i will worry if our QB is shakir edwards or chris berry
Niko Porikos grew up in an NTDP billet home. Cool story.
|WHAT||Michigan vs. Minnesota|
|WHERE||The Worst Stadium In America, Minneapolis, Minnesota|
|WHEN||12:00 EST, November 8th, 2008|
|THE LINE||Minnesota by 7.5|
After a one week, jumped-snap-induced hiatus, Minor Rage returned and was darned effective, opening the game with a 45 yard touchdown run and ending with 155 yards on just 24 carries, an average of 6.5 per.
Some of that was Purdue hanging back with two deep safeties and only putting six guys in the box on many downs (they did blitz corners frequently, but that rarely impacted the play. With Steven Threet concussed and very likely out, Minnesota will probably be more aggressive.
As far as their defense goes, a year after being the defensive equivalent of Notre Dame they're… well, still the defensive equivalent of Notre Dame: much, much better but still not exactly good. They're #65 in total defense, #53 in rushing defense, and #20 in scoring defense. That gap is easily explained by another number: 2, Minnesota's rank in turnover margin.
So, mediocre run D versus mediocre run O should be a push, except, uh:
Minnesota does not do "push". They either destroy on the ground or get destroyed. (And when they're not getting destroyed they're giving up like 462 passing yards to Juice Williams.) And with all of those teams running some version of the spread there's not a whole lot to choose from here. Given Michigan's inconsistency I hesitate to predict anything.
Oh, I guess I have to: these guys seem like major gamblers. They get a ton of TFLs and lost yards and give up their share of big plays. I think misdirection will do well and we'll see whoever the quarterback is keep it more to good effect (Mike Kafka ran for 217 yards last week); at other times they'll shoot into the backfield and put Michigan in untenable long yardage situations. Sustaining drives will be tough; a big play or two seems probable.
Key Matchup: Whoever the QB is making the right reads on when to keep the ball.
Key Matchup: DEAAAAAAAAATHHHHHH
Minnesota's run offense has taken a major step backwards in year two of the Brewster regime. Some of this has to do with the injury absence of starting running back Duane Bennett. His main replacement is DeLeon "Ponce" Eskridge, and he's struggling mightily thus far, averaging just 3.6 YPC. Quarterback Adam Weber will also keep it eight to ten times a game; he's kind of meh on those carries, too.
Michigan, meanwhile, you know the story: pretty good on the defensive line with erratic (read "poor") play from the linebackers and the occasional secondary disaster. This should be advantage Michigan.
Key Matchup: Nose Tackle Whoever versus double teams. If we're in the 3-3-5, and I imagine we will be against an offense much like Purdue's, the NT has to exploit what looks like a shaky offensive line.
The pass offense remains pretty good and pretty efficient, with Minnesota checking in 36th in passer efficiency. A serious sack count (they're 73rd) indicates problems on the OL, especially when coupled with the iffy run numbers. Weber's averaging 7.3 YPA and has 11 touchdowns to just 4 interceptions.
Given the issues we saw in the secondary last week, this has to be considered a significant Minnesota advantage even if their big threat, Eric Decker, sounds like he'll be gimpy with an ankle sprain.
Key Matchup: Safeties versus TACKLING. Obvs.
Things have started to get slightly brighter here: Martavious Odoms returned a punt for a touchdown last week (and, yes, fumbled one); he and Boubacar Cissoko had a series of excellent returns that set up Michigan's offense with good field position. That's two weeks in a row the kick returns have been pretty good. There was one major error last week other than the muff when Odoms failed to field a pooch at around the 13. The ball was eventually downed at the one. Oh, and Purdue had a 60-yard fake punt.
Still, punt and kickoff returns have gone from dire to downright average (58th and 64th) over the last two weeks. (Michigan was #111 in punt returns when the Purdue game kicked off!) Add in Zoltan's usual displays of excellence and the special teams is approaching something… okay. Woo?
Minnesota, meanwhile, is doing all right in the various categories: 44th in net punting, 48th in punt returns, 31st in kick returns. Kicker Joel Monroe is okay, going 9-13 so far this year.
Key Matchup: Michigan keeping up the returns would be good.
Cackle with knowing glee if...
Fear/Paranoia Level: 10 out of 10. (Baseline 5; +1 for DEATH, +1 for DEATH, +1 for DEATH, +1 for DEATH, +1 for DEATH.)
Desperate need to win level: 2 out of 10. (Baseline 5; –1 for I Am Henri, The Otter of Ennui, –1 for There's Not Even The Vague Hope Of A Bowl Game, –1 for DEATH.)
Loss will cause me to... react in no way whatsoever.
Win will cause me to... well, I'll have to re-nickname Sheridan, I guess.
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict:
Finally, opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
i will worry if our QB is shakir edwards or chris berry
Is that guy's nickname really Ponce?
Either way that is awesome
Not to get too superstitious or anything, but the garfield minus garfield thing hasn't worked too well this year. For the love of God, please bring back the NW punching cat next week for some good luck.
All from special teams, I presume.
if threet was somewhat healthy i'd be thinking we win this game even with how he played last week. but alas...
look, i know i'm a pollyanna. fine.
the constant "death death death" stuff is getting a little bit old. yes, sheridan has been brutal the last couple times out, and in those outings we've been markedly worse offensively overall when he's been in. obviously.
but i'll just go on record here - he was okay against both utah and miami. i wouldn't be surprised, not one single bit, if he's serviceable tomorrow. brian chose to punt his pass offense preview, but the minnesota pass defense is much like its run defense - gamblers, prone to flammability and interceptions alike. pump-and-gos will be available, if we let him throw downfield at all (which we haven't, much).
we'll concentrate on the run and be effective, and their safeties will come up and get burned. or they might not.
just wanted to throw out a contrary opinion before we all set ourselves on fire over here.
I agree with Matty. I dig the optimism. A lot of Michigan fans take the approach of "assume we are terrible so that if we're not I'm pleasantly surprised and it we are I'm not crushed." Fuck that. Assume we'll win every game! Assume that Sheridan will come out and play the game of his life, despite any evidence to the contrary.
And so what if you have lofty expectations and it's a big let down? That's why God invented cocaine.
"Assume we'll win every game!... despite any evidence to the contrary."
There's a term for this.
I was thinking 'irrational', but to each their own.
Very little about being a sports fan is rational, Ryan. You sound like you lead a boring life.
Wanting a team to win and expecting a team to win are two entirely different things. I want our boys to win as bad as anyone else does, and I still drag my ass down to the sports bar at nine o'clock in the morning (PST) in hopes that they might win. But to assume that they'll win every game, and ignoring the results of the season to date is just foolish.
Cool that you know the ins and outs of my lifestyle though, props to that.
I'm probably the only sports fan who does something foolish in support of my team. I painted my chest for a game on a cold day. Judge me for that too? How irrational!
I have talked myself into believing we could win every game so far, this is no exception.
"now if we can just do ____, we can avoid being outgained 2 to 1!"
i talked myself into every game before this one. but it's not happening this time.
Is anyone else excited to see Feagin play just for the spectacle of it all? I want to see how well he can run to get a glimpse of what he can do in the slot. And im amazed that he could somehow be worse than Sheridan.
But let's not forget -- threet used to be "worse" than sheridan too, so maybe Feagin might put together a couple throws. And by a couple i really mean two. That would better than the patented Sheridan game of 500 that he plays everytime he drops back to pass.
That would better than the patented Sheridan game of 500 that he plays everytime he drops back to pass.
that's so true I laughed out loud.
So we should worry if Feagin plays, but not if Sheridan does? Are we talking about the same Sheridan who delivers a 3 and out or turnover on 95% of his possessions? It's almost literally impossible for Feagin to be worse. Even if he's a total moron and can't figure out the playbook, if he can run a little, he might make a play or two.
I would have thought the picture of #8 being equated to the picture of the Grim Reaper would make it obvious that yes, you should worry like hell if Sheridan plays.
I want us to win, I cheer and curse as if we will win, I believe we can win. But do I expect it? Not really.
Does that make me a bad fan? Perhaps.
we are allowing an average of 39.8(!) points per game (edit: per big10 game) against minnesota while scoring around 25. the odds that minnesota scores more than 5 TDs is painfully high.
also, having sheridan at the helm all but ensures offensive impotence. the final score will be...17-40
i was so, so wrong
What really gets me about Sheridan are the reports I hear from a regular practice observer that the kid is downright GOOD in practice. He's accurate, consistent, and throws a decent downfield ball (although he clearly lacks typical arm strength). This, I presume, is why RichRod kept trying to get him, to see if he could turn it on in a game. So far, he's been a practice hero but a gameday disaster. But, you'll never know when it clicks, and it could be this weekend.
All I'm saying is that it sounds like the potential for him to come out and play a very solid game is there. Whether it finally clicks for him or not is another story.