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Saturday, August 20, 2011



Plenty of background here:
-ND Had lost the last four games versus Miami by a score of 113-20.
-Commentators are Brent Musberger and Pat Hayden, former Rhodes Scholar and current USC AD, whose job is to clean up the mess left by.... a college football and college basketball scandal!! Riveting.
-These teams hated each other. Jimmy Johnson's personal phone number was released during the week. The teams fought in the tunnel after pre-game warm-ups and had to be separated by police wielding billy clubs. Also, it would be reported later that the fans would only throw 2 oranges on the field because of repeated warnings from school management and the threat of a 15 yard penalty.
-This would be the only game Steve Walsh lost in his college career. He would finish 23-1 and enter into the supplemental draft after starting two seasons and garnering a National Championship in 1987. Weirdly, Tim Brown won the Heisman that year.
-Despite not having Tim Brown, the Irish would send 21 of their 22 starters in this game to the NFL in some capacity. The only one that did not have a NFL career? Tony Rice, the starting quarterback.
-Rice would only account for 1700 yards and 16TD on this National Championship team an would out-duel Major Harris in the bowl game against West Virginia. Rice would play in the CFL and for the Barcelona Dragons in the WLAF. I was an Orlando Thunder and Ohio Glory fan myself.
-Recognizable Notre Dame names: Rocket Ismail, Ricky Watters, Chris Zorich, Derek Brown, Todd Lyght, Pat Terrell, Tony Banks, Anthony Johnson, Andy Heck, Frank Stams, Mike Stonebreaker, and Rodney Culver
-Recognizable Miami names: Steve Walsh, Cleveland Gary, Randall Hill, Dale Dawkins, Rod Chudzinski, Mike Sullivan, Andre Brown, Randy Shannon, Russell Maryland, Bill Hawkins, and Bubba McDowell.
-That is the same Rob Chudzinski who is now coaching Cam Newton, who was recently part of a NCAA investigation. Seems fitting.
-The Bears have good ties to this game. Of course they had Chris Zorich, still loved in Chicago. They also drafted Mike Stonebreaker and Mark Green from this game. Mark Green would be a decent back-up for about 4 years for the Bears, but everyone I know knows him as the guy who had to play for Neal Anderson when he got hurt in Tecmo Super Bowl.
-Tony Brooks led ND in rushing in 1988 but his career in the NFL was exactly one punt return for 11 yards for the Eagles.
-Later in 1988, ND beat #2 USC in Southern California without Watters or Brooks 27-10. That game was probably their best game of the year, not this one.

-Randall Hill drops the ball on the first play of the game on a perfect throw.
-Later, Walsh fumbled to ND on what would probably be an incomplete pass now.
-Gary Stevens is mentioned to run this offense in Miami. He would leave at the end of the season and trade Steve Walsh's arm strength for...Dan Marino's. He would be the OC for the Dolphins for 9 years. His passing offense would be ranked in the top 4 for every season but one. He also almost replaced Rich Kotite as HC in Philly.
-The run defense for ND is amazing. Miami would eventually not run much and try passing to Cleveland Gary out of the backfield often.
-Scores are up and Nebraska is beating Oklahoma State 21-0. That is Barry Sanders' team. Nebraska would lead 35-0 at the end of the first quarter and win 63-42. Sanders that year is hard to quantify. Everyone thinks of 2,628 as being the rushing number. Really, though, it is 2,850 since he went 29 for 222 and 5 TDs in the bowl game to finish with 369 carries for 2850 and 42 TD. In his worst game against Texas A&M he had 20 carries for 157 yards and two scores. He made for that with a 61 yard punt return in that game.
-Back to the game, Rocket Ismail catches a 22 yard pass from Rice. Anyone else still have tons of Rocket Ismail Toronto Argonauts cards sitting around? I do.
-Pat Hyden gives the obligatory "Lou Holtz is Great at Adjustments" speech. It was contractually required for all ND games in the 1980s.
-First Wishbone sighting gets 13 yard gain and first down Braxton Banks. Never heard of him? Me, either.
-Rice scores late in the first quarter. On the play before, it looks like he ran the wrong way on an option and gained 5 yards anyway. The guy who did not get the pitch? Mark Green. Mark Green, the guy who only gets carries when Neal Anderson gets hurt in Tecmo Super Bowl.
-Hill returned the kick to the 43, celebrated and then watched the ball go back inside the ten due to a clipping penalty. Darn those convicts. Chudz's first catch gets them out of the shadow of the goal posts.
-Priest on the sideline sighting. Hate or love ND, something about that is kinda cool and intimidating as well.
-Hayden mentions that Miami averaged just 7 plays in their scoring drives. Actually, that sounds kind of normal to me. Anyone else agree? I mean, the Falcons in the NFL had the most 10 play drives. The ten play drive is rare in the NFL. I would think the talent separation in the NCAA teams would lead to a shorter average scoring drive.
-Walsh is picked on a pass down the seams to the tight end (a staple Miami play we still see all the time today, Shockey, Winslow, etc,..). The pass was behind the receiver.
-Miami gets the ball right back on a fumble. Defensive holding was called after the fumble. Seems like if you believed in conspiracies then this would be the Oopps! moment where the refs call the rare situation penalty in favor of the home team. They were not planning on that fumble.
-Guess what? Miami recruited a guy from Tarpon Springs, Florida. That never happens. I'd trade Tarpon Springs for hookers, booze and money any day of the week.
-Walsh ties the game on a score to Andre Brown who was down on the one. No matter, 7-7 it is.
-Rocket beats Bubba McDowell for a 57 yard pass to set up the second ND score.
-On the next drive, a ball is tipped and Walsh is guilt of the dreaded TAINT. 21-7 ND.
-Miami comes back and scores with a few minutes left on a 4th & 4 on the ND 24. 21-14 ND.
-ND does nothing on offense and Miami scores with just 24 seconds left in the half. Tie game at half.

-Rice is picked by Bubba McDowell.
-The conspiracy continues. On the very next play, ND gets the ball back on a play where the running back clearly had his progress stopped. Opportunity missed.
-Rice runs for 25 yards. Musberger mentions players slipping due to thin grass because of the drought that summer of '88. Exciting stuff.
-Rod Carter makes a nice play to stuff a run. Good to know that he did play.
-Blocked field goal attempt by...Bubba McDowell. The future Houston Oiler really only had one bad play and it that really was just a mis-judge of the ball flight on the Ismail catch.
-Cleveland Gary has 8 catches already.
-Notre Dame stuffs a 3rd & 1 to Gary and then stuff the fake punt. Jimmy Johnson is upset that his genius did not pay off.
-This game is all about reaction plays. First play is a 40 yard pass from Rice to Watters on a corner route to inside the five yard line.
-Touchdown out of the wishbone for ND. 28-21 Irish. There is another conspiracy play coming up in this one, but this TD falls into the hands of Johnson. The ND offense had not done much since the 57 yd pass to Ismail and they had a chance to pin them deep. The fake punt was very costly.
-I kind of miss the time when wide receivers put their fingers on the ground at the beginning of the play.
-Another nice thrown by Walsh to Chudz down the middle. Miami back in Notre Dame territory. Right after that a run is stuffed and Walsh misses a ball to Brown in the hole in the zone. Trip right on 3rd down and complete to Gary. Gary now over 100 yards on nine catches. Technically, he is the fullback. Miami has been running their fullback out of the slot. Imagine Vontae Leach out of the slot now.
-Walsh with a quick throw. Picked by 6' 7" Jeff Alm right in the middle of the line. Wow. Alm would play 4 years with the Oilers and get 2.5 career sacks.
-Another emotional reaction play. Brooks cut off on the right, spins, goes left for a 23 yard run.
-Rice down the middle on PA to Derek Brown. Big 25 yard gain. Holtz just used Miami's bread and butter against them. He really does adjust well. Mustberger follows with a story about how Brown was recruited by Miami but ND stole him.
-ND has shown the following formations on this drive: I form, Twins left, Wishbone Option, Single Back, Near, Full House and Pro Set.
-ND settles for the field goal and a 31-21 lead. The kicker for ND, Reggie Ho, looks like he is the size of an actual leprechaun. Seriously, he can't be more than 5' 2". He is listed at 5' 5", 135. No freakin' way. According to the ND website, Ho is now a cardiologist specializing in electrophysiology. So, um, he is a lot smarter than any of us. Hey, I bet he is good at his job, with those little hands and all.
-Walsh complete to Chudz. Sets up a field goal. 31-24 ND.
-Ismail muffs the kick and ND is stuck to start on their ten. Miami misses another opportunity.
-Holtz goes for it all to Ismail on a play action deep. Incomplete.
-That leads into a story about working on Rice's accuracy. Holtz' solution? Giving Rice a dart board b/c he thinks the throwing motion of a dart will help him on the field. Hey, I love darts. I don't care if I have never heard that before. Football coaches... buy your QBs dart boards and do it now. I recommend a BDO Blade III model with thin pointed wires along with a set of 26 gram titanium darts with spring loaded fronts. Also, buy them three lengths for the back and a couple versions of thin and fat flights dimpled and non-dimpled. All that crap I just mentioned costs a total of about $200.
-Walsh right now 24-40 for 356, 3TD, 3INT
-Gary 10-129, Chudz 5-84
-"[Walsh] throws such an easy pass to catch, it is so soft." -Hayden
-And here is most controversial play of the game. 4th & 7 on the 11. Pass to Gary. Mike Stonebreaker ends up with the ball. Johnson would scream forever that Gary was down. Honestly, he absolutely was down. Maybe. I think the right knee was down. But, damn, that was close.
-Someone should show the clip to Johnson now for fun. I mean, the jokes involved with getting "a rise" out of Jimmy are endless.
-After one first down, ND punts and Miami begins on the 49 with 3:52 to go.
-BTW, Johnson is still ragging on the officials on the sideline.
-Late hit by Chris Zorich on Chudz.
-Frank Stams to strip-sack and a recovery for the Irish. Another blown opportunity by Miami. who jumped on the ball? Zorich, of course.
-Miami recovers a fumble with 2:10 on the Notre Dame 20.
-Miami seemed to do so much damage on 3rd and 4th down.
-4th down and 6 on the ND 11 with less than a minute left. Walsh with a big bloody bandage on his chin. Touchdown to Andre Brown. Of course it was a touch pass on an in & out pattern.
-Johnson had big guts. He went for two. Knocked down by Pat Terrell.
-What a game. Hope you enjoyed this write-up as much I enjoyed watching the game.


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