Monday, September 17, 2007

Michigan 38 Notre Dame 0!

In a game that was reminiscent of last year’s defining victory, could Michigan’s 38-0 win over Notre Dame be the game that defines this season for the Wolverines? Probably not. When this season is set and done, Appalachian State will be the game that remains etched in everybody’s memories for years to come. That being said, maybe this big win over a rival school like Notre Dame will be the game that turns the season around for Michigan. It couldn’t have come at a better time heading into the tough test vs #10 Penn State this Saturday.

Michigan Offense vs Notre Dame Defense

With Chad Henne out of action this week true freshman, Ryan Mallet got his first career start. While Mallet completed less than half of his passes, he did exactly what Coach Carr wanted out of his inexperienced quarterback. Three touchdowns and zero interceptions make us forget about the 46% completion percentage and only 90 yards passing. Mario Manningham, Adrian Arrington, and Greg Matthews each hauled in one touchdown pass. Mallet claims he “never get nervous” and maybe he was telling the truth. While he did make some mistakes none were particularly costly. One early criticism of Mallet has been his inability to put touch on his passes. In today’s press conference, Mike Hart talked about how Chad Henne was the same way (to a lesser extent) when he came in as a freshman. Henne learned that a screen pass and a 20 yard post route need to be thrown differently. With time, Mallet will learn to put more finesse on his shorter passes which will help lessen the number of drops by his receivers.

For the third week in a row, Mike Hart carried the offense on his broad shoulders to the tune of 35 carries for 187 yards. Hart came out of the game with the score 38-0 and about two minutes remaining in the third quarter and still managed to flirt with 200 yards for the second game this year. Also for the second time this year when the field goal/extra point unit was missing a lineman, Hart was the guy who came sprinting in off the bench. Thankfully a delay of game penalty was called before Hart had to block on the line. Hart’s 35 carries propelled him into second place on Michigan’s all time rushing attempts list behind Anthony Thomas. Hart also moved into third place in all time rushing yards at Michigan. With a freshman quarterback at the helm, the Wolverines relied on Mike Hart to follow through on his guarantee and Hart did not disappoint.

Defensively, Notre Dame could not stop the Michigan running attack. As a team, Michigan ran the ball 61 times for 289 yards, wearing down the Fighting Irish defense. Four different backs carried the ball after Hart left the game with Brandon Minor having the most success (17 carries for 82 yards). Notre Dame failed to get pressure on Ryan Mallet throughout the entire game. This lack of pressure allowed Mallet to be comfortable in the pocket and not have to force any throws.

Edge: Michigan

Notre Dame Offense vs Michigan Deffense

Michigan’s defense looked a whole lot like last year’s run-stifling defense against Notre Dame on Saturday. The Wolverine front seven held the Fighting Irish around -50 yards rushing for most of the game. Notre Dame put together a bit of a drive towards the end of the game to push their total up to -6 yards. Michigan sacked Clausen eight times for a loss of 48 yards on the day. Brandon Graham led the way with 3.5 sacks for the Wolverines. Shawn Crable got to Clausen twice, and Tim Jamison and Brandent Englemon (see photo below) added a sack each. Freshman Donovan Warren got the start and made his impact felt early on with a blitz that forced one of the six Irish fumbles. Warren recovered the fumble which led to Michigan’s first touchdown of the day. John Thompson and Stevie Brown both recorded interceptions for the Wolverines. Brown’s interception saved the shutout as Notre Dame was driving into Michigan territory late in the fourth quarter.

We had expected to see some spread looks from Notre Dame, but Quarterback Demetrius Jones surprised everyone by not showing up for bus to Ann Arbor*. By game-time we learned that he’d decided to transfer to Northern Illinois. I’m assuming that Notre Dame coach, Charlie Weis was planning on Jones taking a few snaps as a part of the spread offense that the Irish have run in the past. While his departure may have thrown a wrinkle in the Notre Dame game plan and been a distraction to the team, it does not explain why the Irish offensive line could not protect their quarterback. The final line for Clausen was 11 of 17 for 74 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT, and 8 Sacks. Clausen has now been sacked 14 times in the two full games that he has played.

* Interesting to note, Jones is still listed on Notre Dame's roster on their website, where Johnny Sears has already been removed from Michigan's roster...Kudos to the Michigan football department for being so on top of things

Edge: Michigan

Special Teams:

Jason Gingell started off the Wolverine scoring with his lone field goal of the day, a 39 yarder. Gingell was also a perfect 5-5 on the day for PATs. Zoltan Mesko punted four times for an average of 40 yards per punt. Greg Matthews returned 5 punts with an average of 6 yards per return. Notre Dame punter Geoff Price punted seven times for an average of 43 yards. With the Michigan defense pitching a shutout, their kickers didn’t get an opportunity to put any points on the board. Golden Tate provided the lone Irish spark with his 40 yard return in the first quarter, but that drive ended with the Fighting Irish moving backwards 6 yards thanks to two fumbles and a sack.

Edge: Michigan


Well, the Wolverines didn’t have to worry about any boos reining down on the field with the way the game went from the opening Notre Dame drive. Michigan fans got their first opportunity to cheer on their team since last season and they sure took advantage of it. The fans were into the game the entire way and even stopped doing the wave in the middle of the slow go around to applaud Mario Manningham’s touchdown in the third quarter to make the score 38-0. From the time the first snap sailed over Clausen’s head and all the way down the one yard line, Notre Dame seemed defeated. They couldn’t move the ball offensively and they couldn’t stop Mike Hart and the Wolverines defensively.

Edge: Michigan

Notable Stats:

First Downs: Michigan – 25 Notre Dame – 10

Sacks-yds: Michigan – 8/48 Notre Dame – 0/0

Rushing yds: Michigan – 289 Notre Dame – -6

Third Downs: Michigan – 11/17 Notre Dame – 4/13

Ryan Mallet – 7/15; 90 yards; 3 TD; 0 INT; 0 sacks

Mike Hart – 35 carries; 187 yards; 2 TD (In less than 3 quarters of play)

Brandon Graham – 4 tackles; 3.5 sacks; 1 forced fumble

Shawn Crable – 5 tackles; 4 tackles for a loss; 2 sacks

Jimmy Clausen – 11/17; 0 TD; 74 yards; 1 INT; 8 sacks

Jimmy Clausen – 9 carries; -65 yards; 2 fumbles

Press Conference Tidbits:

From the Monday, 9/17 press conference:

· Johnny Sears who did not play against Notre Dame and was not present at the game has been dismissed from the team. Lloyd Carr declined to comment further on this development, other than to confirm that Sears is no longer on the team.

· Junior Hemmingway missed Saturday’s game due to an unspecified injury. He is expected to be available against Penn State.

· Brian Wright suffered a minor injury against Notre Dame. He is also expected to play on Saturday

· While Chad Henne is not listed on the depth chart, Lloyd Carr labeled his injury status “Day-to-Day.” Carr confirmed that Henne’s injury is a sprain and said Henne’s status would depend on how he felt throughout the week.

· Russell Crowe flew in from Australia to deliver the pre-game motivational speech to the Wolverines.

· Most of the players on hand declined to disclose any of the words of wisdom that Crowe shared with the team before the game. Mike Hart said that Crowe basically told the team that he didn’t fly all the way from Australia to watch them lose.

Final Analysis:

So is who are the real Michigan Wolverines? Is it the team that started 0-2 losing to Oregon and Division 1-AA Appalachian State? Or is it the team we saw on Saturday destroy Notre Dame 38-0? I believe that it’s a combination. Notre Dame is obviously not a very good team, so the 38-0 victory needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Penn State is going to be a much tougher team and that game will be a real indicator of how the rest of this season will go for the Wolverines. That being said, let’s enjoy victory number one, especially since it came via a thorough thrashing of Notre Dame.

Player of the Game:

Mike Hart – 35 attempts; 187 yards; 2 TD

No comments: