Five Players To Watch: Michigan Wolverines At Rutgers Scarlet Knights
The Michigan Wolverines and the Rutgers Scarlet Knights are both looking to snap three-game losing skids on Saturday night (7:30 p.m. ET on BTN) in Piscataway.
Here are five players to keep an eye on:
Rutgers Junior Running Back Isaih Pacheco
Pacheco is an established runner, having rushed for over 1,500 yards and 12 touchdowns in his career. This year, he's churned out 286 yards and two scores on the ground — averaging 5.2 yards per carry — while also recording 12 catches for 79 yards.
He also has big-play capability, having ripped off several long runs so far this year, including a 66-yarder against Ohio State and a 32-yarder against Illinois.
Pacheco and the Scarlet Knights' ground game may be able to find success this week, considering the Wolverines have a depleted defensive line without junior defensive end Aidan Hutchinson and senior end Kwity Paye, and they gave up 341 yards rushing to Wisconsin last week.
Michigan Junior Wide Receiver Ronnie Bell
In an offense that has been downright bad much of the time, Bell has shined and showed why he led the Wolverines in catches and yards receiving last season, despite having other "more talented" players surrounding him at the position.
Bell has particularly elevated his game the last two weeks, accumulating 205 of his 325 receiving yards on the season and scoring a touchdown two weeks back against Indiana. On a team with a struggling quarterback in redshirt sophomore Joe Milton and a possible replacement who could be making his first career start in redshirt freshman Cade McNamara, Bell is a fantastic option to have running routes.
Rutgers Senior Linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi
Fatukasi has a way of finding himself wherever the ball is. Rutgers' leading tackler has 50 stops on the season, which is nine more than the next highest mark on the team, and has added a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.
With a team-leading 6.5 tackles for loss, Fatukasi also has a knack for finding himself in the backfield. Going against a U-M offense that has been abysmal rushing the ball (60 rushing yards in the last two games combined), Fatukasi could have a big day shutting down the run and causing havoc in the Wolverines' backfield.
Michigan Fifth-Year Senior Defensive Tackle Carlo Kemp
Kemp is one of two healthy full-time starters on the defensive line, and as a fifth-year senior, his experience and versatility is paying off. He broke the Wolverines out of a two and a half game streak without a sack when he got loose and brought down Wisconsin redshirt freshman Graham Mertz in the second half last week. Due to the aforementioned injuries, Kemp was actually in at defensive end on that snap, and got run there on other plays as well. Look for him to move around the line once again this week and help lead the Maize and Blue front seven.
Rutgers Senior Wide Receiver Bo Melton
Melton is Rutgers' leading receiver, having racked up 334 yards on 20 touchdowns thus far. The 5-11, 190-pounder has the speed to get beat opposing defensive backs in coverage, as evidenced by his 29- and 66-yard touchdown receptions last week.
Against a sometimes outmanned Michigan secondary, Melton will have some opportunities to get free and make plays, if his quarterback can find him.
Bonus Players To Watch
• Michigan sophomore safety Daxton Hill — On the season, Hill has only allowed five of 11 balls thrown his way to be caught. He also has totaled 28 tackles and is coming off a career-high 11 stops against Wisconsin.
• Rutgers sophomore linebacker Mohamed Toure — The disrupter leads the Scarlet Knights with three sacks and two forced fumbles.
• Michigan redshirt sophomore cornerback Vincent Gray — After struggling mightily in the first three games, Gray posted the highest PFF coverage grade out of any Michigan player last week and only allowed one reception for seven yards on five targets.
• Rutgers redshirt junior quarterback Noah Vedral — He's coming off a rough outing in which he threw three picks against Illinois. The turnover prone signal-caller has thrown seven interceptions to five touchdowns, despite completing 63 percent of his tosses.
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