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Opposition Blogger Q&A: Notre Dame

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We sat down with SB Nation's own Patrick Burns from One Foot Down to discuss Michigan's upcoming game against the Irish.

Gregory Shamus

SB Nation is an excellent source for individual college football teams around the nation.

We've tapped into knowledge to highlight Michigan's next opponent: Notre Dame.

From our friends at One Foot Down, we sat down with Patrick Burns to give us the latest on the Fighting Irish. What does Everett Golson offer the Irish that Tommy Rees couldn't? How does Notre Dame scout a team like Michigan? And, of course, some favorite local beers.

MnB: Obviously the biggest question mark and headline leading up to this game is how the academic scandal changes the make-up of the Notre Dame roster. Are there any major updates that Michigan fans should be looking out for? Losing the people Notre Dame did for an unannounced amount of time is huge, huge loss for any school and not just the Irish.

PB: No big updates as of this writing, but most people expect to have a resolution at some point this week. The rumblings are that all but one or two players will be cleared to play, and potentially all of them will be back, depending on the results of the honor code committee. The biggest gain would be to have KeiVarae Russell back in the mix. Our secondary is much weaker without him.

MnB: While Notre Dame does lose their senior quarterback in Tommy Rees, it does gain back a familiar face in Everett Golson. How different will the team look this year with Golson returning back into the fold with a new offensive coordinator in Mike Denbrock?

PB: Drastically different due to Everett Golson. Golson is a better QB in most every category. He has the arm to make all of the throws, unlike Rees, as well as the mobility to move around in the pocket. He is a pass-first QB with some legs, so when he scrambles, you will notice him looking downfield the entire time.

Brian Kelly is calling all of the plays on offense this year, so it really is just more of the same from that point of view. We are running a bit more uptempo than we could with Rees, and it is something that I would like to see a bit more of this Saturday.

I speak for every Irish fan out there when I say we are SO happy to have EG back.

MnB: This game is the last meeting between Notre Dame and Michigan for quite some time. What are your thoughts about the rivalry ending and do you consider Michigan one of Notre Dame's biggest "rivals"?

PB: I am upset that we will not get to play yearly as we have in the recent past, the Michigan game was always one that I looked forward to. I do consider Michigan one of our biggest rivals, in the sense that both fan bases really want to beat the crap out of each other every season. We don't have the history on the playing field that is there with Navy, Purdue, or USC, but the hype around the game and the feelings of the fans definitely make it one of the bigger games every year.

MnB: Although most should be familiar with what Notre Dame will be bringing to the table roster-wise, it did lose quite a bit of talent from the previous year. Do you think the Irish will be able to cope with these losses? What are they doing to adjust?

PB: This is the biggest area where Brian Kelly has set himself apart from his predecessors. He has stocked up enough talent on both sides of the ball that the losses from last season (especially across the defensive line in Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt) are somewhat mitigated. Scheme wise, we are playing a brand new defense, courtesy of defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder, which is much more aggressive than the bend-but-don't-break defense of previous coordinator Bob Diaco. This takes some pressure off of the front seven, but really heaps it onto the secondary. Plenty of Irish fans are expecting a lot of shootouts this year.

MnB: Who are some key weapons and potential playmakers to look out for on both sides of the ball?

PB: On offense, the discussion begins and ends with Everett Golson. All of the skill players around him make him better, but he's the man at the controls. His ability to make something out of nothing means that there is rarely a non-productive play out of the Irish offense.

On defense, true Sophomore Jaylon Smith is already starting conversations on Irish message boards about becoming the best linebacker ever at Notre Dame. His speed at the second level is unmatched, and he will be everywhere on the field. The joke is everyone will try to avoid his area of the field, but that area appears to be from sideline to sideline.

MnB: I'm not sure what Brian Kelly's policies are with starting true freshman, but who are some true freshman (or even redshirt freshman) that Michigan fans should look out for on Saturday?

PB: On offense, redshirt freshman running back Greg Bryant is going to make some big plays. He's an extremely fast and strong runner who loves to get outside. That being said, he isn't afraid to lay some wood on unsuspecting safeties. He may not be our best running back, but he is definitely our most dangerous running back.

On defense, true freshman defensive end Andrew Trumbetti started the opener against Rice, and will look to have an impact against what is perceived to be a weaker version of Michigan's offensive line. The defensive line didn't generate much pressure on the edge last week, and Trumbetti will be looking to improve there this weekend.

MnB: With both schools having new offensive coordinators come in and with Michigan's offensive being particularly poor the season prior. How do you think the Irish coaching staff will scout Nussmeier and his new offense? Granted, a small sample size was shown last Saturday against an inferior opponent.

PB: I think the Irish will use the small sample size given to them as best they can, but I expect that they will remain in basic coverages most of the game. It is still early in the season AND several members of our secondary are out (academic investigation and injury), and I think they will not want to put anything at risk too early.

I do expect there to be a lot of pressure up the middle from the Irish front seven however, hoping to get to Gardner before he can make an impact. Defensive tackles Sheldon Day and Jarron Jones are going to look to get penetration and disrupt the Wolverines in the backfield most of the night.

MnB: Greg Mattison and his defense have set out to be more aggressive this season. How do you think the Irish can counteract Michigan's playmakers on Saturday?

PB: The best way to counter aggressive pressure is by having a QB who can make all the throws (see ND vs Michigan 2013, Devin Gardner). Everett Golson will have to trust his reads and his offensive line (as well as use his feet to escape pressure from time to time) and then put the ball onto the open man. The Irish receiving corps is well suited to beat man coverage should Michigan go extra aggressive. It will be up to EG to get the ball out of his hand and into the right spot.

MnB: Staying true to our name, we are all about the local beer scene. Can you give us some local beers that are popular or your favorite in South Bend?

PB: I'm taking some creative license saying it is a "local" beer, but 3 Floyds brewery out of Munster, Indiana puts out some amazing stuff. If you're a fan of big IPAs, go for their Arctic Panzer Wolf. If not, go for their Gumballhead or Alpha King.

For more information on Notre Dame athletics, check out One Foot Down and follow them on Twitter. You can also follow Patrick on Twitter as well.