Observations from the Michigan Game

Here are my observations after rewatching the game on my DVR this afternoon.

  • Great protection from the offensive line keeping Michigan from recording a sack – the second straight week the Irish haven’t allowed a sack.  Good job by Clausen avoiding a couple sacks as well.
  • Brian Smith looks like the emotional leader of the defense – he came out of the tunnel like fired up and was getting the crowd into it.
  • Golden Tate’s touchdown was a very well run route – he ran a slant and go and split the defenders perfectly to get behind the defense.
  • Speaking of Tate, his most impressive plays might have been his fielding of kickoffs off crazy bounces.  Michigan couldn’t field a kick to save their lives in the first half, but Tate showed incredible hands on kickoffs for the Irish.
  • Please don’t ever refer to Anello as Rudy – he is much, much more than a glorified walkon.  He made several huge plays on special teams this weekend and should continue to do so.  With Bruton on the other side on punts, teams will have to pick their poison when it comes to blocking them.
  • On Michigan’s fake punt, John Ryan was held, but also didn’t do much to fight off the block.
  • Maurice Crum played a very nice game.  He recognized a lot of the Michigan plays and helped set the tone early.  Looks like he had a great week in the film room.
  • Tackling from the front seven was very poor throughout the game.  Sam McGuffie bounced off Notre Dame defenders all game long.  The Irish will need to do MUCH better against Michigan State or Javon Ringer will tear this defense up.
  • Tackling from the secondary, however, was very good.  Raeshon McNeil saved a touchdown by recognizing a play and blowing it up before he could get blocked in the second quarter.
  • Pat Kuntz looked MUCH more comfortable playing on the inside of the defense line.  He is not a very fast player, but he is quick off the line and might be better suited inside.
  • The blitz was pretty effective at times.  It didn’t show up in terms of sacks, but the defense forced Threet to get rid of the ball a lot sooner than he wanted to a number of times.
  • Trevor Robinson played most of the second half and more than held his own.
  • James Aldridge saw his first action and looked pretty good at times.  He looked quicker than he did a year ago and found the running lanes quicker than the other backs.  It would have been nice to see Charlie let James take it in from a yard out after the pass interference in the end zone though.
  • One note on Aldridge though, on the first drive of the second half, Aldrdige had a HUGE run to the outside but was brought down by an arm tackle from Steve Brown – a defensive back.
  • Asaph Schwapp blocked pretty well at times.
  • On the second and goal pass to the Yeatman off the play action… I don’t like the call because we were running the ball well, but it was open.  Rudolph was wide open, but when he and Yeatman went out for the pass, the weakside DE came off the line completely untouched and was in Clausen’s face as soon as he turned to throw.  If Clausen had time to set and throw, Rudolph would have probably had his first career touchdown.
  • Speaking of Yeatman, he is much better blocker than Rudolph at this point and should continue to see a lot of palying time.
  • When Bruton went out in the second quarter and was replaced by Ray Herring, there was one pass to Stonum that would have been an EASY pick for Bruton, but Herring took a poor angle and got there late.
  • The safety blitz is feast or famine for us so far this year.  When it works, it blows a play up.  When it doesn’t, it’s a huge play for the defense.  Tenuta and Brown will need to work on scheming around the big play when they send Bruton.
  • The offensive line really started to get a push this week – much more so than last week as the game wore on.  There are still problems sealing off the edge on outside runs with the line, but overall the line looked much better than I thought they would against the Michigan front.
  • Eric Maust did a solid job punting.  He handled the bad snap in the rain very well and aside from one shank and Michigan block, he had a very solid day considering the weather he was punting in.
  • Sergio Brown was in position to make a lot of plays but needs to start turning around to look for the ball.  He could have had a couple picks if he just turned around and found the ball.  The good news is that that is correctable with good coaching and I am sure Corwin will be showing Sergio those plays more than once in film review this week.
  • Terrail Lambert made a great play on the Kevin Grady fumble.  A Michigan player looked to about have the ball secured and Lambert got his hand in there to knock it loose for Sergio Brown to recover.
  • Robert Hughes is, in my opinion, the best back on this team.  Allen could be a big play guy, but Hughes is the workhorse back than is showing he can get us the tough yards in short yardage situations.
  • Didn’t like seeing us in the shot gun AT ALL in the rain in the third quarter.  Why put Clausen and Wenger in a position were a bad exchange is much more likely when we have the lead?  Side note, how nice is it to see a center make the shot gun snap in a driving rain so well when we couldn’t handle the shot gun snap in perfect weather last year?
  • After not seeing the field much last week, Robbie Parris got in the game quite a bit against Michigan.
  • Bruton and McCarthy are quickly becoming our best safety tandem in years.  McCarthy doesn’t have the big play potential Zbikowski had, but he is a sounder tackler and may be better in coverage.  If he could add the big play potential that Zibby gave the Irish defense we will have one heck of a strong safety.

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  1. I stopped watching ESPN months ago, but I’ll jump on with the boycott if there is one. Whenever I tune in, I hear a lot of things that I feel are said only for ratings, and when it comes to the Irish, is just hateful. I think Mark May may have been denied a scholarship to ND when he was a teen.

    And this stuff about USC having its best team? Bull. C-Dog said it best. The Big 10 and Pac 10 are down this year, and I see this trend all over college football. Where has Texas been since Vince Young? Florida is a sleeper, it seems like, and Georgia is acting like they’re ranked 25th, not 3rd, not to mention BYU’s murder of UCLA. I think it’s turnover to the NFL. Some of the biggest names in college football in the last five years are playing on Sunday. USC is going to dominate everyone by a bigger margin than ever, but they wouldn’t beat the USC of two or three years ago. The former team played greater competition.

  2. I really think there should be an ESPN boycott. It seems like they write that crap just to get ND fans mad, and also because we’re one team they don’t have control over. Look at how they hype their conferences. The Big 10 and the Pac-10 have not been good this year. USC is tough, but we don’t even know if OSU and Virginia are much better than mid major teams.

    Yeah, Ty is going to get canned this year. And this is the last year for Forde to say anything about Ty’s recruits.

    I say start boycotting the ESPN website. They’ll change their toon, because they need the ad revenue to keep those bar flies as sports “writers” in business.

  3. Agreed that Anello is not Rudy.

    It seems that Tate and Floyd are beginning to be perceived as # & 2 depending on the situation.

    Also agree on Aldredge. He is much faster hitting the hole than Hughes.

    Final note: Ethan Johnson had some tackles and looks to be starting his upward contributions.

  4. Agree that Golden handling squibs was very important. We simply played better and made less mistakes in the rain.

    Speaking of Golden, his brother Wesley is the real deal. Has over 700 yds in 4 games..won the TN 100 meter last spring and 2nd in 200 meter. While that’s impressive, what is more so is he weighs 205 and could be a legit 230 in DI program. ND needs to take another look…he looks strong, and the first Tate we took is a keeper.

  5. Definitely liked the win! I had a chance to go down, but messed up my priorities with family duties. What was I thinking?

    The best part was to see some fight and leadership back. Pat Forde can kiss my %$$#% , and I might start boycotting ESPN, the pimps of college football. ND took this game and controlled it. If Charlie has learned his lesson about physical practices, then lookout. ND will be back in a big way.

    Defense is solid, everyone saw that. Special teams are awesome. Offense still needs work, but if the run blocking improves they should be OK. I’ll wait for until October to re-evaluate.

    I’d like to see the coaches take the game plan to the next level. The kids are ready now. Beat on them a little this week to remind them that They are still 10 wins shy of where they want to be. But these kids did themselves proud this weekend.

    Go Irish!

  6. I was soaked but just felt like this weight had been lifted off my chest. It felt great to be a ND fan. My buddy said to me “hey is that Charlie with a brace on”? (I sit 7th row behind the band) I said, “no way what could be wrong with him”. Had no clue until I got to Wings Etc that he was hurt. WoW CW good play to stick it out. Hats off to him for that. I dont see much negative feedback this time around.

    ND looked good enough to beat Michigan St on this day in SBI but not in East Lansing. Now I realize that home field doesnt count all that much in this series but St looked good vs Cal but then again Cal lost this weekend.

    Game notes: Golden Tate is special. He is very FAST and has great hands. Kumara made up for his drops this game. Im telling you Hughes is going to be our featured back eventually. That guy is built like a tank and is very light on his feet. O line was very good. Props to them for handling one of the best D lines in the country.

    We played well against a good good D. I think this should help shed a little light on how good we are but WOW we have a lot of potential. Most the team is made up fr and sophs.

    Good Victory! 2-0 is music to my ears. Go Irish

  7. By far the best game we have seen since Brady and Company have left.

    Michigan St. will be a tough game since they are better than Michigan this year, Kudos Frankie, on the dark horse.

    I was glad to see Kamara hang on in the end-zone. Tate appears to be a game breaker and progressively getting better with each game.

    I like Pat Forde’s out-of- control ineptitude and arrogance. Hopefully, we keep his dogmatic whining on a roll with a victory over Michigan St.

  8. Threet is a great quarterback, and I think proved his ability by threading, not needles, but atoms.

    Anyway, we nailed Michigan to the ground, but only because they were either careless or scared. I don’t think Michigan State will be either, because Dantonio is a much better coach than Rodriguez. The Irish cannot count on the other team screwing up this Saturday–we’re going to have to play WAY better football to win. If Charlie has the team ready and we win a close one, I think it’ll set the tone for the rest of the season.

    Go IRISH!

  9. Good post. I’m just happy to know the extra point is a given…. I was most impressed by the Golden Tater.
    That is one guy who hustles on every play. I think the confidence from this game will show up next week. Go Irish!

  10. I think we will see the defense mature a little each game. They are for the most part pretty young. Each win should boost their confindence in each other and knowing where each other are supposed to be on the field at any given time. They do need to work on tackling or a good back will have a field day. I’m sure that will be a point of emphasis all week. All in all a much better game than last week. Hopefully we will see even more growth against MSU. MSU would be a nice win for the players and coaches.

  11. Our defense gave up way too many 3rd and longs.

    Their QB “threaded the needle” on a lot of these, so I’m not taking anything away from his skill level, but if we could have kept up our defensive production on 3rd and longs we would have completely dominated the game.

    I know I am probably nit-picking, but I’d like to see ND completely demolish an opponent. I am a perfectionist by nature, but the medical term is OCD, anywho.. I was kinda frustrated at that one aspect of the game Saturday.

  12. “On the second and goal pass to the Yeatman off the play action… I don’t like the call because we were running the ball well, but it was open. Rudolph was wide open, but when he and Yeatman went out for the pass, the weakside DE came off the line completely untouched and was in Clausen’s face as soon as he turned to throw. If Clausen had time to set and throw, Rudolph would have probably had his first career touchdown.”

    Yeah, go back and look at the play, the tackle slid out and picked up the OLB blitz allowing the DE to come off the edge untouched! Pretty sure that’s the same play. Hope I’m not thinking of a different play.

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