The Michigan Offense versus Nebraska Defense
Who would have ever thought Nebraska would be ranked 110th in rushing offense at the end of its regular schedule? Certainly a sign of the changing times but there is more than what meets the eye in that stat. The Huskers have two youngsters starting at the flanks in true freshman Matt Slauson and sophomore Chris Patrick. Redshirt freshman Lydon Murtha could see time as well. The interior offensive line has been average at best as well, which has hurt the running game significantly. Husker running back Cory Ross is an elusive, slippery back at 5'6 but he just hasn't had the room to work this season, averaging just 3.7 yards a carry. Hot shot freshman Marlon Lucky hasn't been too ‘lucky' this season either, averaging just three yards a touch while Cody Glenn is averaging 2.9 yards. Not a consistent attack on the ground for the Huskers.
Michigan's run defense isn't as good as it was predicted to be, as they have allowed quite a few 100 yard rushers this season and rank 42nd in the nation. The front four is anchored in the middle by Gabriel Watson who's had an up and down year. Alan Branch and Lamar Woodley could be mismatches against an offensive line that has its holes. Pierre Woods can also be utilized on pass rushing downs due to the lack of experience at tackle. Overall, Michigan should be able to hold down Nebraska's ground game because they matchup well but we will see.
The passing game was a strength for the Huskers down the stretch of the season and the offense had been clicking like Callahan wants it too. Quarterback Zac Taylor is completing almost 56% of his passes, and has a 16/10 touchdown to INT ratio. He's good not great. He doesn't have any real great receivers either but some solid players that have their games geared toward the mid range passing style the system is made of. Nate Swift has 42 grabs for 610 yards and six touchdowns. The Huskers love to throw to tailback Cory Ross as well, in hopes of getting him in space. Terrence Nunn isn't the deep threat Swift is but he plays within the system well. Look for Frantz Hardy to possibly make an impact too; he's one of the team's top playmakers. They won't throw to tight end J.B. Phillips much; he's only caught 14 passes all season.
The Michigan secondary has suffered all season with injuries but they have managed to play well throughout. The pass defense has been much better than expected and should fair well against the Huskers passing offense. The key will be pressure up front. If Michigan throws off the timing of this passing game, it will lead to interceptions and incompletions. The talent matches up well in the back four but the front seven have to make their jobs easier by getting in Zac Taylor's face.
Click here for Turel's Film Anaylsis: U-M Off vs Neb. Def: Sackmaster Carriker!
Film Analysis: Neb Off vs U-M Def: Zac Taylor
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