In preparation for absolutely nothing, Pat Rick reached out to Pat Rick to have him answer a variety of questions submitted by Twitter followers and Facebook friends alike
Ladies and gentlemen, last weekend was another test for our Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team, and they once again passed it with flying colors.
This weekend, Brian Kelly’s squad looks to keep things rolling against another undefeated opponent, BYE.
Considering what’s now at stake for the ACC-leading Irish as they hope to close out the season perfectly and stay firmly in the College Football Playoff hunt, I figured we should once again have a Q&A to learn as much as possible heading into the upcoming weekend’s match-up.
So, I reached out to the stupidest guy I know, Pat Rick of One Foot Down, to answer any and all of our questions — and I even decided to make this a completely fan-driven Q&A, collecting plenty of great, hard-hitting questions from you all on Twitter and Facebook.
So, without further ado, let’s see what Pat Rick had to say about tons of important topics, including Jarrett Patterson’s injury, Tommy Rees’ greatness, how Michigan and Jim Harbaugh continue to stink, creating a new rivalry trophy and a new dorm, and MUCH more!!!
What will the OL look like with Patterson out for the year at Center?
— Phillip P., Facebook
I won’t spend toooooo much time on this, because I think a lot of others have covered this, but there’s no sugar-coating how much of a blow this is for Jeff Quinn’s starting crew. Their effectiveness has been impressive in 2020, and can largely be attributed to not only their talent and their veteran experience, but also their amount of experience playing together as a starting five.
Patterson himself was having a fantastic season in the middle, and losing him not only means the loss of a potential All-American center, but also one of the key voices on the line, considering the center is typically the one coordinating assignments with the rest of the linemen. Now, it’s going to be interesting to see where Tommy Rees and Jeff Quinn want to go, considering there are a few different options.
Sophomore Zeke Correll has been listed as the #2 center on the depth chart all season, and he’s a big, nasty interior lineman who was very highly regarded coming out of high school. However, he’s also a true sophomore with next to no playing time under his belt, and so you wouldn’t blame the coaching staff if they didn’t want to put an inexperienced guy in the middle of a line that’s trying to drive the offense toward a national title.
Another option is senior Josh Lugg, who’s been backup RT all year and is typically considered the “first guy in” at multiple positions due to his size and experience (he started the final 5 games of 2019 after Robert Hainsey got hurt). Lugg would be massive for a center (6’7”, 310 lbs.), but aside from Ian Book having 2 more inches worth of trouble seeing the middle of the field from the pocket, Lugg’s presence would shore up the line’s size and power that have helped drive their success in the trenches.
Yet another option would be former walk-on Colin Grunhard, currently listed as 3rd-string center on the depth chart behind Correll, but being a senior he certainly has more experience and trust of the coaching staff. At 6’1” and 290 lbs., it would be a trade-off in size, so I’ve got a feeling they will hold onto Grunhard as a key reserve instead of tossing him immediately into the fray.
If I had to guess blindly, I think the staff tries Lugg out at the position — he’s a big, strong senior the coaches trust to get the job done. However, if Lugg struggles with shotgun snaps, don’t be surprised to see the future at the center position step in now with Correll. Either way, there could be some growing pains over the next game or two, but overall I think both guys can assume the role and play well, as long as they’ve got Liam Eichenberg, Aaron Banks, Tommy Kraemer, and Robert Hainsey flanking them.
Would it be strategically better for the next 3 weeks to “pretend” we have a COVID outbreak and not play UNC, Wake, and Cuse? We’ve already played more games than any B1G team will and I think we’ve already met the qualification to be eligible for the ACCCG. Why risk the undefeated conference record and potentially hurt our playoff shot with an upset loss?
— Joseph G., Facebook
First of all, let me say that my answer to this could be objectively wrong — I intend to do no research on this particular question. Even though it’s pertinent to the football team I love, I refuse to look up and/or learn any facts about conference play, conference rules, conference tie-breakers, etc. Long live ND’s independence!!!!!
With that said, my answer to Joseph is: “Strategically? Probably. But is it what I want? Absolutely not.”
Look, I’m assuming that the ACC probably uses win percentage to determine standings, and thus even if ND stopped playing now and Miami won its two games remaining before the ACC title game, the Irish’s 7-0 record would top the Hurricanes’ 8-1 record and the Clemson Tigers’ potential 9-1 record at that point (plus, Miami has a game scheduled for 12/19 against Georgia Tech now? Not sure if that gets canceled if they somehow jump into the top 2, but I digress…). So Joe is probably right that it would be smart to not risk injuries, COVID exposure, losses to high-scoring offenses like UNC and Wake Forest, etc.
But that’s not what this one year of conference membership is all about for Notre Dame.
2020 is all about the Irish joining the ACC temporarily to “save” college football.
It’s about the Irish DOMINATING that conference after being told for years that they’d be NOTHING if not propped up by an “easy” independent schedule.
It’s about Notre Dame running the entire fucking table, destroying every non-Clemson team in its wake, and then finding a way to beat the Tigers twice as well, carrying both that ACC Championship trophy and Bellyman triumphantly off into the sunset, never to return again.
In a season where we never really know if this weekend’s slate of games could be the last, I wanna keep riding this amazing wave with this weird, wacky season being the one where Notre Dame does weird, wacky things like winning a conference title, beating elite teams, and maybe even winning it all.
Sure, that can still all be accomplished without beating mediocre Tar Heels and Demon Deacons teams (and a horrible Dino Babers squad) — but why not go for it all?
Let’s treat ourselves, folks.
Where does Kyren Williams rank on the LT depth chart given his proclivity for pass blocking?
— Phillip P., Facebook
Bellyman is, without a doubt, best suited to be Ian Book’s personal protector within the pocket. That video of him from the Clemson game is legitimately football fundamentals porn. The dude is so so so so so so good at keeping his head on a swivel and destroying the dreams of any and all comers who are hoping to lay a hand on our beautiful son Ian.
However, if Liam Eichenberg were ever to go down with an injury (KNOCK ON WOOD TIMES A BILLION), then you GOTTA think Jeff Quinn is clamoring for Bellyman to step in. The running back position would be fine with Chris Tyree and C’Bo Flemister manning the battle stations back there, and Bellyman’s excellent combo of power and balance will enable him to pick up right where Liam left off. Also, with a nickname like “Bellyman,” we all knew he’d have a future as an offensive lineman if things shook out that way.
Furthermore, just IMAGINE the playbook that opens up for Tommy Rees if he’s got the ability to run Tackle Eligible plays with one of the best running backs in the country. The defense will have no clue what hit them, folks.
I’m all for this — hell, maybe we should just try it now against Syracuse or something, and have Bellyman and Eichenberg swap positions. Whomst among us wouldn’t want to see Liam being tossed the ball on a halfback screen with Tommy Tremble blocking out in front of him???
First QB and now OC, is Tommy Rees the single greatest offensive contributor in the history of the program?
— Keith M., Facebook
How can we make the case that Tommy Rees should win the Heisman this year?
— Jimmy K., Facebook
These two questions from my good friends Keith and Jimmy “Buckets” are undeniably similar, so I figured I would package them into one huge Tommy Rees love-fest response.
First of all, let me just start by saying that I would NEVER have believed you 10 years ago if you told me Tommy Rees would be where he is today. We’re talking about the 3-star QB whom my friend group called “Tommy Stinks” early in his career, and the guy who we were more excited to see drenched in sweat like the rest of us at Finny’s than we were to see him entering the game at QB. That would change a bit his junior year in 2012, when he rocked as a reliever/closer for Everett Golson, but still…
Obviously he was a pretty solid player despite his limitations, but it’s WILD that at age 28 he’s the Offensive Coordinator at Notre Dame, leading one of the best offenses in the country, fresh off a huge win over arguably the best program in the nation.
With all that said, I think the answer to Keith’s question gives us the answer to Jimmy’s question: if we can prove Tommy is the single greatest offensive contributor in the history of the Notre Dame football program, then I don’t see how anyone could deny him the Heisman Trophy. Let’s dive into this.
First, I need to set some guardrails for what an “offensive contributor” is. Statistically speaking, only offensive players are attributed offensive stats. So, by definition, I don’t think anyone who hasn’t been a Notre Dame player at some point can be considered an “offensive contributor” for Notre Dame. Tough luck, various ND OCs over the years who have overseen some strong stats.*
*Pat Rick Note: I learned in my research for this answer that Notre Dame has only had 16 offensive coordinators in its history, never officially naming someone an “offensive coordinator” until 1981, when Gerry Faust named Tom Lichtenberg to the role.
However, among what we just defined as “offensive contributors,” what we CAN do with coaching stats is use them as additional data points to help separate one player from another. Simply put: you have to have been a player to get in the door in this discussion, but significant coaching contributions can absolutely be added onto production as a player in order to determine the ultimate “contributor.” **
**Pat Rick Note: Yeah, I twisted those guidelines SIGNIFICANTLY in favor of my guy Tommy Stinks. Sue me.
So, in order to build out the list of people to compare here, I essentially looked at the Irish’s Top 10 lists for Career Rushing Yards, Rushing Touchdowns, Passing Yards, Passing Touchdowns, Receiving Yards, and Receiving Touchdowns, added in a number of QBs, RBs, and WRs from the last ~20 years considering how gaudy offensive stats are these days, and made sure to include all official “Offensive Coordinators” who were former ND players, of which there were 3: Rees (2020-Present), Mike Haywood (2005-2008), and Skip Holtz (1992-1993).
Doing so gave me a ~45-person list, for which I then compiled all their stats as players and OCs and made a basic Google Sheet table to see how they stack up, and below is what I found:
Not surprisingly, Haywood is at the top for his 4 seasons as OC of a Charlie Weis offense, and Skip Holtz is also in the Top 5 for two years at the helm of Lou Holtz’s last good teams. However, I’m going to eliminate them from consideration for two main reasons:
- These guys did nothing as offensive players, so they only TECHNICALLY qualify as “offensive contributors” according to my definitions laid out above
- More importantly, we all know Weis and Holtz the Elder handled play-calling for their teams, meaning Haywood and Holtz weren’t really the driving forces behind that offensive production in their time as OC. Rees is calling the offense from above, so he gets to stay.
So, removing those two, we are left with the below:
As you can see, there’s only one person who’s contributed more offensively to the Notre Dame football program — Brady Quinn. However, he also only leads Rees by 678 yards and 4 touchdowns, meaning that by the time the Irish hit halftime against Syracuse, Rees will have likely taken over the top spot in both metrics. Plus, Rees having now shown fantastic production both as a player and as an OC makes him a much more versatile and multi-talented offensive contributor than Quinn, and to me that certainly adds to his argument as “greatest” for that title.***
***Pat Rick Note: it should also be noted that Tommy had 4 tackles and 3 punts in his time as a player, even more so speaking to his abilities as a Swiss Army Knife for Brian Kelly.
With all that said, I don’t think there’s really any argument here — Thomas Kevin Rees is the greatest offensive “contributor” in the history of the program.
Now, to finish up our answer here by responding to Jimmy’s question, I don’t think any other “offensive contributor” in college football this year has a better claim to the award. Sure, Kyle Trask has put up some Joe Burrow-esque stats and guys like Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne, Justin Fields, and even ND’s own Ian Book have shown why they’re elite at what they do.
But all of them are individual contributors — none are in a management role like Touchdown Tommy, and so his ability to lead this Irish offense to the kinds of numbers they’re putting up — 37.6 points per game, 6.2 yards per play, 462 yards per game of total offense, 5.2 yards per carry — is much more impressive, considering he is also in charge of a bunch of 18-to-23-year-olds in a football season being played in the middle of a pandemic.
And sure, I bet some of you will point out the below mission statement from the Heisman Trust and tell me the trophy can only be awarded to a player:
The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. The winners of the trophy epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work. The Heisman Trophy Trust’s mission is to ensure the continuation and integrity of this award.
However, nowhere in that statement does it say “current” player. So, we’ve got ourselves another “contributor” definition on our hands, and considering what I established above, I think it goes without saying that Tommy Rees is not only very eligible, but also very deserving, of the award this season.
Pat Rick Note: Okay, that was a longer one. Let’s knock out a few quick ones to shake up the pace here.
Of all of ND’s opponents this year, which would you be most likely to characterize as a pack of dinguses and why?
— Kevin E., Facebook
Excellent question, Kevin, and a very important one at that!
Just to make sure we are all on the same page here, Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines “dingus” as:
- “an often small article whose name is unknown or forgotten”
- “a dim-witted, silly, or foolish person — often used in a joking or friendly way”
My first instinct, in reading those definitions, would be to make the lazy pick here and choose Boston College. They’re forgettable and often quite foolish in thinking the Irish are a rival of theirs, let alone a rival they expect to beat in football.
However, I actually think the term “pack of dinguses” is much more applicable to our good friend Pat Narduzzi and his
Pittsburgh PackOfDingusesburgh Panthers football team. Not sure anything describes that coach or his program better, considering how forgettable and foolish they seem to be.
Pat Narduzzi’s full answer pic.twitter.com/ocx1iRig8m
— John McGonigal (@jmcgonigal9) November 9, 2020
Plus, using this in a “friendly” way even applies, because aside from the week they play your team, every single fan of college football LOVES Pitt’s ability to flip the switch from being a bad team to world beaters for one game of the season, and so it’s very easy to describe them endearingly as such.
Pitt, you are officially a “pack of dinguses.” Congratulations!
Is there a better feeling than being able to say “I’m not even happy Michigan lost again, I feel bad for them”?
— Joseph G., Facebook
There are very few — just thinking about it now is once again bringing tears to my eyes.
The only other feeling I can think of that’s better?
You guessed it, I’m talking about what I feel every time I watch this now-deleted TikTok:
GODDAMN this video rules — the positivity and the good vibes are infectious.
Twitter Submission from @CBusIrish:
Here’s one: what kind of kompromat does Harbaugh have on Warde Manuel if he keeps his job much longer?
— Boba Bettis (@CBusIrish) November 15, 2020
First of all, I had to Google three different things to answer this question, because I know nothing:
1. “kompromat,” which apparently just means “blackmail”
2. “Warde Manuel,” which apparently just means “former UM player who was the first to non-interim-ly succeed Dave Brandon”
3. “if he keeps his job much longer,” which I couldn’t really figure out, because it makes no sense, even with some decent “kompromat,” why he still has that job considering he’s never beaten Ohio State, made the Big Ten championship game, or had a single season with fewer than 3 losses in his 6 seasons in Ann Arbor, and now his team is absolutely horrible
So, this leads me to believe it is something DEVASTATING for Manuel. I could speculate wildly about what that is (A skeleton in the closet from his time at UConn? Incriminating evidence of something he did in college? An embarrassing snapshot of Manuel at the Christmas party???), but I think we can all just thank our lucky stars that Jim Harbaugh doesn’t have that kind of blackmail on any of us (that we know of).
Needless to say, it would clearly be enough to make us act EXTREMELY irrationally. Poor Warde Manuel.
Twitter Submission from @JustTheTib:
What do you think is Lance Stephenson’s karaoke song of choice if he were to sing at the Backer? I realize this has nothing to do with ND football but I would like a professional opinion
— Tibs (@JustTheTib) November 16, 2020
My friend Tibs is wrong here — including the Backer in this question does indeed qualify it for this article and makes it very related to ND football, even if the premise is a bit off since there isn’t traditional karaoke in that wonderful hellhole of a bar.
Of course, I could easily argue every single song at the Backer is “group karaoke,” but I don’t think anyone is clamoring for this question to be excluded due to that technicality anyway, so I’ll just forget that train of thought and dive right into the very obvious answer:
Lance Stephenson would sing “Dancing On My Own” by Robyn, because that’s typically what he does after making a great play. And he would absolutely bring the house down in performing it.
Twitter Submission from @jopat18:
Is Dudley dursleys character from the queens gambit better at chess, than his character in Harry Potter is good at bullying harry?
— John Opat (@jopat18) November 17, 2020
I bet some of you are thinking that SURELY this question has no connection to Notre Dame and will be excluded. However, I’m excited to inform you that a lot of people actually think ND’s South Dining Hall resembles the Great Hall at Hogwarts. I bet you’ve never heard that before!!!
Whether you were aware of the resemblance between the lesser of the two Notre Dame dining halls and the dining hall in the Harry Potter movies or not, you’ll be happy to know that John presents a very well-timed question for me to answer here, considering I just binged all of The Queen’s Gambit just last weekend.
[elton john voice] b-b-b-benny and the chess pic.twitter.com/hvgf6sOBVS
— Brian Grubb (@briancgrubb) November 16, 2020
In the hit Netflix show that’s only been out for about a month, Harry Melling (the actor who portrayed Dudley Dursley in the HP films) plays Harry Beltik, a Kentucky state champion chess player with dreams of becoming a grandmaster who serves as the protagonist’s first major test and then is a recurring character throughout the rest of the season.
You don’t win a state championship and think you’ve got a shot at being a grandmaster for no reason, so it’s pretty safe to say that Beltik was a damn good chess player (although he’s soon overshadowed by a number of more skilled players throughout the show).
However, Dudley Dursley is a WORLD CHAMPION bully of Harry Potter, so I have no choice but to proclaim that Dudley is a much better bully than Beltik is a chess player. I’d like to submit the below evidence.
Exhibit A: Dudley’s Method for Waking Harry Up in His Already Depressing Bedroom in the First Movie
Exhibit B: Dudley Makes Fun of Harry for Having Friends and Family Who Have Died
Exhibit C: Dudley Verbally, and then Physically, Abuses Harry for Thinking He Might Have Friends
Exhibit D: Dudley Eats Harry’s “Birthdae” Cake
I don’t think I need to say much more. Dude is TOPS at bullying Harry, but only pretty damn good at chess.
Can we institute a rule for ND apparel that you can only use 2 of the 3 main colors (gold, blue, green)? The blue/gold numbers on the green jerseys a few years ago were gross.
— Joseph G., Facebook
I generally agree with this, but really my only opinion on Notre Dame football jerseys is that the current blue and white jerseys are essentially perfect, and the only alternative that should ever be warn is an OCCASIONAL donning of the jerseys from either the 2005 USC game or the 2011 Michigan game. I would be fine with dropping all other uniforms forever.
However, I will also reiterate my thought from 2018 regarding ridiculous jerseys like the Shamrock Series pinstripes — if you’re gonna do something stupid, lean all the way into it. Those jerseys should have featured stirrup socks, those batting helmets with facemasks, receivers having one brown glove that’s much bigger than their other one, coaches dressed in full uniform, sunflower seeds all over the place, etc.
Put me in charge of uniforms for ND and I GUARANTEE you we will only either wear classic, good jerseys or go 110% in being idiots with special jerseys. Nothing in between.
Where does this year’s Notre Dame commercial rank among previous years?
— Phillip P., Facebook
Let me preface my answer to this question by making it clear I pretty much hate all university commercials that get shown during games, just like I also despise every single commercial advertising a specific conference. It’s all lame propaganda and I already know what I like and don’t like — some sort of quick-moving ad with buzz words tossed around isn’t going to move the needle for me.
With that said, I actually don’t hate this one — mostly because it’s short, but also because they’ve dropped the “what would you fight for?” tagline and instead used a simpler and more important message of lending a hand, which to me is actually a message worth pushing in 2020 as people become more and more divided/isolated and plenty of people only seem to care about themselves.
Plus, I’m a sucker for Daelin Hayes being shown leading that summer BLM march, so that didn’t hurt either. My name is Pat Rick and I approve of this 29-second advertisement.
Twitter Submission from @OneFootDown themselves (ourselves?):
Design a rivalry trophy for Notre Dame using only items found on a Thanksgiving Day table. What is it, and who is the new Irish rival?
— ALL ACC FIRST TEAM – ONE FOOT DOWN (@OneFootDown) November 17, 2020
Shout out to my good friends over at One Foot Down — this was a fun, but very difficult, question to answer. And I gotta admit I struggled with it a bit, probably because I kept trying to start with the items on a Thanksgiving Day table instead of starting with the new rival and then building the trophy from there.
Once I finally changed my approach, here’s where I landed:
New Rival: Clemson — now that the Irish proved they can play with these guys, and considering they’ll play them every few years with the current ACC arrangement, it’s time these two programs played for something concrete…and delectable!!!!
Thanksgiving Items to Use: a turkey, some mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, some gravy, a coupla forks
Name of the Trophy: “The Bellyman” — there’s no way I didn’t make this trophy in honor of my favorite player and one of the heroes of that epic November 7th game
Rough Sketch of What the Trophy Would Look Like:
Make it happen, Jack Swarbrick.
If you had enough money to donate and create the dorm Sullivan Hall, what kind of dorm would it be-mascot, colors, rival, location, etc.
— Russell, Facebook
The mascot would be a giraffe, because it’s my favorite animal and could lend itself to some fun apparel, chants at pep rallies, a funny logo, etc. Also, it allows us to incorporate this YouTube video from my freshman year into as much as we possibly can, and so that makes it a done deal.
In terms of colors, I’m gonna go ahead and pay homage to my grade school, St. Pius X: we’re riding with PURPLE AND GOLD BAYBEEEE.
Also, our motto will be one of my favorite things to whisper/say normally/shout in the stadium/Tweet out during ND football games (see below).
Here’s an artist’s rendition of our dorm logo, created in the Apple version of Powerpoint.
As for location, Sullivan Hall will be erected in the middle of South Quad in honor of my friend Kevin Eller, who once wrote a Viewpoint for The Observer that argued an Arby’s should be built in that location (see page 9 of that link).
I know it isn’t an actual Arby’s — although it will be designed to look very similar (see an early design sketch below) — but like how various other dorms sell some sort of food (e.g. Keenan with Zaland selling pizza out of their basement), Sullivan Hall will be known for cooking and selling curly fries in honor of the Arby’s that wasn’t. I gotchu, Kev.
Finally, Sullivan Hall will have a major chip on its shoulder considering everyone will hate them for being built in the middle of South Quad (although they will admittedly appreciate the wind not hitting them), so it will be unofficial rivals with every other dorm on campus.
Officially, though, its rival will be all other fast food chains on campus — Sullivan Hall has plans to become not only the #1 curly fry peddler in the Notre Dame zip code within a year of opening, but also the #1 restaurant on campus PERIOD, folks.
We’re comin’ for ya, Subway/Starbucks/Taco Bell/Smash Burger/Pizza Hut Express.
Twitter Submission from @verypiratey:
You’re a man of exquisite taste when it comes to player names. So here’s my challenge to you. Can you craft a 22 man roster out of Notre Dame opponents but with the most boring/plain names?
— Brendan (@verypiratey) November 16, 2020
Brendan was, per usual, INCREDIBLY correct. This was a TOUGH challenge for me, especially as someone who loves a good, ridiculous name and has trained himself to look only for that while ignoring common, boring, plain names.
So, it was a very difficult exercise for me to tediously scan through each opponent’s roster and identify the names that most put me to sleep with their incredible…mundaneness (mundanity? mundanation?).
With that said, I am IMMENSELY proud of what I came up with here, and honestly there were plenty of really boring ones I was forced to leave off the 1st team. Our opponents did not disappoint in this arena.
So, without further ado, I present to you all the All-Boring Name Team of Notre Dame 2020 Opponents!!!!!
Welp, that’s all I have for you guys this week. I want to give a big ole shout-out to everyone who submitted such well-thought-out questions, as well as Pat Rick for answering all these wonderful questions in some of the stupidest ways possible, and encourage you all to check out his work over at One Foot Down, including my answers to HIS Q&A!
Furthermore, make sure you toss him a follow on Twitter, as there is no better place to see about 25 funny retweets per day about really inane things and then also see an occasional, underwhelming, original Tweet from the man himself.
With that said, GO IRISH, BEAT BYE!!!!!!!