Some quick thoughts on future opponents after getting some glimpses in week 1. Normal caveats apply i.e. level of opponents, reading too much in 1 week, improvement from week 1 to 2. I didn't watch every game but the ones I didn't a quick scan through the box score leads to some comments.
- Notre Dame - Golson looks much improved as it would be expected. Didn't watch the whole game but ND's offense today reminds me of a 2010/2011 type UM offense. High risk/high reward plays - which often work against overmatched opponents but lead to less success against better teams. Golson is not the runner Denard was but you just need to have escapability to be a thorn in the side. ND had a lot of explosive plays in between some slogging. Rice is not a garbage team but not a great team - impossible to determine ND's defense but for a program under spotlight and turmoil it was a good performance. Expecting a great matchup next week.
- Miami (OH) - it doesnt matter. Was one of the bottom 5 teams in the nation last year.
- Utah - The Utes destroyed the mighty Idaho State Bengals. Who last year lost 56-0 to Washington. With a game against Fresno St next week (who were destroyed by USC) and then a bye week Utah is going to roll in to Michigan Stadium as a big mystery. We won't learn anything from their first 2 games.
- Minnesota - EIU self detonated with lots of turnovers despite moving the ball decently. EIU scored all their points in the 4th against what I presume to be Minnesota scrubs. Berkley Edwards had some nice runs, as did David Cobb. Mitch Leidner was Mitch Leidner... a mid level MAC QB with his arm. Defense created turnovers but gave up some yards in the air; run defense seemed stout - again adjust for opponent.
- Rutgers - go Big 10! A bit of a surprise going out West and beating a mediocre WSU...as Rutgers is likewise mediocre. But with the Big 10's lack of success on the OOC trips to the Pac 12 over the decades I won't devalue any win out there. Offense is as expected, a very nice RB and a QB who... well... he is a senior. WSU was a .500 team last year but was destroyed by top end competition while beating the Rich Rods, and USC and then a lot of bad teams. So congrats to Rutgers - UM's talent should overwhelm if we have our heads on straight. Expect our defense to focus on taking away their run and let our corners have fun with their QB.
- PSU - Hackenberg. Damn. Beast mode. Allen Robinson? Who cares. May I introduce you to Geno Lewis and DaeSean Hamilton - both over 160 yards receiving. Oh and the 3rd WR had 7 catches as well. PSU OL was positively "2012 Michigan-ish" and despite some quality backs very little was created on the ground. UCF was incredibly challenged on offense through a half before settling on a QB in the 2nd and challenging PSU's defense. This game is going to be all about our air defense. With Hackenberg until the clock is 0:00 you will feel like they can score points. If their OL develops in 2015 they could be a scary offense but for this year - hopefully they remain 1 dimensional.
- MSU - impressive open versus a bad opponent. Cook was on fire - amazing transformation in 12 months, they have a bevy of big bodies WRs to throw to. Going to be a big challenge for our secondary. The running game on the other hand was not super cool. They got yards but not that push like last year and suffered an OL injury which may carry over - Dantonio won't divulge obviously. Defense was interesting - one continues to marvel at their run defense, it was amazing even accounting for opponent. The 1st team defense simply does not allow you to run on them as they stuff the box. There WERE opportunities through the air and over the top of the safeties but it requires a competent QB, something JSU lacked. Second half was completely useless info as a bunch of backups played. I expect them to slash Oregon in the air - but will their run game work. And will their secondary clean up their issues versus a very good QB. Will be interesting to see if Oregon can run on MSU as well. Should be a very interesting game.
- Indiana - funny box score actually. Indiana beat a light weight but not by that much. And instead of an air raid they went run crazy. Sudfeld threw 18 passes. No not in the first quarter...the entire game. Tevin Coleman went off for 247 on the ground and another dude named Roberts for 129. We'll get a better read on Indiana when they face Missouri in a few weeks.
- Northwestern - disappointing. Unless Cal is much improved from last year when OSU went in there and made them look like a HS team...that was a bad game for NW. Even with the recent losses of personnel. Northwestern brings in a very solid Northern Illinois program (no home field advanage eh?) next week and that could be a significant loss if things dont change quickly. NW has a BRUTAL schedule early (@ PSU, Wisc, @Minn, Nebraska, @Iowa) - on paper they could lose all 5 of those or even if its 2-3 they could be demoralized by the time UM shows up.
- Maryland - also not as expected. See Indiana. Tons of production on the ground, not much in the air. CJ Brown - their starting QB - was not that great. Backup Caleb Rowe looked a lot better at least via the box score. Maryland plays a spirited West Virginia in 2 weeks who gave Alabama a very good game; should tell us more.
- OSU - not going to knock them for going into a solid Navy team and winning late. They suffered a key QB loss and 1st time starter is going to struggle - and these armed forces teams have wacky offenses difficult to prepare for. Going to be a few weeks to get a good read on them.
Overall - on paper UM should have clear talent advantage on all but 3 of these opponents. OSU can't really evaluate at this time what their offense will be, check back in 4 games. MSU looks the part (athletic, fast) and has a big test out in Oregon next week - after that won't be tested until Nebraska. Indiana and Maryland were confusing on how they won - both featured healthy ground games rather than passing attacks we all expect. Northwestern game seems a lot easier today than it did Friday - if they lose to NIU the season could spin out of control fast. Rutgers is basically a poor man's Minnesota. Minnesota is a team UM should handle as it is 1 dimensional. Utah who knows. Our DL and secondary need to step up big vs PSU. Give Hackenberg time and he will demoralize.