If our D can hold Wisky to only 21 points, I think that will give us a good chance to win the game.
Our defense, against Wisconsin. The way I see it.
Likely the absolute key to this game, will be our defensive performance on Saturday. I think many have noticed that our defensive performances against power run squads has diminished over the last several years. While I'm not advocating a return of Jim Herrmann as our DC, we must all agree, that against these kinds of teams, Herrmann was very good.
Wisconsin happens to be one of the better power run offenses in the nation these days. Huge OLs, tiny Oline splits and 220-250 backs. They will line up and attempt to smash us in the face on Saturday...no mystery here. As GSimmons and others have documented, Michigan's performance in the ND game against similar schemes left alot to be desired. LBs were slow to fill, or adequately take on lead blocks..often giving up the wrong gap and failing to funnell ball carriers into help. Fundamental stuff against ISO and the power run game. In addition, our DLine doesn't always hold up well against the doulbe teams that often occur with these schemes, allowing OLs to push the LOS and effectively "seal off" LBs from flowing to the ball.
It's essential that WHOMEVER plays at LB this week get the fundamental stuff right. Personally, I'm hoping the staff starts the three best LBs against the run this week, and think it's possible we see Panter more and Mouton less. Mouton will be effective in passing downs against Beckum, but he's not the run supporter that Panter is IMHO. I noticed Johnny Thompson tends to "run around" the ISO lead block in lieu of taking it on and stuffing the lead blocker. All well and good if you can make the play, but Thompson gave up several runs against the Domers this way. Against an offense like this, your LBs have to play unselfishly(unless they are able to take on the block AND make the tackle) and funnell the ball carrier into help.
The make up of the defensive line will be just as interesting. I expect to see more Renaldo Sagesse and less of Will Johnson. Sagesse has the size to hold up to double teams and not be moved off the LOS. Johnson, while very strong, is a good bit lighter and has trouble here, especially when he's tired. Will there be a Jason Kates sighting this week? If we don't see him now, we're likely to never see him. He has the perfect build to hold up inside....6'3" and 320 pounds. He'll be needed, but will he play.
All things considered, it's the front seven that will decide this game. If they can stop the running attack and allow the safeties to play a more passive role, we'll likely keep Wisconsin bottled up fairly well. If the safeties have to get involved, then Beckum becomes more and more dangerous and big plays more likely. Wisconsin's passing game looks average to slightly below average. Evridge isn't particularly accurate. The wideouts look meh to me.
My prediction...we don't get it altogether against Wisky and they have some fun. Hill runs for 95 and the Badgers score around 21 points.
They way I see it
Holding them to three td's or less will definitely help but remember that they play good ball control and right now if our offense is to have a good game, they must be the ncaa fb version of an nba volume scorer. We can probably put up enough points given enough shots. We are a lot of things on offense right now but efficient and methodical are not two of them. Thus, we'll probably need a good number of chances to score. I'm hoping everything finally comes together on that front but if Wisconsin can hold the ball it will definitely affect our offensive rhythm and they'll most likely (but not definitely) win even if they score only 14.
I agree that this is a rather worrisome game for our defense. Taylor should be good to go and Jamison has improved in this department. The other DT spot and Brandon Graham should be the questions. As good as B-Graham is, I distinctly remember him being put off his game last year when power teams ran straight at him. This slowed down his pass rush and he wasn't a good run stopper (remember the discrepancy between his number of sack with his very low number of tackles last year?), Has he progresses physically and mentally enough to become a Woodley type of beast against the run? We'll see I guess.
Also, Jamar Adams is missed more than people give him credit for, especially in run support (at which he was above average). Stevie and company better not miss any tackles.
Oh yeah. Travis Beckum = Oh my god, we're all gonna die!!!
Keep Hill's ypc low, give them 3rd and longs, and stop Beckum on third down and we'll have a chance.
Honestly, we need to do anything that keeps us from last year's defensive game plan of "cover Travis Beckum with Chris Graham". That was a bad, bad, bad, confluence of events.
Also, IIRC, Donovan screwed us up pretty badly by evading the pass rush and scrambling for first downs. I haven't seen Everidge - is he capable of this?
Dude, if you think that was a bad Chris Graham moment... I still have nightmares about being in Columbus for the 2006 game and standing next to Morgan Trent's family. His dad and brother were great neighbors. They both knew football and gave great insight into schemes and such. I still remember them screaming NOOO!!!! before a snap. I quickly asked them what was it. They pointed. OH GOD NO! Ted Ginn in the slot covered by Graham. Touchdown OSU. As if that wasn't enough that match up kept resurfacing.
Supposedly Evridge is a good scrambler, with a lot of mobility. He hasn't shown it yet because he hasn't even tried to run the ball even when flushed on a pass play.
To be honest, Chris Graham bashing aside, it's not his fault that we employed defensive schemes that had him covering Beckum or Tedd Ginn Jr. I would put that on English.
Beckum is like one of those nfl nightmare hybrid match ups. We need to scheme around him, especially on third downs. He is not, however, IMHO the monster blocker Spaeth at Minmy was. Trying to beat him up when they do run might be recommended. Hopefully Mouton (probably our most athletic LB at this point) or whoever has to take him will fair better and get plenty of help this time around.
me is the LB's having to cover the 2 very good TE's(Beckum and I can't remember) that Wisco has.
So far this year, that has been an issue.
Third and long ...
Blitz Mouton ... drop Brown into deep cover and man up across the field with Harrison on Beckum.
The only problem is 5'8 vs 6'3-'6'4. That still qualifies as a mismatch. He wont outrun Harrison but he can simply out muscle or out jump him. That's the power of the hybrid living breathing mismatch. Too fast for a typical Lb, too big for a safety (let alone a small safety). Granted, it'll probably be a team effort and the best remedy is probably to pressure the qb.
You say that our defense against power running teams in recent years has diminished. And yet we've all been disappointed in how Michigan has handled the spread.
So...if we suck against power running teams AND spread offenses, what are we good at defending? Something has to give, because Michigan's 2006 defense was very good statistically. And other than the opening two games of 2007, our defense was pretty good as well.
I'm not saying you're wrong. I'm just saying it can't be both...so which is it?
2006 defense was an awesome collection of talent. We rode that talent to a nearly undefeated season. It featured some of the best LB plays we've seen in a long, long time from David Harris.
Our defensive performance against Utah didn't suck. It wasn't stellar, but was a long way from sucking as it had in the past. Nice performance against a spread team.
Look at the results of last years Wisconsin, Michigan State and Ohio State games....not just in the score, but the yards given up in the running game. All three of these teams gashed us up front with double teams and ISO action.
I think we've improved against spread teams, aside from the Oregon and Appie State debacles. We played solidly against Illinois.
What I think we're seeing is a bit of a paradigm shift..getting better against running QBs in the spread..but not quite as good against the Wisconsin's of the world. There isn't any reason we can't be good against both...