September 7, 2013 - Under the Lights II


Under the Lights II LogoNotre Dame is no stranger to playing in front of large crowds. The crowd at Michigan Stadium for the second ever night game at the Big House would be a NCAA-record 115,109 (breaking the record set two years ago for the same match up). Much of the talk leading up to the game centered more around coach-speak and the fact that this was the second to last meeting for the foreseeable future. Prior to the game in South Bend last year, Jack Swarbrick handed the Michigan A.D. a letter stating Notre Dame was cancelling the series and the three game notice has begun.

Despite Notre Dame winning the toss and starting with the ball, they quickly went three-and-out. Michigan would respond with a field goal. Notre Dame would have another three-and-out and Michigan would notch a touchdown in response. Ten minutes into the game, Notre Dame found themselves in a hole down 10-0.

Tommy Rees would settle down and put together a 90 yard drive capped by a four yard touchdown pass that was deflected into T.J. Jones's hands. Rees displayed his senior leadership and experience by consistently audibleing into a different play and adjusting to the presented defense. As the second quarter started, Kyle Brindza would shake the troubles from last week and successfully kick a 44 yard field goal to tie the game. When the two minute drill would begin to end the first half, Notre Dame once again trailed 20-13. A touchdown would tie the game and make it a 30 minute affair. Instead, an interception thrown by Rees would set up another Michigan touchdown and the Irish now found themselves behind by two touchdowns going into the locker room.

Throughout the second half, Notre Dame would match and keep pace with Michigan but could not gain the advantage. Notre Dame would close to 27-20 but only see the score open back up to 34-20. The defense would get good pressure on Gardner and while in the end zone trying to avoid a sack, Stephon Tuitt would have an interception for a touchdown. This was Tuitt's second defensive touchdown and first career interception. Twelve minutes remained and Notre Dame was behind by just a touchdown, 34-27. Brindza would make his third field goal of the night and the Irish closed to 34-30. A number of penalties and mental mistakes by the defense put the final dagger in the Irish as Michigan scored their fifth touchdown to make the score 41-30. Rees would put together another long drive but a second interception, this time in the end zone, would turn the lights off for the visiting team.

         1  2  3  4   F
#14 ND   7  6  7 10  30
#17 UM  10 17  7  7  41

After two weeks into the 2013 season, it is obvious this team is different than the 2012 version. Golson's mobility kept defenses honest that there was always the possibility for a run to occur. This year, with Rees in an empty backfield there is a pretty good chance the play will be a pass. In fact, the play selection for the game saw 51 passes to 18 rushes. With the departure of Tyler Eifert, the ball is spread around between wide receivers and that has opened more playmakers at receiver. When used, Carlisle and Atkinson provide options at running back.

The larger difference is the departure of the dig-your-heels in defense. A number of mental mistakes, penalties, and perceived confusion hurt the team all night long. Besides giving up six touchdowns in two games so far in 2013 (it would not be until the seventh game of 2012 that six touchdowns were given up), a number of big plays were given up - both deep passes and long runs (20+ yards). How the team responds in the coming weeks and closes September will show the true identity of this team. 4-1 looks much better than 3-2 after the first month.




Keywords: football, michigan, jack swarbrick, tommy rees, tj jones, everett golson, tyler eifert, amir carlisle, george atkinson iii

Posted On: 2013-09-11 00:15:04 by IrishTrpt07

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