Brady Hoke impressed with Notre Dame's front seven, and overall team speed
ANN ARBOR -- Michigan football coach Brady Hoke has continually stressed that his team is nowhere near where it needs to be with its ground game.
The Wolverines have gotten just 226 rushing yards from their running backs through three games, and Saturday at No. 11 Notre Dame, Hoke believes things will get even more difficult.
Hoke praised Notre Dame's improved defense Tuesday, saying the Fighting Irish front seven has been a bear early this season.
"When you watch them, their front seven is playing very aggressive," Hoke said Tuesday on the Big Ten coaches' teleconference. "They held Michigan State to 50 yards rushing (last week). They flow to the ball really, really well and they've created turnovers and opportunities for their offense and that's a big part of the game of football."
Notre Dame's front seven is led by senior linebacker Manti Te'o, who had a game-high 12 tackles against Michigan State and is widely regarded as one of the top run-stuffers in the country.
As a team, Notre Dame is allowing just 96.3 yards rushing -- 23rd-best nationally.
"I think we need to play more physical," Hoke maintained. "We need to play faster on both sides of the ball. Finishing plays is something we need to do a better job at. ... I think, from the offensive standpoint, the movement at the line of scrimmage (needs improvement) so we can be a little more vertical with our run game."
Notre Dame's run defense isn't the only thing concerning Hoke this week. After watching tape, he believes the Fighting Irish are much quicker -- virtually everywhere on the field -- than they were a year ago.
"I think they're a little quicker at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Their linebackers, you know, with (Te'o) what they do flowing to the football, they run well," Hoke said. "Offensively, (sophomore running back George Atkinson) is a 100-meter guy, Cierre Wood is a play maker, (quarterback Everett) Golson with his feet can amke some plays for them.
"And they've got three tight ends that I think everyone in the country would like to have."