Saturday, October 25, 2014

Preview: Michigan at Michigan State

Rush Offense vs. Michigan State Rush Defense
Michigan is in the middle of the pack in rushing. They rank #66 in yards per game (164) and #46 in yards/carry (4.67). Starting running back Derrick Green is out for the season, so default starter De'Veon Smith stepped in last week and carried the ball 12 times for 24 yards against a very good Penn State front. Overall, he averages 5.2 yards/carry but will cede some time to third down back Justice Hayes (4.7 yards/carry). Michigan State is #10 in rush defense, allowing just 102 yards/game, and they are #36 in giving up 3.46 yards/carry. Fifth year senior safety Kurtis Drummond (6'1", 202 lbs.) leads the team with 33 tackles, 29 of them solo. Redshirt junior strong safety R.J. Williamson (5'10", 200 lbs.) is second with 30 tackles, but freshman Montae Nicholson (6'2", 209 lbs.) has stepped up lately and has 21 solo tackles. Senior linebacker Taiwain Jones (6'3", 232 lbs.), redshirt junior Ed Davis (6'3", 220 lbs.), and senior end Marcus Rush (6'2", 250 lbs.) are also up near the team lead in tackles. Jones, Davis, and redshirt junior defensive end Shilique Calhoun (6'4", 240 lbs.) all share the team lead with 7.5 tackles for loss each, while Rush has 6.0 himself. Average size for the starting defenders is fairly light for ends (245 lbs.), tackles (278 lbs.), linebackers (222 lbs.), and corners (178 lbs.); the safeties all hover around 200 lbs., which is pretty normal. However, they are aggressive and know how to tackle.
Advantage: Michigan State

Pass Offense vs. Michigan State Pass Defense
Michigan is #110 in passer efficiency rating and overall passing yardage with 176 yards/game. Quarterback Devin Gardner is completing 63% of his passes, but he has thrown 6 interceptions and 8 picks this year. The offensive line has been questionable (tied for #83 in sacks allowed), and his receivers have been unable to gain separation. The most accomplished target is Devin Funchess (36 catches, 461 yards, 4 touchdowns), but he has been limited by an ankle injury and double coverage. The other guys all have limitations worse than a bum ankle. On the Spartans' side, Davis (6 sacks) and Calhoun (5 sacks) are Michigan State's top pass rushers, but there are roughly five guys who pose a big threat to get to the quarterback. The defensive line gets penetration, and the linebackers make quick reads and blitz often. The Spartans are #5 in sacks with 26 altogether. As a team, they allow 192 yards/game (#19 nationally) and are #21 in passer efficiency rating defense. Drummond and redshirt junior corner Trae Waynes (6'1", 175 lbs.) lead the team with 2 interceptions apiece while the team is tied for #32 with 8 picks overall; both players were pre-season all-conference picks. This will not go well for Michigan.
Advantage: Michigan State

Rush Defense vs. Michigan State Rush Offense
The Michigan Wolverines are actually #4 nationally and give up just 94 yards/game on the ground, with a 5th-best 2.73 yards/carry allowed. Linebackers Jake Ryan (56) and Joe Bolden (51) lead the team in tackles, while Ryan (9.0) and defensive end Frank Clark (8.5) each have a respectable number of tackles for loss. The Wolverines do a good job of keeping things contained and swarming to the ball. The Spartans run for 261 yards/game (#15 overall) and average 5.45 yards/carry (#21 overall), and they're second overall in rushing touchdowns with 25 total. Senior starter Jeremy Langford (6'1", 208 lbs.) has 664 yards and 7 touchdowns on 5.3 yards/carry, and senior backup Nick Hill (5'8", 196 lbs.) has 475 and 6. Even third-stringer Delton Williams, a sophomore, has gotten into the domination act with 7.2 yards/carry and 5 touchdowns. The tackles for MSU are over 300 lbs., but the interior guys average 289 lbs. None comes with a lot of accolades, but they get the job done. When teams are on such opposite ends of the spectrum statistically, it seems like they never meet in the middle - either Michigan State will run all over Michigan, or Michigan will completely shut down MSU's run game. Due to the recent history of this series, I have to imagine that the Wolverines will be on their heels.
Advantage: Michigan State

Pass Defense vs. Michigan State Pass Offense
Michigan gives up 207 yards/game, which is good enough for #36 nationally. However, they're #70 in passer efficiency rating defense, which underscores their inability to create turnovers or make plays on the ball. Sophomore Jourdan Lewis has 2 interceptions, but he and defensive tackle Willie Henry are the only players to record picks this year. The Wolverines are tied for 111th in interceptions. They do have 18 sacks, which is tied for #33, but no one player shows a consistent ability to get to the quarterback. The most dynamic pass rusher is Clark (2.5 sacks), but Brennen Beyer leads the team with 4. Short and intermediate routes have been a problem for the defense. Michigan State is #42 nationally with 265 passing yards/game, and they are #8 in passer efficiency rating. Redshirt junior Connor Cook (6'4", 215 lbs.) completes 61% of his passes and has thrown 16 touchdowns, compared with just 5 picks. Fifth year senior Tony Lippett (6'3", 192 lbs.) leads the team by a wide margin with 39 catches for 786 yards (20.2 yards/catch) and 8 touchdowns. The next best numbers on the team are 15, 244, and 4, which all belong to redshirt sophomore tight end Josiah Price (6'4", 238 lbs.). Otherwise, the receivers have been pretty pedestrian. Cook has benefited from excellent protection, as the Spartans have allowed just 4 sacks all season, which is tied for #1 overall.
Advantage: Michigan State

Roster Notes
  • Players offered by Michigan include WR Aaron Burbridge, LB Ed Davis, S Kurtis Drummond, OT Dennis Finley, LB Mylan Hicks, LB Shane Jones, WR Monty Madaris, DE Malik McDowell, S Montae Nicholson, LB Jon Reschke, DE Marcus Rush, and DT Lawrence Thomas
  • TE Dylan Chmura is the son of former Green Bay Packers tight end Mark Chmura
Last Time They Played . . .
  • Michigan State won by a score of 29-6 in 2013
  • Michigan scored 2 field goals in the first half
  • The Wolverines had -48 yards rushing, including 7 sacks of Devin Gardner
  • Jeremy Langford ran 26 times for 120 yards and 1 touchdown

  • Michigan gains more than -48 yards on the ground
  • Devin Gardner gets knocked out of the game due to injury
  • Connor Cook gets a maddening amount of time to throw the ball
  • Michigan State 32, Michigan 14


  1. Of all the MSU babes. Those were the ones you selected?

  2. You think we'll get two TDs? Optimist!

  3. Lanknows is right. 2 TDs by Michigan is quite optimistic. Holy crap we looked like a pee wee team against Rutgers. I predict MSU 45 - Michigan 3. A world class beat down that sends Hoke and his staff packing.

  4. How in the hell did we score twice in your prediction? This game will be 42-6.

  5. How did you not pick Holly Sonders for the photo?

  6. They have two weeks to prepare for this game… and they are expected to lose…big, so why not play without a care? Let’s see some new stuff and a “throwing caution to the wind” mentality with the play calling.

    What I’d like To See:
    Offense: The standard play calling might lead to 150 yards for the entire game. If they are really focused on establishing the run, I don’t think they’ll hit 100 combined yards for the game. I think they need creative play calling. The running game is only good to establish play action…which should be a heavy part of their play calling. They need to overload a side and zone when they pass. Gardner cannot force the ball. He needs to play smart…if he feels pressure and or nobody is open/it would be a low percentage pass, he needs to throw it away or run. He also needs to target the secondary WRs and Butt because they are going to be focused on taking away Funchess.

    Defense: There is no reason to sit back in this game. The defense needs to be very aggressive. They need to play borderline dirty. If they are within an arm’s reach of Cook within a second of him having the ball, they need to knock him down. They need to beat him up because we all know MSU is going to beat up Gardner.

    Special Teams & General: Norfleet has to make some big plays. His highlight cannot be dancing. They cannot make it easy for Michigan State by turning the ball over and or giving them free yards through penalties, but that is a given regardless of the opponent.

    What will more than likely happen:
    Michigan State senses there is blood in the water, this is the #1 rival game for them, and they will not hold back. Michigan will play prevent D, not get any rush and the Michigan secondary will get carved up. On D, MSU will easily get pressure and rattle Gardner and stop the running game early and often. I don’t see Michigan moving the ball without getting very creative…which is something I don’t see. Special Teams has been a non-factor all season, and I don’t expect it to do anything special tomorrow. In terms of coaching it is pretty straight forward…Hoke hasn’t won the road against a Top 25 team and I don’t see it happening tomorrow.

    Expected final score: MSU 37-MICH 6…it sucks, but I try to keep it real. I haven’t seen anything this season or during Hoke’s tenure for me to think this is going to be a competitive game. I watched all of the ND game. I tracked down and watched the rest of the Utah game. I watched all of the Minnesota game. This game might be the first Michigan game I have ever turned off if it plays out as expected.

  7. One thing I can be positive is the Rush Defense. I will make it a push. Doesn't mean it makes a big difference in the score, but it can reduce possessions. That is the only way to create a miracle. We will see tomorrow. Could be another sad day and looking forward to a new coach.

    I hope DG doesn't get knocked out. I would rather you don't predict that. Doesn't sound right. Hope DG gets a chance to go out swinging and gives us a game to remember and what we missed out on with dumb play calling for years.

    Lot riding on this for Hoke. Hope he changes his ways.

  8. Well this performance should seal the fate of both Hoke and Brandon... Good Riddance!

  9. If you still think Devin Gardner is the best quarterback on this team and still gives this team the best chance to win you are as dumb as Brady Hoke and I would hate for you to be coaching my kid. Gardner is a joke of a quarterback. Keep praising him though because he has shown so much over his five years. I especially like that shovel pass to nobody. Awesome!