Notre Dame Game Prediction

Electricity will fill the air Saturday in Ann Arbor, perhaps for the last time in the storied rivalry that is Michigan Vs ND. Some hundred plus years ago, Michigan taught the little leprechauns the brutal game of intercollegiate football, and hope to do so again Under the Lights in only the second night game in the 86 year history of the Big House. If the first time was any indication, we’re in for a treat at Stadium and Main. It’s the kind of setting that would just seem perfect for Keith Jackson.

With Michigan’s main three rivals all struggling to a certain extent with MAC schools in week one, The Wolverines handled CMU by half a hundred. While we shouldn’t read too much into that, it’s hard to ignore the success Michigan had, in spite of the numerous teaching moments. The secondary without its starting safeties ( one to injury, one to suspension) was human for much of the game in spite of the front seven generating a good amount of pressure. Some of that should be cleaned up this week, and both safeties return at least in part, assuming Courtney Avery hasn’t suffered any setbacks in his recovery from minor knee surgery.

The linebacking corp showed signs of excellence, even without potential all American Jake Ryan, and for the most part tackled very well.

By and large, the front 4 played well, generating pressure, albeit against a young, less talented offensive line, and a team which lost a starting QB and 1500 yard rusher in the first quarter to significant injuries.

On the offensive side of the ball, the line played very well. Holes were enormous on several occasions, and Devin Gardner had little pressure. Even the second team OL played very well, showing how the past couple of years in recruiting that group is paying great dividends.

Devin Gardner had success, in spite of a couple of ill advised throws, and continued to show how dangerous he is running the football when the play breaks down or simply isn’t there.

Brian Kelly brings his Fighting Irish in after a 28-6 victory over Temple. While the score is much closer than one might have thought, ND did put up over 500 yards of offense. They have explosive offensive weapons, as only one of their 4 scoring drives was over 3 plays. That being said, Michigan will be able to put more pressure on Tommy Rees, who has shown the propensity to turn the ball over under pressure (see 2011 UTL1).

On defense, you can definitely see that the Irish miss Manti Te’o in the middle, and from the film I watched of the second half of the Temple game Louis Nix was gassed. He looked physically exhausted. Carrying 357 pounds will do that to you. Expect Michigan to pound the leather on the ground. Even if they aren’t as successful as they would like early. If you wear out Nix in the second half, by constant double teams, he will be sucking on an oxygen mask. Temple showed that ND is susceptible on the edges and I expect to see the stretch running plays as well. Even if it’s not a normal thing for Al Borges to show, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some hurry up offense.  In the passing game, ND has a couple of good corners, but has inexperience up the middle, both in LB and Safety spots. I expect the TE’s to play a huge role in this game, especially Devin Funchess. He’s a mismatch that they can exploit.

If one thing Tommy Rees is good at, it’s pre-snap reads. He’s very good at getting the Irish into the right play. DC Greg Mattison will do his best to disguise what he’s doing, and he’s got the team speed to do it. If I were Brian Kelly, I’d try to run some hurry up offense as well. Michigan has so much depth on the defensive line, that he could neutralize that by running some no huddle.

At the end of the day, similar to last year, turnovers will reign supreme. If Devin Gardner can protect the football, Michigan should score a decent amount of points. I also don’t think Notre Dame will be able to sustain long drives on Michigan, and if the safeties keep the ball in front of them, ND more often than not will stall. 

Michigan 27, Notre Dame 17.

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Grading The Performance: Central Michigan

The GoodJibreel Black 3

Defensive Front Seven– Losing Jake Ryan was a definite blow to the defense but front 7 looked no worse for wear without the presence of #47. The front seven was as fast as the unit has been since 2006. Good pursuit is always preached by defensive coaches but the group of Saturday went above and beyond, often getting to their spots well ahead of their offensive counterparts. The LBers flowed to the ball with exceptional speed and quickness and were solid in their open field tackling. The line didn’t get quick as consistent a push or rush early as Greg Mattison probably would have liked, but they rebounded nicely in the second half and were active throughout. Jibreel Black and Mario Ojemudia flashed the ability to beat one on one blocks that the coaches have been pushing for since in the end of last season.

The Bad

Turnovers – Cutting down the number of turnovers has been a major point of emphasis that has been preached by both Brady Hoke and Al Borges. The first game often has its share of hiccups but the Wolverines did an average job of taking care of the football. The two interceptions have been a major point of discussion since Saturday, but there was also a muffed punt by Dennis Norfleet early in the 1st half.

The Ugly

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Central Michigan Preview

What to watch on offense

A longtime disciple of Mark Dantonio, Dan Enos has made his bones on the offensive side of the football. Enos served as Dantonio’s QB coach at both Cincinnati and Michigan State in addition to holding several offensive coordinator roles prior toZurlon Tipton CBS Sports joining Dantonio. Enos prefers a varied offensive attack but his roots are deeply planted in the pro-style offense. As the offense of a year ago showed however, Enos is perfectly willing to use multiple WR sets and throw the ball at a high clip.

Ryan Radcliff leaves Mt. Pleasant after compiling a statistical career only surpassed by Dan LeFevour. In his wake were left a number of contenders for the starting QB position have battled it out throughout both spring and fall camps. Cincinnati transfer Kody Kater was the odds on favorite to win the job despite the presence of the speedy Alex Niznak. Kater was named the starter just prior to game week and his experience and arm strength make him a potential breakout player for the Chips this season. Kater will be aided greatly by the return of 2nd team All-MAC WR Titus Davis who accounted for over 800yds and 8 TDs a year ago. They also return the speed Courtney Williams who will be relied upon to the stretch the defense across from Davis.

The Chips owe much of the success of last season to RB Zurlon Tipton who produced a monster season on the ground. Despite rushing for over 1,500yds a year ago, Tipton surprisingly did not earn 1st team All-MAC honors, a feat he will likely contend for greatly this season. While he isn’t the fastest back in the country, Tipton is an extremely tough runner that is difficult to bring down with just one tackler. The Chips also return super sophomore Saylor Lavallii who average 4.6ypc a year ago as a true freshman.

Central Michigan had produced exactly one first round draft choice prior to last year and the emergence of OT Eric Fisher who went on to become the #1 overall pick in the draft. Lost in the love fest with Fisher is the fact that prior to last season, it was Jake Olson who received much of the praise from observers at the LT position. An early season injury forced Olson out of the lineup a year ago but he returns to lead a unit that while low on starts, has a good amount of overall experience. The Chips are expected to start just one underclassmen on the offensive line.

Best Offensive Player

Zurlon Tipton- Tipton is coming off of the one of the best rushing seasons ever in Chippewa history after rushing for over 1,500yds and scoring 19 TDs on the ground. A load 6’1 220lbs, Tipton has a knack for breaking tackles and extending runs deep into the second level.

Head Coach– Dan Enos- 4th Year

Off Coor– Mike Cummings-3rd Year

 

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Freshmen Most Likely to Impact Michigan’s 2013 Season

#1. Dymonte Thomas DB

Unlike the others on this list, Thomas is the only player that already has a starting position locked down. An early enrollee, Thomas was able to secure the nickel back role during the spring and was one of the most impressive players during the spring period. Thomas has played safety for much of his career but is simply too talented for the coaches to keep Dymonte Thomas - Rivalsoff the field.

#2. Derrick Green RB

Green is the most highly touted of the group, widely regarded as the #1 high school RB in the country. Green is a sure to see the field this fall thanks to his unique blend of size, speed, and toughness. Green is also the prototype for the type of back the Michigan coaches want in the backfield and the most physically gifted runner on the roster. How much and how often Green plays will largely depend on how quickly he is able to pick up the intricacies of the offense and his willingness and ability to block. The Michigan coaches won’t risk the health of Devin Gardner by sending out a RB they don’t trust to protect the QB when needed.

#3. Jake Butt TE

Another early enrollee, Jake was able to get a jump on his fellow freshman by participating in winter workouts and spring practice. Like Devin Funchess, Jake is a natural pass catcher who is a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. Michigan’s desire to use multiple TEs on the field at the same time will result in Jake seeing a fair amount of playing time this fall. As with Funchess a year ago however, Jake’s physical limitations as a blocker will keep him from seeing extending time in every situation.

#4. Shane Morris QB

Jake Butt - ISportsWebThe physical nature of the game of football combined with the dual-threat ability of Devin Gardner will eventually lead to Shane Morris seeing the field in some capacity. Whether it is for a series during a game or a series of games is yet to be seen but for better or worse, Shane Morris will have an impact on the 2013 Michigan football team in some way. From a purely physical standpoint, Morris is the most gifted thrower of the football that has seen Michigan roster is over a decade. Whenever it is he sees the field there are certain to be moments of brilliance combined with the typical freshman mistakes that Michigan fans experienced with freshman QBs like Chad Henne and Tate Forcier. Morris has been preparing to be the Michigan QB since childhood. At this point it is a question of when not if Morris has an impact on Michigan.

#5. Ross Douglas DB

A common theme with this list is the presence of early enrollees. Recruits who are able to enroll at Michigan early stand at a distinct advantage when it comes to seeing the field early and Ross is no exception. While a bit undersized, Ross flashed exceptional instincts in the spring and the lack of depth in the secondary gives him quite the opportunity to see the field. Ross will likely see most of his early playing time on special teams but an injury or poor performance from a player ahead of him on the depth chart could see him thrust into action sooner rather than later.

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2013 Offensive Depth Chart Preview

With the 2012 season wrapping up this weekend, it’s time to take a way too early look at the 2013 projected depth chart for the Wolverines with some analysis. Note: The only iDevin Gardner - UMGoBlue.comncoming freshmen that I will include in the depth chart are Shane Morris and Jake Butt.

QB: 1. Devin Gardner – Senior

2. Shane Morris – Freshman

3. Russell Bellomy – RS Sophomore

Analysis: Gardner returns for his fourth season as a Wolverine after starting the second half of 2012 at the QB spot following Denard Robinson’s injury. Gardner’s skill set opens up a more vertical passing game that the Wolverines became accustomed to with Robinson at the helm. Gardner has also shown the ability to make teams pay with his feet and should be the future of the position if he is granted a fifth season, something Coach Brady Hoke seems optimistic about. Shane Morris will be the second best quarterback on the roster talent wise, but don’t expect to see him in mop-up duty– that role will fall on Bellomy’s shoulders. However, should Gardner get hurt, expect to see Morris step in as the starter, ready or not.

RB: 1. Fitzgerald Toussaint – RS Senior

2. Thomas Rawls – Junior

3. Justice Hayes – RS Sophomore

4. Dennis Norfleet – Sophomore

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