Sunday, September 11, 2011
What we learned about Notre Dame: Week 2
By Matt Fortuna
1. Turnovers are costly: Yes, we knew that last week. But Saturday provided another valuable lesson that no matter how efficient an offense is, it won't make a difference in the end if it continues to give the ball away. Five more turnovers have negated consecutive 500-yard outputs from Notre Dame, which has to be the most talented 0-2 team there is. Which means nothing.
Tommy Rees secured his hold on the starting quarterback job with his performance Saturday night.
2. The pass coverage is susceptible to the big play: There's no excusing four touchdowns -- three through the air -- in the fourth quarter. And there's absolutely no excusing the kind of coverage that left Jeremy Gallon virtually untouched for a 64-yard gain with eight seconds left. Denard Robinson finished with 338 yards passing on just 11 completions, making the big throws when it mattered against a unit that was impressive in containing him for most of the first 45 minutes.
3. Rees is the guy: Yes, there were some befuddling plays (like the ball magically slipping out of his hand on a fourth-quarter throw) and some plain dumb ones (like trying to hit a crowded Michael Floyd at the goal line in the second quarter), but Tommy Rees got the offense moving for much of the game. He was 8-for-8 in the first quarter and flawless on the Irish's last drive, which we all believed would be the game-winner. Coach Brian Kelly said afterward he was impressed with the way Rees handled the situation, which should eliminate any more potential quarterback controversies. For now, at least.
4. Luck is not on the Irish's side: There's no explaining Rees losing a throw on his own in the fourth quarter. Or Robinson recovering his team's fumble on third-and-goal, for that matter. Quirks that came with the fourth quarter, with this rivalry and with the first night game in the Big House all favored Michigan, which has had the Irish's number for three straight years now. That's all the more magnified when the Irish can't put the Wolverines away early, leaving things to chance, which is something that hasn't favored the Irish so far this year.