Pregame Intel: Michigan Wolverines

The Michigan media is having a lot of fun with Northwestern's explosive offensive output, but this homecoming game is shaping up to be either another Wisconsin style - last man standing - game, or actually a decent defensive battle. Add the undercurrent of NU possibly beating both Michigan teams in one year, and you have lots of concern from the Michigan writers and fans.

Sports Writer Bob Wojnowski is blaming NU for breaking down the "natural order" of the Big 10.
He describes the typical Big 10 noise as "Grrrrhhummph. Burp." Then he writes the following:
This is the noise the Wildcats make: "Whhhhheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!"

They run around like fifth-graders playing tag, all happy and carefree, just like they did in 1995 and '96, when they used their nerd tendencies to hack into the Big Ten computers and alter the standings to make it look like they won back-to-back titles." - Detroit News

So there's a little bit of "bulletin board" material in the coverage this week.
Michigan's D is looking for some respect too?
NU's opponents Saturday have the #2 Pass defense in the Big 10, do those Michigan Wolverines, and they're looking to spoil NU QB Brett Basanez' 72% completion record, and slow down the NU passing game. Baz is the leagues leader in total offense [349.86 ypg]. However;
"Nobody's going to shut Northwestern down," Lloyd Carr said Monday. [m-live] "If they can keep the ball every time they have a possession, that's all the more your defense gets worn down.
But some Wolverine D-Backs are looking forward to messing up Basanez and the Wildcats offense;
"I'm excited about this game, because the ball is going to be in the air and it's going to give the DBs an opportunity to make a lot of plays," said sophomore safety Jamar Adams.
Still there are a few cautionary notes from the coach...
"One of the things that is important ... is that if you can force the quarterback to not know the coverage until the ball is snapped, that creates some advantage for you defensively," Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said
And Carr has some other worries too;
"What's impressive is they lead the Big Ten in turnover margin. They've played explosive offensive football teams and found a way to force turnovers."
The Stat to read, to get comparables, is the yards allowed against Michigan State - Michigan allowed 173 yards rushing and 282 yards passing, the Spartans' air attack gained 14.1 yards on each completion, 9.1 on each attempt..

One number that should worry the NU offense is the number of players with a tackle for loss - 19 Wolves contribute to their 58 TFLs count. 10 different defenders also have Sacks for Michigan.

Michigan always has a great defense. This one may be battered, but still very very dangerous.

On Offense:
Some observers are saying that QB Chad Henne has snapped out of his sophomore slump and point to his 14 of 21 passing and 207 yards/23 TDs against Iowa. They figure that Henne should pick NU apart, and avoid the interception - Henne only has 4 this season.

Turning to statistics: The Wolverines this year average 163.5 yards per game on the ground [with 10 TDs], and 224.5 yards through the air [with 15 TDs]. 9 different players have scored TDs, WR Jason Avant has 6, RB Mike Hart has 5, along with Receiver Mario Manningham.

The key to this one is probably getting in Henne's face, but even in their losses, Michigan's offense has shown they can move the ball.

Against Notre Dame, the Wolves out passed and out rushed the Irish 337 yards to 244. In the Wisconsin game, the UM offense generated 401 yards to the Badgers 287. Only Minnesota out gained Michigan - 403 to 249.

The Wolverine's issue then is maybe getting more points on the board than the Cats? Or is it the Cats' just stopping Hart? or maybe Henne?

Injuries
Tailback Mike Hart [Probable], rush linebacker LaMarr Woodley [5 Sacks - Questionable] and linebacker Chris Graham [3 TFL - questionable] could play on Saturday, Carr said.
We'll have to see how they respond in practice," Carr said. "Because if you don't practice, you're not going to play well. You can go play, but you're not going to play well
Also coming off injuries: WR Jason Avant [limp], DL Randell Briggs [knee], DB Willis Barringer [knee] are all expected to play Saturday.
However, later in the week, Defensive linemen Rondell Biggs (knee) and linebackers Scott McClintock (back) and defensive backs Willis Barringer (knee) and Brandent Englemon (shoulder) were listed as questionable against Northwestern.

Wide receiver Adrian Arrington (ankle) is sidelined indefinitely. Offensive lineman Grant DeBenedictis (knee) is expected to miss the entire season. Defensive back Ryan Mundy (shoulder) is expected to miss the remainder of the season.

What the Cats have to do...
  • Throw long, open up those running lanes
  • Maybe pick on the freshman safety? The UM corners are upper classmen, but that free safety is a frosh.
  • Watch the comeback - Chad Henne has led the Wolves to comebacks in 3 of their last 4 games.
  • Pick Henne - Drew Stanton also had a low interception number and look what happened.
  • Overcome the loss of Pam Ward as the play by play announcer - the Cats are 3-0 on ESPN when she calls the action.
The Wolverines won't say it, but you know they're thinking about removing Brett Basanez from the media spotlight and replacing themselves. We'd also expect they have their eyes on NU's #21 ranking.

One other minor thing running thru the media coverage is that his game will also be the state's revenge for NU's humbling of MSU last week.


The Game is on ESPN with Ron Franklin (play-by-play), Bob Davie (analyst) and Holly Rowe (sideline) starting at 6:11 PM [Wildcat Time] and will also be on WGN and WNUR
Dave Eanet and Ted Albrecht are the radio guys.
We'll be chatting at the same spot

You can send your comments or "back door" information
to Coach Roy
Go Cats
Beat 'em All!
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