SOUTH BEND, Ind. — While coach Brian Kelly lamented his offense's inability to make a few more plays against Michigan, the Irish would've been well-served to slow the Michigan offense and hold them to fewer than 41 points.
Perhaps the largest weight there fell on sophomore cornerback KeiVarae Russell, who struggled all night against Michigan receiver Jeremy Gallon (eight catches, 184 yards, three touchdowns).
It wasn't just Russell who couldn't stop Gallon, though — Bennett Jackson bit on Gallon's juke move in the first quarter and couldn't wrap him up, starting a chain reaction that led with the Michigan receiver scoring the game's first touchdown.
For Russell, who converted to cornerback during 2012 fall camp, it was probably his worst game since coming to Notre Dame. Kelly hopes Russell will learn from it, seeing as he's still a guy who's relatively inexperienced at the position.
"He's going to have to use that learning experience from Michigan, he's going to have to carry that over, and he's a very smart, competitive kid," Kelly said.
Jackson said Russell's attitude remained positive throughout his struggles and similarly feels the Michigan game will turn out to be a good learning experience.
"I've always said to him, play for the next play," Jackson said. "You can't let the previous play eat you up, because that's just going to take your game down. And he's got a good understanding of that."
But the loss hardly was on Jackson and Russell alone — it was the entire defense.
Still, both players boasted in fall camp that the secondary could be a strength for Notre Dame. Against Michigan, it wasn't.
"We didn't execute the way that we pride ourselves on," Jackson said. "That's something that can be used as motivation."