Big Ten play starts against a top 10 team in Wisconsin. Both teams come off a bye week and it certainly should have helped Michigan find some returners who hang onto the ball and to take away the positives from the Notre Dame game. It helped Wisconsin too who was trying to get their stars on both sides of the ball up to full strength. All American tight end Travis Beckum and All-Big Ten linebacker Jonathan Casillas were nursing injuries, but now should be close to full strength. Alot of people are overreacting and predicting doom for the Wolverines the rest of the way. Due to the expected oncoming rash of negativity, I've decided to throw caution to the wind and start predicting these games (abstaining wasn't working). I’m more optimistic after seeing an offense that has a quarterback and running back and could move the ball. Also, I believe Scott Shafer will stop stinking and will actually start blitzing and being aggressive. If that happens, this defense can still meet the preseason expectations. All of these variables are still in the air even three weeks into the season as Michigan prepares for its toughest test against an overrated (IMO), but good, Wisconsin team.
Michigan Offense vs. Wisconsin Defense
Despite the dreadful 7 turnover performance, I pulled quite a few positives out of Michigan’s offensive performance against Notre Dame. 1. They found an explosive running back who could be great in Sam McGuffie. McGuffie’s speed and elusiveness is something we knew about, but I was really surprised by his toughness. He played like a man possessed and would not go down without a big fight. Oh yeah, and he hangs on to the football. I was skeptical of McGuffie’s hype, especially if we had the old regime, but he is thriving under Rodriguez and I expect things will only get better. 2. The offensive line was actually d unproven but could be pretty good Kick Returns So. David Gilreath at 29.4 per return- 2nd BT decent to good. This should have an asterisk because it was against Notre Dame, but it was questionable if the O-line could block anyone this year. They can, and returning Ortmann this week and maybe Huyge gives them a little more depth. Maybe they are coming together...we’ll see. 3. Steven Threet is the quarterback and he’s a damn good decision maker, so far. For Threet to play his best game in his first road game ever, in Notre Dame stadium at that was very impressive. I’m stunned by his great decision making so far as he only made one dangerous throw last week and he seems to know when to take off running. His accuracy was a concern too, but he was really on target two weeks ago. He needs to correct the dropping of snaps and the letting the ball slip out of his hands before he throws it thing. The team can’t afford that. But if he keeps up this decision making, he might be Michigan’s quarterback this year, and even next year too.
So the offense showed some promise, but that was against Notre Dame. Can that success transfer over against a Big Ten defense? Wisconsin’s defense has been pretty good this year highlighted by holding Fresno State to 10 points at Fresno. They are 21st in the country in run defense giving up only 87.7 yards per game on the ground through three games. However, they have struggled against the pass giving up 230 yards per game, and that’s a consistent 230 as they have surrendered around that number to even Marshall and Akron. This team is certainly built towards stopping the run. Up front, Wisconsin’s D-line boasts 3 seniors and a junior, highlighted by #93 Matt Shaughnessy at D-end. The rest of the D-line has played decently so far this season with Jason Chapman and Mike Newkirk proving to be pretty good Defensive tackles despite being relatively small, as well as undersized junior end O’Brien Schofield (haha you have two last names) playing well. The outside linebackers are proving to be great with DeAndre Levy (#11) having a breakout performance against Fresno State and earning Big Ten defensive player of the week honors. #2 Jonathan Casillas (preseason All-American candidate) could be back to full strength tomorrow after playing his first game of the season against Fresno with a giant knee brace. The Badgers are dying at the middle linebacker spot right now with noone really stepping into the role and playing well. Regardless, this front seven and entire defense is built to stuff the run up the middle. They have been fairly successful this season, in my opinion, because they have faced teams that like to run it up the middle. Wisconsin has yet to play a spread team like Michigan who has the zone read running game. With McGuffie breaking some big runs two weeks ago, the offense has to have gained some confidence now. Also, running outside by virtue of pitches or screen passes, could give the Badgers’ defense major troubles. Still, they will stuff the box and pretty much stuff the run up the middle.
But the major concern for the Badgers has to be their mediocre, at best, pass defense. They have struggled against the pass for two major reasons. 1. Their inability to pressure the quarterback with the front four. Shaughnessy is supposed to be all-Big Ten but is yet to register a sack this season. The team has 5 sacks on the year so far and most have come with linebackers blitzing and getting to the quarterback or freeing up the D-line a bit. The defensive line has underperformed in the pass rush and it has cost them. 2. The lack of experience in the secondary. Safety Ikewugonu is now gone and the new safety Jay Valai, has done a decent job, but has been untested thus far. The other safety, Shane Carter had seven picks last year, but that was certainly a product of Ikewugonu forcing teams to throw it to the other side of the field, where Shane Carter is. The cornerbacks will easily be picked on with Allen Langford back for another year, much to the chagrin of many Badgers fans. The senior cornerback has consistently been close to what Morgan Trent was in 2006 (or against Notre Dame). The other corners are 5’10” Sophomore corner Niles Brinkley who had one great game against Marshall, but hasn’t been too special in the other games, and then nickel back freshman Mario Goins who has mostly just tackled after the catch and hasn’t been great in coverage.
Michigan can really take advantage of this. If Wisconsin doesn’t bring pressure, I do think the UM offensive line can handle the Badger defensive line alone. That can give Threet, who has made great decision thus far, enough time to find Matthews, Stonum, or Odoms down the field for some decent gains. If Wisconsin pressures by bringing a blitz, Michigan should be able to quickly get the ball out to McGuffie, Shaw or Odoms in the flats, and they should be able to make some big plays with the ball in their hands. I really think Wisconsin will struggle against the spread. It comes down to Threet hanging on to the ball and continuing to make good decisions, and the receivers and backs holding on to the ball. If they take care of the ball, big plays will be had.
The running game probably will not go as smoothly as it did against Notre Dame. Like I said, Wisconsin is built to stop the run and will load the box. The one thing Michigan has in its favor, is that Wisconsin has not played a zone-read team like Michigan. Their D-line is deceivingly athletic though and might be able to get outside and stop the run especially with the help of Levy and a healthy Casillas. If, in an attempt to counter the spread, though, the Badgers go with 5 or 6 DB’s more often than not, Michigan could successfully run the ball. I think Wisconsin’s best bet is maybe a 4-2-5 without the middle backer (because they’ve stunk) and bring up a safety or two into the box to consistently stop the run. Minor and Grady can’t fumble. If they stop McGuffie, they will have a great chance to shut down this offense, bring blitzes and really test Threet. I don’t think Threet is at the point of being able to win the game under a lot of pressure.
So Michigan could get things working in their favor early and really have an advantage with the spread against a traditional Wisconsin Defense. But it would be wrong for me to suggest Michigan’s offense is doing well after one decent performance. They need to validate it, and until then...
Wisconsin Offense vs. Michigan Defense:
First, I want to debunk the current myth that Wisconsin has an unstoppable running game. With the talent they have on the offensive line and running backs, yes, they should be unstoppable. But they have not been anywhere near that this year. It is stupid to assess their running game from their season statistics this year, because those are completely distorted from the 404 yards they put up against the absolutely putrid run defense of Akron. In that game, yes, P.J. Hill ran for over 200 yards, and Brown and Clay ran for over 70. But let’s look at the other two games. Against Marshall, P.J. Hill had 18 carries for 57 yards (3.2 YPC avg.) and the most productive runner, John Clay, ran for 56 on 11 carries and he is likely out for Saturday’s game. 3.2 yards per carry against Marshall should not happen. Even though Marshall has a decent run defense, it is still Marshall and they are still Wisconsin with a combined 119 starts returning on the offensive line that averages 6’6” 319 pounds. They ran for a decent 158 yards against Marshall and 154 against Fresno. Those numbers don’t suggest unstoppable. Also, the offense and team probably deserved to lose against Fresno. The final score of that game was 13-10. 10 of Wisconsin’s 13 points, came when they got the ball inside the Fresno 26 yard line. No driving the ball down the field was necessary, they were already there. So Wisconsin only had 3 drives over 40 yards and they all came in the first half. Only one of them led to a score and on their longest drive, 66 yards, their vaunted running game was stopped at the one yard line and turned the ball over on downs. The second half, Wisconsin had 6 drives, 5 ending in punts and only one drive went over 20 yards and that ended in a punt anyways. They had a mediocre 154 rushing yards vs. Fresno. This is against a Fresno team that surrendered 50 points and 297 rushing yards on 46 carries against Toledo, yeah Toledo. Fresno also missed three field goals in that game vs. Wisconsin. Wisconsin lost the total yardage battle 343-304 and even the TOP battle with their running game at 28:15-31:45. They were very fortunate to come out with a victory. Hill had 126 yards on 26 carries in that game, but the Fresno D gave up over 135 each to two backs against Toledo.
Having ripped down Wisconsin’s offense, they still should be damn good. Their offensive line is unreal averaging 6’6” 319 pounds and returning a combined 119 starts of experience. All of them are returning starters. They haven’t given up a sack yet this season. And despite what I said above, I don’t think Wisconsin has a bad running game. I think they have a great running game, its just sometimes people get carried away and say noone can stop them which is not true. But P.J. Hill is a beast, and Zach Brown has some speed. Behind that powerful O-line, it will be very tough for Michigan to face especially considering the struggles they had against the run in the second half of Utah and Notre Dame. I put most of this blame on Scott Shafer who has been overwhelmingly disappointing with his lack of aggressiveness. He came in saying he preaches stopping the run and attacking the quarterback. He has done an ok job at the former and since the second half of the first game, a terrible job of the latter. He seems to like sitting back, and letting offenses attack. The problem with that, is when you let the linebacking corps sit back along with the safeties (the two weakest units of the D) their weaknesses get exploited early and often (see Stevie Brown, John Thompson, Marell Evans etc.). Hopefully, he finally practices what he supposedly preaches and attacks, attacks and attacks, bringing up and blitzing the linebackers and safeties a heck of alot more. Hopefully Wisconsin’s potent running game will finally force Shafer to bring those guys up and run zone blitz after zone blitz followed by a blitz on third down. The defensive line should be great and perhaps has underperformed a bit. But you cannot expect them to play great from the start without some help. That help should come from the linebackers and safeties which should free up the linemen a bit. Once they get into a groove, then you rush four and can do what you want with the other guys. But Shafer has put too much on the defensive line from the start which has hurt their ability to stop the run and pressure. For the love of God blitz early in the form of zone blitzes to get more guys up there to stuff the run. That is the only chance Michigan has at stopping Wisconsin and fans shouldn’t be having to beg and plead for it like I am now. But Shafer has to finally be aggressive. From what we have seen though, and Thompson and Ezeh’s pretty bad game against ND, I’m not too confident. But I still have hope that Shafer will wake up.
After Wisconsin runs successfully, if he sit back, they will also be able to throw it short and over the middle to quarterback Allan Evridge’s favorite targets, the tight ends. Travis Beckum should be healthy for the first time this year and is one of the, if not the best, receiving tight end in the nation. The other guy, Garrett Graham has become Wisconsin’s leading receiver (11 rec. 154 yds.) in Beckum’s absence. Michigan’s safeties or linebackers will have the responsibility of defending these guys...eeeekkk. That doesn’t look good, and if Michigan continues to not bring pressure, Wisconsin will have those two guys over the middle all game long. Wisconsin has a young receiving corps who I would normally call not dangerous, except for one guy, soph. David Gilreath. The reason I’m scared of him is that he is fast. He is their kick and punt returner averaging 29 yards per kick return and is lightning fast. The reason this scares me is because of what Golden Tate, ND’s speedster, did to the UM secondary two weeks ago. Gilreath has not done much in the receiving game yet, but if Morgan Trent plays like he did against ND, this could be an area of concern. The secondary needs to step up starting with Trent. He played more like his 2006 form against ND, and despite getting two picks he acknowledged his poor performance against ND. I think that game was an aberration and he should be back to form this week...let’s hope. Donovan Warren’s been great, Harrison’s been meh, and then there is Stevie Brown. I’ve tried to give Brown support through all this, but he has repeatedly taken poor angles at tacklers and breaks on balls at the wrong time consistently. He does not yet have game instincts. Rodriguez coyly avoided a question about Brown by saying “Charles Stewart is a guy we definitely want to get in there more.” Expect to see Stewart alot more and hopefully that helps. The thing is, Stewart has not been that great when he’s been in either. Maybe extended playing time will let him get in a groove.
If Michigan, and Shafer, finally blitzes and is aggressive, they should at least be able to stop the passing game from being a threat by pressuring Evridge for the first time this season, and will have a better chance at stopping Hill and Brown. If they sit back, not only will they have to deal with Brown and Hill, but Gilreath, Beckum, and Garrett become huge threats. Hopefully Wisconsin’s great O-line will force Shafer into blitzing a lot more to help out the D-line. That’s Michigan’s only shot...aggression. Shafer hasn’t shown any of it yet.
What started out the year as a great strength for the Wolverines, has now become a nightmare. Special teams for Michigan cost them the game against ND by muffed kicks. It was not even wet in the first half, so slippery balls is not an excuse. But it was the first road game for Cissoko and Shaw. Still, those were terrible unforced errors and Rodriguez needs to put more sure-handed guys out there. I expect to see a lot of Harrison on kick returns and Rodriguez listed a plethora of other as possible kick returners. Look for Trent and some more of the veterans to get a look back there. Then Rodriguez might throw some other young guys like Odoms and Avery Horn there too. Hopefully someone else gets a look at punt returns too because Warren has been scary lately, not in a good way. Zoltan has been ok, and he’s starting to put up some good numbers. He still doesn’t look like he did in 2006 IMO and he has to regain that form against Wisconsin who thrives off short fields and struggled against Fresno without one. I like the spread formation where Mesko has the option to kick it or run. Michigan might get Wisconsin on one of these near midfield and pick up a first. K.C. Lopata has been decent, but hopefully the game doesn’t come down to him. He needs to start getting the ball up quicker or there are going to be some more blocks.
Wisconsin has an extremely good freshman punter in Brad Nortman averaging 43.9 yards per punt which is second in the Big Ten only to Mesko. The Badger’s freshman kicker Philip Welch has been untested, but pretty good so far too going 4-5 on field goal tries this year. The Badgers have a potential playmaker on special teams though in return man David Gilreath. Gilreath is averaging 29.4 yards per kick return which is second in the Big Ten and is yet to score. It’s only a matter of time before he gets there so Bryan Wright has to have a good game and hopefully kick away from Gilreath. Gilreath returns punts too, but is yet to break a good one there. Hopefully Michigan doesn’t give him a chance.
You can’t muff kick after kick and get the advantage here. Advantage: Wisconsin
So on paper, Wisconsin has the advantage in all three phases of the game. They should win then right? Well, the reason Michigan can’t have the advantage in anything is because of uncertainty early in this new regime. But Wisconsin’s 4-3, stuff the run up the middle defense has not faced a spread offense yet like Michigan’s. I think they will struggle against it mightily if Threet continues to make good decisions, the O-line executes, and they hold on to the ball. Michigan will have plenty of opportunities schematically for a Wisconsin D that doesn’t match up well against the spread. It comes down to execution and I think Michigan will execute with Threet at the helm. Defensively, Wisconsin’s great O-line will force Shafer to finally be aggressive. Maybe they were waiting for Big Ten play to blitz? Regardless I think the defense will bring a lot of zone blitzes and pressure and when this defense does that, a blitzing safety and linebacker become less of a liability and Michigan’s defense has success against Wisconsin’s run heavy team. If Michigan takes care of the ball on special teams and offense they will exploit the overrated Wisconsin team.
Foxsports.com first reported this morning that Matt Millen has been let go of his position as President and GM of the Lions. No word yet on whether he resigned or was fired. Detroit is off to yet another 0-3 start and are a league worst 31-84 since Millen took over the reigns in 2001. Pop the champagne corks Lions fans. More on this news on the DSR at 5:15 today on WCBN and on Friday night at 7pm.
This is the ultimate showdown for anyone who hates offense. Michigan and Notre Dame might have the two worst offenses in the country as of right now. For the two winningest programs in the country, this might end up being the most poorly played offensive game of the weekend (or the season). But Michigan at least should have a good defense, though they have showed their weaknesses against the passing game over the middle and short. Notre Dame will probably look to exploit that with short passes which might be the only thing their offense can do successfully. That could work. Michigan on the other hand is still looking for anything that resembles consistency on offense. It should be quite an....interesting game? Or maybe the worst Michigan-ND game of all-time execution wise. I prefer the glass half-full view. This still might be the ugliest UM vs. ND game ever.
Michigan Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense
All signs point to Steven Threet starting his second game in a row. But, since he struggled after the first couple of drives and Sheridan did well when he came in during the second half, they should split time more than we have seen the last two Saturdays. Michigan put together two sizable drives last weekend, but one was highlighted by 1 50-yard play (Odoms). The Wolverines are still looking for some semblance of consistency, but at least they ran the ball pretty well against Miami. Greg Matthews will play after sitting out last weekend with an injury. Starting Left Tackle Mark Ortmann, however, will be out at least this week with Perry Dorrestein filling in. Bryant Nowicki filled in when Ortmann went out vs. Miami, so it is a little confusing that Dorrestein will get the start, but he will. Though Ortmann was not that good, if he was above those two guys, it can only get worse, which is hard to believe. Also, the coaches are suggesting that John Ferrara is getting closer and closer to playing. If he does, he will step in at right guard with Moosman moving over to center and Molk out of the starting lineup.
Notre Dame’s defense is, well, not too good. Yes they held SDSU to 13 points last weekend, but that is SDSU who lost to Cal-Poly, yeah Cal-Poly. They have one experienced player in each unit. On the D-line, Pat Kuntz who is a DT who is now playing DE, is the lone returning, regular starter. That is from a defensive line that was a part of surrendering nearly 200 yards rushing per game last season and only amassing 19 sacks for the entire season. Maurice Crum has started at linebacker since his freshman year when he forced a fumble against Michigan. Then in the secondary Terrail Lambert is in his third year starting at cornerback. But really, this defense was awful last season and it does not look like they will be any better this year since those are their only 3 very experienced contributors. They also gave up 274 yards through the air to the team that lost to Cal-Poly so...uhh....
Jon Tenuta is helping coach the defense though and he likes to put pressure on the quarterback. Bringing heavy blitzes against Michigan’s bad offensive line can really throw off the two young QB’s who are yet to prove they can play decently under pressure. While Michigan had success in spurts against Miami offensively, there is still no semblance of consistency, and this will be the young offense’s first game on the road. To sum it up, Notre Dame’s defense is bad, but Michigan’s offense is just as bad if not worse. They are too young, inconsistent, unproven, and prone to shooting themselves in the foot, that all Notre Dame needs to do is blitz and Michigan will have a rough day. So Notre Dame gets the slight advantage by default since Michigan’s offense is still soul-searching. We saw glimpses last week though. But taking the terrible weather into consideration, we will probably see more drops, fumbled snaps, errant throws, and a couple of those throws where UM’s QB’s let go of the ball before their arms came forward. Advantage: Notre Dame
Notre Dame Offense vs. Michigan Defense
Notre Dame is bad on offense too. But here, Michigan’s defense is too good for them too slide by...at least it should be. Notre Dame still has a bad offensive line (remember the 58 sacks surrendered last year), an unproven (I’m being very kind) QB in Jimmy Clausen (also the ugliest player in America, at least the worst hair), and no real running game with only 105 yards against the team that lost to Cal-Poly (who lost to Montana last week) for a paltry 3.1 yards per carry. They threw for 237 yards last weekend, but Clausen also threw two picks, to the team that lost to Cal-Poly. The O-line didn’t give up one sack...but the 58 given up last year, plus a great D-line in Michigan should end that soon. Notre Dame had 4 turnovers against Cal-Poly with Clausen under zero pressure. What does that mean when there is some pressure on him?
The only place ND might have some success is in the short passing game over the middle which Michigan has really failed to defend in any respect the last two weekends. Michigan is one of the worst teams in the country in pass defense and have given Utah and Miami plenty of room to do damage through the air over the middle, reminiscent of App State and last season. Scott Shafer has not blitzed nearly as much as people said he does. The pressure has come from the D-line, and they have been most successful in the second half after opposing O-lines are worn down and they use their extra Barwis energy. Shafer and the D might be able to combat the success teams have had through the air by blitzing a little more from the linebackers and the safeties. If they finally decide to do so, Clausen is not good enough to make throws under pressure, and ND’s O-line should collapse leading to a performance similar to last season’s. Even if they don’t blitz, more press coverage would help as opposed to sitting back and giving the opposition the middle of the field. Stevie Brown could start playing the way the coaches thought he could, as well as Charles Stewart and this weakness in the defense could disappear.
Regardless if Michigan does fix those issues, the weather should make it ugly for a ND team that can’t run, against a Michigan D that has been able to stop the run. Notre Dame will probably have some success at times with the short passing game, but turnovers could be abundant and three and outs should dominate the time that they are on the offensive side of the ball.
This will be important tomorrow because of the bad weather, and the fact that both offenses should be punting alot and be giddy with a field goal opportunity when in range. Michigan showed some dents in the field goal kicking with some deflected kicks, and a missed extra point. Zoltan Mesko played better than in week one, but still seems to have a bit to go before reaching his first year form. He will have to do a great job giving the Michigan defense great field position. The defense should be able to keep ND from moving the ball so making sure they don’t get field position near field goal range or the goal line is key.
Mesko is probably better than Notre Dame’s punter Eric Maust averaged 39 yards on five punts last weekend. Notre Dame also has a kicker who is not very good in Brandon Walker who was 6-12 last season.
The return game should be hindered by the weather and both teams are searching for explosiveness at the spot but have not found it yet.
Michigan should have the advantage here and maybe in the game because of it.
Time for Michigan to take that step forward on the offensive side of the ball, thanks in large part to the defense setting up short fields, taking a lot of pressure off of the quarterback position. Michigan will get some big points (for Michigan this season) and Jimmy Clausen will be the only bright spot for Notre Dame, throwing well though he will be limited by the weather. Michigan will take care of business, winning against a team that looked absolutely terrible against one of the worst teams in the FBS division. Michigan wins 23-6 POTW: Brandon Minor
I'll try to update weekly. If you're not aware, each Friday night we pick 5 college games or so against the spread. After 2 weeks:
*** PROGRAMMING NOTE: LIVE Michigan Volleyball this Friday night at 7:30pm vs Oakland on WCBN. We will have LIVE coverage of the Michigan football game at Notre Dame Saturday at 3:30pm on the WCBN Sports Stream.
Earlier in the week, the University of Michigan held a dinner/meet-and-greet for all Student Athletes. This welcome-back dinner allowed the athletes to get to know one another and meet coaches and players from other sports.
The honored guest of the night? It was none other than former Michigan guard and Fab Five member Jalen Rose. Rose, who was regarded as the promoter of the group, helped start a basketball revolution that was felt not just in Ann Arbor, but across America. Kids today still proudly wear black socks and baggy shorts when playing basketball; both trends were made popular by the Fab Five. This team would regularly push Crisler's seating capacity to its limits, and bulldoze the Spartans without breaking a sweat.
Getting the picture?
When the Ed Martin scandal hit following these great years, Rose and his teammates were banished from the Michigan family. The University disavowed all their accomplishments and took every banner, picture, statistic, and crumb of information out of the program.
This is the second time Rose has been used by the University as a guest speaker/main attraction of an event in the past year. Last year, the University threw a "Jalen Rose Day" promotion at a men's basketball game, during which Rose spoke at halftime. He has openly stated that he wants to donate the money for a Jalen Rose Practice Facility, but has balked due to the University's stance on the Fab Five and not having their accomplishments displayed anywhere. Could these appearances be Bill Martin's way of easing Rose back into the Michigan family?
The Fab Five have been the "Pink Elephant in the corner" for the U of M basketball team for the past decade. The program has been unable to utilize what is arguably its greatest legacy and strongest recruiting tool. They aren't even shown in the Intro-Video played before the starting line-ups. The video shows the greatest players and decades in U of M's history and the 90's are noticeably missing from the tape.
Rose wants to desperately give back to Michigan and Michigan should let him. The team is in dire need of updated facilities and Rose is the most successful player still on good terms with the University. A beloved figure in the Detroit community, Rose would not only provide financial support, but also would be a mentor to young players.
The same young players that grew up wearing baggy shorts and black socks, and wanting to "dunk like C-Webb" and "pass like JR."
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 to...at 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.
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.
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
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 wcbnsports.com and clicking on the link to the sportsstream.
As previously stated, season tickets for the bleachers where the Maize Rage currently is located are being sold for $99. Season tickets for the three sections that run behind the basket next to the band will be free for ALL students, not just freshmen as was previously rumored. Season tickets for the gold sections in the upper level will also be free for students.
It's about time! If Duke lets students in for free to see a perenial championship caliber team, how can Michigan charge their students over $200 to see downright awful basketball?
How many students will shell out the $99 for tickets to games that they can get into for free? Yes, they will be getting slightly better seats but is it worth the $99? I don't think so.
How will ushers prevent those students who get the free seats behind the basket from simply sliding over into the numerous empty seats in the bleachers behind the benches?
It's gonna look really bad on TV (and by TV, I mean the Duke game and on the Big 10 Network) when there are more students sitting outside of the "student section" than are in it.
I think it will take away from the game-day atmosphere to have the few students that go to the games spread out.
On the other hand, this will probably please the old folks who want it quieter anyways.
Brian Cook of Mgoblog.com is scheduled to join WCBN live in studio at 7:30pm Friday night. Our coverage begins at 7pm with a full recap of Michigan-Utah, preview of Michigan-Miami (Ohio), a look ahead to the start of the NFL season, college picks and much more. You can listen on 88.3 WCBN FM in Ann Arbor or online at wcbn.org.
UPDATE: Mike Cohen, the student radio play-by-play voice of Miami football, will join us LIVE in the 9:00pm hour tomorrow night.
Freshman at the University of Michigan will have the opportunity to receive free season tickets to Men's Basketball Games this Winter. These free seats will be located behind the basket next to where the band currently sits. Season tickets for the bleacher seats behind the benches will be sold for $99.
This is a much needed change as previous season tickets were being sold for over $200 which turned away just about all casual fans (that and the team's abysmal performances).
Fans better line up now to get their tickets if they want to see a sub-10 win basketball team. My advice? Go check out the Women's Basketball team where the tickets have always been free for students and you might actually get to see a NCAA tournament team in action (besides for our opponents, that is)
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