Observations on the loss to Notre Dame, 17-35!

1-Second half turns into the anticipated defensive struggle. Michigan comes up scoreless, Notre Dame scores once off another Michigan turnover to seal the win.

2-Notre Dame capitalizes on 6 Michigan turnovers with 21 points while Michigan gained only 3 points off 3 Irish turnovers. Notre Dame fumbled 3 times, but recovered all 3 while Michigan fumbled 7 times, recovered 3, but gave Notre Dame 4 plus 2 second half interceptions. The Irish netted a +4 in turnovers. Overall, Notre Dame gets 4 red zones for 21 points, and Michigan's 4 red zones result in 10 points and 2 turnovers. The two score halftime deficit could not be made up although we had plenty of 2nd and 3rd quarter chances to make it a one score game. If we had, the pressure would have been on the Notre Dame offense, and their defense would have had to play differently in the second half.

3-Steven Threet finished with 16 of 23 for 175 yards and a TD. Mathews had 4 catches for 46 yards, Odoms had 6 catches for 56 yards, Stonum had 3 catches for 35 yards, and Babb had 2 catches for 45 yards.. Offense finished with a little over 4 10 minutes time of possession advantage, but the Irish negated a 10 minute halftime advantage. Michigan finished with 388 yards in net offense, 21 first downs, 5 of 14 in 3rd and 4th down conversions. Bruton had 15 tackles, 2 for loss, a forced fumble along with a red zone interception for Notre Dame. Neither team had a sack, but the Irish dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides.

4-Sam McGuffie had 25 carries for 131 yards, and 4 catches for 47 yards and a TD. We had 159 yards in net rushing.

5-Clausen was 10 of 21 for 147 yards, 2 TDs and 2 interceptions. Tate had 4 catches for 127 yards and a TD. Trent gets burned for a TD by Kamara, Harrison and Trent get burned for the other 60 yards TD reception by Tate. Trent finished with 9 tackles, and two interceptions plus a personal foul. Stevie Brown finished with 9 tackles and a forced fumble. Donovan Warren and John Thompson had 7 tackles each and each forced a fumble. No pressure on Clausen, and the few times we did pressure, he was able to throw the ball away. Hughes had 19 runs for 79 yards and 2 TDs, and Aldridge had 9 runs for 28 yards. Notre Dame only nets 260 yards in total offense with 14 first downs, but the 113 yards in net rushing negated our time of possession advantage from the first half along with our turnovers.

6-Special teams lost this game, and it is hard to understand the stupidity of Rodriquez starting two true Freshmen on kickoff in a rivalry game on the road, blame the three kickoff turnovers on Rodriquez. Coaching stupidity in a rivalry game is inexcusable! For those who insist on defending Rodriquez, please remember that Bo would have rolled over in his grave to see that. Rodriquez didn't make one mistake by starting the two Freshman on kickoff returns, he made the mistake throughout the game and it resulted in three turnovers leading to a two score advantage we could not overcome.

It is better to have Harrison, Trent, Minor or other experienced, sure-handed returners back there. On the bright side, the fake punt was a good play, and worked. Mesko and Lopata did fine. Walk-on, Zac Johnson, partially blocked an Irish punt setting us up with great field position in the 3rd quarter. Our kickoff and punt return teams cost us this game.

7-This loss may have cost us an opportunity for a 6-6 season, and a possible bowl game. Our team was not prepared nor ready for the early push by the Notre Dame special teams, and the 0-21 hole was simply too deep to dig out of in South Bend especially with 7 fumbles and 6 turnovers. The 3rd quarter rain and home field advantage worked perfectly to the Irish's advantage.

8-Not much to offer on the starting line-up or player participation; however, it was nice to see that James Rogers, Martell Webb, Artis Chambers, Zach Johnson, Andre Criswell, Brandon Herron, Jordan Reilly, Jon Conover, Mike Therman, Kevin Koger and Jim Potemba made the 70 man travel team to South Bend. A week off may really help the team at this point in the season.
Observations on the first half with Notre Dame, 17-28!
1—The Irish earn 14 points off 2 Michigan turnovers giving them 2 red zones in the first 3 minutes of the game. Overall, Notre Dame gets 3 red zones for 21 points compared to Michigan’s two red zones for 10 points. The eleven point halftime difference is points off turnover and red zone points.

2—Steven Threet finishes with 13 of 18 for 128 yards and a TD. Mathews has 3 catches for 37 yards, and almost a TD as the review doesn’t overturn the call on the field. Stonum has 3 catches for 35 yards. Offense finishes half with nearly 10 minutes time of possession advantage, 244 yards in net offense, 16 first downs, 4 of 9 in 3rd and 4th down conversions. Bruton has 11 tackles for the Irish.

3—Sam McGuffie has 15 carries for 84 yards, and 3 catches for 43 yards and a TD. We had 116 yards in net rushing.

4—Defense looks horrid!!! Our defensive backfield is a sieve. Clausen was 8 of 13 for 136 yards, 2 TDs and one interception. Tate has 3 catches for 116 yards and a TD. Trent gets burned for a TD by Kamara, Harrison and Trent get burned for another 60 yards TD pass by Tate. Trent finishes the first half with 6 tackles and an interception to go along with a personal foul. Warren has 4 tackles and a forced fumble. Where is the pass rush? No heat on Clausen from our esteemed line. All of our linebackers are getting blocked. Hughes has 4 runs for 25 yards and 2 TDs, and Aldridge has 4 runs for 21 yards. Irish recover 2 fumbles forced by our defense, Thompson and Warren.

5—Special teams put us in a hole, terrible field position the entire first quarter. Fumbles by Cissoko and Shaw to start the game. Mesko converts a fake punt, Loptata a field goal.

6—I can’t believe the stupidity of Rodriquez starting two true Freshmen on kickoff in a rivalry game on the road, blame the two turnovers on Rodriquez and not Shaw or Cissoko. Coaching stupidity in a rivalry game is inexcusable! It is better to have Harrison back there.

7—If we can make this a one score game early in the 3rd quarter, we might have a chance. Defense has to come up big in the 2nd half. Go Blue!!!

Notre Dame Preview

The Fighting Irish will entertain the Michigan Wolverines on September 13, 2008 featuring the two winningest college football programs of all-time; it is the 36th meeting with Michigan holding a 20-14-2 edge. Notre Dame is seeking its 300th victory at Notre Dame stadium. The Irish sport a 7-8-1 records against the Wolverines at home. Neither team is ranked, but at least neither team's record is the same as last year's "0-2 Bowl" that Michigan won 38-0. Michigan has won the last two meetings, and has an edge of 870 wins to Notre Dame's 825; the Wolverines hold a slight edge in winning percentage as well (.744 to .739)

On Offense, Notre Dame starts with Sophomore Jimmy Clausen from California. Clausen threw to 8 different receivers in the opening win over San Diego State inlcuding two TD passes in the final 10 minutes. The Irish had 20 first downs, 342 total yards of offense, and 4 turnovers. Clauson ended with 21 of 34 with 3 TDs and 2 interceptions; he was 4 of 14 in 3rd and 4th down conversions with one of five in red zone chances. At receiver, the Irish are led be Senior Detroiter David Grimes who had 5 receptions for 35 yards and a TD in the first game; Michigan could not find a scholarship to offer him so one can assume he'll be at his best today. Sophomore Golden Tate from Tennessee led the Irish with 6 receptions for 93 yards and a TD in the first game. Highly regarded Frosh Michael Floyd, a former Michigan recruit from Minnesota, is another top threat at wide out; he caught a 22 yarder for a TD in the opener. Sophomore from New Jersey, Duval Kamara, will also see action. At Tight End, Kyle Rudolph from Cincinnati is the first Freshman to start a home opener at Notre Dame stadium; he caught a 5 yarder against San Diego State. Will Yeatman also caught a pass at tight end.

The Irish running attack is led by Florida Sophomore Armando Allen who had 59 net yards on 17 carries, 3 receptions for 18 yards, 2 punt returns for 35 yards and 2 kickoff returns for 46 yards; this gave him a total of 158 all purpose yards in the opener. His backup is former Michigan recruit from Chicago, Sophomore Robert Hughes. Hughes had 54 net yards on 16 carries, and 3 receptions for 32 yards in the opener. The offensive line led by humongous Junior right tackle, Sam Young, did not allow a Clausen sack in the first game. Notre Dame's offensive line has 4 juniors and one senior. The Irish will try to establish a running game so a Michigan key will be for our defensive line and linebackers to not let that happen.

On Defense, The Irish held the Aztecs to 7 drives of 10 yards or less, and 10 of the 15 drives were 20 yards or less. Notre Dame allowed only 71 yards of net rushing in the first game, but allowed 274 yards in passing. Senior Safety from Youngstown, Kyle McCarthy, led the Irish defenders in the first game with 14 tackles. On cover, they are led by Senior Terail Lambert. Senior JACK Linebacker Maurice Crum got the only Irish sack last week. Free Safety Sergio Brown, Crum and Lambert had 6 tackles each against San Diego State. Their line is anchored by Senior End Pat Kuntz from Indianapolis. Senior Justin Brown mans the other end position. Their other linebackers are big and mobile led by Sophomores Brian Smith, Harrison Smith and Kerry Neal. The defense allowed 5 of 17 3rd and 4th down conversions to the Aztecs who were coached by former Iowa quarterback, Chuck Long. The Notre Dame defensive coordinator is former Michigan Captain Corwin Brown. Notre Dame uses a 3-4 scheme., and had 25 tackles from the safety position in the first game. A key to a Michigan win includes being able to run the ball effectively enough to even out time of possession, or perhaps even gain some advantage. Also, we need to convert more 3rd down situations than we have done in the first game.

Michigan should have the edge on special teams, but they will be challenged by Armando Allen and Golden Tate on punts and kickoffs. Junior Eric Maust from Georgia punted 5 times for a 39.8 yard average, and Findlay Sophomore Brandon Walker missed a 47 yard field goal in the first quarter. Junior Ryan Burkhart kicked off 4 times for a mediocre 60.5 yard average. Hopefully, Mesko will contribute to field position advantage, and Lopata will come through when needed. It looks like Cissoko and Odoms will get more reps on returns, and two true Frosh are quite capable of turnovers. Field position advantage and turnover advantage will be a key to a win today.

Even though Threet will start, rain could turn this game into a ground game that Sheridan is better suited for. We will also need to use Carlos Brown and Brandon Minor more than Sam McGuffie and Michael Shaw against a tough Irish defense. Rodriquez and Magee will have to be creative enough to generate a more even time of possession, better 3rd down efficiency and more red zone opportunities than we've shown in the first two games for us to win in South Bend. Our defense and special teams play will have to be very, very solid for us to prevail.

Apparently the weather could be a factor in this game with rain predicted although the wind factor hasn't been anticipated. Both teams are young especially on offense, senior led on defense, never short on talent, but neither are good football teams and will struggle to finish 6-6 and be bowl eligible. The Irish showed in their first game that they can come from behind, and overcome a two turnover deficit to win at home. I do not like the home field advantage nor the Michigan offense thus far; however, I am not going to predict a loss. It should be a defense dominated, low scoring affair.

Michigan 17 Notre Dame 16

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