BBD Staff Writer: Joseph Curtis
An NCAA record crowd of 115,109 came out to see the highly anticipated matchup between Notre Dame and Michigan during Week 2 of the college football season. The game was very close until the end, with plays being made on both sides of the ball, but Michigan prevailed in the end.
The game featured many draft-eligible NFL prospects on both teams.
#7 WR T.J. Jones
-Doesn’t get very high when leaping
-Quick cut on out route loses coverage, makes good grab on high throw above head
-Jumps, snatches ball out of air and quickly tucks it away bracing for impact
-Excellent hands all day, natural pass catcher
Overview: Jones showed he is Notre Dame’s top receiver on Saturday. He was the favorite target for quarterback Tommy Rees. He used his quickness and route running to create space all day.
He showed off excellent hands, especially the ability to fully extend and pluck passes out of the air. Many of the throws were not well-placed, which limited his ability to make plays after the catch, but he showed he could get yards after the catch in open space. Jones is a reliable target who keeps the Notre Dame offense going.
#70 OL Zack Martin
-Fierce hands working on stretch play
-Looks off balance early, struggling to maintain position
-Looking more balanced after first quarter, setting good base
-Aware, keeps head on swivel
-More of a finesse blocker who gets the job done with smarts and technique
-Lacks lower body strength to be an efficient drive blocker
Overview: Martin looked off-balance and struggled early in the game but went on to have a solid day. He held his ground and kept pass-rushers at bay.
He isn’t a mauler and doesn’t display much of a mean streak, but his finesse style combined with his awareness and intelligence make him an efficient blocker. He’ll struggle drive blocking due to lack of strength, but he anchors and plays with a good base to at least hold position.
While he plays left tackle at Notre Dame, he’ll likely move inside at the next level, which would better suit his size and skill set.
#1 DT Louis Nix III (RS Jr.)
-Works down line and stops run
-Stays aware and reads where play is going
-Moves extremely well for 340+ pounds, knee bender
-Holds ground against double team
-Knows how to use hands to work and shed blockers
-Will get hands up when quarterback begins to pass
-Gets into the backfield and disrupts plays
-Called for unsportsmanlike conduct penalty (offset by corresponding offensive penalty)
Overview: Nix displays all the traits of a top nose tackle prospect. Nix is very athletic for a defensive tackle of any size, let alone one listed at 342 pounds.
He is able to control the line of scrimmage and stand his ground against double teams. Michigan struggled running between the tackles, and Nix closing the point of attack was a big part of it. He consistently disrupted run plays in the backfield as well.
He won’t provide much pressure against the pass, but he pushes the pocket back and shows good awareness to get his hands up.
Nix is the heart of the Notre Dame defense and his play is a big factor in how much success they have this season.
#7 DL Stephon Tuitt (Jr.)
-Very athletic for a man of his size (6’6½” and 312 pounds)
-Meets runner at flat on outside run
-Tries inside move against OT Lewan but easily pushed out of play
-Able to drive back OT Schofield but has little impact on the play
-Gets in backfield on naked bootleg but quarterback outruns pressure
-Isn’t always aggressive off the snap, looks off balance at times
-Good effort and awareness to make diving interception in opponent end zone for touchdown
Overview: Tuitt had a very underwhelming performance against Michigan. While he caught an interception in the end zone for a touchdown, he was seemingly absent most of the day.
He struggled mightily against left tackle Taylor Lewan and was shut down from that side. When he would flip sides and go against right tackle Michael Schofield, he had more success but still had little impact on plays.
While athletic, Tuitt lacks any sort of explosiveness or closing burst. Those hoping he may be a 3-4 end in the style of J.J. Watt may be sadly disappointed. He looks like he has the potential to be a solid 3-4 end, but not a playmaker.
See page 2 for Michigan prospect notes.