U-M vs ND: Bad News, Good News (part 2)

Yesterday GBW brought you bad news (beating Notre Dame in South Bend, ND is a hot team throwing the ball, Michigan's kickoff coverage) and good news (the Michigan rushing attack, the Michigan sack attack, the Michigan rush defense). Today, here's the rest -- good and bad ... and two final conclusions, good and bad.

Click here for U-M vs ND: Bad News, Good News (part 1)

The Bad News: Michigan Road Openers.

Michigan hasn't won their road opener since 1999, losing in:
- 2000 to UCLA 23-20
- 2001 to Washington 23-18
- 2002 to Notre Dame 25-23
- 2003 to Oregon 31-27
- 2004 to Notre Dame 28-20
- 2005 to WIsconsin 23-20

The good news: Unlike in 2005, Michigan is relatively healthy.

Michigan is relatively healthy, especially compared to last year at the same time. By this time a year ago, the Wolverines already had Mike Hart and Jake Long on the sidelines, and Steve Breaston was playing at half-speed. This year all three crucial components of the U-M attack are healthy, and the Wolverines are relatively healthy overall: Tyler Ecker and Tim Jamison were held out of most of last week's game as a precautionary measure, and Chris Graham was held out completely as a precaution. Unless something happens in practice this week, U-M will take a full contingent into Northern Indiana.

The Bad News: the Michigan passing attack, especially deep.

Michigan passed for just 135 yards versus Vandy (Henne going 10-22) to Vandy's 129 (12-26). And the Wolverines passed for just 134 yards versus CMU (Henne was 11-19 and Forcier 2-2) to CMU's 188 (18-39-1 int).

Perhaps more worrisome is the lack of a deep passing attack. U-M averaged 13.5 yards per completion versus Vandy and 10.3 versus CMU.

In the Vandy game, Chad Henne did complete a 29 yarder to Steve Breason, and a 27 yarder to Mario Manningham. But Michigan's longest pass completion versus CMU was a 20 yarder to tight end Mike Massey; Breaston's longest was a 16 yarder, Manningham's a 14 yarder.

The good news: the Notre Dame defense.

The Notre Dame defense gave up a pedestrian 383 yards to Penn State, 158 rushing and 225 passing.

The conclusion:

GoBlueWolverine sees four crucial components to a U-M victory this Saturday:
- Mike Hart has to have a big game.
- The Wolverine deep passing attack has to come to life, at least a little.
- The Michigan defense has to pressure-and-sack Brady Quinn.
- And the U-M kickoff team has to defend adequately.

Good Conclusion: If Hart has over 130 yards, if Breaston and Manningham make at least 3 catches of over 25 yards, if the U-M defense sacks Quinn 4 times, and if ND has no kickoff returns over 30 yards -- then Michigan is in business Saturday.

Bad Conclusion: If Hart is held to 100 or less, if Maningham/Breaston have no catches over 20, if Quinn is effectively throwing screen passes to Darius Walker (or hitting the 'hot WR') in order to evade the U-M rush, and if Notre Dame returns kickoffs like Vandy and CMU did ... then ugh.

The Michigan Insider Top Stories