Friday, October 5, 2007

Michigan vs. Eastern Michigan Preview

It’s time for the battle of Washtenaw County tomorrow afternoon as the University of Michigan Wolverines will do battle with the Eagles of Eastern Michigan. EMU will take the seven mile trek to the Big House trying to avoid the 55-0 shutout they suffered two years ago at the hands of the Wolverines. The Eagles come into this game with a record of 2-3 after losing last weekend 30-7 at Vanderbilt. The Wolverines enter with a 3-2 mark and are on a three game win-streak after winning their first road game at Northwestern last week 28-16. History would point to a Michigan victory as they have won each of the seven showdowns between the schools, but here’s the breakdown for this year’s game:

Michigan Offense vs. EMU Defense:

Michigan’s offense will finally have Senior signal-caller Chad Henne behind center for the entire game. Henne, who had been out for two games with a knee-injury, made his comeback last week by starting and leading a scoring drive on the first possession at Northwestern. However, the coaching staff elected to rest Henne for the remainder of the first half in place of Ryan Mallett. After the Mallett led Wolverines entered the locker room with a deficit, Henne came back and played the rest of the game leading Michigan to a victory. Henne is expected to start and play the majority of the game tomorrow. He and the Wolverine defense should have their way with the EMU defense. The Eagles have not yet played an offense with the talent of Michigan’s. Michigan’s main advantage comes in the running game and Michael Hart. The Wolverines average over 190 yards rushing per game while the Eagles have given up 180 against lesser opponents. When the Wolverines do go to the air, however, they will be without star wideout Mario Manningham who was suspended for the game for violating an unspecified team rule. Despite the loss of Manningham, Adrian Arrington and Greg Matthews should have their way with the young secondary of EMU lead by redshirt freshman Ryan Downard.

Advantage: Michigan

EMU Offense vs. Michigan Defense

The Eagles offense comes into this game without much to show from the first five games of the year. They are averaging only 17 points per game, barely over 100 yards rushing per game, and 155 yards through the air. There is not one area where the Eagles will hurt you, but the positive for EMU is they USUALLY do not beat themselves. Sophomore Quarterback Andy Schmidt has completed 63% of his passes for 755 yards and 6 TD’s with only 4 INT’s. However, the Eagles are coming off their worst offensive performance against Vanderbilt last week. Schmidt threw three interceptions in the game and the Eagles managed only seven points. Schmidt will have to take better care of the ball to keep EMU close in this one. Michigan’s secondary has been inconsistent this season including lapses in last week’s game against Northwestern. Look for Schmidt to try and pick on freshman Donovan Warren and avoid Junior Morgan Trent when he goes to the air. Still, Michigan has gotten a lot of pressure on the quarterback in the last few games which should overwhelm the offensive line and get to the young Schmidt before he can go through his reads.

Eastern’s rushing attack has been inconsistent all year and is coming off a 62 yard performance last week. Senior Running Back Pierre Walker has not rushed for more than 66 yards in a game yet this season. However, in the Northern Illinois victory, the Eagles looked to Sophomore receiver DeAnthony White for big plays and on three carries he gained 78 yards. Still, with Brandon Graham and the Michigan defensive line playing well, the Eagles inconsistency will provide them with no comfort on the ground. Questions in the linebacking corps due to injuries might give the Eagles some hope, but look for the Wolverines to dominate the Eagles.

Advantage: Michigan

Special Teams:

Michigan’s kicking woes have been well documented this season as kicker Jason Gingell has made only 3 of Michigan’s 9 field goal attempts. Unfortunately for the Eagles, they have not been too effective in the kicking game either. The Eagles are 3-6 on field goals this year with first team kicker Sean Dutcher going 2-5. In the punting game, both team’s kickers Zoltan Mesko (Wolverines) and Zach Johnson (Eagles) have nearly identical statistics. Mesko has averaged 42.8 yards per punt while Johnson has averaged 42.6. When either team needs to punt it away, the defense should get favorable field position.

In the return game, Eastern Michigan has the advantage with kick returner Dontayo Gage. He’s averaged 26.4 yards and has scored on a 90 yard touchdown. On the Michigan side, the team has struggled, at times, to hold on to the football and returns have been minimal.

Advantage: Eastern Michigan


With Chad Henne making his (full-time) return to the huddle, and after Mallett’s sub-par performance last week, the Wolverines will be back to having the comfort of a Senior leader calling the plays. Michigan’s offense started to click last week, but without Henne’s favorite target Manningham, the team will have to rely on Adrian Arrington who has had a very productive year so far leading the team in receiving. Henne’s experience in the huddle will have this team ready.

Michigan’s early season blunder against Appalachian State has given every team hope to mimic the Mountaineers. That is one thing the Eagles can talk about for motivation before the game. But in the Big House, the Eagles should be overwhelmed despite only having a seven mile drive. Michigan is coming off three wins while the Eagles are coming off a dreadful performance against Vanderbilt.

Advantage: Michigan


Michigan should cruise against an overmatched Eagles team, but this team struggled against an overmatched Northwestern team last week and in the first week of the season. Chad Henne and Michael Hart, however, will not let another huge upset happen in their senior season at the Big House. The Wolverines will cruise to a 38-7 victory. Michael Hart will go over 150 yards as the offense cruises allowing reserves to come in for the entire fourth quarter. On defense, Brandon Graham and the defensive line will have another dominating performance against the outmatched Eagles. There will not be a second upset of the century this year.

Most Valuable Player of the game: Brandon Graham: 3 sacks, 5 tfl, forced fumble

Remember to tune into and click sportstream to hear the game live tomorrow.

Preview by Rushi

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