Notre Dame vs. Michigan
Manti Te'o played really well in this game. His recognition skills are just a tad below elite, and he seems to be in the right place all the time, especially when Michigan ran space plays. He's best against the run when he's allowed to see the ball and run - when Michigan ran misdirection or outside runs, he wasn't fooled, and his range allowed him to get to the ball carrier; he does need to work on his angles though. He was close to over-running the ball carrier a few times, and had to make some shoestring tackles. Te'o is very instinctual in slipping blocks, though he'd rather run around blocks than take them on, and he guessed wrong a few times. He's not bad taking on blocks, but he's hard for a lineman to engage. Michigan was most successful when they ran right at Te'o. He's not bad against the inside run, but he isn't going to consistently take on blocks from lineman and continue to make plays, especially in the NFL. Te'o is a very good pass defender. He's not great in man, but zones allow him to sit in coverage and play off his instincts. He's a good blitzer, and caused two interceptions by rushing passer, in addition to his interceptions. Te'o would be best in the NFL at MLB for a 4-3 team that has good DTs which could keep him clean, and allow him to run to the ball.
Irish OLB Prince Shembo played well. He's pretty quick off the ball, and closes on the ball carrier fast. He's not Jarvis Jones elite, but Michigan couldn't block him with a back or tight end. Michigan OT Michael Schofield had some trouble with Shembo: Taylor Lewan got beat by power-to-speed for a Shembo sack. He works to get the the QB. He was OK versus the run, but nothing special. I like Shembo as a weakside 3-4 OLB that can play in space.
I thought Irish sophomore defensive end Stephon Tuitt played well for the Notre Dame defense in this game. Tuitt reminds me of Israel Idonije: a huge DE that can move really well. He gave Lewan and Schofield problems most of the night. He powered past Schofield a few times. Someone to keep tabs on in future drafts.
Tyler Eifert plays similar to Stanford TE Zach Ertz. Eifert plays like a wide receiver, and Notre Dame spreads him out and throws vertical passes to him. He only caught one pass in this game, but it was a 38-yarder at the end to seal the game. He ran past a Michigan cornerback while split wide, something that a TE shouldn't be able to do. The Irish used Eifert as an inline TE, motion TE, flex TE, and even as a lead blocker from the backfield. He's more of a wall-off blocker, and isn't going to drive anyone off the ball. As a receiver, he seemed very straight-line in his movement to me. I don't see Eifert as an elusive threat, a la Aaron Hernandez, nor can he be a Jason Witten inline power tight end. I think Eifert can be a vertical threat running the seam in the NFL, and has the hands and height to give defenses problems. A team that features a spread passing game, or two tight ends, is a good spot for Eifert. I don't think Eifert is a Gronkowski/Graham impact TE in the NFL. Michigan was able to take him out of the ballgame, though some of that goes on the Irish QBs.
Initially, I wasn't impressed by Taylor Lewan. I thought Tuitt got him off balance a lot, and Shembo beat him with a As the game went on, Lewan looked more steady, and I think that Lewan's game was less about his problems and more about the Irish defense. Lewan is the typical strong, tall, Michigan OT. He sinks his hips well, and can anchor when he's low enough and in position. More of a leaner than a pop-and-finish blocker in the run game. Lewan sort of reminds me of Jon Jansen, who played as a finesse style RT for the Redskins.
Denard Robinson is lightning in a bottle - I just don't see him doing much from the QB position in the NFL. I like him best in the role that Brad Smith plays for Buffalo now: wide receiver/wildcat QB. Robinson has a decent arm, but he's very unrefined in almost everything he does as a QB. He's late on reads, misses in the strike zone, and has terrible mechanics. As a runner, though, he's elusive and cuts without losing speed. Has a home in the NFL as a receiver.
Craig Roh looked ordinary to me. He's not fluid enough to play 3-4 OLB, and he's too narrow based to bulk up to play 3-4 end. At a 4-3 end, even on the strong side, he's too slow and can't win with speed. For me, he's a wave strong side end that can give a team some reserve, hustle snaps.