Friday, September 09, 2005

Road Trip! | by Pat

With the weekend nearly upon us, Team BGS is gearing up for the road trip to Ann Arbor where we'll cheer for our beloved Irish, spread the Gospel according to Saint Charlie, and hopefully meet the Michigan bloggers. (and if they want to throw hands, we'll be ready!)

We leave you with a quick look at some of the key personnel for Michigan who figure to weigh heavily on the outcome of the game.

The last we saw of Wolverine quarterback Chad Henne, he was a freshman making his first start on the road. Now he's a much more confortable and advanced player.
"He's not in the same world that he was a year ago," Carr said this week. "Just getting the signals. We had some issues in early games, particularly where we didn't get into the right play, we didn't get into the right formation, we didn't get into the right check, all because of his youth. That's not going to be a problem right now."
Notre Dame's not the only team with a sophomore sensation at running back. Perhaps the key to a Michigan victory, Mike Hart will try to keep up his impressive yards-per-carry pace and keep the Irish offense off the field.
"Last year … I wasn't expecting to play that much [against Notre Dame]," Hart said. "This year I'm going in there as the starter, so you prepare a lot more and watch a lot more film. You just have to get yourself ready because they have a great team. We're going to have to bring our 'A' game if we really want to win."
If Hart does struggle to get on track, Henne can turn to Jason Avant, an extremely dependable wideout who will do whatever the team needs him to do to win.
"I wouldn't say I'm the toughest guy at all," Avant said. "I try to play my hardest and represent the receiving corps and my team the best I can. I'm going to go out there and play as hard as I can. If that means blocking, if that means going over the middle, that's what I'm going to do.''
One player who sounds like he might miss the game on Saturday is tight end Tim Massaquoi, which would be a sizable blow to the Michigan offense. Even with all of the weapons on the Wolverine's offense, Notre Dame wasn't forgetting about him.
"If you spend too much time trying to stop the running back or trying to shut down the wide receivers, the guy and the position that can exploit you the fastest is the tight end position," Weis says.
Moving over to defense, perhaps the biggest matchup on this side of the ball will be how defensive end Lamar Woodley does against left tackle Ryan Harris. If Woodley can get pressure consistently on Quinn, it could be a long day for Irish fans.
"One good thing about playing against LaMarr is, you're not going to play against many better defensive ends," said U-M offensive lineman Adam Stenavich. "It's fun to go against a guy like him."
Another defensive lineman looking to bottle up the Irish ground game is Michigan's big hoss, Gabe Watson, who has plenty of motivation to pick up his play against Notre Dame.
“Some guys get preseason honors and then they relax and get complacent,” Watson said. “Coach Carr knows how to keep his foot in your butt and keep you motivated.”
Rounding out the defense is a unit that has as many question marks as the Irish secondary. It's likely that Notre Dame will try to establish a ground game and chew up the clock. But if they have to move to the air, the outcome of the game could fall on how the Michigan defensive backs perform as a unit.

Michigan’s secondary used the whole depth chart, playing everyone who was listed as a starter or a backup. With so many newcomers in the rotation, mistakes were bound to happen, but the unit needs to take shape quickly with Notre Dame coming to town Saturday. The Fighting Irish were able to move the ball with ease in its game against Pittsburgh, and will provide a challenge to the unsettled secondary.