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November 12, 2010

Scouting Preview: Michigan vs. Purdue

Michigan is a 13-point favorite over Purdue this weekend and our staff expects the Wolverines to hold serve. Take a look at the matchups, including U-M's pass protection vs. PU's vaunted pass rush, and make your own decision ...

GAME FACTS
What: Purdue at Michigan.
When: Nov. 6 12:01 p.m.
Radio-TV: TThe game will be broadcast live by the Big Ten Network. The game can be heard on the Michigan Sports Network (104.3 FM in the Detroit area, 1050 AM in Ann Arbor, channel 125 on Sirius and 102 on XM) with long-time partners Frank Beckmann and Jim Brandstatter, and sideline reporter Doug Karsch, handling the radio responsibilities.
History: Michigan leads the series with Purdue, 41-14.
Coaches: Michigan: Rich Rodriguez (14-19, third season). Purdue: Danny Hope (9-12, second season).
Purdue Notes: Purdue is looking for its first three-game winning streak against Michigan since winning five in a row from 1962-66 The Boilermakers have started three different signal-callers for the first time since 1966 while Sean Robinson is the first true freshman quarterback to start a game since Brandon Kirsch did against U-M in 2002.
MATCHUPS
Matchup
Analysis
Winner
Michigan
Pass Protection

Vs.

Purdue
Pass Rush
No defense has recorded more than one sack against Michigan this year, of course no one outside of Massachusetts really went all out to bring down the Wolverines' quarterback too. That will change this weekend. Purdue knows if he's going to have any chance it has to force U-M's offense, and its signal-caller, out of their comfort zones. Outside of Iowa, PU may have the best pass-rushing defensive line in the Big Ten, recording a conference-best 27 sacks.

The Maize and Blue are solid pass protectors, surrendering just four quarterback takedowns this season, but this will be their stiffest challenge yet.  



PUSH
Purdue
Pass Protection

Vs.

Michigan
Pass Rush
With Sean Robinson set to make his second career start, the Boilermakers will do everything they can to make as easy as possible for the true freshman. So expect a lot of three-step drops and designed readstThat won't allow Michigan's front seven defenders to have the time to bring Robinson down often.

The one thing that could work in U-M's favor is that if the Wolverines can confuse Robinson with their coverage schemes, he may hold onto the football a bit longer. Michigan's defenders have also said they have far more confidence after last week's win and that could pay off in pass rush and rush defense.



PUSH

Michigan
Rush Offense

Vs.

Purdue
Rush Defense
Purdue's defense has faced three of the top four rushes offenses in the Big Ten the past three games and has yielded an average of 181.3 yards but just 4.0 yards per carry. Now, the Boilermakers will face the Big Ten's top rush offense and will aim to slow down U-M.

Will they? Probably not. Denard Robinson had an off day a week ago, rushing for just 62 yards, but he had a huge afternoon throwing the football while the Wolverines' tailbacks picked up the slack. PU has struggled against running quarterbacks this season, however.  






Purdue
Rush Offense

Vs.

Michigan
Rush Defense
Purdue is finding a way to run the football despite increased attention from defenses, averaging 157.5 yards on the ground per game the past two weeks. Senior tailback Dan Dierking is an under-the-radar kid that is producing for the Boilermakers and they will use Sean Robinson as a ball carrier, though it is not a strength.

We'd probably give this one to Michigan, with the improved play of sophomore linebacker Kenny Demens but senior linebacker Jonas Mouton is expected to miss the game, putting a new starter into a critical position.   





Michigan
Pass Offense

Vs.

Purdue
Pass Defense
The Boilermakers feature one of the worst pass defenses in the Big Ten (of course not worse than U-M's), allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 66.5 percent of their attempts with 16 touchdowns compared to only seven interceptions. Purdue simply doesn't have much athleticism at safety and its cornerbacks are below par.

The Wolverines' passing attack has emerged as one of the Big Ten's best, with three No. 1 wide receivers - Roy Roundtree, Junior Hemingway and Darryl Stonum. If Denard Robinson is on his game as he was last weekend, Purdue will not be able to stop U-M through the air.




Purdue
Pass Offense

Vs.

Michigan
Pass Defense
The 6-3, 205-pound Robinson has completed just 32 of 68 attempts (47.1 percent) for 223 yards with two touchdowns with four picks. He looked more comfortable in the pocket last weekend against Wisconsin, but still only completed 19 of 38 passes and shouldn't pull out any Matt McGloin performances anytime soon.

Of course, it is Michigan's secondary. But this group played better than its final numbers a week ago, with freshman Courtney Avery playing above expectations. Freshman safety Ray Vinopal is also coming on.






PUSH
Michigan
Special Teams

Vs.

Purdue
Special Teams
Purdue's coverage and return units haven't done much this season to warrant attention but neither have Michigan's. The two teams both have decent punters - PU's Cody Webster ranks sixth in the Big Ten with a 42.5-yard average while U-M's Will Hagerup averaging 43.6 yards - while the Boilermakers have an obvious edge at placekicker; Junior Carson Wiggs has converted 10 of 14 field goals this season (71.4 percent), including 8 of 10 from inside 40 yards.





Michigan
Coaching

Vs.

Purdue
Coaching
Folks could probably sell ringside tickets to a Danny Hope-Rich Rodriguez boxing match. These two guys don't like each other much after last season's odd post-game handshake but they have plenty in common - both face impatient fans eager for a return to the glory days (for Purdue that's 8-4 seasons) and they've both had to adapt to a myriad of injuries to critical personnel this season.

Rodriguez boasts a better resume but Hope got the better of U-M's boss last year.




PUSH

PURDUE PLAYERS TO WATCH

Senior receiver Cortez Smith
With Purdue's top three receivers presently shelved with injuries - Keith Smith, Siller and Ross - Smith has emerged the Boilermakers' top receiving threat. The 6-2, 180-pound, Hooks, Texas, native leads the team in three categories: receptions (28), receiving yards (287) and touchdown catches (two). He's been hit or miss the past four weeks, though, making just one grab against both Minnesota Oct. 16 and Illinois Oct. 30, for 18 yards, while combining for 10 catches and 61 yards against Ohio State Oct. 23 and Wisconsin Nov. 6.

Senior tailback Dan Dierking
One of three backs, along with senior Keith Carlos and sophomore Al-Terek McBurse, thrust into the spotlight when it became apparent Bolden would miss the entire year following offseason knee surgery, Dierking has outshone the other two ball carriers. The 5-10, 195-pounder leads the Boilermakers with 458 yards, and three scores, on 83 carries (5.5 yards per rush). He has a pair of 100-yard efforts this season. A bit quicker than he appears, the Wheaton, Ill., native has five rushes of 20 yards or more, including a long of 42 yards.

Junior safety Logan Link
A former walk-on, Link did not appear in a game from 2007-09 but he gradually worked his way up the depth chart and moved into the starting lineup in week two against Western Illinois. He hasn't ceded his gig since and is proving to be one of Purdue's best defensive players, ranking second among Boilermakers with 66 stops. The 6-1, 204-pound West Liberty, Ohio, native has also contributed three pass breakups, an interception, two tackles for loss and a forced fumble. He's been on his game lately, recording 30 stops in his past three games.

Senior defensive end Ryan Kerrigan
The 6-4, 263-pound senior is already a semifinalist for the Lombardi (college football's top lineman) and Bednarik (college football's best defensive player) awards. He has recorded at least one sack in seven games this season, one tackle for loss in eight contests and has posted two or more stops behind the line of scrimmage on six occasions. Kerrigan has tied a career high with 18.5 tackles for loss and is leading the Big Ten in that defensive category and in sacks, with 7.5.


PREDICTION
It's déjà vu all over again for the Wolverines as they head into West Lafayette this weekend preparing to face a Purdue team ravaged by injuries. Sounds familiar to Penn State, doesn't it? The difference here is the Boilermakers are down two quarterbacks, three wide receivers and a tailback. Starting their third-string QB, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-string wideouts and second-string running backs, there is simply no way they can produce enough offense to keep up with Michigan.  Score: Michigan 42, Purdue 24




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