Yesterday, I was able to exchange emails with One Foot Down, SBN's excellent Notre Dame Blog. Below are my questions with OFD's responses. Head over to OFD tomorrow to check out his questions and my answers. I'll front-page something when it goes up. On with the show:
Much ado about Brian Kelly's sideline manner. Does this really bother ND fans? Or is this something that is going to blow over, and probably wouldn't have been an issue had ND won?
This isn't really an issue outside of the HARUMPH type ND fans. Lou Holtz was a, shall we say, passionate man on the sidelines and many fans complained of Willingham's stoic sideline demeanor, so I think this is a case of Irish fans being impossible to please. Kelly has always been known for sideline tantrums and with last Saturday being the first game of the season and the shear number of stupid mistakes, he just went off more than usual. And certainly if we won, we would all be praising Kelly's intensity and passion.
What do you anticipate Denard's stat-line to be? What would be considered a "successful" day against him?
Well, I think it's safe to say Denard won't put up 500 yards again simply because it's almost impossible to duplicate a performance like that. Robinson will be the centerpiece of the offense and will get his yards, but if the Irish can hold him to around 300 total yards (i.e., 200 yards passing, 100 rushing) I think I would be happy with that. It's ludicrous to expect to completely contain him, but if Notre Dame can force UM to use its running backs and throw more often than they would like, that will go a long way towards winning the game. I would rather have Michael Shaw running with Denard throwing than Denard running any day.
Jordan White (WMU receiver) had 12 receptions for 119 yards against Michigan in 3 quarters. Michael Floyd is probably the best receiver we're going to face this year. This isn't a question. This is me being terrified. Discuss Michael Floyd, and how you would play him if you were Michigan's defense.
Floyd had a huge game against USF, exploding for over 150 yards. The bad news for Michigan is that Tommy Rees will be playing quarterback and he always makes sure Floyd gets the ball. For whatever reason, Floyd is just more productive with Rees at QB rather than Crist. If Michigan wants to contain Floyd, they need to limit his jumpball opportunities. Floyd isn't a burner; he makes his money out-jumping defensive backs. The Wolverines need to keep Floyd in front of them and make Rees nickle and dime them down the field. If you decide to press him one on one, he'll just streak downfield and Rees will just throw one up like on ND's first touchdown against USF.
Like the uni's?
I do. I really like Notre Dame's. They don't look overly "nontraditional" and I kinda like the shoulder stripes. The shamrock helmet is also kind of cool. Not something I'd want to see all the time, but nice for one game. I'm not a huge fan of alternate uniforms, but I think they're fine once a season, and ND's are well done. I'm not as high on Michigan's because I don't particularly care for the big "M" on the front, but, again, I kinda like the shoulder stripes. [ed - you mean the Notre Dame blogger likes the ND uniforms better? No way.]
OK, Tommy Rees gets the nod at QB. What's he going to do that Crist couldn't? Nervous for this? Excited? Discuss.
Oh boy. I could go on for pages on this, but I'll try to be brief. Crist did not have a particularly good day against South Florida. He came out sharp but started making bad reads and making bad throws. He did that last season too, and I think a lot of the frustration over his performance comes from everyone assuming he was over that. His receivers dropped a lot of balls, making his stat line look worse than it probably was, but he looked like he hadn't progressed at all from last season. Rees brings a little more consistency to the position. That doesn't mean he won't make the occasional bad decision like Crist, but he also won't throw bounce passes or badly overthrow receivers. Plus, like I said earlier, Rees just finds a way to get Floyd the ball. I'd say overall I'm nervous about the quarterback play on Saturday. Rees won't be rattled by the atmosphere, but I worry if he'll be able to avoid the costly turnovers, making us go back to square one next on Sunday.
I know that I could probably write your answer for this next one, but who ya got?
I make no secret that I'm going to look at this game through green-tinted glasses. As I said before, QB play may be a question mark, but the running game was fantastic against USF before Kelly had to abandon it and play catch up. The line opened up huge holes and Cierre Wood ripped off big chunks of yards. If they can run the ball like that, the Irish will be fine. Granted, USF doesn't have a player like Mike Martin on their line, but I'm hoping the line can neutralize him somewhat and give Wood room to run. That kid is electric with the ball in his hands. In the Michigan game, I saw a defense that, while better than they were under the GERGening, allowed a MAC team to march up and down the field. That game could have easily been tied at halftime. The offense looked better than I expected and I fear they will put up some yards against the Irish, but the defense fared pretty well last year, holding the Michigan offense to 28 points despite all of the yards Robinson put up. If they can put in a similar performance, I like Notre Dame's chances. It will be a close game for sure, but I got ND winning 31-28.
Many thanks to One Foot Down - you're encouraged to cruise on over there if you're interested in the Domer perspective.