, BK.  This game is about field position and limiting turnovers, and the 2011 punt return squad isn’t helping in either category.

Facet #2: Kick-off coverage:  We can’t let the opposition start possessions near the 50-yard line so often.  Honestly, I would like to see BK devote a little more practice time to Facets #1 and #2, the kicking game is just too important to play this poorly (btw, nice tackle, Brindza).

Facet #3: Middle-of-the-field pass protection:  Obviously, this was a hole in the game against Sparty.  Is it a gaping hole?  No, not yet, but you can bet that future opponents are going to go to school on the MSU game film.  All-in-all, our corners played pretty well (Blanton played outstanding), and our safeties made some timely plays, but we can’t leave so much room for the passes underneath.

3.  Grade the coaching staff and position groups through three games.

We don’t really like this question, as there are a lot of situational factors that we are not aware of, and we haven’t spent the time to fully break down the film.  That being said, here’s our thoughts on each:

Coaching:  Should have never lost that game in Ann Arbor.  Nice comeback against MSU and glad that we didn’t abandon the run game.

Defensive line:  Beasts.  Can not remember this much depth  since 1990.  Keep the rotation going, and they will create havoc.

Linebackers:  Good (Fox, Calabrese, Shembo/Niklas) but not Great (except Manti).  Feeling like they are getting taken out of plays that should be made.

Secondary: Average (up from ‘below average’ due to Blanton’s MSU game).  Lacking safety help on many plays, but that improved against MSU.

Offensive line: Good protection, holding blocks to allow the draw to work, must cut down on penalties.  Overall, this group is playing well.

Receivers:  Balls are not being dropped anymore, and Floyd, Jones, and Riddick (and Eifert) are making plays.  USF was an anomaly (we hope).

Running backs:  Picking up blitzes and hitting holes well.  If they hold on to the ball, this group will win us some ball games.

QBs:  Rees is handling the games well.  He doesn’t get rattled.  Crist didn’t get much of a chance, and probably won’t.  Rees needs to make better decisions when he throws on the run, but we are decently happy with his performance (a few less picks would be nice).

Special teams:  Crappy.  Nothing remarkable except GA III’s kick-off return and downing a crucial punt inside the 5-yard line.  The rest of our special teams have performed sub-standard.

4. The season is 25% complete.  If you’re Brian Kelly, what is your mantra for the second quarter of the season?

Real simple:  Go out there, be physical, execute the game plan, and walk away with wins.  Pittsburgh, Purdue, and Air Force.  We will be favored in all 3 games, and we need to win all three to keep decent bowl hopes alive.

5.  On Pittsburgh.  Did Iowa wrest control of the game from Pitt, as was Iowa’s custom last season.  Or did Pitt just implode?
We did not watch the game.  Our guess is Pitt imploded.
(a) Do any of Pitt’s players or matchups concern you?
No.  We are the better team across the board, and we’re not going to say we are worried as a precaution.  We should win every match-up.
(b) How does ND vs. Pitt play out this weekend?
The biggest thing we are worried about is traveling east (no time change) and playing an early game.  This has been a challenge for the Irish for years (Army, BC, even UNC at 3:30).  BK must have his team ready when they get off the plane.  Don’t flinch.
6.  With three games in the books, this season is one-quarter done.  It’s probably no stretch to assume that football writers also enjoy history, and specifically military history.  Compare Notre Dame’s one-fourth of a season to a one-fourth complete war.  Is it World War I–i.e. are we’re stuck in a war of attrition, with many, many losses still to come?  Is it Grenada–have we already seen the worst, with only relatively smooth sailing to come?  Don’t feel limited to 20th century warfare.  For that matter, no need to limit it to military history–policital, legal, and philosophical warfare is also acceptable.

Has there ever been a war that started off by getting shot by one of your own guys (Skip Holtz), defending your position on the battle field by swatting away a grenade only to have the opponent walk it into your territory (Denard Robinson) then pinning the enemy deep in the field of battle only to have them shoot you from 40 yards away while falling off his back foot (Denard again)?  If so, that’s the war this feels like.

10 Obervations from the MSU Game

September 18th, 2011 by The Hammer

In no particular order (and without a whole lot of forethought) below are some observations from being at the game on Saturday:

  1. The crowd was into the game from the first play.  I heard some complaints of the crowd being quieter than usual, but I did not see that.    Our section was rowdy and locked in.  Kudos to the game production people for speeding up the in-game ‘honorings’.  While our opinion on this topic is well documented, it was nice to see these ceremonies occur quickly and not disrupt the game.
  2. Michael Floyd and Manti Teo really like playing for Notre Dame.  Both players individually spent a prolonged period of time alone in the north end zone in front of the student sections getting the students pumped up before the game.  During the game, the PA announcer transitioned into referring to #5 as just “Manti” when he made a play.  Incidentally, George Atkinson III also had a lovefest with the students after his kick return, so much so that another player had to pull him to the sideline so we wouldn’t get a 12-men on the field call after his electrifying touchdown on the kick return (nice run, George, and nice block knocking two guys out of the play, Chris Salvi).
  3. We’ve been talking about Cierre Wood all year.  Once again, he had a great first quarter.  The draw was truly feast or famine against MSU, with pretty much all feast in the first quarter.
  4. Rees truly throws to the spot the player will be at, not where he is as the ball is thrown.  We had a great angle on a couple of plays where you truly cringed when he threw the ball, only to see Floyd/Riddick/Jones streak into the path of the ball for a completion.
  5. Aaron Lynch is a stud in college football right NOW.  He was unstoppable, and has a high motor.  Stephon Tuitt is just fun to watch and will continue to develop and learn how to dominate with his man-child size advantage.  Nix continues to plug holes.  Troy Niklas performed OK given the short notice that he’d be starting.  These are four young athletes unlike any freshmen we’ve had at ND in a while, in our opinion.
  6. Our safeties played much better.  They aren’t going to get any faster, but they are making some plays
  7. Robert Blanton:  Probably the best game we’ve seen an Irish CB play since Shane Walton single-handedly won 3 of the first 5 games of 2002.  He was everywhere, both on the pass (3 great break-ups and the INT) and on the run.  He was leveling guys.
  8. Kick coverage:  Atrocious.  Kyle Brindza is usually putting the ball deep (hallelujah!), but the coverage seems timid, and contain is lacking.  We need to step this aspect of the game up quickly, or we are going to give up some big plays.
  9. Coach Kelly:  Thank you for running the ball three times to allow Ruffer to ice the game.  No tricks, no gimmicks, no schematic advantage.  Just football.  And we won.  Nice work.
  10. Notre Dame Band:  We don’t care that all you play are 80’s songs from The Backer’s playlist and Star Wars songs, you keep the crowd fired up.  This is truly part of the reason why a game at ND Stadium is different, and amazing.  While we see the points of both sides of the JumboTron argument, all you have to do is go to a college stadium with a JumboTron to see how irrelevant the band becomes.   That being said, Michigan’s piping in of music during the entirety of the fourth quarter also fired up their crowd, so there’s more than one way to skin the cat.  Note:  this will probably mark the last time the band is featured in a 10 Observations list on this blog.

Fire It Up! Beat Sparty!

September 17th, 2011 by JVH

Here a first for the IRT. An audio only Fire It Up. Give it at least 30 seconds before you move on to a better blog…

2011 MSU Fire It Up