Once again, I was fortunate enough to enjoy Blue Gold Weekend from the relative comforts of the 504 area code. To be fair, at my age and with my systolic, I was lucky to just be alive. But in any event, and with my history with The Shirt, I look forward to its unveiling and to that of next season’s forlorn hope with a mixture of excitement and nausea.
This year’s The Shirt does to the eyes what a heaving ocean does to the stomach. There are worse horrors in the world, but if we can send a “very powerful” armada to threaten
the Indian Ocean North Korea, surely we can spare a few Tomahawks for The Shirt. I thought last year’s The Shirt was awful. This year’s is a funeral.
The four players seem to be wearing those old “Rocky goes running” sweatpants from 1973 under their uniforms. Drawn the way they are, they look like castoffs from an early-Nineties’ interhall team. The colors are dull.
Too bad there’s not a backless option, since that’s where the awfulness really gets going. We get to view “the running of the Leprechaun and his letters” through a shamrock-shaped lens. I guess the back is where the committee decided to display the colors they rejected for this year’s design. But hey, at least some of them were green. If John Scully is right and “there’s magic in the sound of their name,” there’s only miasma and misery in the sight of The Shirt 2017.
There was a game, of sorts, played on Saturday, to round out the festivities. The 472nd annual Blue Gold game went well and the stadium sure did look nice. So did the team, for the most part. I think you get as good a preview of next season’s team at the Blue Gold game as you do from playing Electric Football, but it was nice to see Brandon Wimbush look comfortable and Mike McGlinchey stay onside.
Ian Book was marvelous, but Coach Kelly was quick to dampen any idea that there was (another) quarterback controversy within The Gug. And there shouldn’t be. If Kelly or his staff allow another repeat of the Zaire/Kizer disaster, they should all be drowned in the lake. Alize Mack and pretty much anyone who carried the ball looked solid to stellar.
The greatest questions going forward shall be on defense and in special teams. Last year, I described Tyler Newsome’s performance as a singular “dog fart” amid a “perplexing” special teams’ performance. On Saturday, there was general competence, with walk-on Sam Kohler filling in for the injured Justin Yoon on two forty-plus yard field goals.
The defense showed improvement over last year, although whatever happiness you may be feeling is likely the same primitive happiness you feel watching those videos of car accident-victims taking their first steps in rehab centers, surrounded by halo-braces and metal exoskeletons. Elko’s charges brought pressure on the quarterbacks and picked Wimbush off a few times, true, but they missed hundreds of tackles. At least they appeared to be in the right places at the right times.
Those small things, “good habits” in Coach Kelly’s post-game parlance, should matter come Temple and, gulp, Georgia. The Irish finished forty-second, overall, in total defense last year, but that’s a misleading ranking, as we gave up more rushing yards (2189) than every other team ahead of us except for UCF (2204). Against the run we were the 63rd “best” team in the land. And we only played twelve games.
So maybe Blue Gold Weekend 2017 accomplished its purpose. It’s Divine Mercy Sunday and we’re talking football. Let the long summer begin.