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Michigan vs. CMU Preview

August 30, 2013


August 31st, 2013 – 3:30pm

Ann Arbor, MI

Song of the week:

Return of the Mac, get up

What it is, what it does

What it is, what it isn’t

Lookin’ for a better way to get up out of bed instead of getting on the internet and checking a new hit me get up.

– Macklemore featuring Ryan Lewis, song “Can’t Hold Us”

Names To Know

1. Zurlon Tipton (RB #34) – The senior out of Detroit is the workhorse for the Chippewas. He carried the ball over 250 times last season for almost 1500 yards and 19 touchdowns. With a new quarterback under center, expect to see Tipton get a lot of carries early to get everyone settled and try to sustain some drives.

2. Cody Kater (QB #7) – Kater is the likely starting quarterback, and the only one on the CMU roster with any game experience. His career totals are only 2-4 passing for 12 yards, so it’s not much experience. He’ll have his work cut out for him going against a Michigan defense that is begging to hit somebody after a long camp.

3. Leterrius Walton (DT #58) – Standing 6-5 and weighing around 325 pounds, Leterrius Walton is a big man. With Michigan using 3 new starters on the interior of the OLine, this is a big matchup to watch. Last year we struggled with big, strong, DTs and that perfectly describes Walton. How will Jack Miller do in his first start at center with 325 pounds staring him down?

Offensive Strength

   Central is going to need to rely on the running game to keep things close on Saturday. The Michigan coaches have praised the Chippewa offensive line, who are all over 300 pounds, whenever they have been asked about the opponent this week. Part of that praise comes from the coaching who were able to turn former Chippewa Eric Fisher into the #1 overall NFL draft pick this past season. You have to believe Dan Enos, the former Michigan State quarterback and current CMU head coach, will try to wear down Michigan’s defensive line and run the ball, taking shots down field to keep the defense honest.

Offensive Weakness

   It’s good that Cody Kater has a lot of experience around him. The only starter who is lower than a junior eligibility is RS Soph center Nick Beamish and he started every game last season. Kater is going to need that experience because he himself will be the target of the Michigan defense to make mistakes. Going into The Big House for an opener only having thrown 4 college passes is the weakness of the offense. Will Kater make some mistakes early that cause turnovers? Will he force Central to run more than they want? Or will he break out as a potential star by having a solid game?

Defensive Strength

   Similar to the offense, the strength of the defense is the experience on the line. I mentioned Leterrius Walton who is the big rock in the middle. Around him are senior DE Kenny McClendon, junior DT Matt Losiniecki, and redshirt sophomore DE Blake Serpa, all of whom played in games last season. Michigan’s big question mark is the interior of the offensive line and Central has a defensive line full of 3rd/4th year players that have seen a good amount of snaps. Can that experience help them against the rookie front for Michigan?

Defensive Weakness

   What the defense has experience, it is definitely lacking in size. Kenny McLendon is a senior DE, but is only 6-2, 250lbs, so how will he stand up to 6-7, 310-pound offensive tackles? The back-7 of the defense doesn’t look to have anyone over 6-1 (sophomore CB Brandon Greer), so how will they match up with Michigan’s new power offense? Michigan might not be able to run up the middle on the defensive line, but they might be able to wear down the smaller ends to create some lanes outside, forcing help and leaving mismatches in the middle of the field for the passing game.

My Game Expectations

   It’s the return of MAC to The Big House for the home opener. Michigan has had success, beating Western Michigan in 2011 and 2009, and a string of CMU, Miami(OH), and Northern Illinois back in 2003-2005. It’s not quite the challenge Michigan faced last year against Alabama, but it will be a good test to start the season and see who is ready.

   Central is going to rely on the run game to open the pass, though I do expect some early passes just to test the defense and keep them honest. It sounds similar to last year’s opener, with the big difference that Central definitely isn’t Alabama. They don’t have the depth or talent to push Michigan around, wear them down, and rotate 3 running backs who could all take it to the house on any carry. They also likely won’t have another offensive lineman taken #1 overall next year in the NFL draft, like Eric Fisher, or have 4 guys drafted like ‘Bama.

   Greg Mattison has talked a lot about the depth he has on the defensive line, stating some positions have a true 3-deep he is comfortable rotating. I expect to see at least 10 guys get snaps with the line in this game:

     – RUSH End: Frank Clark, Mario Ojemudia, Taco Charlton

     – DT: Jibreel Black, Ryan Glasgow/Willie Henry

     – NT: Quinton Washington, Ondre Pipkins

     – SDE: Keith Heitzman, Matt Godin/Chris Wormley

   That depth and rotation will allow Michigan to stay fresh on the line against the run and provide a pass rush as the offensive line tires. I’m excited to see what the line looks like on obvious passing downs because Michigan has some excellent pass rushers that they can deploy in different spots, as well as some solid blitzers at the LB positions.

   Offensively, Michigan should be able to run the ball against Central, and with 6 running backs listed on the depth chart, there could be a lot of carries handed out. If the game is in hand, Fitz Toussaint should get the most touches, with maybe 15-20 total carries. Drake Johnson is likely the second back in with maybe 5-10 carries, then the rest of the backs could see a few snaps, especially late in the game. I expect the offense to stay relatively vanilla with the big matchup coming with Notre Dame, but do expect a few different formations to force ND to think about it next week during practice.

   I am extremely excited that the season has finally started with real games being played. Getting up in the morning and checking the internet for the new Countdown To Kickoff video from MGoBlue has been OK, but it’s nothing like seeing highlights of real games and knowing Team 134 will take the field for real on Saturday.


Michigan wins 38-13

Mike Randazzo


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