Notre Dame 24, Michigan 17

Tag: Notre Dame

2Sep 2018
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Notre Dame 24, Michigan 17

Shea Patterson (image via Maize ‘n’ Brew)

Same old, same old. From the very first offensive series, I started thinking, “Nothing has changed.” Michigan’s offense didn’t evolve over the off-season with a new offensive line coach, a new wide receivers coach, and a new quarterback. The formations are the same. The alignments are the same. The personnel is mostly the same. The lack of tempo is the same. The confusion and lack of urgency late in games is the same.

Hit the jump for a bunch of other depressing takeaways.

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31Aug 2018
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Preview: Michigan at Notre Dame


Michigan’s offensive line and running back situation will remain largely the same from last season. The biggest changes will come at left tackle, where Jon Runyan, Jr. has taken charge, and center, where Cesar Ruiz will be a “new” starter after starting six games at right guard in 2017. The offensive line was #20 in Adjusted Line Yards and #7 in Power Success Rate. The top two running backs also return: Karan Higdon and Chris Evans averaged 6.1 and 5.1 yards/carry last year, and Higdon was six yards shy of hitting 1,000 yards for the season. Michigan does lose two experienced fullbacks, so the usage of sophomore Ben Mason, fifth year senior Jared Wangler, and/or freshman Ben Van Sumeren could be interesting to watch. Michigan will also have a mobile quarterback in Shea Patterson, who had 136 yards rushing and 1 touchdown (but lost 152 yards in sacks). Notre Dame inside linebacker Te’von Coney (6’1″, 240 lbs.) led the team last year in tackles (116), and weakside linebacker Drue Tranquill (6’2″, 231) was third with 85. Those are the top two returning tacklers, and they also led the team with 12.5 and 10.5 tackles for loss, respectively. Defensive tackle Jerry Tillery (6’7″, 305) is the most dangerous defensive lineman and had 56 tackles with 9 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks in 2017. The team was 51st in rushing defense (154 yards allowed/game), but they were tied with Alabama for #7 in fewest rushing touchdowns allowed (9).
Advantage: Michigan

Hit the jump for the rest of the preview.

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18May 2017
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A Look Back: 2006 vs. Notre Dame

(image via: my text message screenshots)

Full disclosure:  My girlfriend went to Notre Dame.

In honor of Notre Dame’s final paycheck to Charlie Weis going out this month, I decided to look back at one of the most anticipated (non-nighttime) matchups in the recent history of the rivalry.

2006:  #11 Michigan at #2 Notre Dame.

Link to game (thanks to WolverineHistorian)

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8Sep 2014
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Coaching Thoughts: Post-Notre Dame

I find myself lacking the time to do “snapshot” breakdowns of particular plays, so while I would like to go into greater detail, please bear with me as I simply write about some of the technical breakdowns I saw in Saturday night’s game. To point out these plays, I’m using the Notre Dame highlight video below:

Cover zero: The touchdown pass with 3:58 left before halftime was a result of a man-beater route combination called by Notre Dame, plus a physically outmatched slot corner in Delonte Hollowell. Hollowell correctly had inside leverage on the quick out, but he was aligned a little far off for my liking and did not have the makeup speed to undercut the route or challenge the catch. On the goal line, there’s no need to play off the receiver. If the opponent tries to throw over the top, they have to complete the pass in front of the end line, which is tough unless you’ve got a good jump ball guy.

Seam routes: On the interception thrown with 12:34 remaining in the third quarter, it looks like Gardner simply didn’t see safety Max Redfield in the deep middle. Gardner likely felt a little rushed because Notre Dame was getting a bit of a push. All the routes were covered, so I would like to see Gardner tuck the ball and run or throw it away. If he’s going to make that throw to Khalid Hill, he needs to put some air under it with Hill being the only guy who could catch it. Hill would have had a chance to make the reception if it turned into a jump ball because Redfield was not in great position to defend a deep ball, but even then, a safety vs. a mediocre tight end is probably going to go the defense’s way.

Free safety play: On the botched cover zero play involving Hollowell (above), blitzing safety Jeremy Clark gets chopped to the ground by running back Tarean Folston. Part of blitz technique is using your hands to stay on your feet when someone goes for a cut block, but Clark’s eyes were in the backfield and he was caught completely off guard. If he had stayed on his feet, he would have been in Golson’s face and potentially altering the throw. On the tunnel screen touchdown with 3:02 remaining in the third, it’s well executed by Notre Dame. The guy who should be saving that play is deep safety Jeremy Clark. He reacted by trying to get over the top of the screen, but those plays are designed to come back inside. Because of his overpursuit, Clark took a bad angle. He should have been coming downhill, right up the tunnel. That would have given other defenders more of a chance to converge even if he didn’t make the tackle. It turned out to be a pretty easy catch-and-run score. That’s the inexperience of a redshirt sophomore safety project.

Scramble drill: Late in the third quarter, Devin Gardner dropped back to pass. With a decent pocket forming and several downfield routes – plus a well covered outlet option in De’Veon Smith – Gardner hung in the pocket looking for a receiver. At the 1:00 mark, he began to scramble – first to the right, then back, then to the left, and finally forward across the line of scrimmage. In the four seconds before he crossed the line of scrimmage, not one receiver re-entered the screen to save his quarterback. When a quarterback is scrambling, deep receivers are supposed to work their way short, and short receivers are supposed to work deeper. Instead, Gardner scrambled, spun, got blindsided, and ultimately fumbled.

Amara Darboh’s route running: Darboh is big and strong, and he has decent speed. What Darboh lacks is precision in his route running. When Michigan got the ball back after Gardner’s aforementioned fumble, the first play involved what looks like a 7-yard hitch route. Darboh does not provided the illusion of running deep, either with his footwork or his head. He simply hits 7 yards, whips his head around, and drifts. A receiver is supposed to come back down the chute to the ball, which prevents the corner from jumping the route. Sure enough, cornerback Cody Riggs jumps the route and beats Darboh to the spot. The pass may have been broken up anyway, but a good route there probably has Darboh catching the ball and getting tackled immediately for a decent 7-yard gain.

Pass protection: At roughly 2:44 left in the fourth quarterback, Notre Dame runs a six-man pressure with a seventh man playing a hug technique (blitz if the running back stays home) on running back Justice Hayes. It’s a man blocking scheme, and everyone is accounted for except the hugger. Right tackle Ben Braden gets off balance and is caught off guard by an inside pass rush. Meanwhile, left guard Erik Magnuson’s second step is that of a left tackle who is trying to protect the width of the pocket, instead of a step by a guard trying to protect the depth of the pocket. He opens up his left shoulder, which allows the defensive tackle to that side to get upfield. Despite Jehu Chesson coming open on a short crossing route, Gardner does not have time to throw the ball before getting hit by Braden and Magnuson’s men.

8Sep 2014
Uncategorized 22 comments

Michigan vs. Notre Dame Awards

Devin Funchess

Let’s see more of this guy on offense . . . Khalid Hill. Hill has been a pleasant surprise this year, and while he hasn’t been a huge contributor, he made 1 catch for 9 yards where he broke a tackle, and he also had a crushing block in the open field. Hill seemed like a smooth pass catcher coming out of high school, but he looks bigger and is playing more physically than I think was expected in his redshirt freshman year. I think Michigan may have found a pretty good sleeper in this one.

Let’s see less of this guy on offense . . . Derrick Green. If the line isn’t opening holes, then I think De’Veon Smith should be getting more carries. Green actually ran harder than I thought he did last week, but he made one confusingly bad cutback when he should have gone to the front side, and he just doesn’t have the same power as Smith. I still think Green is the more explosive player, but this line doesn’t create enough room for that to matter much.

Let’s see more of this guy on defense . . . Jabrill Peppers. Peppers rolled his ankle against Appalachian State, so he wasn’t able to play against Notre Dame. I think that may have had a huge effect on this game. Peppers is a playmaker with his speed and hitting ability, and it seemed like Notre Dame was picking on replacement Delonte Hollowell. I think Hollowell is a decent backup, a solid tackler, and someone you can throw in there in dime packages or for short stretches. But if you’re counting on him to be nearly a full-time guy as your nickel corner, that’s going to be an issue. Hopefully Peppers gets healthy soon.

Let’s see less of this guy on defense . . . Channing Stribling. Once again I’m addressing the cornerback position, but I just don’t think Stribling has “it” yet. He doesn’t have great recovery speed, he’s not particularly physical, and he just doesn’t make any plays. He let Corey Robinson beat him on a skinny post for a 22-yard gain, and Stribling had a bead on a quick screen but proceeded to biff the tackle. The lack of healthy corners (Peppers and Raymon Taylor were both injured) forced Stribling into the game, but Michigan just needs to get healthy at the corner position.

Play of the game . . . why must I choose? There’s almost nothing to pick. Michigan didn’t score or create any turnovers. The only sack they notched was a snap over the quarterback’s head. I guess I’ll have to go with Devin Funchess’s 33-yard catch over top of cornerback Cody Riggs’s head down the right sideline. Whoopee.

MVP of the game . . . Devin Funchess and Jake Ryan. I thought both players had good games. Funchess (9 catches, 107 yards) was every bit the mismatch problem we expected, and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier moved him around to prevent the defense from keying on him. I also liked that he made an attempt to re-enter the game after getting hurt. Ryan made 11 tackles and was flying all over the place to stop the run. I could have done without his 15-yard penalty for hitting Everett Golson late, but the game was out of hand by then, anyway.