The Notre Dame Defensive Line got a lot of pressure on Devon Gardner throughout the first half. The moved the line of scrimmage well. However, the Irish failed to contain Gardner once they did get pressure on him. This lead to him making plays down the field with his arm and his legs.
An alarming statistic in the game overall was that Nix and Tuitt combined for 4 tackles and 1 tackle for loss (and most of these came on the last drive when Nix darted into the back field to bring down Touissaint).
The Linebackers were one of the worst parts of the game against Temple but they played much better against Michigan. Calabrese, Fox and to a lesser extent Grace did a great job at coming down hill to make tackles and negative plays. They pursued sideline to sideline as well.
A bright spot for the Irish was Jaylon Smith. He made several solid plays in the first half of action. He has shown that he can shed blocks even though he is smaller than his counterpart Ben Councell. He does make critical errors though. In the last drive of the half for Michigan, Smith failed to contain Gardner who ran for 35 yards on a zone read. It was simply an issue of Smith not recognizing the play.
Notre Dame’s Defensive Backs were beaten badly in man to man coverage in the first half. Most of the plays made by Michigan in the passing game were made when Notre Dame was in “Cover 1” or “Cover 0” . Russell and Jackson may simply not be lockdown corners.
Elijah Shumate continues to impress Notre Dame fans with his inability to pursue the ball carrier. There were two occasions in the first half where this lead to a first down. The first was when Shumate took a bad angle on a double reverse. He could have tackled the ball carrier for a 4 or 5 yard gain. The second was when he failed to “breakdown” and allowed Toussaint to get to the outside for a big gain.