Tuesday, September 11, 2007

MICHIGAN vs. Notre Dame

Let me start this review by giving you a few facts. Michigan has given up 147 points in their past four games. Michigan is on a 4 game losing streak for the first time since 1967. Michigan is 0-2 at home for the first time since 1958. Michigan and Notre Dame are 0-2 in the same season for the first time ever. If Michigan loses Saturday they will be 0-3 for the first time since 1937.

This season has certainly not lived up to the pre-season hype that surrounded the program a mere month ago. The offense has been the most disappointing, with the amount of experienced talent returning many though the Michigan offense would make its way through opposing defenses like a hot knife through butter. Not to be outdone the defense has taken the form of a sieve and has shown that they can't stop anything allowing over 600 yards against Oregon.

So it is 0-2 Michigan vs 0-2 Notre Dame, hey someone has to win, why not us?

Michigan Offense vs Notre Dame Defense

Last week the Michigan offense moved the the ball with ease in the first half accumulating over 300 yards. The only problem is that all those yards only equaled 7 points on the scoreboard. In both games the offense has been able to move, they just can't seem to finish and the worst part is that they are doing it to themselves. Interceptions, fumbles, missed field goals, penalties, and sacks have all taken points off the board for Big Blue. The thing is, if you thought the offense was bad with Henne at the helm it is about to get much worse with Mallett taking over this week. Mallett showed one thing to me Saturday, that he has a rocket launcher attached to his shoulder. Many times he would fire to his man and it would fly through the hands of his receivers, he has to learn to put touch on his throws. Mallett was the typical young freshmen quarterback Saturday, locking on to one receiver, and forcing the ball into double and triple coverage. I believe that Mallett will be better this Saturday because he will be taking all the snaps in practice and playing with the first team, but expect a shortened play book, which now might be at most, one page in length.

Which brings us to Mike Hart. With Henne going down Hart will have to carry an heavier role to bail out his young QB. Also add to the fact that Mike shot his mouth off after the Oregon game guaranteeing a victory over the Irish, I look for Mike to have a monster of a day Saturday. With a young QB the receivers are going to have to step up their game. Arrington, Mann
ingham, and Matthews will all have to run their routes crisper, and have no drops if Michigan is going to move the football.

The Notre Dame defense hasn't been stopping anyone. They surrendered 33 points at home against an average Georgia Tech team, and then gave up 31 points at Penn State. This is also pretty much the same defense that Michigan torched for 47 points last year in South Bend, but remember, no Chad Henne to hit Mario on those double move routes he killed the Irish with all afternoon last year. This Notre dame unit may not be talented, but they do have experience and that could make the difference going against a young QB, if I were the Irish I would blitz Mallett every single down and make him beat me. In the end Carr and DeBord will not expose Mallett and will call for short 5-10 yard routes by their wide receivers with an occasional play action pass deep to Mario. However, this will be the Mike Hart show look for him to get nearly 30 carries and near that 200 yard mark.

Edge: Slight Edge Michigan.

Michigan Defense vs. Notre Dame Offense

This could be described as the unmovable object (Notre Dame's offense) vs the unstoppable force (the Michigan Defense). If you thought Michigan's offense has been bad Notre Dame's has been down right woeful. The offense has yet to score a touchdown, they have currently run for a total of -4 yards and Jimmy Clausen is 21 of 38 for 178 yards, zero TD's and one interception. Add to that the fact that the offensive line cannot run block, they also can't pass pr
otect as Clausen was under pressure the entire night at Penn State. Now, this would normally mean that the opposing defense has the edge in this match up but this is the Michigan defense we are talking about who has been able to get zero pressure from their front four, has not been able to stop a running back, and has made every quarterback they have gone up against this year look like a Heisman Trophy candidate.

Now I do not think this defense is as bad as it has looked these past two games. Michigan has gone up against two teams who run on offense, and run it very well, that Michigan has not been able to stop. Ever. You can go back to Stewart coming into Michigan Stadium with Colorado and running over the Michigan defense. The Hail Marry pass gets all the attention but what gets forgotten is on the previous play Stewart ran for a first down on 4th and about 20. After that you can look at McNabb who ran over UM, along with Jeff Smoker, and of course Troy Smith. Luckily for UM Clausen if not known for his escapability. Like Notre Dame's defense, Michigan should blitz Clausen on every single down and force Clausen into making mistakes and giving Mallet a short field to work with. Notre Dame would be smart to spread Michigan out goin
g 4 or 5 wide and force Michigan into a dime defense where they could pick on any number of Michigan CB's. In the end though I gotta believe that Michigan will respond facing a somewhat conventional offense.

Edge: Slight Edge Michigan.

Michigan Special Teams vs Notre Dame Special Teams

Jason Gingell has looked good...on extra points, field goals on the other hand have been an adventure. How many of you wanted Rivas gone again? First the protection was bad against App State, then Gingell couldn't make a kick with the protection against the Ducks. Mesko has looked good...when he isn't trying to pin someone inside the 20 yard line. Notre Dame's kicker on the other hand leads the team in points with 7! Brandon Walker is 2 for 2 in field goals and 1-1 in extra points. Michigan would be good to give Wright a chance to kick field goals, whats the worst that could happen? You don't score 3 points, not like we haven't seen that this year. Michigan's coverage has been awful has it normally is, and with more kick returns because of kicking from the 30 that is not good news. On the flip side Michigan's return game isn't anything to talk about either. Sears, Minor, Brown, and Hemingway have all field punts and kick offs with zero success, well, if they hang on to the ball we consider that a success.

Edge: Notre Dame


With a 3:30 start Michigan and Notre Dame fans will have plenty of time to console each other prior to kickoff. I would say Michigan has home field advantage, but do they really? The Big House is 0-2 this year and Notre Dame is coming off a night white out game at Penn State, which I attended last year and it is an unbelievable atmosphere, Notre Dame and Clausen won't be fazed coming into Michigan Stadium after that. The mood will also favor Notre Dame as I can only imagine the Boos that are ready to rain down from the stands after ANY Michigan mistake, the home crowd could turn on the Wolverines in a heartbeat.

Edge: Notre Dame


The Battle of the Super Recruit Quarterbacks starts one year before anyone
thought it would with Mallett starting for the injured Henne. This could end up being one of the most boring Michigan/Notre Dame games of all time. Both offenses will struggle to move the ball with young quarterbacks and both defenses should blitz all day long, it might come down to who doesn't make the big mistake and takes care of the football. i don't believe this Michigan team is as bad as they have shown. It is obvious they are no where near the team everyone thought they were but I can't see them staying this pathetic the entire year.

Score: Michigan 17. Notre Dame 7

Player of the Game: Mike Hart 30 carries, 210 yards, 2 TDs

-Tony Bolton, WCBN Sports Director.

Remember that you can listen to the game LIVE on our sports stream at http://www.wcbn.org/listen.html

Also listen to us this Friday Night as we break down the game even further!!


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