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Football Commentary: Helpful words from the Pastor

Bill Brink | Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It’s no secret now that the “Crank me up” chant, a staple of third-down noisemaking from the student section, stems from a Pastor Troy song by the same name. The official story is, defensive back Sergio Brown asked cornerback Jamoris Slaughter how he got his defense pumped during high school games. Slaughter apparently got “cranked up” in high school, and the phrase became accepted into the students’ cheer repertoire.

But upon further examination, the song contains words of wisdom for the Fighting Irish, especially after the tough loss to Pittsburgh Saturday. Pastor Troy knows pain, in the same way as Notre Dame does, and he knows what it’s like to have a rough history like the Irish had last season.

Also, the name “Pastor” plays to Notre Dame’s religious affiliations, even if there aren’t pastors in the Catholic Church. Minor detail. It’s nothing new to have a priest pray with the team before kickoff, so having the crowd chant the words of the Pastor puts the team in a familiar state of mind.

Let’s look at some of the lyrics:

“Now ease up shorty, let the G slide through”: Offensive line coach John Latina says this to center Dan Wenger, who at 6-foot-4 is the “shorty” of the offensive line. What he means by this is to let the defensive guard slide through a hole in the line when Wenger pulls to the side to block for a sweep. This lead blocking helps spring running back Armando Allen to the sidelines, where he can use his speed to create plays, or on short-yardage conversions when the defense guesses that James Aldridge will run up the middle.

“And I don’t leave without my .32”: An homage to Notre Dame’s secret weapon. When I last played organized football in eighth grade, our bread-and-butter run play was called Power-I right 32. In this case, Notre Dame uses a rare three-back set with Robert Hughes, Asaph Schwapp and James Aldridge in the backfield at the same time. Aldrigde, the three-back, would take the handoff and run behind Hughes and Schwapp through the two-hole, the space between Wenger and right guard Chris Stewart. Why this wasn’t part of the “pound-it” philosophy is beyond me.

“Putting it down for five years, the blood, the sweat, the [explicative] tears”: A clear reference to the hard work the fifth-year seniors, Maurice Crum Jr., Terrail Lambert and Justin Brown, have put in during their careers. They lasted through two coaches, two BCS bowl losses and the worst season in the history of Notre Dame football. They deserve some dap.

“Hard as a hammer, I am Atlanta”: a shout-out to Paul Duncan, Eric Maust, Morrice Richardson, Jamoris Slaughter and Toryan Smith, who all hail from the great state of Georgia.

“Soon as I step on the scene, its lights camera, action, cash in, fat-a** cheques, my rolex”: The way Jimmy Clausen must have felt when he first arrived here. As highly regarded as he was, the cameras certainly rolled. His watch may not be a Rolex, but it certainly attracts attention.

“I watch your CD’s, my man, y’all suck”: What offensive coordinator Mike Haywood must have thought when watching tape of Pittsburgh, especially its game against Rutgers. By CD’s he means DVD’s game film. Notre Dame ran 10 offensive plays in the third quarter. Five of them were passes, five of them were runs. The first two drives of the quarter started with runs by Allen – both five-yard losses.

Why the need for balance? Both Irish touchdowns at that point came on passes. The offense should not have ignored threats like Michael Floyd and Golden Tate; instead of putting Aldridge and Schwapp in the backfield and motioning Duval Kamara in to run-block, thereby telegraphing their intentions, they should have spread the field with four or five wide receivers and let Clausen do his thing.

Same thing in overtime. Nine rushes, seven passes. An average of 7.75 yards rushing per overtime period. That won’t cut it. If the rush isn’t getting it done, allow Clausen to throw. Granted, he completed only two of those seven passes, but he had Floyd wide open in the end zone and just overthrew him. Give him more chances and he’ll make it happen eventually.

“If you a gangsta you need to crank this up”: the offense needed to channel its inner gangsta and crank up the passing game, but instead kept the ball on the ground. As a result, the team’s hopes of beating a good team stayed grounded.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author an dnot necessarily those of The Observer.

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