Michigan: The 3 Keys to Victory

After a disappointing loss to USF, Notre Dame coaches, players and fans turn their attention towards rival Michigan, and the first-ever night game in Big House history. Notre Dame must continue to build and improve upon its promising second-half performance in order to be victorious.

michael floyd returning
Michael Floyd and the Irish hope to rebound in week 2 against Michigan at the Big House.

Eliminate Mental Errors

In order to beat Michigan, Notre Dame cannot afford to dig themselves into a hole by committing mindless errors. Red Zone turnovers must be eliminated, especially ones like Floyd’s hold or Ruffer’s missed field goal. Fortunately, the players who committed these errors are experienced – seniors, 5th year seniors and captains. Harrison Smith, Ethan Johnson, David Ruffer and Floyd have shown throughout their careers that they are indeed smart, disciplined team leaders, so hopefully these errors were a first-game fluke.

Depth Behind Floyd

Despite Floyd’s monster 12 catch, 154 yards, 2 TD game, the receiving corps could not have looked much worse. Theo Riddick looked lost, dropping multiple catches and fumbling punt returns. After a solid freshman campaign, TJ Jones also struggled. Despite decent numbers (9.7 yd/catch), he dropped a catchable touchdown throw, and caused an interception by not looking for Rees’s throw. If these players continue to struggle, look for Roby Toma to take over the slot, and freshmen Davarias Daniels to get his shot at playing time. A bright spot among the receivers was TE Tyler Eifert, who after a 1 catch for 4 yd first half, emerged with the substitution of Rees, and ended up with 93 yards receiving, including the critical 3 and 10 catch. Michigan’s secondary proved last year that it might be one of the nations worst, so in order for Notre Dame to win, receivers must step up and expose this weakness.

Contain Denard Robinson

No Irish fan needs a reminder of what Robinson did to Notre Dame last year, obliterating the defense by air and by ground. Luckily for Notre Dame, with the arrival of new head coach Brady Hoke, a more traditional offense also arrived. Last week against Western Michigan, Robinson only had 98 yards passing and 46 yards running in three quarters. These measly stats show that Robinson has yet to fully adjust to the new offense, and must adjust fast, because Notre Dame’s defense is better than Western Michigan’s. Notre Dame showed last year verse Army, and against USF, that they have improved in stopping option offenses and running quarterbacks. Look for Dan Fox to make an impact in this game because of his speed, a trait that put him ahead of Carlos Calabrese on the depth chart.


I look for Notre Dame to rebound, and not beat themselves the way they did against USF. Also, Tommy Rees has a unique habit of excelling in the most prestigious of college football stadiums, so I look to him to lead the Irish to victory in the first-ever night game in The Big House.

ND 34 – Michigan 24

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  1. Dan Fox better play better he was out of postion and looked lost last week. Still like Carlo Calabrese on first and second down maybe see a little more Danny Spond and Steven Filer in passing situations.

  2. Daniels of USF is a better QB than Denard Robinson?? Wow! Rewatch last year’s Mich game and last week’s USF game, then say that again.

  3. Big East officials — I hope not. I’d rather have SEC or Big 12. they hate the Big Ten. Us too but only equally. Just my perception.

    Passing needs to be there. The receievers are the issue, not the QB. Floyd and Eifert will provide yards after catch, but the other receivers need to show themselves. We need the field to open up so that one of our so called speed demons can out run a defense all the way to the end zone.

    If we don’t get those 30 yard and longer touchdown passes, then the running game needs to be better inside the redzone. I am not a big fan of being required to make your redzone scores via the pass. Even with the spread as your strategy, I’d rather see more runs once you get inside the 20. I really hope we see a run set inside the redzone featuring some power runs mixed with some misdirection, counters, and slashes.

    Our defense won’t let us down if the offense does it’s job. If we put up more than 25 points we’ll control enough clock to limit Michigan’s chances. FYI, USF is a better passing team than Michigan and McDaniels is a better QB than Robinson.

    ND needs to strike early, ignore the crowd, and avoid turnovers.

    1. Scoring early will be key. The emotion Mich will have in the first 5 minutes of the game will be unbelievable. Survive the initial hornets nest and we are good to go.

  4. I just hope the game is decided on the field, by the players.
    Some of the worst calls and officiating seem to happen in this game, at this stadium, agianst us.
    But I could swear that I read somewhere that Big East officials were going to work this game.
    Can anyone confirm this?

    1. Yes, I think that is right. There were some articles on another site that indicated that Big East refs are working this night game in Ann Arbor.

      It’s the first time that Michigan agreed to this.

      1. “First time Michigan agreed to this”??? Really?

        You mean that ever since they started playing home games, whatever non Big Ten team that might play at Michigan stadium never got to bring their own officials?

        Any visiting team that plays at ND stadium always gets bring their own officials.

        I guess 110k screaming fans wasn’t enought of a home field advantage for them.

  5. Much like the Utah game last year I feel this is a defining moment game for BK and the Irish team of 2011. Win and everything is still in front of you. Lose and the Irish are irrelevant again and we wait until next year to see what we can do.

  6. We need to own Robinson all day long. If we do that and we take care of the ball, we’ll win in Ann Arbor.

    But if we let Robinson get outside and run against us, it will open up the passing game for them and we’ll be hurting. We’ve got to own him — force him to make mistakes and take advantage of the mistakes when he makes them.

    Oh, and no freaking face-mask penalties. I’m not terrified of INTs and fumbles this week. I imagine Coach Kelly was all over our guys to get them to keep control of the football and I think we’ll do this. Robinson, though, worries me.


    1. ND doesn’t need to own Robinson, they just need to contain him.

      Limit him to 5 ypc and they’ll become forced to rely on his arm to win.

  7. “Harrison Smith … have shown throughout their careers that they are indeed smart, disciplined team leaders, so hopefully these errors were a first-game fluke.”

    Really? Smith was an unadulterated trainwreck of a player until the latter half of 2010. He was dumb as a post on the field. Granted, he’s improved ALOT and is hitting his stride after having switched positions. I give him major credit for where he is now.

    Other than that, this is a solid article. GO IRISH!

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