Thank GOD we won.
But first: The wedding was lovely. It was held at an equestrian center, with the ceremony outdoors and the reception in one of its two big rooms. They'd scattered rose petals on the white aisle runner, which bisected an assemblage of rustic white folding chairs, and there was a lovely garland on the wooden canopy under which they were married. Bill was beaming -- he looked like a kid at Christmas when he caught his first glimpse of Helen coming up the aisle, and the entire time, he couldn't take his eyes off of her. They faced out toward us for most of the ceremony, turning to each other only during the vow recitation and ring exchange. So as they stood listening to the reverend give his sermon, Bill tried his hardest to watch him, but his gaze always drifted to Helen, and he'd just stare at her with this huge grin on his face -- captivated, enthralled, in love. And wonderfully happy. When the wedding ended, they walked down the aisle, and a big wooden gate opened to allow entrance to a dappled gray horse leading a carriage bedecked with flowers. They hopped in and were taken away to enjoy their first moments of being married -- a little romantic privacy before the photographer's job started again.
It was our wedding photographer, too, so we had a mini-reunion with her, which was great.
We arrived home from the wedding at about midnight. Immediately, I shed the dress, pausing only to hang it up (see, Mom? I'm not ALL bad), and put on boxers and my ND jersey before climbing into bed and turning on the game. As predicted, I'd been able to avoid spoilers completely -- we tried finding the game on the radio on our way to the wedding, but it wasn't on, and that's for the best because I would have arrived at the wedding totally depressed at being down 10-0. I would have had no way of knowing ND would shut 'em down and put up 14 unanswered points to win the game.
I sat there tensely while Kevin dozed on and off, usually waking up when we did something good because he'd feel my weight shift and sense that I was beating my fists around -- we have a downstairs neighbor we knew would be sleeping, so in an effort to be considerate (we haven't had The Talk about football season yet), I rendered myself mute but for the occasional whisper, and took out my celebratory aggression on the air. My arms this morning are pleasantly sore.
The game was completely tense for me. Our offense did look a little impotent; people say we couldn't run the ball, but I'm not sure that's true. I think we just didn't. We totaled 10 running plays in the first half and 29 passing plays; one of those running plays was a QB sneak to score our first TD of the game just before time expired in the second quarter. Then we came out and showed more of a mix in the second half, and won the game -- thanks to the help of a blown pass play on 3rd-and-10 that Brady Quinn turned into a 36-yard dash for a first down. It's like they say: You've got to run the ball to pass the ball. If people aren't afraid of your running game, you'll have a much harder time finding openings in the secondary.
The defense kept us in it after letting Georgia Tech score 10 easy points early; Tech didn't score again. And it does look like a markedly better squad, shutting down WR Calvin Johnson in the second half. The offense gave it a major assist in the second half by putting together some sustained drives that let the D rest. Which is good, but means I don't have a read on the D's physical fitness just yet.
Lots of holding and false-start penalities on the offense, though, which Charlie won't be too happy about when they watch the game film today, as a few negated important plays. And no TD passes yet. But Rhema McKnight and Jeff Samardzija each made an amazing grab that had me missing Maurice Stovall a bit less.
Oh, but our KICKING game... that rookie punter is amazing, booting a 67-yard punt and then a 61-yarder right after that. However, our rookie field-goal kicker missed two, one relatively easy and one from a tough angle, and that's a major point of concern because those 6 points sure would've come in handy on the box score.
Unfortunately, we don't have any cake games on the schedule in which to work out the kinks -- next week is Penn State, then Michigan, then we're at Michigan State (a team that has our number), then back home for Purdue and Stanford. Those two are never gimme games anyway, but they'll be harder than they should be because we'll be tired.
Still, it's good to be 1-0, and good to be back. Not every outing can be perfect, but the trick is that this team was on its heels and STILL found a way to win the game. That's a different ND team than we had under Davie and Willingham (well, with one or two exceptions -- ND vs Washington State while Ty was coaching was an awesome comeback win), and that's hopefully the real key to what Weis is going to bring year after year: adjustments, confidence, and composure under fire.