I already wrote about Saturday’s Michigan-Notre Dame game under the lights at the Big House, but I could publish a few more posts and it wouldn’t do the game justice. But here are some things I didn’t mention the other day:
-The mutual respect between Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson and Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o really impressed me. I noticed this at last year’s contest and again on Saturday. Every time Te’o tackled Robinson, which was often, they patted each other on the shoulder pads. It was good to see this sportsmanship, especially from two star players.
-Speaking of Robinson and Te’o, last year’s game provided an iconic image for the Michigan QB: his stiff arm of Te’o that, in the still photograph, looked a lot like the Heisman pose. This year provided another: Robinson standing in the pocket set to deliver a pass—that would go for 77 yards—while an ND defender is on the turf below him, grabbing Robinson’s ankle with one hand and tugging at his jersey (those night game uniforms really stretch!) with the other. I’m not sure what it means that one of Robinson’s most accurate passes of the game came under these circumstances, but it was a cool image nonetheless.
-Notre Dame is a good team. Not a great team, but a good team. It’s easy to see how the Irish could be 2-0. They have posted over 1,000 yards of offense, 10th best in the country. But they have the most turnovers in the country (10). The ND offense is doing the equivalent of leaving the bases loaded a few times a game. If they don’t fix that this Saturday against Michigan State—and some of the turnover issues should simply revert to the mean over time—they’ll have the distinction of being the best 0-3 team in the country.
-ND quarterback Tommy Rees reminds me of former Michigan QB Chad Henne during his freshman season, in that Henne would often lock his eyes on star senior receiver Braylon Edwards. Rees sometimes does the same thing with Michael Floyd. This isn’t always a bad thing; after all, Floyd is one of the best wide receivers in the country. But Rees’ tunnel vision resulted in his second interception of the night against Michigan. Getting the ball to your best player is good strategy, but tipping your hand and throwing into double coverage when another receiver is open is not.
-Wide receivers are known for one thing above all else: catching passes. But they spend more time blocking than snagging footballs. That’s why I’d like to highlight Michigan wideout Roy Roundtree, who only had one reception on Saturday (though it was sort of an important one) but made numerous downfield blocks for his teammates. This is an underrated and underappreciated skill, and Roundtree has excelled in this area the last couple of seasons.