Notre Dame Game Close to Home For Sheridan

Nick Sheridan's family is Irish Catholic, and his dad has coached at Notre Dame as well as at Michigan. So even though he has never played in Notre Dame stadium, he knows more than most about it ... especially about their blitz packages.

Nick Sheridan comes from a football family. His dad, Bill, played ball for Grand Valley State University and has been a coach ever since. Dad-Bill got his coaching start in college football as a Graduate Assistant for Bo Schembechler back in the mid-1980s, before Nick was even born. When Nick was 14 years old, the elder Sheridan came back to Ann Arbor to coach the linebackers and be recruiting coordinator for Lloyd Carr's defense in 2002. Bill switched to defensive line coach in 2003 for the Big Ten championship squad, before leaving to coach linebackers for the New York Giants after the 2004 season.

However, what a lot of Michigan fans do not know is that Nick's dad was also an assistant coach for Notre Dame in 2001 when Nick was 13 years old. Bill coached the safeties and the special teams under Bob Davie. The Fighting Irish did not play Michigan that season as the series was on a two year hiatus. But they did play West Virginia, who were being coached by current Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez in his first year there, beating the Mountaineers 34-24 in South Bend. Nick was at that game, as well as every other home game that season for his dad's team.

This week Nick recalled the time that his dad spent at Notre Dame, as well as what a game is like in Notre Dame Stadium. "Well when my dad as there, we went 5 and 6; it was a pretty bad year for my family. I have been there (at Notre Dame) since then, when my dad was at Michigan, as an unofficial visitor. It always seems a lot louder when you are a visitor then when you are home. I am sure people will tell you that about Michigan Stadium. It (Notre Dame stadium) is a great environment. It is a very storied program and it will be fun Saturday."

Nick said that there are still some Sheridan family members that follow the Irish and who will be in attendance for Saturday's game. "Yeah, I've got some family members coming. I don't know the exact numbers. I am sure there will be maybe 10-15 people at the game. It is a pretty good amount for a road game. My dad's family is Irish Catholic and so it is kind of a big deal. I have an uncle that graduated from Notre Dame and we'll see who he is rooting for on Saturday."

But Notre Dame is no longer Nick's team of course! He really has simply rooted for his dad's team wherever he went, and he does not really follow Notre Dame anymore outside of preparing for this game. "I don't really pay attention to it," he said. "They are not in our conference, so it really doesn't have any impact on us. But it is always better when Notre Dame is good, just for college football. It is not fun for college football when Notre Dame is struggling. But I really don't pay attention to it."

Looking at the game itself, Nick sees the Notre Dame defense as one that loves to bring pressure. Although that makes it tough on the offensive line, Sheridan thinks it might actually make his job somewhat easier. "Oh yeah, they pressure a lot. For a quarterback, it might be a little bit easier than I would say for the offensive line, because, in the end, no matter what kind of blitz they bring, if they fire zone, which is what they do most of the time, it ends up being the same coverage," he explained. "So as a quarterback, you just have to read the safeties and see what happens. But for the offensive linemen, they (Notre Dame) can bring all sorts of different combinations of blitzes from different angles. They can bring guys from both sides, guys from one side. Most of the time they blitz five and drop eight, or three deep, three under. For a quarterback, fire zone is fire zone. But for the line as far as picking it up and seeing who is coming, that is probably the most difficult part, especially with Notre Dame."

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