Tate Forcier is better than you. At throwing. At running. At breaking Darius Fleming’s legs. At keeping cool under pressure. At punting. He’s better than you at everything except, perhaps, brushing his teeth.
I predicted a 31-27 victory for Notre Dame. I was wrong and I’m glad. But I was fully prepared for a defeat before the game, and I was even pretty prepared when Notre Dame went ahead 34-31 with a few minutes left in the game, at least compared to most Michigan fans. But then Charlie Weis got all cocky and was like, “I’m going to totally surprise everyone and throw the ball deep.” Except Donovan Warren is smarter than Weis (which sucks for Notre Dame) and broke up the pass.
Forcier was 23/33 for 240 yards, two TDs, and an interception to go along with 70 rushing yards and another TD on the ground. He was the author of several of the game’s most electrifying plays, including the scrambling, game-winning TD pass to Greg Mathews. But the most exciting play for Michigan was when Forcier, on a pass play against a Cover Zero defense, rolled right, planted his right foot in front of Notre Dame linebacker Darius Fleming, and watched Fleming fall down before sprinting 31 yards past the defense for a touchdown. Denard Robinson might be the “Lightning” bolt of the two quarterbacks, but ABC analyst Matt Millen deemed Forcier a “stud bolt,” which . . . hey, despite its homoeroticism, I’ll take it.
Can we please, please, PUH-LEEZE see more Brandon Minor on offense? I’ve been saying this since before the 2008 season – Minor is the best running back on the team. Not Carlos Brown. Not Sam McGuffie when he was still here. The coaches may have started Brown because Brown had been healthy and started last week, but I believe Minor only had three or four carries in the first half. And on those three or four carries, he had 26 yards. Forcier was keeping the ball too much on the read option and Rodriguez was calling too many pass plays. Minor needs the ball. He had 16 carries total for 106 yards (6.6 yards per carry) and one TD. Brown showed good hands on two catches, but Minor has the ability to outrun people and break tackles, something Brown struggles with. Minor also seems to have a better handle on when to cut upfield on those zone stretch plays.
Offensive game ball goes to . . . Forcier (2) for the second week in a row. Mathews had the game-winning TD, Darryl Stonum had a 94-yard kickoff return TD, Minor had 106 yards and a TD. But Forcier played well throughout the game and went 6-for-7 on the game-winning drive, not to mention his long run for a TD.
Defensive game ball goes to . . . Steve Brown (2), who seems to have found a home at the SAM linebacker spot. He finished the game with 6 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and a forced fumble. And despite the fact that Notre Dame running back Armando Allen had 139 yards, Brown held up well at the point of attack and forced Allen to cut some outside runs up the field. Unfortunately, Michigan’s inside linebackers – especially Obi Ezeh – had a poor tackling day.
Let’s see less of this guy on offense . . . Carlos Brown (1). Brown has big-play potential and probably catches the ball better than Brandon Minor, but he’s not as good of a runner. Brown had 4 carries for -3 yards. Put him in the slot or in two-back sets, but Minor should be in the backfield most of the time.
Let’s see less of this guy on defense . . . Boubacar Cissoko (1). This one has many levels. First of all, Cissoko allowed two touchdowns on Saturday, both against Golden Tate. On the first, Tate ran a hitch near the goal-line and Cissoko just gave him too much of a cushion. On the second, Tate ran a hitch on the right sideline and Cissoko missed the tackle. Secondly, next week Michigan plays Eastern Michigan, so hopefully Cissoko can get some rest for his aching shoulder. Third, Cissoko had way too much TV time for a guy who was getting burned left and right. He crossed his arms in denial at one point, and after a Michael Floyd catch and tackle along the left sideline, Cissoko pushed Floyd back down to the ground as Floyd tried to get up. It was a classless play that deserved a 15-yard penalty.
As far as my predictions went for the game . . . they were so-so.
Clausen will throw for over 300 yards.
He threw for 339. Michigan couldn’t muster a pass rush against Notre Dame’s maximum protection schemes, and Michael Floyd is better than anyone we have at cornerback.
Golden Tate and Michael Floyd will each have a 40+ yard catch.
Neither did. Floyd had a 37-yarder and Tate’s long was 27. Tate dropped at least one pass that would have gone for 40+ yards, so they were close.
Brandon Graham will record at least two sacks.
Again, the maximum protection pass blocking schemes worked pretty well for Notre Dame. They didn’t trust their offensive line against the likes of Graham and Mike Martin, which was probably smart. Nobody from Michigan recorded a sack.
Either Brandon Minor or Carlos Brown will go over 100 yards rushing.
Minor ended with 106.
Tate Forcier will throw his first collegiate interception.
Safety Kyle McCarthy picked off Forcier in the fourth quarter when Greg Mathews ran a bad route.
Here’s the helpful box score from Mgoblue.com.
Picture via TheWolverine.com.