Notre Dame Football: 6 Reasons Why Notre Dame Will Beat Michigan in 2011
The cards are stacked against the University of Michigan in 2011, between coaching changes and unrest at the quarterback position.
While there are many more than six reasons for why Notre Dame will emerge victorious in the 2011 match-up—the first ever night game at Michigan—the following are six of the biggest reasons, in no particular order.
The University of Michigan's football program finds itself in the exact same spot that Notre Dame was in at this time last season: with a new coaching staff and a new system.
Michigan players will be wearing their names taped to their helmets so that the coaches can identify them, while Brian Kelly will be a tear removed from the same scenario.
Getting used to a new coach takes time and Michigan will not have had enough time together by September 10th to be able to stop the Fighting Irish.
5. Notre Dame Defense
Notre Dame finished the season on a defensive roll and almost their entire defensive unit will return, so Notre Dame fans can expect that wave to continue.
If Bob Diaco can keep the fire lit under the defense—and there is no reason to think that he can't—look for the Irish defense to thrive off of the momentum that they created at the end of the 2010 season.
4. Notre Dame's Expanded Offense
It is estimated that Notre Dame ran on about 30 percent of their offensive playbook last season. That percentage was scaled back even further when Tommy Rees replaced an injured Dayne Crist against Michigan.
No matter who is under center for the Irish versus Michigan, look for an even more explosive output in 2011.
The Irish racked up a season high 535 yards against Michigan in 2010—look for that number to increase.
3. Denard Robinson
Denard Robinson carved up the Irish defense in 2010. Simply put, he had his way that afternoon. Robinson torched the Irish for a season high 258 yards on the ground and another 244 in the air. He ran for two touchdowns and threw for another while completing 60 percent of his passes.
Do not expect a repeat performance in 2011. Much like the situation that Michigan is in this season, Notre Dame was still trying to settle into a new scheme last year. Bob Diaco, Manti Te'o and the rest of the Irish will be well prepared for Robinson in 2011.
Robinson rushed 28 times versus the Irish last season—his body cannot endure such a pounding from a more prepared defensive unit.
2. Michigan's Defense
Michigan's defense was ranked 110 in the nation in 2010. To put that in perspective, Akron, Troy and Louisiana Monroe all had better ranked defenses.
While Michigan secured 11 defensive recruits out of its 2011 cycle, they will not be ready in time to give much support by Week 2.
The Irish put up 381 yards in the air using a group of quarterbacks last season. With a more stable attack in 2011 against a defensive unit that is still trying to stabilize, look for some high offensive numbers by the Irish again this time around.
1. Notre Dame's Experience
The Irish return 19 out of 22 starters, junior Manti Te'o is already a seasoned veteran and no matter who lines up under center, he will be battle tested.
Game-time experience is something that cannot be taught on the practice field and the Irish have that experience on both sides of the ball.
Veteran leadership wins out in this one.