Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 26, 2019*

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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34 OCT. 26, 2019 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED The starting running back is true freshman Zach Charbonnet, who has been durable while banged up much of the season. Be- hind him there's not much depth, especially after ex- pected starter Chris Evans was suspended for his en- tire senior year due to an academic issue. So far this season, Michigan hasn't received many "chunk" plays from any of the running backs, but ball security has been an even bigger hindrance to their success. "They've had a lot of trouble protecting the ball, a ton of turnovers," Balas said. "They were very fortunate against Iowa. They had a couple fumbles that hit the ground that they recovered." Heading into their game at Illinois Oct. 12, the Wolverines were ranked in the bottom half of the Football Bowl Subdivision in both turnover margin (minus-0.20, tied for 78th) and turnovers lost (11, tied for 105th). DEFENSE While it's difficult to write positive reviews about the Michigan offense, the defense is a different story — that is, apart from the Wisconsin game. Once again, the Wolverines are stout up front and have plenty of experi- enced players across the unit. Kwity Paye, a 6-4, 277-pound defen- sive end, played in all 13 games last season and has been a force as a starter this year. He was the team leader in tackles for loss (7.5) and sacks (4.5) heading into the Oct. 12 matchup with the Fighting Illini. Paye has been ham- pered by a leg injury recently, but that could no longer be an issue by the time the team plays Notre Dame. Michigan is stout up the middle when redshirt junior defensive tackle Michael Dwumfour plays, but he missed some time earlier in the year and that hurt the team, especially against Wisconsin. He and senior de- fensive tackle Carlo Kemp are both excellent at shooting gaps and creat- ing havoc in backfields. At linebacker, redshirt freshman Cameron McGrone has been a sur- prise breakout player, who Balas says is fast and referred to as "Devin Bush-Lite," comparing him to the former Michigan linebacker who was taken with the 10th overall pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2019 NFL Draft. Other notable linebackers are fifth-year senior Jor- dan Glasgow and senior Khaleke Hudson. The leader in the sec- ondary is senior corner- back Lavert Hill, whom many thought might turn professional at the end of last season. In 2018, he was named first-team All-Big Ten after making the second team the year prior. Heading into mid- October, Hill led or was tied for the team lead in interceptions (two) and passes broken up (three). Another player to keep an eye on is freshman safety Daxton Hill, who is the team's nickel cor- ner. In high school, he re- portedly ran an electroni- cally timed 4.3 40-yard dash, and was ranked higher than Notre Dame freshman safety Kyle Hamilton. MATCHUP WITH THE IRISH No contest all season will make Irish fans' blood boil more than when Notre Dame travels to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan. This is a bitter rivalry that has produced several ex- cellent contests over the years. Assuming Michigan can fix some of its struggles on offense, this should be another down-to-the-wire outcome, possibly between two top-15 teams. Another area where the Wolverines need to improve is turnover margin. This is an area where Michigan has struggled all year, and it's a strength for Notre Dame. The Irish are adept at stripping the ball away from their opponents, while the Wolverines are particularly fumble prone. If the Wolverines don't improve, the Irish will go into the game as the favorite, which has seldom been the case in trips to Ann Arbor. "It's going to be a challenge for Michigan, especially if that defense is on the field as a long as I would ex- pect them to be in that game," Balas said. "So I like Notre Dame by a touchdown or 10 points at this point. "If Michigan were somehow to play extremely well against Illinois or Penn State, give me a call back and we can chat. But as of right now, I would ex- pect Notre Dame to win this game in Ann Arbor by seven to 10." ✦ GAME PREVIEW: MICHIGAN Through five contests, junior end Kwity Paye led another strong Michigan defense in both tackles for loss (7.5) and sacks (4.5). PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL 2019 MICHIGAN SCHEDULE Date Opponent (TV) Result/Time (ET) Aug. 31 Middle Tennessee W, 40-21 Sept. 7 Army W, 24-21 (2OT) Sept. 21 at Wisconsin L, 35-14 Sept. 28 Rutgers W, 52-0 Oct. 5 Iowa W, 10-3 Oct. 12 at Illinois W, 42-25 Oct. 19 at Penn State (ABC) 7:30 p.m. Oct. 26 Notre Dame (ABC/ESPN) TBA Nov. 2 at Maryland 12 p.m. Nov. 16 Michigan State TBA Nov. 23 at Indiana TBA Nov. 30 Ohio State (FOX) 12 p.m. 2019 NOTRE DAME SCHEDULE Date Opponent (TV) Result/Time (ET) Sept. 2 at Louisville W, 35-17 Sept. 14 New Mexico W, 66-14 Sept. 21 at Georgia L, 23-17 Sept. 28 Virginia W, 35-20 Oct. 5 Bowling Green W, 52-0 Oct. 12 USC* W, 30-27 Oct. 26 at Michigan (ABC/ESPN) TBA Nov. 2 Virginia Tech (NBC) 2:30 p.m. Nov. 9 at Duke (ACCN) TBA Nov. 16 Navy (NBC) 2:30 p.m. Nov. 23 Boston College (NBC) 2:30 p.m. Nov. 30 at Stanford TBA * This will be the Irish Wear Green contest, with fans encouraged to dress in green ACCN — ACC Network

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