My reason why Michigan will win Saturday (and of course some Denard fluff)

Submitted by WichitanWolverine on October 4th, 2010 at 9:40 AM

Everyone knows that young teams struggle on the road; experience is essential for handling tough away games.  To say that Michigan has struggled on the road during Rich Rodriguez's first two seasons would be a huge understatement.  1 of our 3 wins in '08 came on the road (Minnesota) and 0 of our 5 wins in '09 were away from Ann Arbor.  In my opinion, Michigan's inexperience, especially at the quarterback position, plays a huge part in this lack of success on the road.  Sure, the fact that we play our "cupcake" games at home also factors in to it, but I think we can all agree that Michigan has lost some road games recently that maybe would have gone differently had they been played at home.

We all know Michigan is 5-0 this season and Denard is 5-0 in his brief career as a starter.  Michigan has also needed two dramatic come-from-behind victories to keep this perfect record intact (both on the road).  Though Denard Robinson has played unbelievably all season, he has clearly struggled in the passing game on the road, relatively speaking.  Denard's completion percentages this year are as follows:

  • UConn: 86.4
  • Notre Dame: 60.0
  • UMass: 71.4
  • Bowling Green: 100.0
  • Indiana: 62.5

The only games in which Denard's completion percentage has been below 70% have come on the road this year.  Does this mean Indiana and ND have better pass defenses than the rest of our competition to this point?  Most likely.  But watching Denard play in Bloomington and South Bend, it is clear at times that he gets a little shaken up and makes some poor decisions or errant throws.  In contrast, when playing in the Big House, he's looked cooler than the other side of the pillow.  Despite his struggles on the road, Denard has shown the maturity and poise to settle down and lead Michigan to pay dirt when it matters most.

MSU was definitely impressive in their win over Wisconsin last Saturday.  If this weekend's game was in East Lansing, I'd be pretty nervous about it.  But I really think the home field advantage we'll get will play a huge factor, since we have a very young team and a still inexperienced, though phenomenal, quarterback in Denard Robinson.

My prediction: M 49, MSU 38.

Comments

Wolverine0056

October 4th, 2010 at 9:54 AM ^

I agree that we get the win this Saturday against MSU. But I think it will be closer than you predict. 49-45 is more like it IMO. Denard has an even better day passing and rushing is about the same as against Indiana.

Geaux_Blue

October 4th, 2010 at 10:00 AM ^

while UM's D only has room to improve, MSU's defense has been consistent... at allowing a lot of flexibility in the secondary and struggling to contain sprinters. Wisconsin ran over 160 on the defense and really lost that game bc Tolzien couldn't hit a barn. they can drag the game down with runs all they want - UM's D can handle that (IMO). but Cousins had another poor game 20-29, 3 TDs, 2 INT against Wisconsin's defense (which is definitely better) and further proves he's struggling compared to last year. if UM's defense can force Cousins into bad throws while slowing the run, they win in a shootout. if Cousins suddenly becomes 09 Cousins... UM's screwed. I'd actually say that, at this point, Indiana has a better throwing offense than MSU's... if the secondary can learn from the mistakes experienced, it'll be a slugout

 

tl;dr version: if UM's d can "bend don't break" i like our chances

exmtroj

October 4th, 2010 at 10:41 AM ^

Let's not forget, the defense actually got a few key stops against IU, but the offense either sputtered with a 3 and out, or bizarre playcalling burned plays and stopped the clock.  If we can use long drives to win the TOP battle like we did agaist UConn, we can take this one, but I really think controlling the clock is key.

this guy0531

October 4th, 2010 at 9:57 AM ^

With Rivalry games come added blood pumping, i think the Defense for both teams will play with a little more edge, i dont think we score almost 50, i think Blue wins 35-31 only because we cant kick a field goal, all of our numbers have to be in multiples of 7

NateVolk

October 4th, 2010 at 9:58 AM ^

You make some good points.

Ohio State and to a lesser degree Wisconsin and Northwestern showed how tough it is to win on the road in this league. Being at home is a big deal. Maybe because the home team is more energized and comfortable or the road team is less of those things.

It definitely could be a big factor on Saturday.

Onas

October 4th, 2010 at 10:01 AM ^

I've heard this a few times now, but the win against Indiana was not come-from behind (like last year's game was).  It was a tie game.  Denard got the ball and the football gods said "You've got 1:15.  Try to win the game."  To which Denard said, "You mean, like this?" 

Michigan was never behind (though we were probably on the verge of an unworldly epic overtime.)

Firstbase

October 4th, 2010 at 10:16 AM ^

...will be a tall order. I'm hoping, but I'm not dogmatic about victory. 

It's going to be a fascinating battle. As I stated in a previous post (forgive the redundancy):

 

MSU's presumed strategies:

On offense, even though State doesn't have a Ben Chappell at the helm, they'll give added emphasize to the passing game after seeing how much cushion we're giving teams. They know we'll focus on stopping the run, so they'll focus on mid-range throws in an effort to control the clock and pick us apart. Their tight end will slide outside and cause us fits. Because Michigan will continue to play tentatively on defense and, for the most part, only bring 3-man pressure with GERG's "bend but don't break" philosophy, Cousins (like Chappell) will have time to find his targets.

On defense, their plan will be to keep Denard and our RBs corralled by cheating up and possibly shadowing DRob. State will emphasize taking away the run, period. Their plan will be to frustrate Denard and force him to make pressured and possibly errant throws. As such, Denard needs to be ready to scramble and find his open receivers -- and quickly -- because they will swarm to him and bring pressure. Denard will be sore after this one!

diehardalum

October 4th, 2010 at 10:16 AM ^

Michigan's going to come into this game breathing fire after losing the past two seasons to State.  Not to mention the ALREADY present motivation they've shown with having something to prove and becoming bowl eligible.  In result, I think our offense should score with little trouble, and the defense will have the home  crowd to carry them through.  GO BLUE!!

pete-rock

October 4th, 2010 at 10:31 AM ^

because if this game was in East Lansing I see Sparty winning.  However, playing at home will be a big boost.  My prediction is 48-38.

But here's one big caveat -- IU has given the league the template for beating UM, and MSU has the QB who could replicate it.  IU simply kept UM's offense off the field with their passing attack, and I'm afraid MSU and Iowa have talented and experienced QBs who could do what Ben Chappell did.

This is where the O MUST help the D.  UM's quick-strike capability is keeping the D on the field way too long.  RR, Denard & Co. are going to have to practice some ball control strategy to limit MSU's opportunities against our D.  This week I'd rather see 10 play, 80 yard drives than 2 play quick strikes. 

I don't care if some consider TOP an overvalued metric or not, IU had the ball for 42:00 compared to UM's 18:00.  They ran 98 plays to our 45.  If UM holds onto the ball for 2:00 more each quarter, raising TOP to 26:00, that's 8:00 IU DOESN'T have a chance to score against our D.  That alone could've wiped away 2 IU TDs.

blueheron

October 4th, 2010 at 10:46 AM ^

Umm...

* "IU has given the league the template for beating UM."  Sorry -- I think that was established pretty early in the season.

* "IU simply kept UM's offense off the field."  Did you miss those seven touchdowns somehow?  You realize that Michigan will get the ball back if the other team scores, right?  There aren't any special strategies that enable you to keep the ball for the whole game.

* "UM's quick-strike capability is keeping the D on the field way too long."  ???

* "I don't care if some consider TOP an overvalued metric or not."  You might want to reconsider that.

Seriously, what if Michigan has one-play drives where they score _every_ time they touch the ball?  What's the worst thing that could happen?  The other team would score and ... the game would be tied!  MSU will not get extra points for playing SMASHMOUTH football, even if it gives their fan base (and some of ours, probably) an everlasting chubby.

JD_UofM_90

October 4th, 2010 at 12:34 PM ^

I think there are some big advantages to the quick strike vs. the smash mouth offensive method: 

  • If you have the ball with a minute or two left, chances of us scoring are higher (see ND / IU) then a smash mouth based offense. 
  • If you get behind early, you are never out of the game or forced to change your plan / scheme to "catch up."   You will just be doing what you always do and are not forced out of you game plan and become one dimensional (passing - which is not a smash mouth teams strong point anyway), when you are behind. 

jam706

October 4th, 2010 at 11:03 AM ^

Assuming we have the ball 8 minutes more thanks to our offense's drives taking more time means the end of the game is moved up 8 minutes, that time isn't just taken away from Indiana. Indiana had the ball with 10:33 left in the game down 7, and punted with under 9 minutes left. Instead, if there was under 1 minute remaining, they would have attempted the 4th down conversion and possibly scored to tie the game.

While I agree with you, TOP still matters, and 98 plays to 45 is not good for our team, changing this is the defense's job. This offense is built to score as many points as possible, and they absolutely should not change anything. If the opportunity for a TD materializes, you take it immediately, you never count on being able to do it in a couple minutes anyway. Indiana had 4 TD drives over 5 minutes, meaning those 4 drives total more time than we had the ball all game. Our defense needs to force more 3 and outs (only one against IU), and become capable of interrupting an offense in rhythm. Mike Martin's sack early in the 4th quarter prevented IU from moving forward on that drive, which ended up at 12 plays for 50 yards. I'd like to see more of that going forward

Noah

October 4th, 2010 at 11:58 AM ^

Time of possession doesn't work like that.  If we'd had the ball for 26:00 instead of ~18:00, there simply would have been fewer points on each side - the margin of victory would not have changed unless we could have come up with extra stops.  The best outcome that can happen on offense is to score every time you touch the ball, regardless of how many or few plays it takes.

DenverRob

October 4th, 2010 at 11:24 AM ^

DROBs percentage maybe lower on the road, but he has come up with spectacular drives on the road to win games. They have been performances that we will talk about for years and years.

He did miss some deep balls on saturday that were sure TDs but a win on the road is a win.

I have complete confidence in DROB. I heard a quote from him after the Iowa game last year that makes me believe he will never let his team down. I can't find it so no post, but If you just look at him after that game, it seemed he was disgusted with that INT. The type of look that said "this will never happen again."

maizenbluenc

October 4th, 2010 at 11:36 AM ^

I think this is the game where two headed QB monster may show up on the field. If MSU effectively contains the run (say we don't get Shaw or Fitz back), and we suffer a lot of third and longs, mr scramble-pass-Forcier may see more time on the field.

wolverinenyc

October 4th, 2010 at 12:11 PM ^

Why do think that the 2 headed QB monster show up? Denard has shown no reason to put Forcier or even Gardner in except when we have been up big or when he has been injured. Even if MSU is doing a relatively good job containing the run, Denard still gives us the best chance to win this year by run or pass. Just the threat that he could take off and go the distance on any play puts a lot of pressure on the D because they have to account for him at all times. He doesn't really HAVE to have much success running the ball (course i see no reason he wont) because his track record on the season is enough that when he motions towards the line like its gonna be a designed QB run, that will open up space for the receivers to make plays when the LBs and Ss try to corral him. we've seen that sort of play plenty this year already. Its pretty much pick your poison with him. Unless he begins to play very poorly and makes bad decisions or turns the ball over, you let him play IMO.

 

"Forget about the curveball Ricky. Give him the heater!"

Desmond's loos…

October 4th, 2010 at 12:06 PM ^

Michigan will make a comeback, but go for two in fear that they will lose in overtime again. Denard will run to the outside, clear of the defense and...

 

 

...trip on his shoelace before making it into the endzone. Poor kid should have learned from Howard's mistake.

AMazinBlue

October 4th, 2010 at 1:22 PM ^

I disagree with the notion that IU's plan is the way to beat us.  Their plan failed in that a short passing game slows down the gam and leaves too much time on the clock.A strong methodical running game would bleed more clock and keep our offense off the field.  Limiting the number of our drives our offense has while capitalizing on 80% of theirs is the best chance.

I think the recipe for our success  no turnovers and limiting MSU's running game to less than 165 yards rushing and 240 passing.

Denard will get his yards and we willcomplete some passes.  If our defense can get them to punt at least four times and give up no big plays, we should get the win.  If it comes down to a late field goal, I will be sweating bullets.