Former U-M QB Michael Taylor - Looking Back at NIU

Former Michigan quarterback Michael Taylor ('85-'89) talks about what Michigan did, and didn't, do well last Saturday. And then he looks ahead to this week's Notre Dame game. First, looking back to this past Saturday.

The Michigan offense -- what did it do well Saturday, and what does it need to improve on?

One thing they want to improve ... the running game. They rushed for 208 yards, which is good, but their average yards per carry (4.3, to NIU's 6.6) was not that great. They didn't run it as well as they wanted to.

Part of that was not having Jake (Long) in there, but that's how it's going to be for a while. Mike Kolodziej was thrown in there, Rueben Riley as well. They did pretty well filling in -- the line did not give up a sack which is good. Adam Kraus also did well in his first game. But they need to keep improving, and they should.

The passing game was about as good as expected. The receivers caught the ball, that was the best thing. There were no drops by the receivers -- as a former quarterback I focus on that! The one thing that needs improvement -- as far as timing, Henne needed to throw the ball as little sooner on the deep balls. He threw a couple out of bounds, that was from waiting a little too long. He needs to get his timing down a little better on the long ball to Steve Breaston, and he will.

The Michigan Defense -- same questions.

Well, I agree with Coach Carr. To me, I don't think they really did anything well. When a Michigan defense gives up over 400 yards total (411) to a MAC team ... now I'm not saying a MAC team isn't capable of that. But for a defense that has been maligned their last few games, they wanted to come out and play a lot better. There were no dominating performance from their supposed All-Americans in there.

What the defense needs to do better -- mainly more effort.

The whole front 7 has to play better. Especially ... on that defense the guy that should be leading them is the All-American candidate ... and that guy there is Gabriel Watson. He did some good things in there, but he did not play up to his capability -- that guy has top 10 draft pick raw ability. As far as the rest of the D-line: Pat Massey got folded up some. He's a little light in there -- at 6-8, 280 you're actually light, put together more like a 250 pounder. Alan Branch is still a little slow in there. Losing Alex Ofili and and Larry Harrison has hurt the interior line. Then at defensive end -- Woodley played all right. But Tim Jamison is hurt again, and Jeremy Van Alstyne - he's a tough kid but he's undersized ...playing defensive end at 260 lbs., a guy needs real quickness to do that. So the question is whether they have the guys on the D-line who can get it done. However, you cover up your weaknesses. FSU covered up their small DT's Monday by being aggressive.

Usually the linebacker corps is the one that makes or breaks you on defense, especially as far as leadership. Those are the guys calling the defensive signals. I think the heart and soul of any team is the linebackers; good linebacker play can cover a lot of mistakes ... if you don't have that .... Carr did reference David Harris as one he wanted to get back in there at MIKE, he has been hurt. And Chris Graham played pretty well -- they have to hope that he holds up as a somewhat undersized WILL. But, to be blunt, the linebacker play was not up to "Michigan Standards" Saturday, at home against team a you should beat handily. To give up over 210 yards rushing ...

The defensive backfield played a soft zone the whole game. I don't think that lends to being aggressive.

Were they hiding everything for this week's game? It's a good possibility. But I've never seen them play like that. They played one coverage -- zone. There was no man coverage, no blitzing, no stunting. Hopefully we'll see the real Michigan defense this Saturday.

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