Minnesota To-Do List

In the spirit of the ever-growing chore list around my house lately, I decided that Michigan needs a list to better help speed things along during this transition period.

There are a few things that I think Michigan can do to win this weekend against Minnesota. Call them "keys to victory" or whatever, either way...they are imperative to a Michigan win.

No Turnovers
Or at least no bad turnovers. Like a pick 6 or a fumble deep in our own zone. I can't believe that we've lost 25 turnovers this year. If you could look at all of the stats that tell a story about this year, turnovers has to be the biggest. We're 25 lost and 16 gain for a margin of -9. Tied for last in the B10 with Purdue for margin. And they have, for the most part, been stupid turnovers deep in our own zone, often on special teams.

Time of Possession
The other stat that has been a killer for this team is time of possession. We are dead last in the B10 and 117 out of 120 nationally in ToP. We average just over 26 minutes per game. Minnesota, by comparison leads the B10 and is 18th nationally with just over 32 minutes per game. Chalk it up to lack of balance on offense or, again, turnovers...but this is maybe the hardest stat to overcome. When nothing is working offensively, ToP will suffer.

Control the Line of Scrimmage
Michigan is last in all major offensive categories in the B10 except rushing yards, where Minnesota is last. For Michigan to win this game, we must keep our offense on the field as long as possible. And the only way that will happen, especially if Sherridan starts...is if we can run the ball. Minnesota has a competent rushing D, so they will obviously stack up against the run since they know thats what Michigan will try and establish. Sherridan can throw, in theory, but the last thing we want to have to depend on is his arm.

I think there is a misconception that Michigan's defense is not very good. And while giving up 48 points to a bad Purdue team is not a good sign...I still disagree. I think they are very capable. The reason for their struggles, I think, is the lack of offense that Michigan has this year. How can a defense be expected to stop anyone when they spend 34+ minutes on the field every game?

I think there is a definite fatigue issue involved. I know we're probably in better shape then we were last last year...so maybe it's mental fatigue. When the offense shuts down in the 2nd half (usually), that's when Michigan's D is most vulnerable. That's also typically when you see so many missed tackles and blown coverages. And that's also why Shafer runs so much zone. If we ran man-to-man for 73 plays each game...we'd have no DBs left.

I think it's the ultimate catch-22. Good offense leads to good defense, and vice-versa. There is no magic wand for this team, just getting better fundamentally is the key to winning. And when those fundamentals have changed so drastically like they did this off-season, there will be a long gestation period. There is a reason the spread is so hard to defend, because it is equally, if not harder to run.

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