After last week’s debacle in South Bend, Brian Kelly’s Fighting Irish travel to Ann Arbor for the first game under lights in the Big House. Al Dannity looks at the crisis facing Notre Dame and their prospects this Saturday night.
JV errors Statistically the Irish dominated South Florida last weekend. They outgained the Bulls 508 yards to 254 in total offense, double the productivity of their visitors. It was however the 5 turnovers committed by the Fighting Irish, against 0 by the Bulls, that proved their undoing. What was supposed to be an opportunity to open with a win against a BCS opponent, turned into the sloppiest display by Notre Dame since the turnaround in the second half of 2010. Dayne Crist, anointed the starter for all 13 games (including a potential bowl trip) by Brian Kelly, was awful in the first half. His replacement, Tommy Rees, looked much more composed despite giving up to INTs.
Kelly’s fury could turn to fear The unusual sight of Brian Kelly visibly ripping into his players caught most College Football betting fans off guard. This was not the passionate but composed coach who led Cincinnati to two straight BCS bowls. This was an angry man who wanted to get up in the face of his players. That lack of composure is understandable when you look at the context. That defeat to USF will now be followed by two match-ups the Irish might well lose. A 0-3 start in year two would not instil confidence in Kelly going forward. These are desperate times.
The verdict There is of course cause for hope. Saturday’s opponents, Michigan, are very much in an adjustment phase. Denard Robinson is having to adapt to a more pro-style offense installed by Brady Hoke and the defense is still a work in progress. That being said, the Wolverines were efficient in a dominant, if storm-shortened, win over Western Michigan last Saturday. With home advantage in their favor, the Wolverines are going to prove a tough test for any opponent in Ann Arbor under lights. The Irish should start Rees under center and I believe they will. The question now is whether he can get Notre Dame to finish off drives. I believe he will but that still won’t be enough for the win. Brady Hoke has a special unit at Michigan, it may not be ready for the big time yet but I like them to shine in prime time.