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I have to admit I like to watch Denard Robinson play. He is probably the most exciting player in the country. I’ve also gotta say his passing motion is about as painful to watch as Charles Barkley’s golf swing.
I imagine Wolverine fans felt like they owned Notre Dame as long as Robinson was playing. The last two years, he has brought his team from behind to improbable wins. This year the Irish defense had a good game plan and they kept Robinson in check. The Michigan QB threw 4 interceptions and had one fumble.
Neither team played particularly well offensively. The Irish forced 6 turnovers and the Wolverines forced 2 interceptions off of redshirt freshman QB Everett Golson. Golson was benched in the 2nd quarter after a horrible pass into the end zone that was picked off by Michigan. Tommy Rees came on and gave the team a bit of a spark. The Irish scored 10 points with Rees at QB and the defense played lights out all night to hang on for a 13-6 win at home.
Here are my thoughts on the draft eligible players from this game. I will start with the winning team:
Tommy Rees – QB- Jr: Rees took over for starter Everett Golson late in the 2nd quarter. He led the team to a touchdown just before the half, running it in from 2 yards out. The offense struggled in the 2nd half, only getting one field goal, but with the way the Irish defense was playing, it was enough. Rees was the starter last year, but he was suspended for the first game of the year after being arrested outside of an off-campus party. His suspension gave Golson the opportunity to seize the starting QB position. Although Rees has been re-instated, it seems that Brian Kelly is committed to starting Golson and letting Rees come off the bench if they are in a bind. Rees completed 8 of 11 passes for 115 yards, but he was only able to get them into the end zone once.
Cierre Wood-RB-Sr: Cierre Wood is also coming off of a suspension. He was suspended two games for violation of team rules. The Irish seem to be working him into the flow gradually. He looked good in limited action, but Theo Riddick was in the game in the 4th quarter when they needed to run some clock. Wood is a dynamic runner that makes good cuts and makes people miss. He does a good job finding creases in the defense, keeps his feet moving and bounces off of tackles. He had 7 carries for 39 yards.
Theo Riddick-RB-Sr: Riddick was used as a receiver last year, but with the suspension of Woods, he became the starting running back. He has embraced the change and says he likes the contact he gets running the ball. He does a good job spinning off of tackles. Since he’s a former receiver, he can be moved anywhere in the formation. He has good hands and can make acrobatic catches. He was the Irish leading rusher for the night, carrying 17 times for 52 yards and had 5 catches for 22 yards.
T.J. Jones-WR-Jr: T.J. Jones has strong hands and does a good job catching balls at their highest point. He’s only 5’11” but he can get above the defensive back to make the play and he fights for the ball when it’s in the air. He had 2 catches for 35 yards.
Tyler Eifert-TE-Sr: For some reason Tyler Eifert has been in witness protection the last two weeks. He was held without a catch against Michigan State. He only had one catch against the Wolverines, but it was when they needed it most. The Irish needed a first down to run out the clock and Tommy Rees hung the ball up and let Eifert go up and get it for a huge 38 yard gain. Up until that point, the highlight of his game was a false start penalty in the red zone. Eifert is a very versatile receiver that can split out wide, play in the slot, or in tight. Last year, he was the #2 receiver with 63 catches. So far this year, he only has 9 catches in 4 games. With the offense struggling, the Irish really need to find a way to get Eifert involved.
Mike Golic Jr-G-Sr: Golic Jr has NFL bloodlines as his dad was a defensive tackle for the Eagles is now co-host of the Mike and Mike radio show on ESPN. This is Golic Jr’s first year as a starter. He is doing a good job, especially in run blocking. He is a mobile guard that does a good job trap blocking.
Kapron Lewis-Moore-DE-Sr: Kapron Lewis-Moore is a defensive lineman that has experience playing defensive end in a 3-4 scheme. He is a high effort player that keeps going until the play is whistled dead. He has a good swim move when pass rushing. Lewis-Moore had 6 tackles and 1 QB hurry.
Manti Te’o-ILB-Sr: Manti Te’o is the heart and soul of the Irish defense. He led the team in tackles the last two years and is the leading tackler this year. Te’o does a terrific job of keeping the ball in front of him and making the play. He also runs sideline to sideline and has a nose for the ball. A loss of weight in the off season has helped him become a better pass defender. Against Michigan, he was responsible for 3 of the Wolverines turnovers, intercepting 2 passes and forcing Vincent Smith into another bad throw that was intercepted. He also had 8 tackles and 1 tackle for loss.
Danny Spond-OLB-Jr: Danny Spond had a good night. He did a good job getting off of blocks and kept good containment on outside rushing plays. He forced a fumble in the red zone and had 7 tackles.
Bennett Jackson-CB-Jr: Bennett Jackson had an interception and recovered the fumble that was forced by Danny Spond in the red zone. He also had 9 tackles.
Zeke Motta-S-Sr: Zeke Motta is a hard hitting safety. He times his hits so that he can separate the ball from the receiver. His tipped ball ended up as one of the Irish 4 interceptions on the day. Motta also had 6 tackles.
Denard Robinson – QB – Sr: The Irish Killer was finally defeated. After two years of heroics against Notre Dame, he became a turnover machine this year. I have a hard time thinking that Robinson will be a quarterback at the next level. He obviously has a love for the game, but if he wants to play in the NFL, he will have to make a position change. He reminds me a bit of Josh Cribbs of the Browns. I could see him as a slot receiver/kick returner/wildcat QB in the NFL. Arm strength is not the issue. He has very live arm, but he has horrible mechanics. Most of Robinson’s passes are flat footed, just relying on his rocket arm. Sometimes he will wow you with a great pass, but on the next play he wows you because the pass skipped to the receiver. This year he seems to be trying to do too much and making horrible decisions. He still may be the most electric player in the country once he tucks the ball under his arm. Against Notre Dame, he was 13 of 24 for 138 yards with 4 interceptions and he carried the ball 26 times for 90 yards.
Fitzgerald Toussaint-RB-Jr: This was the third game back for Toussaint after being suspended for the first game. He still seems sluggish and trying to get his timing back, although he did break one run for 31 yards. Toussaint ending the night with only 13 carries for 58 yards.
Vincent Smith-RB-Sr: Smith had very limited action. His only appearance on the stat sheet was in the 2nd quarter when he threw an ill-advised option pass that was intercepted by the Irish. Manti Te’o was in Smith’s face and he just threw the ball up for grabs. I doubt the Wolverines will have him throwing the ball any time soon.
Jeremy Gallon-WR-Jr: Jeremy Gallon did a good job converting third downs when he was given the chance. He also carried the ball a couple of times on reverses and returned punts. Gallon had 3 catches for 33 yards and 2 carries for 13 yards.
Taylor Lewan-OT-Jr: Taylor Lewan is a huge offensive tackle. He is 6’8” and weighs 309 pounds. From what I’ve seen against a couple of good defenses, I don’t know that he’s an NFL left tackle. He has the size teams like, but he doesn’t seem very athletic. Speed rushes give him problems and he can be beaten on inside moves. He may be more suited to play on the right side at the next level.
Ricky Barnum-G-Jr: Ricky Barnum is a good run blocker. He is mobile and able to pull and kick out defenders to make running lanes inside.
Michael Schofield-RT-Jr: Schofield had a tough night in pass protection. Notre Dame DE Shaun Tuitt had one sack and 1 QB hurry working against Schofield.
Jake Ryan-OLB-RS Soph: Jake Ryan is the playmaker of the Wolverine defense. He goes all out on every play and makes plays all over the field. He is a good pass rusher that can play defensive end when they go to a nickel package. Ryan is a very smart player that is always in good position. He is quick off the ball and has a good vertical jump. His style reminds me of Brooks Reed of the Texans or Clay Matthews Jr. of the Packers. Ryan had a batted ball, 5 tackles and was disruptive all night.
Thomas Gordon-S-Jr: Gordon had a pick in the end zone to end an Irish scoring threat. He also had 6 tackles.
Jordan Kovacs-S-Sr: Kovacs is a tough in the box safety. He is very good in run support and had 7 tackles and 1 tackle for loss.
by Dwayne Wilton