Comparing the Two Defenses

"It'll be the defenses that decide this game." So says former Michigan staffer Mark Ouimet.

Ouimet:

The defense that can slow the other team's offensive threats will win. And it is here that Michigan may have the edge.

USC gave up 22 points to UCLA (Illinois gave them 6). And they gave two touchdowns to a bad Notre Dame team.

USC has given up 276 yards passing a game. So Navarre should be able to hit hit Edwards, Avant, and Perry quite a bit. They have a good cornerback in Will Pool. But their defensive backs have not been nearly as good as their front seven. They have some players up front, and they will test Michigan's offensive line. Defensive end Kenechi Udeze has 13 1/2 sacks, and nose tackle Mike Patterson has 7. USC overall has a lot of sacks, 46 total. Michigan has 28 sacks. But the USC front seven have not faced an offense, or an offensive line, like Michigan's.

USC will look at the Oregon film to see what the Ducks did to slow Michigan's running game. And they will try to find a way to get to Navarre. They will try to pressure him in order to confuse him. So Michigan's offensive line is key -- both in the running game, and in protecting Navarre. The Wolverine offensive line had one poor game -- versus Oregon, where they didn't handle the blitzes well.

As far as the Michigan defense -- Coordinator Herrmann will have to hide his coverages and run disguised blitzes in order to force Leinart to make mistakes -- make bad reads and bad throws. Leinart has the freedom to make calls at the line of scrimmage, so the Wolverine defense has to confuse him.

Michigan will be in a lot of one on one coverage because of the blitzing so Marcus Curry and Jeremy LeSueur will have their hands full and will have to have good games. I look for the Wolverines to run a lot of 'Cover 3' -- one safety back, and one brought up for blitzing or run support.

Also, a big key for Michigan defensively is Pierre Woods. Pierre has to run some of the SC running backs down, and he will have to get to quarterback.

To Michigan fans, the Wolverine defense will resemble the one used against Purdue, which were balanced run/pass -- it'll be a defense like that, although SC's O-line is better at protecting the quarterback than Purdue's. It'll also resemble the Florida game last year.

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