Ouimet: "Minnesota's rushing offense is very good, and their rush defense has not been that good."
Mark, what does Michigan have to do on defense vs. the Minnesota offense?
Minnesota is first in the Big 10 in rushing, they average 247 yards a game rushing. Terry Jackson (from Saginaw; older brother of current Michigan recruit Jerome Jackson) and Thomas Tapeh are a dynamic duo. Jackson ran for 239 yards against Northwestern, 238 against MSU -- in back to back weeks. He already has over 1000 yards, 16th best in the nation. And Tapeh (who was a Michigan recruit) has 756 yards. So they will have two thousand yard rushers.
Minnesota has a good offensive line, particularly the right guard and the left side.
They also make a lot of big plays, especially through the air. They have at least one pass play of 45+ yards in seven of their nine games.
They have a good receiver in Aaron Hosack. In six games he has at least one 35+ catch. That's an impressive stat.
They have a good tight end, Ben Utecht. He has 325 yards in catches, and will be an NFL player.
So LeSueur and Jackson will have to come up big again, and the safeties will have to stop the big plays.
Their quarterback Abdul Kalik can run and pass. He's 53% passing for 1300 yards, 14 touchowns, and only four interceptions. He's a double threat running and passing -- Minnesota is 4-0 when he has scored both a running and a passing touchdown. Conrol of Kalik is key for us.
So the key defensively for Michigan will be holding Minnesota under 200 yards rushing, and avoiding big plays through the air.
What does Michigan have to do on offense vs. the Minnesota defense?
Offense is the strongest part oftheir team, but Minnesota is also second in total defense in the Big 10, giving up 315 yards a game. And they are second best in turnovers. And they have 20 sacks in nine games. They are very good, third in the Big 10, in pass defense -- so Michigan has to run the ball on them.Their pass defense has been better than their rush defense.
Their best defender is cornerback Michael Lehan -- who was hurt last week and so a true freshman played ... Lehan will play this week. They have another good player defensive lineman Paul Dixon, and SAM linebacker Ben West.
Michigan is ninth in the Big 10 running with 137 yards a game. But -- Michigan is first in third down conversions, and second in fourth down conversions. They're also first in penalties. But they do need to hit 150 yards rushing.
The key for Michigan on offense is to keep the ball, to get yardage on the ground, in order to keep the ball out of Minnesota's hands. Michigan has to keep the ball -- and minimize turnovers. Michigan has to keep the Minnesota offense off the field.
Also, Bennie Joppru has to have 5+ catches, and if Ronald Bellamy can have another game like his last two that will help.
Ouimet: "The thing about Minnesota ..."
Minnesots is 7-2, but they only have one win over a team with a winning record, Toledo. They don't play Penn State, and they now play Michigan, Iowa and Wisconsin. Minnesota lost to Ohio State (34-3), and to Purdue (28-15) on the road. And in their losses they were held under 100 yards rushing... in their wins they ran for 200 or more ... so if Michigan holds them under 200 yards rushing they should win.
Mark's Bottom line(s):
I think Minnesota will pose problems, and will have some success moving the ball. They can score some points, so Michigan's offense has to keep their offense off the field, and when Minnesota does have the ball Michigan's defense has to prevent big passing plays and hold them to field goals.
As always on the road, it is important to score first -- then keep running, which I think we'll be able to do.
The main keys for Michigan: (1) keep them under 200 yards rushing, (2) not allow the big play, and (3) win time of possession. Time of possession very very very important ... in fact, whoever wins time of possession is likely to win the game.
Michigan is ninth in offense in the Big 10 with 370 yards a game, but if they hit that they'll win. Michigan is ninth running with 137 yards a game ... but if we hit 150 we'll win.
Michigan averages 28 points a game -- they have to hit that. Minnnesota averages 30 points -- but their easy schedule early has padded that. If Michigan scores their average, I think Minnesota will score about 20.
Special teams -- Minnesota has two good kickers, both tops in Big 10. Their place kicker Nystrom has 330 points. Minnesota's Jermaine Mays has blocked four punts for them, so they'll come after us. So it is important that our kick returners get us field position ... Lesueur's kickoff returns have been better and better, and he has to have a good game in that regard. Adam Finley should do okay kicking field goals indoors, but so will they.
This game will be a sellout, so it'll be loud. The Metrodome -- it's loud, and it has an old-style carpet like in Silverdome ... hard surface, fast track.
Michigan beat them 31-10 last year. Michigan won the last time they played in the Metrodome, four years ago, 15-10. Michigan has won 13 times in a row ... Michigan last lost in '86, Ricky Foggie and Lou Holz were there.
I think Michigan should win ... 28-20.
Ouimet Previews Minnesota
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