Rush Offense vs. Rutgers Rush Defense
Michigan is #50 nationally with 185 yards/game on the ground, and they're #35 with 5.15 yards/carry. However, the rushing output against power conference teams (Notre Dame, Utah, and Minnesota) have been relatively paltry, where Michigan has had 99 attempts for 301 yards, barely above 3.0 yards/carry. The leading rusher is Derrick Green (397 yards, 5.7 yards/carry, 3 touchdowns), but De'Veon Smith sparked a scoring drive last week and broke several tackled on the drive, including the 10-yard touchdown run. The offensive line is still in flux, because right guard Graham Glasgow has been battling injury and played left guard last week due to Erik Magnuson's leg injury; Glasgow's replacement on the right side was Kyle Kalis. The interior is supposed to be the "strength" of the offensive line, while tackles Mason Cole and Ben Braden have struggled mightily. Rutgers is #49 against the run, giving up just 135 yards/game. They also give up 3.98 yards/carry, good enough for #64 nationally. Redshirt sophomore middle linebacker Steve Longa (6'1", 225 lbs.) leads the team with 37 tackles, and second is fifth year senior cornerback Gareef Glashen (5'10", 180 lbs.). Unfortunately for Michigan, Rutgers makes a lot of plays in the backfield (tied for #9 overall with 37 TFLs). Redshirt senior defensive end David Milewski (6'4", 235 lbs.), junior defensive tackle Darius Hamilton (6'4", 260 lbs.), and redshirt freshman end Kemoko Turay (6'6", 220 lbs.) have combined for 17 tackles for loss. They are not big, but they are quick, which might be worse for Michigan.
Hit the jump for the rest of the preview.
Pass Offense vs. Rutgers Pass Defense
Michigan's passing offense has been struggling mightily. Sophomore quarterback Shane Morris started last week's game, but he got concussed (did you hear about that obscure event?) and will be replaced by the guy who should have been playing all along, Devin Gardner. Gardner is completing 63% of his passes for 733 yards, 7.5 yards/attempt, 5 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions. Those numbers are not great, but they're better than Morris's (36%, 3.3, 0, 3). Yikes. Michigan's top receiver is junior Devin Funchess (24 catches, 321 yards, 3 touchdowns), but he has been slowed by an ankle injury since week two. No other player has been able to morph into a deep threat, so the offense has largely turned into a dink-and-dunk formula with a couple possession receivers in Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson. Michigan has given up 10 sacks (tied for #85 overall) and any kind of blitzing will leave Braden, Cole, and the various running backs utterly confused. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, Rutgers is tied for #1 in sacks with 21. Turay leads the crew with 5, while Hamilton (3.5), Milewski (3), and fifth year senior strong safety Lorenzo Waters (2) follow closely behind. Glashen is their top corner with 29 tackles, 6 pass breakups, and 1 pick. This will probably not well for Michigan, because Rutgers will be all over Gardner in the backfield.
Rush Defense vs. Rutgers Rush Offense
Michigan has mostly done well against the run, except against run-heavy Minnesota, a game in which Gophers running back David Cobb ran 32 times for 183 yards. The Wolverines are #21 nationally in yards given up (105 yards/game) and #22 in rushing average against (3.01 yards/carry). Linebackers Jake Ryan and Joe Bolden are tied for the team lead with 38 tackles apiece, while Frank Clark (5.5) and Ryan (4.0) lead the team in tackles for loss. The Wolverines have a solid front, but they met their match against an even more solid Minnesota offensive line. Rutgers ranks #58 with 176 yards/game and #70 in yards/carry at 4.24. The Scarlet Knights' most dynamic running back, Paul James, will miss the game with an ACL injury. That leaves the job up to redshirt sophomore Desmon Peoples (5'8", 175 lbs.), who has 67 carries for 288 yards and a 4.3 yards/carry average, but zero touchdowns. The Wolverines will also get a significant dose of sophomore Justin Goodwin (6'0", 205 lbs.), who averages 4.9 yards/carry on 38 attempts. Only one of their offensive linemen is over 300 lbs. The top players on the front line are senior guard Kaleb Johnson (6'4", 300 lbs.) and fifth year senior center Betim Bujari (6'4", 295 lbs.), both of whom were named Second Team All-AAC last season. Rutgers likes to run the ball, but I don't think Michigan will be blocked as easily this week.
Pass Defense vs. Rutgers Pass Offense
The Wolverines are #21 nationally with giving up 178 yards/game through the air, but they're #58 in passer rating against. Teams have not been overly productive, but they have been efficient. Furthermore, Michigan has failed to force takeaways. The lone takeaway in the secondary came from cornerback Jourdan Lewis, and the only other interception came from defensive tackle Willie Henry. Despite some pretty solid coverage, plays just aren't being made on the ball. It doesn't help that Michigan is just #56 nationally in sacks with 10 overall, with nobody having more than Brennen Beyer's 2. Frank Clark is Michigan's best pass rusher, but quarterbacks have been getting rid of the ball just before he gets home. Rutgers is #62 with just under 241 yards/game through the air, but they're #14 in passer efficiency rating. Senior quarterback Gary Nova (6'2", 220 lbs.) completes 64% of his passes, and while he has thrown 7 picks, he has 10 touchdowns and averages 10.8 yards/attempt. Junior wide receiver Leonte Carroo (6'1", 205 lbs.) is a dangerous catch-and-run guy and has 25 catches for 475 yards and 5 touchdowns, including a state line of 7, 140, and 3 in last week's win over Tulane. The only other player with double digit receptions is sophomore Janarion Grant (5'11", 175 lbs.), but there are three guys on the roster averaging 18+ yards/catch. The offensive line has allowed just 6 sacks this season, which is good enough to tie for #34 in the nation. Carroo is dangerous, but Michigan should be able to slow down a big-play passing attack.
- Players who were offered by Michigan include S Johnathan Aiken, CB Nadir Barnwell, WR Leonte Carroo, OT J.J. Denman, RB Savon Huggins, and OG Chris Muller
- Players from the state of Michigan include LB L.J. Liston and QB Giovanni Rescigno
- Rescigno was Shane Morris's backup at Warren (MI) De La Salle
Last Time They Played . . .
- Michigan's offensive line struggles mightily with a quick defensive line.
- Devin Gardner gets knocked out of the game, paving the way for Russell Bellomy.
- Michigan's defense plays fairly well until the fourth quarter.
- Rutgers 24, Michigan 10