News and Notes: Keys to the Game

Can the Irish offense produce more fireworks this weekend versus Michigan?

Head coach Charlie Weis got off to almost a perfect start as the play caller guru he was advertised to be. Over 500 yards on total yards, including 275 yards on the ground, turned a lot of heads around the country. Irish fans can be sure Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr was watching every move Brady Quinn and the offense were making. The offensive line dominated Pittsburgh and must do more of the same to give Quinn time to hit his multiple targets at wide receiver. Notre Dame must keep up with the talented Wolverines offense step for step. If Michigan scores early, the Big House crowd will be rocking in this intense rivalry game. Look for Weis to exploit the Wolverines inability to prevent the big play and a lot of points from the Irish.

Which defense will step up?

The majority of predictions for this game have both offenses piling up points at will. Notre Dame's defense heard those same rumblings all off-season and played solid in their opener, holding Pitt quarterback Tyler Palko to a mere 215 yards passing. This week, it'll be tougher with the likes of Chad Henne, Michael Hart, Jason Avant, and Steve Breaston to slow down. Even though it's a new year, many people associate the Michigan defense with not stopping Texas quarterback Vince Young at any point of the game in their Rose Bowl defeat last season. Last week, it was more of the same as the Wolverines gave up 211 yards on the ground to Northern Illinois and 411 total yards. These numbers do not bode well as Notre Dame comes into the game fresh with confidence and with the genius of Weis to exploit their weaknesses. Who makes the plays? Michigan forced five turnovers in their opener while the Irish forced two. More than likely, with all the talk around the respective offenses, the defense that steps up in crucial situations will win this game.

Will Notre Dame kick to Steve Breaston?

Breaston is as explosive as they come in the college game. The 6'1", 178 lb. senior is a speedster that can take any punt or kickoff for a touchdown in the blink of an eye. The Irish created a turnover on special teams against Pitt but also had some mishaps. A mishap on Saturday could mean Breaston breaking a long one and turning the momentum towards the Wolverines. Weis is a smart coach. Expect him to put the ball in Breaston's hands as few times as possible. The special teams battle will play out all afternoon and could decide the outcome of the game.


The pundits are right: this game is going to be high scoring. The offenses are just too good to be contained for an extended period of time. Who has a better coach calling plays? Notre Dame does in Charlie Weis. Who has the better offensive talent? Michigan. The turnover battle will be critical this weekend. Chad Henne outplays Brady Quinn and Steve Breaston makes a big play somewhere on the field. Michigan 35 Notre Dame 31 Top Stories