Friday, November 1, 2013

Preview: Michigan at Michigan State

Rush Offense vs. Michigan State Rush Defense
Michigan running back Fitzgerald Toussaint had a breakout game two weeks ago against Indiana, but that was Indiana. Even now, Michigan averages just 4.15 yards/carry and Toussaint himself averages just 3.71. The Wolverines installed two new offensive guard starters last game, redshirt freshman Erik Magnuson and true freshman Kyle Bosch (the latter of whom technically did not start, replacing the injured Joey Burzynski). Michigan State leads the nation in rushing defense and allows just 55 yards/game and 2.07 yards/carry. The defensive tackles are large with seniors Micajah Reynolds (6'5", 307 lbs.) and Tyler Hoover (6'7", 290 lbs.), and the defensive ends are fairly light but very aggressive in the form of junior Marcus Rush (6'2", 245 lbs.) and sophomore Shilique Calhoun (6'4", 250 lbs.). Calhoun and senior linebacker Denicos Allen (5'11", 218 lbs.) are tied for the team lead with 8 tackles for loss each, and SAM linebacker Max Bullough (6'3", 230 lbs.) has 6.5 TFL's himself. Michigan is really going to struggle. They'll have to make hay on draws, quarterback scrambles, and shotgun runs where they spread the field, because running from under center will be out of the question.
Advantage: Michigan State

Pass Offense vs. Michigan State Pass Defense
Michigan is #42 in the country with 262.6 yards/game through the air, and quarterback Devin Gardner's ball security has improved since halftime of the Penn State game. He's completed 61% of his passes for 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions so far. Wideout Jeremy Gallon is coming off a 369-yard performance against Indiana and now has 45 receptions for 831 yards and 7 touchdowns this year, good enough to be the #7 receiver throughout the country; wide receiver/tight end Devin Funchess is #73 with 70.3 yards/game. Michigan State has allowed just 160.6 yards/game through the air. Senior cornerback Darqueze Dennard (5'11", 197 lbs.) and senior free safety Isaiah Lewis (5'11", 208 lbs.)  each have 2 interceptions, and strong safety Kurtis Drummond has 1. Calhoun leads the team with 4 sacks, and three other guys in the front seven have 3 or 3.5 each. The Spartans are #36 at sacking the quarterback, and Michigan is #39 at allowing sacks. It may seem like that's a pretty fair matchup, but the youth on Michigan's interior might make the stunts and inside blitzes problematic for the Wolverines.
Advantage: Michigan State

Rush Defense vs. Michigan State Rush Offense
Michigan is #7 in the country, giving up just under 100 yards/game. Inside linebackers James Ross III and Desmond Morgan lead the team with 50 and 47 tackles, respectively. Defensive end Frank Clark leads with 6 tackles for loss and the Wolverines are tied for #101 overall with 38 TFL's. Despite not being particularly beefy on the interior, the last time Michigan lined up against a smashmouth running game, Penn State got just 85 yards on 44 carries. Michigan State is #37 in the nation at rushing with 196.5 yards/game. Junior running back Jeremy Langford (6'0", 206 lbs.) has 655 rushing yards, averages 4.7 yards/carry, and has scored 9 touchdowns. Junior backup Nick Hill (5'8", 198 lbs.) averages 5.3 yards/carry, and sturdy sophomore quarterback Connor Cook (6'4", 215 lbs.) can run a little bit, too. Michigan State's offensive line averages 6'4" and 299 lbs., and they are all fourth- or fifth-year players except redshirt freshman left tackle Jack Conklin (6'6", 326 lbs.). The Spartans will try to establish the run, but it should be tough sledding against a stout rush defense.
Advantage: Michigan

Pass Defense vs. Michigan State Pass Offense
The Wolverines are #99 in the country because they give up 255.4 yards/game through the air, a somewhat abysmal number considering Michigan's opponents; Indiana put up a ton of yards through the air, and Penn State's freshman quarterback had a fair amount of success, too. Clark leads the #49 team in sacks with 5, but the pass rush has not been consistent from any other player or position. Meanwhile, the Wolverines are doing fairly well in the interceptions category (#16 overall), and Blake Countess has 4 himself. Cook has taken the starting QB job for the Spartans and has completed 60% of his passes for 12 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. The receiving corps leaves a little something to be desired. The top five receivers have between 12 and 25 receptions, and none averages more than 13.9 yards/catch. Sophomore Macgarrett Kings (5'10", 196 lbs.) leads with 25 catches for 299 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Spartans have allowed just 6 sacks this year, placing them #6 in the country in that category.
Advantage: Michigan State

Roster Notes
  • Players with offers from Michigan include WR Aaron Burbridge, LB Ed Davis, S Kurtis Drummond, OT Dennis Finley, CB Mylan Hicks, DT Tyler Hoover, LB Shane Jones, WR Monty Madaris, LB Jon Reschke, DE Marcus Rush, and DT Lawrence Thomas.
  • LS Taybor Pepper was once committed to Michigan as a preferred walk-on but was given a scholarship by the Spartans.
  • TE Dylan Chmura is the son of former Green Bay Packers TE Mark Chmura.
  • Brian Allen - C - Hinsdale (IL) Central (Michigan State)
  • Dontre Boyd - CB - Detroit (MI) King
  • Miles Boykin - TE - New Lenox (IL) Providence Catholic
  • Ben Bredeson - OG - Hartland (WI) Arrowhead
  • Daniel Cage - DT - Cincinnati (OH) Winton Woods
  • Martinez Calloway - QB - Detroit (MI) King
  • Brian Cole - WR/CB - Saginaw (MI) Heritage
  • Will Dawkins - S - Vero Beach (FL) Vero Beach
  • Chase Gianacakos - OT - St. Charles (IL) North (Michigan State)
  • Kyle Gibson - CB - Seffner (FL) Armwood (Vanderbilt)
  • Kadeem Goulbourne - WR - Fort Lauderdale (FL) Cypress Bay
  • T.J. Harrell - S - Tampa (FL) Catholic
  • Justin Hilliard - LB - Cincinnati (OH) Xavier
  • Chris James - RB - Niles (IL) Notre Dame
  • Jake Johnson - QB - DeWitt (MI) DeWitt
  • Jesse Johnson - S - Detroit (MI) King
  • Jamil Kamara - WR - Virginia Beach (VA) Bishop Sullivan
  • John Kelly - RB/S - Oak Park (MI) Oak Park
  • Austin Mack - WR - Fort Wayne (IN) Bishop Luers
  • Jalen Martin - WR - Harper Woods (MI) Chandler Park
  • Malik McDowell - DE - Southfield (MI) Southfield
  • David Moorman - OT - Northville (MI) Northville
  • Montae Nicholson - S - Monroeville (PA) Gateway
  • Gerald Owens - FB - Westville (NJ) West Deptford
  • JayJay Pinkney - WR - Sylvania (OH) Southview
  • Eric Rogers - LB - Warren (MI) De La Salle
  • Tyson Smith - CB - Orchard Lake (MI) St. Mary's
  • Kyonta Stallworth - OG - St. Clair Shores (MI) South Lake
  • Omari Stringer - S - Crete (IL) Monee
  • Tyriq Thompson - LB - Detroit (MI) King
  • Ethan Tucky - LB - Delaware (OH) Hayes
  • Michael Weber - RB - Detroit (MI) Cass Tech
  • Jauan Wesley - WR - Harvey (IL) Thornton (Iowa State)
  • Noah Wezensky - QB - Fort Wayne (IN) Bishop Luers
  • Khari Willis - RB - Jackson (MI) Lumen Christi
  • Michigan gets destroyed consistently up front, resulting in Fitzgerald Toussaint averaging less than 1 yard per carry.
  • The Wolverines toy with using Jeremy Gallon in the slot to get him the ball.
  • Devin Gardner throws a pick six to an MSU linebacker.
  • Michigan State 20, Michigan 17
Last Time They Played . . . 
  • Michigan won by a score of 12-10
  • Brendan Gibbons and Matt Wile combined to score all 12 of Michigan's points on 4/4 kicking
  • Denard Robinson ran 20 times for 96 yards, and Drew Dileo caught 4 passes for 92 yards
  • Jake Ryan made 10 tackles, 1 sack, and forced a fumble


  1. The only way we win is if we come out ahead on points off of turnovers, and that doesn't seem likely. Based on Gardner's performance to date this year, it's a virtual certainty that he gives away 10-14 points that way against this defense, either by throwing INTs when we're close to scoring, or by throwing them when we're deep in our own territory. That will be an almost impossible spot to overcome, given that we'll be fortunate to score 21 points ourselves. I think we can also be fairly confident that even MSU's fairly lame offense will have a better game plan against our defense than Borges will against theirs.

  2. Everyone is talking about Devin Gardner being the X factor. "If Devin comes out guns blazing, we have a chance!" Incorrect. The X factor is Connor Cook. Because there is Good Connor Cook and Bad Connor Cook. If Bad Connor Cook shows up, M has a chance, A CHANCE. But if Good Connor Cook shows up, it's honestly not going to matter what Devin Gardner does, it's Michigan State's game.

    1. There is no such thing as "Good Connor Cook."

  3. Everyone is talking about Devin Gardner being the X factor. "If Devin comes out guns blazing, we have a chance!" Incorrect. The X factor is Connor Cook. Because there is Good Connor Cook and Bad Connor Cook. If Bad Connor Cook shows up, M has a chance, A CHANCE. But if Good Connor Cook shows up, it's honestly not going to matter what Devin Gardner does, it's Michigan State's game.

    1. You are absolutely right. If Mattison can devise ways to rattle Cook, forcing Cook to make mistakes then we have a chance. I agree 100% that Cook's performance is equally (if not more) important than Gardner's performance.

  4. Michigan 24-20

    I see a close game with 5 lead changes during the game.
    I see Gardner throwing 1 pick - I hope it's not a pick 6.
    I see our team's rushing yards break triple digits.
    I see Ryan, Clark or Taylor scoring 6 on defense.
    I see us winning the turnover battle 3-2.
    I'm hopeful we mostly have a 3 WR set out of the gun for run and pass plays.


  5. I believe that with Michigan having an extra week to prepare should help to mitigate some of MSU's effectiveness in this game; although I also believe that MSU has also been focusing on this game because they don't have osu on their schedule. I think Michigan will do far better than you think and you'll be pleasantly surprised.

  6. God damn it! With almost every single expert predicting against us, now our thunder is also predicting Michigan State victory. I do see an uphill battle. My brain is telling me that Michigan State is more likely to win, but this is a rivalry game and I am a hopeless homer.

    My predictions:
    -Michigan unleashes the spread
    -Connor Cook gets rattled and throws as many interceptions as does Devin Gardner (1~2).
    -Michigan contains MSU ground game. But MSU also contains Fitz Toussaint and Toussaint eats his words.
    -Michigan 24 - Michigan State 14

    1. That's the spirit, damn it! :-)

  7. Everyone is so down on Michigan. I have seen only one Michigan blog that gives Michigan a chance. This Michigan team is a little better offensively than the 2011 team, with OL being the inferior of the two teams. MSU had a better QB and better playmakers at WRs. Michigan still had a chance late in the game with a 4th & 1, I believe. Tomorrow's game will be exciting and there is a chance for both teams. I say Jake Ryan and Funchess make a difference in this game and not DG. Win one on the Defense for a change. Go Blue!

    1. don't think that predicting Michigan to lose by 3 points means they have a chance to win the game? I haven't seen anyone say that Michigan is going to get blown out.

  8. your analysis of UM's pass D vs MSU pass O is flawed. YPG is not the best statistic. In YPA, UM is #33; in opponent passer rating, UM is #27. MSU is #79 in passer rating and 108! in YPA (and YPG if it mattered). Connor Cook is #64 is passer rating (by comparison, Devin, even with all the INT's is #15). No way is that matchup a win for MSU.

    1. Regardless, I think Cook can make enough plays in the passing game to win. Michigan has made some mediocre quarterbacks look pretty decent this year (Akron, PSU, etc.).

  9. Replies
    1. Nah -- Rich Rod's running game was never this bad in year 3. Actually Rich Rod's O-line and running game was quite decent.

  10. I'm sure many of you feel the same way as I do: disgusted. I've been saying we must fire Funk for several weeks now, there seems to be no excuse. Borges also doesn't deserve that almost-a-million-dollars salary. Hoke better pull his head out of his ass and act quickly or it will be on him as well. His seat is warming up.

  11. Rich Rod's offense couldn't run against msu either no matter how decent it was, and this performance was worse. I'm beginning to wonder how good this staff really is. Defensive improvement I can see some movement, but the offense sucks. I understand that this team is young at key positions but...