BSB Opponent Preview: Michigan

Ohio State closes out the regular season Saturday the way it does every year: by facing Michigan. The Wolverines come into Ohio Stadium boasting their best team in the Rich Rodriguez era, but the team's defense has struggled throughout the year. Check out BSB's preview including depth charts, stats and more.

Michigan (7-4, 3-4)
Saturday, Nov. 27
Noon ET, ABC
Ohio Stadium; Columbus

The Wolverines
Head coach: Rich Rodriguez, 120-82-2, 18th season (15-20 at Michigan, third season)
2009 record: 5-7 (1-7, tied for 10th Big Ten Conference)
Series mark: Michigan leads 57-43-6
School location: Ann Arbor, Mich.
Enrollment: 38,980
Colors: Maize and Blue
Stadium: Michigan Stadium
Fight song: "Hail to the Victors"

Michigan Players To Watch
QB Denard Robinson: The sophomore set the college football world on fire at the start of the season. Robinson has four of the top-10 days of total offense in Michigan history so far this year and is the only quarterback in NCAA history to run for 200 yards and pass for 200 in two games in a single season. On the year, Robinson has been a threat both on the ground and through the air, accounting for 3,767 yards and 30 touchdowns.

"I think this year especially he's turned it on as far as making good decisions, making those decisions that you didn't see happen as often," Ohio State defensive tackle Dexter Larimore said. "We watched the film of last year and he played a little bit in the wildcat formation but he wasn't making quite the decisions that he is making right now. It's not only a good athlete you're playing against, it's a good decision maker at quarterback."

WR Roy Roundtree: The sophomore from Trotwood (Ohio) Madison set the Michigan single-game record with 246 receiving yards vs. Illinois on Nov. 6. He leads the Wolverines with 58 catches for 839 yards, marks that are good for third and second, respectively, in the Big Ten.

"He's a pretty good receiver, pretty fast, very athletic and he stays on his feet well," OSU cornerback Devon Torrence said. "I think you have to be aggressive with him and make plays when the balls thrown to him."

LB Jonas Mouton: The weakside linebacker leads the Big Ten with 102 tackles on the season, including a career-high 14 vs. Illinois on Nov. 6. Mouton also had 11 stops last year vs. Ohio State, including nine of the solo variety. The senior has added 7½ tackles for loss this year to go with two sacks, two interceptions and two forced fumbles.

SS Jordan Kovacs: A former walk-on, Kovacs has proved to be a useful player for the Wolverines who is capable of sticking his nose into the box and making the stop. The sophomore has 95 tackles on the year from the strong safety spot and has added 7½ TFL, a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Sept. 4, Connecticut, W 30-10
Sept. 11, at Notre Dame, W 28-24
Sept. 18, Massachusetts, W 42-37
Sept. 25, Bowling Green, W 65-21
Oct. 2, at Indiana, W 42-35
Oct. 9, No. 17 Michigan State, L 34-17
Oct. 16, No. 14 Iowa, L 38-28
Oct. 30, at Penn State, L 41-31
Nov. 6, Illinois, W 67-65 (3OT)
Nov. 13, at Purdue, 27-16
Nov. 20, No. 6 Wisconsin, L 48-28

Projected Starters
QB 16 Denard Robinson, 6-0, 193
SB 2 Vincent Smith, 5-6, 180
X 22 Darryl Stonum, 6-2, 196
Y 12 Roy Roundtree, 6-0, 176
Z 21 Junior Hemingway, 6-1, 225
TE 86 Kevin Koger, 6-4, 255
LT 77 Taylor Lewan, 6-9, 294
LG 52 Stephen Schilling, 6-5, 308
C 50 David Molk, 6-2, 288
RG 65 Patrick Omameh, 6-4, 299
RT 72 Mark Huyge, 6-6, 306/79 Perry Dorrestein, 6-7, 321

DE 88 Craig Roh, 6-5, 251
NT 68 Mike Martin, 6-2, 299
DT 53 Ryan Van Bergen, 6-6, 283
OLB 42 J.B. Fitzgerald, 6-3, 244
MLB 25 Kenny Demens, 6-1, 250
WLB 8 Jonas Mouton, 6-2, 240
HYB 4 Cam Gordon, 6-3, 207
LCB 5 Courtney Avery, 5-11, 167
SS 32 Jordan Kovacs, 6-0, 195
FS 20 Ray Vinopal, 5-10, 193
RCB 18 James Rogers, 6-1, 183

K 46 Seth Broekhuizen, 6-1, 195/34 Brendan Gibbons, 6-1, 227
P 43 Will Hagerup, 6-4, 210
KR 10 Jeremy Gallon, 5-8, 180/22 Darryl Stonum, 6-2, 196
PR 10 Jeremy Gallon, 5-8, 180/8 Terrence Robinson, 5-9, 175

Five Fast Facts
1. Michigan's seven wins have come against teams with combined records of 34-42 (.447), while the four losses are against foes that are 34-10 (.773). The seven wins have come against teams 6-5 or worse, while all four losses are to teams with seven wins or more.

2. Eighteen different players have earned the first collegiate starts this season for the Maize and Blue, and 13 true freshmen have played. Of the 124 players, 66 percent (82) have freshman or sophomore eligibility.

3. Michigan is 300-123-20 all-time in November but only 3-7 in the month under Rodriguez.

4. Kickers Seth Broekhuizen and Brendan Gibbons have combined to make only 4 of 13 field goals, the worst in Division I-A football.

5. Will Campbell, a five-star defensive tackle recruit out of Detroit Cass Tech in 2009, was moved to offensive line halfway through the season after making one tackle this season on defense.

Offensive Personnel Report
Rodriguez was hailed as one of the foremost authorities on the spread offense when he moved to Michigan from West Virginia, and his spread option attack has been in fine form throughout the 2010 season.

The team has been a quick-strike unit, able to score from anywhere and everywhere on the field. The team has 23 touchdown drives of two minutes or less, and 12 of those have taken less than one minute of time. In addition, Michigan has six scoring drives of more than 90 yards.

"You can't let yourself get psyched out because they have been doing so unbelievably well," Larimore said. "They're getting a lot of press because of how good they are, which is granted because they are. It's crazy to think that last year they were such an almost completely different team, and this year they've just turned it on offensively and been able to score on anybody."

The player behind most of that explosiveness is Robinson, who announced his presence in his sophomore year by being named the offensive player of the week the first two games of the season by Walter Camp Football Foundation.

Known as "Shoelace" because of his propensity to not tie his shoes, Robinson has rushed for 1,538 yards on the year, the most in NCAA history for a quarterback. Add in his 2,229 passing yards and Robinson is the first college QB ever to rush for 1,500 yards and pass for 2,000 in the same season.

However, the quarterback hasn't had it easy during Big Ten play. He's been forced out of a handful of games because of a variety of injuries, leading to the team also finding playing time for classmate Tate Forcier.

"He has not had (recently) some of those huge games like he had, but I still think he's had pretty good production," Rodriguez said Nov. 16. "What's hindered him the last couple weeks has been the turnovers."

Robinson lost two fumbles vs. Purdue on Nov. 13, and he has thrown nine interceptions during Big Ten play.

In all, Robinson averages 342.4 yards of offense per game, good for second in the country. The native of Deerfield Beach, Fla., has rushed 227 times for 1,538 yards and 14 touchdowns, good for 6.8 yards per carry and 139.8 yards per game, which is third in the country. His 258 yards on the ground vs. Notre Dame was a Big Ten record for a QB.

In the passing game, Robinson has completed 63.4 percent (147 of 232) of his passes for 2,229 yards, 16 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

"Denard Robinson just brings a different dimension to the game," OSU middle linebacker Brian Rolle said, comparing Robinson to OSU's previous opponents. "He's a lot quicker and a lot more mobile and he has a little shake to him, too. That's something we haven't had the chance to play against."

Forcier (6-1, 192) started every game last year but has relieved Robinson in seven games. He has completed 46 of 69 passes (66.7 percent) for 515 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions while running 19 times for 59 yards and a score.

True freshman Devin Gardner, a five-star prospect in Scout's 2010 rankings from Inkster, Mich., has played sparingly in four games, going 7 for 10 with a touchdown.

The Wolverines didn't have a No. 1 running back coming into the season, but sophomore Vincent Smith has separated himself. A burner but lacking in vision and power, Smith has 121 rushes for 571 yards and five scores. He did leave the Nov. 20 game with Wisconsin with concussion-like symptoms, so his status vs. OSU is in doubt.

The top backup has been junior Michael Shaw, a product of Trotwood (Ohio) Madison. Shaw (6-1, 187) also has speed, and he's received 63 carries for 331 yards and eight scores.

The Wolverines' big back is true freshman Stephen Hopkins. Checking in at 6-0, 227 pounds, Hopkins has 37 rushes for 151 yards and four touchdowns.

When Michigan uses a fullback, it's 6-1, 231-pound junior John McColgan.

The team's top receiver is sophomore Roy Roundtree, who had 116 yards vs. OSU last season. Another alumnus of Trotwood-Madison, Roundtree has 58 catches for 839 yards and six touchdowns. He's become a solid deep threat and is adept at making catches in traffic and running after the catch, though drops have been a problem.

The No. 2 target is junior Darryl Stonum, who did suffer an ankle injury vs. Wisconsin and is listed as probable. He has pulled in 35 passes for 493 yards and has four touchdowns.

Another big-play target is Junior Hemingway, who is listed as questionable with a head injury. Though the junior looks more like a tight end than a wideout at 6-1, 225 pounds, Hemingway has pulled in 28 passes for 544 yards (19.4-yard average) and four scores.

Slot receiver Kelvin Grady (5-10, 176), formerly a member of the school's basketball team, has 16 grabs for 200 yards.

"They have good hands and great speed," OSU senior safety Aaron Gant said. "They run good routes and they do well on hot routes when they see what the defense is doing."

Junior Martavious Odoms has 15 catches but is out with a foot injury.

Michigan's starting tight end is junior Kevin Koger, a Toledo Whitmer product with 11 catches for 154 yards and two touchdowns.

The bane of the team's existence in past seasons, the Michigan offensive line has used its experience to turn things around this year.

"Two years ago, it's not even close," Rodriguez said of the improvement. "I think we're bigger and stronger. I think there's been this thought that we wanted these little linemen running around grabbing onto people. We just want all of our linemen to move."

The most experienced member of the team is left guard Stephen Schilling, a senior who has started 47 games in his career and has made big strides since having to play as a true freshman in 2007.

There is also experience at center in junior David Molk, who has 27 career starts. Molk has rebounded nicely from an injury-plagued 2009.

Sophomore Patrick Omameh, a Columbus DeSales product, has started all 11 games as well at right guard.

There has been some movement at the tackle spots, especially lately with redshirt freshman left tackle Taylor Lewan missing the UW game with a concussion and senior right tackle Perry Dorrestein missing three starts before that with a knee problem.

Junior Mark Huyge has been an important fill-in, starting in relief of each of those two at RT. Lewan had started seven straight games at LT but had experienced growing pains, while Dorrestein had started the first seven games at right tackle and returned vs. UW.

"The big thing is their offensive line has really grasped the concepts that the coaches have been putting in," Larimore said. "I think the last couple of years they've been between the old system and getting the older players and stuff like that. I think now they have players in the system doing what he thinks of is the good way to do it."

Defensive Personnel Report
Michigan allowed 357 yards on the ground to Wisconsin, just the latest indignity suffered by a unit that is short on talent and experience. The Wolverines are likely to start only two seniors on defense vs. Ohio State and have five true freshmen playing significant minutes on that side of the ball.

"I've never coached and had five true freshmen playing at one time in Division I," Rodriguez said. "Are you kidding me? Those guys are playing their tails off, and they're gonna be better hopefully because of it."

Overall, the Wolverines's 3-3-5 defense coordinated by Greg Robinson has not succeeded at stopping Big Ten attacks. In conference play, Michigan allowed 480 yards passing vs. Indiana and more than 300 yards on the ground to both Illinois and Wisconsin. Against league teams, the Wolverines are giving up 39.6 points per game and kept only punchless Purdue below 30.

"They run that 3-3-5 defense, different from any defense we've faced so far this year," right guard Bryant Browning said. "We know they have different kinds of combination of blitzes. It's definitely going to take us to really study the tape and focus in. When you've got a chance to run that kind of defense, you've got a chance to run a set of exotic blitzes and attack in different ways."

Michigan is ninth in the Big Ten in all games in rushing defense (181.3 yards per game), last in total yards allowed (445.2) and ninth in scoring defense (33.5 points).

"Yeah, we've seen other teams be successful against them," OSU wideout Dane Sanzenbacher said. "But at the same time, we've seen defenses that play a lot better once we actually get on the field with them and play them. So, we'll game plan for whatever we think is going to work, but at the same time we always know they are probably going to be a little better than what we've seen on film."

The best player on the team's three-man line is nose tackle Mike Martin, who is one of the best pure defensive tackles in the league. Despite battling ankle injuries, the junior has 30 tackles, six of which have been for loss.

His backup is senior Adam Patterson (6-3, 276), who has 15 stops.

Also listed as a starting tackle is Ryan Van Bergen, who is having a solid junior year. Van Bergen, who started the first nine games at end before moving tackle to make room for Craig Roh, has 25 tackles and three sacks on the campaign. He took over at tackle for senior Greg Banks (6-4, 285), who has 32 stops and six TFL.

After starting the first nine games at linebacker, Roh has moved back to end, where he played in 2009. A talented pass rusher, the sophomore has 39 tackles, including 5½ for loss, along with two forced fumbles.

Roh also had concussion symptoms vs. Wisconsin, however, and is listed as probable. His backup is true freshman Jibreel Black (6-2, 258), a Cincinnati Wyoming product who has three tackles.

The leading tackler in the Big Ten the team's weakside linebacker, Jonas Mouton. He is a hard hitter with 102 tackles while adding 7½ TFL, two sacks, two picks and two fumble recoveries.

In the middle, sophomore Kenny Demens has unseated Obi Ezeh, who has made 37 career starts. Demens has been a nice addition, making 61 stops on the season.

Ezeh (6-2, 250) has moved over to split time at the other outside linebacker spot with junior J.B. Fitzgerald. Ezeh has struggled to live up to the lofty expectations for him, struggling to make plays despite playing all four seasons. He has 56 tackles on the season.

Fitzgerald is the other outside linebacker. The 6-3, 244-pounder has 16 tackles after having spent the first nine games as a backup to Roh.

Senior co-captain Mark Moundros (6-1, 233), a converted fullback, has 11 stops on the year as a backup and special teamer.

Thanks to a rash of injuries and other circumstances, Michigan's five-DB configuration includes three freshman starters.

"Obviously anytime you're switching in a bunch of different guys it's hard to know what other guys are going to do and get anything clicking, but there's no lack of effort in their secondary," Sanzenbacher said.

The scheme includes a player known as the hybrid back, which is like Ohio State's star position. The position is banned by redshirt freshman Cam Gordon, who has moved to the spot from safety and has 68 tackles, two fumble recoveries – one of which he returned for a touchdown vs. Purdue – and two interceptions.

Others to start there on the season include redshirt freshman Thomas Gordon (5-11, 205), who has 23 tackles and four TFL, and true frosh Carvin Johnson (6-0, 195), who has 10 tackles and a sack.

The lone senior in the group is at cornerback in Rogers. A converted wideout, Rogers has 33 tackles and three picks on the season, all of which have come in the last two games.

Sophomore J.T. Floyd started the first eight games at corner before an ankle injury suffered in practice ended his season. His replacement has been true freshman Courtney Avery, who has struggled since being thrown into the fire but has shown signs of having a good future. A native of Mansfield, Ohio, who went to Lexington High School, Avery has 27 tackles, four pass breakups and a forced fumble.

Sophomore Jordan Kovacs is the starting strong safety for the second year in a row. A former walk-on, Kovacs is third in the league with 95 tackles while adding 7½ TFL, a sack, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He's a useful player near the line of scrimmage and tough tackler but struggles with athleticism and tackling in space.

Finally, the No. 1 free safety is true freshman Ray Vinopal, who has started the last four games. A product of Youngstown (Ohio) Cardinal Mooney, the undersized Vinopal (5-10, 193) has 26 tackles and an interception.

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