Notes from the Upper Deck: Blue Devil Hot

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Jon Copper against DukeThis young season’s very first installment of my Notes from the Upper Deck () is hot of the griddle right now.  Here’s a litte poll for you all:

Copper quiz: So, what’s the better play by Jon Copper? (1) A sack at streaking-the-lawn speed on a key third down in the second quarter, or (2) the third-quarter interception that ended the Duke drive following Mikell Simpson’s fumble. Email me or drop your vote on the board – I’ll post the winner on the Good Ol’ Blog.

Also, if you’ve got some notes of your own on the gameday experience, email me or let everyone know on the Edge board – I’ll post ’em here too.

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Notes From The Upper Deck: Blue Devil Hot

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How hot was it? Hot enough to pay three-fitty for a cup of tap water! Yes, we braved the heat, the lackluster offense, and the price gouging this weekend to watch the Hoos get back on track (sort of) to take a critical (kind of) conference win early in the season.

And, high up in the upper deck, yours truly was downing the last bottle of Aquafina in the stadium and taking mental notes about the first home game experience of the season.

Writing about 2008’s team with 2007’s notes, kicking off now …

I kept a rough estimate of pass attempts downfield. By my count, the first didn’t occur until about 11:15 left in the second quarter – a Jameel Sewell deep ball that was slightly off the mark. Some Sewell throws downfield were close, others were dangerous and off-target, but they were few and far between … and all were incompletes.

Our first downfield completion (not to mention the rest of our downfield completions) was Lalich’s smooth second quarter strike that dipped perfectly into the hands of a streaking Dontrelle Inman . Lalich also mixed in some brilliant shorter attempts. For example, after finding his primary receivers covered in the red zone during his touchdown drive, Lalich unleashed an across-the-field pass to his outlet Mikell Simpson – a ball so perfectly placed the running back scampered down to the edge of the end zone. With an intoxicating mixture of deadly precision and touch, I think it’ll be quite difficult to keep Lalich on the bench very much this season.

Heroes: Sounds like the paramedics in the stadium were very busy. A tip of the hat to them for taking care of those fans that needed assistance on Saturday (and for not charging for the liquids they administered).

The most correctable problem: This was the worst special teams snapping performance I’ve ever seen in a football game. While the punting itself was fine whenever Chris Gould and Ryan Weigand got a chance, everyone else around the punters need some extra reps this week.

Brainstorm for the band: You know how we all end up singing The Good Ol’ Song in rounds because we all start at different times? A simple solution might be for the band to have an introductory mark, like a drum roll followed by the symbols crashing, that would signal when the singing should start. Hey, it’s worth a try. Right now, we sound as listless as a Britney Spears’ comeback.


Things that don’t mix well with 90 degree heat: Clock malfunctions. Unnecessary timeouts. Smokers. Lack of clouds. Overpriced water.

Bless their hearts: I’ve begged and asked the cheerleaders and other spirit leaders to try some new ideas. And bless them for trying. But I’ve never seen a more confusing attempt to lead a crowd in a cheer than what we saw in the third quarter. The young ladies alternated a sign with the letter “H” and an apostrophe with a sign with the word “Hoos.” H’? Were we supposed to yell “H apostrophe” out loud? Was that a Cyrillic letter? And I’m not the only one – it seemed like everyone in the seats around me was confused too. Give ’em an “A” for effort, though. Or maybe an “A apostrophe.”

One of my suggestions! I’ve been posting suggesting about improving the game day experience in my articles, on the boards, and on the blog for decades. Well, maybe one idea finally was noticed: Using a “Shhhhh! Offense at Work!” graphic on Hoovision. Actually, it’s more likely that someone in the athletic department saw this idea in a rival stadium. I don’t care who gets the credit. I’m just happy that the bulk of the crowd might learn how to behave while the Hoos are on offense.

Or maybe not: The dreaded “wave” while we have the ball made a return appearance. Perhaps a “Shhhhhhh! Waves are lame!” graphic is the next step?

“Against any other team”-itis: This was one of those games where you could get whiplash for shaking your head after some plays. These are the “against any other team” plays where a better opponent would’ve made us pay. A pair of passes in the same series by Thaddeus Lewis where Chris Cook got very lucky in the fourth quarter. Duke’s three missed field goals. Some long rushes by Cedric Peerman that were aided by some poor tackling. While I’m not trying to take away from the victory, a number of plays would’ve been damaging for the Hoos … against any other team not struggling through a 22-game losing streak.

However, that’s the beauty of playing Duke so early. The coaching staff gets the luxury of a conference game that allows the team to work some kinks out. Next step – making sure the kinks out.

Got some notes of your gameday experience? Let your rants and raves be heard by either email me or drop a comment on the boards. I’ll be posting your thoughts on the Good Ol’ Blog.

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