About Last Saturday:
UConn (0-2, 0-0 AAC)
Last game: Maryland 32, UConn 21 (L)
Recap: Mighty UConn put up a valiant effort against the cowardly and unwashed Maryland Turtle-People, but were undercut by intrigue, sedition, and the damn refs. According to the propaganda released by the Maryland-controlled Pravda that is the “Associated Press,” Maryland outgained UConn 501-383. While giving credit to the Huskies for 349 yards passing, they claim that they were held to 34 yards rushing on 33 attempts. This is a lie, as with my own eyes I saw UConn break several long and impressive scoring runs to which the scoreboard operator turned a blind eye.
Verily, once the truth is known and justice is permitted to prevail over deceitful treachery, this team is poised for a glorious emergence. Woe be unto the team that must face this juggernaut at this moment in history.
This team is as frightening as: The all-consuming terror mined from the deepest pits of hell; the dredging up of fears long-since dismissed as figments of a scarred past. We had thought the capacity for such nightmares had been smoothed over by time and the advancement of civilization, only to learn that it was simply masked by a thin veneer, waiting to re-emerge. And while the pantries are not yet empty, the hunger pangs remind us all that we are never more than nine meals away from anarchy. Fear level = 10
Michigan should worry about: Pasqualoni to right of them/ Pasqualoni to left of them / Pasqualoni in front of them / Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with run and pass / For last week they played like ass /Into the jaws of Rentschler Field / Into the mouth of Hell / Rode the seventy
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Nessun Dorma.
When they play Michigan: Michigan is about an 18-point favorite.
Next game: vs. #15 Michigan
[AFTER THE JUMP: So much to fear. And Iowa]
About last week:
The road ahead:
Wait, we haven’t gotten there yet. We go in chronological order around here.
Oh, c’mon. Let me just talk about State first, then I’ll talk about the other dreck that comes between here and there.
DID YOU EVEN SEE THE STATE GAME? We need a real lede here. Throw some red meat up front. No one come here for my take on Akron
This isn’t Columbus. There are rules.
I hate you so much, disembodied bolded alter-ego. FINE, we’ll talk about…
Akron (1-1, 0-0 MAC)
Last game: Akron 35, James Madison 33 (W)
Recap: Michigan’s next opponent is, shall we say, not coming into the game riding a high. Despite not actually fielding a football team, James Madison took Akron to the absolute wire. The Fightin’ Dolleys scored with five minutes left, but missed the two point conversion. They then got the ball back with 1:19 left, and went on a 12 play drive to the Akron 27 before time expired. James Madison outgained Akron 498-356. Again, this was James Madison. Confirmed: Akron remains not good at football.
This team is as frightening as: I refuse to be That Guy who jinxes the upcoming game by labeling it a fear level = 1. Therefore, fear level = 1.07.
Michigan should worry about: Third-world hunger is a problem still, right?
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Akron football.
When they play Michigan: This game is a bit of a palate cleanser following the Notre Dame game. Which is fitting, because Akron has the defensive cohesiveness and overall consistency of a fine sorbet. PREPARE THE FRESHMEN.
Next game: vs. #11 Michigan
[AFTER THE JUMP: more dreck, then Sparty]
Behold! I have destroyed Heiko and taken hold of the Opponent Watch. My plan is almost complete. For those new to the internet, every week we’ll take a look at the happenings amongst Michigan’s past and upcoming opponents. This week provides us very little evidence, simply because we still have way more variables than equations. What we can glean thus far though is, once again, BIG TENNNNNN. So let’s take a look.
About Last Saturday:
The Road Ahead:
Notre Dame Fig Things (1-0)
Last game: Notre Dame 28, Temple 6 (W)
Recap: I didn’t watch this game, because I only watch the most rival-y of rivals. However, I know we have a bunch of MSU and Purdue readers, so we’ll cover the game anyway. Notre Dame won comfortably over a meh Temple team who finished 4-7 in the Big East last year. Tommy Rees (16/23, 346 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs) had a statistically solid game, hitting home run balls to TJ Jones and TE Troy Niklas. Notre Dame fans seem generally unenthusiastic about their linebacking corp through one game, but Notre Dame fans being famously reasonable people, I’m sure they’ll give their defense time to develop. From what I saw, their defensive line remains gigantic and immovable. And I might be the only one, but I love seeing a perfectly-round 340-pound defensive tackle wearing the number one. He looks like a walking power symbol.
Brian and company will preview this game in detail. For now, Rudy was offside.
This team is as frightening as: Tommy Rees. They might completely implode into a pile of ruined expectations. They might become Joe Montana for an evening. They might knee a cop in the stomach. You just don’t know. Fear level = 7.5
Michigan should worry about: Tommy Rees. No, for srs. He’s senior with a bunch of starts, and who has had a decent amount of success against Michigan. He’s the only college quarterback with experience under the lights at Michigan Stadium. He threw for 315 yards in 2011. He threw for 346 yards last week.
Michigan can sleep soundly about:
When they play Michigan: ALL OF THE LIGHTS
Next game: vs. #17 Michigan
[AFTER THE JUMP: You will feel much better about Michigan’s prospects this season for reasons that have nothing to do with Michigan]
Where have you gone, perfect-passin' Taylor?
Nebraska needed two touchdowns in the final six minutes to eke by Northwestern on the "road," 29-28, last Saturday. The game wasn't nearly as close as the score would indicate, however, as it took three Husker fumbles—two on muffed punts—to nearly negate a 543-301 total yardage advantage. For most of the game, Northwestern's best offense was to punt to Nebraska and dive on the football.
The first seven minutes of the game and the final two minutes were cut off, respectively, by the Ohio State-Purdue overtime and my DVR (note to self: extend recording an hour, not 30 minutes), and there's no torrent available, so this breakdown covers the middle 51 or so minutes.
Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? The Husker offense leans heavily spread-run, with the vast majority of the snaps coming out of the shotgun except in short-yardage situations, when they usually go I-form.
Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? A team that runs as much as Nebraska is going to show both gap and zone blocking concepts. They run a fair amount of inside and outside zone, but also showed some interesting ways to get Martinez on the edge with pulling linemen (see the play breakdown below).
Hurry it up or grind it out? Nebraska had a slightly above-average pace last year and looks to be in the same range this year; they're not a sprint-to-the-line spread squad.
Quarterback Dilithium Level (Scale: 1 [Navarre] to 10 [Denard]): You're likely pretty familiar with Taylor Martinez, who currently sits behind only Denard Robinson and Braxton Miller in the rushing standings among Big Ten quarterbacks. He's always been a very solid runner, with speed only surpassed by Denard among B1G QBs, and he broke a surprising number of tackles against Northwestern. The threat he provides with his legs makes the Husker offense very difficult to defend—I'll give him an 8, and that could easily be a 9.
Dangerman: With running back Rex Burkhead likely out of the game this weekend, Martinez becomes the focal point of the Husker offense. Another player to watch is sophomore wideout Kenny Bell, currently leading the team in receiving with 26 catches for 540 yards (20.8 ypc) and five touchdowns. He's a tough cover, dangerous both going downfield or catching short passes and getting big YAC, and that's worrisome if Raymon Taylor is limited at all this weekend.
Zook Factor: Despite having one of the best rushing attacks in the country, Bo Pelini is quite conservative on fourth down, only going for it three times this year. The Huskers have converted twice, but the failure came against Northwestern, when they dialed up the same QB sweep that they ran on the previous play for seven yards—the Wildcats sniffed it out and stuffed in the backfield.
HenneChart: If you've listened to the podcast in the last couple of week, you know that the Big Ten's passing efficiency leader—by a wide margin, no less—is none other than Taylor Martinez. Yes, the very same Taylor Martinez who completed 56% of his passes with a 13/8 TD-to-INT ratio last year. T-Magic completed 27-of-39 passes for 342 yards and three touchdowns against Northwestern. This must be a fluke, right?
Sure, part of Martinez's performance can be credited to Northwestern's craptastic secondary (107th in pass yardage, 54th in efficiency). However, most of it was due to improved mechanics and better decision-making. There were still flashes of the old T-Magic—back-to-back fourth-quarter passes earned the dreaded "Bad Read" label, and both were potentially game-sealing interceptions that were dropped by the Wildcats—but by and large he looks like a completely different quarterback.
[The rest of the breakdown goes after THE JUMP.]
“Well here we go. We have another week coming up, and obviously this is going to be a huge challenge for us defensively because it’s a very very explosive offense. Watching them on film and watching what they’ve done so far this year, this will be a big test for us, so we’re looking for it. Going on the road and playing an offense like this, it’ll kind of [allow us] to see where we’re at.”
Do you use that at all to keep guys from getting complacent?
“We won’t get complacent. Believe me. That won’t happen. We’ve got so far to go, you know. I mean, again, I’m proud of the way they have played hard. I’m proud of everybody buying into try and run to the football as hard as you can, but there’s so many things we have to get better at, and they see that on the film, and they believe it just as much as we as coaches do. That’s what’s pleasing. They know where they have to get to yet and how far away they are. We just have to keep taking strides and keep trying to get better.”
How has Taylor Martinez been able to improve as a passer?
“Well I think their running game is the best, or one of the best in the Big Ten. Any time you have a really good running game, guys can get a little more open than they would if it was a true passing situation. He’s a good quarterback. I think the other thing is his offensive line looks a lot more athletic this year. They’re a very good offensive line, and they’ve protected him, and he’s a year older.”