I’m still reeling from the absolutely delicious and cathartic victory by the Notre Dame Fighting Irish over the Michigan Wolverines. It was AMAZING to put all of the noise and all of the hype surrounding Michigan aside. We made all of that irrelevant by putting them in their place on Saturday night. It was truly glorious.
I want to make sure that we (especially I) don’t overreact to Saturday night’s outcome. I do get a little too carried away, especially after we beat Michigan. Now that we are almost 48 hours removed from the Green Out, the night game, flyover, and hype of pregame and postgame, let’s break down three things we should take away from the victory.
3 Things To Keep In Mind
- Notre Dame did not do the best job that it could have on offense, but it did very well enough to win the game against an overhyped defense.
There are many aspects of that sentence, so let’s break it down. I am proud of how the Irish competed. They shut out the noise of the so called “vaunted” and “elite” defense of Michigan which was neither elite nor vaunted. They clearly, for whatever reason, did not show up as predicted. They did better in the second half containing the Irish, particularly in the running game, but we still held on to win.
The Irish put up 302 yards of offense on a team that last year gave up about 270 yards per game. We did not put up much more than that, but we did raise their average yards given up. With two rushing touchdowns by Jafar Armstrong and then also a Randy Moss-esque catch by Chris Finke, the explosive start in the first half was enough to startle and rattle the Michigan defense. They have great players, but their coaching by Don Brown and not preparing for Brandon Wimbush to run up the middle was terrible preparation by a supposedly stout defense. Against all hype and everything on the outside, Notre Dame did a great job and had the gameplan to beat that defense. The O-Line had a “bend, don’t break” mentality, especially against Michigan’s D-Line. Some pressure got to Wimbush, but he had time to adjust. It was a well-executed plan.
2. The Notre Dame Defense has work to do, but it was a pretty clear standout after all the dust settled.
The pregame and offseason hype was to the Michigan defense. The Irish defense did a great job, in my book. They rattled Shea Patterson to sack him a few times and also to make him fumble on their final offensive play. Keeping them at bay was incredible. Khalid Kareem and Drue Tranquill seemed to be all over the field on search and destroy missions particularly if they had to run across the field to get the tackle.
Only letting Michigan have one offensive TD drive (and 2 scoring drives all together) was incredible. Michigan’s offense is not very solid, but the moment was not too big for the Irish defense. The secondary play (barring the long pass that Patterson had) was a breath of fresh air too. All in all, a solid performance.
3. Brandon Wimbush is still the starter, and he proved that.
Before people start freaking out, let me explain. I don’t know, as of now, if many people can now argue this takeaway. Did Wimbush light it up on Saturday night? No. Did he execute the plan of the offense well? As the manager of the on-field offense, he absolutely did that. He has some room for growth and development. However, his play was what was needed on Saturday. He was calmer at the line of scrimmage. He seemed more comfortable in tougher situations. You can see that from our first half third down completion percentage. He didn’t falter in tougher spots. Especially when the defense opened up for him, he could run to keep drives alive. He was not stellar, but he was how we needed him to play. To me, I have no issues. Maybe we don’t need the most stellar quarterback play to be successful this season. It clearly is early, but maybe we have the resources for him to know to do just enough. This season will tell.
A Final Thought on the Three Things
For me, this game was all about getting through it and moving on after going 1-0. The Irish did what they needed to do to win. I don’t want to isolate this game, but everything can be built upon from this first, pretty crucial win. It is time to roll along with the season to see how the players develop and get better. There is the space needed to get better, but as far as tough, ranked, and first games go, that was about as good as we can ask for.