Home / Notre Dame Football / (Not So) Initial Impressions – Michigan 28, Notre Dame 24

(Not So) Initial Impressions – Michigan 28, Notre Dame 24

This week’s initial impressions is coming a little late.  The UHND crew was in South Bend this weekend for the game and a lack of internet and some travel snafus have delayed my normal posting.  With all that said, here are some thoughts on the Michigan game.


Dayne Crist has been impressive after his first two starts and is showing that his future is very, very bright. (Photo - Icon SMI)

  • It goes without saying at this point, but Notre Dame is in serious trouble if Dayne Crist misses any more time this season.  Both Tommy Rees and Nate Montana looked very over matched and Brian Kelly admitted later that he needs to do a better job preparing the backups.  Hopefully we won’t have to find out if he’s done a better job at that again this season.
  • Back to Crist, I think it’s hard to be any but impressed with his performance so far this year.  Here’s a kid who had 20 career pass attempts before this year who had to learn and entirely new offensive system all while recovering from an ACL injury that happened just 10 months ago.  He had one bad decision on Saturday, but other than that he was very sharp and threw for 277 yards despite missing almost half of the game.
  • Now, all of that said, Crist is still a work in progress and I think he and his coach would agree with that.  He needs to work on his accuracy – especially when throwing to the end zone – and needs to learn the intricacies of the position, but it’s very clear after two games he has a very bright future.
  • Armando Allen isn’t becoming the back everyone thought he would be – the big time home run hitter – but he is developing into a better all around back than most felt he could be.  He’s running harder than ever and is going to have an opportunity to put up some big numbers this year.  He’s already on pace for over 1,000 yards and he hasn’t exactly been the focal point of the gameplan either week.
  • Allen’s 29 yard run was a career long and it would have went for a lot more if Michael Floyd would have sealed the edge.  Floyd whiffed on the block though and the hole closed.
  • Cierre Wood had a disappointing day, but we’ll see more games like from Wood as he continues to develop.  Backs like Wood,potential home run threats, are many times all or nothing and Wood will experience some growing pains until he gets more time in the weight room.
  • Michael Floyd needs to be involved in the game plan much, much more.  Floyd was barely heard from until the very end against a secondary he should have been able to terrorize.   The last two weeks Floyd has put up solid numbers but it hasn’t felt like he’s being focused on in the game plan.
  • Freshman TJ Jones is going to be a playmaker, but needs to learn to hold on to the ball until he’s well into the end zone.  Jones touchdown could have easily been called back because he toss the ball into the end zone before he crossed the line.  Luckily no one from Michigan picked up the ball.  More importantly, luckily the ball didn’t go out of the end zone either.  Had the ball went out of bounds, not only would the touchdown been taken off the board, but Notre Dame would have also lost possession of the ball.
  • A lot of NFL scouts had to take notice to Kyle Rudolph being able to race to the end zone and hold off a defensive back.  Heck of a play by Rudolph.  He is just a match-up nightmare for almost any college defense and needs to be targeted early and often every week.
  • Very surprised we didn’t see more of Theo Riddick this week.  There was a lot of talk about how well he’s locked down the slot receiver spot, but after two games Riddick has just 4 catches for 52 yards.  Kelly needs to find a way to get Riddick the ball in hands in space.


  • Denard Robinson made some highlight reel plays, but it’s hard to fault the defense for allowing the 87 yard scamper at the end of the first half after all of the time they spent on the field.  Robinson is an outstanding athlete who is going to make plays if given that many opportunities.
  • Carlo Calabrese has to be the nicest surprise on the defensive side of the ball.  For all of the talk of his lack of speed and suspect coverage skills, Calabrese has shown that he can play plenty fast.  He had another 10 tackles Saturday to go with 9 last week.  That puts him on pace for 114 tackles this season which would be 43 more than last year’s leading linebacker tackler (Brian Smith, 71).
  • Calabrese’s partner in crime at inside linebacker isn’t too bad either.  Mant Te’o paced the Irish with 13 tackles and was all over the field again this week.  The great thing here is Te’o still has a lot of room for improvement.
  • Safety depth was exposed.  Jamoris Slaughter is going to need to be on the field a lot this year once he’s back from the injury.  Hopefully Wayne Lyons saw the lack of depth at safety for the Irish first hand.
  • The defense is definitely better this year, but it’s still a work in progress.
  • Have not been too impressed with the play of the outside linebackers after two games.  There was a lot of talk about the depth at OLB with Darius Fleming, Kerry Neal, Brian Smith, and Steve Filer forming a formidable unit on paper, but after two games none have really stood out.
  • The defensive line didn’t get enough pressure this week to slow down Robinson.  The key to shutting down a quarterback like Robinson is getting a great push from your defensive line to give the linebackers some more time to pursue.
  • After getting 4 sacks in week 1, Notre Dame didn’t record a single sack Saturday and had just two tackles for loss – that’s not going to cut it against an offense like Michigan’s.  Had the defense gotten some negative plays on first down it could have put Michigan in down and distances outside their comfort zone.
  • Saturday showed that Notre Dame still does need to upgrade it’s speed and athleticism on the defensive side of the ball.  The situation isn’t as dire as Kirk Herbstreit would have you believe, but it does need to be addressed through recruiting – especially in the front 7.

Special Teams

  • With the offense sputtering as much as it was on the first half without Crist in the game, a long return sure would have been nice.  Unfortunately the return game was very quiet.
  • Ben Turk had a solid day punting with 4 of his 8 punts getting pinned inside the 20, but his punts just don’t seem to have all of the leg behind them that they did towards the end of last season.  Turk started off slowly last year too though.
  • Coverage units were solid again this week.


  • While I didn’t agree with Kelly’s decision to go for the touchdown at the end of the first half, that wasn’t my biggest beef with the coaching in Saturday’s loss.  Why Kelly didn’t call a timeout after Michigan converted their 3rd down to the 2 yard line with less than a minute just made no sense whatsoever to me.  Had Kelly called the timeout, there would have been an additional 15 seconds or more on the clock when Notre Dame got the ball back.
  • Kelly hasn’t been under the media scrutiny that he’ll experience at Notre Dame before so it will be interesting to see how he handles this week and bounces back Saturday.
  • David Ruffer connected on his only field goal attempt and now has hit all 9 field goals he’s attempted in his career.


  1. We love ND football and have for 25 yrs….. but come on how many times will we have the personnel and not win…. as far as the commentators not impressed…… manti teo —love you and the hits in the stanford game awesome… but we will need an offense…… catch a ball perfectly thrown or not…. crist make a decision take off your skirt and be a man…. iron clad football does include your sack being involved…. will still love you ND just frustration setting in

  2. 2nd straight game where this “amazing coach” cost us the game. how does he let a fake field goal beat ND?

  3. Defense is horrible. This team will never win unless the defense steps up.

  4. I think this game is so huge, we gotta pull out some W’s in this early stretch, I was reading over on the Scout site about how extraordinary this Tuitt is and how coveted he is by the SEC and they will be knocking up to till signing day. We need some success to avoid these seeds of doubt.

  5. Good analysis Frank. Regarding M. Floyd, I would add that his concentration seems to be lacking. The unforced fumble against Purdue and the dropped passes against UM should pretty much NEVER happen to a guy with his skill. Seems to be in his head. He’s got to shake that off and start playing like the superstar he is, even when he doesn’t figure prominently into the offensive scheme…


  6. I am way past getting tired of hearing Bk getting bashed for not taking the points. Even if we get that FG, no one can say the game would have played out exactly the same in the second half. Lets not change history then think all other things remain the same. GO IRISH!

    • You don’t like hearing how a 20 year veteran of head coaching left 3 points on the field, that would have allowed a potential game winning FG at the end of regulation?

      Let’s not keep our heads in the clouds too much.

  7. We can complain all we want about the defense, or backup QB’s or not saving a second or two on the kickoff return. Yes, those things do matter. But what matters more?

    Being down by 4 points at the end of the game and not 1. Who do I blame? BK for not taking the field goal at the end of the 2nd Quarter.

    BK takes that field goal, its 28-27 with Notre Dame in field goal range with a few seconds left. This isn’t rocket science. TAKE THE POINTS. When you do, there’s a chance to win. When you don’t – well, we know what happens.

    This was a coaching loss. Specifically, a head coach making the wrong decision loss.

    Secondly, someone needs to tell Crist and Montana this little football secret – your receivers can’t catch the ball when it’s thrown into the stands. Seriously – what is going on here? There are two All-American receivers, both tall, both athletic, both with great hands. And the beauty? Neither one of them had a chance to catch it. Not because it was thrown into coverage. Not because it was tipped at the line of scrimmage. But because the QB threw it into the stands. Not on one play, but two crucial plays.

    Hopefully BK had all the QB’s practice this week throwing the ball into the field of play.

    • He just did it again! Denied Ruffer the chance to win the game in regulation. CW all over again: Poor clock management, wasted TO’s, and “we’ll take our chances in OT”. Not only do we lose, we look stupid doing it.

  8. Wow u guys are doing a lot of whinning over 2 games with new qbs….


    • The problem isn’t the quarterback. I mean, sure Rees and Montana were terrible and Crist lacked the touch at the key moments but the defense lost this football game. There were three minutes left in a home game with us winning by three points and we could not stop Michigan.

      That’s what is so troubling. We’ve had an underperforming defense for quite awhile. Hopefully we adjust and move on.

      • You don’t think the offense turning the ball over so much had just as much to do with the loss?

        Really? I mean…really?

      • It played a part. But not as big of a part as you’d think.

        If it was a monumental setback, ND wouldn’t have had a chance to win at the end.

        What was monumental was being down by 4 points and not 1 (not taking field goal at end of 2nd Quarter) and two scholarship QB’s throwing the ball to the usher in section 43 – twice. On. Crucial. Plays.

  9. I haven’t bothered to read the other comments on your ridiculously opinionated article. There’s seriously too much bullshit to speak on all of it but the fact that you recognize how different the offense was w/out Crist but then, almost in the same sentence, talk about Floyd’s ineffectiveness ‘until the end’… did u watch the game? Floyd (who gets the most attention of all ND receivers)started being a factor as soon as the 2ndhalf started. More specifically WHEN HE GOT HIS STARTING QB BACK! So ND isn’t the same team w/out Crist but, apparently, Floyd is supposed to throw the ball to himself before he beats a double team and then makes 11 catches? Your an idiot and u pin spent ur high school days as the team manager.

    • Floyd can’t throw the ball to himself it’s the coaches job to gameplan around getting him the ball as often as possible. I even said in the same bullet that it hasn’t felt like he has been focused on in the game plan. It wasn’t a knock on Floyd in the lest.

  10. Who is questioning BK’s ability to recruit? I missed that….

  11. Cav – Have an original thought. Commenting after watching Inside Irish Football only proves my point. Nobody is seriously questioning BK especially at this point in the season and in his tenure. Bottom line is he had 3 mulligans in the game against MI. This was a game that should have been won regardless of what happened to Crist or how much time he had to get his backups ready to play. Very questionable calls by BK. I understand his thinking not knowing if Crist will be back but his back up QB did get them down the field w/ a pass to Riddick and quite simply YOU TAKE THE POINTS before halftime.

    Stating that the bloggers on this blog know more than BK is an insult to all who share their thoughts here. We are fans and as fans are able to cite what we see on the field. There is no disrespect only emotion and passion for a team we have waited a long time to see succeed. We all saw as we watched the game the points you bring out but we have all seen that before. Part of the reason BK was brought in was his ability to get the most out of players, some of which weren’t supposed to produce when they were supposed to according to their “inexperience”. BK is a motivator and we have all seen overall improvement. In all however we are sick of seeing other programs with lessor talent seemingly move ahead while the Irish with supposedly better talent languishing at the hands of a one man Michigan team. The zeal you see and counter with by running cover has built up over the past 16 years of mediocre football. Do the bloggers on this site vent that frustration? Absolutely and rightfully so. Are we true ND fans for doing so because we truly love our beloved Irish and want some redemption not only for the team – the university and us fans? You bet cha! GO IRISH!

  12. ND just landed another 4 star DE. With 19 recruits, Scout has ND as the #5 class in the country. ND also has 6 Top 100 and only Texas has more. Does anyone still question Kelly’s ability to recruit nationally?

    • Should I be a pessimist and ask when he is going to decommit from ND? Or is this new era over that?

      • They seem to bolt when you do things like lose to Navy and everybody is calling for the coach’s head. Now if Crist goes down, we will be in that boat. Not a great situation CW left us in, I guess he figured if he was here he had Jimmy another year.

  13. kelly looked anxious and uneasy at the last press conference. his smarmy ‘band wagon’ comment was out of character as he used to take the high road. the stress of the notredame job is showing and he has only coached 2 games!!!

    • Orrrr, he was talking in jest.

      Yeah…he was.

      • my point was, joke or not, the comment was unusually snarky and condescending from what i have come to expect from kelly. maybe the pressure of the job has not gotten to him yet, but he was clearly agitated by the question…

  14. Did i mention that Jonas GRAY is the best back on the team?

  15. why do ND QB’s have such a tough time keeping the ball in bounds on situations when they have nothing to lose

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