Mike Lantry, 1972
So last night I was watching the evening news here in Utah when sports came on. Of coarse the first thing they talked about was the Michigan-Utah game. The sportscaster made the comment that Michigan hasn't said anything bad about Utah and that Utah doesn't have any bulletin board material to get them pumped up. This got me thinking about how RR is preparing this team for Saturday. Just a couple of thoughts...
I think that RR has convinced the team that if they don't respect Utah, they will lose. When Utah is "on" they are a very good team and can play at a very high level. RR is mentally preparing Michigan for a tough game. I feel as if RR is trying to get them to believe in the "underdog" "us against the world" mentality that the Pistons usually have. I think this is a positive thing. How often has Michigan played with a chip on their shoulders, trying to prove to the world that they are good? Whether they are a good team or not is yet to be seen, but they are playing with a little extra motivation.
Secondly...how is Utah going to prepare for Michigan??? Listening to the Utah coach, he said they were watching WV film for offense and Stanford film for the D. Do they really know what Michigan is going to bring to the table? Yes and No. We all know that we will not be running the WV offense because we don't have a running QB. I predict our offense will only slightly resemble what WV could do with Pat White at QB. However Utah prepares for Michigan, Michigan has an advantage. Just like RR said in one of his press conferences there is no film out there of the QBs. There are no tendencies that they can pick up. How do they prepare for Michigan's passing attack??...Michigan has better WRs and passing QBs that WV has/had. All of this is an advantage for Michigan. We know exactly what Utah runs, they know very little about us. I'm not sure if this is a HUGE advantage, but any advantage right now makes a difference.
The last thing is that this team knows what it COULD accomplish. The believe in themselves. Once again it goes back to the "us against the world" mentality. The players know that they are young and inexperienced, but they also recognize that they can compensate for their lack of inexperience with their work ethic and talent. Now I know that only takes you so far and the bottom line comes down to executing, but they are going to be prepared for Saturday.
I can't wait to see how they perform on the field.
So here we are 12 days before we kickoff against Utah. I just had some thought about the game. First off, I am from Michigan but live in Utah right now. I follow Utah football only because they are a rival of the university I graduated from (BYU). Because of my ties to BYU, Utah is right up there next to tOSU and ND for the teams I hate most.
Having watched Utah over the past few years the one thing that concerns me about the upcoming game is that Utah seems to play its best against the toughest competition. As much as I hate to say it, I believe that Utah could give us problems, although I don't believe that we will lose. We just can't overlook them. With that said, Utah is the most inconsistent team I have ever seen, with State being a close second. Last year they beat the 11th ranked UCLA team 44-6 at home and then the very next week they lost to a terrible 2-10 UNLV team 27-0!!! Here is a little preview of what to expect...I expect Brian to post something along these lines, but I just wanted to put in my two cents.
QB- Brian Johnson-5th year senior...Johnson when healthy is a very good quarterback. He is mobile, accurate and very poised. The problem with Johnson is that he hasn't been healthy. In their opening game last year he went down with a separated shoulder. His arm strength was never the same. If we can pressure him and hit him he gets rattled.
RB- Darrell Mack (Sr.) and Matt Asiata (Jr.) Mack is a very solid back. He has a pretty good combination of speed and power (more speed, less power). Most of his yards come on the outside. Asiata broke his leg in the first game last year and missed the rest of the year. When healthy he is a power back. Hard to say because I haven't seen him play, but for what it is worth (not much I know) he was a JUCO all-american.
WR/TE- They have to replace 2 of their top three receivers from last year and their top returning receiver is TE. Although arguably their best receiver on the team (Brent Casteel) tore his knee up last year and only played in their first game. As a group they are solid. No one is spectacular, but they catch the ball. They find open space. They don't have a ton of experience but they are solid.
OL-They return 2 starters from their OL. As we all know, experience is the key. They might have more depth than we do here, but once again, they are young and inexperienced as a whole.
P/K-Louis Sekoda- This guy is money and one of the best in college football in both place kicking and punting.
Offense as a whole--They run a passing spread offense. Occasionally they will run the option. Their offense is based on short quick passes. There aren't a lot of deep patterns or yards after the catch. Johnson is mobile and has enough speed to run and get some good yardage. He is accurate as well, so their offense has the potential to methodically move the ball down the field eating up a lot of clock. The one thing that their offense is based off of is the gimmick play. They run 3-4 gimmicky plays every game (fake punt, reverse passes, etc.) and are normally very successful when they do run these. So we can expect them to throw a ton of these at us during the game.
DL- This has traditionally been their strongest unit. They return 2 of last year's starters. They normally line up in a 4-3. They lost their best Dlinemen last year so they are hoping some young guys step it up.
LBs- They lost almost all of their LBs last year due to graduation. They don't have a leader of their defense and once again are hoping their young unproven players can pick it up.
DBs- They lost their best DB last year, but they return 3 starters. This is their strength this year. McCain is their best corner and he is solid. They have pretty good speed and big play potential.
Defense Overall--They are young and inexperience up front. This is a big plus for us. But they always have a solid defense. Not sure how much we want to pass on them, but we should be able to get a bunch on the ground. Hopefully our speed gives us that extra advantage.
Everyone here in Utah is giving Michigan no chance. Brian has already addressed this a little bit, but Michigan is not getting any respect. GO BLUE!!!!