Notre Dame -- after watching the Pitt game I can't say I'm overly impressed. It was a good showing for a team that struggled last year. But anybody should've put up 500 yards on Pitt (the Irish gained 560) -- you can't really base anything off that.
The Michigan defense against the Notre Dame running game.
It depends on which team shows up for Michigan. Last year, Michigan shut down Notre Dame until the 4th quarter, then Notre Dame ran and passed at will. Notre Dame has a very good offensive line (tackles Ryan Harris and Mark LeVoir, guards Dan Santucci and Dan Stevenson, center Bob Morton). And in running back Darius Walker, they have a Mike Hart type back with more speed and more quickness. Whether they get 150 or more yards on Michigan ... hopefully the Michigan guys will have more pride than that. Either you have it or you don't. We'll find out Saturday.
The Michigan defense against the Notre Dame passing game.
Brady Quinn is a veteran: he has started over a year, and he knows what to do with the football. Notre Dame does not have great speed on the outside, but their receivers are pretty good. Rhema McKnight, tight end Anthony Fasano are pretty good.
Charlie Weiss will score some points on Michigan. The question is -- can Michigan stop somebody. After last Saturday, I'm withholding judgement. I didn't see anyone really stepping up on defense. I didn't see dominating linebackers who make plays.
Michigan did not have an agressive game plan last week. Against Notre Dame -- blitzing, stunting, we'll see if we see that. If they don't get it done this week, they will have to do something different.
The Michigan offense versus the Notre Dame defense.
The Michigan offense. Did they dominate the line of scrimmage last week? No. Did they throw ball well? Yeah. Did their wide receivers catch it? Yeah. But we have to see Michigan against a Top 25 team, and we will this Saturday.
The Notre Dame defense -- the one thing they are still suspsect at is their secondary. Their front seven is pretty decent, but their DB play is a little suspect. Their secondary was not that good last year, and last week they gave up 220 yards on 20 for 35 passing.
Overall: Michigan's wide receivers really have to step up and have a great game. And I'll say -- if Michigan's linebackers play well, then there will be good defense and Michigan should be in good shape. If they don't -- Michigan could be in trouble.
I'm not giving a prediction -- we will see which Michigan team shows up.
Message Board Posters' Questions for Mike
Mike, you were 0-2 as a starter against Notre Dame? What is it about playing them? Is it different from any other team for U-M?
In the '89 game I was hurt and shouldn't have played, but I did. '89 was when Rocket returned those kickoffs ...
But as far as any Notre Dame mystique? That really doesn't mean anything to Michigan players or coaches. They always have decent talent. They get good kids. And it's a rivalry game -- with any rivalry game, it's momentum, momentum changes, and who steps up and plays and who doesn't. They've won 2 of the last 3, with the two wins at Notre Dame. The first one -- Willingham's first year -- I chalk the loss up to bad officiating. That phantom TD -- the guy loses ball 2 yards from goal line. Plus Michigan made too many mistakes. Last year -- Michigan should've won, but they turned the ball over and didn't make plays at crunch time. It's a game of inches in these big games. But it doen't get in your head. It's a rivalry game, so it's close, a game of inches. It's all about who executes and who doesn't. They have good team, and it's always hard to play them. But they don't have us 'in the head'.
Mike, compare yourself to Chad Henne as a quarterback.
Well, we are alike in that nothing really gets to either of us out there, during the game. He is level-headed out there, like I was. But other than that, we are totally different types of quarterbacks. He's a drop-back guy, whereas I could hurt a defense either running or passing.