IBG – Michigan Week Edition

Last year Armando Allen had his best game of the season against Michigan. Here's hoping he does the same this year. (Photo - Icon SMI)

Her Loyal Sons hosts this week’s Irish Blog Gathering.  Head over there Friday for their answers and check back with them throughout the week for the other responses.

1) You’ve now seen Notre Dame Football: The Kelly Edition, Volume 1, Episode 1. Was it everything you thought it would be? Were characters missing from this episode that you were expecting to see featured? Did it strike you as a carbon-copy of Kelly’s Cincinnati teams, or is there something discernible between the 2 programs beyond the colors of the uniforms?

Game 1 was definitely a conservative version of the offense Kelly ran at Cincy.  The big question heading into this week is was that by design to save things for Michigan or was it because that’s all the players have mastered up to this point.  I expected to see a lot more of Theo Riddick after all of the talk about him from the coaching staff throughout camp.  Aside from the absence of Riddick, the play calling seemed rather vanilla.  Where were the reverses, wide receiver screens, downfield passing, etc?  I think the reason we didn’t see the full complement of the Kelly is a little of both scenarios  – the players understandably don’t have the entire offense mastered and Kelly was holding at least a little back for this weekend.

Outside of the offense, the defense and special teams were pretty much what I expected.  The defense was improved and more disciplined and generated better pressure without needing to send the house on blitzes every other play.  Special teams were vastly improved in all areas – returns, coverage, and kicking.

2) Pick one positive play, offense or defense, by the Irish from last Saturday that you feel serves as a bit of metaphorical foreshadowing for the 2010 Irish. Extra points if you can stretch the metaphor to fit Kelly’s entire tenure at Notre Dame.

Pick one of the eight solo tackles made by Gary Gray.  Those kind of plays simply didn’t happen under the last staff and shows that fundamentals are being stressed much more with the current staff.

3) Pick another play, offense or defense, by the Irish from last Saturday again, but this time, make it a negative play. Tell us how that play serves as a bit of metaphorical foreshadowing for the 2010 Irish. And again, bonus points for stretching it over Kelly’s tenure.

The safety given up after Ian Williams interception was a shining example that while the team looks improved, there are still going to be growing pains along the way.  The safety was a clear example of blown assignments – Kyle Rudolph and Zach Martin ended up double teaming a single defender resulting in Armando Allen getting nailed almost before he had a chance to secure the hand-off.

4) You know us, we’re stat geeks. Give us a stat that we should be watching this season that will A) Tell us something enlightening about the  2010 Irish and/or B) Tell us something enlightening about the average Top-5 teams at the end of the 2010 season.

I’ll go with a simple one – points allowed.  Simply put, Notre Dame allowed too many points the last few seasons – especially last year when the offense played well enough to come away with wins in pretty much every game they lost.  One game into the 2010 season, Notre Dame has given up just 12 points – two of which came on the safety.  It’s no secret that teams that prevent other teams from scoring are generally among the nations elite.  Last year the top 10 scoring defenses were Nebraska, Alabama, Penn State, Florida, Ohio State, TCU, Oklahoma, Iowa, Virginia Tech, and Air Force.  Of those 10 schools – 5 played in BCS Bowl games and all played on bowl games on or after December 30.

5) Notre Dame is currently a 4 point favorite in the coming Michigan game. You get 3 points for being at home. The AP poll actually ranks Michigan higher than ND. ND is 1-4-1 in the last 6 games with Michigan in which the Irish were favored and 9 and 6 in the last 15 games in which Michigan was favored. Does any of this worry you? Why or why not?

I was a little surprised at the point spread when it first came out since in paper Michigan’s performance looked a little more convincing than Notre Dame’s.  The spread itself doesn’t really concern me though because the spread isn’t necessarily an accurate predictor of the outcome of the game – it represents how Vegas wants people to bet.

6) Last week, Frank at UHND put the Gathering on the spot with our predictions for the season. After week 1, are there any of those predictions that you’d like to alter? Any upon which you’d double down?

My national championship pick of Texas didn’t look too impressive in their opener, but they were breaking in a new quarterback so I’ll stick with them for now.  The one team I might be tempted to switch to is Ohio State if they get past Miami this week because I don’t think too much of the Big 10 this year.  It also like Boise State can almost cruise to the title game after beating Virginia Tech and my money would be on OSU if they met Boise.

7) Describe in no fewer than 30 words why you hate Michigan.

Desmond Howard.  Bo Schembechler. Jim Harbaugh.  Tom Brady.  Anthony Thomas (for having to hear Musberger yell A-Train over and over). The fact that they complained to the refs about crowd noise in 1988.


Really Michigan?  Suck it up.

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  1. The premise here is “I am right, You are wrong”. “My team is right, Everybody Else’s team is wrong”. The ONLY POSSIBLE POSITION is to “HATE THE OTHERS”.

    It’s easy to extrapolate with the movie “V For Vendetta”, which is deliberately ambiguous about what “hate” is about, and what is “right”. It’s more like “Whatever my position is, I am right, and I am right in hating “others”…in sports, politics, wine tastes, fashion, etc.”

    I root for only one college football team, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. But it took me a long time to realize I was hating all others, and realizing that competition seemed to mean “hating the ccompetition”.

    Of course, one can actually root for one’s team, and compete with the sole motivation of “excellence”, free from hate. There IS “redemption” in loving “excellence” in and of itself, free from hating “others”! One can admire excellence free from the rot of hate. And this can be extrapolated to politics, religion, fashion, personal tastes, etc. It IS possible…but sports in general have not yet brought people together in harmony. The RESULTS of sports declare that hate is the purpose of competition. But it IS possible to do it better.

    1. Ha, the “H” word. Seems to be the in thing this season. I think it started with USC and all their trouble. Now that they got caught and the NCAA finally had the rocks to put their foot down, those poor USC fans insist that anyone who sides with the NCAA, or disagrees with their views are “haters”. To hell with them and their labelling.
      It couldn’t possiably have anything to do with the fact that they continuely cheated.
      That they couldn’t win with any level of class, they had to gloat, and rub it in everyones faces. That they ruined the entire 2005 season, and undermind the very foundation of the Heismen Throphy and all it stands for.
      Notre Dame has been hated since they first fielded a team. Big deal. It comes with the territory. Nobody has been more hated than us over the years. I see it as a GOOD thing. It means we are winning the right way.
      If a fan is so vunerable, and their precious feelings so easily manipulated, then maybe football isn’t for them.
      Might I suggest Badmittion, bowling, or perhaps jump-roaping.
      I enjoy college football, and in particular, ND football, for the amature competition, for sportsmenship, team work, and school spirit. These seem to becoming more rare, but they certainly are not gone.
      A few hard feelings aren’t go to deter me or my team.
      Go Irish!

  2. Actually, I love Michigan when they are stupid. Hmmm….I was sitting in the Michigan Alum section when the “Rocket” came barrelling into the end zone, not once, but TWICE!! Rest in peace BO!

    It’s about time for another “Rocket event”……………………Go Irish!

  3. I agree that the fans have gotten too old. Heck I’m older than I was in 88 as a student. But TV is so easy, I say watch a quiet game from your living room. If you go to the stadium go to yell and cheer for your team. I get goose bumps remembering the positive energy of the fans during the 88 season. It was there until Holtz left and then you heard a sucking sound like Ross Perot would have described. But the really old are dying off so things will swing soon. Anyone who goes, just stick to your guns. You are supposed to cheer so they can’t throw you out for that. When I go this year I may try to start some cheers myself. That used to spontaneously happen until about 14 years ago, almost like everyone started waiting for NBC cue cards. We need more of the old cheers that just cropped up from within the stands and often engulfed the stadium.

    Here come the Irish !!!

  4. Our fan support in the Stadium has really deteriorated, and if we could track decibel levels to winning %, there would be a correlation. Anyone wearing a hearing aid should turn them off and get into the game and participate.

  5. Unfortunately, there have been several times while in Notre Dame stadium where I’ve been told that I was being “too loud”, and one older spectator told me I needed to sit down. Not vulgar, just being loud for my Irish. Actually had an older gentleman stand up for me to the woman who told me to quiet down. This was during Stanford in ’04. Also was told by two elderly couples during Georgia Tech ’07 I needed to sit down and “lower my voice”. Huh? This is a college football game, and it is examples like this that has made Notre Dame slide down some on the lists of “Most intimidating Places to Play”. Get loud Irish nation, let’s repeat the noise level from ’88!

    Go Irish!

    1. I agree. I saw that video and thought, “what happened to that noise?” Seriously. I want it very, very, very loud. Like, the kind of loudness that hurts. Make ND a tough place to play once again.

  6. someone needs to hit denard in the mouth early. make him think twice about running with his pad level that high. there is nothing more frustrating than playing a quarterback that can run…

    1. Kelly simply needs to re-watch the ND championship game of 88′ verse WV and take a Holtz cue and lay the smackdown on the so-called new Pat White / Major Harris. He was hurt 1st qtr and was never an issue. Just let Manti swing big and shake up 16 just a tad. He be thinking twice about leaving a pocket that is rapidly collapsing….GO IRISH!

  7. Frank:
    Great article. One scary stat that someone mentioned to me yesterday is that the last three seasons for Kelly the starting QB was injured by the 3rd game. I knew of the troubles last year but I was not aware of the two seasons before. I like what I am hearing on Rees but I am real nervous with him in there by the 4th game possibly.

    One guy I would like to see more of is Hughes. Adding his punishing style to the Allen and Wood mix would keep team completely on their toes.

    I will say that Michigan highlights make the UConn game look like a blowout. UConn still put up 343 yards vs 473 by Michigan. UConn missed a very easy FG and fumbled after a long drive. The game should have been a little closer. With that said, I am very nervous about facing Robinson. I almost think you have to have Teo shadow him like a monster back all game.

  8. Funniest part of the comments here is the furor. You guys know you are UM’s #3 rival at best. Ohio State, MSU, then depending on the year either ND, Wisc, or so. I know the history. Got it. But simmer down with the Michigan being loudmouth thing — this coming from Notre Dame, an outdated school clinging to its exclusive channel, that everytime they get a new coach they get a BCS hard-on, then when that coach flames out they conveniently forget they were ready to put his face on TOUCHDOWN Jesus.

    1. Mr. M: I know, you guys really don’t get up for Notre Dame, huh? Did you go to UConn’s football site before your last game?

      Michigan is ND’s third rival unless ND is playing well and then it may be its second rival. But, Michigan isn’t ND’s top rival, either. We just have a pretty long history so we see you as a rival.

      By signing Weis to a long-term deal, I think we earned your last comment that we tend to pump-up new coaches. But I doubt anyone said coaches should appear on Touchdown Jesus.

      We’ll see where we are in a few days. We’re a humble bunch in need of a blowout.

      1. Teo –

        Sorry for my original post. In reading it again, I see it as inflammatory.

        ND/UM is usually each team’s first big game, and of course is a rivalry. I was just letting the UM hate guide my typing.

        Did I go to the UConn site? Yes, but, hell, I’ll be checking UMass’s site next week too.

        Yes, you guys are guilty of pumping up Weis. That being said, I DO believe Kelly will have fruitful run there.

        Anyways, when UM and ND are both up, college football is a better place.

        Best of luck. After today of course.

      1. you couldnt have said it better. ND has class, and thats why through thick and thin we will always shine.

    2. GOOBER!!!

      goober’s got a point though. scUM is ND’s 3rd rival.

      USC & Navy are the top 2.

      At least with them there’s some level of respect.

      scUM’s just the ones we hate the most.

    3. Michigan is not a rival for Notre Dame. Michigan is an opponent. USC is our one and only traditional rival. Miami would be but we don’t play them anymore. When we start playing they will be a rival. Michigan is an opponent.

      Why does every team that plays Notre Dame call it a rivalry? The Purdue, people did it. Penn State fans do it. Does anyone understand what these terms mean?

      I sometimes feel like the sports world has been usurped by out of shape lobotomized dopes named Melvin who think something they heard 5 minutes ago from some other dork is actually out of the Bible.

      Sorry folks Michigan and Notre Dame are not rivals. Notre Dame and USC are rivals. ND and Miami will be rivals again. Heck ND and BC come closer, although not really since BC just needs its own AA chapter. Get over it UofM fans and go hate Ohio St.

  9. I hate Michigan as much as the next guy (especially after just watching that video), but how can Tom Brady be a reason to hate Michigan? The guy pisses excellence and class. Same for Ty Law. Love my Pats as much as my Domers. Desmond Howard? Schembechler? Fine. F- them.

  10. I was a freshman that year so it was my first game. Ted Leo (very well known alt rock musician now) was a freshman too. From the top of the freshman section he was literally our cheer leader all season. I distinctly remember him urging us to yell louder in the face of the refs. He yelled, something to the effect of “Even if they give them half the distance to goal forever, they still won’t score” So we all just yelled louder. I also remember Reggie Ho and Musco temporary stadium lights from that game (since the stadium didn’t have permanent lights).

  11. Logan, you hit the nail on the head. I grew up in Kalamazoo. The Michigan fans are the most arrogant A-holes I have ever had the misfortune of dealing with. I grew up wanting UM to win except when they played ND. Their fan base has changed that. I wish them nothing but loses. I went to a ND vs. UM game in Ann Arbor three years ago and was nearly drawn into three fights outside the stadium by scUM fans. I was respectful of where I was and minding my own business. They went out of their way and approached me. One of the ushers talked trash while taking my ticket. I thought to myself and later thanked ND ushers on the way the handle themselves. While sitting next to a couple of SC fans at the Stadium, I asked them how the were treated troughout the day at ND. They had said great. Someone sitting behind me relayed a conversation he had with two Michigan fans, who told him they were surprised to have been treated so well. If it were reversed they would’ve been spat on be now.
    Go ND beat Michigan….Ann Arbor is a Whore.

  12. I had never seen that clip before, but you’re right. That just makes me f***ing hate Mich even more than before. You dont stop the f***ing clock for CROWD NOISE an get on the PA to tell them
    To be quiet. Suck my balls, B1000000 referee.!

  13. Crowd noise penalty was an old rule, no longer the case. They should show that video clip at the pep rally to inspire some legitimate noise in the sadium this weekend.

  14. Crowd noise? Is that even an effing rule?? That’s the whole point of playing at home! Michigan has 110,000 people in that deathtrap they call a stadium, and they just built press boxes specifically to deflect the noise back down onto the field. If the fans are throwing things onto the field or using banned artificial noisemakers it’s one thing, but if they want to get up and clap their hands and yell as loud as they can (or louder!) then more power to them. Penalty on the crowd, what complete ____.

    1. And don’t forget, ND stadium only held 60,000 and change in 1988. Now the crowd the crowd doesn’t get nearly that loud and it hold 20,000 more people.

    2. For Miami in 88 we threw empty cups around. No one got hurt. Actually it was pretty tame. But man were we loud.

      We also used to throw snow balls at our cheerleaders. Steve Buerlein’s girlfriend and now wife, Miss West Virginia 1984 0r 85 was the main target. Talk about a bunch of Irish wise guys with a chip.

  15. I’ve been to many fine college campus’s over the course of my life.
    Of course ND is by far the finest. I particularly enjoy the University at Christmas time. I remember outside one of the great halls was a Nativity scene of exquisit beauty and detail.
    Some years later I happend to be in Ann Arbor Michigan at Christmas time, and visited the University Of Michigan. I was astounded to find it all comercialized. I couldn’t find a single Nativity scene anywhere on campus.
    I asked a passerby why there were no Nativity Scenes. He said they tried for years to assemble one, but they could never find three wise men and a virgin.

  16. Why i HATE Michigan…i’ve been living in Grand Rapids, MI for the past 10 years and I honestly can say that I haven’t met ONE single scUM fan that has anything good to say about another school. Sports talk radio here is RIDICULOUS, especially right now with Denard “Laces” Robinson…apparently this is the guy that will bring them to the BCS Nat Champ game again! Pretty sure they were saying the same thing about Tate “This is it” Forcier last year. All in all Michigan fans are the biggest bunch of loud mouth know it alls and their only defense or arguement is yelling louder than the next guy.

    Go Irish!

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