The numbers game: A look inside ND-Michigan

There might not be a lot for Notre Dame football fans to be cheerful about in mid-September with two losses to open the season, but the team's numbers, both produced and allowed, offer quite a bit to talk about.

The big plays came fast and furious, on both sides of the ball, in Notre Dame's 35-31 loss to Michigan on Saturday night in The Big House.

Notre Dame's explosive plays included a 38-yard run by Cierre Wood (134 yards rushing), a 29-yard touchdown pass from Tommy Rees to Theo Riddick, a 25-yard catch by Michael Floyd, and a 38-yard run by backup running back Jonas Gray.

The Irish were efficient on offense, too, going 8-of-14 on third downs.

But the big, big play was the backbreaker on defense.

Michigan's Denard Robinson ran for a 39-yard gain, and though he completed just 11 passes in 24 attempts, threw for an astounding 338 yard on those few completions. Junior Hemingway caught a 43-yard touchdown and a 77-yard pass, and Jeremy Gallon had a 64-yard catch-and-run late.

Adding them up, Notre Dame had eight offensive plays of more than 20 yards. Michigan had seven. But five of the Wolverines' big plays went for more than 35 yards, compared to just one for the Irish.

Amazingly enough, Michigan did not have an offensive drive of more than 2 minutes and 35 seconds the entire night. The Wolverines lost the time-of-possession battle 37:01 to 22:59. And even in their 28-point fourth quarter, they only held the ball for 6 minutes, to Notre Dame's 9.

Making a change

Perhaps understandably, Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly did not go into great depth in his postgame press conference after the Irish fell 35-31 to host Michigan on Saturday night. However, he did describe the adjustments that the Wolverines made as they clawed their way back from deficits of 14-0 and 24-7.

"They started bringing pressure and we made some mistakes," Kelly said. "We had a fumble, the interception, all of those were critical turnovers when we are moving the football."

Kelly reiterated that top-to-bottom improvement is needed for the 0-2 team, and did not exempt coaching from that analysis.

"We had a chance on the road to win and that's not how we need to play," Kelly said. "So taking a step back, and going back to my opening comments, we are not good enough yet. We have kids that care and are playing hard but we're just not good enough. And that means we have to execute better and coach better."

Making his mark

Michael Floyd has made one bad play in this 0-2 season, a holding penalty last week that wiped out a touchdown, and he's made a ton of good plays.

He became Notre Dame's all-time leading receiver in yards gained this week, eclipsing former teammate Golden Tate. He caught a career-best 13 passes on Saturday for 159 yards. His two-game totals: 25 receptions for 313 yards and two touchdowns. Top Stories