From Necessary Roughness
Many think the most intriguing match-up of week 2 is USC at Ohio State.
After watching week 1 play out, I actually think Notre Dame at Michigan is a much more interesting match-up. Especially given that Notre Dame comes in as a 3.5 point road favorite (as of Sept. 8, 2009).
Both teams played a mediocre opponent and both teams performed extremely well. Both fan bases are riding high and expect great things now, especially the Irish fans.
The Irish do seem to bring a very dangerous passing game and Jimmy Clausen has finally come into his own as a legitimate college starting quarterback. He was very efficient in week one and finished 15-18 for 315 yards and 4 TDs.
He looked sharp and confident.
The best part for Notre Dame and its fans is how the defense played against Nevada’s rush attack offense, which is not far off from what they will see this weekend; except for the fact that Michigan has much more talent running the offense.
Nevada was ranked 5th in the nation last year in total offense (but who did they really play?) and runs the shotgun spread offense similar to that of the Wolverines.
Nevada’s quarterback Colin Kaepernick is 6’6, 215lbs is very capable of running this offense and is much bigger then Tate Forcier, who Notre Dame will face this weekend. He finished the game with just 149 yards passing and 39 yards running.
Notre Dames defense was very impressive.
Michigan came into their game with many questions, especially at the quarterback position. Tate Forcier may have answered the one major question; can he run the Rich Rodriguez offense?
After week one, he seems like he is the guy.
Forcier threw for 179 yards, 3 TD’s and ran for 37 yards. He looked confident and efficient in his first collegiate start. He looked much farther along at this point in his career than his opponent this week, Jimmy Clausen.
Michigan’s leading rusher was their other freshman quarterback Denard Robinson who ran for 74 yards and 1 TD. He will see some time on Saturday as well, but look for Forcier to get the majority of the play time.
With this running attack, Michigan was able to open up the passing games and Junior Hemingway had a big game with 5 receptions, 103 yards and 2 TDs.
As with Notre Dame, Michigan’s defense also played very well and held Western Michigan to just 38 rushing yards. Western Michigan was able to gain a lot of yards through the air, which could be something Michigan needs to work on this week given that Clausen and Notre Dame will be throwing a lot.
Although Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd had a field day in week 1, but week 2 will present a much tougher challenge.
Clausen should have a big game, but I think Notre Dame will be forced into a pass only offense which will allow the Michigan defense to drop more back into coverage to help the secondary.
Forcing The Irish into a pass only offense will result in Clausen and Notre Dame being more susceptible to a costly mistake.
The Notre Dame offense should be able to get theirs, so the key will be can the Notre Dame defense slow down the Michigan shotgun spread offense. They seemed to be capable of doing so vs. Nevada, but again, the talent level on Michigan is much greater.
Notre Dame will also have to focus more on the threat of the passing game which Forcier showed he can excel at as well, which was much less of a factor vs. Nevada.