Friday, August 31, 2012

Michigan Preview: Alabama

Time: 8:00 EST
Location: Cowboys Stadium, Dallas TX
Weather: Dome
Line: Michigan +14

I hate this game.  

I don't like that David Brandon scheduled it.

I would be much happier playing a MAC school at the Big House.  Won the game 28-12, looked a little shaky but was the much better team.  David Brandon really doesn't care about my happiness (if he did, App. State wouldn't be on the schedule either!).   He is more about the "brand" and making sure that Michigan is in the Biggest Game of  Opening Weekend.   I'm more interested in being in the biggest game in January.   Difference of Opinion. 

I wish college football was more like college basketball.  Izzo schedules a difficult schedule every year and it pays off for him in March.   That is the idea with scheduling this game.  If Michigan plays well they can use that momentum in the Big 10.  If they don't play well the brand will take a hit and so will the Wolverines confidence.  I'm not sure the risk is worth the reward when you are talking about the first game of the year and the defending national champion. 

I hope I'm wrong.

On to the Preview:

Both teams won their last game in BCS Bowls and both teams are very different from the ones that competed in January.    Alabama returns a dominating offense line and will replace many starters on defense.  Michigan returns Denard Robinson and defense that really improved last year.  

I think we know what we are going to get from Alabama.  They are going to pound the ball with their talented running backs and offensive line.   They will mix in the pass to keep the defense from keying on the run.   Betting on Sabin being conservative with a new team on September 1st is a good bet.  Michigan is the same way, they will run Denard and Fitz (if he plays) behind Michigan's talented Oline as well.    They say Bama doesn't rebuilt they reload and that young defense will be tested, by one of the most dynamic players in the country, Denard Robinson.  Can Denard mix in some big plays with his arm and stay healthy as he runs?  Those are big keys for the Wolverines success.

Worrisome Wolverine
Worrisome Wolverine: In the last four years, Michigan has done very well against average to poor defenses.  Can you remember them playing well and beating a team with a good defense?   

I'm concerned with two areas for the Wolverines: Wide Receiver and Defensive Line. Braylon Edwards and Mike Martin are not walking through that door.  Michigan is using their talented #2 QB at WR, which tells you he is a great athlete and Michigan is in trouble at WR.  Roy Roundtree has struggled in Big Al's offense and the only other guys around are small slot guys (Gallon and Dileo), freshman (Darboh and Chesson) and un-proven guys (Robinson and Miller).   Michigan needs to find one of those guys to change a few games like Hemingway did a year ago.  Would Michigan have won the Sugar Bowl without Junior?  The answer is no.    TE is even scarier with Brandon Moore and two true freshman (Funchees and Williams).    I think Funchess has a huge upside and could be a factor later this year.  Michigan WR's had issues separating from VT's DB's in the Sugar Bowl, this will continue to be a problem against Alabama's DB's.  

Memo to all Michigan WR's:  Hang on to the ball.  We can't afford drops in this game.

Michigan's un-proven new D-line vs. Alabama's "first round" offensive line is a miss-match on paper.  Hopefully Greg Mattison has some special sauce mixed up for Saturday night. 

Tale of The Tape:

Running Denard vs Bama D = Denard
Bama O line vs Michigan D line = Bama
Passing Denard vs Bama's DB's = Push
Big Game Jitters vs Big Game Experience = Bama
Shoot out vs low scoring = Low Scoring helps Michigan as a 14 pt dog

Michigan has struggled against good teams.  They beat Virgina Tech but the Hokies pretty much dominated the game.  They were more athletic and Alabama will be as well.  Michigan is not the team they were in the Sugar Bowl either, they lost a ton on the defensive line and at guys that "catch the ball".   Michigan best runner is playing QB (best RB could be is suspended) and it's second best QB is playing WR, that could equal trouble. 

Sing Hail to the Victors if.........
  • Denard goes off running and throwing
  • Big Al and Greg Mattison game plan is "genius worthy"
  • Fitz plays and goes over a 100 yards
  • Michigan's D line holds up
  • One of the WR's steps up and has a big day with a couple huge plays.
  • The game comes down to Gibbons thinking about "brunette girls"
Yell out, I HAVE ALWAYS HATED SABAN if........
  • Michigan runs into a brick wall on defense.
  • The D line struggles and gives up a ton of big runs
  • Michigan WR's can't get any separation
  • Denard has zero time to throw or find holes to run
Don't forget that Saban hates Michigan for dominating him at State.  If he has a chance to run it up on the Wolverines he will.   I expect both teams to struggle a bit early on offense and then settle down in the second quarter.   A low score/defensive battle is good for the Wolverines to stay close and maybe steal one in the end.   I will give you a name of a guy that could be the difference in this game:  Will Hagerup.  If he can boom some 60 yard+ punts, he can help the Wolverines flip the field.  I like the Wolverines chances much better on 9/1 then in December or January. 

Bottom line:  Neither team knows what they have yet.  We know enough to assume Bama is better then Michigan at this point. 

Alabama 24  Michigan 13

Go Blue!

1 comment:

Voice of Reason said...

Call me crazy, but I like Michigan's chances in this game.