Initial Impressions – UConn at Notre Dame

Notre Dame dropped another heartbreaker this weekend with a double overtime loss at the hands of UConn. Despite Michael Floyd's overtime touchdown catch, the Irish ended up losing 33-30 in the second overtime. (Photo - Warren Wimmer / Icon SMI )

Another tough loss for a Notre Dame team that had BCS aspirations just a few weeks ago.  The loss drops the Irish to 6-5 and more than likely seals the fate for head coach Charlie.  Here are some notes and thoughts on the game.

  • However you feel about Charlie Weis, I think it’s pretty obvious how the players feel about him after seeing them take the field arm-in-arm with their embattled head coach. Weis’s reaction also tells you all you need to know about how Weis sees his future at Notre Dame.
  • It’s tough to go into the x’s and o’s of this game too much because the overlying theme of the game is the future of Weis. With the Irish at 6-5 now, there honestly isn’t any way to justify bringing back Weis for a 6th year. For those of us who were rooting for Weis, it’s tough since he put in more work and cared about the program more than his two predecessors, but a change needs to be made.
  • And now onto the game…
  • This game reminded of the 2008 Pitt game in a lot of ways. The most obvious being that Notre Dame was in complete control of the game until a stupid personal foul penalty on 3rd down that extended a drive. Last year it was Harrison Smith, this year it was Sergio Brown drawing the costly penalty.
  • How’s this for a ridiculous stat. Notre Dame is 2-4 with a healthy Michael Floyd this year and 4-1 without him. All of the creative ways that Notre Dame was getting Tate the ball went away when Floyd came back.
  • I stopped trying to figure out what Jon Tenuta was doing with his game plans a couple weeks ago, but this one really confused me. It was clear that UConn was scared to let Zach Frazer pass the ball after the INT in the end zone yet, they were still able to just run right at the Notre Dame defense in the fourth quarter and overtime.
  • Another year in the weight room is going to help a couple of the young DL – Ethan Johnson and Kapron Lewis-Moore especially. Both had their moments, but got over-powered at times. Hopefully by next year the DL will have a larger rotation so that the line doesn’t wear out by the end of the game.
  • Darius Fleming showed some more flashes of being a great pass rusher again this weekend. He is another player who should really benefit from another full off-season.
  • Golden Tate had 95 yards receiving in the first quarter and then just 28 the rest of the game? Against Navy he barely got the ball in the first half and then blew up in the second half. Can’t figure out why it’s been so difficult to keep getting him the ball. UConn has an OK defense, but not the kind of defense that should be able to take a player of Tate’s caliber out of the game.
  • It was nice to see some consistent punting from Ben Turk. His performance this year was very concerning up until this weekend. Turk averaged 47.0 yards on 5 punts with a long of 50 and a net average of 47. In the four previous games Turk punted, he hadn’t averaged more than 40 yards in any one game.
  • Speaking of special teamers, hats off to David Ruffer. While filling in for the injured Nick Tausch the last two weeks, Ruffer hit on all 4 of his field goals including a 36 yarder in the second overtime. Ruffer and Tausch have combined this year to connect on 19 of 23 field goals – that’s a nice improvement from last year and should give us some hope for next year.
  • Armando Allen set a career long with a 26 yard run. Who thought we’d be saying that after three years? If Allen can get passed that last tackle that always trips him up, he could become an elite back. His 64 yards receiving were the second highest single game output for him as well.
  • Was this the last game for Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate in Notre Dame Stadium? If it was, both went out with some nice looking stats. If you would have told me in September that Clausen would only have 23 TDs heading into the finale though, I would have said you were crazy.
  • Notre Dame held a 11:07 to 3:53 time of possession advantage in the third quarter but managed just 3 points and was outscored 7-3 by UConn thanks to a 96 yard kick return by Jordan Todman.
  • Notre Dame scored 14 points on its first three drives of the game and then just 6 over its final 9 drives of the game before overtime.
  • Two costly fumbles by Michael Floyd and Armando Allen ended up playing a large roll in the Irish loss.
  • In many ways, this game was a microcosm of the season – and the Weis Era. Notre Dame started out really fast and looked like it was going to cruise to an easy victory and send the seniors off the right way. Then a stupid penalty changed the momentum.
  • Thank you to all of the seniors (and maybe some juniors) who played their last games in Notre Dame Stadium.
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171 comments

  1. IrishChan 10 years ago

    Here is a great article that every Irish fan should read: http://www.blueandgold.com/content/?aid=8294 (copy and paste into your browser).

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    1. nepachris 10 years ago

      i read that too and was a little offended for them trying to insult my intelligence. they fail to mention who he is/has been losing to, his record against ranked opponents, his record against winning teams, etc. if he never lost to navy or syracuse and beat usc on occasion along with a better record against the big east, we might be considering him to stay. i really wish people could see thru articles like this.

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  2. ted 10 years ago

    this is not an argument for charlie to stay, i think he deserves to go…with that being said, i just got done watching the press conference and its too bad weis didn’t work out. i know people love to hate on his weight, arrogance, lack of enthusiasm etc., but he really is looking out for the best interests of the kids.

    i know, i know, here we go with the grad rates again, but considering large state schools like florida hide their kids in 100 level classes for 4 years and still only graduate about 60%, it says a lot about what nd does. many coaches view kids as commodities and tools for them to use and disregard when they are done. urban meyer is a great example, he uses and abuses his players. you could probably lump the entire sec into that category.

    i heard malcom gladwell on npr recently compare football to dog-fighting, and though his argument is seriously flawed, the underlying premise does not miss the mark by much. it’s hard to feel sorry for nfl players b/c of the money, but college kids who are shoplifting and committing armed robbery? back in the day trading a free education for playing the sport was a fair bargain, but things have changed. we pay our coach millions of dollars a year but what about the people who actually play the game? these universities make millions, if not hundreds of millions off these kids and what do the 99% of them that don’t make the nfl have to show for it? if they were lucky enough to get a degree they have no practical experience in the field, tons of arthritis and possible dementia later in life. i am rambling now but i want a coach that can win the right way and doesn’t bitch because the kids have to actually go to class.

    go irish beat cardinals!!

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  3. tommy 651 10 years ago

    one of the problems with notre dame’s offense this year was that by the third or fourth game everybody defensed them the same way. they rushed three or four men and dropped seven or eight into coverage. able to get sufficent pressure with the three and four man rush took away the deep pass and the middle of the field. this was an open invitation to run the ball. but notre dame’s aversion to running the ball except as a change of pace played right into this defense scheme. while notre dame was able to move the ball by throwing to the outside and underneath passes, these passes become harder to complete as the field becomes compressed. with no real commitment to a running game and an inability to complete passes in the tighter spaces they had real trouble scoring in the red zone.

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  4. jerryct 10 years ago

    All you need to know about the weak O and D-lines in the Weis years is look at the strength coach and program. ND linemen in the NFL draft are very poor at all the strength categories. Brady Quinn out bench pressed all our linemen. This lack of development is how 2 and 3 star Navy and Uconn players beat 4 and 5 star ND players

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  5. jack 10 years ago

    Palk,

    One thing about Golden is he plays baseball and may stay because he could go pro in baseball. He was drafted by Arizona I think and could go pro in baseball. As for Jimmy, why leave your junior year if you are not a 1st rounder. You will not get a good contract unless you are a first rounder.

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    1. palk21 10 years ago

      Jack- you may disagree with me, but I would put money on Jimmy going in the 1st round if he came out this year. He’s currently ranked in the Top 10 for pro prospects and I believe the second QB behind Bradford (assuming Bradford fully heals and impresses at the combine.) I have to say that Jimmy will more than likely be a 1st rounder without question.

      I certainly see your point with Golden Tate and I sure hope he stays. We’ll have to see what he decides. It wouldn’t be the first time a great Irish receiver chose the MLB over the NFL. I still wish Samardzija would’ve gone for the NFL. Anyway…that boat has sailed, but Golden still has a chance and I would love to see him play in the NFL and make the splash that I know he can at that level.

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      1. jack 10 years ago

        Palk,

        I understand your position on Jimmy going 1st round but I guess we can disagree. It depends what underclassmen come out in the draft, but I think ESPN has him behind McCoy, Locker (if he comes out), and Bradford. I know the type of injury Bradford has and it can heal and he can be a productive QB. I had the same surgery that Chad Pettington (sp) and that will end a career because you can’t throw the seam route to the tight end due to flexibility in the ligament. I believe Bradford’s injury will heal with surgery and time, but I could see Jimmy jumping him. Thanks for the different point of view.

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  6. jack 10 years ago

    Everyone keeps talking about Clausen leaving his junior year for the NFL. The only problem I see is who is successful as a QB in the NFL leaving their Junior year in College. Let’s look at top QB’s in the NFL, Manning, Brady and Brees they all stayed for their senior year. Let’s look at Sanchez this year, poor decisions and throwing a ton of picks. I don’t think Jimmy physically is ready to be an NFL QB. He is listed at 6’3″ ad 220 lbs. He doesn’t look that big and who would draft him Oakland, KC or the Rams. He would get crushed because of horrible running games and bad O-lines with no receiving core. It would benefit him to stay at ND for another year. The administration needs to look for a coach that will use a similiar system. Don’t be a bunch of idiots like Michigan and change your entire offensive philosophy.

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    1. palk21 10 years ago

      I agree. Admin better play it smart, unlike Michigan. We’ve been talking about potentially setting the program back with a new coach because players/recruits might leave, but if we bring in a coach with a completely different offensive philosophy, then we’d REALLY be setting the program several steps.

      As for Jimmy, I think he does need to stay, but you know he’s looking at, if not talking to, Sam Bradford and asking himself…what if that’s me next year? The Sam Bradford was the worse thing that could happen to both Sam Bradford and any player (specifically QB) who is considering coming out this year. Bradford went from Heisman winner to…well, we really don’t know until the April Draft, but I can’t imagine this season helped his chances at a high draft pick. In fact, I’d bet that if Jimmy came out, he’d be projected to go higher than Bradford because of what happened to Bradford and the numbers Jimmy is putting up.

      I sure hope JC doesn’t go because you might get a snowball effect with some other players. Specifically Golden Tate. If Jimmy stays, Golden could (potentially) have a better year next year, but highly unlikely with a healthy Michael Floyd. But if Jimmy leaves, Golden numbers are going to take a big hit…new QB, competing with Michael Floyd for touches and risk of injury is always on the table. It’s like poker for Golden, he just won the big pot and he’d like to get out way ahead. I’d be shocked if Golden didn’t win the Biletnikoff Award. His only competition, in my opinion, is Freddie Barnes, who plays for Bowling Green. Looking at the competition each had to face, Golden is the obvious choice. I would LOVE to see Golden get honored for everything he’s done for this team. He deserves it and I’d be ready to rock and roll if he and Jimmy came back for their Senior years.

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  7. Zach 10 years ago

    This is Notre Dame football, nothing to be taken lightly, but being an IU basketball fan, seeing a coach that honestly didn’t give a **** about academics (Who eventually got himself fired) just made me sick to my stomach. No matter what you think of Weis as a coach, it is still very impressive to me to hold up that stellar of an academic record.

    I really hope Clausen comes back, I can completely understand him wanting to go to the NFL, to leave the hotbed of insanity that is Notre Dame with sucker punched flying and Defensive lineman after you constantly. If we get a great coach, and keep the core intact (A half decent D-coordinator would help, Jesus, Tenuta…). A group like that with Bob Stoops or a great SEC coach like Meyer would make me very happy.

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  8. joeyknuklehead 10 years ago

    “Sucker Punched” – no doubt Clausen now knows how all ND fans felt this season … after the Hawaii Bowl & pre season hype.
    So much has been made of this punch but he took more punishment during the first quarter of his first game. Guess it’s just symbolic.

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  9. C-Dog 10 years ago

    Just can’t stay away. Heard the local barfly who does the ESPN local radio broadcast. They really are barflies. Topic of Notre Dame not being able to compete with academic standards being so high. What’s the correlation between academics and playing football? Is it that only dump players are good at football? Or is it that to compete, you can’t have your players in the classroom? If it’s the second question, isn’t that saying that football players are not supposed to get a real education at a D-1 University? If any of that is what people believe, I have this question:

    what is supposed to happen to all the athletes who don’t go pro and don’t get an education? What about the one’s who go bankrupt when their prop career is over? Notre Dame IS the answer to that tragedy. A Notre Dame education afforded the athletes is the answer to the new slavery of the SEC. And to compete with the up and coming Asian economies, education will be required.

    To the many hateful bloggers, the Irish haters, the Jimmy Clausen haters, the Charlie Weis haters, to those who not only criticize but really spew the hate, I say this. Your lack of personal pride, intelligence and low bar for the sake of sports is anti American. Raise your own bar.

    ND can compete and with academics. If the economy does crash next year, Notre Dame and schools like it will be critical to sending educated folks into the workforce. That includes all the undrafted athletes.

    Go Irish!!

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    1. teo 10 years ago

      Good comments, C-Dog. Like you, I cannot stay away).

      Notre Dame is a highly competitive place. And, by that I mean that on both sides of the SAT, kids are somewhere around 700. So, the kids that go to Notre Dame are valedictorians and other high school to-5%-ers. Getting into Notre Dame is a dream for so many kids.

      You cannot have a 96% graduation rate without the admissions office really controlling which recruits are coming into the football program. You can’t, because if the athletic department controlled this, the athletes wouldn’t be able to compete with their cohorts who are non-athletes. The result would be a lower graduation rate. I suspect that at other schools around the country admissions and athletics are closely intertwined and the result is that lower graduation rates take place.

      Having said all of this, I still believe that it’s a good thing for the athletic department and the admissions department to be separate. And, I definitely believe that it’s possible to win championships with high academic standards. We need the right guy.

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      1. Jack 10 years ago

        C-Dog great analysis. ND has talent to compete with any team in the nation currently. They needs direction and discipline on the field. They have already shown it in the classroom I don’t know why it doesn’t translate to the field. Your comment about the SEC is true. ND is above letting in hired guns like Miami to just win and fail out after football is over. ND holds itself to higher standards. The only thing I would like to see is them give a chance to a guy like Tony Rice who wouldn’t have made it in by todays standards but turned out to be a great student athelete.

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      2. MMA83d 10 years ago

        Agree with almost all points. ND, clearly, does not have the defensive talent to compete (and win) with any team in the country.

        No coach would have made this defense work with the players at their current level. The expectations for this defense were grossly exaggerated. Starting a freshman at linebacker was the BIG red flag. As good as Teo is, he would not have been starting for any top ten team.

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      3. palk21 10 years ago

        Championships can certainly be won with high academics standards. teo is 100% right…we need to find the right guy. Look at Duke (I realize basketball is not football)and Mike Kryzewski. Duke is a school with great academics and Duke basketball is ALWAYS at the top in both graduation rate and the polls. For Duke, Coach K is the right guy, we need to find our “Coach K”…someone who can lead a team to the top, as well as make sure they’re getting the education being offered to them.

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      4. MMA83d 10 years ago

        Wasn’t there a 60-minutes piece a few years ago that poked holes in Duke’s so-called basketball players curriculum?

        Your point is a good one. As stated before, I’d love a coach who truly looked at Notre Dame as his last stop, not a resume builder for NFL dreams. You win at Notre Dame, the World is your oyster.

        Finding the coach who can deal with success at Notre Dame may be a more difficult task.

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  10. Evan 10 years ago

    if jimmy gets punched in the face for ‘losing’, than there is a drive-by shooting in store for the defense.

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  11. Bobby D 10 years ago

    Hahaha. Thanks for correcting yourself JDH. I’m having way too much fun with Jimmy Clausen getting one punched. It’s too much for me to handle. Tough guy?? Really dude? I’m just pissed off the Irish suck. The Irish suck and I hate it along with scores of other fans and ND students. Thanks for keeping this fun….stud….really?

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    1. JDH 10 years ago

      Yeah no problem. Not sure why you are asking about the terms “tough guy” and “stud”. I’m merely accomodating your own projections of yourself.

      I’m pretty sure your issues go well beyond “just being pissed off the Irish suck”.

      See, we all have long conversations about why the Irish suck, how they got here, what needs to happen etc. We vent our frustration, sometimes disagree with eachother etc. and do so ad nauseum.

      But then someone comes along, who we’ve never seen on this board much/ever. And they start vomiting up incandescent ramblings and sound like they may be legally retarded, we take issue with these things.

      Being frustrated is one thing. Discussing ND football passionately is one thing. And then there is what you do, which is…..well whatever you want to call it I guess.

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      1. palk21 10 years ago

        I couldn’t have put it much better…”But then someone comes along, who we’ve never seen on this board much/ever. And they start vomiting up incandescent ramblings and sound like they may be legally retarded, we take issue with these things.”

        I enjoy coming on here and saying what I feel about Notre Dame football and displaying my opinion about certain topics, but I don’t (intentionally) attack and tear down the players like Bobby D is and I certainly don’t think Jimmy is a loser, nor should he, or any player get punched in the face.

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      2. JDH 10 years ago

        Bingo Palk. Steel on target my man. I will say that I have been hard on Harrison Smith in the past, but purely as a football player. I would never, ever advocate or think it was funny for any student- athlete to get hurt, no matter what team or sport.

        My frustration and ire lies overwhelmingly with the coaches and the leadership of ND, not the players. At the end of the day, they are young kids who work very hard at being exceptional student- athletes. I can tell you from firsthand experience that this is no easy task.

        And no matter how frustrated we are, most of us here wish them all the best in their endeavors…

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      3. palk21 10 years ago

        Exactly! I’m not saying I’ve never said anything bad about Harrison Smith or Sergio Brown, but I’ve said things objectively and attributed most of it to coaching. Our coaches must watch a different film than what we see because they never have the right players in the right positions. I will say that Harrison Smith has been better since coming back to LB. While I don’t know if it’s because there’s less attention on him there, but he seems to be doing better (not that putting Sergio Brown in his place in the secondary was the right move). I am always going to be critical because I want ND to win 56-0 everytime out, but I am not about to call these KIDS losers and get any satisfaction out of one of them being punched in the face. I’m not an ill-willed person and I can only hope that what happens in the off-season is the right decision for the future of Notre Dame football because I’m tired of living in the 20th century for great ND moments.

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  12. fxm 10 years ago

    OK, Clausen punches guy back in the face (who knows maybe the guy ran away which would be consistent behavior of a “sucker-puncher”) breaks his hand and goes to the back of the class with Sam Bradford. Or worse ends up with the UCONN cornerback.

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  13. palk21 10 years ago

    If that’s your point, then Brady should be punched in the face and beat down by all the Browns fans because he is a “loser” based on your definition.

    My point is that Jimmy has done everything he can, but again we come back to the fact that our Defense can’t stop anybody. If our defense made just a couple stops Jimmy would be a “winner”. Jimmy’s numbers are just as good as any season Brady had with the Irish.

    NAME CMP ATT YDS CMP% YDS/A TD INT RAT
    Jimmy Clausen 266 395 3382 67.3 8.56 23 4 156.5
    Brady Quinn (Jr.) 292 450 3919 64.9 8.71 32 7 158.4
    Brady Quinn (Sr.) 289 467 3426 61.9 7.34 37 7 146.7

    Again, Jimmy is doing his part, but our defense is doing NOTHING to back him. I’m anxious to see what Bobby D has to say about the obvious.

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    1. JDH 10 years ago

      Palk,
      My guess is that he will think that you need to be punched in the face. Remember, “you’re soft”.

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      1. palk21 10 years ago

        JDH…don’t set me up for an e-punch. You’re better than that.

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      2. JDH 10 years ago

        Sorry bro. I have a question for BobbyD. If Jimmy Clausen gets punched in the face and falls over in the forest, but no one is there to see it; did he actually get punched in the face and fall over?

        Ahhhhhh.

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      3. palk21 10 years ago

        Hmmm…now that’s a thinker, lol. The obvious answer is NO, but with logic being exhibited by one particular person here, I’m going to have to say YES, he did get punched.

        Thanks for laughs JDH.

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    2. palk21 10 years ago

      I realize those stats are hard to read (didn’t think it would be that difficult to read). My point that is that Jimmy is far more accurate than Brady ever was, with a better TD:INT ratio than Brady ever had. As well, if he played the entire Purdue game, he would have more yards (he’s only 537 yds from Brady’s highest mark) and potentially closer to 30 TDs. There is nothing wrong with Jimmy, just something wrong with you.

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      1. palk21 10 years ago

        Referring to Bobby D, of course.

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  14. Bobby D 10 years ago

    Jesus dude you’re missing the point. Nobody punched Brady Quinn in the face bc he ended up taking his team to two BCS games in a row. Yes, good point that they lost both games, but it was clear from the beginning that the Irish were way outmatched by both of these teams. Yes, it appears as though Brady never really won anything of importance so point also well taken. That being said I’d rather lose to an awesome OSU team in the Fiesta Bowl then play in the Hawaii Bowl or whatever it is on Christmas Eve. I think everyone can agree there. Perhaps I should have substituted Brady with Tony Rice (boy he was great in the NFL wasn’t he????) the last QB to win a Nat’l Championship for the Irish. My original point being: losers get punched in the face.

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    1. JDH 10 years ago

      LMAO! HAHAHA! “Nobody punched Brady Quinn in the face bc he ended up taking his team to two BCS games in a row…….My original point being: losers get punched in the face.”

      This guy has some seriously interesting theories! I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m having a little trouble following Bobby D’s highly unique thought experiment.

      These are some surreal comments! HAHAHA!

      I think I want to get that quote made into a bumper sticker: (From Me to the World)

      “LOSERS DON’T GET PUNCED IN THE FACE!”

      Now those are words to live by! Philosophy at its best!

      -Rousseau, John Locke, Aristotle, Franklin, Montesquieu, Bobby D…..

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      1. JDH 10 years ago

        Sorry, I meant to write “LOSERS GET PUNCHED IN THE FACE”. My apologies to Bobby D for misquoting him…

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    2. Bill Meehan 10 years ago

      *losers suckerpunch people in the face

      *losers say a kid pouring their heart into a game for their team deserves to get suckerpunched in the face

      *losers ignore the fact that said kid has been one of (if not THE) biggest reason why his team has had a chance in every game

      *losers claim that past players could prevent unforeseeable events like suckerpunches. It’s not provable, so don’t even bother to suggest it.

      *losers laugh at their own jokes

      *losers pick on student athletes.

      *losers try to justify the unjust

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      1. JDH 10 years ago

        Bill,
        Thank you for explaining his theories for me! I needed somebody to do so. 🙂

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      2. palk21 10 years ago

        Good thing Bill is here because my brain was starting to hurt trying to comprehend the meaning of his meandering posts.

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