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GBMWolverine: Coach’s Corner — Michigan Football — Notre Dame at Michigan — What to Look For Saturday and What May Happen


Posted at 6:00am — 9/10/2011

GBMWolverine: Coach’s Corner — Michigan Football — Notre Dame at Michigan — What to Look For Saturday and What May Happen

Notre Dame knows Michigan has defensive weaknesses by land and air. Notre Dame knows Michigan has one of the best offensive weapons in the nation. It will plan around both obvious observations.

Notre Dame will use several formations on offense. In the middle of the field look for the three wide outs to the open field and one receiver to the boundary look. Floyd can go to the outside of the trips, or go to the boundary (close) side. Many things can happen when Floyd is in the trips, anything from a simple post and protect to the inside catching the ball, to an out, to a dig route, or a screen. When Floyd is isolated, using the trips to secure defenders away from him, he is dangerous. He will line up often in this formation Saturday and make hay. Michigan will need to make choices.

As Notre Dame closes in on the goal line, a set of four outs, close to the line of scrimmage is used. Two of the receivers are lined up as wings and Floyd is slightly split.. Very short yardage or goal line finds Notre Dame using two backs and two tight ends, no frills here.

The Notre Dame offense is diverse enough to run out of the shotgun and will run an outside zone away from the side the ball carrier lines up.

Kelly teams have always liked going over the middle and South Florida was aware, as several interceptions were thrown in the middle of the field. South Florida gave up yards to Floyd, but the quarterbacks locking in on him helped South Florida gain turnovers.

Notre Dame can run and execute screens very well and Wood can break big runs if he gains the edge. Michigan must have excellent outside backer play to hold down the big play. The trips will cause Coach Mattison to decide on different personnel packages when Notre Dame goes to trips. If the slot cannot be covered well, this gives the Notre Dame passing game more of an advantage.

Look for Notre Dame to start balanced on offense, smell out what Michigan cannot stop, and play call according to advantage. Michigan will see Floyd on the post and Floyd on the dig to the end zone, hunting for the ball over the shoulder. Michigan did not cover the out well last week so that staple will likely appear across the board.

Coach Mattison will certainly counter by disguising coverage at least to the point where his own backfield does not go into dazed and confused mode. He may rotate a safety, but this opens up runs to the trip side away from the Floyd isolation. The tight end could hurt if Michigan sacrifices two men for one Floyd. Both sides know that Michigan’s best chance is disruption through blitzes and coming up with big plays on defense.

Notre Dame will run the inside and outside reads, and will dial them up continuously if the front seven does not hold up against the run. So, Michigan’s oil will be checked both by land and by air.

If Mattison can get to Tommy Rees, big benefits will result, he is not very mobile and will rely on hitting a hot read or two to the back or tight end.

Michigan on offense will almost certainly use more Denard. Notre Dame will probably use a 3-4 look and have the outside backers focus on contain. Any time a 3-4 can force a runner back inside against the five other defenders, big plays should not happen. If the ends concentrate too much on the outside, Michigan may counter with the zone inside or quick look out of the gun. Michigan may run some bootleg or waggle if the backers and ends jam the middle in the power I look.

Michigan will certainly try and establish the power game here and there and may use the zone read to freeze the ends and outside backers for a split second. The pass will need to be in the mix to keep Notre Dame off the line of scrimmage. Notre Dame may not wish to blitz in waves as Denard just may pull some magic. Again look for Notre Dame to focus on edge control.

Michigan has good enough receivers to hit the midrange passes and move the chains. All three of Notre Dame’s defensive units are probably above average. But of the three the d-backs may provide the best chance to get some yardage. Denard needs to hit one or two of those big almosts.

The Notre Dame safeties will probably play a little deeper than WMU. Michigan may throw some short stuff in the seam.

Regardless of how the match-ups come out, Denard will be the biggest key to the game. Simply, can he beat the Notre Dame defense with his combined skill? It will be tough for Fitz or Shaw to have big games, but if combined they can move the chain now and then, UM is in the game.

UM’s front seven will not win the game over the long haul, but these two units must play well enough to keep UM in the game. There will be plenty of bending. It is up to Coach Mattison and the various personnel groups to hold damage to a point UM is always in the game.

The game is more complex than Floyd against Denard, but that is a good place to start. Those pesky things like turnovers and special teams may prevail. On the surface Notre Dame has many advantages, but this was the case last week.

The intensity meter should be full blast. Are you ready?

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Written by GBMWolverine Staff

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