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Sports

Schatz: The year of the Jaguar

For 18 weeks, the NFL has control over American living rooms. Out of 32 teams in the league, only one gets the coveted Lombardi Trophy each year. People bet millions of dollars on the outcome of a three-and-a-half-hour game. Throughout the span of 56 Super Bowls, 12 teams have yet to take home the crown. And out of those 12 teams, four have yet to make it to the game: the Browns, the Texans, the Lions and of course, the Jaguars.

This year, I am here to inform you all that it will be the year of the Jaguar, and I have three statistically proven reasons you should all agree with me.

Who doesn’t love an underdog story?

Seriously, if you don’t absolutely love an underdog story, I don’t know who you are. Do we seriously want the Patriots to win again? I love New England more than the next person. But their football team is simply not it.  There are only four teams that have never made it to the Super Bowl, and you already know the Jaguars are one of them. Ok, I know it’s tough to root for Trevor Lawrence. But can you seriously look me in the eye and tell me you would want Tom Brady to win over him?

Listen, I might not know much about football. But I know you’re wrong about that one. “Oh but Olivia, he’s the best of all time.” I do not care. Simply could not care less. He’s not the narrative we are looking for in this upcoming Super Bowl. You could maybe get me on board if he didn’t quit and then come back, and then quit and then come back. That’s a lame storyline and all of his fans know it. 

They are right on the cusp 

To be fair, I learned less than five minutes ago that not all teams make it to the playoffs. But after some more (very simple) research, I have determined that the Jaguars are right on the cusp of making it. And as my friend and assistant managing editor Mannion McGinley, who pays attention to football way more than me, puts it: “Especially for Jaguar standards, they have a chance.”

If you are sitting here reading this thinking, “There is absolutely no way they are making it,” I want you to look in your past as a Notre Dame fan and think about how many times you have wished for a long shot. Done thinking? Great, let’s get back to dreaming.

We are going into week four of NFL play, which gives the Jaguars plenty of time to beat their current odds. Yes, their first game of the season. But they won the last two! Can Notre Dame fans tell me we really cannot support this? And the Jaguars’ last two wins have been blowouts, beating the Colts 24-0 and the Chargers 38-10.

The Jaguars face the Eagles next, and while the odds are not in their favor, I believe the Jaguars still have a chance. Especially coming off of their last two wins. If the Jaguars can continue in this direction, I believe they can make the playoffs. And once they make the playoffs, I believe they can take it all the way. 

They have a sick mascot

How are you rooting for teams like the Patriots, the Texans and the Chargers when a team like the Jaguars exist? The alliteration in the name alone should be the reason you should want the Jaguars to go all the way this year and years following, as well.

For football fans, this might be a dumb reason to want them to win. But if they didn’t want us to rally behind the mascot, why provide it in the first place? When you think of Jacksonville, there is not too much that comes to mind. When you think of a Jaguar, you immediately think of a viscous but beautiful predator. Whoever thought to put the two together is simply genius.

Stats aside (which I have conveniently left out of this argument), the Jaguars are simply the best pick. They have the storyline and the mascot and are already doing better than they normally do. 

There are plenty of weeks left to switch teams. So, will you stay with that same old team you do every year? Or are you going to make the right choice and take a chance on the Jacksonville Jaguars?

Contact Olivia Schatz oschatz@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this Sports Authority are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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Sports

Belles battle, lose 2-0 to Thunder

Entering the game with a 0-5-3 record, the Saint Mary’s soccer team had a daunting task ahead of them. Trine University had made it to the NCAA tournament last year, and before their matchup with the Belles, had a 4-3-1 record. While the Belles were unable to come out on top, they battled with the Thunder and held them to only 2 goals throughout the match. 

At the start, Trine came out hot, and within the first three minutes of play, the Thunder had a shot on goal. Saint Mary’s was quick to respond and got their first shot less than a minute later, but it was saved by Trine goalkeeper Sophie Aschemeier. The Belles were able to hold off the Thunder offense for 14 minutes. But ultimately, with just over 31 minutes left in the half, Trine was able to find the back of the net. For the rest of the half, both teams would take turns on shots. But, after 45 minutes of play, the score remained 1-0 Trine. 

The second half started similarly to the first. At the start, the Belles held Trine to only two early shots. But, with 28 minutes in the second half, the Thunder scored again, bringing their lead up to 2-0. Only a few minutes later, the Belles had the ball within scoring range. A foul put the ball back in Thunder position. Although this did not lead to anything, it showed the Belles were competing.

“We were competing with them,” said head coach Farkhod Kurbonov, “Second half we had five freshmen, at some point six freshmen, and they are playing against a team that went to nationals last year and beat nationally ranked teams. We’re giving them a lot of problems.” 

Even with the 2-0 deficit, the Belles did not go down without a fight. Sophomore forward Mary Kaczynski broke away with the ball, but her shot went high. The ball was back in Thunder possession. Possession would go back and forth for the next few minutes, after a goal kick by sophomore goalkeeper Kara Stacey. Again, the Belles were in scoring position but lost the opportunity. 

“Kara did a fantastic job,” Kurbonov said about his keeper, “What [the goalies] do in practice is unreal. I’m just very happy with them.”

 With 19 minutes left in the half, Trine had another attempt on goal. This time, senior defender Sophia Fleming stopped the break away. 

It wasn’t until 10 minutes left in the half that the Belles would get another break away. Senior forward Jillian Bowen would weave through the Thunder defense, but ultimately, her shot was saved by their goalie. After this shot, a sense of urgency would pass over the Belles offense. Despite having possession for a good portion of the last 10 minutes, the Belles were unable to do anything with it. 

The Belles’ schedule does not get easier. Their next matchup is against No. 13 Calvin, who currently have an 9-0-0 record. Kurbonov is satisfied with the work his squad is doing and the direction they are headed.

“We’re adjusting, and we are a very young team. If the girls on the team are not freshmen, they are sophomores.” Kurbonov said, “I think we’re going in the right direction, not the result for today, but overall I am satisfied with the amount of work the girls put on the field.” 

If the Belles’ hope to be successful for the rest of their season, they must look to score. In nine games, Saint Mary’s has only found the back of the net five times, while they have given up a total of 15 goals.  

The Belles are on the road next to face off against the Calvin on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

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Sports

Saint Mary’s volleyball drops three sets against No. 5 Calvin

Despite dropping three sets on Saturday against No. 5 Calvin, the Saint Mary’s volleyball team was closing to breaking their seven-game losing streak. 

The match opened up with the Belles and Knights equally fighting for control. Throughout the course of the set, no team had a lead greater than two points. While the Knights won the opening point, the Belles fired back right away. This back and forth continued throughout the entire game.

With the Belles down 20-18, junior outside hitter Colleen McCarthy scored to start the slight comeback. McCarthy currently leads the team with 177 kills on the season, and 413 total in her two years. Later, McCarthy delivered an ace before sophomore outside hitter Cali Allen tied the set with a kill. This would be the last time the Belles had a tie in the set, as the Knights were able to eventually win, 25-23. 

The next set started out with the Belles taking a quick lead. With McCarthy leading the effort, the Belles were able to pull ahead 5-1. However, this would not last long, and the Knights went on a 10-2 run to pull their lead to 11-7. Unlike the first set, the Knights held onto a significant lead for the remainder of the set. The Knights eventually took a commanding 21-12 lead.

Even with this gap, the Belles did not stop fighting. With a series of blocks from sophomore middle hitter Shay Theile, freshman right side Mia Shields and McCarthy, as well as an ace from senior left back Emma Watford, and kills from both Shields and Allen, the Belles closed the gap to 22-17. This would however be the last time the Belles would score, and the Knights pushed their way to a 25-17 win. 

The third set was not as close for the Belles. The conference foes split the opening points. This would be the last time the teams were tied. Calvin edged ahead 7-5, as Saint Mary’s stayed close in the early going. However, the Knights ripped off a 9-0 run. That put Calvin firmly in control, and the Knights extended that advantage to 24-9. The Belles put up stiff resistance late, and Shields put up two points in a row (a kill and an ace.) Allen also scored a point to bring the score to 24-13. However, the Knights scored one last time finalizing their win. 

Opening up MIAA play, Saint Mary’s had a tough challenge. Calvin currently has a 9-3 record compared to the Belles’ 3-9 one. While they ultimately dropped all three sets, the Belles fought hard throughout the match. McCarthy led the team with kills on the night (11) followed by Allen and Shields with six apiece. McCarthy also earned eight digs on the night, only second to Watford’s 10.

The Belles look to break their losing streak with another home game on Wednesday at 7 p.m. EDT. Saint Mary’s will face Manchester, another team with a winning record (9-6). 

Contact Olivia at oschatz@nd.edu

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Viewpoint

Spooky Season for Cinephiles

Today is the first day of fall and spooky season is upon us! What better way to get into the mood than to put on a good halloween movie. From Hocus Pocus to Texas Chainsaw Massacre, halloween classics range a variety of genres. And while these classics are mentioned on every list, I thought I would create my own. This time, of the more forgotten Spooky Season films. 

Practical Magic 

This movie is the most slept on Halloween movie out there. Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman as witch sisters? What could get better than that? Don’t be turned off from the 23% on rotten tomatoes, critics don’t know anything; the audience score for this movie is 73%! I watched this movie for the first time years ago, and I can not listen to crickets the same way again. The movie follows two estranged sisters as they navigate the world of romance with magical powers. 

While there are definitely some dark themes (i.e. abusive boyfriends and necromancy), the overall movie is not scary, although I would not recommend it for a super young audience. 

Spookiness Scale 6/10

Fall Vibes 9/10

Over the Garden Wall 

I know, this is not technically a movie. But, this limited series is the perfect thing to watch to get into the Halloween spirit. This animated show follows two brothers as they go on a journey through a mysterious forest. The brothers (voiced by Elijah Wood and Collin Dean) find a plethora of funky creatures along the way. While it is not as spooky as some of the other films on this list, this series is the definition of Autumn Vibes. If you are the type of person who likes more lighthearted films, but still want a hint of spookiness, I would most definitely recommend this. 

Spookiness Scale 2/10 

Fall Vibes 10/10 

The Invisible Man (2020) 

If I’m being honest, I am not the biggest fan of Elisabeth Moss. However, she killed it in this role. The Invisible Man is based off of the H.G. Wells novel of the same name, however, there is a more modern twist to it. If you enjoy thrillers, this would be my top pick for you. I was on the edge of my seat for the entirety of this movie. While The Invisible Man does not have as many fall vibes as the other ones on this list, the spookiness scale definitely is highly. This movie is not for the faint of heart, there is domestic abuse and violence sprinkled throughout, but overall this movie is definitely worth the watch. 

Spookiness Scale 8/10 

Fall Vibes 1/10

Murder Party 

I have never heard anyone else talk about this film. Originally, I put it on as a background to doing work, but quickly I could not stop watching. The premise is just genius. A man with no friends picks up an invitation to a “murder party” on the side of the road. Believing it to just be a quirky halloween invite, the man attends, only to find out that the party is in fact to murder their guest list. I know, it sounds grim. However, Jeremy Saulnier somehow finds the perfect combination of seriousness and comedy to make this film work. 

Spookiness Scale 11/10 

Fall Vibes 8/10 

Spirited Away 


The entire Studio Ghibli collection deserves a spot on this list. Spirited Away was my favorite film growing up. It follows a young girl, Chihiro Ogino, as she travels through the spirit world to save her parents. For a grown adult, this movie is not scary. But, as a young girl I had to cover my eyes for a good portion of this film. With ghosts, witches and dragons, this movie is two hours of fantasticism.

It is animated, but don’t let that turn you away! Studio Ghibli puts out some of the best movies of all time, and Spirited Away deserves a spot on that list. 

Spookiness Scale 8/10 

Fall Vibes 7/10

Hereditary 

There are hundreds of true horror movies I could have included on my list. The Conjuring and Insidious are go-tos, The Shining is just a classic or maybe I should have chosen the Cabin in The Woods, which I think has one of the best premises of all horror movies. But no, I decided on Hereditary. Yes, Hereditary is a well known horror movie, but I love this film so much that I can’t help but hype it up even more. While in the theaters, I saw this movie 6 times. Since then, I have watched it ten more times. And each time, I notice a new detail Ari Aster included. 

There are so many iconic scenes in this film, and the last 15 minutes will have you screaming the entire time. I don’t even think I can tell you too much about the premise without spoiling the mastery of this movie, but it follows a family after the death of their grandmother. There are classic jump scares, a ton of gore and ghosts and witches to top it off.  

Spookiness scale 9/10

Fall Vibes 2/10

So, as the season begins to shift, bundle up with a pumpkin spice candle and a bag of popcorn and turn on whatever flick best fits your vibe!

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Sports

Rockwell, Monson lead Irish into ACC play

Notre Dame volleyball’s head coach Salima Rockwell came onto campus with a rocky start. The Irish opened up the season 0-2 against Texas Tech and Mississippi State before winning in the fifth set against Milwaukee. The Irish then traveled to the Long Beach State Tournament where they also went 0-2 on the weekend. This would be the start of a nine-game road streak. 

Since the Long Beach State Tournament, however, the Irish have shifted their luck. The Irish went 1-4 for the first five games of the season, and 4-1 in the latter five. 

“I think at first it was a lot of experiments, we were just trying to figure out a good lineup,” Rockwell said. “What was going to work for us? What combination of players can execute best on the court? But, you know, the big thing we talked about in our gym is minimizing errors, and then just trying to maximize what we do well. And I think that’s probably our biggest area of growth is getting better at little things, eliminating some of those errors that maybe we were doing early on. We’re not seeing quite as much right now.”

The Irish have gotten cleaner in their game. In the first two games of the season, the Irish had 67 kills to their opponent’s 102. In the most recent two games, the margin is 89-77 in favor of the Irish.

“Not to be cheesy but whether you win or not, you want to just play better and better with every match every weekend. And that’s what we did,” Rockwell said. “It was fun to see our upside get a little higher, and we know where we could be if we sustain a level of execution and play. So we’re definitely gonna use that momentum going into this weekend to kind of continue to build on what we’ve already got.”

A major component in the shift of the team’s dynamic was the Irish finally meshing and becoming comfortable with one another. In addition to a brand new coaching staff, the Irish welcomed six freshmen onto the team, including outside hitter Avery Ross, as well as three graduate student transfers. With the influx of new members, there is always a transition time needed. However, with the new players, there were returning ones willing to put in the work to guarantee a successful season. 

“It definitely had its ups and downs for sure, playing with all new people around you is definitely something you need to get used to and it definitely puts you back into your freshman state,” junior libero Hattie Monson said. “As the weeks have gone on, especially the grad players and the core seven of us who have stayed, we’ve done a really good job of helping the freshman stay comfortable. As the weeks go on, it’s great to see their progress as they are trusting us more and more and just everyone trusting each other.” 

The Irish squad will need to be trusting in one another as they look toward their packed schedule ahead of them. Notre Dame starts off their ACC run on Friday against Florida State. Though the Seminoles aren’t ranked, they have an 8-3-0 record. 

Additionally, the ACC is not an easy conference for volleyball as three teams are ranked in the NCAA top 15: Louisville (2), Pittsburgh (10) and Georgia Tech (13).

While the Irish are surely getting more comfortable with each other, they still need to perform well for anything to count. In the ACC, the Irish are ranked last in kills per set, and 13th in opponent’s kills per set. 

While the team stats are not as good as they would have hoped, there are multiple Irish players ranked with impressive stats. Junior middle blocker Lauren Tarnoff is currently ranked fourth in the ACC for hitting percentage, followed by graduate student middle blocker Kaylyn Winkler at 8th with .364. 

On the defensive side, Monson is ranked second in the ACC with 4.43 digs per set.

“Hattie Monson. I wouldn’t trade her for any libero in the country,” Rockwell said. “She’s a bright spot. In the gym, she’s a joy to be around. And she’s tough as nails. And that’s that combination. You don’t get that every day and it’s so fun to be able to push her; she wants to be pushed. She wants to be better. And she challenges herself every day.” 

With Florida State on the horizon and the daunting task of playing No. 13 Georgia Tech in the near future, Rockwell and the Irish squad will be working hard to prepare for conference play. 

“One game at a time and one foot in front of the other,” Rockwell said. 

The Irish open up conference play on the road in Tallahassee, Fla. Notre Dame will play Florida State on Sept. 23 starting at 6:30 p.m. EDT.

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Sports

Belles unable to obtain first win of season

The Saint Mary’s soccer team played two home matches over the weekend. Although they opened the weekend with a 3-0 loss to Franklin, the Belles were able to salvage the weekend with a 2-2 tie to Lake Forest. The Belles, 0-4-3, are approaching the mid-way point of the season looking for their first win of the year.

Despite the score against the Grizzlies, the Belles were able to hold the ball for a good portion of the first half. The first shot was only seven minutes into the game, by sophomore midfielder Izzi Linus.

There would be two shots on goal for the Belles, by sophomore midfielder Grace Barresi and sophomore forward Mary Kaczynski, before Franklin would have a chance. In the first half alone, there would be ten Saint Mary’s shots to Franklin’s one. And, by the end of the first half, the score was still tied 0-0. 

Quickly into the second half, however, Grizzly Jaiden Baker found the back of the net, and kickstarted the momentum needed for a Franklin win. Again in the second half, the Belles outshot the Grizzlies eight to seven. But, the shots do not matter unless they can make their way past the goalie and into the net and the Belles failed to execute on this front. Franklin was able to add another goal to the score in the 65th minute. 

While the Belles fought to at least earn a point, the clock ticked down. With less than three minutes to go, Franklin scored again, securing their 3-0 victory over the Belles. 

Only two days later, on Sept. 15, the Belles were back at home facing Lake Forest. Unlike in their battle against the Grizzlies, the Belles did not hold the momentum in the first half against the Bears. Although Saint Mary’s ultimately had the first couple shots, Lake Forest would answer back almost immediately. For a majority of the first half, possession was switched frequently between the two teams. This was until Lake Forest’s Anna Hoffman scored off of an assist from Caitlin Mulcahy. Now with a 1-0 lead, the Bears did not allow another shot from the Belles for the remainder of the half. 

The second half opened up with a shot from the Bears, and a save from sophomore goalkeeper Kara Stacey. Stacey totalled four saves in the first half, and two in the second. For a majority of the second half, the Belles and the Bears went back and forth. It wasn’t until the 79th minute that another Lake Forest player Paityn Tabor scored. Unlike Thursday’s game, however, the Belles were not willing to let them keep their lead. 

Only two minutes later, freshman midfielder Felicity Matthews found the back of the net assisted by Barresi. The Belles were inspired by their last goal, and less than two minutes after their first, junior forward Kaitlyn Day tied the score. However, there ultimately was not enough time for the Belles to score again, and they were left with another tie on their record.

The Belles look to turn their luck as they finish off a series of home games on Wednesday against Anderson. The two teams will face off with the match starting at 7 p.m.

Contact Olivia at oschatz@nd.edu

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Sports

Notre Dame volleyball looks to improve record at Bulldog Brawl

The Notre Dame volleyball team has started off on a rocky start with a 3-5 record on the season. The Irish lost two at home games to Texas Tech and Mississippi State before declaring their first win under head coach Salima Rockwell against Milwaukee. Their luck did not continue on the road, however, as the Irish squad has since had a record of 2-3. The Irish have four more games on the road before returning to Purcell Pavilion on Sept. 30 to play No. 7 Georgia Tech. 

The Irish have a long road ahead before they can return home, their first stop being the 2022 Bulldog Brawl in Indianapolis where they will play Central Michigan and Ohio. Both teams, just as the Irish, are unranked and are looking to establish themselves as serious contenders. 

While Central Michigan does have a better record (6-3) than Notre Dame, they have not faced the same level of competition. Ohio also faces similar stats, with a 5-3 lead going into the weekend.

Despite Notre Dame’s record, the Irish still host a team that should not be underestimated. The Irish have 388 kills on the season, with freshman outside hitter Avery Ross currently leading the Irish with 95. She is followed by fellow freshman outside hitter Lucy Trump with 89. Trump is also tied with junior libero Hattie Monson with 12 aces on the season. While there have certainly been off games for the Irish, Trump, Monson and Ross — together with the rest of the squad — are offensive competitors. 

On the defensive side, Monson leads the team with 136 digs on the season, and 846 digs total with the Irish. She is followed by Trump who holds 59 digs.

Despite the team’s success on both offense and defense, they must bring their A-game if they hope to finish out their road trip with more wins than losses. 

Central Michigan has a whopping 404 kills on the season, their leader being Mallory Hernandez with 122 kills. Also, defensively, Central Michigan spreads out their stats significantly more than the Irish do. While the Irish have a clear frontrunner on defense with Monson, there are multiple Central Michigan players who are contenders on defense. While Aly Gurtiza holds the season high with 161 digs, three other Central Michigan players record above 60 digs on the season. Their team is able to get under the ball and ensure a return. Notre Dame must be prepared for longer rallys, and expect a return on every point. In addition, Central Michigan’s Kamryn Olson has an ace percentage of .53. Overall, Central Michigan boasts a wide variety of players, and will surely put up a fight on Sept. 16. 

The Irish will then play Ohio on the 17th. For this season, Ohio holds the least amount of kills with only 367. Also unlike the other two schools, Ohio does not have a clear frontrunner in the offensive category. Rather, their kill count is divided amongst four players. Defensively, however, Sam Steele is the leader with 138 digs, followed by Olivia Margolies with 72. The Bobcats, just as Central Michigan and Notre Dame, have a stable and talented squad who will come prepared to fight this weekend.

The Irish will hope to take two victories on the road when they head to Florida to play Florida State and UMiami on the 23 and 25 respectively. These will be the last leg of Notre Dame’s road games before returning to South Bend to play their first ranked team of the season. The Irish will look to increase their record, and bring momentum through the next few weeks. 

Notre Dame plays Central Michigan in Indianapolis on Sept. 16 at 3 p.m. EST. The Irish will then play Ohio the following day at the same time. Live stats will be available. 

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Sports

Schatz: The Irish are not good, thoughts on falling to an unranked Marshall

Emotions were high, and scoring was low, this Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium. The Thundering Herd stormed onto campus ready to knock down the Fighting Irish. What is there to say about the game? Well… not a lot. Marshall proved that Notre Dame was ultimately an underprepared – and under-coached – team. And, moving forward, they need to their act together if they hope to have even somewhat of a successful season. 

After this weekend, it has become very difficult to fight the rumors that Notre Dame is over-ranked, year after year. And as much as it pains me to say, Saturday proved the doubters right (even if it is just a little bit). Now you could justifiably argue that Marshall came to play this weekend, and they did, but the Fighting Irish made countless mistakes. 

If I had to sum up this weekend in one word, it would be messy. Notre Dame fans expect the opening of any game to look bad, that’s just the way the team plays, always has been. But, Irish fans also expect the team to come out with a different type of energy post-half-time. This was not the case. The Irish made mistake after mistake. And while they saw some good things from players like Michael Mayer, Lorenzo Styles and Howard Cross, overall football is a team sport and they did not play like one on Saturday. 

The MVP for Marshall football on Saturday was the Notre Dame defense. The Herd made it seem like the Notre Dame defense was a high school team. I watched in disbelief as the Marshall offense walked straight through the Irish line. 

At the end of the day, I wasn’t angry at the situation, I was disappointed. The “Freeman Era” was doomed from the start. The Irish fan base has put such high pressure and expectations on a first-time coach and I am honestly still surprised that the campus and the fan base have not pulled an absolute 180 on him. If he continues down this path, I fear the wider Irish community will turn on him soon enough. 

This past weekend settled the debate that Buchner was the right choice to put in as QB1. Yes, Pyne was put in a tough situation, but even after a scored touchdown, he seemed to have made the situation worse. Pyne had the opportunity to prove that he should take the reins leading into the rest of the season, but he flopped, and he flopped hard. Now that the position of QB1 was ever so sadly gifted to Pyne, the Irish need to figure out some leadership on the field. Somehow, Pyne made the offense look even worse than it did before he entered the contest. Yes, Buchner had two interceptions to his name, but Pyne had one, and he was in for significantly less time than Buchner. With Pyne taking control moving forward, I hope he puts out more than he did this past Saturday.

Now, there were some positives to come out of the atrocity that was the Notre Dame/Marshall matchup. 

The first was that when we were looking good, we were looking really good. There were multiple times where Buchner threw a pass and I thought maybe Notre Dame could win this. Or, there would be momentum after an Irish touchdown. But, that would only last one play at a time, and Notre Dame would eventually disappoint their fans yet again. 

Second, Notre Dame students are loyal. While the rest of the fans were dying from the heat, and slowly trickling out of the stadium. The Notre Dame student section remained fairly full all the way until the alma mater ended. I guess that can be counted as a win? 

Finally, the Marshall fans seemed to have had a fun time. As I was watching one of the worst games in Notre Dame Stadium, I looked up to the Marshall section where fans were hysterically chanting “We are Marshall,” (something my boyfriend explained was a thing before the famous movie of the same name and not the other way around) and just thought how good of a day they were having. The man behind me was practically crying on the phone with his father who had been a Marshall fan his entire life. Ultimately, while the Notre Dame side was sulking in disbelief, the Herd will hopefully have this day to mention for years to come. This was the first time Marshall beat a top 10 team since 2003, and the first time the Irish lost their first two games of the season since 2011. 

So, while Irish fans will sulk for the remaining week, and tentatively get ready for another hot game day, Marshall fans will be bathing in their glory. The Freeman era is off to a rocky start, but he will have one more chance to prove he is still someone the Irish should have faith in.

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Sports

As Irish search for answers, special teams provides consistency

During Saturday’s game against Marshall, there wasn’t any individual player who was the reason for success, or lack thereof. Throughout the 60 minutes of play, there was rare consistency between any one player. Tight end Michael Mayer stacked up 103 receiving yards, followed by wide receiver Lorenzo Styles with 69. Running back Audric Estime was second to only sophomore quarterback Tyler Buchner who had a total of 33 rushing yards.

With these offensive stats also came a messy game for the Irish, and against an unranked team, Notre Dame was only able to come up with 21 points. On the defensive side, Howard Cross recorded 11 tackles, three of which were solos. DJ Brown notched 5 tackles on Saturday, and he joined linebackers Jack Kiser and JD Bertrand with nine total tackles. Yet again, these silver linings came hand-in-hand with missed tackles and broken coverage.  

However, one position group remained consistent within the Notre Dame roster: the special teams unit. On the punting end, Jon Sot totaled 169 yards on the day. On the returning end, Tyree and Styles totaled 59 yards (32 and 27 respectively), and Joseph returned 15 yards on a punt. 

“We challenged the kickoff return unit, and they did a good job of executing at the end of the game,” head coach Marcus Freeman said post game. “You know, you challenge Brandon Joseph, hey, you got a chance to return [a punt] let’s return. [Joseph] did one time today and you got some positive yards. So the special teams unit stepped up today. Majority really pleased with that phase of the ball.”

And while they weren’t perfect on the night, especially with a failure to recover graduate student place kicker Blake Grupe’s attempted onside kick, they were consistent. 

Sot provides punting consistency

Sot opened the Irish off with a 35-yard punt, landing at the Marshall 10, and the following drive for Marshall would be proven unsuccessful. The next time Sot would see the field would be with 3:14 left in the first quarter. This time, Sot punted the ball 36 yards, landing on the Marshall 24, likely shorter than the Irish wanted. The Thundering Herd scored on that drive.

It wasn’t until 8:10 left in the second that Sot would be needed again. This time, the Irish were trapped at their 27 after multiple incomplete attempts and were forced to punt. Sot came through, punting 61 yards to the Marshall 12. 

“Our special teams put the ball in a great field position at the five-yard line, and we have to, when it matters the most, execute,” Freeman said. 

The final time Sot would take the field would be with 10:32 left in the game. After a penalty, and multiple incomplete passes, the Irish were again forced to punt. Sot landed the ball 37 yards away at the Marshall 6. 

Out of Sot’s four punts on the field, three of them landed within 15 yards of the endzone. 

Return game vastly improves

On the returning end, Joseph kicked off the game with a fair catch at the Irish 41. The first time a Notre Dame player would return the ball would be when Tyree returned a kickoff from Marshall Rece Verhoff 32 yards to the Irish’s 33 in the second quarter. While this play would eventually lead to an Irish turnover, Tyree improved on last week when he averaged 11 yards per kickoff return.

The next return would be late in the second quarter when Styles returned a kickoff 27 yards to the Notre Dame 27. However, with only 15 seconds left, the Irish were unable to make anything out of it. Later in the game, Joseph returned his first punt of the year, this time taking it up 15 yards to the Irish 43. 

The last play that the special teams participated greatly in would be when Bo Bauer blocked a Marshall punt. While this seemed to spark a little bit of hope in the Irish fan base, it was ultimately too little too late.

“We have to execute and that’s at the end of the game. Fourth quarter. When the game’s on the line,” Freeman said. “We got to find a way to get a stop. We got to tackle this.”

While Marshall outworked Notre Dame in several categories Saturday afternoon, the Irish special teams outclassed the Herd’s unit. On average, Sot punted the ball to Marshall’s 13. Comparatively, Marshall’s punter John McConnell averaged the Irish 30. Sot also out punted McConnells average yardage 42.3 to 36.8. The Herd also returned one punt for a loss of three yards, and their one kickoff return managed just 20 yards.

Ultimately, the special teams set up the Irish for success, however, it was the rest of the team that were unable to execute, thus leaving the Irish to lose 26-21 and fall to 0-2 in the new Freeman era.

Olivia Schatz


Contact Olivia Schatz at oschatz@nd.edu

Categories
Sports

Notre Dame Tailgating for Dummies

Three years ago, bright-eyed me came into Notre Dame with no expectations for tailgating. I grew up in the suburbs of New York, aka no good high school football and absolutely no real tailgating. Well, unless you count Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville.

I had no one to guide me through the confusing lots of Joyce and Stadium or to explain the unwritten rules of tailgating. But now that I have mastered the art of tailgating, I am here to be your guide through the confusing and rambunctious experience that is a Notre Dame tailgate.

*Many of the acts listed below can help ND fans of all ages. I don’t condone underage drinking.*

What should I wear? 

It’s an absolute must to wear some kind of Notre Dame apparel. Don’t have any? Any combo of green, blue and gold will work. A lot of kids tend to wear The Shirt to the first game as it’s a loose tradition, but there is no pressure to buy one if you don’t own one. Plenty of students will be wearing other ND attire. 

Most men wear some kind of ND t-shirt or jersey, but I appreciate it when guys step out of their comfort zone and wear more creative ’fits.

Similarly, girls’ outfits vary from jerseys to Notre Dame crop tops and tennis skirts. As long as you’re supporting the Irish, it doesn’t really matter what you wear!

Of course, this changes past the second game, when the temperature starts to drop. If you still have it in you to wear cropped tops or skirts, have fun! But, if you’re like me and can’t stand the cold, I would recommend moving to jeans and an ND sweatshirt.

No matter what you wear, just make sure it is NOT the color of the opposing team.

What the heck does “Joyce 15” or “Stadium 32” mean? 

Good question. Joyce and Stadium are our two lovely tailgating lots. Now, you may ask, what do the attached numbers mean? The lots are established as a grid system — you will probably notice the large poles on every corner. Each poll has a flag with the lot you are in and a number to distinguish where in the lot you are.  You will eventually get a text from your friends and/or parents on where they are tailgating — either Joyce or Stadium, followed by a number.

Now that you know what it is, good luck navigating the large bodies of people. I would recommend staying either as close to the stadium or as close to the back of the lot as possible until you see the flag that you are heading towards. It will take hours to walk straight through the giant masses of people. Especially with a large group of people in tow. 

Now I’m at a tailgate … what do I do? 

This is where the fun really begins. The table provided will probably have a ton of free drinks and chips and dip galore. If you know the owner, it’s free reign, have fun. If you don’t, it probably is also free reign (but it never hurts to ask). There will be more alcohol and more food than you can ever imagine to finish off in the few hours before kickoff. 

There will also be tons of games, participate if you want but no pressure. Most family-oriented tailgates will have at least one game of cornhole set up. I would explain to you the rules … if I actually knew them. Don’t worry someone there will (just throw the bag and hope for the best). There will also be a table at most of these tailgates to play more traditional drinking games. Beer pong, flip cup and rage cage are the classics. And if you think the party is too lame, it never hurts to offer a round of “Rattlin’ Bog” to get the party starting again.

You don’t drink? No problem. Most tailgates have tons of food and nonalcoholic drinks! No one is going to force you to take any drinks. If they do, leave that tailgate immediately. They’re not the type of people you want to be around. 

Do I need to like or know football to go to the games? 

Absolutely not! That’s the fun part of it. I still don’t know the words to the fight song or the Alma Mater, and I swear they will still let me graduate!

As a first year, I surrounded myself with a group of people who were very passionate about football. While I was busy chatting or eating the stale popcorn, they would explain to me in (sometimes excruciating) detail what had just happened. And look at me, three years later not only working in the sports department of the Observer but covering our first home football game of the season!

(Don’t worry Aidan [the Observer’s sports editor], I have learned a lot of the rules since then … probably).

Olivia, what is one last thing you would recommend to a new tailgater? 

Eat food. You have a long day ahead of you. Even if you are not drinking, you will be standing on your feet in the sun for a large portion of the afternoon. Drink water, and eat lots of food. Your body will thank you later.

Also, have fun. I know, I know, super cheesy, right? But seriously, tailgating should be fun, and in no way stressful. You only have 24 home football games in your collegiate career, make each one last!

Olivia Schatz


Olivia is an associate sports editor. Contact her at oschatz@nd.edu.