Pound it was definitely not the game plan for Notre Dame against Michigan. In fact, it was pretty much the exact opposite.
"It was bombs away," Charlie Weis said. "We had respect for Michigan's front and we felt if we nickeled and dimed them all day it could be tough sledding."
The defense gave the Irish such good field position on their first two possessions that Weis and company were not able to drop any bombs, but that is exactly what happened on their third drive.
With a 14-0 lead and the ball at their own 37 after stopping Michigan on fourth down, Jimmy Clausen dropped back and fired one down field to Michael Floyd. Floyd did not make the catch, but drew a 15-yard pass interference penalty. The next snap was the same play, but this time to Golden Tate on the other side. Tate slipped behind two defenders and ran under Clausen's deep ball for a 48-yard score that gave the Irish a 21-0 lead ten minutes into the game.
Weis said that the weather was a factor in why Notre Dame had just two designed runs in the first quarter and only nine in the first half.
"We knew the weather report. We knew it was supposed to get bad later in the game and we wanted to get on top of them," he said. "It was going to be bombs away. That was the game plan going in. We had more, we just didn't get to them."
The ‘Bombs away' approach did not generate eye-popping numbers for Clausen, who was 10 for 21 for 147 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, but it certainly set a tone for the Irish and showed how much confidence Weis has in his quarterback."The first two plays (of the third possession) were the first two plays of the openers. So the pass interference on the pass to Floyd followed by the touchdown pass to Golden, they were the first two plays," he said. "If we were on our own 5-yard line we were calling them and if it was pouring we were still calling them. So obviously I must have confidence that the quarterback will make a good decision and make the play."
Clausen was obviously pleased with the game plan going in, but gave the credit to his receivers.
"They made plays. My job was to get the ball to the athletes, get them the ball and do what they do," he said. "It's great. I mean (Weis) has confidence in me and the receivers coming out of the gate throwing bombs."
WEIS WOUNDED: Weis got knocked down during a second-quarter punt when a Michigan player drove John Ryan into Weis' legs. The initial diagnosis is one all too familiar to Weis.
"Tommy Brady's got nothing on me," he said, referring to the Patriots quarterback who is out for the season. "MCL/ACL. How do you like that? I feel like an athlete for the first time in my life."
Weis said that he is usually cautious on the sidelines, but that the play was unavoidable.
"Because of my bad feet, I'm always safe on the sidelines. I always err on the side of caution," he said. "The play was by me, my vision went right and then one of their guys hit John Ryan. I never saw it coming. I just knew as soon as I got hit.
"I'm laying down there and other than the fact that I knew my knee got blown out, you're sitting there and they want you to pop back up. I said, ‘Let's relax here for a second, fellas.' Because I knew I wanted to regain my composure. You know when it gets blown out, it was blown out. You didn't have to guess."
Weis was fitted with a brace and needed crutches for the rest of the game along with a cart to get back to the locker room. He said that he would deal with the injury for the next couple of days to handle recruiting matters and the game plan for Michigan State and is likely to have surgery on Tuesday.
Ryan could not apologize enough after the game.
"I feel awful. I won't sleep at all tonight," he said. "I already owe the man enough and now I'll never be able to repay him. I'm already further in debt now."
FLOYD GETS THE START: Floyd had only one pass thrown in his direction during the opener, but he was featured prominently in week two. Floyd started and played almost every snap and although he had just two catches for 20 yards, Clausen was looking for him often. Floyd did force pass interference penalties to set up two Notre Dame scores in the first quarter.
Weis said that David Grimes' stiff back made room for the freshman to see the field.
"David was a go, but we only used David in three-wide receiver sets," he said. "Michael was getting the reps with the first group (late in the week), so it was better for us rather than get away from the flow."
While Cave did not play against Michigan, the other four first-year players did and were joined by cornerback Robert Blanton and offensive guard Trevor Robinson, who made their first career appearances against Michigan.
Robinson replaced Chris Stewart who was battling a leg injury and the freshman played the entire second half at right guard. For the second straight game Fleming made the opening tackle on kickoff along with David Bruton.
The Irish showed that they can play an especially young defense as freshmen Blanton, Johnson and Fleming appeared on the field at the same time as sophomores Harrison Smith, Brian Smith, Ian Williams and Gary Gray at one point in the second quarter.
DINING AT RUTH'S CHRIS: For the second straight game the Notre Dame offensive line did not allow a sack. After getting sacked by Michigan seven times as a freshman in 2007, Clausen plans to show his appreciation.
"I told the offensive lineman in the locker room, I said, ‘Pick a place where you want to go to dinner. I'm buying this week,'" he said. "I'm giving them a bonus."
When told that the linemen said that they preferred Ruth's Chris Steak House, Clausen replied, "If it's Ruth's Chris, it's Ruth's Chris."
'88 TEAM HONORED: The members of Notre Dame's last championship squad 20 years ago were honored this weekend. Lou Holtz. the players from the 1988 National Championship received commemorative jerseys and hats from adidas and were honored before Saturday's game. The past players formed a tunnel on the field for this year's squad to run through on its way out of the locker room for the start of the game.
Holtz joined David Grimes, David Bruton and Maurice Crum as an honorary captain for the coin toss.
OTHER ND NOTES: For the second straight week, Notre Dame won the coin toss and for the second straight week Weis deferred to the second half…Kevin Brooks replaced Cave as the short-snapper against Michigan…After not playing against San Diego State, James Aldridge carried the ball nine times for 31 yards against the Wolverines. Armando Allen was the third back with just two carries for four yards…Even with the Notre Dame victory, Michigan still leads the all-time series 20-15-1…The win was the 300th of all-time for the Fighting Irish in Notre Dame Stadium.