Saturday, October 19, 2013

Preview: Michigan vs. Indiana

Rush Offense vs. Indiana Rush Defense
Michigan is #80 nationally in averaging 4.1 yards/carry altogether, but the top two running backs - Fitzgerald Toussaint and Derrick Green - are averaging 3.5 and 3.2 yards/carry, respectively. Quarterback Devin Gardner leads the team in rushing yards with 439 and is gaining 5.5 yards/carry, but he has taken a beating recently and is starting to look a little worn down. The same could be said for left tackle Taylor Lewan, who missed the second half of last week's game due to an undisclosed injury. The rest of the offensive line is/was in flux, too, with left guard Chris Bryant getting replaced by Joey Burzynski, Graham Glasgow learning to play center on the fly, right guard Kyle Kalis getting replaced temporarily by Burzynski, Michael Schofield flip-flopping across the line to fill in for Lewan, and Erik Magnuson stepping in at right tackle. Meanwhile, Indiana is #110 in the nation in rushing yardage allowed per game, giving up almost 217 yards weekly. The patchwork offensive line will face off against redshirt junior defensive end Ryan Phillis (6'3", 260 lbs.), sophomore defensive end Nick Mangieri (6'5", 260 lbs.), junior 3-tech Bobby Richardson (6'3", 281 lbs.), and sophomore nose tackle Alex Todd (6'3", 301 lbs.). Mangieri leads the team with 5.5 tackles for loss. Three of the top four tacklers are defensive backs, with redshirt junior linebacker David Cooper (6'1", 235 lbs.) tied for the team lead at 45 tackles.
Advantage: Michigan

Pass Offense vs. Indiana Pass Defense
Michigan is #72 nationally in passing yards with 222.5 per game but ranks #45 in passer rating. Gardner is 86/146 for 1,276 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. Michigan's pass protection has generally been solid, but he has a tendency to hold onto the ball too long and/or lock onto receivers, which has resulted in too many turnovers. Wide receiver Jeremy Gallon is the team's leading receiver with 31 catches for 462 yards and 5 touchdowns, but tight end/U-back Devin Funchess has come on strong the past two weeks with 11 catches for 263 yards and 3 touchdowns. The other receivers have been uninspiring so far. Indiana gives up 240 yards/game through the air, good for #76 in the nation. Fifth year senior safety Greg Heban (6'1", 205 lbs.) has 2 picks, and three other guys have 1 each. Junior cornerback Tim Bennett (5'9", 175 lbs.) has 14 pass breakups and 1 of those interceptions, so I would expect Michigan to attack redshirt sophomore corner Michael Hunter (6'1", 190 lbs.). Redshirt junior defensive end John Laihinen (6'4", 255 lbs.) leads the team with 3.5 sacks, and the team has 12 total, good enough for 52nd nationally. Funchess will be a matchup problem for anyone, and Gallon should be tough to handle if used properly. If Michigan can run the ball a little bit and keep Gardner from getting happy feet, the Wolverines should be able to make some more big plays in the passing game.
Advantage: Michigan

Rush Defense vs. Indiana Rush Offense
Michigan is #9 overall, giving up 89.5 yards/game on the ground; and they're #10 at 2.86 yards/carry allowed. They don't get a ton of penetration, but the linebackers diagnose plays quickly, the team swarms to the ball, and they're mostly sure tacklers. Middle linebacker Desmond Morgan and weakside linebacker James Ross III share the team lead with 42 tackles, and defensive end Frank Clark leads the team with 5 tackles for loss. Outside linebacker Jake Ryan returned to action last week, which could help out even more. Indiana is #64 with 173 yards/game and #49 with 4.7 yards/carry. Sophomore tailback Tevin Coleman (6'1", 205 lbs.) has 557 yards and 8 touchdowns, and fifth year backup Stephen Houston (6'0", 230 lbs.) averages 6.6 yards/carry. Sophomore starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld (6'5", 230 lbs.) is the throwing quarterback, while redshirt sophomore Tre Roberson (6'0", 200 lbs.) is the runner with 27 carries for 97 yards and 4 touchdowns. It might be tougher sledding this week with Indiana down to its third right guard and second right tackle, due to a few season-ending injuries. It's a fairly light crew up front with the five starters averaging 6'4" and 291 lbs. Sophomore left tackle Jason Spriggs (6'7", 297 lbs.) was All-Big Ten Honorable Mention last season. I expect Michigan to be able to do a solid job against the run because they almost always do, but they are going to get gashed at times due to the nature of Indiana's high-tempo offense.
Advantage: Michigan

Pass Defense vs. Indiana Pass Offense
The Wolverines have been susceptible to the passing game this year, giving up a lot of short passes and an occasional deep ball. The Wolverines are tied for #64 nationally at 229.7 yards/game allowed through the air. However, they're holding opponents to a 52.6% completion percentage (18th overall) and a 109.98 rating (24th). The Wolverines have racked up 14 sacks (38th), and Clark has 4 in the last three games. Meanwhile, cornerback Blake Countess has 4 interceptions, and both cornerback Raymon Taylor and free safety Jarrod Wilson have 2 picks each; the Wolverines have 9 total (17th). The short completions have been frustrating, but the numbers suggest that Michigan is getting the job done. Both Sudfeld and Roberson complete approximately 60% of their passes, but Sudfeld has five times as many attempts. Combined, they have 18 touchdowns and 7 interceptions while throwing for 1,960 yards, and they've been taking just 1.5 sacks/game. They're #13 nationally with 331.5 yards/game through the air. The starters at wideout are junior Cody Latimer (6'3", 215 lbs.), senior Kofi Hughes (6'2", 217 lbs.), and junior Shane Wynn (5'7", 170 lbs.). Those three have combined for 75 receptions, 1202 yards, and 10 touchdowns. Fifth year senior Ted Bolser (6'6", 252 lbs.) is the top red zone target with 5 touchdowns while averaging 10.8 yards/reception. Even though Michigan has harassed teams into low completion percentages, I think they're going to have a tough time getting to the quarterback, and Michigan doesn't have enough talent at defensive backs to keep all of Sudfeld and Roberson's targets in front of them. The Hoosiers will probably put up a good deal of yardage and some points on the board, although it may not be enough to win.
Advantage: Indiana

Roster Notes
  • Players who held scholarship offers from Michigan include DT Darius Latham and WR Shane Wynn.
  • Run game coordinator/offensive line coach Greg Frey coached the offensive line under Rich Rodriguez at Michigan from 2008-2010.
  • Assistant head coach/defensive coordinator/safeties coach Doug Mallory played at Michigan from 1984-1987. As a safety, he recorded 182 tackles and 6 interceptions for his career and was named team captain in 1987.
  • Native Michiganders on the roster include redshirt junior OT Bill Ivan (Charlevoix), freshman K Dong Kim (Okemos), junior OG Bernard Taylor (Detroit Dakota), and redshirt junior FB Matt Zakrzewski (Traverse City St. Francis).
Last Time They Played . . . 
  • On October 2, 2010, Michigan beat Indiana in Bloomington by a score of 42-35.
  • Denard Robinson passed for 277 yards and 3 touchdowns; he also had 217 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns. The last touchdown came with 17 seconds left on a 4-yard run to break the tie.
  • Roy Roundtree and Junior Hemingway combined for 8 catches, 255 yards, and 2 touchdowns.
  • Indiana quarterback Ben Chappell completed 45/64 passes for 480 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 pick.
  • Indiana WR Tandon Doss had 15 catches for 221 yards.
  • Then-free safety Cameron Gordon had 15 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 pass breakup, and an interception that he returned 19 yards.
  • Michigan has a one-week aberration where it looks like they can run the ball. Toussaint goes for 100 yards and 2 touchdowns.
  • Al Borges ditches the unbalanced line after it lost its effectiveness against Penn State.
  • James Ross makes his first career interception, and Courtney Avery gets his first of the year.
  • Michigan scores a special teams touchdown.
  • Michigan 41, Indiana 28


  1. I see a team in complete total disarray which now faced with the IU hurry up offense will even compound the bad we have witnessed the last 6 games. I hope I'm wrong but this will be another horror show... go down to the wire and IU pulls off a dramatic win (really shouldn't be considered an upset with what we're seen this year to date)....49 - 48

    1. I wouldn't be that pessimistic, though I share your concerns as well.

    2. Offensively - OK. But the defense is stout, far from disarray.

      It would be no shock for Indiana to win, but it would be for them to put up nearly 50 points on this D.

    3. This Stout D has made multiple true freshmen QB's look like Peyton Manning so far this year. I don't think our definitions of "Stout" are the same.

  2. Here's my predictions. Let's see if they stick:
    1. Gardner throws an interception
    2. Gardner takes two sacks
    3. Fitz breaks 100 yards and a score
    4. The linebackers picks up a interception. So does the secondary.

    Mighty Michigan wins 31-28.

  3. I honestly think we lose this game, and the wheels really start to come off the Hoke regime. Our players, on both sides, have to be at all-time lows psychologically right now. Gardner, Fitz, every offensive lineman, every cornerback, Gibbons, Ross. All of these guys are probably seriously questioning themselves right now, which leads to tentative play. Indiana will be playing with nothing to lose and no fear.

    I predict our running game is as impotent as ever (how many Akrons need to stand us up before you give the advantage there to the opponent?). We make some big mistakes early, as Borges overcompensates for his conservative debacle last week, and Gardner continues to play scared. Then everything tightens up (i.e., nerves, playcalling). We play from behind all game, make a little push in the second half, but lose by more than one score. Then the real fan backlash begins.

    1. Agreed. They got to grind this one out before the bye week for the real meat of the season. Absolutely agreed. If they lose this game, the wheels might really fall off.

    2. Gardner is not playing scared. Perhaps frustrated, but I see zero signs of fear.

    3. Magnum, you've been melting down on MGoBlog as well. I understand a bit, but...

      I'm with Lank on this. Gardner is not playing scared. He goes into hero mode a little too often, which is perhaps the opposite.

    4. Fear of throwing an interception. He's a second late on most throws. Just a little doubt creeping in, I think.

    5. Absolutely. Gardner is a confident kid overall, but insecurity re: interceptions must be creeping in.

  4. Nice preview Thunder.

    I don't know if we can tell much about Indiana's rush D from the ypg number, given their pace. More telling is that their secondary has so many tackles. I don't know if we can say advantage Michigan for the run game against ANY team right now. Especially when you consider a good chunk of Gardner's rush yards have come from pass plays. Regardless, if we can't run vs. Indiana we'll be in trouble. I don't want a shootout with these guys.

    Regarding the pass protection - I disagree that it has been solid. The only reason the sack numbers are respectable is Gardner's incredible talent for scrambling. If he sees it coming, he just runs away -- So valuable for us given the OL disarray.

    I do agree our passing O is an advantage, especially when you consider the threat of Gardner scrambles. Gallon, Funchess, and Dileo are good receivers. If there's one thing Borges does well it's get people open down-field. The passing game (and Gardner's legs) have really kept this offense from sinking this year.

    Rush D: For all the complaining about the D - those stats are really impressive. The competition hasn't been great but I'm confident no team is going to run wild on this defense. But the nature of Indiana's offense does make them scarier than most run games we'll face.

    Pass D: I think, as you said, the numbers speak for themselves. This is a good pass D, but not elite. I guess they will try to keep Indiana in front of them and we'll see a lot of short passes. Bend but don't break. Success defined by how stout we are in the red zone.

    30-20 Michigan. Indiana outgains Michigan in yardage but turnovers put Michigan over the top.

    Avery and Bolden step up to play bigger roles. Countess gets another INT.

    Offensively, we look competent. Borges is wildly inconsistent, but he has shown he can adapt after bad games before. Magnuson start at OG for the rest of the year. Agree with Fitz over 100 and 2 TDs.

    The fire-Borges-now nutters who predicted an 11 win season heading into the year but now doubt we can get to 8 wins, will settle the F down.

    Go Blue!

    1. Get real, Michigan's defense has already made multiple true frosh QB's look like NFL ready talent. Gardner is bad decision after bad decision. The O line is a mess and isn't getting any better. The wide receiving corp is bush league. Michigan has ONE legit piece on offense in Funchess. Words out on this O-line and teams will just stack the box all day. And it will work. Optimism is nice but it'll go right out the window when Indiana beats Michigan
      42-21 Indiana

    2. We'll see Paul.

      The one game we ran well Gardner looked pretty dang good (no turnovers).

      I don't know what QBs have looked like Manning. By my count...none.

      Our WRs are good to very good. Gallon is an NFL player, Funchess might be also. Dileo is a solid veteran college player. Chesson has some talent too. I agree with MGoBlog that we should be running 3 and 4 wide way more often to take advantage.

      You know - I predicted 8-4 due to OL struggles and am sticking to that. I don't think that's optimism or pessimism, just realism (from where I'm sitting.)

  5. Breaking: Burzynski at starter! Burzynski at starter! Burzynski at starter! My main man. Told you all he would start and it looks like I'm right.

    OK, I'm not actually happy about this. It's a bad sign for Kalis, Bryant, Miller, Braden, etc. that Burzynski (and Glasgow) are starting ahead of them. Ouch.

  6. Prediction. Fitz and Gallon combine for 300+. Chesson gets a TD. Magnuson or Burzynski do not start the entire game. Stribling gets a pick and Clark gets 2 more sacks. Michigan 41 Indiana 27.

  7. As usual, I freely admit to not having clue one as to what is going on with this football team as I have no access to the locker room other than a friend of a friend of a friend of a .... thing. the following is somewhere between a wild assed guess and an opinion based on a lifetime watching football teams and other entities come unglued.

    I don't think that there's much confidence in Gardner's ability to avoid bonehead turnovers and a sense of fatality about the offense in general. I think the lack of confidence starts with Hoke, extends to Borgis, the offense in general and Gardner in particular. Interviews made brave talk all week, but it gave me a sense of that whistling past the graveyard thing.

    This is the third year in a row we have squandered superior athletic ability at the QB position in an effort to shoehorn a guy into an offensive system for which he's a poor fit. The first two years we squandered a generational talent, this year we are doing it with not quite the same level of athletic ability, but a way superior athlete to about anything anybody else has in this conference including OSU.

    There are some good reasons for some of the play calling, most notable being an unwillingness to risk injury to a QB in the face of a severe lack of depth at the position. But the stiff necked insistence on lining up under center and trying to win by hitting people in the mouth when you have dilithium (to borrow a term from another site) or something somewhat short of dilithium, but still pretty lethal is flippin' ridiculous.

    As previously disclosed, I like Borgis and I don't think he's the problem beyond the fact that he's never had QBs with anything approaching the skill set he's had here. He's had Qbs that were mobile, but has never coached just flat out God gifted athletic kids who were told to go play QB. I think he could figure it out pretty damn quick if he hasn't already were he left to his own devices.

    I'm putting this mess directly on Hoke who establishes the theme with which Borgis, Funk et. al. are expected to work. I think Hoke is feeling it the way Lloyd felt it ..... only quicker. i think he's a defensive line coach who with the help of a way talented and veteran DC has done a real nice job of rejiggering a defensive system around available talent. But he can't get his head around the exact same set of issues having to do with conflicts between skill sets and systems on the offensive side of the ball.

    Now that Hoke's been bit by a kid who is prone to turnovers and has choked away one game late by trying to turn an athlete into a game manager when he coulda/shoulda been turning the kid loose, I think we're gonna see some serious nerves on the sidelines going forward.

    Indiana hasn't beat us since ............. ummm ............... i don't know when Indiana beat us last, they're certainly due. Were this a road game, I'm picking Indiana. At home this game is a toss up. I hope we win with more passion than usual because a loss to indiana will result in a tidal wave of vitriolic stupidity the likes of which we haven't seen around here since Bo went 6 and 6.

  8. Burzynski and Glasgow are both walk-ons who are starting ahead of several highly recruited players, including a 5*. Miller couldn't stick, Bryant got yanked, Braden was all the rage but has since become the forgotten one. I know they're all young, but I see zero signs of any development. We're all freaking out about this year, but next year??? Oy.