This will be the second meeting between Brian Kelly and Rich Rodriguez (Cincinnati – West Virginia- 2007) and a game that some think pits two spread offenses against one another. However, while both teams call their offense "spread", reality is both offensive minds are different in their approach and schemes.
Therefore, here are our Five Questions for Michigan.
#1. Will the weather play a factor in the Irish game plan?
As of this writing, the extended forecast calls for a 50% chance of precipitation (rain) with a high of 76. In the three years I covered Brian Kelly at Cincinnati, he never allowed weather to change what he plans on doing. He will still throw the football around but look for him to use more of the running game. This looks like Kelly's best group of backs he has had over the past seven years.
#2. Can the Irish keep Denard Robinson in check?
Denard Robinson is the first quarterback that Rich Rodriguez has had at Michigan that fits what he looks to do. That showed last Saturday when the Deerfield Beach, Florida native rushed for 197 yards on 29 carries setting a new Michigan school record. Throw in Robinson hitting on 19-of-22 passes for 186 yards, and Rodriguez knows his offense is for the first time ready to use the scheme that earned him the Michigan job.
#3. How will the Irish offense do against the Michigan 3-3-5 stack defense?
Much like the Irish 3-4 defensive scheme, the 3-3-5 is set to place more speed on the field. Linebackers are the key playmakers and against Uconn, Obi Ezeh and Jonas Mouton led the Michigan defense with 17 total tackles. It will be key for the Notre Dame offensive line reach second level defenders to open up running lanes and for receivers to block down field. Look for someone like TJ Jones to have a big game from the receiver spot.
#4. How will the 3-4 defense fair against the zone-blocking scheme of Michigan.
The key to Rich Rodriguez offense is the use of zone blocking. In Kelly's previous outing against Rodriguez, he ran a 4-3 defensive scheme and Rodriguez watched as his team rushed 61 times for 295 yards and four touchdowns.
#5. Brian Kelly showed little of his overall offense against Purdue, would he now open up the playbook against Michigan?
Brian Kelly did not show too much of his offense against Purdue. He kept things simple and allowed Dayne Crist to get into a flow while also using a solid rushing effort. Now it is Michigan week and the team has gotten the first victory out of the way.
Another week of learning should help Brian Kelly bring out more of his air attack offense. Dayne Crist threw the ball 26 times against Purdue. Look for Kelly to increase the number of attempts this week. On average, Brian Kelly will look to throw the ball 36 times a game.