Michigan Offense vs. Nebraska Defense
The highlight of this matchup will be down in the trenches. In Nebraska's last game the defensive line played great, while Michigan's offensive line had one it's worst games of the season. The question is where are they now? Certainly the Huskers have nowhere near the talent Ohio State does in their front seven but the Huskers aren't bad on the line. Nebraska has a good arsenal of weapons at defensive end, including future NFL prospect Adam Carriker, plus Jay Moore and Barry Turner. Carriker imposing 6'6, 280 frame has led to him recording 9.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss on the year. Whichever Michigan tackle faces him will have their hands full. Jay Moore is another big boy at 6'4, 275 but is quicker than you might think and has three sacks along with 14 tackles for loss. Barry Turner is a guy they like to bring in on certain situations and he can really rush the passer, collecting six sacks and seven tackles for loss in spot duty on the year.
Inside the Huskers tag team two 300 pounders in Titus Adams and Le Kevin Smith. Both could be first day picks this year and have a good deal of explosion in their game. In my opinion Smith is harder to block and will make more plays of the two but this is a very solid bunch up front. The Huskers are very banged up at linebacker having lost all three of their opening game starters. However Corey McKeon has been a standout for them recording 87 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and seven sacks.
Michigan gets Jake Long and Adam Kraus back which will help out considerably. Leo Henige is out but Rueben Riley is solid player and probably is an upgrade at the position in terms of mobility. If Michigan can at least stalemate this matchup it should go a long way. Keeping pressure off Henne and establishing a consistent ground game should be Michigan's top priorities on offense.
Michigan will have Mike Hart at their disposal but he hasn't really made much of an impact since the Penn State game. We will have to see but we all know what he is capable of. Kevin Grady has shown some flashes but needs to be more consistent on the ground, better blocking would certainly help that. Michigan has Jerome Jackson and Max Martin as well behind them to rotate in if needed. Obviously a solid game is needed from this group and one of those games like Hart had against Michigan State wouldn't hurt either.
Moving on to the passing game, Michigan could gain an advantage here. Nebraska's secondary hasn't been bad but they haven't been great either. I think their success will depend on the pass rush up front. If Michigan gives Chad Henne time, Michigan's passing game should be able to carry them. If he is rushed all game long, this secondary will have a much easier time. The cornerbacks Cortney Grixby and Zackary Bowman are decent. Grixby doesn't have great size but he has outstanding athleticism. Bowman is a bigger option who could see much of his time covering Jason Avant. Safety Daniel Bullocks isn't quite the player his brother Josh was but he has the same style game as a run stopping safety. Look for Bullocks to see time in the box with Nebraska thin at linebacker. They won't want him covering Michigan's receivers man to man but he has shown to be capable in zone schemes. The Huskers aren't all that deep in the secondary so Michigan could exploit this with some spread packages.
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Film Anaylsis: U-M Off vs Neb. Def: Carriker!
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