Well, after doing just about everything possible to make things hard on themselves, Notre Dame finally fell to Michigan by a score of 38-34. Mixed in with some great offense was some of the sloppiest football we’ve seen out of the Irish in the last few years. Here are my initial impressions from today’s disheartening loss.
- Michigan had absolutely no answer for Michael Floyd. I still can’t figure out why he wasn’t used more in the third quarter. Boubacar Cissoko was beaten like a drum by the Irish receivers all game, yet the Irish didn’t target him in the third quarter. Let’s pray that Floyd is OK after taking the tough fall in the fourth quarter.
- Not sure what happened to Golden Tate’s hands, but it was shocking to see him drop two easy touchdowns in the fourth quarter. He just doesn’t do that. Luckily he was able to get into the end zone on the third touchdown attempt in the fourth.
- It looked like Jimmy Clausen was going to have his first signature moment at Notre Dame by leading the comeback, but unfortunately the Irish couldn’t hold on. Clausen was 25 of 42 for 336 yards and 3 touchdowns with no interceptions. He missed some receivers, but his biggest problem today was keeping the ball in the field on jump balls. Floyd was coming down with everything, but Clausen threw the ball out of bounds a couple times.
- Armando Allen ran the ball very well all game long. He ran tough and got the extra yards we’ve been waiting for. Allen ran for 139 yards on 21 carries. He also had a touchdown called back that replays showed was clearly a touchdown on one of the nicest screen plays I’ve seen Notre Dame run in four years.
- Jonas Gray is an immensely talented running back, but until he gets the fumbilitis under control, Weis might need to get Theo Riddick some more carries.
- Not sure what the point was of moving Robert Hughes to fullback this week. He wasn’t used at all from the fullback spot. With his receiving skills you would think that Weis would have called some passes designed for him.
- The offensive line gave Clausen time to pass and opened up huge holes for Allen to run through. Sam Young lost his helmet and played with a lot of emotion. The line got called for a lot of holding penalties – some of them warranted, some of them completely ridiculous.
- For the life of me I can’t figure out why Kyle Rudolph was not a bigger part of the game plan. Michigan didn’t have anyone who could have covered him, but he was barely targeted. His 72 yarder that got wiped out by the holding penalty was nice, but he should have been a major part of the game plan.
- Nice to see Shaquelle Evans make a couple catches and it’s hard to blame him for not coming up with the third down in the fourth quarter considering it was his first action.
- I liked the decision to take a shot in the passing game on 2nd down at the end, but didn’t like the play call at all. Tate wasn’t coming down with the jump balls all game. If Floyd was in the game I could see that play being called, but not with him out of the game.
- Back to the second down pass for a second… If you are going to call a pass there, you have to call something where Clausen has safe options in case the primary receiver isn’t wide open so that the clock runs and Michigan has to use a timeout.
- After two games, I think it’s safe to say that outside of USC, this offense is only going to be slowed down by their own mistakes this season.
- I did love the two point conversion call. I think it’s ridiculous to call an excessive celebration penalty there though. I think it’s even more ridiculous for ABC to not show a single replay of the penalty or even show the ref makes the ball.
- It’s tough to put much of this loss on the offense. They made their fair share of mistakes, but at the end of the day, they put up 34 points and should have had more had it not been for some pretty questionable calls.
- Tackling was downright awful today. Forcier is quick, but the defense just couldn’t wrap him up and it cost them in the end.
- After shutting out Nevada last week, it was very disappointing to see the defense give up as many points as they did – especially in the second half. Michigan made their adjustments at half time and the defense just didn’t have a counter punch.
- Not sure what kind of blitz schemes where being used, but they were largely ineffective. The rush was coming off the edge all came long leaving the middle wide open for Foricer to step right into. Notre Dame had a chance to rattle a true freshman quarterback, but allowed him to build confidence all game long.
- Run defense continues to be a problem and with a power football team coming in next week, I hope we see some changes along the defensive line to get more size on the field.
- Didn’t see much of Manti Te’o after he made a tackle for loss on the first defensive play of the game.
- The secondary came up with one pick, but had chances early to come up with a couple more and didn’t. The corners weren’t turning their heads on plays down field and a couple balls that hung in that air could have been picked off. Blanton also had a chance to make a pick on a bad throw but couldn’t come up with it.
- This defense will have trouble with spread offenses and mobile quarterbacks all season long. I actually think the defense will look much better against a traditional offense next week.
- I think Notre Dame just missed another tackle.
- Kyle McCarthy played a great game and came up with another pick.
- I’d like to see Gary Gray get some work as the nickel back – he is a much sounder tackler than Sergio Brown.
- Notre Dame had a chance to rattle a rookie quarterback, but instead ended up making Forcier look like a seasoned vet. Foricer is going to be very tough to stop for the next three years. He’s much, MUCH better than I thought he would be this early.
- Special teams helped cost Notre Dame the game. A missed field goal, a kick return for a touchdown by Michigan, a shanked punt when Michigan needed to be pinned deep all directly had an impact on the outcome in this game.
- Nick Tausch missed his first field goal attempt, but did look good on his next two including a 42 yarder that split the uprights.
- Barry Gallup was actually very good as a kick return and would have had two long returns, but got tripped up by one of his own blockers on one.
- Ben Turk might not keep that redshirt very long.
- I hate blaming officials for a game – especially one in which Notre Dame loses a game it should win on its own – but I will say that the officiating was very questionable.
- It sure looked like Golden Tate was tackled on the 2nd down pass attempt on Notre Dame’s first drive.
- As far as al of the holding calls, I’ll just say I wish the refs were consistent in their holding calls for both teams.
- The official explanation for why the two seconds were removed at the end was because the officials said Riddick touched the ball. Don’t remember the last time I saw time taken off a clock that had not been previously taken off though.
All that said, the officials did NOT cost Notre Dame this game. Notre Dame did by wasting opportunities and shooting itself in the foot over and over again.
Hats off to Michigan for taking advantage of their opportunities. We’ll be back at it here as soon as the hurt from this loss wears off.