Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly went in depth when talking about the upcoming matchup under the lights at The Big House on Saturday. Kelly mentioned quite a few players by name and was highly complimentary of the program.
Kelly was impressed by quarterback Shea Patterson in Michigan’s loss to Penn State. “I thought Patterson probably had his best game of the year. He’s tough. He’s gritty. He’s accurate when he throws the football,” Kelly said. “He can run it. You know, I think he throws a very catchable football, and he’s got big, physical receivers that will obviously go up and get the football for him.”
The Notre Dame defensive game plan is going to involve throwing different looks at Patterson. “Giving the corners some help, varying some man and zone looks outside is very, very important, and certainly not giving Patterson the same looks every time,” Kelly said. “He’s a smart quarterback. He can run if he doesn’t like what he sees.”
What worked for Notre Dame in their 24-17 win over Michigan last season was applying pressure to Patterson, which is likely the gameplan again on Saturday. “What we did really well last year was put some pressure on the quarterback. I think we need to do that again,” Kelly said.
Kelly was asked if Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book and Patterson are similar, and he cited their differences and what they have in common. “They’re a little bit different. They both throw very catchable balls,” Kelly said. “You know, I think Ian has done a great job of fitting into an offensive structure. I think Patterson has had to live through a few different iterations, so it’s kind of hard, but seems like he’s starting to be feel more comfortable with what they’re doing now, which is a little bit more similar to what we’re running. I think they’re both very competitive players at their position.”
The positive comments for Michigan’s offense didn’t stop there, Kelly made note of the Michigan receiving corps and Ronnie Bell in particular. “I think the receiving corps, Collins, Black, Peoples-Jones. Big, physical, but I think Bell is really the playmaker for them,” Kelly said. “You know, he’s their best receiver; extremely competitive kid. Look to see him have a really big game. He’s that kind of player for them.”
Kelly went on to say that Michigan’s receivers “body up defensive backs very well, and they use their length and strength to their advantage and do a great job of it.”
Notre Dame and Michigan square off on Saturday night at 7:30 ET on ABC.