"Minnesota is averaging 323 yards a game rushing. How do they do it? They use different blocking schemes. Their offensive linemen use a zone blocking scheme, blocking in space, and they chop block on the defensive linemen and linebackers (where one O-lineman hits a defender high and another comes in and hits him low). They take out the linebackers so they can stretch their running plays.
"Why don't other teams use the same blocking schemes? It is not easy to do -- it's not easy to learn. So a lot of time has to be spent on it. And ... athletic linebackers can get around it. So this offense tends to work better against less talented defenses, but not against the more talented defenses. And that's why we see Minnesota go 4-0, 5-0, every year but only ranked around #20 ... it's because once they get into the Big Ten they end up with 3, 4, 5 losses at the end of the season.
"The Michigan offense is not built the same way. Michigan is a team that, believe it or not, likes to use deception and a lot of motion. They like to run bootlegs, and use the fullback on short passes ... we aren't really seeing this this year yet, but that is the basic concept.
"But back to Minnesota. they are averaging 323 yards rushing a game. But they haven't played anyone yet. They are a good team -- but not near the top of the Big Ten. They are not as good as people say. I will never believe the Gopher hype.
"What does Michigan have to do to stop the Minnesota running game? The Michigan linebackers have to read what's coming at them. A lot of Minnesota's plays are designed to look like pass plays -- but 80% of the time those are run plays. So the linebackers can't get fooled. That, and the Michigan safeties have to maintain 'gap discipline', not overpursue ... that's what happened a lot in the game last year.
"Minnesota's running backs, Laurence Maroney and Marion Barber, are good. Are the great backs? No. They understand the Minnesota scheme, and they know how to find the holes. But they are not Cedric Bensons -- you don't see them in the Heisman race.
"When Michigan is on offense ... this Minnesota defense is one that will give up some points. Michigan will try to control the clock with the running game and short passes. They will try to keep the Michigan defense off the field and rested. And the Minnesota defense has given up 100 yards rushing against average teams. So Michigan SHOULD get 100 yards rushing this Saturday.
"Michigan's special teams have to help get field position -- and so far Adam Finley has done a good job with that. This wil help Michigan control the clock. And if all else fails, Michigan has Braylon on the deep pass.
"Actually, both teams will try to do the same thing ... win time of possession. And I'd say watch two more things closely -- special teams and turnovers.
Michigan 30, Minnesota 20. The bottom line: Minnesota does not play well on the road or against good teams."
Ouimet on Minnesota
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