Notre Dame Up-Close

Who: Michigan @ Notre Dame
When: September 13, 2008, 3:30PM EDT
Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, IN
: Michigan Sports Network
UM 20-14-1
Last Meeting: 2007, Michigan 38-0

Program Background

Conference: Independent
Head Coach: Charlie Weis
Off. Coordinator: Michael Haywood
Off. Scheme: Pro-Style
Def. Coordinator: Corwin Brown
Def. Scheme: 3-4
2008 Record: 1-0

Notre Dame On Paper
Well, I was thinking the 2008 edition of Notre Dame football was going to be much better than the 2007 edition. After watching them limp past San Diego State last weekend, I'm thinking otherwise.

Are they better? Well, let me ask you could they not be? I think San Diego State is a terrible barometer. On paper, Notre Dame's stats are just a little better than Michigan's offensively. However, they will have home field advantage. Something that really helped Michigan cruise to a 38-0 win last year.

Notre Dame on Offense
It all starts with Jimmy Clausen. He's now in his second year at ND. They run a pro-style offense that features a heavy reliance on the pass. In my opinion, Clausen is just not good enough to be able to spread the ball around the field yet. Last week he was 21 of 34 for 237 yards and 3 TDs...and also 2 picks. Not bad, but that's against San Diego State's swiss cheese coverage.

Michigan brings in a pretty experienced defense (especially against a pro-style offense). We should do very well containing Clausen and covering their WRs. We really need to protect against the big play...which ND will surely try to get early on in the contest. The DL also should have great success containing ND's running attack. Armondo Allen was their leading rusher last week with 17 carries and 59 yards. Also getting 16 carries was Robert Hughes, who ran for 54 yards. ND's line is big and experienced. They average well over 300 lbs across the line. You'd think they'd have better success moving the ball on the ground. But they don't. Odd. Maybe the play calling is so obvious.

My expectation: Notre Dame will move the ball early. Mostly through the air. Over the course of the game, they will fatigue and start to slow down. They will try and pound up the middle with the run, but Michigan's DL and LBs will keep them contained.

The most glaring stat from their first game was the 1 for 5 performance in the red zone. Simply unacceptable.

Notre Dame on Defense
Okay, we need to stop this 2-QB shuffle. Steven Threet is going to start this game, and I think he should stay in. Unless he starts throwing INTs left and right, we need to pick a QB and stick with him. Great teams don't juggle QBs and have success.

Notre Dame's defense is led by Sr. SS Kyle McCarthy who had 14 tackles last week. Good to have 14 tackles, bad that you are a strong safety. You'd like your LBs to have the most tackles. In fact, the top 4 tacklers for ND are all DBs. Linebacker Maurice Crum is 5th with 6. Crum is a Jr. and the leader of the linebacking corps. He will have a full day of chasing Sam McGuffie around the field. But ND is experienced and the linebackers are good.

In 2007, Notre Dame was 2nd in the nation in pass defense. Slightly scewed because they didn't play many teams with great passing games. But what they had in pass defense, they lacked in run defense. They do blitz more this year, thanks to new defensive assistant Jon Tenuta and his improvised schemes. That should improve a lackluster pass rush.

Michigan will struggle to move the ball. Our running game is starting to show some life, but just enough to beat a middle-of-the-road MAC school, not Notre Dame on the road. We struggled against 07's #1 pass defense against Utah, and we will continue to struggle against the #2 team.

This game will be tough for Michigan fans to watch. Notre Dame sucks. And we might just suck more right now. Unless we get a huge break like a turnover deep in Notre Dame territory, or make a great play on special teams, I don't see us getting many scoring chances. What will really be tough this week is how long the defense is on the field. The first 2 games have shown that Michigan's defense is good, but not good enough to be on the field for over 35 minutes of the game.

This game will be low scoring and very hard to watch. I think Notre Dame wins this one based on the fact that they will be at home. It will be close though, probably less than a 7 point difference.

1 comment

  1. Anonymous3:27 PM

    I would agree with your prediction. In order for UM to contain the pass, Shafer needs to bring the heat every play. Clausen has proven that he does not scramble well.