Michigan football is back for the second week of the season. The most newsworthy piece of information to come out of this week, however, is U-M coach Jim Harbaugh’s return to Michigan Stadium for the first time as head coach.
There will be fireworks for Harbaugh’s return, just like the fans expect to see fireworks from the football team as well.
Here is what you need to know about Saturday’s match-up with Oregon State.
Last meeting: #4 Michigan beats #8 Oregon State 34-7 in the 1965 Rose Bowl.
What a win means for Michigan: It’d be the first win of the season and a great way to increase confidence for another week. A win for U-M this weekend would mean that it got the bad taste out of its mouth from the loss the week prior. U-M, a heavy favorite in this game should win this weekend without any troubles. A strong showing will help with another weak opponent looming and the non-conference schedule wrapping up with BYU. Winning the winnable games will go a long way this season.
What a win means for Oregon State: A win for Oregon State would mean it would be one of the bigger upsets in recent program history and catastrophic for U-M. It would show that Gary Andersen can win regardless of talent – something he had plenty of while at Wisconsin. Winning this game with a young quarterback will mean a lot to this program, and a lot to the fanbase, who have hope that Andersen can get the Beavers winning again.
Who to watch: Both players to watch from Oregon State are on the offense this week.
First, we start off with true freshman quarterback Seth Collins. Though he didn’t exactly carve up the Weber State defense through the air – and the following statistics should be taken with a grain of salt considering the opponent – but fans should be far more worried about what he can do on the ground. A fleet-footed quarterback that can improvise and make his own plays is a dangerous one. Something that U-M has struggled to defend against for quite some time.
Collins completed 10-of-18 passes for 92-yards and two touchdowns through the air last week. His most damage was done with the rushing attack, rushing for over 150 yards on the ground averaging almost nine yards-per-carry. Collins will be a guy defensive coordinator will certainly highlight as a threat.
Oregon State senior running back Storm Woods (who will be going by the last name of Barrs-Woods to honor his mother this season), is another offense threat that U-M should be game-planning around for Saturday. A preseason Maxwell watch list candidate, Woods ranks in the top-ten of every major rushing statistic in school history.
Though he has never rushed for over 1000 yards in a season, he has amassed over 2000 yards rushing throughout his career and has over 20 rushing touchdowns. Like Utah’s Devontae Booker, Woods is a receiving threat. He needs only 68 receiving yards to eclipse 1000 receiving yards for his career, the fourth player in Oregon State history to rush for over 1000 yards and receiving over 1000 yards. He would also be the second player in school history to rush for over 2000 yards and have over 1000 receiving yards as well.
You can probably make the case that Oregon State doesn’t necessarily have comparable talent on both sides of the ball, these are the two players on offense that could make life difficult for the U-M defense.
What they’re saying: Oregon State head coach Gary Andersen (all quotes used from OregonLive.com):
On if he’s ever met Harbaugh: “I have not. I've never met him. I had a couple players that played for him, and obviously he's a very successful coach and he's at a very, very good place. There's a lot of good players. I have a pretty good relationship with (former Michigan coach Brady) Hoke and a lot of respect for the way they went about recruiting. Coach (Greg Mattison), their defensive line coach, I've known for a number of years and when I was a young coach I used to watch tape on his guys play. They play the right way — pad level, technique, fundamentals, tight hands, toughness. So I got a ton of respect for the way that that defense is coached and the way that they play. My eyes are always drawn to those defensive linemen. But crossing paths with Coach Harbaugh? I have not crossed paths with him at all.”
On Michigan: “It doesn't take long to throw on the Utah tape and it doesn't take long to throw on the spring game and see how they competed against themselves in the spring game and to see how they competed against Utah. Utah is very physical; they always will be, they always have been, and that was a physical, physical football game. And this one will be no different. They're gonna play man coverage on the outside, and if you can't get off press man, then you're not gonna complete a pass. Running inside the tackles proved to be very, very tough for them in the spring game, and it was tough last week for Utah to get much going in between those tackles with the tremendous, tremendous running back that Utah has (Devontae Booker). So that just leads you to know that it's gonna be physical. The challenge for our kids is to understand, when opportunity knocks, you have to make plays. You can't leave plays out on the field when you're playing a defense like we're playing right now, and I think Michigan's probably saying the same thing — they're gonna play against an aggressive defense and you gotta take advantage of opportunities when opportunity knocks.”
On players that stick out for Michigan: “They're very talented, obviously, and they recruit at a high level. When you look at a team that has the ability to recruit at a high level and then has such a mature team, you know you're gonna have tremendous athletes. Without pointing out individual names, there's two rotations of the defensive fronts that are very, very good. (Defensive end Chris Wormley) consistently jumps off the tape at you, whether it was the spring game or whether it was the last game. But all across that defensive line, they're all big, thick kids and play the game the right way. (Safety Jabrill Peppers), the returner, I know he's got some tremendous bloodlines, but he's a physical tackler, plays the game the right way, absolutely talented returner. He's an elite, elite skill set when you watch him play. But I don't sit back and look at any of them and say "let's go attack that guy." And then on the offensive side of the ball, Jake (Rudock), we've played against him for two years. He's a good quarterback. He's played a lot of football. We've had an opportunity to prepare for him in the past and he's down those same lines—he's played a lot, he's been in big-time games in big-time moments and he'll be prepared to play at a very high level, I'm sure, as he moves into that game with that offense.”