Given the opponent, and clinging to the assumption that they are, in fact, not shitty, the first half of Saturday's game was the best in several years. Not since ND 2006 do I remember going to the break so satisfied. The second half was a different story, as the luck of the Irish appeared to arrive in the form a scripted Michigan collapse. We did nearly everything possible to let them back in. One minute we were starting a drive to go up by 21, and the next minute, Rees was threading needles on a drive to tie the game. Poor playcalling, avoiding a safety by gifting a touchdown, shanked punts, out of bounds kickoffs...did Notre Dame begin a drive on Saturday that started further out than the 50 yard line? But somehow, we held. There was just enough defense, just enough holds, just enough field goals instead of touchdowns to get us an 11-point victory. It will sound cliché, but it really wasn't that close. Brian Kelly was grossly outcoached. It's not often you can say that a team lost the battle at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, but still won the game. I guess you should never underestimate the power of a good scheme, and talent in the right places at the right time....or quarterbacks that wear numbers greater than 90.
On offense, the middle was closed. An early end around and a patented Lloyd Carr reverse seemed to loosen things up a bit, as did some wide receiver screens and quick outs...though I despise the latter. At some point we flipped the switch to the RichRod offense, and a read-option look that worked at times...though there were a few times that the D-Line penetration forced the read to reveal that either option was bad. Going back and watching the broadcast, I was surprised to see that Devin was knocked around a lot. He is pretty damn good at standing in the pocket under pressure, especially before he was told he could run, also known as the "Turn Him F*&king Loose Brady" offense which I asked for (repeatedly) in Dallas. Man, I'm starting to realize I get drunk more often than I'd like to remember. Anyway, once he was released to run on his own accord, there were just too many options for ND to deal with. Read-option, RichRod, regular run, pocket pass, random scramble...you can't defend that. And they didn't. 41 points got put up on a senior-laden defensive squad loaded with some solid NFL type talent.
Defensively, it was classic Michigan bend don't break. The line seemed to get pushed back at the snap, but BK didn't seem to want to take advantage of it. Did anybody else feel like we got gashed every time they ran the ball? Not sure why they didn't try to do that all day. Rees threw some great passes on Saturday. People were open, but not by much, and the number of times someone was wide open were few...maybe none. I feel like every reception was a step from being batted down, and was met with a nearly immediate hit. Michigan gave up some yards, probably a few too many, but only 23 points...7 of which came on a bullshit tip. All in all, a pretty good day....
The tailgate was ridiculous, technically going for 18.5 hours if you include the game, and featured chicken-pun-laden specialties and a 30 pound pile of fried catfish in honor of Lennay. In between, reuben egg rolls dipped in some kind of magical horseradish sauce, kettle corn, and a pile of pea-meal bacon from our friends from Canada. Crazy? Yes, crazy.
Let's do it again next week...Under the Sun Part 1: Akron. Ugh. Somebody wake me up when we get to East Lansing. Never mind, I'm sure I'll smell the syphilis.