|Runaway success was not something Indiana |
saw a lot of last year.
- Indiana will have success passing the ball against Michigan's inexperienced secondary.
- The most intriguing match up will be between the two rush offenses.
Can Indiana find a way to slow down the dynamic Michigan rushing offense, and can Indiana find a way to establish a run game against the Michigan defense. The answer to these two questions will most likely decide who walks off the field victorious on Saturday.
Indiana's rushing offense vs. Michigan's defense
Let's just get this out of the way right off the bat. Indiana is not a good rushing team. Not only are they last in the Big Ten in yards per game, they are last by a mile. Through three games Indiana has gained 3.9 ypc for 113 yards on average. Considering the schedule
|Willis had a career day against the Wolverines in '09|
Along the offensive line there is plenty of experience, which could be good (development?) or bad (if they couldn't block last year, why should anything be different?). Junior LT Andrew McDonald moves into a starting role after mostly reserve duty the last two years. Next to him Jr. LG Justin Pagan has 16 career starts before this year and RS-So. center Will Matte started 11 last year. The right side of the line features two seniors with significant starting experience as well as significant time missed with injury in RG Cody Faulkner and RT James Brewer.
What you see before you is a group that was bad last year (9th in the big ten with 117 ypg) and is on pace to be just about as bad with the same group of players. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is probably a duck. Your 2010 Indiana Hoosier rushing offense is probably just bad.
|Most of the Hoosier O-Line is back in 2010.|
If we know Indiana is going to move the ball through the air, what can this Michigan team not afford to do? If you answered, "give up 197 rushing yards to a bad team at 6.0 ypc for three touchdowns," you are either right and/or you have a good enough memory to recall what happened last year when the Hoosiers out gained Michigan and still lost the game. Special teams saved Michigan's ass last year, but they are so bad this year that there are at least five threads a day on mgoblog that deal with either, "Kicker Tryouts" or "The Virtues of going for it on 4th down."
If Indiana can get something going on the ground, it will open up the offense and the game will become a dangerous shootout. If Michigan can hold the Indiana run game to under 100 yards
Michigan rush offense vs. Smoke and mirrors? Voodoo? Witchcraft?
Last year's crew took its lumps en route to a 9th place finish in the Big Ten in rush defense, with 159 ypg allowed. From last year's front seven they have lost four starters
Greg Middleton and Jammie Kirlew " may have been the two most successful defensive linemen in IU history. Middleton was an all-American and led the nation in sacks as a sophomore; Kirlew was all-Big Ten his last two seasons."
And the Linebackers: "Will Patterson, Matt Mayberry, Justin Carrington. Mayberry and Patterson were multi-year starters and were IU's leading and third-leading tacklers, respectively."It becomes easier and easier to see why this unit has struggled so much against even the poor rushing offenses of bottom-feeding mid-major programs. RS-Sophomore Larry Black (Brother of UM's Jabreel) and True-So. Adam Replogle are both back after productive campaigns last year to anchor the DT spots. Outside of them are Darius Johnson and Fred Jones, both Jr's who have little experience and a history of injury problems. Senior Tyler Replogle (brother of Adam) is back at linebacker after racking up the second most tackles on the team last year. The new candidates for linebacker, So. Chad Sherer, Jr. Leon Beckum, and Sr. Jamie Lukaszewski have scout team and special teams written all over their resumes. It must be entertaining to watch this group go up against the rush offense in practice. We might finally get an answer to what happens when a stoppable force meets a movable object.
*(It has come to my attention that Shaw is doubtful for the Indiana game. This could negatively impact the run game, but that is somewhat doubtful when looking at Indiana's defense thus far. He likely won't be needed, and it is smart to rest him for MSU the following week if at all possible.)
If the Hoosiers cannot find a way to slow down the Wolverine rushing attack we could very well be in for a repeat of last Saturday when 80-90% of the drives end in touchdowns and the Wolverines dominate time of possession and first downs. If the Hoosiers can get some stops in the run game and put the Wolverines in a few third and long positions, the Michigan special teams unit will become more of a factor, which is an advantage for the Hoosiers right now.
Like most Big Ten games, Saturday's contest will come down to a battle in the trenches. If Indiana can find success running the ball like last year, as well as a way to slow the dynamic Wolverine ground attack, the game becomes a tossup. If not, look for the Wolverines to literally run away with it.