Notre Dame Football ’17 Stock Report: Week 10

Brandon Wimbush - Notre Dame QB

The 2017 Notre Dame football team is just full of surprises aren’t they?

Three weeks apart Notre Dame scored a crushing victory over their storied rival USC, then got lambasted by old foe Miami. On the night before each game, both of those results would have been considered unthinkable. The highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Say what you will about the 2017 football team, they are an emotional roller coaster.

I don’t know how to explain what happened to our team on Saturday night, except to say they clearly weren’t ready to be champions. Not that night, not in a couple months. Brian Kelly delivered a famous quote to his team following their 21 point victory to then #14 NC State, in which Notre Dame amassed over 300 yards rushing: SOMETHING GAVE!

Well, something gave in Notre Dame against Miami too. Perhaps it was one big game too many. Their third top 25 team in four weeks (5th of the season), in a hostile environment. The conventional wisdom heading into the second half of the season was “there is no way the Irish are getting out of this unscathed.” Some teams could have pulled it off. But, not this team. They just didn’t have enough.

Turns out, the team many thought would finish .500 (or worse) isn’t going to win the national championship. The regret is not giving Miami their best. We’ve all watched Notre Dame play this year. That wasn’t them. They didn’t coach the same, they didn’t play the same. They didn’t have that edge. And that’s all I want now. I want that team back, because I like watching them play. They don’t deserve to be the team that was humiliated in Miami. They’ve played too well for that. But, now, what was considered a formality three days ago is anything but that. It’s all on the table now. The team that beat USC can defeat anyone. The team that lost to Miami wouldn’t make the bowl season. What’s it going to be?

Falling

Mike McGlinchey

The senior captain left tackle has been excellent for much of this season, one of the anchors of the best offensive line and running games since the early 1990’s. The numbers they have been posting are remarkable. But, Notre Dame has lost two games this season and the line has been beaten badly in both losses. McGlinchey has been particularly conspicuous in his play. He’s given up sacks for fumbles, quarterback hurries, and lacked the power and push of previous games. It isn’t all on him of course, the line is a unit. However, he’s the one with the “c” on the jersey. He is tasked with the responsibility of leading from the front.

Fortunately for him, their stellar play prior to last Saturday has put the team in position to make up for this. They can close the season strong, win the last two contests against Navy and Stanford, and emerge victorious in a major bowl, something that hasn’t happened since 1993. As disappointing as Saturday was, 11-2 would mean something for the team and the program. None of it happens without better play from McGlinchey and co. though.

Brandon Wimbush

What a difference a week makes. He made the “rising” list last week in this column when he offered up his best all-around performance as a Notre Dame quarterback against Wake Forest. It all came crashing down against the Hurricanes. He started by missing St. Brown on a deep ball that would have given the Irish a tone setting touchdown on the first drive. After that, he was consumed by the moment and lacked the ability to emerge with his A game intact. He threw a terrible interception near the Irish goal line that led to a Miami score, and ultimately led to his getting benched for a series, only to stand by and watch as his backup threw a pick six right before halftime, ultimately sealing the fate of his team.

I’ll get to the decision to pull Wimbush in a second, but practically it’s a defensible decision. He didn’t have the body language you’d want in your signal caller, and he seemed to be engulfed by his surroundings. The season was slipping away from Kelly and his team, he felt he had to do something. Obviously, the situation was made worse. But, Wimbush had given him ample reason to make a move. He wasn’t what he had been.

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I’ve seen a lot of calls for early quarterback runs to get Wimbush settled in. Maybe that helps. But, Long called a touchdown for him on the opening drive, and Wimbush missed it. I get the calls for more runs, but there were plays out there to be made and they weren’t.

Brian Kelly

Can’t let your team lay an egg like this coach. Not in this game. I appreciate that he didn’t see this coming, we certainly didn’t. But then, I watch on TV. He is with them everyday. In hindsight I’m sure he can go back and see some warning signs that his team wasn’t mentally ready for the challenge. One would hope that his 30+ years of coaching experience would have tipped him off that something was amiss, but it did not. Whatever the case, what took place is unacceptable. And he’s the head coach, so of course it starts with him.

Also, can’t let your quarterbacks throw three interceptions in the first half, one of which directly lead to a touchdown, and all of them leading to 17 points. The way this team is built you can’t let them go down making mistakes on what they do second best. Passing is a complement to their true strength.

And look, Brian Kelly didn’t tell Wimbush to sail a slant route deep in his end and he didn’t tell Ian Book to misread a coverage. I don’t care. The only way something like this happens is if Notre Dame turns the ball over. To give the ball away passing the ball just can’t happen.

Lastly, I thought pulling Wimbush was a mistake. As I detailed above, he had cause. But first, they needed playmaking down 20-0. Wimbush gives them that, more so than Book. Second, he doesn’t need his first year quarterback looking over his shoulder during big games. The band-aid is off now, Kelly pulled him for performance in a key moment as the leader of the #3 team in the country. It can happen any time now. This isn’t Wimbush’s last game. They plan at least 16 more starts from him.

Kelly has had problems with quarterbacks his entire tenure at Notre Dame. He’s pulled Crist, Rees, Golson, Zaire, Kizer, and now Wimbush all for poor performance at various points of their careers. In the end, I’m not sure the short term gains were worth the long term effects.

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47 comments

  1. EJS 1 week ago

    Instead of pulling Brandon, maybe Kelly should have called time out, gathered the team around and told them they’re running the Wildcat for the rest of the half, with Brandon as the Wildcat. Push these SOB’s out of the way and make it work. They couldn’t have done any worse and they’d have had fewer turnovers.

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  2. EJS 1 week ago

    What is this obscure BS on here? I think people on this website should talk about ND football, not personal BS.

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  3. SteelFanRob 1 week ago

    BTW: I’ll break “kayfabe” and reveal that I’m not “David.” Some on here accused me of that. My criticism of ND football is hopefully reasoned, even if most don’t agree with my reasons.

    “David” is just negative and repetitive, “BK is a fraud… BK is a fraud… BK is a fraud….” Ad infinitum. While I happen to agree with some of “David’s” observations, he took it upon himself to attack me. So be it! GAME ON!

    I’m not “working” with myself and my alter egos. “SteelFanRob” isn’t “David” and vice versa.

    I might be curmudgeon but he’s a troll!

    GO IRISH!

    BEAT NAVY!

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  4. SteelFanRob 1 week ago

    Actually, “Damian,” “David” reminds me most of “B” something “Breath”. Haven’t heard from him in a while. (Of course, if my theory is correct, he’ll somehow miraculously respond to this with vitriol.)to this

    My exchanges with both are equally classless and sophomoric, if you recall. But, heck, I’m just “jobbing” for Frank, trying to get his bills paid, you know.

    GO IRISH!

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    1. Jeff 1 week ago

      Beatha

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    2. Frank Vitovitch 1 week ago

      If we counted on this site to pay our bills, we’d have gone broke a long, long time ago. We run this site for fun and have day jobs for those pesky bills.

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  5. SteelFanRob 1 week ago

    Me, too, “Damian,” me too. I bought in as well.

    Hell, I’ll go so far as to give “David” credit for not drinking the Kool Aide with us.

    I just can’t stand losing to Miami, “Damian”. I’d prefer to lose to Navy 100 time straight than to get blown out by the Canes once!

    I know you feel the same.

    GO IRISH!

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  6. SteelFanRob 1 week ago

    “David,”

    “Come out to pla…ay!”

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  7. SteelFanRob 1 week ago

    Given you’re deep-seated, need to be on here when no one clearly wants you shows a lot of class and self-respect.

    I guess I’m glad 911 would take my call.

    I’m sure they’d hang up on you and let you end your miserable life in abject solitude in some dingy basement somewhere, with your stolen laptop.

    Keep it coming, “David,” I mean “Ron,” I mean …. I’m your huckleberry!

    Let’s pay for Frank’s cable bill this month

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    1. Damian 1 week ago

      I don’t think Ron and David are the same person actually. Their writing styles are quite a bit different. I think Ron thinks he is being funny and amusing–but I think that’s as far as it goes with him.

      If David reminds me of anyone it’s our old friend Bruce Johnson, the one who used to endlessly say ND should “beg” Urban Meyer to come to ND. Anyone that told him Meyer was never coming to ND, that he already left them at the altar like a fool, was called a loser. David sort of reminds me of that except in his case it’s the endless Kelly is a fraud line.

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      1. SteelFanRob 1 week ago

        I agree, “Damian”. I’m not saying they are the same, I’m just calling them both out as trolls.

        Here’s what’s sad, “Damian,” I’m sure if “David” and I were at a bar together watching BK’s slop and slather, we probably would be in total agreement.

        When people can’t hide behind screen names and have to be “real,” they tend to find consensus, if they fundamentally agree. And I agree with a lot of “David’s” points.

        Having said that, I don’t appreciate his trolling. Whether it’s real or not, I’ll have my fun and take my shots at these losers.

        I just want to reiterate my appreciation of you as someone who had the courage of his convictions to take off the rose-colored glasses and see things for what they are.

        GO IRISH!

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      2. Damian 1 week ago

        Losing to Duke last year will do that. But I had such high hopes going into last week. I guess you can say that I’m not mad so much as just sad. I thought maybe, just maybe ND had turned a corner. ND looked dominant again and it was the first time since I was following ND in depth that people were talking about them like a real force. Unlike David, my beef with BK is with the lack of success in these big games. It’s not personal.

        After they dominated USC I thought, damn, maybe they are for real. Then we heard a week of well they won’t be able to run against NC State, and they did. They were playing with attitude, like they belonged. They weren’t perfect games, but they had that “it” factor to them, that we can take on anyone, bring it. Then they started losing it against WF and just fell apart against Miami. Worse part is I’m not sold that Miami is even an elite team yet. I really think Alabama would wipe the field with them.

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  8. SteelFanRob 1 week ago

    You’re right about one thing, “David,” I can bully you all night long.

    So just keep it coming and I’ll continue to intellectually bully you.

    Can’t wait to hear back from you, little troll.

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  9. SteelFanRob 1 week ago

    Don’t care to praise or disdain you, “David”.

    You’re not worth the scum on a toilette boil at Hard Rock Stadium.

    You might find your putrid ancestors swimming around down there.

    Mom?… Dad? Grandpa? It’s me, “David” your long, lost amoeba.

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    1. david 1 week ago

      Self esteem is a valuable thing.

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      1. SteelFanRob 1 week ago

        Because you clearly know a lot about self-esteem, troll. It shines through your brilliant prose!

        Wow!

        All night long!

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      2. david 1 week ago

        Seek help. Seriously. A 911 call is no way to end things.

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  10. SteelFanRob 1 week ago

    BTW: I usually don’t condone physical violence, but well done those two ND fans who stood up to and got the better of a whole mob of Miami fans.

    From the looks of it, it looks like the fight started after Miami fans cornered and threw beer at the two Golden Domers.

    Typical, thug Miami Hurricanes behavior (when they are winning, because when they aren’t you can’t give away tickets to UM games).

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    1. Damian 1 week ago

      One of the reasons these last several years of Miami mediocrity have thrilled me to no end. Frankly I hope they get in the playoffs, start their BS that they are back then get their heads handed to them by Alabama 42-0.

      Them and Michigan are two teams I love to see lose.

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      1. SteelFanRob 1 week ago

        Miami’s mediocrity, “Damian,” was due to Donna Shalala raising standards for football players. Miami actually made progress academically.

        UM football GPAs and grad rates actually rose sharply during Shalala’s tenure.

        Lo and behold, academic standards go way up at the “U”, football success goes way down. Coincidence?! I think not.

        Regardless, their fans are scum and fair weather as you can get. Same holds for all So. FL teams. Miami fans=Bandwagon jumpers to the core!

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      2. Damian 1 week ago

        A leopard doesn’t change it’s spots. The turnover chain is just the start of it. Eventually their boosters will be back to rewarding Miami players who injure opposing players. I have 0 respect for Miami. One of the reasons I hated being embarrassed by them. If we had to be blown out by somebody, why did it have to be Miami? Why?

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    2. SteelFanRob 1 week ago

      What are the odds that one of those two, standup Domers fighting off the mob were “Ron Burgundy,” who claims to have been at the game Saturday night?

      0%!

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    3. david 1 week ago

      A video’d win of a drunken fight in the stands.
      The proud legacy of ND football has come to this.
      Congratulations.
      “Here come the iPhones!”

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      1. SteelFanRob 1 week ago

        Two men standing up for themselves, something “David” wouldn’t know anything about!

        Again, “David,” stop talking about the military you coward! You clearly don’t know anything about standing your ground.

        Wouldn’t want you in my foxhole, loser.

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  11. david 1 week ago

    After 5 seasons, Gerry Faust had enough dignity and honor to resign when it became clear he could not do the job well enough to deliver the expected results. And in doing so, he cleared the way for the hiring of a truly great coach.

    Brian Kelly is more in the Charlie Weis, ‘ka-ching’ mould. But at least Weis’ Plan A was to succeed, not to sneak around interviewing for another, better job like a streetwalking whooer.

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    1. SteelFanRob 1 week ago

      Have to admit it, on this point “David” is spot on.

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      1. david 1 week ago

        Your praise is insulting. You’ve proved yourself to be an idiot, so I’d prefer your disdain.

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  12. ScottB 1 week ago

    No issue with Wimbush being pulled. Play.better. I don’t buy into the notion you are going to hurt the kid mentally. If he is that soft then you’ve got much bigger problems

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  13. ChrisJ 1 week ago

    Greg,

    Kelly pulling Wimbush may have been one of the dumbest moves he has ever made. This team is where they are because of Wimbush and then you’re going to pull him just because your entire team is facing a bit of adversity? It’s like Kelly didn’t know how to respond by getting down the way they did so it was like a snap judgment to pull Wimbush because he “must be the problem.” There didn’t seem to be any thoughts to talk to Long about making some adjustments to help the kid into some better plays, more designed runs (which he excels mightily at), etc. No, we’ll just pull him and destroy all his confidence and now going forward as Greg pointed out, he will have that thought in the back of his mind if he makes a couple mistakes he is going to get pulled. That’s the kind of BS that coaches pull that gets them fired. You’re the #3 team in the country, which your starting qb played a HUGE part in, and you pull him. WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    1. Damian 1 week ago

      I agree with the sentiment, but my impression was that Wimbush wasn’t pulled so much for his mistakes, but just as a desperate attempts to try to spark the team. I believe the thinking may have been that we couldn’t even get a first down, maybe we should try something different just to see if it gets something going. I don’t think it was so much punishing Wimbush, as it was just a desperation move to generate something, anything. I don’t think it was a wise move, but if the coaches handle it with Wimbush properly…um, never mind.

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      1. ChrisJ 1 week ago

        Damian,

        I see where you’re coming from but one key thing you stated was that it was a “desperate attempt” to try and spark the team. It wasn’t desperation time. It was the first half and down what 20-0 at that point? Eventually Wimbush be faced with some adversity as he really hasn’t in his entire career yet other than some in GA game but that was a different story as it was very close and ND led pretty much the entire game. But this time he throws a couple picks and the Irish go down by three scores early in the game and he just gets pulled on his first true test of adversity. Just my opinion but Kelly needs to let Wimbush, our best qb, play through that adversity. I just really hope this move doesn’t shake Wimbush’s confidence as he has this in the back of his mind now. We’ll see.

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      2. ChrisJ 1 week ago

        And one other thing to state here is that some might point to ND having some success pulling Golson for Rees back in 2012 but that was WAAAYYY different. Rees had played in previous years and had many starts and experience under his belt. Book has started one game and didn’t exactly light it up. Sure, he looks a little smoother as a passer but we all know Wimbush gives us the best chance to win with his running ability and with the overall better arm to throw downfield. Miami knew Book is known for throwing on time on short routes and that allowed them to jump that out route and take it for a pick six. Just a really bad decision by Kelly all around here.

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      3. Damian 1 week ago

        Yeah, I tend to agree. And you’re right, 2012 was different because EG was being pulled with someone with more experience, and Tommy Rees never seemed to let it bother him that he was pulled for EG. I’m not sure why Book was put in. I was listening to the radio broadcast and they had noted maybe he was put in to try to spark something. It’s different with other players. Back against the Georgia game some of us were wondering why Dexter Williams wasn’t used at all since we had no luck running the ball (sounds now like it was because he was nursing an injury, something we didn’t know at the time). But it’s different with a QB because he’s the leader. My comments aside, I hope that the coaches handle it correctly with Wimbush. We’ve had too many promising QB’s go bust under BK (well, Kizer maybe would be an exception, though I still think he didn’t live up to his potential).

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    2. George 1 week ago

      But you did notice that ND wasn’t going to be able to move the ball without throwing it, right? Can’t coddle BW forever.

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      1. Damian 1 week ago

        I’m not defending the decision, just offering an alternative explanation, that maybe it was just an attempt to try something different.

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      2. ChrisJ 1 week ago

        Jet sweeps and qb designed runs would have spread the d stacking the box out a bit more. Hardly any of those called. Our runs were vanilla as they get against an 8 man front.

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    3. david 1 week ago

      Miami throat stomped ND. Complete domination and humiliation.

      But clearly y’all would critique the freshness of the rolls after forgetting to cook the gd turkey.

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      1. Damian 1 week ago

        Yet here you are

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      2. david 1 week ago

        You were told. Just say thank you, ingrate.

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  14. david 1 week ago

    This week, ND players will have ROCKNE across their backs, in addition to the ARA on their helmets.
    Kelly will get similar treatment some day….when the team goes with the green jerseys.

    And here’s the thing about ‘echoes’….they eventually stop, and you have to yell once again to restart them.
    And Komatose Kelly can’t wake nuttin’.

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  15. A68Domer 1 week ago

    No one on the field nor on the sidelines is without blame. Against USC, everyone deserved kudos. It’s all about preparation before the Team takes the field.

    BTW, what other CFB teams have the use of an NFL stadium for their home games? The sound system, four video boards, and almost completely enclosed room to amplify crowd noise? Sure the Irish have played in this environment many times but usually at a neutral site. Just saying…….

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    1. Ron Burgundy 1 week ago

      Georgia St, UMass, Temple, USF, Pitt and SDSU

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  16. Brad 1 week ago

    Where were the leaders? Where was the fire? Where was the guy trying to rally the troops? Where was the grit?

    ND players were soft and absolutely laid down. We need more competitors. Seems like we have very few.

    Tranquill, Coney, and Nelson are the only guys that are coming to the top of my mind.

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  17. Terry Gaughan 1 week ago

    Playing the blame game is easy but I have a different observation. I think what this game showed is the same issue ND has faced for years…not enough team speed. Miami had sizable linemen but they all played really fast. Speed allows you to overcome mistakes and we don’t have enough in the trenches or in the defensive backend. Being strong is great but as Alabama and now Miami have shown you really need both.

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  18. Rayjay 1 week ago

    I disagree on two points/ . St. Brown slowed up on the early pass and then did not try to save his mistake by laying out. That ball was catchable if he lays out. Also the pulling out of Winbush for Book occurred exactly at the right time as Winbush was very incomfortable at that time in the moment. Book was moving the team and then he underthrew Stepherson on a would be touchdown and then of course he made the disastrous poor read one play later but he was moving the team well enough that we could have pulled out some sort of score before the half.

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  19. bob rader 1 week ago

    All the carping and second-guessing from some of the Notre Dame fans. Enough. i just want to move on. Repair the damage, beat Navy and Stanford. 11 and 2 with a major bowl win. That is the target. It is achievable. Let’s go IRISH!!

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  20. Damian 1 week ago

    You’re probably more generous then I would be, actually. The team as a whole laid an egg. It goes without saying that it starts with BK. Then the various assistants, then the players themselves. They allowed themselves to get caught up in all the hype and thought the rest of the season would be a walk in the park. It isn’t. This was a humiliation. Sure, coming into the season 10-2 would have been considered quite a turnaround (assuming they win out of course). But they set the bar higher with their dominant performances in every other game except Georgia. They even had a good showing against Georgia.

    The problem really is that ND showed us it can dominate other teams. Miami was beatable, I don’t care about their speed or anything else. ND has shown speed itself this year. We have elite level RB’s, a QB with elusiveness, an O-line that has the strength to stop pretty much everyone, and defensive playmakers. The coaches did not have the team prepared, plain and simple. Miami was playing of a playoff spot while ND thought they had it wrapped up.

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