Run Offense vs. Toledo
Well, it doesn't look like the Rocket defense is much good:
(EMU had three "team" rushes for –38 yards that I didn't include, FWIW. Those are usually fumbled snaps or something. I assume a ball flew over the QBs head at least once.)
(Also, this from the FIU box:
However, Michigan's problems on the offensive line are well documented, and running backs not named McGuffie roll themselves in industrial lubricant before each game. Even if you give Michigan the 33 yards they lost on sacks, against Illinois they put up 102 yards on 31 carries, 3.3 YPC. Coming into the game the Illini had been mauled on the ground.
Against Notre Dame and Wisconsin things were better, but the Wisconsin game's final numbers were greatly aided by two late rushes totaling 93 yards. The down-to-down stuff was often caught in the backfield, and you can't rely on 60-yard runs from Steven Threet on a weekly basis.
So… I don't know. I thought this would be a ton better than it was last week because the evidence suggested it, then the Zooker pulls out all this zone read scheming that basically crushes the Michigan run game. Coach Redacted did something right; I have no idea what to think anymore.
I do suggest—again—that this team has nowhere near the athletic ability of a Wisconsin or and Illinois and Michigan should find greater success on the ground than they have recently.
Key Matchup: Rodriguez versus coaching hijinks. I wonder if Toledo will attempt something similar to what Illinois did, and I wonder if Rodriguez will have a response this week.
Pass Offense vs. Toledo
This has been Toledo's greatest statistical weakness. The Rockets check in 109th in pass efficiency D. They're much better—55th—in raw yardage, but getting blown out in three games will do that to you. They appear to have faced two wretched quarterbacks (a rotating duo for Eastern Michigan and Paul McCall for FIU), who they did all right against when their teams let them throw. This was "rarely." Against Arizona, Fresno State, and Ball State, however:
That is ugly, ugly, ugly. Compounding matters: Toledo is 93rd in sacks.
This is again where we point out that Steven Threet is erratic and a freshman and sometimes sinks the Michigan passing game by himself; also sometimes Michigan receivers conspire.
Darryl Stonum returns from suspension for Michigan, but Martavious Odoms sustained a shoulder injury in his breakout game against Illinois and will be limited. Michigan will probably try to sit him out. Expect more of Toney Clemons, the only backup in the slot with Terrance Robinson injured, and possibly more sets with Kevin Koger and Mark Moundros on the field.
This looks like a situation in which Michigan will have to stop itself. There will be many people open and plenty of time for Threet; it'll be a matter of executing.
Key Matchup: Threet versus Tacopants. The main thing I want to see over the remainder of the season is an improvement in Threet's accuracy.
Run Defense vs. Toledo
After a tough game against a BCS foe in Arizona, the Toledo offense blew up for 54 points (41 in regulation) against Fresno State and scored on their first three drives against Florida International. Then the bottom dropped out: Toledo turned the ball over four times and scored three points in the final three quarters against the Neds, then followed that up by getting shut out against Ball State.
Total yards against Letterman U: 157, including a rushing statline that looks like it could be Michigan's:
Things were slightly better against Fresno State:
I dunno, you tell me. The rest of the evidence suggests that Toledo should be easily handled by the Michigan front seven: they were totally mediocre against FIU and got squashed by Arizona. There is no Juice Williams on Toledo's team, there's no Daniel Dufrene, and there aren't any beefy Samoans. I expect something like 3 YPC, not including sacks, with one or two instances where shoddy linebacker play gashes Michigan for 20 or so.
Key Matchup: Obi Ezeh versus fullbacks and pulling guys and reads and the like.
Pass Defense vs. Toledo
Okay, so we give up on the safeties. They're a liability. But where is Boubacar Cissoko? Where is Troy Woolfolk? Why does Michigan bring in two extra safeties in their dime package? I'm extremely concerned for their futures if they can't see the field over Charles Stewart.
In any case: Toledo runs a quick-strike passing game reminiscent of Purdue's. Historically this has not been an offense that finds much success against Michigan, and this year it's been super-dinky. Quarterback Aaron Opelt is completing nearly 60% of his passes and has a nice 7-3 TD-INT ratio but is 86th in passer efficiency because he's averaging just 5.2 YPA. Toledo averages just 8.9 yards per completion, too, and a YPC under ten is a sign of a heavily dink-and-dunk sort of attack. Toledo's also 12th in sacks allowed despite passing more than half the time.
I guess this is good, as it indicates a team not particularly inclined to launch bombs to wide open receivers. Perhaps they're just incapable of getting someone open deep or holding their blocks long enough to do so; I'd be surprised if they didn't at least try it.
Key Matchup: Michigan DBs tackling the Toledo WRs. In an offense like this if you just tackle the bastards as soon as they get the ball the other team eventually turfs one or throws one short of the sticks on third down.
Zoltan now has Michigan #1 in net punting. All hail Zoltan.
Key Matchup: I SWEAR TO GOD JUST KNEEL IT IN THE ENDZONE *#$&#$#$#.
- Threet's accuracy doesn't improve.
- We're not blocking Toledo like we did Notre Dame. There has to be some bottom to the inability of the line.
- They get protection to go deep.
Cackle with knowing glee if...
- They can't tackle, which they probably can't.
- There's some semblance of coherency on the OL.
- The DL spends the day in the backfield.
Fear/Paranoia Level: 3 out of 10. (Baseline 5; –1 for You're A 1-4 Team That's Played EMU and FIU, –1 for And Got Shut Out By Ball State, +1 for Could We Get Shut Out By Ball State?, –1 for Probably Not, +1 for But Maybe, –1 for No, Seriously, I Doubt It).
Desperate need to win level: 10 out of 10. (Baseline 5; +1 for This Is A MAC Team, +1 for And Maybe 6-6 Will Get Us To "The Promised Land", –1 for "Promised Land" = Detroit, +1 for Losing This Would Mean Bad Things For Next Year, +1 for and Probably The Year After, +1 for We Must Defeat This State, +1 for This Is A 1-4 Team That's Played EMU and FIU)
Loss will cause me to... zombie apocalypse.
Win will cause me to... sigh with relief.
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict:
I'm not going to go so far in the tank as to say Michigan loses to what appears to be a truly horrible team, but I don't expect this one to be over in the first half, either. It'll be the usual grinding struggle with one good play followed by one bad play; Michigan should win comfortably but will be frustrating at times.
Finally, three opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
- Non-McGuffie carries = 8, one of which is fumbled.
- We finally start seeing Woolfolk and Cissoko.
- Michigan, 27-10.