Notre Dame won with defense last season, but it's obvious after two games that this season's Irish defense isn't in the same class as last season's version.
Notre Dame lost for only the second time in 15 games Saturday night, falling 41-30 at Michigan. The Irish surrendered 460 total yards, including 166 on the ground. Last season, Notre Dame surrendered more than 300 yards only four times in 13 games and more than 379 once -- the national championship debacle against Alabama (529 yards). In addition, the Irish allowed more than 100 rushing yards only five times last season and gave up 166 just once -- to Alabama (265).
Things we learned
From Aaron Murray finally winning a big game to a statement win for "The U," here are the things we learned from the second weekend of college football play. More ...
Last week, Notre Dame allowed Temple to amass 362 yards of offense. Saturday, Temple managed 300 yards against Houston.
Notre Dame's secondary was surprisingly shaky Saturday, allowing Michigan to throw for 294 yards. And the Irish had a particularly tough time with wide receiver Jeremy Gallon, who had 184 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
A big game from junior defensive end Stephon Tuitt would've helped Saturday. But Tuitt, mentioned as a preseason All-American by numerous folks, didn't have a tackle against the Wolverines, and while he's normally a right end, he played a lot of left end Saturday -- meaning he didn't have to go against Wolverines star left tackle Taylor Lewan. Tuitt did have an interception in the end zone for a touchdown, but zero tackles for a guy mentioned as a potential All-American?
Notre Dame did get a sack from backup outside linebacker Ishaq Williams and starting outside linebacker Prince Shembo had a quarterback hurry, but the only other quarterbacks pressures came from cornerback Bennett Jackson and safety Austin Collinsworth. The front seven, in short, didn't do much.
Quarterback Tommy Rees threw for 314 yards and the Irish offense finished with 410 yards -- the second game in a row the offense performed at a relatively high level. But Saturday's output wasn't near enough.
Notre Dame's next two games are against offense-challenged teams: Purdue next week and Michigan State (whose defense has scored more than its offense through two games) on Sept. 21. Maybe that will help coordinator Bob Diaco get the defense back on the beam.