September 6, 2014 - Shutting it down and shutting them out

With Notre Dame and Michigan not scheduled to play again in the future, Notre Dame won the final game in the series by shutting out Michigan 31-0. Notre Dame scored in every quarter (and have scored in all eight quarters so far this season) and prevented Michigan from even getting into the red zone. Some key points from the victory:

  • This was both the largest margin of victory for Notre Dame over Michigan and the first time ND shut out Michigan. Since the series was regularly played in 1978, the modern record is 15-15-1.
  • Michigan had the longest active non-shutout streak in the country. They had not been shutout in 376 games, since losing 26-0 to Iowa on Oct. 27, 1984.
  • The last time Michigan was shutout by a non Big Ten opponent was Oct. 30, 1926 - a 10-0 loss to Navy.
  • The last time Michigan, Ohio State, and Michigan State all lost on the same day: Sep. 17, 1988. (ND beat MSU 20-3 then.)
  • The game marked Notre Dame's 307th shutout and 290th shutout victory. The first since Nov. 17, 2012 against Wake Forest 38-0.
  • Notre Dame is 9-2 at home in night games and 5-0 against Michigan in home night games.
  • Notre Dame opened their lead for all-time winning percentage:
    1. 0.7334 - Notre Dame (876-305-42)
    2. 0.7324 - Michigan (910-321-36)
    3. 0.7197 - Oklahoma (843-312-53)
  • Coupled with Texas losing, ND has now tied UT to regain the #2 spot for all-time wins:
    1. 910 - Michigan
    2. 876 - Notre Dame
      876 - Texas
    3. 866 - Nebraska
    4. 849 - Ohio State

Prior to the game, the Navy SEAL Leap Frog Parachute team delivered the game ball from the sky. A third gigapixel panoramic picture was taken as well (be sure to find Rockne and click the scoreboard).

For the fourth year since 2011 and eleventh time ever, Notre Dame hosted a night game and the fans showed up early ready to go.

The game did not necessarily start off well for the Irish. On the first play and a second time in the same drive, Notre Dame used a timeout to prevent a delay of game. After punting, Michigan quickly drove to the ND 29 and attempted a 46 yard field goal. The attempt went wide right and the game remained scoreless. Notre Dame took over, used another timeout, but a pass interference in the end zone put the ball at the 2 yard line. In two plays, Cam McDaniel rushed into the end zone by ducking under a defender for a touchdown.

As the second quarter started, Michigan attempted a 48 yard field goal. The kick would deflect off a defender's helmet and the ball dribbled into the end zone. A pair of punts saw ND receive the ball again at their own 20. A methodical pass/run mix was capped with a Corey Robinson reception to the Michigan 3 (should have been 1 but the ball was spotted horribly). Two runs set up a pass to Carlisle for touchdown number two. A quick three-and-out gave the ball back to ND with 1:34 remaining. Golson would hit Will Fuller on a 24 yard pass to the corner for touchdown #3 after fifty seconds ticked off the clock. As the first half ended, Notre Dame led comfortably 21-0.

Michigan started with the ball and four plays later, Max Redfield recorded his first career interception. Notre Dame punted after three plays but pinned the Wolverines at their own 2. Michigan would punt back after gaining only thirty yards. A 21 yard pass to Carlisle combined with a 15 yard roughing the passer penalty put the ball at the Michigan 26. Golson would hit Carlisle with an open pass that Carlisle had a clear path to the end zone for another touchdown. ND now led 28-0. With the third quarter winding down and Michigan beginning to put a drive together, Gardner would be sandwiched by two defenders and fumble the ball. Notre Dame would recover and take control.

Again, ND would punt after three plays following the turnover. On Michigan's first play following the punt, Cody Riggs would record his first interception with Notre Dame. Golson would be called for intentional grounding, but Brindza made the 43 yard field goal to put ND up 31-0. Both teams would punt back and forth, Michigan kept their first team in so ND sent out their first team defense. Michigan wanted to prevent the shutout and Notre Dame wanted to keep it. For the first time since the first quarter, Michigan made it across the 30 and on 4th and 9 at the ND 23 (a 40 yard field goal), Michigan went for it. Brian Van Gorder sent the house and Gardner would be sacked for an 11 yard loss, which triggered possibly the greatest fist pump of all time:

Malik Zaire came into the game with 2:41 remaining and despite not getting a first down, brought the clock down to 0:23. Meanwhile, the students started serenading the Wolverines with "Na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye." When the Irish offense had the ball, the fans would coast a bit (starting the wave, etc.) but soon as the defense came back out they were right back in it. Nobody wanted Michigan to score.

Michigan trotted Gardner out one last time to try and put some points on the board. Airing it out, on 3rd down with 0:07 left, Elijah Shumate would intercept Gardner and run the ball back for a touchdown! ND 37 - Michigan 0! The game's over!

The team ran into the end zone to celebrate, the fans are going crazy and Michigan is running into the locker room. Wait. There's a flag. A late hit on Gardner, who was now a defender following the interception, negated the touchdown. While the stadium waited for Michigan to slowly slink back onto the field and return from the locker room, ND would kneel the ball out and preserve the shutout.

                1  2  3  4   F
    Michigan    0  0  0  0   0
#16 Notre Dame  7 14  7  3  31

What Worked?

  • Turnovers - On the season, ND has 6 takeaways and 0 giveaways. The four turnovers against Michigan ended their drives and kept the momentum going for ND. However, the turnovers need to turn into points. ND had only 3 pts off turnovers against Michigan.
  • Red Zone - After two games, ND is 10/10 scoring inside the red zone. Against Michigan, ND was 4/4 with 3 TDs. A major improvement so far over last season. Against Purdue and Syracuse, ND should be able to continue this trend.
  • Special Teams - Brindza has been doing it all kicking: touchbacks, deep punts, and field goals. The punt returners have 106 return yards after two games - the same amount the team had for all of 2013 and more than 2011 + 2012 combined. Against Rice, ND was +11 in starting field position. Against Michigan, they were +15.
  • Defense - What was supposed to be the question mark and concern for this game, was the strength. Michigan would be 4-13 on third downs and not convert a third down until the final drive of the second quarter. A unit that has played eight true freshman has only one penalty after two games - the late hit against Gardner on the penultimate play (which could be argued as an interpretation call). Though Kelly said there were 34 mental breakdowns.

What Didn't Work?

  • Snaps / Play Calls - This was not a concern against Rice, but the first quarter the team reverted back to 2013. On the first play of the game, a timeout was used to prevent a delay of game (Kelly later said that Golson did not realize the 25 second clock had started). Later in the same drive, the tempo was slow and another timeout burned. On the second drive in the red zone, the play was late coming from the sideline and the third timeout was used (Kelly said this was hit fault as he had the wrong play sheet up). Kelly also stated that he does not mind using timeouts in the first half to get the team settled and the calls correctly. Would rather use the timeout than take the penalty. However, if Kelly wants to get back to Cincinatti speed on turf, then the play calling will need to be quicker from the Red Army and fans shouldn't need to count down to 2 to snap the ball. It will be interesting to see how this progresses the next three games.
  • QB Accuracy - Many reviews complemented Golson on his pinpoint throwing, but we're going to take the contrasting view. First off, there were several great throws: both touchdown passes to Amir and the the pass to Fuller. Except for Amir's second TD and Robinson's catch down to the 1, there were very few chances for yards after the catch. The passes were not to the receiver's body and the receiver would need to either turn around or reach an arm's length away to reel the ball in. Golson finished 23-34 for 226 yards and 3 TDs. The stats could have been much better if a few balls did not sail on him into the mums (these may have been from pressure and not errant passes). We were happy with Golson's decision making. A few better throws and a few less dropped passes may be the difference maker against Stanford, FSU, or USC down the road.

Some final stats after two games:

  • 1 of 8 teams to not commit a turnover
  • 1 of 3 teams to be +6 in turnvoers
  • Tied for third with 30 penalty yards on 5 penalties
  • 100% red zone conversion. For comparison - 53.3% in 2013, less than 50% in 2012.
  • ND is now 2-0 at home on artificial turf. And 1-0 at home when running out of a smoke screen.

Keywords: football, michigan, night game, texas, navy, iowa, oklahoma, nebraska, ohio state, cam mcdaniel, corey robinson, amir carlisle, everett golson, will fuller, max redfield, cody riggs, kyle brindza, malik zaire, elijah shumate, brian kelly, brian van gorder

Posted On: 2014-09-12 00:15:02 by IrishTrpt07
Edited On: 2014-09-12 06:05:01 by IrishTrpt07


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