Friday, September 5, 2008

Game Two: Michigan vs. Miami (OH)

Week two of the Wolverines football season should be a bit easier than week one. Granted if Michigan played more aggressive defensively in the first half, they could have gotten a win, but they were playing a tough opponent. Miami (OH) is not anywhere near Utah’s level and shouldn’t be anywhere near Michigan’s level. But, even though Michigan’s score was close (23-25), it should have been much worse if not for a bunch of fortunate turnovers and penalties. Michigan’s defense played well in the second half and should carry Michigan again. Scoring some points wouldn’t hurt either. Michigan’s offense only scored when given great field position so we have no idea if they will be able to put together any sustained scoring drives. The offense is scary so defense and special teams will have to help with turnovers and they should be able least we hope. There is no excuse for losing to Miami (OH). Miami did win the MAC East division last season and got to the MAC championship game. They also come in with one of the most respected linebacking corps not only in the MAC, but in the country. Still, a 34-13 loss to Vanderbilt at home last week showed this team is not very good. The offense is not good and the defense struggles outside of their outstanding linebackers.

Michigan Offense vs. Miami Defense

I’ll keep this short and sweet because it is ugly. The numbers for Michigan’s offense last week are worse than terrible. 203 total yards, 36 rushing yards and 1.4 YPC. With Steven Threet getting his first start, Michigan will get to see how he handles the pressure for an entire game, after his decent, but better than Sheridan, performance in the second half vs. Utah. Hopefully the offense line plays decent as opposed to the terrible worse than expected performance last week. Greg Matthews will be out for Michigan, freshman Terrence Robinson is still hurt, and Carlos Brown is banged up and will be limited if he plays at all. The big news is that Kevin Grady has been cleared to play. He is the only true power back for the Wolverines so he could add a nice change of pace to the Michigan offense if he hangs on to the ball and the O-line can block a little bit. This will still be ugly and Miami’s linebackers don’t help. Each linebacker is on the Butkus award watch list. This is the first time any school has EVER had 3 linebackers on the watch list. Many high profile schools have had two, but never three. Led by Outside linebacker, senior Clayton Mullins (#9) and completed by Caleb Bostic (#44) on the other side and #48 senior Joey Hudson in the middle, Miami’s strength lies in their middle three. Mullins is probably the most athletic, but all three are great against the run and the pass. Unfortunately, they do not get too much help from their front defensive line. They gave up 269 yards on the ground last week to Vanderbilt. Also, this could have exploited the linebacking corps a bit too. 166 yards came from Vandy QB Chris Nickson. They did hold Vandy to 91 yards through the air, but it didn’t matter with all the rushing yards. Michigan doesn’t have a mobile quarterback so they could be in some trouble. If Sheridan or Threet try to make big plays instead of taking what the defense gives them, turnovers could ensue and things could get ugly. Michigan’s offense needs to take care of the ball or a loss is possible...seriously. Miami’s linebackers are great playmakers and Michigan can’t try to force the issue. Wait to get good field position and just take what they can get.

Advantage: Miami

Miami Offense vs. Michigan Defense

Miami’s offense is not scary. They are led by a pretty bad returning starter at QB in Daniel Raudabaugh who was 19-41 for 244 yards and 3 INTs last weekend. He threw 12 TDs-12 INTs last season. Miami doesn’t run a whole lot. When they do, the main guy who will get the ball is Thomas Merriweather who gained 59 yards on 10 carries last weekend. Miami averaged only 19.2 points per game last season and should get ripped to shreds by the Michigan D. Vanderbilt did well and if Michigan comes after Miami early and often by blitzing, Raudabaugh will throw multiple interception, the run game will be stuffed, and Miami will not have much success. This should be all Michigan, especially if they play aggressively. The front four for Michigan played great along with Obi Ezeh and the corners who played pretty well last week. The question for Michigan is at the safety spots and the outside linebacker spots. Jonas Mouton has replaced Marell Evans as weakside linebacker and Thompson will play strongside in place of Austin Panter. This Miami offense should be the perfect antidote for Stevie Brown’s confidence, as well as the outside linebackers confidence. Michigan’s defense should dominate and they have to force turnovers to give the Michigan offense good field position, and maybe even score some points. If they don’t dominate defensively, this will be a very long year.

Advantage: Michigan

Special Teams:

Michigan was very very impressive last week blocking kicks, forcing fumbles, kicking 50 yard field goals, on special teams. The only question marks were Zoltan Mesko’s punting, which is slowly becoming a concern, and Donovan Warren not calling fair catches, which he has addressed. If Michigan is able to find an explosive returner, and Mesko returns to his 2006 form, Michigan will have one of the best special teams units in the nation. Not because of great punters or kickers, but because of punt coverage which was great last week. The special teams led to Michigan’s first touchdown last weekend with a fumble by Utah on a punt, and by blocking a punt in the second half. They will have to give the offense great field position again tomorrow to help around.
Miami has a great punter in Jake Richardson, but other than that are not too great. Richardson was sixth in the nation last year with 45 yards per punt. Their kicker is mediocre, 17-25 for his career with a long of 42 yards and they have a semi-dangerous kick returner in Jamal Rogers who has averaged 22.5 yards per return through his career.

Advantage: Michigan

Seidman’s prediction:

30-10 Michigan. The defense leads Michigan giving the offense great field position and scoring a bit. Brandon Graham gets to the quarterback often picking up sacks and forcing fumbles. The defense helps the offense come along and Michigan wins big.

You can listen to the game LIVE at 3:30 PM by visiting and clicking on the link to the sportsstream.

Go Blue!

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