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Trash talk fires up the Irish

Dan Murphy | Monday, October 6, 2008

“The field sucks. The stadium sucks. I think the area sucks. We are going out there to mash them up and that’s all there is to it.”

Those were the words of Stanford tackle Chris Marinelli last Wednesday talking about his upcoming trip to South Bend.

Open mouth, insert 22 feet.

Along with calling out everything Notre Dame stands for short of Jesus Christ Himself, Marinelli also decided to personally attack the Irish defense.

“But on the same token it’s going to go bad for them at one point and we are going to gash the [expletive] out of them, I promise you that. So keep bringing it, keep bringing it. They have one sack all year on 200 blitzes,” he said.

Five sacks later, he probably would have wanted to shove his own foot in the garbage disposal he calls a mouth, but there wasn’t enough room with the entire Irish defense already jammed down his throat.

No one on Notre Dame had a comment before the game, instead the Irish decided to until the game started wait to make their statement. They didn’t quite make it.

During pregame warm-ups before most fans had even filtered into their seats, the entire Notre Dame team gathered at the 50-yard line to welcome Marinelli and his teammates to their beautiful field, beautiful stadium and beautiful area.

“I was just trying to get ready to go and I guess all my teammates were over there so I decided to join them,” senior defensive linemen Pat Kuntz said with a smirk.

Kuntz had two sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery in what was arguably the best performance of his career. But some might say his best performance came Friday afternoon.

Kuntz spoke – sort of – at Friday’s pep rally. The details are a bit hazy after a breakaway $6 Salvation Army suit and a pair of jean shorts, Kuntz promised his fans that he would rip somebody’s head off on Saturday.

“I didn’t rip anybody’s head off, I think that would’ve been a facemask penalty of some sort,” he said.

Kuntz claims he came up short on his promise, but he may have been closer than you think.

“I hate to say definitively what happened. Our guy said he got his helmet ripped off,” Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh said about the skirmish following the final play of the game. Kuntz was on the outside of that pile, spiking the ball after his fumble return, but somebody apparently tried to finish the job.

That skirmish capped off what was a highly physical, highly emotional battle that was no doubt fueled by Marinelli’s comments.

“Yeah, it might have contributed a little bit to it, you know,” Irish coach Charlie Weis said following the game.

The Irish may have refrained from comment prior to the game, but after coming away with the win they let Marinelli and the rest of the Cardinal know how they felt.

“We didn’t downplay it like a lot of people say they do,” Irish linebacker Harrison Smith said. “We really took that to heart. We’re not going to let anybody come into our house and talk like that to us.”

Kyle McCarthy, who led the team with 14 tackles and also added an interception, felt the same way.

“It was a big factor. He was complaining about sacks and I think we got five today and we won the ball game. I don’t think he’s talking anymore,” he said.

The Irish certainly spoke their minds, but they did it with class. The way you would expect someone from this team, this school or this area to do. They way you would have expected someone from Stanford to do.

“There was a lot of talk going on between all of us. But it was just a battle … good luck to them for the rest of the season,” Kuntz said following the game.

Weis had a similar approach.

“I know what he said. But it’s not right for me to judge this young man. He’s not my guy. So I’d be out of line to do so,” he said.

The Irish response on and off the field is a perfect example of everything that was wrong with everything that Marinelli had to say earlier in the week.

The comments were probably the best thing that could have happened to Notre Dame this week. The defense came out with the intensity that this team is built around.

And a quick note to Kuntz and the rest of the Irish defense, Marinelli graduated from Boston College High School, something to keep in mind for Nov. 8.

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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