SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Notre Dame dealt with a mobile quarterback in beating Purdue last week. Now the Irish have a much bigger challenge: Stop Michigan's Denard Robinson, an even faster QB who keeps the ball and likes to run with it.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said Tuesday there's a big difference between defending Purdue's Robert Marve, who could move in the pocket, and the speedy Robinson, who carried 29 times last week.
"They're setting up the run obviously for him," Kelly said. "You're running quarterback iso. We didn't have any of that with Marve," whose 23-yard run accounted for Purdue's only TD in the 23-12 loss. He was sacked four times.
In a 30-10 win over Connecticut, Robinson set a Michigan single-game record for total offense (383) and rushing (197) by a quarterback. He had a touchdown and also completed 19 of 22 passes for 186 yards with another score.
"I know there were a lot of questions about who the starting quarterback would be," Kelly said of Michigan's quarterback decision. "He's certainly put himself in position to end that speculation. He was a dual threat, he threw the ball extremely well. ... He threw it accurately, strong arm, and certainly (was) extremely elusive."
Kelly said finding someone from the scout team to emulate Robinson in practice this week will be difficult enough, although he has a few candidates he didn't name.
"I don't know that you ever can prepare for Denard Robinson at the same speed that he plays," Kelly said.
Kelly, who was at Cincinnati, and Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez, who was at West Virginia, are familiar with one other from their days in the Big East. They both run spread offenses and they both got their starts at small programs — Kelly at Grand Valley State and Rodriguez first at Salem (W.Va) and then Glenville State.
"I think it helps to have, when you step in a job like this, to have Division I experience, which we were both fortunate to do," Rodriguez said this week. "But I think, at least my experience, speaking for myself and I'm sure coach Kelly would tell you the same thing, it was invaluable coaching at the small school level because you get an appreciation for all of the stuff that you have to do running a college program."
Kelly said he and Rodriguez have something else in common — they share the same financial adviser (Mike Wilcox).
"Rich and I know each other, and I have respect for Rich for the work that he's done," Kelly said. "We don't get a chance to see each other in the offseason. We've both got young families that we're chasing around."
Rodriguez needs to win after back-to-back losing seasons in his first two years at Ann Arbor. A win in South Bend might relieve some of the pressure, at least for a week.
Kelly is being heralded as a savior after the Irish went 16-21 over the last three seasons and the win over Purdue has the Irish faithful buzzing. Go 2-0 and the place might go crazy, especially by beating Michigan. It could also help the future of the program as Kelly acknowledged Tuesday there will be recruits on campus to see the game this weekend.
"Getting a chance to be around a game-day atmosphere is the most important thing for these young men that are going to be making arguably the biggest decision of their lives," Kelly said.
Notes: Kelly said he plans to continue having the Irish come out for pregame warmups at home games through the student section in the stands. He also said his team might break out its green jerseys for a game against Army at Yankee Stadium. ... Injury update: LBs Darius Fleming and Prince Shembo are fine after experiencing cramping during Saturday's victory. S Jamoris Slaughter, who sprained an ankle, is scheduled to get out of a walking boot. His status for Saturday is undetermined.