Preview: Minnesota

 
#19/19 MICHIGAN VS. MINNESOTA
Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
October 1, 2011, 12:00 PM

TV: Big Ten Network (Eric Collins, Chris Martin, Dionne Miller)
Radio: WWJ-950 AM, WTKA-1050 AM, Sirius/XM 85 (Frank Beckmann, Jim Brandstatter, Doug Karsch)
Line: UM -20.5
Over/Under: 54
Series Record: UM leads 70-24-3
Last Meeting: 2008: MICH 29 - MINN 6
UM Record/Rank: 4-0 (0-0), #19/19 (AP/Coaches)
MINN Record/Rank: 1-3 (0-0), NR
Gametime Forecast: Partly Cloudy, 45º-50º, Winds N 15 MPH

A little background
I could give you a rundown of this game that includes a bunch of old dates and references to the Little Brown Jug, but I couldn't do it as well as Greg from MVictors who I consider the foremost historian on all things Jug.

This year marks the 100th anniversary since Michigan and Minnesota started playing for the Little Brown Jug. It has since become the oldest college football trophy (one of the oldest trophies in American sport for that matter bested by only the Stanley Cup and the Americas Cup). The Michigan-Minnesota rivalry is one of the oldest in college football -- dating back to that famous 6-6 tie in 1903 that began the legend of the Little Brown Jug.

Since 1969, this series has been exceedingly one-sided. In the last 39 contests, Michigan is 36-3 -- including 19 out of the last 20 going the Wolverines way. Minnesota's last victory over Michigan was October 8, 2005 when the Gophers upset us 23-20.

Statistical Breakdown (based on stats through week 4)
Remember that Michigan's week 1 stats against WMU are not taken into account here.

MICHIGANValue (Nat. Rank)Value (Nat. Rank)MINNESOTAADV.
Rushing Offense (ypg)270.00 (9)104.75 (33)Rushing Defense (ypg)MICH
Passing Offense (ypg)175.33 (101)278.50 (108)Passing Defense (ypg)PUSH
Pass Efficiency132.21 (33)145.50 (102)Pass Efficiency DefenseMICH++
Total Offense (ypg)445.33 (33)383.25 (76)Total Defense (ypg)MICH+
Scoring Offense (ppg)31.33 (53)26.75 (75)Scoring Defense (ppg)MICH
Rushing Defense (ypg)176.00 (87)173.75 (44)Rushing Offense (ypg)MINN+
Passing Defense (ypg)199.00 (41)179.25 (97)Passing Offense (ypg)MICH+
Pass Efficiency Defense118.66 (41)110.96 (102)Pass EfficiencyMICH++
Total Defense (ypg)375.00 (71)353.00 (87)Total Offense (ypg)PUSH
Scoring Defense (ppg)13.67 (13)22.75 (93)Scoring Offense (ppg)MICH+++
Net Punting Yards37.17 (54)30.00 (2)Punt Return YardsMINN+
Punt Return Yards9.83 (39)42.50 (8)Net Punting YardsMINN
Kickoff Return Yards18.43 (109)19.38 (38)Kickoff Return DefenseMINN++
Kickoff Return Defense22.55 (66)20.56 (79)Kickoff Return YardsPUSH
Turnover Margin0.67 (32)-0.25 (78)Turnover MarginMICH+
Penalty Yds/Game32.30 (11)46.00 (44)Penalty Yds/GameMICH
Sacks0.67 (112)2.50 (89)Sacks AllowedMINN
Sacks Allowed0.33 (2)0.25 (117)SacksMICH+++
Redzone Offense (%)100.00 (1)76.92 (38)Redzone Defense (%)MICH
Redzone Defense (%)53.85 (8)87.50 (43)Redzone Offense (%)MICH
Redzone TD %92.31 (2)69.23 (87)Redzone TD % DefenseMICH+++
Redzone TD % Defense38.46 (11)56.25 (79)Redzone TD %MICH++
3rd Down Conv. %47.50 (32)46.00 (93)3rd Down Defense %MICH++
3rd Down Defense %47.27 (104)37.47 (86)3rd Down Conv. %MINN
1st Downs Per Game18.80 (88)20.80 (83)1st Downs Allowed Per/GmPUSH
1st Downs Allowed Per/Gm19.30 (63)19.50 (75)1st Downs Per GamePUSH

Difference less than 20 in national rank = Push
Difference more than 20 in national rank = Team
Difference more than 40 in national rank = Team+
Difference more than 60 in national rank = Team++
Difference more than 80 in national rank = Team+++


Common Opponents
OPP.
MICHMINN
NONEN/AN/A

When Michigan has the ball
Last week, Michigan struggled to get a well-balanced offensive attack going. It must have been something in the air because both Denard Robinson and SDSU Ryan Lindley, who's no slouch, both had a tough time throwing the ball. Michigan will come into this game with a huge statistical advantage in the passing game, so it would stand to reason that Al Borges will do the best he can to get some confidence building throws for his speedy QB.

Of course I would really like to see Devin Gardner get some more gametime reps. At some point, we're going to need Gardner to step up. Shoelace isn't indestructible. I'm not saying he should share time with Denard, because #16 is just too good to keep on the bench. But some reps with the ones would do Devin some good.

Up front, Michigan could be missing Ricky Barnum who has missed practice this week because of an ankle issue. He left the game last week and all-around OL backup Michael Schofield stepped in and did an admirable job, although it should be noted that Elliot Mealer is listed as Barnum's backup on the depth chart.

After four games, it seems that Fitz Toussaint and Vincent Smith have separated themselves from the pack to lead Michigan's rushing game. Lack of ball handling ability by Stephen Hopkins has eliminated him from contention. I'm a bit surprised to see that Michael Shaw hasn't stepped up more during his senior year. But when you watch Fitz and Smith run with the ball, there's a clear difference in both overall ability and field vision.

Another part of the passing equation is the receivers. They didn't do Denard any favors. As Brady Hoke mentioned all week in his many press conferences, the blame for the passing game doesn't fall fully on the QB. There were multiple times when WRs were just not where Denard needed them to be. I have to think that most of the reason why Al Borges ran so much in the second half last week was because he could see that the receivers were just not running crisp routes and getting open. There were also some pretty bad drops in this game as well.

For Minnesota, they will have their hands full trying to stop Michigan and Denard Robinson. They're strength is their overall experience and their linebackers. Weaknesses are pass rush and run defense.

Up front, there's nowhere to go but up. In 2010 they finished dead last in sacks. Right now, they're 117th overall in sacks per game. Michigan is 2nd nationally in sacks allowed. So...yeah.

The two leading tacklers are both defensive backs...which is never a good sign. Safety Kim Royston who broke his leg last year leads the team in tackles. Royston is a transfer from Wisconsin and is maybe the best player on this defense. Sophomore cornerback Brock Vereen is the other leading tackler, and also leads the team with pass breakups. Both are good at stopping runners, but lack -- much like the rest of the defense -- in stopping the pass.

Senior Gary Tinsley leads a linebacking corps that has been rebuilt for 2011. Mike Rallis went from walk-on to scholly when he beefed up from 210 to 236 to look more like a linebacker. This group is experienced but really doesn't do a very good job of getting pressure on quarterbacks or their pass coverage.

When Minnesota has the ball
One of the biggest surprises of the year so far for Michigan fans has been the much improved play of the defense. And not just a few guys or maybe just the front seven, but the entire defense. I think this overall improvement is the direct reflection of better coaching (much better coaching), and more emphasis on playing aggressively.

You really can't discount the addition of Greg Mattison as the defensive coordinator -- not that anyone has. He will be the feature of an upcoming post that I am just starting to do some work on. No question, Mattison is probably one of the best defensive coordinators out there, and that has been proven by our sudden improvement in every aspect of the defense.

Putting it lightly, Minnesota is going to have a tough time doing anything offensively this Saturday. Word on the street is that Minnesota quarterback MarQueis Gray is likely to miss this game due to a toe injury. He did not practice Wednesday. This is a tough blow for an already struggling Minnesota offense which ranks last in the B1G on pass efficiency offense.

The defensive line has been getting better as the season goes on for Michigan. Mike Martin, Ryan Van Bergen, Craig Roh, Will Heininger, Nathan Brink, Will Campbell and Jibreal Black have all seen a lot of time in the rotation and have been getting stronger as a unit.

I think the linebacker position has seen maybe the largest turnaround. Well all expected Kenny Demens to be a solid middle linebacker. But freshman Jake Ryan and Brandin Hawthorne have really stepped up in just the last couple games. Mike Jones, Brandon Herron and Merrel Evans have seen some time, but need to improve to unseat the current starters.

On the injury front, it sounds like Cam Gordon, who has yet to see the field this year, is still at least a week away from coming back.

What is this? Depth in the backfield? Cornerback depth? Say whaaaaaaat?

When Troy Woolfolk when down with a bum ankle (again) against SDSU, Courtney Avery came into the game and looked pretty solid. Then JT Floyd went down when he got his bell rung a little too loud. Michigan fans commenced full-blown panic meltdown.

Then, in came freshman Blake Countess. And he actually looked...good. Not backup good, but real actual good. He got tested a couple times when he first got into the game by San Diego QB Ryan Lindley...and he held his own. When both starting corners were not in the game and Michigan's pass defense actually kinda got better...there was much rejoicing.

Minnesota offers a relateively decent running game, and no passing game to speak of. And that's with Gray being healthy. The thing that Gray adds to this offense is a modestly scary scrambling quarterback with an arm to match. In his absence is true freshman Max Shortell. He's seen limited action this year.

Gray is Minnesota's leading rusher. The leading rushing tailback is Duane Bennett, who has 164 yards and 1 touchdown. He is flanked by freshman Donnell Kirkwood. Both will see plenty of carries this Saturday.

When a foot meets a football
Welcome back Will Hagerup. Fresh off a 4-game suspension "violating team rules", Hagerup will try to wedge his way back into the punting role which as been filled by freshman Matt Wile -- who's looked both really great and average in his first 4 college starts. I think Hagerup offers a bit more consistency and a stronger overall leg.

Expect Wile to continue to battle Gibbons for place kicking duties. Gibbons is 1 for 1 so far this year. He missed a 40-yard attempt last week. To offer up a comparison, Michigan is ranked 97th nationally with a .500 field goal percentage, while Minnesota is 83rd at .625.

Safe to say that field goals will not be a deciding factor in this one.

Gut Feeling
Looking at the stats comparison, it's pretty clear that Michigan has way more advantages than Minnesota does in this game. If Gray doesn't play, a tough day will only get tougher for the Gophers.

I fully expect a dominating performance by Michigan on both sides of the ball. We're 4 games into the season and we've managed to get out of the non-conference schedule unscathed. Any kinks that remain in this system should be ironed out enough to make short order of the Gophers on Saturday. We're giving Minnesota 20 1/2 points in this one, and I'm frankly surprised it's not more.

I want to see Devin Gardner playing in the 3rd quarter...and not because Denard is hurt. I want some meaningful snaps for our backup signal-caller, not only because I think he deserves it, but because he's going to need the experience. I personally feel that Devin is good enough to start at most other B1G schools right now.

I also expect a big day from the defense. Denard may get the full attention from the media if he puts up big numbers, but I'll be paying most attention to the defense. I'm talking a shutout here. I'm talking no plays over 20-yards sans a random pass play. I'm talking keeping the opportunistic play going. I'm talking getting more turnovers. I think we can start to become a defense that plays with confidence and swagger. That's what I'm looking for.

That's what this Minnesota game is all about -- gaining confidence on both sides of the ball and getting ready for the meat of the Big Ten schedule which has been Michigan's Achilles Heel the last two seasons.

Related content:
Undefeated...Again
Hoke, Players Presser (9/26)
Coaches Midweek Pressers
B1G Breakdown: Week 5

Coaches Midweek Press Conf. Videos - Jug Week

"Jug Week" rolls on with the mid-week pressers for Brady and his coordinators. We're currently working on the Minnesota preview, which will hopefully be posted tomorrow PM, or Friday AM at the latest.

Brady Hoke (9/28)


Al Borges (9/27)


Greg Mattison (9/27)

UMass Completes Michigan's 2012 Schedule

The University of Massachusetts Minutemen will happily make a return trip to the Big House in 2012 to collect a handsome check for $650,000. This completes the non-conference slate, and the schedule overall for 2012. Here's a look.

Sept 1 - Alabama*
Sept 8 - AIR FORCE
Sept 15 - UMASS
Sept 22 - @ Notre Dame
Sept 29 - BYE WEEK
Oct 6 - @Purdue
Oct 13 - ILLINOIS
Oct 20 - MICHIGAN STATE
Oct 27 - @ Nebraska
Nov 3 - @ Minnesota
Nov 10 - NORTHWESTERN
Nov 17 - IOWA
Nov 24 - @ Ohio State

*at Arlington, TX (Cowboys Stadium)
"Legends" division games in bold.

I like the non-conference slate. I really do. In this age of Baby Seal U, this schedule is not easy. Even though I would prefer a home-and-home with Alabama rather than a single neutral site game, I can't complain. Add Air Force (always good to play a service academy) and of course the annual match with Notre Dame -- this could be a very difficult schedule.

And let's not forget, UMass will be in the MAC next year...no longer an FCS school.

I don't like that all 5 division games are back-to-back. But what can you do? Our non-protected cross-divisional games are Purdue and Illinois instead of Penn State and Wisconsin, just like this year. So that's a plus.

All in all, this is a tough schedule...but it's fair. And I like it.

B1G Breakdown: Week 5


Well, we predicted a perfect week for the B1G last week, and it was for most of the day. But the evening games threw my perfect week off. Indiana losing to North Texas and Minnesota dropping one to North Dakota State gave me a 8-2 result for week 4. Here's my record so far.

Week 1: 12-0
Week 2: 11-1
Week 3: 9-3
Week 4: 8-2
Overall: 40-6 (.869)

You can clearly see, my record is good, but starting to get worse. Things only get tougher this week with the start of league play. Let's have a look at the schedule.

All games are Saturday 10/1. All times eastern. My pick in bold. (Rankings: AP/Coaches)

Division Games:
Penn State @ Indiana
12:00 - ESPNU

Minnesota @ #19/19 Michigan
12:00 - BTN

Cross-division Games:
Northwestern @ #24/22 Illinois
12:00 - ESPN2

#NR/25 Michigan State @ Ohio State
3:30 - ABC/ESPN2

#8/8 Nebraska @ #7/7 Wisconsin
8:00 - ABC

Non-conference Games:
Notre Dame @ PURDUE
8:00 - ESPN
Bye: Iowa

Biggest "must-watch" games of the week (other than Michigan):
There are two this week. And since they're at different times from the UM-Minn game, it'll be easy to schedule your day around them. Michigan State at Ohio State is the afternoon must-watch. For simply divisional purposes, you have to root for OSU here. I know it's not easy, but I will argue that rooting for Sparty would be just as tough. A MSU loss only helps Michigan from a division standpoint. A OSU win doesn't hurt Michigan at all. As Ira mentioned on WTKA this morning, this fits the definition of a "sinkhole" game -- in that you just want a giant sinkhole to open up and swallow both teams.

But the night game is real one to watch. Nebraska at Wisconsin could be the B1G game of the year. It's #8 at #7. ESPN Gameday will be in Madison. ABC will air the game with Brent, Kirk and Erin. Plus, it's Wisconsin at night. Simply a huge game worth watching even if you don't care who wins. But if you had to pick one...pick Wisconsin. Nebraska losing only helps Michigan.

Upset Alert!
For some reason, I'm thinking Indiana has a shot over Penn State. We know the Nittany Lions are vulnerable, but the real question is can Indiana bounce back after an embarrassing loss to North Texas. I can't pick Indiana, even though I really want to.

The other upset game could be Northwestern over Illinois. Last year Illinois blasted NU 48-27 at Wrigley. I can see Northwestern getting some revenge this year...if Persa plays. If not, Illinois rolls.

Snoozer of the week
Sadly, Minnesota at Michigan. Every other B1G game is going to be interesting to watch, even Notre Dame at Purdue. The battle for the Little Brown Jug will be maybe the most lopsided score of the day.

Bold predictions!
Yes, I am picking OSU. I just can't buy into Sparty. I couldn't buy into them before they got blown out by an average Notre Dame team, and now I really can't buy into them. The game is in Columbus, Ohio State got that loss to Miami out of their heads. I think OSU rolls.

No doubt, the game of the week and maybe the B1G game of the year is in Madison this week. Welcome to the Big Ten Nebraska. Hope that squeaker over Wyoming last week prepared you.

As you can see above, I'm taking the odds-on favorite for every game. I'd like to pick an upset, but I just don't see it. My biggest "lock" of the week? The Little Brown Jug is returned to the Michigan trophy case by Saturday at 4PM.

Hoke, Players Press Conf. Video - "Jug Week"

"Jug Week" seems to be the term of choice to describe the week when we play Minnesota when you know we're going to win. I doubt the Gophers are throwing this term around a lot this week. Well, maybe they are -- who knows? But hey, it's fun to say. Not to be confused of course with "Jugs Week"...which is an entirely different kind of week.

Brady Hoke


Also:
Ryan Van Bergen, Kevin Koger, Denard Robinson

Undefeated...Again

Players celebrate with the student section after 28-7 win over San Diego State.
Funny how being 4-0 can feel so...unfulfilling? Yet, that is where we find ourselves as Michigan fans going into the 2011 conference schedule. For a third year in a row, we've gone undefeated against Notre Dame, and a list of relatively unassuming non-conference teams. This year beat a Notre Dame squad that we're still not quite sure how good they really are. We beat some directional Michigan schools with relative ease. And just this last week, Michigan took care of San Diego State...this year's version of UConn.

All four wins are commendable, for sure. But even with a perfect start to the season, there are more questions about this Michigan team, mostly on offense, than before the season began.

I've been trying to come up with ways in which to contrast the 2011 team from the previous two. Maybe Michigan was just able to schedule they're way into three straight undefeated non-conference records? It's not entirely out of the question. Dave Brandon has made no mystery that he's all in favor of scheduling "Baby Seal U" just as long is it means 110,000 people in the bowl every Saturday in September. It seems to be a trend in college football nowadays. So maybe we should just get used to undefeated non-conference schedules. In a few years (2017), we'll be down to three non-B1G games -- and who knows what the national conference landscape will look like by then?

From the looks of things, Notre Dame could be off to the ACC. Or they could end up right here in the B1G. No one knows at this point.

We'll save the argument that a cake-walk non-conference schedule really doesn't prepare you for the Big Ten for later.

There is a lot of speculation about whether or not this Michigan team is the real deal or not. In years passed, a 4-0 Michigan team would be something to write about. That means we beat a great Notre Dame team, maybe a good Colorado, UCLA or Florida State team. But now, it's just another year. So when we get to the meat of the conference schedule, will things go better for us then in the last couple seasons?

That is the question.

But the answer is not so simple.

I like to think that there is another answer on this offense somewhere besides #16's legs. For all of the reasons I love watching Denard shred defenses each week, there are just as many reasons why I am so concerned about Michigan being so one-dimensional -- even when that one dimension is so great.

From what I've seen so far this year, we really do want to get the ball to our running backs. We have the right guys in Vincent Smith, Fitz Toussaint, Stephen Hopkins (when he holds onto the ball), Michael Shaw...just to name the obvious. Our line is more than capable of getting those guys the room they need. It takes time for a new offense to gel, but we're getting there with the ground game. Those things are not the problem.

The most apparent issue to most people is, Denard must establish his arm as a threat. Thus far, he's been struggling. Against San Diego State, it was non-existent.

I think in practice, he's there. Borges must be seeing something he likes. But in games, you can just see that Denard is just not that comfortable yet dropping back and going down his progressions. He can do it, but it's not instinctual. Denard's most inherent instinct is to run -- and that instinct is very well honed.

We get a pass this week with the 1-3 Gophers coming to town fresh off a loss to FCS North Dakota State. But things get much tougher after that with two road tests in Evanston and East Lansing. By the time we come home to host Purdue after the bye-week, we're going to know a whole lot more about this offense than we do after 4 games against questionable non-conference foes.

By then, we should be just slightly closer to that answer before heading into the final stretch of the schedule.

Michigan - San Diego State Wrap-Up

Another day at the office for #16. I love this photo.
We're 4-0. Undefeated in non-conference play for the 3rd consecutive year. Michigan is 12-0 in September over the last 3 years. Not a bad start to 2011, eh?

One of the many highlights for me yesterday -- Brady's final comment from his post-game press conference.
Four weeks in, is there anything about this team good or bad that surprises you? “I like how they like each other. I’ve been around teams that don’t like each other. I like how they like each other -- if they like each other enough and respect each other enough, they’re going to play for each other. And that’s a powerful thing. When they play for each other and they play for Michigan, that’s a powerful thing.
Reading this quote after the fact only reveals what he said. But watching him deliver this quote to a room full of media members, it was one of my favorite Brady Hoke moments. A lot of coaches say things and you're never quite sure how much they believe what they're saying. With Hoke, and this comment above, there was no question.

More on the post-game presser below.

Game highlights


MGoVideo has game video from each quarter in it's entirety.

Post-game press conference


MGoBlog has the transcript of what was said. My highlights from Brady Hoke...
The non-conference schedule is over. Can you talk about where this point is right now vs. where you want it to be? “We can’t turn the ball over four times, I can tell you that. That’s disappointing. We ended up a minus one. Defensively we caused three turnovers, and then we turn it over four times. You can’t win anything -- you can’t win your pop warner league if you turn the ball over. WE were fortunate to get out to a decent lead in the football game, and I thought our defense kept us in the game because we tried to get it away.”

For defense to come out and set the tone with three-and-out. How good was that? “It was a big deal, number one, in how we covered the kick. Kickoff coverage has been a little thorn in our side. Greg talked about with the defense before we left the hotel about that first possession, that first series how we want to play as a defense. We talk about the Michigan defense and wanting to be a Michigan defense.”

The turnovers gave you bad field position, but the defense only gave up seven points. Thoughts? “Well, I mean, that’s [why] those guys are on scholarship at Michigan -- to play defense. That’s what we talk about. It doesn’t matter what the offense does. I’m on my scholarship. I’m Ryan Van Bergen, defensive end, and I’m at Michigan to play defense.”

What were your conversations like with the SDSU players after the game? “It’s great to see them. Those conversations are personal.”
I was able to snap a couple photos of Brady embracing a few Aztec players on the field after the game. Check out my photo set here. I was really surprised to see how much emotion the Michigan coach and his former players were showing. But, it makes sense --those are his guys. He is their coach. Greg from MVictors addresses this, and other SDSU topics here.

As far as the game was concerned. Just a few bullets.

• Game balls go to the entire defense. They stepped up today, big time. I heard a stat that SDSU had the ball on the M side of the fifty 11 times, but only walked away with one touchdown. That's old school Michigan defense numbers. We were able to capitalize on turnovers, and the front 7 really came to play. Along the line...Van Bergen, Martin, Roh, Campbell...all played well.

• Another game ball goes to Al Borges for his first half play-calling. He mixed it up very nicely. But I think the playbook shrank dramatically in the second half with our 21-point lead.

• Props to true-freshman Blake Countess for stepping up when Woolfolk and then JT Floyd left the game. JT was able to return, but Woolfolk was not. Blake was able to come into the game and helped the defense not skip a beat even when being tested by Lindley.

• I know at some point we're going to be talking about why this offense has no other answer besides #16...and we might be getting to that point. But 4-0 is 4-0...and it's hard not to just assume that Denard is Superman. His ability is just downright amazing. But this offense must become more than just designed QB runs. I think we have the ability at running back, and the line is good enough, we just need to gel faster. But it is a process.

• We'll find out next week if this the passing game just took a week off. I know we're not very strong in the passing department, but it was non-existent yesterday.

All in all, we're undefeated. I expected this game to be much closer than it was -- I think we all did. Things don't really get tougher with Minnesota visiting this week, but it gets much tougher after that.

Michigan - San Diego State Photos

Here's my Flickr photo set from the San Diego State game. What's that? You don't follow me on Flickr yet? Well let's change that.


Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube as well.

Today's Attendance: 110,707 (and a Half)

Today's attendance was 110,707.
If they gave out an award for clapping, this guy would win...no doubt.
That number includes my 14-month old son, Jack, who made it to his first Michigan game today! He spent most of the first half and halftime sleeping, but still. Of course a huge thanks to my wife and parents who were on baby-duty while daddy played on his computer in the pressbox. Go Blue!

Michigan - SDSU First Half Thoughts


Some random bullets from Michigan - San Diego State first half.

• Did NOT expect 21-0 at halftime in this game. Not even close. Props to the defense showing up and the play-calling by Al Borges. Those are the two stars of this game so far for me. Funny how used to Denard's magic I've become.

• Not better way to start a game than to get a defensive three and out and then drive 61 yards in 5 plays for a touchdown. This is a departure from the starts of the last three games. It's also the first points in the first quarter for Michigan this year.

• The SDSU offense started the game with a pretty simple game plan. Get the ball to Hillman as much as possible. That was working on their second drive until Thomas Gordon forced a fumble on the M 44 yardline.

• Capitalizing on that turnover. Michigan drove down and scored again aided by a 53-yard touchdown run by Denard Robinson, his second of the game at that point (3 total). Anyone worrying if Denard had lost a step during the off-season can rest easy. Denard is as fast as ever. He was 10 yards in front of anyone when he crossed the goal line.

• Michigan needs to get other playmakers going on offense. Denard is great, but we need another answer. As we know from 2010, he can't do this all year. Can he?

• FB John McColgan was lined up as a wide out on a play late in the first quarter. His job was to block downfield. Did he ever. It's probably not a big deal, but I like the look and it shows the creativity by Borges. He also showed us an option with Michael Shaw in the second quarter which worked for a 5 yard gain. Again, not huge, but shows the creativity that Borges has with the players he inherited.

• Mike Martin is showing that he just doesn't feel like being blocked anymore. He's been double-teamed a lot in this game, and he's consistently in the backfield making plays. The whole defensive line has played more aggressively so far. Roh and Big Will getting their names called a few times so far.

• Troy Woolfolk limped off the field about six minutes into the 2nd. He threw his helmet and sat on the bench. He seemed to be favoring that left ankle. After getting it looked at by trainers and doing some exercises on the sideline, he was able to return. There's death, taxes...and Troy Woolfolk playing hurt.

Preview: San Diego State

#21/22 MICHIGAN VS. SAN DIEGO STATE
Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
September 24, 2011, 12:00 PM

TV: Big Ten Network (Eric Collins, Chris Martin, Dionne Miller)
Radio: WWJ-950 AM, WTKA-1050 AM, Sirius/XM 91 (Frank Beckmann, Jim Brandstatter, Doug Karsch)
Line: UM -10
Over/Under: 59.5
Series Record: UM leads 1-0
Last Meeting: 2004: UM 24 - SDSU 21
UM Record/Rank: 3-0 (0-0), #21/22 (AP/Coaches)
SDSU Record/Rank: 3-0 (0-0), NR
Forecast: Mostly cloudy (30% chance of showers), 60º-65º, winds calm

A little background
Six coaches from Michigan's football staff, including of course Brady Hoke, coached at San Diego State last year. How's that for starters? Al Borges was the OC at SDSU last year, and things haven't changed very much since he left. You can make the argument, and many already have, that Michigan has a very unique advantage going into this game. I believe they do.

Michigan and San Diego State have only a brief head-to-head history. They met only one time, in 2004 when Michigan topped the Aztecs 24-21. Oddly, that was the very same day I moved from Ohio to Michigan (Columbus to Ann Arbor to be more specific).

Statistical Breakdown (based on stats through week 3)
Remember that Michigan's stats against Western Michigan in week 1 are not taken into account here.

MICHIGANValue (Nat. Rank)Value (Nat. Rank)SAN DIEGO STATEADV.
Rushing Offense (ypg)245.00 (13)197.00 (98)Rushing Defense (ypg)MICH+++
Passing Offense (ypg)216.50 (68)186.00 (36)Passing Defense (ypg)SDSU
Pass Efficiency157.60 (30)129.77 (72)Pass Efficiency DefenseMICH+
Total Offense (ypg)461.50 (24)383.00 (80)Total Defense (ypg)MICH+
Scoring Offense (ppg)33.00 (48)21.67 (48)Scoring Defense (ppg)PUSH
Rushing Defense (ypg)202.50 (103)220.67 (24)Rushing Offense (ypg)SDSU++
Passing Defense (ypg)172.00 (26)207.33 (78)Passing Offense (ypg)MICH+
Pass Efficiency Defense139.58 (92)141.37 (49)Pass EfficiencySDSU+
Total Defense (ypg)374.50 (76)428.00 (42)Total Offense (ypg)SDSU
Scoring Defense (ppg)17.00 (35)38.00 (27)Scoring Offense (ppg)PUSH
Net Punting Yards34.00 (101)9.17 (47)Punt Return YardsSDSU+
Punt Return Yards9.50 (44)31.81 (46)Net Punting YardsPUSH
Kickoff Return Yards18.43 (102)26.06 (105)Kickoff Return DefensePUSH
Kickoff Return Defense22.17 (75)24.17 (39)Kickoff Return YardsSDSU
Turnover Margin1.50 (11)2.00 (5)Turnover MarginPUSH
Penalty Yds/Game34.70 (16)33.70 (14)Penalty Yds/GamePUSH
Sacks0.50 (111)0.33 (6)Sacks AllowedSDSU+++
Sacks Allowed0.50 (12)3.00 (22)SacksPUSH
Redzone Offense (%)100.00 (1)100.00 (106)Redzone Defense (%)MICH+++
Redzone Defense (%)60.00 (15)90.91 (34)Redzone Offense (%)PUSH
Redzone TD %90.00 (7)100.00 (118)Redzone TD % DefenseMICH+++
Redzone TD % Defense40.00 (20)90.91 (6)Redzone TD %PUSH
3rd Down Conv. %51.72 (18)43.18 (86)3rd Down Defense %MICH++
3rd Down Defense %48.65 (106)47.73 (34)3rd Down Conv. %SDSU++
1st Downs Per Game19.00 (81)18.70 (58)1st Downs Allowed Per/GmSDSU
1st Downs Allowed Per/Gm19.00 (62)21.00 (53)1st Downs Per GamePUSH

Difference less than 20 in national rank = Push
Difference more than 20 in national rank = Team
Difference more than 40 in national rank = Team+
Difference more than 60 in national rank = Team++
Difference more than 80 in national rank = Team+++


Common Opponents
OPP.
MICHSDSU
NONEN/AN/A

This is the part of the preview where I breakdown what happens when Michigan has the ball, San Diego State has the ball, and of course special teams. Well, due to time constraints and external forces, we're going to feature a slightly* more condensed version.
*= drastically

What you should know about San Diego State is, they are probably better than Western Michigan, but probably not as good as Notre Dame. They feature a very good running back in Ronnie Hillman, the #2 overall rusher in the nation. He averages 165.67 yards per game and has 8 touchdowns so far this year. He's tied atop the NCAA in scoring with 16 points per game. Throwing the ball, while not SDSU's biggest weapon, is Ryan Lindley. He's best described as a "serviceable" QB. They best thing he can do is turn around and hand the ball to Hillman.

If San Diego State is going to win this game, it will be because Michigan's defense broke down and never got back up and running. We've shown so far this year, especially early in games, that we're susceptible against the run. We're going to need to be much stronger in that respect this week.

Like we said before, Michigan has a huge advantage in that we know exactly what they're going to do, and we know their personnel probably better than the current coaching staff. You can't discount how big this is.

Running the ball is going to be a big part of Michigan's gameplan tomorrow. Vincent Smith might start at RB, but he will be helped out by Fit Toussaint and probably Denard Robinson. Let's not kid ourselves, the designed QB run is still alive and well in the Al Borges offense. But Denard must get some help from his running backs. He can't shoulder the load all year. SDSU is not a very good rush defense.

Overall, Michigan should win this game. SDSU will have the chip on their shoulder, for sure. But I think Hoke has secretly had this game circled on the schedule since he got here. I would expect the Aztecs to do some weird things -- fake punt, onside kick, going for it on 4th down -- to try and rattle the Michigan coaches to throw them off.

If Michigan plays the way they played in the 4th quarter of the Notre Dame game, we should win by a couple touchdowns. If we can establish a good running game and control the line of scrimmage, then we'll be fine. But SDSU could hang around, they certainly have the talent on offense to do so.

Related content:
B1G Breakdown: Week 4
Hoke Presser Video (9/19)
Coordinators Presser Video (9/20)
Hoke, Denard Presser Video (9/21)

Hoke, Denard Press Conf. Video (9/21)

We're efforting the SDSU preview post for tomorrow, but an rather busy week for me might impede that a little. We'll get a preview posted, but maybe not as thorough as what we're used to.

Brady Hoke


Denard Robinson

Coordinators Press Conf. Video (9/20)

Al Borges


Greg Mattison

Show Us Your "Michigan" Man Cave

I actually had to think awhile for the best way to title this post...

Anyway...

Consider this a call for entries. We know there are some truly remarkable man caves out there. If you, or someone you know has a great "Michigan Man Cave", we'd love to showcase it right here on Maize & Blue Nation. Send us some photos and a list of features, maybe something about what makes your Michigan Man cave so special or exceptional.

We'd like this to be a regular feature. So if you would, please help us get this fun little experiment off the ground. Send any submissions to brad@maizenbluenation.com.

Thanks and Go Blue!

Michigan Notre Dame 2011: No Leaf Clover

This is my mashup of video and sound from the 2011 Michigan Notre Dame game. The music is courtesy of Metallica...which I assume is drafting up a cease and desist order as we speak. Video came from, where else...all corners of the web. I'm not a huge Metallica fan, but their song entitled "No Leaf Clover" just seemed like a natural fit for this for obvious reasons. Hope you enjoy.

Turn it up!

Brady Hoke Press Conf. Video (9/19)

It's San Diego State week! That statement only gets an exclamation point because SDSU is the former employer of Brady Hoke. According to the Aztec's head coach Rocky Long (awesome name, btw), Michigan has a huge advantage this week.
“They know our personnel a lot better than we know their personnel, so I think there’s a huge advantage, yes,” said Long, SDSU’s head coach. 
Brady's first few questions and answers during his weekly press conference address his feelings on the issue. Here's 15 good minutes with the coach.

B1G Breakdown: Week 4

A couple of surprises in week 3 threw off my picks. I had faith in Sparty going into South Bend...still having a tough time believing Notre Dame is really that good, although I guess a case could be made for the Irish not having 3 terrible games in a row. I think Michigan State just had an off day...but neither team should be consider "for real".

Ohio State simply just did not show up in South Beach. I wasn't able to watch the game, but the stats tell the story: 4 of 18 for 35 yards passing with 1 pick...for the game! Those are combined stats for both 5th-year senior Joe Bauserman and freshman superstar Braxton Miller. They shared a combined passing efficiency rating of 34.15. I don't care how good or bad Miami is...you won't not beat anyone with passing stats like that.

Illinois (vs Arizona State) was my only loss pick for the week...and they won. So here's to looking ahead to a better week 4!

All games are Saturday 9/24. All times eastern. B1G in CAPS. (Rankings: AP/Coaches)

Western Michigan @ #24/NR ILLINOIS
3:30 PM - BTN

INDIANA @ North Texas
7:00 PM - ESPN3.com

Louisiana-Monroe @ IOWA
12:00 PM - BTN

San Diego State @ #22/21 MICHIGAN
12:00 PM - BTN

Central Michigan @ #NR/23 MICHIGAN STATE
12:00 PM - ESPNU

North Dakota State @ MINNESOTA
7:00 PM - BTN

#9/9 NEBRASKA @ Wyoming
7:30 PM - Versus

Colorado @ OHIO STATE
3:30 PM - ABC/ESPN2

Eastern Michigan @ PENN STATE
12:00 PM - ESPN2

South Dakota @ #6/7 WISCONSIN
3:30 PM - BTN

Biggest "must-watch" games of the week (other than Michigan):
This is a very quiet week for the league in terms of national interest games. The train-wreck that is Ohio State's passing game will be on display to a national audience again this week as they host Colorado. But for my money, I'm more interested in seeing how well two of Michigan's "Baby Seal U" opponents stack up against legit B1G teams. Eastern Michigan travels to Happy Valley for a nooner, while the Broncos of Western Michigan travel to Champaign to battle the suddenly more interesting Fighting Illini.

Upset Alert!
Michigan should be on alert for San Diego State. We're going to dive deeper into this game later this week of course, but it's worth mentioning here. While I doubt Hoke will have his team looking past his former employer to Minnesota in the B1G opener, SDSU will be very eager to spoil the party in Ann Arbor.

Snoozer of the week
Indiana at North Texas. You're going to have to watch this on online since there's no TV coverage in deese here parts...adding an extra step for the casual fan, which frankly is one step too many.

Bold predictions!
I'm a little surprised at how bad Ohio State looked last week. While I didn't watch the game, I was pretty shocked at the stats and the final score. Hard to think a team with that much talent can be so bad. Miami isn't that good. The entire league just feels like a work-in-progress...yes, even you too Wisconsin. No real shocks this week as I think the league rights the ship and goes a perfect 12-0. At least they should. Possible upsets being SDSU over Michigan and Colorado over OSU. But all in all, should be a good week.

Michigan - EMU Postgame Analysis

Nice win today by the Wolverines! 3-0! I wasn't able to be at this game, but I watched on TV. A lot of things to work on, but it was nice to see the defense step up and play well. Just a few thoughts from my vantage point.

• We made a field goal! Brendan Gibbons from the left hash 21 yards out! Take that 2010!

• Defense. Defense. Defense! Not sure when the last time we didn't give up an opponent touchdown, but long enough for me not to remember. Delaware State on 09? Just great to see the unit play well together and really get after it. I know it's EMU, but still. Anything that we can do to build some momentum, especially up front, is key. Eastern brought a pretty decent rushing game to Ann Arbor this week, so it was nice to see us only give up 236 yards total, although 207 was on the ground, but EMU is very one-dimensional that way. We gave up some big plays, but limited them as the game went on.

• Nice to welcome back Craig Roh to the defense. He got his name called a couple times today. Brandin Hawthorne has solidified himself at LB. He had a pretty nice day as well. Of course Jordan Kovacs and Kenny Demens played well. They're turning into solid performers every week. Still no Cam Gordon. Hopefully he can get back for San Diego State.

• Thomas Gordon was a beast today. Aside from the one-handed INT which really turned this game around, he was just in great position all day long. According to the stat sheet, he ended the game with 6 tackles, 1 INT and 1 fumble recovery. BTN mentioned him as the defensive standout of the game.

• Offensively, pretty much what I expected. Got off to a slow start, made some errors early. Call it a hangover from last week. Thanks to the defense for keeping it from possibly getting ugly. But once the offense settled down, things looked good.

• Denard is...well, Denard. Borges knew it was time to unleash his playmaker in the second quarter. He got away from his original gameplan and started to let Denard do what he does best...and that is make plays with his feet. But his TD throws to Koger early and then Dileo in the second half were nice. Lack of accuracy throwing downfield early in games has plagued Denard so far this season. He overshot a few receivers.

• I like the way we spread the ball around with the running backs. Vincent Smith and Fitz Toussaint ran well once the line started giving them some lanes to run through. Smith ended the game with 9 carries for 118 yards and Fitz had 11 rushes for 48 yards and 1 TD. Of course Denard added 198 yards on the ground and another TD.

• Special teams looked ok. Matt Wile had a rough day punting. 3 punts with a 35 yard average. We squibbed some kickoffs...I assume to keep Corey Welch from burning us which he did a couple times. Kickoff coverage, I feel, is going to be an adventure as the season progresses. I like Gallon returning kickoffs. He has a bit of that Breaston elusiveness that we all remember.

All in all, a win is a win. If you're excited about this game, then you must get easily excited. Much like when you play a game like this and you're a 28 point favorite, there are things you like to see, and things you see that you need to work on. That was how this game played out. Would have liked to have seen more backups in this game, but the slow start kept Michigan from being able to sub as much as I'm sure they wanted in the second half.

Btw, as I type this Michigan State is trailing Notre Dame 14-10 in the second quarter. This could be a fun game to watch...although I have no idea who to cheer for???

So...we're 3-0! And now it's time to enjoy the rest of this beautiful Saturday and focus on San Diego State for next week! Go Blue!

Preview: Eastern Michigan


MICHIGAN VS. EASTERN MICHIGAN
Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
September 17, 2011, 12:00 PM

TV: Big Ten Network (Tom Hart, Derek Rackley, Lisa Byington)
Radio: WWJ-950 AM, WTKA-1050 AM, Sirius/XM 91 (Frank Beckmann, Jim Brandstatter, Doug Karsch)
Line: UM -28.5
Over/Under: 63
Series Record: UM leads 9-0
Last Meeting: 2009: UM 45 - EMU 17
UM Record/Rank: 2-0 (0-0), NR
ND Record/Rank: 2-0 (0-0), NR
Forecast: Sunny, 60º-65º, winds calm

A little background
Separated by about 11 miles, Michigan and Eastern Michigan share the same county lines. That's about all they share. In the rather brief history of the series considering their proximity to each other, this will only be the 10th time the two schools have faced off. Michigan holds a 9-0 series advantage over the Eagles, outscoring EMU 296-59, with six of the nine meetings ending in shutouts. The most recent game was played on September 19, 2009, with the Wolverines prevailing 45-17.

Wolverine fans all remember Eastern Michigan's coach Ron English from his time as defensive coordinator (05-06) and defensive backs coach (03-05) at Michigan. English was hired in 2008 at Louisville as the defensive coordinator before taking the Eastern job in 2009.

Other former Wolverines on the EMU staff: Mike Hart (04-07) is off. quality control, Steve Morrison (90-94) coaches linebackers, and Kurt Anderson (98) is the run game coordinator and offensive line coach. Former Michigan defensive quality control assistant Tom Burpee (07) is tight ends/special teams coach.

Statistical Breakdown (based on stats through week 2)
Remember that Michigan's stats against Western Michigan are not taken into account here. The NCAA stipulates that 75% of a game must be played in order for stats to count. The game is still a win, but the stats are voided. It makes no sense to me, but whatever. Michigan and the Big Ten will count the stats, but the NCAA will not.

Also remember to take into account that Eastern Michigan's first two opponents were Howard (41-9) and Alabama State (14-7). Both FCS schools. So this breakdown is EMU's stats against two FCS doormats, and Michigan's stats against Notre Dame.
MICHIGANValue (Nat. Rank)Value (Nat. Rank)E. MICHIGANADV.
Rushing Offense (ypg)114.00 (93)41.50 (5)Rushing Defense (ypg)EMU+++
Passing Offense (ypg)338.00 (16)170.50 (29)Passing Defense (ypg)PUSH
Pass Efficiency194.10 (7)108.09 (35)Pass Efficiency DefenseMICH
Total Offense (ypg)452.00 (33)212.00 (9)Total Defense (ypg)EMU
Scoring Offense (ppg)35.00 (45)8.00 (9)Scoring Defense (ppg)EMU
Rushing Defense (ypg)198.00 (98)331.00 (5)Rushing Offense (ypg)EMU+++
Passing Defense (ypg)315.00 (111)88.00 (117)Passing Offense (ypg)PUSH
Pass Efficiency Defense152.17 (102)99.21 (105)Pass EfficiencyPUSH
Total Defense (ypg)513.00 (116)419.00 (48)Total Offense (ypg)EMU++
Scoring Defense (ppg)31.00 (89)27.50 (69)Scoring Offense (ppg)EMU
Net Punting Yards36.60 (63)12.00 (25)Punt Return YardsEMU
Punt Return Yards21.00 (7)34.30 (92)Net Punting YardsMICH+++
Kickoff Return Yards19.60 (85)13.18 (3)Kickoff Return DefenseEMU+++
Kickoff Return Defense23.80 (84)24 (46)Kickoff Return YardsEMU+
Turnover Margin2.00 (10)0.00 (57)Turnover MarginMICH+
Penalty Yds/Game43.50 (39)95.00 (117)Penalty Yds/GameMICH++
Sacks1.00 (77)1.50 (51)Sacks AllowedEMU
Sacks Allowed1.00 (27)5.00 (4)SacksEMU
Redzone Offense (%)100.00 (1)50.00 (8)Redzone Defense (%)PUSH
Redzone Defense (%)62.50 (18)85.71 (63)Redzone Offense (%)MICH+
Redzone TD %100.00 (1)0.00 (1)Redzone TD % DefensePUSH
Redzone TD % Defense50.00 (31)71.43 (40)Redzone TD %PUSH
3rd Down Conv. %40.00 (66)38.48 (48)3rd Down Defense %PUSH
3rd Down Defense %56.00 (115)38.46 (74)3rd Down Conv. %EMU+
1st Downs Per Game16.50 (101)14.50 (25)1st Downs Allowed Per/GmEMU++
1st Downs Allowed Per/Gm22.50 (96)20.00 (61)1st Downs Per GameEMU

Difference less than 20 in national rank = Push
Difference more than 20 in national rank = Team
Difference more than 40 in national rank = Team+
Difference more than 60 in national rank = Team++
Difference more than 80 in national rank = Team+++


Common Opponents
OPP.
MICHEMU
NONEN/AN/A

When Michigan has the ball
No real mystery here for Michigan fans. Denard should be limited in this game...and by limited, I mean plays that feature a designed QB run. I expect a ton of power running game. Fitz Toussaint, Michael Shaw, Vincent Smith, etc. Michigan needs to establish a ground attack after our backs accounted for a total of 10 yards of offense last week against Notre Dame.

This is a game which Michigan fans should see a ton of personnel changes as the day wears on. I'd like to see all of the starters out by the mid-way point of the third quarter...if not sooner. We really haven't had a chance to see guys like Devin Gardner, Kelvin Grady, Martavious Odoms, Stephen Hopkins, etc. Freshman Thomas Rawls and Justice Hayes would be nice to get a look at tomorrow.

The good news is, we're relatively healthy across the board on offense. RB Fitz Toussaint should be back for this game. Ricky Barnum is good to go. This will only improve the struggling running game from last week. Part of what made our RBs non-factors against the Irish was the really solid play of their defensive line. They plugged up the holes nicely.

EMU is led on defense by strong senior leadership. Versatile senior lineman Brad Ohrman leads the team in sacks and tackles for loss. Outside LB JUCO transfer Justin Cudworth leads the team in tackles with 9.5 per game so far. CB Marcus Pollard, who is a transfer from UCLA and one of the country's top corner prospects out of high school, is probably the star of EMU's D. The strength of this defense is it's experience, while weaknesses abound on both the pass and run stopping.

But one of the intangibles is Ron English. He brings a great attitude and overall toughness to this team that is so desperately needed. Don't forget, EMU was winless just a couple years ago...and had a losing culture the years leading up to that. By hiring English, EMU is challenging it's football program to get tougher with a defensive-minded coach...very similar to Michigan bringing in Brady Hoke. Eastern Michigan is slowly, but methodically a program on the rise, I think. Hopefully English can get things on track in Ypsilanti, but it all starts on defense.

When Eastern Michigan has the ball
No real mystery here either. We must stop Eastern Michigan's running game. Through two games so far, RB Javonti Greene is eight overall in the nation in rushing yards averaging 133 yards per game. Granted that was against the 102th and 101st rushing defense in FCS, but still. He shares carries with Dominique Sherrer.

It all starts up front where Michigan must establish a decent run stopping ability. We saw a lot of player rotation in the first half last week as Greg Mattison shuffled d-linemen in and out and all around to try and slow down Notre Dame's Cierre Wood. It wasn't working for the first half, and only had moderate success in the seond when Notre Dame started to become shocked when Michigan suddenly scoring points again.

One side note worth mentioning. Will Campbell looked actually good last week. Let's hope this continues. He needed a good day, and that good day could not have come at a better time. He and Brandin Hawthorne had big days. Please don't be a flash in the pan.

The good news is EMU is extremely one-dimensional. There is no passing game to speak of. As Maize & Brew quoted the EMU blog "Eagle Totem" of their passing game...
Last week I described the passing offense as "an afterthought you wish you hadn’t thought of".
That should about sum it up.

But what QB Alex Gillett lacks in throwing ability, he will try and make up for with scrambling. He ended last season 127/229 passing for 1633 yards, and 13 TDs and 13 INTs. He also rushed scrambled 179 times for 766 yards and 5 TDs. So far this year, he's on pace for about the same.
From an injury standpoint, Michigan was missing some key players last week. We should see most of them back. Brandon Herron, the star of week one, should be back. LB Mike Jones should be back. But the big question is Cam Gordon. He is healthy, but there are some conditioning issues that have crept up due to his time out.

When a foot meets a football
Much like when we played Western Michigan two weeks ago, special teams are very important in lopsided matchups like this. Inferior opponents can keep games close by good special teams play, and capitalizing on mistakes by the other team.

Sophomore Kody Fulkerson handles kickoff and placekicking duties for EMU. Jay Karutz is the punter. Returning kickoffs is RB Dominique Sherrer who ranks 19th overall with a 29.33 yards per return. Punt returner Marlon Pollard averages 10.67 yards per return so far.

For Michigan, it's much of the same of what we've seen. Wile will handle kickoffs and punts. Gibbons at placekicker. Returning punts will be Gallon or Dileo and kickoffs will be a combination of Grady, Gallon and Smith.

Gut feeling
A little bit of a trap game for Michigan this week. EMU will come into the Big House with visions of Appalachian State thanks to head coach Ron English and his bevy of assistants with Michigan ties...they're going to have this Eagles team believing they can win.

I think Hoke gets this team prepared. They could come out a little flat, but by the time the 2nd quarter...or 3rd drive, whichever comes first, things should start to click into place. Like we said before, stop the running game...stop Eastern Michigan. Force Gillett to throw. Force the mistakes. We could see maybe another pick-6 in this game...who knows?

Michigan should win easily tomorrow. Be nervous if special teams play is keeping this game close. Also be nervous if Eastern has more than 100 yards passing before halftime. But sit back and relax if we can establish a dominant running game...which we should. Relax if you see Denard under center more than 25% of the time. This probably means Al Borges hasn't opened up the playbook to show anything he's not comfortable showing. Expect to see some new names on both sides of the ball in the second half. Obviously, this is the best case scenario.

Okay, that's enough words. Go Blue!

Related coverage:
Brady Hoke Presser Video (9/12)
Mattison/Borges Presser Video (9/13)
Ron English/Mike Hart EMU Presser (9/12)
Brady Hoke Presser Video (9/14)
B1G Breakdown: Week 3