Michigan benefits from already seeing version of Notre Dame's spread offense
ANN ARBOR -- Michigan has faced three wildly disparate offenses so far this season, which has been taxing on the defense.
It faced Alabama's pro-style offense in the opener, Air Force's triple option the following week and then UMass' spread offense on Saturday.
This week's game against No. 11 Notre Dame (7:30 p.m., NBC) should feel more familiar, as the Wolverines face a spread offense for a second consecutive week.
In fact, it's the same spread.
UMass coach Charley Molnar spent the past six seasons working for current Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, and was Kelly's offensive coordinator with the Irish the past two years. He left this past offseason to take over the Minutemen.
So the offense Michigan saw last week has many of the same principles and tendencies of the offense it will face this week against Notre Dame. And that gives the Wolverines an advantage.
"It does, because you basically get two weeks of preparation for Notre Dame," senior defensive end Craig Roh said this week. "There are a lot of similarities in the tendencies of offensive sets, and where the ball is going."
Michigan held UMass' offense to just a pair of field goals, although that's not necessarily indicative of how it will perform this week against a far more capable Notre Dame offense.
The Irish feature a rising quarterback in Everett Golson, a redshirt freshman who doesn't have eye-popping numbers yet has shown he can move the offense. He has a strong arm and is mobile, although not a full-fledged runner such as Michigan's Denard Robinson.
"The quarterback really impressed me with his ability to throw the football, as well as he puts a lot of pressure on you because he takes off scrambling," Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said.
Michigan coach Brady Hoke said he's seen similarities in plays between UMass and Notre Dame, but that the Irish feature personnel that is much more capable of doing damage.
"(Tailback George) Atkinson's a guy who's a 100-meter guy, he's a playmaker for them," he said this week. "(Tailback) Cierre Wood is a playmaker, Golson can hurt you with his feet and can create some plays for them.
"You look at the tight ends, they've got three guys everyone in the country would like to have, with (Tyler) Eifert being the lead guy there that's very athletic, and he poses a big mismatch."