Saturday, November 23, 2013

Preview: Michigan at Iowa

Rush Offense vs. Iowa Rush Defense

Michigan is #96 in the country with 135.7 yards/game as a team, and last week's "improvement" included 139 yards rushing, although that was a step up from the -48 and -21 yards put on the board in the previous two weeks. Despite the improvement last week, the rumor is that Kyle Kalis will be re-inserted at right guard, Erik Magnuson will move to left guard, and true freshman Kyle Bosch will be watching from the sideline. Starter Fitzgerald Toussaint should return from a concussion he suffered against Nebraska, but backups Derrick Green (19 carries, 79 yards) and De'Veon Smith (8 carries, 41 yards) both performed fairly well in their most extensive duties yet this year. Meanwhile, Iowa is #25 in giving up 130 yards/game on the ground and #29 with just 3.72 yards allowed/carry. Senior middle linebacker Anthony Hitchens (6'1", 233 lbs.) leads the team with 87 tackles, but fellow senior linebackers Christian Kirksey (6'2", 235 lbs.) and James Morris (6'2", 240 lbs.) are both right behind with 80 tackles each. Hitchens also leads the team with 10 tackles for loss, with Morris just behind at 9. The Hawkeyes have good size on the defensive line with the ends averaging 270 and junior nose tackle Carl Davis sitting at 6'5", 315 lbs. Junior 3-tech defensive tackle Louis Trinca-Pasat (6'3", 290 lbs.) is the penetrator on the defensive line with 7 tackles for loss. Michigan took a step forward last week against Northwestern, but Iowa is always sound when it comes to assignments, so this should again be a difficult day for the Wolverines on the ground.
Advantage: Iowa

Pass Offense vs. Iowa Pass Defense
Michigan is #39 in passer rating nationally at 142.36. Devin Gardner has cut down on the interceptions and fumbles lately but also has taken 19 sacks in the last three games, seemingly unable to cut down on turnovers and still get rid of the ball. Speaking of sacks, Michigan has allowed 31 this year, good enough to be tied for 114th in the nation. Wide receiver Jeremy Gallon is #11 in the country with 106.2 yards/game through the air, and TE/WR Devin Funchess is #78 with 68.4. The Hawkeyes are tied for 80th with 17 sacks on the year and hold opponents to a 120.34 passer rating, good enough for 40th in the country. Their leading sacker is linebacker James Morris with 4, and nobody else has more than 2.5 (sophomore DE Drew Ott at 6'5", 265 lbs.). Iowa has made 10 interceptions on the year (#57 nationally), and three players are tied for the team lead with 3 picks each - Morris, senior cornerback B.J. Lowery (5'11", 193 lbs.), and senior safety Tanner Miller (6'2", 207 lbs.). Lowery has taken 2 of his interceptions back for touchdowns. The Wolverines have more talent at receiver than the Hawkeyes do in the backfield, but if Gardner can't handle Iowa's Cover 2 looks, it will be a long day.
Advantage: Michigan

Rush Defense vs. Iowa Rush Offense
Michigan is #13 in the country, giving up just 111.2 yards/game on the ground; they're also #10 at just 3.16 yards allowed/carry. This is a very good run defense. Weakside linebacker James Ross moved into the team lead in tackles (75) with a 13-tackle effort against Northwestern, and he's closely followed by middle linebacker Desmond Morgan (69). The Wolverines have made 56 tackles for loss as a team (#79 nationally), led by weakside end Frank Clark (10), defensive tackle Jibreel Black (7), and strongside linebacker Cam Gordon (6.5). Nose tackle Quinton Washington will probably get a little bit more playing time against Iowa's offense than he has against the spread offenses of the past couple weeks. The Hawkeyes are #40 in yards/game on the ground with 193.2 and they average 4.5 yards/carry, which is 57th. They're paced by junior Mark Weisman (6'0", 236 lbs.), who has 167 carries, 777 yards, 4 touchdowns. Junior Damon Bullock (6'0", 200 lbs.) and sophomore Jordan Canzeri have combined for 793 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 5.1 yards/carry. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Jake Rudock (6'2", 205 lbs.) averages 3.8 yards/carry and has 5 rushing touchdowns on the year, so it's a multi-pronged attack. The offensive line is made up of redhirt junior Brandon Scherff (6'5", 315 lbs.), redshirt senior Conor Boffeli (6'5", 295 lbs.), redshirt sophomore Austin Blythe (6'3", 300 lbs.), redshirt sophomore Jordan Walsh (6'4", 290 lbs.), and fifth year senior Brett Van Sloten (6'7", 300 lbs.), from left to right. Iowa always has a solid offensive line, so it will depend upon Michigan's linebackers to make good reads and flow to the ball, which they do pretty well.
Advantage: Michigan

Pass Defense vs. Iowa Pass Offense
Michigan is 75th in the country at pass yardage allowed with 236.4 yards/game but #28 in passer rating defense at 117.0. Teams generally have a hard time running the ball but have taken advantage of Michigan's young linebackers and a couple inexperienced cornerbacks. Michigan is 20th nationally with 13 interceptions, led by Blake Countess with 4. The Wolverines are smack dab in the middle of the pack with 20 sacks, paced by Clark (5) and Cam Gordon (4). Iowa is #90 in the country with 204 yards/game through the air and #82 with a passer rating of 124.02. Rudock has completed 59.9% of his passes for 14 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. His backup, C.J. Beathard, is just 5/18 on the year for 124 yards and 1 interception. There's not one go-to guy like in years past at Iowa; the seven guys with double-digit receptions average between 15.1 and 30.4 yards/game. Redshirt junior wideout Kevonte Martin-Manley (6'2", 205 lbs.) is the nominal #1 guy with 35 receptions for 304 yards and 3 touchdowns, good for just 8.7 yards/catch. However, he's dangerous returning punts with an 18.8-yard average and 2 touchdowns on the year. Junior partner Damond Powell (5'11", 180 lbs.) is the big-play receiver with 12 catches for 291 yards (24.3 yards/catch) and 2 scores. Senior tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz (6'7", 265 lbs.) is a huge target without a whole lot of speed to make plays after the catch; he has 20 receptions for 188 yards and 4 touchdowns. Iowa also does a tremendous job of protecting the quarterback - they've allowed just 9 sacks, good for 9th in the country. There shouldn't be many big plays to be had, but Michigan struggles with allowing short passes, and that's something Iowa does well.
Advantage: Iowa

Roster Notes
  • Players who held Michigan offers include DT Darian Cooper, OT Andrew Donnal, DT Faith Ekakitie, TE Ray Hamilton, DT Jaleel Johnson, and OG Jordan Walsh
  • Players from the state of Michigan include DT Carl Davis (Sterling Heights Stevenson), TE Jake Duzey (Troy Athens), CB Desmond King (Detroit East English Village), S Ruben Lile (Detroit Cass Tech), WR Kevonte Martin-Manley (Birmingham Brother Rice), LB Laron Taylor (Detroit Cass Tech)
  • Fitzgerald Toussaint gets less than half of the running back carries, but Derrick Green loses his first career fumble.
  • Jeremy Gallon goes for 145 yards receiving and 1 touchdown.
  • Michigan makes 1 sack and allows 4.
  • Michigan 20, Iowa 17

Last Time They Played . . . 
  • Michigan beat Iowa in 2012 by a score of 42-17
  • Denard Robinson had 13 carries for 98 yards and 2 receptions for 24 yards as a running back in his first game back after hurting his elbow.
  • Jeremy Gallon had 5 catches for 133 yards.
  • Fitzgerald Toussaint's ankle exploded.


  1. Ah. I hope it is less than 4 sacks, but I think it will be at least three. I am really hoping to spare Gardner from hits... we need him at his best next week. In an ideal situation, we should put away the game by half, throw Morris in to relieve Gardner but Michigan of 2013 just cannot afford that luxury like other top teams. God. We gotta do what we gotta do. Let's hope our run game gets going. Let's go BLUE!

  2. I am the only commentor on this...?