Michigan,and Coach Rodriguez entered the 2010 season in desperation. The majority of the country had written them off, but that is why the games are played. Michigan dismantled a solid UCONN team with the legs of Denard Robinson. It appears that RR has found his Wolverine answer to Pat White, and his seat has cooled some. But, here come the Irish. ND had a rather unexciting win over a middle of the pack Big Ten team. The offense was efficient, and the defense stout. Week two is catapult for both teams. The winner tossed into the Top 25, and still chasing a dream. The loser, well, that's where it get's interesting. Michigan's Coach Rodriguez will be on fire again, and depending on the defeat, could be the nail on the coffin that drives him out on Ann Arbor. Notre Dame, while it would be disheartening, would not spell disaster. Everything about Notre Dame's program is new, and some growing pains are expected. With that being said, I think it is what a win would do for Notre Dame program that we are all hungry for, more so then what the damage of a loss would do. If ND were to win they'd be in a GREAT position for the next 4 games, playing inspired and confident.
Here are some thought's of mine from last week, and for tomorrow;
ND did not show much on offense last week. But the question is why? It is obviously not Kelly's philosophy. There is a host of reason on why ND held back, none of them, I believe, is that he deliberately held back with the reason of not showing anything to Michigan.
Kelly reportedly make a comment to the effect of "We are going to use enough to beat Purdue". Take that for what you will, but here are three of my theories to the many hosts of reason on why ND played so conservatively on offense. Some not a big deal, some unsettling.
1. The game one pressures had to be acknowledged, and Kelly wanted to keep it simple because he knew that's all he had to do to get the first BIG win, and gorilla off his back. (No a big deal)
2. He wanted to ease the pressure of Crist because the season depends on him being confident, and poised. If Crist is confident, and grows more confident each week, ND will do well. (Good strategy, good coaching)
3. Crist is not comfortable with the offense, and Kelly had no choice but to keep thing easy. (Which would be the worst case scenario; and a bad sign for this weekend)
I can see all three being possibilities, but my gut tells me it's the second. While it is a good strategy, it does warrant some concern. I do not see ND having a coming out party, and scoring 50 points with 500 yards of offense. Michigan will most likely mimic Purdue's zone, but expect Crist to be A LITTLE more aggressive and see a few more big plays. What will save ND is it's run game. Michigan, to my knowledge, does not have dominant defensive ends like Kerrigan. Michigan will have to cheat up and that is where ND will get them late in the game over the top.
ND will need at least 2 turnover's to win. ND's linebackers are better then UCONNs, and ND is going to prepare for DRob. DRob will get his yards, but I think he'll take some big hits, Manti is quick enough to smack him if, and only if, our interior D-line can slow him down and make him stutter with his decision making. IF he gets clear lanes through our line then we are screwed. He's really athletic, but can he adjust quickly enough during the game? I think he lacks the experience to do so. We'll see.
ND 34-24 scoring a TD over the top to Mike Floyd late to seal it