Observations on the Notre Dame victory, 10-17!

1-The Irish converted two red zone opportunities for 14 points while we had three red zone opportunities for zero points, one interception and two fumbles, one each in our last two red zone opportunities. The failure to convert the first second half drive into points in the red zone killed us when Zbikowski nailed the pick over Ecker with a poor decision by Henne. Obviously, the failure on the second red zone when Grady fumbled a poor handoff by Henne killed our momentum. Then, Carr's terrible play calls on 3rd and 4th down were simply atrocious; also, later in the game as well as near halftime, Carr demonstrated his terrible ability of clock management and failure to call strategic time-outs. That is simply poor coaching. The last red zone fumble was a good call by the referees, but Henne may have been in on the first sneak. Either way, if you can't get a yard in the red zone when you need to, you don't deserve to win. Kudos for a great Irish defensive stand in all three red zone opportunities. They deserved the win.

2-Our defense improved as the game ensued, but the Irish had 17 first downs and were 4 of 15 in 3rd down conversions. Quinn ended up with 19 for 30 for 140 yards and 2 TDs . We sacked him 3 times, twice by Hall on corner blitzes. We created three second half fumbles, but the Irish lost the ball only once and we didn't convert it into points. Walker netted 104 yards in 26 carries, and the Irish offense netted 244 yards in 74 plays. Walker added 5 catches for 22 yards, and Samardzia caught 4 including the tipped end zone pass by Graham for a TD. McKnight caught the other TD pass over Hall. They did enough to win and kept their poise despite some costly turnovers. The Irish maintained a 2 minute time of possession advantage.

3-Michigan had 15 first downs against a dominant Irish defense determined to stop our running game. The Irish defense did such a good job they knocked out Hart who joined Lentz, Long, Kolodziej, Massaquoi as injured offensive starters not playing and top backups like Arrington are also out on offense. Lentz did return in the second half. We only managed 114 net rushing yards with Grady doing an exemplary job with 79 yards on 18 carries. One time, Grady was in the open, but chose to cut back rather than turn on the "burners" and try to beat Wooden. That may have been a costly mistake because I think Wooden may have been hard pressed to angle tackle the human "bowling ball." The Irish sacked Henne twice in the first half, but knocked down 5 passes at the line of scrimmage. We converted only 5 of 18 in 3rd down, and 2 of 4 in 4th down conversions. Ecker led our receiving corps with 7 catches while Avant had 5. It was nice to see Manningham get his first TD as a Wolverine. Henne was 19 of 44 for 223 yards and one TD to go with his one red zone interception. I think we can safely say that no player deserved to be named as the offensive player of the game. We were forced into 9 punts, and turned the ball over twice; both times in the red zone.

4-Special teams showed each team making their one field goal attempt, and extra points. Both teams did a good job on special teams limiting their opponents to no plays that resulted in points. Breaston managed only 31 yards in 6 punt returns; Zbikowski had one return for 19 yards that later resulted in an Irish field goal. Both teams were guilty of 4 penalties each.

5-The Irish defense won this game, and the Michigan offense lost it. It is as plain as day, and not much else needs to be said on this point. I looked in the record book to see when a more pathetic offensive performance was executed, and besides the win over Purdue in 1995 of 5-0, the last loss in Michigan stadium that I remembered was the shutout by the Spartans in 1967, 0-34.

6-Player personnel notes include Will Johnson starting over Gabe Watson and Rondell Biggs starting over Jeremy Van Alstyne. (Originally, the University of Michigan Athletic Department Player Personnel chart had Marc Bihl starting over Adam Kraus, but they later changed that). Grant Mason led our defense with 16 tackles while Graham had 9, Burgess and Harris had 8 each. Hall had the two sacks to go with 4 tackles, and Engelmon knocked out Rhema McKnight with a nice, legal hit to go with his 6 tackles. Morgan Trent had a nice tackle for loss early in the game with 3 tackles overall. It was nice to see Pierre Woods get two tackles, both for loss. Terrence Taylor also saw action.

7-Hoyt led the Irish defense with 12 tackles including one sack. Their pass rush was fierce, and gave Henne fits all day creating underthrows, overthrows and the one red zone interception along with the five batted down passes. Zbikowski did a great job with 9 tackles, a 27 yard interception, one pass break up and an important 19 yard punt return.

8-We are going to just be another good team in the Big Ten race this year. It looks like Iowa and Ohio State are the teams to beat with Wisconsin, Minnesota, Purdue, Penn State, Michigan State and Northwestern being capable teams. Illinois and Indiana may be capable of some wins, but aren't as good as the others.

Observations on the first half with the Irish, 3-14!

1-Total dominance by the Irish who came better prepared which shows better coaching. The Irish could be much further ahead, and are threatening to make this a "laugher."

2-Notre Dame worked our defense for 14 first downs, and were 2 of 2 in the red zone for 14 points. They were 2 of 6 in 3rd down conversions and were forced to punt 4 times, but gained 188 yards in 44 plays for a 2 minute time of possession advantage. Quinn was 14 of 22 for 97 yards and 2 TDS, one on a tipped pass by Graham and another over our best cornerback, Hall.

3-Michigan managed 5 first downs against a dominant Irish defense determined to stop our running game. They did such a good job they knocked out Hart who joins Lentz, Long, Kolodziej, Massaquoi as injured offensive starters not playing and top backups like Arrington are also out on offense. We only managed 51 net rushing yards after two Irish sacks with Breaston as our leader with 30 on the end around that led to our only score. We converted only 2 of 8 in 3rd down, and our offense didn't put us into one red zone opportunity. We were forced into five punts. Henne is only 8 of 17 for a measly 62 yards.

4-Special teams is all Irish as they haven't allowed Breaston to get started on punt or kickoff returns. Brandon Harrison muffed a punt that may have been downed inside the 10, but resulted in a touchback. Rivas hit a nice field goal, and Ryan has been solid on punts and kickoffs. No turnovers for either team, and both teams have two penalties each in a well-played, clean, but hard-hitting game.

5-Let's face it! We may not have the talent we think we have. We have way too many weaknesses, and not nearly enough strengths; certainly, not much leadership on either side of the ball. I don't feel too confident, and we will be hard pressed to come from behind to win. We have no pash rush, and Quinn has way too much time to set up and throw. Our safeties and linebackers continue to let plays get outside.

6-Player personnel notes include Will Johnson starting over Gabe Watson