Mark Ouimet: Notre Dame Wrapup, Oregon Preview

If you liked-or-disliked former U-M staffer Mark Ouimet's Top 25, you'll love-or-hate his prediction vs. 3-0 Oregon! "It'll be a barn burner!"

First off, this is just of interest. This is probably the first time in a decade that there hasn't been a Michigan wide receiver get 100 receiving yards in a game yet ... Braylon Edwards leads the team with 182 yards total. Michigan hasn't had to pass the ball that much, and the receivers have dropped some. In other words, if Oregon can stop the run, it'll be one hell of a game.


Against Notre Dame.

Running the ball:

Basically Michigan dominated up front -- after that first sack on John Navarre (Topy Pape missed an assignment) they did a great job. And Chris Perry had another good day, getting 133 yards rushing, and also catching the ball well. Also, Kevin Dudley has done a great job blocking, both the linebackers and the blitzers.

Michigan came out throwing, trying to throw the Irish off balance, but when that misfired they got down to business and established the run.

For some reason Notre Dame played lot 'nickel' on second as well as third down ... so Michigan just ran it.

The Notre Dame defense was overmatched. They missed linebacker Mike Goolsby, and Courtney Watson was back for the first time. Basically, they were overmatched and out-coached.

Passing the ball:

The Wolverines' wide receivers did a little better, although they didn't have to catch much. But Jason Avant will hang onto it, and Steve Breaston, I believe, will move up.

And Chris Perry is catching it real well out of backfield; the screen play has been huge so far. Perry has done a good job blocking in passing situationa too.

Tim Massaquoi made the one good deep reception and is gradually getting more involved. I fact a lot of times it's Edwards/Massaquoi/Perry ... that's how Navarre has checked down when he went back.

When Carl Tabb catches it, it's from the front side to back side. Tabb is getting more and more involved as the back side receiver.

Against Oregon.

Running the ball:

I don't think you'll see anything much different. Michigan will try to pound it. But I think they will have to throw the ball more. Oregon is 3-0, and have given up only 22 points a game, which is good, and they have ten sacks.

Oregon will try to stop the run. No one has done it yet, but Oregon will be the first good team to put eight and nine guys in the box.

Oregon's defensive ends have been good, and their linebackers have been good as well. They put men up in the box to stop the run. With Chris Perry running for 183 yards a game, they will try to get him under 100. If Oregon can slow down the run, it'll be one hell of a game.

I don't know how hurt David Underwood is. But if he is out I think Pierre Rembert will do fine. I think Pierre's ready to step out.

Passing the ball:

Oregon blitzes -- they will try to confuse Navarre. They have ten sacks as I said. Navarre will have to read the blitz and go to the hot receiver. A lot could hinge on that.

Oregon's cornerbacks are good but small, both under 6-0. And they have decent safeties but they're a little undersized as well.

In my opinion this game will have a lot of passing -- on both sides of ball.

Also it will be loud for Navarre; Michigan has had few penalties so far, but they are liable to be more this week.


Against Notre Dame.

Michigan attacked Notre Dame at their weaknessses.

The Notre Dame offensive line is young, and Michigan attacked and attacked it well. Pierre Woods and Larry Stevens played well, as did Gabe Watson, and Lawrence Reid.

Michigan also exposed Holiday as a bad passer, employing blitzes, robber safeties (using three safeties), and Marlin played some disguised corner. I think Notre Dame willuse Brady Quinn down the road.

For Michigan, Marcus Curry is having a hellava season ... he leads team in tackles. Jacob Stewart has had a good season so far. And Ernest Shazor is playing well. And of coure we expect the best from Marlin.

Michigan just shut Notre Dame down. They stopped the run (Julius Jones had just one carry over 10 yards), and confused Holiday with different zones, coverages, blitzes.

Now no one has gone deep on Michigan so far. Notre Dame didn't try to go deep.

Notre Dame is simply a bad team right now. It is NOT a lack of overall talent, but more that the talent doesn't fit Willinaham's style of play. The kids there were recruited to run Davie's offense. I think Notre Dame will struggle this year and next, maybe go a little over .500. They have to beat MSU this week. And one more thing -- as far as recruiting. After Willingham's first year of recruiting ... in my opinion he can't recruit like he did at Stanford ... the town (South Bend), the weather, the school, all are different. He has to recruit harder. Out there his competition wasn't close in proximity, and he wasn't getting the best West Coast kids, he was getting the 'blue collar' kids.

Against Oregon.

The foremost thing is, they have two good quarterbacks, Kellen Clemens and Jason Fife. Both played really well last weekend against Arizona: Clemens was 11 of 17 for 168 yards, Fife 11 of 15 for 115 yards.

Wide receivers Samie Parker and Williams both average over 100 yards receiving a game. Oregon has completed 89 passes in three games, averaging 14.9 yds per catch.

Star receiver Samie Parker sprained his ankle in the second quarter last weekend and didn't return. But he is expected to play Saturday.

So they will throw the ball. And they will score.

Oregon has an experienced offensive line, a solid unit, with good players. They average 198 yds rushing a game, four yards per carry.

Oregon will spread it out, and throw slants, draws, screens, and they will throw it deep. It's a fast break, no-huddle offense. They will try to catch Michigan off guard: reverses, play action, roll outs. They will go over the top as well - Michigan hasn't seen that yet. We will see it all.

If Oregon has over 300 total yards Saturday, it'll be a game. And they will. This game will be a problem for Michigan.

Michigan needs to get to the quarterback, right away, in the first quarter. Oregon scores the most in the first quarter -- 44 points. The Wolverine defense will have to confuse their quarterbacks, with blitzes - both zone and safety blitzes. This will mean a lot of man coverage. The main reason for Marlin Jackson playing safety this year is teams like this.

If the Michigan defense has trouble with Oregon's running game, it'll be their draws. Against the straight-up running game, Michigan shouldn't have trouble.

The Michigan defenders will be in the right place -- will they make plays? That will be the key for the Michigan defense.

Oregon also has good punt and kick returners ... they average 23.8 yards on kickoff returns, 9.5 yards on punt returns.

Oregon's biggest problem offensively -- penalties. When you do so much offensively, you get penalized a lot. And Oregon is a highly penalized team. And their 42% on 3rd down conversions isn't great.


Oregon is a good team offensively. It's a great matchup. Oregon will have trouble stopping Michigan, and visa versa. John Navarre has to have a good game: make good reads, hit the hot receiver against blitzes, and throw accurately. And Kevin Dudley has to do a good job blocking again, and Perry has to run well.

This game could well go like recent Northwestern games. I think the game will be close and high scoring. There will be weird things happen. Reverses, throw back passes -- by either team (too bad Gonzales is hurt). Both will run reverses, maybe double reverses. Michigan faked a kickoff reverse against Houston remember.

Because there are two good offenses here, two things in my opinion will decide the game:
1. Whoever turns the ball over the least.
2. Special teams -- whoever can get the best field position.
In other words, turnovers and field position. Whoever has the ball more and in the best field position will win.

And the field goal kickers will be important. I bet you'll see Adam Finley again this week, in a big game (then Garrett Rivas against Indiana).

PREDICTION: It'll be a tight one. And it's gonna be a barn-burner. I wouldn't be surprised if overtime. 39-36 ... who will be on top? Let's hope it's Michigan. I think it will be.


Ouimet regarding Chris Perry and the Heisman race.

This is a very very important game. It's on national TV.

This year's group of Heisman contenders is not a real strong group, so Perry has a great chance. There was no front runner entering the season. Brock Berlin is young, Oklahoma has no standouts, Florida State is just bouncing back, and the KSU quarterback, Eli Roberson, is out for three games. Texas' Roy Williams is just having a decent year. And NC-State's Philip Rivers has to win the rest of his games.

So the timing is pefect for Perry. He has four big games remaining, Oregon, Purdue, Iowa, and Ohio State. If he has over 100 yards in those games, he'll have a very, very good chance. And it helps that Michigan is throwing the ball to him as well, even splitting him out ocassionally.

I think Miami's Berlin and Frank Gore will come up and give Perry a run. David Green, the Georgia quarterback, could come up too. This weekend against Oregon will the the first real test for Perry ... they're gonna put nine men in the box to stop him. Perry can't get too cocky, and he can't fumble it .. those are the worries.

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