November 20, 2009

Tale of the Tape: Michigan

Untitled Document

Head Coach:

Rich Rodriguez

2008 Record:

3-9 - Big Ten


Ann Arbor (MI)

Kickoff: 12 pm EST Television: ABC Location: Michigan Stadium (106,201)

When Michigan has the ball...

  • Rushing Defense: 83.73 Ypg. (4th)

  • Passing Defense: 174.55 Ypg. (16th)

  • Scoring Defense: 12.36 Ppg. (6th)
  • Rushing Offense: 195.82 Ypg. (21st)

  • Passing Offense: 195.55 Ypg. (90th)

  • Scoring Offense: 31.27 Ppg. (27th)

  • Ohio State Defensive Backs

    Michigan Skill Positions (QB/WR/TE)
    Last week was not a great week for Ohio State defensive backs, especially for Chimdi Chekwa. The Ohio State junior cornerback was beaten on a handful of plays and that has been uncharacteristic for the Ohio State secondary. Devon Torrence didn't fare much better in giving up a long play of his own. But the secondary is going to be called upon more this week in run support and Kurt Coleman and Anderson Russell will both come up huge from their safety spots to try and suppress any big gains. The Buckeyes will have to be on their toes when the Wolverines flood zones with multiple pass catchers. Michigan's passing numbers may be a little bit more robust compared to what Ohio State has been doing via the air but that isn't saying a lot. Tate Forcier started off the season strong and has come back to the pack in the latter half of the season. Roy Roundtree is the leading pass catcher of the year but Greg Mathews is a player that has played in this rivalry. All eyes will be on Denard Robinson when he takes the field in the wildcat because he can make things happen. Michigan spreads the ball around with eight pass catchers charting double digit receptions.

    Ohio State Linebackers


    Michigan Running Backs
    Rewind three months ago and look at all of the questions around the Ohio State linebackers and their ability to replace two to the league. It seems as if the Buckeyes have answered the questions and then some. Ross Homan leads the team in interceptions and always seems to be flying to the ball. Brian Rolle is still as active as in the first weeks of the season but has been able to work more now on finishing off plays and not having to create plays. Austin Spitler still doesn't seem to get the amount of love that he deserves but the proof is in the stat books with the type of numbers the Buckeyes allow on the defensive side of the ball, especially the run. Michigan has seen more consistent success on the ground rather than via the air. Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown have split the carries pretty evenly and both have racked up several long touchdown scores. Add backup quarterback Robinson to the mix and you have a trio of solid ball carriers. Minor has seen the most carries and has punched it in eight times on the ground. Michigan will be in trouble however if they have a repeat performance on the ground like they did against Penn State where the team averaged 2.8 yards per carry off of 40 attempts. Michigan likely will not be stymied like that again but will be in for no easy task against the Ohio State run D.

    Ohio State Defensive Line

    Michigan Offensive Line
    Last week the Ohio State defensive line did not generate the type of consistent pressure that fans have been used to seeing this season but did get big plays when they were needed (most notably in overtime). Cameron Heyward could be ready to pick up where players like Vernon Gholston left on this week going against an overmatched Michigan front line. Add Thad Gibson and Nathan Williams coming off of the other end and it could be a big day in the stat book for the line. The Buckeyes hold a huge advantage here with the talent and depth they bring to the line and expect Doug Worthington to rack up a play or two to put a big finale on his senior regular season. Michigan's offensive line has had its troubles with the Ohio State defensive front even in its better years (think Jake Long)... There are no NFL first rounders on this line and the Ohio State defensive is deeper and more than complete in years. Steve Schilling was abused by Gholston two years ago and now will likely get treated rudely by the current crop of Ohio State defensive ends. The Wolverine line has given up 27 sacks on the year and that number will likely grow before the final gun sounds.

    When Ohio State has the ball...

  • Rushing Offense: 194.18 Ypg. (22nd)

  • Passing Offense: 174.91 Ypg. (102nd)

  • Scoring Offense: 30.0 Ppg. (38th)
  • Rushing Defense: 164.73 Ypg. (84th)

  • Passing Defense: 235.45 Ypg. (82nd)

  • Scoring Defense: 28.09 Ppg. (84th)

  • Ohio State Skill Positions (QB/WR/TE)

    Michigan Defensive Backs
    Terrelle Pryor will get his second crack at the Michigan Wolverines this Saturday and while Pryor has not turned the corner as a prolific passer by any means he has started to become a better game manager. DeVier Posey still is a favorite target but players like Dane Sanzenbacher and Ray Small have to be closely tabbed as well. As long as Pryor is making good decisions it will be likely that Jim Tressel will allow Pryor to keep the car in third gear but as soon as bad decisions are made the car will likely downshift back into park as the Buckeyes try not to beat themselves on Saturday. Michigan has focused heavily on defensive back recruiting in the past couple of seasons but right now the secondary is still trying to come into its own and ranks toward the bottom of the NCAA in pass defense. Donovan Warren and the rest of the secondary have struggled as of late having allowed 11 touchdowns in the last four losses of the season. Michigan will not be facing that type of passing offense this week but Greg Robinson knows that the Buckeyes are capable of quick strikes via the air.

    Ohio State Running Backs

    Michigan Linebackers
    Ohio State's running game has turned a corner here in recent weeks and should continue to stay healthy throughout this week. Dan Herron is healthy and seeing a lot of touches along with Brandon Saine. Things get that much more exciting when either line up in the Wildcat formation and have the ability to dictate the play that way. Of course the running of Pryor means just as much to the total and because of that the Buckeyes are moving up the charts as one of the more dangerous running teams in the conference, even if they don't have a primary runner at this point. And it goes without saying that Tressel would rather keep it on the ground and shorten games with the clock moving than risking the ball via the air too much. Michigan has a pair of big name players in Obi Ezeh and Stevie Brown at linebacker but for one reason or another the defense as a whole has just not been there and it is hard to really stand out when the unit is suffering (short of Brandon Graham). Teams have been equal opportunity run or pass against Michigan and it makes it hard to get a true pulse as to where the problems really lie but at this point of the season the Michigan defense hasn't been able to force enough big plays to keep them in games late. Last week Wisconsin put up 229 yards on the ground and during the four game losing streak teams have been getting on average more than four yards a carry (close to seven against Illinois).

    Ohio State
    Offensive Line

    Defensive Line
    Justin Boren... there, it has been said. More than a few curious eyes will be on this side plot as the former Wolverine goes against his former team for the first time, in the Big House no less. The Ohio State offensive line still is not setting the world on fire but Jim Cordle had a solid game while players like J.B. Shugarts and Marcus Hall are starting to really come into their own. The offensive line is going to continue to be a position where people will worry but this week so much attention will be paid to one person that the rest of the line will get a break from being in the media crosshairs and just be able to go out and play their game. Brandon Graham is the most talented player on the Michigan defense hands down. The Wolverines have not had many wins on the defensive side of the ball but Graham is the type of player that can change fortunes and the Buckeyes have already learned a thing or two about defensive linemen that can cause problems (Ryan Kerrigan and Adrian Clayborn). Graham will have his hands full however if he is going to try and put this Michigan team on his back and carry them to the major home upset of the Buckeyes. The horse has been beaten pretty bad so far in the tale of the tape but for those of you who haven't been following along, the Michigan defense has be underachieving this season.

    Special teams matchups...

  • Net Punting: 36.76 Avg. (42nd)

  • Punt Returns: 8.61 Yds/Ret (65th)

  • Kickoff Returns: 23.50 Avg. (35th)

  • Field Goals: 65% 17-26
  • Net Punting: 41.27 Avg. (2nd)

  • Punt Returns: 9.91 Yds/Ret (50th)

  • Kickoff Returns: 23.96 Avg. (28th)

  • Field Goals: 77% 10-13

  • Ohio State Special Teams

    Michigan Special Teams
    The Buckeyes are going to need to get a better punting day out of Jon Thoma on Saturday. The Ohio State senior punter is coming off of one of his worst outings against Iowa and the Buckeye offense has shown that it is not the type of unit to score on every possession. Devin Barclay kicked the biggest field goal of his life last week against the Hawkeyes in overtime and will have to be ready to kick in hostile territory this week. The Buckeyes are going to need to come up big with the punt return game or risk terrible field position going against Michigan's special teams. Zoltan Mesko is as good as they come at punter and the Buckeyes cannot afford to get into a game of trading field position against Mesko's big leg. The Wolverine return games have been good this year and that has to be something worrisome for the Ohio State special teams coaches. Last week the Hawkeyes were able to get back into a game with a big return and the Wolverines are every bit as capable as Iowa to break off a big one and change momentum in a hurry.

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