Notre Dame defense dominates Michigan on Saturday night.
And Michigan's defense, by and large, did the same. So how did the Offensive of Notre Dame score three touchdowns to one of Michigan's?
And does the 24-17 Notre Dame win accurately reflect the gap between these teams?
. 1 Notre Dame contained a mobile QB better than Michigan.
Some teams were not expected to come out of the bag because of some unproven recipients. But both Brandon Wimpus of Notre Dame and Shea Patterson of Michigan are quite mobile, although Wim-bush has a better top speed and both have proven that they can be dangerous outside the pocket.
Knowing all this, it continued to be a key. And Notre Dame was better in this area. Patterson was mostly bottled. But Wimbush has always been able to run outside, be it through Scramble, Design Runs or the Read Game. And whether he threw it low, threw it away or turned it on, Wimbusch did considerable damage to the edge.
The defensive line of Notre Dame seemed to produce a bit more pressure than that of Michigan, and it was still limited. Michigan's defense made many games, but sometimes played out of control. It was almost as if Notre Dame was able to produce more pressure, while to some extent playing safer.
. 2 The new offensive line of Notre Dame has proven itself well. Michigan, less so.
Notre Dame lost two top-10 draft picks from his offensive line. This type of production can not be replaced. But the Irish are recruiting the position well. And Michigan's front, loaded with future pros, is the toughest test the Irishmen are facing all season. In terms of this standard, Notre Dame line was good.
Michigans, behind new offensive coach Ed Warner, did not look that good. And one major difference was the rather immediate penetration that Notre Dame was able to achieve. It was the kind of pressure that ruins play. And it usually came from the ridge. Michigan seems to have a harder time replacing the late Mason Cole when Notre Dame has replaced Mike McGlinchey.
. 3 The recipients of Notre Dame made great one-to-one pieces. Michigan does not have.
Together with Wimbush, who had a little more time to throw in his pocket, and to be able to escape the bag a bit more, Wimbush's receivers just gained more games down the field.
And Wimbush deserves credit for having made several casts under pressure even though he put the ball in danger once or twice.
Credit Notre Dame for assaulting Michigan's reserve security, which had been introduced into the game after starter Josh Metellus was launched for targeting. The pass to Chris Finke went for 43 yards and the result to open the game at 14-0.
. 4 Cluster luck. Notre Dame's drives were all or nothing. Michigan had many wasted shipyards.
Notre Dame assembled drives with multiple tracks that ended in scores. Drives of 75, 96, 75 and 41 went for three touchdowns and a field goal. Notre Dame's non-scoring drives went down for -4, 28, 3, 0, 3, 13, and 8. This is mainly sequencing, as clustering punches one after another in baseball. This is not a skill, but it has a big impact on the outcome.
Michigan, on the other hand, had a rating run of 80 and 31 yards, but significant drives of 47, 48 and 52 went without points.
. 5 Both teams did not have much success … with their running backs.
Michigan running back walked for 73 yards on 23 carries. Notre Dame went up to 80 for 24. The difference in the rushing yardage, 132-58, was especially the legs of Wimbush.
. 6 These teams are pretty similar.
Removing the ends of the half and the end of the game, Michigan averaged 4.44 yards per game (302 on 68 games) to Notre Dame 4.47 (304 to 68).
This game was seen as a tossup coming in, with the Vegas line in a field goal all week. And if the two were lining up and playing again on Sunday, I'd bet the line would be the same.
. 7 Cheers Me: Michigan's Recruitment
I do not think coaches need to win early in their term to recruit well. It just is not true.
But I am convinced that programs must win the first few seasons after to maintain their recruitment. I call it proof of the concept.
2018 was a down-recruiting class for the Wolverines. 2019 has a chance to be a bounce-back class. But only if Michigan can beat some good teams. And in Jim Harbaugh's term that has not happened often enough.