Notre Dame handled last year's Conference USA champs, Rice, with relative ease last Saturday, averaging nine yards per play in a 48-17 win. Everett Golson returned from last season's suspension with a huge performance. What does it mean for this weekend's game? Read on to learn about the ND offense.
Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? Spread-to-pass. This is Brian Kelly's offense, after all. Thanks to Seth, this section now also covers personnel in a handy diagram. Returning starters are highlighted in their team color, the player's bubble is smaller if he hasn't been on the team for three years, and a player's name is in bold if the returning starter at that position is available—in this case, RB Cam McDaniel is in bold because Amir Carlisle, who split starts with McDaniel and a couple other backs in 2013, has moved to the slot (click to embiggen):
As you can see, the Irish have an experienced line, but their skill position players are relatively green, especially when considering Golson wasn't on the team last year.
Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? The Irish ran mostly inside and outside zone, with a little bit of power tossed in to keep the defense off balance. They were at their best running behind the excellent RG/C combo of Christian Lombard and Nick Martin.
Hurry it up or grind it out? Notre Dame plays at a relatively slow pace, especially for a spread; they had an adjusted pace last year of 36.6% compared to the national average, per Bill Connelly. That number is slightly deceiving, as ND usually gets to the line with plenty of time on the play clock, then makes pre-snap adjustments from their formation; they can pick up the pace when it's necessary.
Quarterback Dilithium Level (Scale: 1 [Navarre] to 10 [Denard]): I'll give Everett Golson a solid eight on this scale. He did a stellar job of feeling and avoiding pressure in the pocket, he knew when to bail out and when to just step up, and he scored three touchdowns in the red zone, two on plays that weren't designed to be QB runs. Here's the designed run, a draw they ran a few times successfully:
Golson finished with 58 yards on 11 carries with sacks removed, and a few of those carries were marginal gains when pressure flushed him out of the pocket. Michigan is going to have to be very disciplined when they rush the passer or Golson will make some big plays on his own.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
"All right, here we go. It's a big one. This has always been a big game. I probably know this game better than most people, having been on both sides of it. This is a rivalry game. This is a big game. We're looking forward to it."
Does it mean more to you since you've been on both sides of it?
"Every game means a lot to me. Any time you go out on the field and represent the University of Michigan is big. I've always looked at this. I think everybody looks at this. There are some big games, and Michigan-Notre Dame in my eyes has always been a big rivalry game."
In what ways will this be a litmus test for this defense?
"Well, you're playing against a very talented opponent. Notre Dame has a lot of talent. They're a very good football team. Now it's the next step. In the second game, did you correct the mistakes? Do you play harder or do you improve? Every time you're a young team, you must improve every game. If you don't, then you're taking a step back. We're looking forward to improving."
News bullets and other important items:
- Desmond Morgan will play on Saturday and will start.
- Richard Ash and Stephen Hopkins are likely to play.
- Brandon Moore and Brennen Beyer are out.
“Thank you for showing up. I think we had a very good practice yesterday. The tempo was good. The learning was good. I think we played fast and we competed well against each other, so that’s a good sign. I think we’re excited, obviously, to play in a great venue and play great rivalry game. It started in 1887 and [we’ll] continue it and go from there.”
Does the intensity ebb and flow with the varying strength of opponents over the past few weeks or is it consistent?
“You’d like to have it consistent. I can’t say it’s always been consistent, but you’d like the consistency be there every week so you can improve.”
Has it been consistent?
“It’s been decent. I think it was very -- a little more intense, but we’ve been talking about that a lot. The intensity and your focus and your concentration is at a higher level. Your speed of playing the game’s at a higher level. So I think that part of it has been good.”
“Well obviously you know this is a big week, and it’s a great, great football game and it’s going to be a great test for our defense, and just starting out I can tell you our guys are really excited. We as coaches are really excited, so we are looking forward to playing this game.”
How impressed were you with how Notre Dame played against Michigan State?
“Very impressed. They’re a very good football tam. They can run the football. The quarterback really impressed me with his ability to throw the football as well as he puts a lot of pressure on you when he takes off scrambling, and he can run. They’ve got some fast running backs. They’ve got a pretty good thing going.”
Is preparation for them different this year compared with last year?
“Uh, you know I don’t know if it’s any different prep. They’ve changed a little bit but they’re still Notre Dame. They want to run the football and they want you to make mistakes so they can hopefully get a shot on you and try to test your coverage with their speed and take shots down field. So I think it’s a lot alike. ”
Lovable coaches all around in this one
Since the Fighting Dukakises don't pose a serious threat this week, I decided (okay, Brian decided) that it would be a good idea to take a look ahead with this week's film study. Notre Dame and Purdue faced off last weekend in South Bend, giving us a look at a pair of future opponents; the Irish came away with a 20-17 victory that was closer than expected.
A quick overview: Neither team could get anything going on the ground while Notre Dame's vertical passing attack far outstripped Purdue's dink-and-dunk approach, leading to a 376-288 advantage in total yards for the Irish. The Boilermakers managed to hang around, however, and tied the game at 17 late in the fourth quarter after corner Josh Johnson made a stellar effort to strip the ball from ND QB Everett Golson. Golson was shaken up on the play, so it was much-maligned QB Tommy Rees who led the game-winning drive for a field goal in the waning seconds. Yes, that Tommy Rees. I'm seriously, you guys.
[To the breakdown, after THE JUMP.]
Latwan on the Table
Aside from MN OL Seantrel Henderson, the most notable 2010 prospect to not sign a letter of intent so far is OH S Latwan Anderson. The message boards are all abuzz with the final list of schools he's considering: USC, West Virginia, Ohio State, and... Michigan?
He doesn't currently hold a committable offer, and wouldn't get one unless he were to visit campus. Even then, it's a question of whether there is room in the class for another prospect, and whether Rich Rodriguez is willing to take a second behavioral risk after last week's Dorsey-gate.
Anderson is visiting USC soon, and we'll se if Michigan makes an effort to get him on campus. Until he takes a visit, Michigan's chance with him is holding steady at zero.
Though the 2010 class is wrapped up (barring any late surprises like Anderson), news about preferred walkons is just starting to come to the forefront.
MI WR Baquer Sayed will join the Wolverines as preferred walkon, despite garnering offers from MAC schools and interest from some BCS programs. Last winter, the Detroit News profiled him, and here's a breakdown of his game from Scout.com's Allen Trieu:
“I think, as a high school receiver, Sayed could be the best in the state. [College] Prospect wise, [Jeremy] Jackson brings a little more size and Banks brings a little more explosiveness. However, I think Sayed has the best ball skills of the three.”
Sayed is the crown jewel of the walkon class so far, garnering three stars from Rivals.
MI K Jeremy Ross will walk on in Ann Arbor:
Two Pioneer players also plan to walk-on college programs in the fall. Jeremy Ross, a first-team AP Division 1 kicker, at Michigan and Omari Robinson, an offensive lineman, at Grand Valley State.
MI TE Dylan Esterline from Blissfield (pictured at right) will join Michigan in the fall, as either a tight end or defensive end:
“(Being a walk-on) will make me go up there with a little bit of an extra fire,” said Esterline, who had 21 catches for 384 yards and four touchdowns last fall for Blissfield. “I know it’s going to be a challenge. The coaches are really good with walk-ons. Coach (Rich) Rodriguez was a walk-on at West Virginia and has a place in his heart for them.”
That quote also gives a pretty good indication of the importance Rich Rodriguez puts on the walkon program.
Tate Forcier's former teammate, CA LB Quintin Tucker, has been planning to walk on in Ann Arbor for quite some time now, and made it official ($, info in header) shortly after Signing Day. Like Sayed, he held some small-time offers, but chose to pay his own way in Ann Arbor instead. He played DE in high school, but has size more suited to the linebacker position. If he can get a little faster, that's probably where he'll play in Ann Arbor. Highlights:
This is definitely not a comprehensive list of preferred walkons, and we'll continue bringing updates as they become available.
This should be a somewhat-hectic update, since 2011 prospects were neglected last week due to Signing Day 2010. Things should calm down again in the next couple weeks, and the 2011 recruiting primer is coming soon.
OH QB Braxton Miller does not have Michigan in his top 5:
In addition to Ohio State, Alabama and Florida, Miller said he was also seriously considering Georgia and Notre Dame right now.
The Wolverines are a longshot for him, but he'll remain on the board until he starts trimming down the list. In the 2011 recruiting prospectus, I'll give a little more clarity on Michigan's needs at QB in the class.
I removed SC QB Everett Golson, who committed to North Carolina.
The Wolverines have offered MI RB Justice Hayes ($, info in header). Though he grew up a Spartans fan, the Michigan offensive system is a better fit for his skill set. It will be interesting to see how that plays out in his recruitment.
Michigan is showing interest in FL WR Sammy Watkins, from South Fort Myers high school. Other schools that have been in to see Watkins include Ohio State, USC, Florida, LSU and a number of other high-profile schools. The 6-2, 190-pounder runs a 4.5-second 40-yard dash, and will be a top prospect nationally.
Michigan has offered IL WR DaVaris Daniels, the son of former NFLer Phillip Daniels.
Though he's been thought of as a Michigan lean for quite some time, MI WR DeAnthony Arnett has the Wolverines outside his top 3. USC, Notre Dame, and State lead, with the Wolverines in a group of 5 following that top group. Tom says not to read too much into it yet.
Midnight Maize, perhaps best known for their photoshop work on MGoBoard, recently interviewed AZ OL Andre Yruretagoyena (hell of a name, that), who holds a Michigan offer. Yrure… Yrureta… that guy attends Chapparal, the same school that provided Michigan with Craig Roh and Taylor Lewan last year. Greatest hits:
I'm planning on taking a visit to Michigan ASAP and Taylor said he'd be my host or whatever. I'm really looking forward to it because Michigan is my favorite school with Oregon.
Nastyness, finishes blocks, fast, technically sound, good pass blocking, strong punch, wide base. Everyone can always improve but I'd like to get a lot stronger, and faster. I didn't let up a sack this season but I'd still like to get better at pass blocking, and keeping a wider base when I run block."
Yruretagoyena (That's going to be fun to type all the time...) plans to decide after his season. Craig Roh's dad posted a little info on the Scout free board:
Talked to a chaparral parent who saw him play all last year and said he is a stud. Started playing late and the light bulb "went on" during the season. Expect great things from him....and this guy knows how to evaluate players. We should have a good shot at him with Craig and Taylor both knowing him. the Chaparral to Michigan pipeline for the top kids should be pretty strong.
Take it FWIW.
OH OL Aundrey Walker, a product of Ted Ginn Sr.'s Glenville program, now holds an offer from the Wolverines. As per usual, it will be tough to break the scarlet fence around that high school.
Rivals is high on MI OL Anthony Zettel after he impressed at the BadgerSports Lineman Challenge. They also mention that the Wolverines are the team to beat for Anthony. Check out the link for a breakdown of his performance; Zettel is in Rivals's initial 250 watch list.
FL DT Tim Jernigan (pictured at right) is among the top prospects nationally, and though he's almost certainly ticketed for Gainesville, Michigan is in his top 5:
Michigan — "I met some of the coaches. It seems like a pretty good program. It's a place I'd like to look into more."
It sounds like he wants to visit, and anytime the coaches can get a kid on campus, there's a chance. The monstrous defensive line haul the Gators brought in last year might help challengers with Jernugan, as well.
Michigan (and Boston College and Nebraska) offered OH DT Kevin Williams from Toledo:
"I'm very interested in all three," Williams said. "I'm also interested in Notre Dame, Florida State and Ohio State. At this time I really don't have a favorite. All the schools are great."
MGoBlog's own TomVH interviewed Williams, who will make an early decision, and is currently high on the Wolverines. Check out the interview for all the details.
According to MGoBlog's own TomVH, Michigan leads for OH DE Robert Mincey, even though he hasn't received an offer yet.
Michigan offered MI DE Brennen Beyer. This is sort of old news, but I've been focusing on the 2010 class over the past couple weeks, so it hasn't found its way into a recruiting update yet. Beyer is expected at Michigan's junior day on the 20th, and may make an early decision.
TX DE Nathan Hughes is also holding an offer from the Wolverines, though he'll be a tough pull. Texas is expected to offer this weekend, which could result in a commitment. Hughes does come from the same high school as Terrence Robinson and Mark Ortmann.
Rich Rodriguez traveled to Springfield High School a couple weeks ago to drop in on OH LB Trey DePriest:
The business of football recruiting — and don’t be fooled, this is a business — is in full swing, and high-profile college coaches from across the country wanted to make sure Trey DePriest knew they were in town.
Trey is a huge priority in the class of 2011, and I believe he's planning to attend the next Michigan junior day (more on that as the February 20th date approaches). A little additional fluffy stuff and a troubling development in his recruitment from the same article:
DePriest is a 6-foot-2, 220-pound junior linebacker with terrific football instincts, natural speed and strength and a handshake that rivals the strongest grip. He’s 16 years old and he bench-pressed 185 pounds 28 times at a recent combine.
That’s not all these colleges see, though. His grades are good, and he’s kept a level head throughout this process. He’s visiting Alabama this weekend with assistant coach John Cupps.
That was a couple weekends ago.
When Michigan dropped in to Boyd Anderson High School before Signing Day, they were looking not only at Demar Dorsey, but also his 2011 teammate, FL LB Kent Turene. I've added him to the recruiting board, and you can check out his film from SoFlaFootball at the link. Tom has an interview with Turene coming up today.
Though Tyler Moore holds a Michigan offer, he has committed to Nebraska, where his father played (and where he'll enroll early). However, that hasn't stopped Michigan from showing interest in his teammate, FL S Alex Dixon.
The headlines make it pretty obvious, but Michigan is at or near the top of the list for two Ohio prospects. OL Brandon Jackson "has Michigan high," and Michigan might lead for ATH Rico Butler, given that headlines asking questions on recruiting sites are almost always answered with "yes." Both articles are $, but the money shots are in the titles.
TN QB/slot/DB/ATH Jabriel Washington holds a Michigan offer, according to Tom. No word on what position Michigan's coaches would like to see him play, but his film is impressive on both sides of the ball:
I don't even know where to put the kid on the recruiting board for now. I guess QB, until we get further clarity where the coaches want him.