This week's opponent will provide Michigan with a good look at the type of offense that has given them fits in the past few years (i.e. Ohio State). Appalachian State brings with them a very mobile and talented QB as well as a quick and agile RB. This is the type of offense that score very quickly. If the Michigan defense is going to be able to compete with the USC's and LSU's of the world, a solid performance against the Mountaineers is crucial.
Naturally a lesser quality opponent in the early non-conference schedule is usually a walk for a top 5 team like Michigan. Most fans are writing this game off as a easy win. But lets not forget Ball State from last year. You can guarantee the coaches with App. State are showing that game tape to their team this week. The longer you let a team like this stick around, the more they can believe they can pull off the shocker of the year. Don't forget, this team is the Div. 1 AA two-time national champion. They know how to win. And they know how to win well.
Like we said in our previous post previewing App. State, the fundamentals are so important in a game like this. No turnovers, no broken tackles, no blown coverages, special teams should be sharp. On paper, Michigan should win by 50. So the key will be for Michigan to play this game like its on paper. Stress your strengths, such as a dominating running game, and hopefully using the run to open up some play-action pass. We obviously have the size and speed advantage offensively, our receivers are maybe the best group in the past couple years, and they have the potential to be the best ever.
I think App. State will have a really tough time trying to cover 3, potentially 4 really fast and really tall WRs that Michigan could come out with. Our line won't have too much trouble winning the line of scrimmage. Like most 1AA teams, defensive size and speed simply can not compete with a team like Michigan. What I look for, not only in this game, but hopefully in many games this season, is for Michigan to get out to a quick 2 or 3 touchdown lead early...and try and demoralize the opponent. With a young and untested defense, that may be the winning strategy, at least early in the season.
Defensively, our youth in key positions could pose a problem. Our DB's are relatively untested. And the linebackers could be exposed with a mobile QB. The previews of this Michigan team say our youth could be a shortcoming, but what we lack in experience, we more than make up for in speed. Frankly, there's something there that makes me feel good actually. Michigan has shown that we can keep up with a juggernaught like OSU offensively, but when our D is on the field, we can not seem to find an answer for their mobile QB/RB/WR spread attack. In this time of the modern spread offense, I'll take a quick defense rather than a smash-mouth run-stopping one.
The bulk of the scoring for this game should quickly be shored up by mid-3rd quarter. I'd love to see guys like Mallet and a few more RB's get some time on the field. We're decidedly shallow in a few key positions, so some extra PT for a few 2nd and 3rd stringers would go a long way.
Forecast: Sunny and about 80 degrees. Light winds. 10% chance of rain. Perfect.