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Season Kickoff – Take 2!

September 7, 2012

Apparently Michigan played a football game last Saturday.  I was even there.  It did not go well.   But here’s the fun part – Michigan was supposed to lose.  And all of their season goals, in particular, the Big Ten Championship, are still intact.  Here’s the other good news – Alabama is by far and away the best team we will play this season.  So its tough to deduce a whole lot from that game other than the fact that we aren’t a national championship caliber team.   So I think we should all take this opportunity to agree that last week was merely an exhibition game – something to prepare us for the tough Big Ten road ahead.  

Looking forward to Air Force, here are the things I’m looking forward to seeing and learning about Michigan:

  • Will we have an effective running game?  With Alabama possessing the athlete to stop Denard, Fitzgerald Toussaint watching the game from Bacari Alexander’s couch, and falling behind early, we never really got a chance to see if we could run the ball.  My hunch is that well be a lot more successful on the ground this week.  The Air Force defensive line averages over 60 lbs less per player than the Alabama defensive line.  If we can’t run against them, it might be time to sound the alarm bells.  Look for Toussaint to have a 100+ yard game, and maybe for another back to get close to that as well.
  • Can we stop the run?  Last week we got steamrolled on the ground for almost 5.5 yards per carry.  Air Force brings the wishbone offense to Ann Arbor, an offense which forces you to play assignment football and make a play on your man.  Despite last weeks abysmal performance I actually expect Michigan to dominate this matchup. Air Forces offensive line averages 250 lbs, and they are without their starting center Mike Husar.  There will be defensive breakdowns that result in some larger runs, but for the most part Michigan has bigger and stronger athletes, and I trust Greg Mattison to have them well coached on their assignments.  
  • Will Denard be better as a passer?  As I mentioned in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly – Preseason Game #1, I actually thought Denard looked better than most did, and thought good defense from Alabama was a bigger reason for the poor numbers.  Air Force’s defense is below average, and that is being kind.  And with very little pass rush, Denard should have all day to find his receivers.  There is rain in the forecast, so all bets are off if that comes to fruition.  Otherwise, I expect a very solid, if not borderline excellent day from Denard through the air.

 Air Force is not Alabama.  Michigan is better than they showed last week.  Look for a few early runs by Air Force to bring moans and groans from the Big House crowd, but eventually our guys remember to play their assignment and will stifle the Air Force ground attack.  On offense, if we don’t run all over them, I’ll be surprised, and frankly concerned.  The only thing that stops Michigan on offense tomorrow is itself. 

Recipe for Victory 

  • Play assignment football on defense
  • Run the ball early and often with both Denard and Toussaint
  • Get off the bus? 

It may be closer than you’d hope at first, but Michigan will own the 2nd half and should coast to victory.  

Michigan 41 

Air Force 17

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