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Notre Dame Football: Michigan Wolverines Q&A with Maize n Brew

Pat Rick talked with Trevor Woods of Maize n Brew to learn a little more about this Michigan football team

NCAA Football: Michigan at Illinois Michael Allio-USA TODAY Sports

Your Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team, 5-1 and ranked 8th in the AP Poll, have officially finished their sitting-at-home, cheeseburger-scarfing, just-observing-the-carnage-around-them bye week.

Now, they face perhaps their last ranked opponent of the regular season, taking a road trip to Ann Arbor to face off against the #19, 5-2 Michigan Wolverines in the Big House.

So, in order to prep ourselves for another road night game against a ranked opponent, I reached out to Trevor Woods, an editor over at the Michigan SB Nation site Maize n Brew. Trevor talked shop with me about Jim Harbaugh, Shea Patterson, the Wolverines receivers, Don Brown’s defense, and more in the Q&A below.

So, let’s jump into it and see what all we need to know heading into Saturday evening’s showdown.


1. Michigan has not had the start a lot of Wolverines fans were hoping for in 2019, nearly being upset by Army before getting dominated by Wisconsin and then falling again this past weekend against Penn State. With that said, UM is still 5-2 and ranked 19th in the country. What are your thoughts on the season so far, and on how the rest of the year will play out for Michigan?

Trevor Woods: Michigan isn’t where they want to be, and the team would be the first to say that two losses through their first seven games is unacceptable and doesn’t meet their standards.

However, the team has improved since being dominated on the road versus Wisconsin. Young players such as Cam McGrone, Zach Charbonnet, and Hassan Haskins have become key contributors, and more importantly, the team is playing with a much more noticeable physicality and toughness. It’s hard to say how the rest of the year will pan out for Michigan, but I can see them heading into the last game versus Ohio State with a 9-2 record.

2. What are your personal feelings, and also the general feeling of the fanbase, toward coach Jim Harbaugh? Do you think he and his staff are the right people to get Michigan back to where it needs to be, or has it become clear at this point that it would take someone else to get the Wolverines back to being consistent CFP contenders?

Trevor Woods: I think the expectations for Michigan are entirely too high. The program has won only one national championship in the last fifty-plus years, and much of the frustration towards Harbaugh as a whole wouldn’t be as fever pitched if he beat Ohio State a couple times during his first four years on the job.

NCAA Football: Iowa at Michigan Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The fanbase has been angry collectively, but the program was in real bad shape before Harbaugh arrived and the reality is it takes time to turn a program around (ask Dabo Swinney), and Ann Arbor Michigan isn’t the most glamorous destination for a recruit to spend their college years.

I truly feel as long as Harbaugh beats Michigan State and Ohio State (and Notre Dame for that matter) fans will step away from the ledge and start throwing love at Harbaugh once again.

3. Let’s talk about QB Shea Patterson, who has definitely had some nice moments, but also some disappointing performances, since transferring from Ole Miss before the 2018 season. What does he do well, what does he not do well, and how do you think he will play against a stingy Notre Dame defense who’s had two weeks to prepare for him?

Trevor Woods: Patterson was fumbling the football at an alarming clip early in the season and has just one game this season where he hasn’t committed a turnover. Part of Patterson’s problems have been due to him not going through his progressions quick enough and also not being as accurate of a passer as last season.

However, against Penn State I was highly impressed with how Patterson battled back despite Michigan being down 21-0. Patterson was in complete control of the no huddle offense and was making quick decisions, moving in the pocket well, and showcasing his scrambling abilities. It was the type of performance that leaves room for optimism.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Penn State Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame, as you noted, will be coming off a bye and have had ample time to prepare for Patterson, but he just went up against one of the best defenses on the road and wasn’t shell-shocked and didn’t back down. Michigan’s offensive line has a major say in how Patterson performs, too.

4. Who are the skill position players that ND should be worried about? Is it just the group of talented wideouts, or are there other guys at RB or TE who could do some major damage on Saturday?

Trevor Woods: Michigan’s running game is really gaining momentum and they could rely on Zach Charbonnet and Hassan Haskins to carry the load. Both are physical backs with enough speed to have big gains.

Look out for the trio of Nico Collins, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and Ronnie Bell at wide out as well, along with tight end Nick Eubanks, who has a lot of speed for a TE.

5. How has the UM offensive line been this year? Will they be able to effectively run the ball on Saturday, and do you think the Wolverine tackles are prepared to block Julian Okwara, Khalid Kareem, etc. coming off the edge on passing downs?

Trevor Woods: It’ll be a challenge for the UM offensive line on Saturday, but they’ve played great football ever since the Wisconsin loss. The pass protection has been high caliber, giving Patterson plenty of time to operate. The run blocking has looked better the past couple weeks, and the unit really wore the Penn State d-line down in the second half.

They’re a veteran unit that was considered one of Michigan’s biggest strengths heading into the season, and despite a couple hiccups early in the year, the hype may have actually been warranted after all.

6. Which position groups are strengths and which are weaknesses on the Michigan defense, and who are the X-factors who will need to bring their A-games in order to slow down Ian Book and the Irish?

Trevor Woods: I think Michigan has a really good defense, but the biggest weakness can be caught in a schematic blunder. Michigan likes to pressure so much and play cover zero that it leaves them vulnerable on the back end when a safety can’t cover a wideout, or a linebacker can’t cover a shallow crosser. Michigan’s defense is all about applying pressure, but when the blitz doesn’t get home, kryptonite can appear.

Michigan’s D has a lot of X-factors: defensive end Kwity Paye has been a nightmare for opposing QBs, LB Cam McGrone has been impressive (as has LB Josh Uche who can blitz and cover), Ambry Thomas and Lavert Hill are reliable corners, and other players not mentioned have played well this season, too.

NCAA Football: Michigan Spring Game Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The talent is there, but schematic execution can be hit or miss and a couple big chunk plays by the opposing offense can alter an otherwise great game by the defense.

7. Notre Dame has a sophomore RB named C’Borius Flemister. What are the best/funniest/most ridiculous names on the Michigan roster, and do any of them measure up to my guy C’Bo?

Trevor Woods: I think Kwity Paye sounds cool.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Northwestern Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

8. Dance-off between Brian Kelly and Jim Harbaugh - what song(s) does each coach dance to, who has the better stage presence and charisma, and who ultimately wins?

*Pat Rick Editor’s Note: Trevor declined to answer this question — please leave comments on this article with your answers, loyal OFD readers!!! I need to know the answer to this.

9. If the Michigan football team were to act out the hit song “Monster Mash” by Bobby Boris Pickett and the Crypt Kickers, what current players/coaches would assume the following roles, and why?

Roles: Zombies Having Fun, Vampires Feasting, Ghouls from Humble Abodes, Wolfman, Dracula, Dracula’s Son, Igor, Baying Hounds, Coffin Bangers, ”The Crypt-Kicker Five”

*Pat Rick Editor’s Note: Trevor declined to answer this question — please leave comments on this article with your answers, loyal OFD readers!!! I need to know the answer to this.

10. Prediction time: give me the final score for ND @ Michigan, who wins, and your reasoning why.

Trevor Woods: It was a close game in South Bend last season and I expect it to be yet another close one in Ann Arbor. Ian Book is a fine quarterback and never gives up when his team is down. His comeback prowess needs to be respected. Notre Dame may have lost at Georgia this season but I was highly impressed by the effort in defeat and looked like an even better team than last season.

With that said, the fight Michigan had against Penn State, nearly coming back after being down 21-0 and losing 28-21, will make them stronger and not mail in the rest of the season. Michigan-Notre Dame is a huge rivalry and I expect the fans at Michigan Stadium to be loud and create a home field advantage. Michigan’s offense has been trending in the right direction and may be on the verge of a breakout, and as long as Michigan’s defense doesn’t give up an abundance of big plays I believe Michigan wins this one 31-21.


Despite being a Michigan man, I want to thank Trevor for answering my questions and putting together this nice little preview of the Wolverines for us.

For any and all UM news heading into Saturday night’s game, be sure to check out the Maize n Brew site (where you should be able to find my answers to their questions later this week), as well as follow them and Trevor on Twitter for any breaking Wolverine updates.

Well folks, that’s all we’ve got for this week’s Q&A — see you in my Friday preview!