Hurt

Well, that game was an absolute nightmare.

Believe me, I know there is plenty that I should be happy about. Even non-ND folks have pointed this out and rightfully so. This team is ahead of schedule, exceeded our wildest expectations, and has a solid foundation that will keep us a contender for years to come.

There will be plenty of time to examine what this team achieved in 2012. We will have detailed analysis of where we fell short against Alabama and how to improve.

This isn’t one of those posts. This loss hurts too damn much.

The Good Book tells us that “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” and right now, this certainly feels like a time to mourn. If we look at the five stages of loss and grief, as a fanbase, we are all over the map. Personally, I’m somewhere between anger and depression — yes, that would be three stages — and I need to vent.

My favorite local sports radio station here in DFW has a great way of starting the healing process after such a loss. When one of our local teams sees their season come to an abrupt end, an audio montage will lead the segment that discusses the demise. So, before I go any further, I pass this bit of audio healing on to you while I reflect on the game.

Hit it, Johnny (via):

Perhaps the biggest punch to the gut isn’t just that Alabama destroyed Notre Dame, but destroyed a Notre Dame team that we all thought was blessed by destiny. Think about it: two goal line stands, a victory using only our backup QB (who didn’t even play to his full potential) for a whole game, and an overtime opposing game-winning field goal that sails wide right.

Against Alabama, everything went wrong.

Alabama scored easily on their first drive. Notre Dame’s offense has their first drive cut short on a questionable incomplete pass ruling (note: I have yet to rewatch the game; however, replays provided in the stadium made it look like a clear reception — even ‘Bama fans around me were shocked). As if that wasn’t enough, Notre Dame gets slapped with a fair catch interference penalty which certainly appeared to be fumble recovered by the Irish. The defense that had created sparks all season was stunned and beaten.

It’s like Lucy allowed Charlie Brown to kick the ball for an entire game, but, when it came time for the game winning field goal, she yanked it away yet again.

On offense, the Irish seemingly abandoned the rushing game that helped get them to this point. While I certainly understand the desire, as well as the need, to stretch Alabama’s defense, the play-calling was simply maddening. It felt like the Irish were simply calling four verts the whole time and hoped for the best. Upon focusing on route running for a drive or two, I saw I wasn’t too far off.

However, even more frustrating was the execution, which inevitably brings me to Everett Golson who definitely played like a redshirt freshman. He continuously made poor reads and had tunnel vision on the boundary go/vertical routes. To top it all off, there were moments of indecision on whether or not to run the ball that cost him dearly.

His night was filled with all kinds of mistakes, but this time there was no magical Pitt-like comeback, nor an appearance of Tommy Rees to save the day. The later doesn’t surprise me too much as placing in the less mobile Rees would’ve been a likely death sentence against the pass rush the Irish saw. However, in the end, ‘Bama dared Golson to beat them and beat them deep. He bit and he lost.

Switching to the other side of the ball, you have a performance that depresses even more. The strength of this Irish faltered; however, they weren’t getting pushed back five yards on every play. Our D-line found themselves in the backfield. Our linebackers filled gaps properly. We had plays stopped behind the line of scrimmage on many occasions…and then everyone bounced off of Eddie Lacy as he was made of rubber.

Or, if you are Danny Spond, unceremoniously slammed to the ground.

While Lacy certainly deserves a load of credit for being a beast, as well as the Alabama line for coaxing D-line penetration away from the plays, there are no words to describe how it feels to watch your Heisman finalist linebacker simply come up short on nearly every solo tackle attempt. However, should I find them, they would also describe the pure terror I felt while watching Amari Cooper run past our DBs as if they were standing still and the sickening feeling in my stomach when I watched simple dump passes turn into easy TDs.

Then you have the punt return game which I can’t even bring myself to talk about. I wish we had simply fair caught everything after watching Davonte Neal add to the “freshmen mistakes” collection.

I watched as something beyond my worst fears unfolded in front of me throughout the entire game. I found myself in a stunned coma of hopelessness that I haven’t felt at a game in a long time. Worse was that I knew there was nothing that the Irish could do about it.

And while Notre Dame struggled mightily, every “Roll Tide” began to eat away at my soul. Every ‘Bama touchdown a punch to the gut. The “S-E-C” chant toward the end of the night practically did me in. Having one of our fans grab a security guard to get Alabama fans to set down sent me in a blind rage.

We came so close to reaching the top of the mountain only to be swatted away, finally allowing all talking heads and ND doubters to be right for the first time all season. We will inevitably hear about how the Irish didn’t belong, how all our victories were overrated, and how the game would’ve been better had anyone else been in it. These comments will inevitably re-open the healing wounds from January 7th and the hurt will rise to the surface again.

However, such pain is fuel and the hurt turns into motivation. The scar left from the 2013 title game will be a reminder of the level that ND needs to reach. It isn’t just some idea anymore, each player saw exactly what it was right in front of them. More young talent will arrive into South Bend and our current young talent will become hardened veterans and they will not rest until they hit that level.

This loss hurt. It will always hurt.

And the Irish will be more than happy to pass that pain along to every future opponent.

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  • NDtex

    Errata in post: Put Daniels on the punt return team when I meant Neal. Corrected.

    • Jack

      Tex,
      You do a great job putting my heart ache into words and I think you for that. We will be back my friends, we are definately going to be back

  • Noel

    Yeah the game did hurt.
    I just hope the players use it to gauge where they need to be for the years to come. Hopefully all the recruits stay with their verbal commitments. Already can’t wait until spring game.
    Hope you guys continue to write great things about this team.

  • Freddie

    Nicely put. I feel the same way. Exactly.
    I couldn’t get your mp3 to work… I assume it’s one of Galloway’s jingles…??? I live on Lake Texoma and listen to Randy all the time. Thanks for your articles.
    -freddie

    • NDtex

      No, it’s from the Ticket. The file needs either Flash, HTML5 compliant browser, or you can directly download it from the link that appears.

      The via link also has the source.

  • Jimbo

    Tex, I agree with you that play calling was bad at times. 4th & 2 and everyone is running go routes? I disagree that Golson played as bad as you described however. It is tough to make the “right” read when all the blue shirts were running the same routes and constantly blanketed by the Bama secondary. Herbie pointed out the Irish seemed to be targeting Bama All-American Dee Millner. I am not sure if that was on Golson or Kelly or both, but both have to be able to identify where playmakers are lined up and check out of calls.

  • tlndma

    Simply , Bama had Miliner in sigle coverage. Bama gave up less than 3yds a carry all season. I don’t think we would have run the ball much even if we weren’t down 14 so quickly. Special teams, especially PR need lots of looking at. Eventually it will cost us a game.
    I had 5 friends over to watch the game. Their reaction was like if someone had played a bad April fools joke. Them not being quite as big of ND fans as I, they seemed to be thinking, “this is what you had me waitng 5 weeks for?” Then the 2nd qtr, they waited to see if ND turned things around (or maybe apologized)to make it some kind of game. Most were gone at halftime. Can’t blame them.

  • Jack

    The hurt is deep. The game was over after the second Alabama offensive drive when we went down 14-0. That blown call on Eifert’s catch and then the subsequent blown call on the botched punt retunr totally changed the game around. Best case after the botched punt its tie game 7-7 and maybe we’ve revitalized our defense a little bit and taken a little wind out of Alabama’s sails, worst case its 7-3 and we at least have some points on the board. 7-0 after a three and out our defense was discouraged and broken. Alabama ran the ball at will and as soon as it was 14-0 you sortof knew in the pit of your stomach that that was that. We got screwed on the first drive and were never really able to recover

    • http://ndeddiemac.tumblr.com NDEddieMac

      If you actually think those two calls turned the game you are crazy. Were they bad? Sure. Did it affect momentum? Yep. But did it allow Bama to march down the field after that bad call was made practically untouched? Did it add to the myriad of missed tackles or absolute inability to cover a WR? Come on now. You get a bad call against you, you do what South Carolina did and take the damn ball back. Refs didn’t have a single thing to do with this game. We got stomped, plain and simple.

      • Jack

        You my friend have obviously never played one single snap of real football in your life. Look it is 100% clear that the Tide were the better team Monday night I was there in the stadium what I saw was one team playing big boy SEC ball and another who couldn’t keep up, but with that being said one thing that is true is that it screwed with the Notre Dame momentum and defensive mind set. They went from a place where they could give their defense a blow maybe put some points on the board and make it so that they could send the D back out with the game tied 7-7. Its a totally different ball game in that case. Even if Alabama goes marches down field again and it becomes a 14-7 game our offense gets the ball back, they would have just punched one in and their confidence wouldn’t be in the gutter like it clearly was. Momentum is everything in football and we lost what little momentum we had on our first offensive drive of the game and never gained anything back even closely resembling momentum or a team that believed that they were capable of hanging with Alabama

        • Jack

          I’m sorry I dont mean to sound rude or anything like that, it is just so clear to me you’ve never played the game. You need to get inside the mind of the team and you could just tell that after that first drive, when things didn’t break their way that they were out matched. Look, I’m not saying that if those calls go our way we’re sitting here talking about an Irish national championship, not at all. What I’m saying is that we aren’t talking about 42-14, it’s a closer game, our defense would have stepped up somewhere along the line and made some stops, it would have given Notre Dame some of their swagger back. You can’t discount that aspect of football

          • NDtex

            Clearly when you played football you didn’t appreciate mental toughness. I’ve played multiple sports and got lambasted for saying anything about the refs/umps/whatever.

            You control what you can control. Champions overcome bad calls like that. Period.

          • http://ndeddiemac.tumblr.com NDEddieMac

            I have, in fact, played the game “friend”. If you think those two calls ended the game you are a crazy person. I agreed in my post it screwed up momentum, no doubt. But there was plenty of time to get that back as opposed to letting them waltz down the field to make it 14-0. It also did nothing to change the next 3 and out or the other 14 Bama scored in the 1st quarter. Nor did it affect the 1st drive Bama had before the punt where they scored with little to no resistance. I’m sure you have a phenomenal Al Bundy story of overcoming adversity in a game due to momentum and all, but I reiterate, if you actually think the refs are what got ND I don’t know what to tell ya.

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