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Ouimet: What does Michigan have to do to win?

Former Michigan staffer <b>Mark Ouimet</b> weighs in one more time: <br><br> "Vincent Young is the best running quarterback U-M will face this season, better than Drew Stanton, and Cedric Benson is the best running back ... it's a big challenge for the Michigan defense."<br>

Mark Ouimet:

Michigan Key To The Game #1: stop the run. That means RB Cedric Benson and QB Vince Young. And that mostly means stop the quarterback, because Benson is going to get his yards. So Michigan will employ a lot of 4-3 and 4-4: Ernest Shazor up in the box with a cover-3 in the defensive backfield.

Texas runs a different kind of offense: quarterback options, quarterback-designed runs, quarterback draws. They have plays designed for Young to get to the outside, both to the short and wide sides of the field.

It's important that Michigan jams up the box and not necessarily sacks Young but contains him.

Young is their 2nd leading rusher ... he's averaging 80 yards rushing a game, where Benson (the Doak Walker Award winner as the nation's top running back) averages 160 ... that's 240 a game rushing from two players.

Stopping Young is more important than containing Benson, because Young is more dangerous.

If Michigan can contain Vincent Young they can win ... 50 yards rushing or less. And if you look at the MSU game -- lots of those Drew Stanton runs were important 3rd down plays ... if Young runs free like that, Michigan is in trouble.

Benson will get his yards, but he won't a break long one.

Make no mistake -- Vincent Young is the best running quarterback U-M will face this season, better than Drew Stanton, and Cedric Benson is the best running back ... it's a big challenge for the Michigan defense. Texas knows what they're good at and they're going to try to do it.

If Michigan can contain the run and put Texas into some 3rd and long situations ... then interceptions could come into play.

It's when they do run-PASS that Michigan has their best chance to stop Young and Texas, by creating turnovers. That's what Oklahoma was able to do to beat them. So if Michigan can force them into passing situations and create 2-3 turnovers they'll win.

So that's Michigan Key To The Game #2: create turnovers and win the turnover margin.

The most important defensive player for Michigan - hands down - is Ernest Shazor. If he plays like he did in the first half of the MSU game, Michigan is in trouble. If he can play his best game ... in the box, covering the tight ends ... Texas will of course try to run away from him. But Shazor is The Guy on defense for Michigan.

Texas' passing -- they will pass some because one way to attack a 4-3 or 4-4 is to pass. They throw to their tight ends: with bootlegs, rollouts. Their strength offensively, after the running game, is their tight ends.

Up front defensively, Michigan has to be agressive and conscious of what Young can do with his feet. They can't just sit back, they have to jam the gaps while also containing the outside.


Michigans best defense is their offense ... both teams are possession type offenses which try to maximize Time of Possession. In fact, Michigan Key To The Game #3 is Time of Possession.

But -- Texas has a very good defense. They only give up 105 yards rushing a game.

In fact I'll say this: I'll be shocked if Mike Hart gets 100 yards in the game -- but if he does Michigan will win. This is Hart's day to make a name for himself, I'll say that. If he an get 100 yards against this defense, then he's a darn good back.

But Texas will try to make Michigan throw it. Just like Michigan will put 8 men in the box, so will Texas. So Michigan will have to throw the ball effectively to win the game.

Texas has the best linebacker in the game in OLB Derrick Johnson, #11. He's their leading tackler. He can go East-West-North-South in a hurry! He has 128 tackles. Their other linebacker is also very good, ILB Aaron Harris.

Texas is solid up front on defense with Larry Dibbles and Rodrique Wright, both of whom we recruited for a while. They can make things happen, just like Gabe Watson for U-M. They will challenge Jake Long and either Mike Kolodziej or Adam Stenavich throughout the game.

So Michigan Key To The Game #4, the final key, is to get Chad Henne time to throw. And Texas will confuse Henne, blittz him, and with their zone coverages they will drop people in ways that he's not used to. If Michigan is to win they have to have success passing, because they won't get that much on the ground.

And Henne won't get THAT much time to pass because of Texas' pressure, so look for quick passes, misdirections, throws to Michigan's tight ends . You'll also see Michigan go 3-4-5 wides to get guys out of box ... THEN they can go to Mike Hart on draw plays.

Third down conversions will be important stat for Michigan ... they are 43% for year, and it has to be up there in that range. Texas holds teams to 27% on 3rd down.

One other tidbit: Texas will look at the Michigan State and Ohio State films to see how to beat Michigan. And Michigan will will look at the Oklahoma film.


Bottom Line: these are two programs that like to run the football. Texas runs it better than Michigan, but Michigan has more ability to pass downfield more than Texas, with better wide receivers.

But Michigan will have their hands full in this game. It will take a great effort for Michigan to win.

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