Is Michigan Ready for Utah's Offense?

Utah brings it high powered offense into Ann Arbor this Saturday.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- When Michigan’s 2014 schedule was released, big time rivalry road games at Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State were quickly circled as the Wolverines’ toughest. U’M’s toughest non-conference game was supposed to ND, and the rest were just afterthoughts.

So they thought anyways.

Fast forward four weeks into U-M’s 2014 campaign, and Michigan has another huge opponent its schedule, that otherwise was unexpected. That, of course, is Utah.

Yes, Utah.

And the Utes have the Wolverines full attention. Not only is Utah (2-0) good, but they possibly might be the best offense that Michigan will face all season. Currently, UT is 14th in total offense at 558 yards per game, and are scoring 57.5 points per game, which is third nationally. And when they’re on offense, they don’t waste any time running plays either.

“Their tempo is really, really fast,” said U-M defensive coordinator Greg Mattison. “They’re close to Indiana type tempo. Where you’re really going to have to be on your game to make sure you are disciplined. That you’re lined up. You’re not lazy in getting set, and all those type of things. There is a lot things this game brings to our defense to make sure we do what we have to do.”

The Utah- Indiana comparison could be scary for Michigan, considering the Hoosiers racked up 572 total yard against the Wolverines last season, as U-M won 63-47 in a shootout last fall in Ann Arbor. And that type of shootout is what Michigan coach Brady Hoke is trying to avoid.

“We hope not, to be honest with you” said Hoke, when asked if he would like another high scoring affair. “They are a high tempo. They want to snap the ball quickly. They want to try to see if you’re disorganized defensively. So when you look at that part of it, I think some of things schematics, very similar to Ohio [State], very similar to Indiana. So you see a lot of those things also. But the tempo is a big part of it.”

If Michigan (2-1) is going to have success stopping Utah, the Wolverines will have to have success in the defensive passing game. Michigan’s secondary struggled at Notre Dame, giving up 226-yards passing yards and three touchdowns to the Irish. And Utah’s passing game averages 309.5 yards per game, which should test U-M’s defense that gives up 172.7 yards passing per game, which ranks 23rd nationally.

And the Utes’ are lead by junior quarterback Travis Wilson, who has thrown for 446-yards, six touchdowns, with no interceptions in the Utah’s first two blowout wins. He is also second in the nation in passing efficiency with a 213.9 rating.

“Travis Wilson has done a tremendous job,” Hoke said. “When you look nationally where he is at, he’s second in pass efficiency. He gets the ball out of hands pretty quickly.”


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