Friday, October 12, 2012

Preview: Michigan vs. Illinois

It's hard to find attractive girls from Illinois, so Jaime Edmondson wearing a
Chicago Bears jersey will have to do.
Rush Offense vs. Illinois Rush Defense
Illinois has the #38 rushing defense in the country and they're giving up 125 yards/game.  That's not too bad of a total, but they just gave up 158 yards (on 25 carries) to the combo of Montee Ball and James White of the Wisconsin Badgers, so the potential is there for Denard Robinson and/or Fitzgerald Toussaint and/or Thomas Rawls to gain significant yardage.  Michigan just got done running for 304 yards against Purdue, with Robinson gaining 235 of those yards; that jumped Michigan up to the #29 running team.  The Illini have a couple decent interior players in the forms of middle linebacker Jonathan Brown and defensive end Michael Buchanan; Ashante Williams, who plays the Star position, leads the team in tackles with 41.
Advantage: Michigan

Pass Offense vs. Illinois Pass Defense
Michigan's pass offense isn't very good, and that rests on the shoulders of quarterback Denard Robinson.  He has some capable targets and decent pass protection, but he's just not a very good passer.  The Wolverines are the #101 passing offense in the country, and Robinson was trusted to throw just 16 passes last week (of which he completed 8); he now has a 53.9% completion percentage on the year.  On the flip side, Illinois has the #63 passing defense and the #97 pass efficiency defense; they're also #89 in sacks, despite the presence of Buchanan.  Additionally, cornerback Terry Hawthorne may not be back from a scary head/neck injury he suffered last week.  Illinois isn't very good at defending the pass, and Michigan isn't very good at passing.  Sounds like quite the matchup of units.
Advantage: Michigan

Rush Defense vs. Illinois Rush Offense
The Wolverines have the #65 rushing defense in the country, but that seeming mediocrity was the result of playing two good rushing teams in the first two weeks (Alabama and Air Force).  In the last two games, Michigan has given up 3.0 yards/carry to Notre Dame and 2.3 yards/carry to Purdue.  The Illini are #94 nationally in rushing, and the two leading rushers are running backs Donovonn Young (38 yards/game) and Josh Ferguson (36 yards/game).  Nose tackle Quinton Washington has taken a couple steps forward this season, and Michigan's linebackers are pretty darn good.  Last year Michigan's interior dominated Illinois' and held them to 37 yards on 33 attempts.  And while Michigan's defensive line isn't as good as it was last year, the difference isn't big enough to make this an advantage for Illinois.
Advantage: Michigan

Pass Defense vs. Illinois Pass Offense
Michigan has the #7 pass defense and the #26 pass efficiency defense, despite being 104th in the country in sacks with just one per game.  Of course, it helps that most of the teams the Wolverines have played are helmed by subpar quarterbacks, with the lone exception being Alabama's A.J. McCarron.  Cornerback Raymon Taylor and safety Thomas Gordon each have 2 interceptions, and Craig Roh is the team leader in sacks with 1.5.  Illinois quarterback Reilly O'Toole has completed 57/73 passes for 514 yards, 6 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions; incumbent starter Nathan Scheelhaase is 65/104 for 659 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions.  The numbers suggest that O'Toole is the superior player, but Scheelhaase has the edge in experience and has started the past couple games.  Ryan Lankford is leading receiver for the Illini with 25 receptions for 362 yards and 5 touchdowns.  Michigan probably won't be able to get after the quarterback much, but they should be able to maintain fairly tight coverage and grab a pick or two.

Roster Notes
  • Michigan recruited OT Ryan Nowicki and C Graham Pocic
  • Players from Michigan include Birmingham (MI) Brother Rice WR Devin Church, Detroit (MI) Country Day WR Kenny Knight, Detroit (MI) Cass Tech DE Kenny Nelson, Orchard Lake (MI) St. Mary's SS Earnest Thomas
A Look Back . . . 
  • Michigan continues to run run run like they did against Purdue.
  • Denard Robinson hits Jeremy Gallon and Devin Gardner on deep balls.
  • Michigan holds Illinois to less than 100 yards on the ground.
  • Michigan 38, Illinois 10

1 comment:

  1. If memory serves, you had a hot UI cheerleader last year.