Rush Offense vs. Minnesota Rush Defense
The Wolverines have the #27 rush offense with 207 yards/game. The Gophers have the #84 rush defense giving up 178 yards/game. Quarterback Denard Robinson is gaining 118 yards/game himself, but starting running back Fitzgerald Toussaint gains only 46 yards/game. Last week when Robinson left the game, Michigan's running game bogged down, and replacement quarterback Russell Bellomy has just 16 yards on 12 carries this season. Defensive ends D.L. Wilhite and Ra'Shede Hageman have 14.5 tackles for loss between them, though 10.5 of those are sacks. However, Minnesota's top two tacklers are safeties Troy Stoudermire and Derrick Wells, which doesn't bode well for their defense. The top non-DB tackler is middle linebacker Mike Rallis. Michigan might struggle to run the ball if Robinson is unavailable, but the Gophers have recently given up 182 yards to Northwestern's Venric Mark; 341 yards to Wisconsin's duo of Montee Ball and James White; and 177 yards to Iowa's Mark Weisman. If Toussaint and/or backup Thomas Rawls can't gain significant chunks of yards against this run defense, then this team is in serious trouble.
Pass Offense vs. Minnesota Pass Defense
The Wolverines have the #108 pass offense with 172 yards/game. Minnesota has the #7 pass defense with 158 yards allowed/game and the #8 pass efficiency defense. Of course, why pass the ball when you can run it so effectively against them? Minnesota has picked off eight passes this season, with safety Derrick Wells and cornerback Michael Carter each picking off two. The Gophers average two sacks/game, with the aforementioned Wilhite and Hageman combining for 10.5 sacks. They likely won't give Michigan too much of a problem because the Wolverines are solid in pass protection - #12 in the nation for giving up just .88 sacks/game - but if Bellomy plays because of Robinson's injury, then all bets are off because Minnesota will likely blitz a ton. If quarterback/receiver Devin Gardner spends this week practicing at quarterback, that could take away Michigan's best big-play threat on the outside. Michigan's top five receivers have anywhere between 11-18 receptions, so the ball gets spread around fairly evenly. I will give the nod here to Minnesota because Michigan's quarterbacks are prone to turning over the ball and probably won't throw very much.
- Michigan recruited LB Brendan Beal, LB Keanon Cooper, and OT Jonah Pirsig
- Offensive linemen Kyle and Luke McAvoy are the younger brothers of former Michigan offensive lineman Tim McAvoy
- Freshman defensive end Jackson Miller is from Okemos (MI) Okemos, redshirt freshman linebacker Dominic Schultz is from Port Huron (MI) Port Huron, and junior defensive back Kenny Watkins is from Birmingham (MI) Brother Rice
. . . and that's when I ran out of time this week. Busy week, and a busy weekend coming up. Thanks, Hurricane Sandy!
- Michigan wins handily if Denard Robinson starts
- Michigan wins by a close margin if Russell Bellomy or Devin Gardner starts
- Michigan wins by 50 if Nick Sheridan starts
A Look Back . . .