Monday, January 22, 2018

Notre Dame at Michigan

Notre Dame brings a new starting quarterback to Michigan to face the Wolverines under the lights in Week 2.

Notre Dame offense vs. Michigan defense
Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly replaced starting QB Dayne Crist with backup Tommy Rees at halftime of last week's loss to South Florida, and Rees clearly picked up the pace. Rees showed better accuracy and timing than Crist, which is important in an offense that relies on receivers catching the ball in stride to make plays in space. Rees gets the start this week against Michigan, and his ability to make sound pre-snap reads will be important against the Wolverines. Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison threw many looks at Western Michigan last week and overloaded the protection in certain situations. Mattison lined up in a three-man front with DT Ryan Van Bergen at end, WLB Brandon Herron outside Van Bergen and SS Jordan Kovacs outside Herron. Van Bergen shot inside, taking the guard with him, and Herron worked upfield to occupy the tackle. Kovacs split the two untouched and delivered a big hit that forced a fumble. Rees has to recognize these pressure packages and adjust the protection or find his hot receiver before the free man can get to him. Notre Dame has to be careful when trying to beat the blitz with a quick throw, though, because Mattison also will drop defensive linemen into underneath zone coverage. Communicating and keeping Michigan's pass rushers off balance by varying the cadence will be key for Rees.