Friday, September 30, 2011

Minnesota Game Preview

Time: 12:00
Location: Big House
Weather:  Partly Sunny, Cool with a High of 51 
Line: Michigan -20.5

As a Michigan fan this is one of the games we look forward to, it has the tradition that goes with being a Michigan Wolverine.  We all know the story of the Little Brown Jug which is the oldest trophy in football and one of the oldest trophies in American sports.  

With that said, this match up looks like a miss-match.  Michigan is ranked #19 in the country and 4-0.  Minnesota is 1-3 with a loss last week to North Dakota State.  Minnesota has MarQueis Gray who is a dual threat QB who Rich Rod and staff were recruiting at one point.  Gray has struggled this year and went 5-13 passing last week and only ran for 23 yards.  His best asset is his feet and has had a couple 100 yard rushing games this year. 

Gray is a little banged up and there are some questions whether he will play on Saturday.   I believe Gray is the X factor for Minnesota and their best chance to leave Ann Arbor with a win.  Michigan in the past has had trouble with mobile QB's.  I know most of us has tried to forget the Illinois win and the Miss. State loss last year but those are good examples.   If Gray can't go the Golden Gophers will turn to Max Shortell who is more a drop back passer. 

There is also concern over Minnesota's head coach Jerry Kill's health who continues to have seizures due to his cancer treatment.  Jerry re-checked himself into the Mayo Clinic again this week.  It's not clear if Jerry will be with his team this weekend or not. 

Michigan is also looking for improvement in a couple of areas.  I believe they would love to find a #1 tailback and show some improvement in the passing game.  In one word, Michigan needs Balance on offense and a healthy Denard Robinson.

The Wolverines defense wants to continue to improve and having to face a mobile QB will be a good test for the linebackers.  Cam Gordon and Brandon Herron are still questionable, so I expect to see Hawthorne, Demens and Ryan as the starting LB's.    Ricky Barnum is banged up on Michigan's OL and might miss this game as well.   If I have any vote at all (which I don't).  I would sit Troy Woolfolk this week and get him healthy.  JT Floyd has been playing well and we would like to see more of Blake Countess.

Tale of the Tape:

QB vs QB = Denard Robinson
Michigan O vs Minn D = Michigan O
Minn O vs Mich D = Push if Gray plays
Intangibles = Big House
Better M logo: 

For some reason this makes me hungry for candy:

I'm going to give the edge to the Maize M which seems to have some size on the Red M.

I'm not sure what to expect in this game.  Minnesota is struggling right now on and off the field.   Michigan has been playing well but has to improve.  It would be nice if Devin Gardner got some snaps because we will need him at some point this season it would also be nice to see Michigan's WR's get some touches.   I have heard a few rumblings that Michigan's passing game looks good in practice but it's not showing up on Saturday.   I imagine the Roundtree's and Hemingway's of the world are getting a little frustrated.

Michigan will need a passing game and a healthy Denard to beat the better teams in the Big Ten.  I hope we see some progress this week.  I would also like to see more depth on the offensive line like maybe some time for Elliott Mealer and Rocky Khoury.  Mike Schofield has seen time already and I expect he will back fill Barnum if he can't go. 

Take a drink from the Little Brown Jug if.................................
  • A Michigan TB has 100 yards on the ground (Paging Mike Shaw)
  • Denard has 200 yards through the Air
  • Denard is healthy after the game
  • Devin gets some time under center
  • Golden Gophers score under 10 points
  • Blake Countess gets a pick
  • Cam Gordon gets on the field
Say, "I Hate Ricky Foggy!" if....................................
  • This game turns into Illinois 2010 or Indiana 2010, 2009.....
  • Michigan has struggles with a mobile QB
  • The Wolverines look past this game   
  • There are major injuries to key players

Let's be honest this should not be a big test for the Wolverines.   I expect a MAC type of game. We want to see Michigan get off quick and score a lot of points, so we can see some back ups play.   I'm also not sure if this is the game we start showing more of the offense or not, but Michigan needs some confidence when they hit the road next week to Northwestern.   It's a great day for Big Ten football so let's celebrate a convincing win by the Wolverines and then watch MSU battle OSU at 3:30 and Nebraska and Wisconsin at 8:00. 

Michigan 42 Minnesota 10 



uncle ron said...

I think you will see a little more O this week, and a bunch of short passes and rely on YAC. I don't think Fitz's confidence is there yet but I think he will turn the corner soon. If Gray plays and we stay in our lanes I think we can keep him bottled up, if the other QB plays I think it will be another QB dismantling...just saying

Bob said...

I agree UR, we better see some short passes to get Denard comfortable. I also would like to see a few more running plays that gets the backs involved. I think Fitz and Vincent could have big days.

I hope we have a WR with over 100 yards as well.

Voice of Reason said...

Good point guys. Michigan should win this game comfortably especially if we're coming into form like the Michigan of old, but we have struggled under Rich Rod when entering into the Big Ten season, even against those weak Indiana teams. So we will see how much of a difference this team has matured by the way they handle a Big Ten opponent in Minnesota.

Minnesota is most likely the weakest team in the Big Ten this year and they're going through some emotional turmoil with their coaching situation. Losing to North Dakota SU should never have happened but NDSU is cut from the same clothe as San Diego SU and would have given the average D-1 team fits. However, they will likely try to rally together emotionally for this game and will try to play above their heads. Nevertheless, if Michigan struggles in this game, then it will likely be a long RR type of season.

If Michigan plays according to their promise [as we expect] then the next big text will be Northwestern because they are a step up in class while being on the road for the first time. Northwestern has good players and they are well coached. They aren't a ND, but they are a very dangerous team that no one is looking at right now. If Michigan passes that test, then I am not too concerned about Purdue and Illinois per se, because I am not impressed by either team thus far.

Final thought, have you noticed that virtually all of the starters for Michigan are Rich Rod players? What that tells me is that in addition to the players maturing [which wasn’t a given under RR], this team is playing much better because they are receiving better coaching. Coaching therefore makes the difference.