Monday, July 02, 2007

Breaking Down Michigan

Penn State travels to face Michigan in the Big House on September 22nd, this will be Penn State's toughest challenge of 2007. Michigan, despite losing tons of talent to the NFL, will return enough firepower to make another run at a national title. This game will have big time national title implications and, i'll go ahead and make the prediction now, if Penn State beats Michigan on the road then PSU will play for the national title.
We're also going to try something new with the weekly breakdowns; while I break down Michigan Dave over at Maize N Brew will be breaking down the Lions. If you've never been to Maize N Brew then you are missing out. My breakdown of the Wolverines can be found below.

Michigan really does not have much of a rushing attack....aside from Mike Hart who is coming off a season where he rushed for 1562 yards and 14 TDs. He did all this while averaging 5 yds/carry. That included a 112 yards and 1 td on the road in Happy Valley. He is a beast. If Penn State can hold Hart under 100 yards that will go a long way to helping Penn State beat the Wolverines. The problem with that is that you can't just stack the box or Chad Henne, who has been playing at Michigan since 1874, will torch you. Michigan is also rather deep at RB with Minor and Jackson. Both of these guys are talented and averaged more yds/carry than Hart did. In sum, Michigan is deep and dangerous at tailback. Hart will get his touches and yards, however, the path to victory lies in limiting big plays, ball control and keeping Michigan's offense off the field.

If you are looking for the chink in Michigan's offensive armor in the passing game then you have the intelligence of a squirrel. Chad Henne returns, yes again, to lead Michigan's passing attack. While he didn't invent the forward pass he has been playing football at Michigan since its inception making hime a deadly opponnent. Chad passed for over 2500 yards 22 TDs and threw only 8 Ints. Mario Manningham returns to complete the three headed monster which is the Michigan Offense.

If I was allowed to draw up Penn State's defensive scheme to try to stop Michigan I would do the following. Bring the heat. All day. You're gonna have to leave the corners to fend for themselves, fortunately, Justin King is as good as they come. Yes, you might get beat by big play or two, however, you can't give Henne time to throw or he'll pick you apart from the comfort of his big comfy pocket.

Michigan only gave up 16 pts/game last year, however, near the end of the year they were exposed by USC and Tosu. David Booty lit them up in the Rose Bowl passing for nearly 400 yards and 4 TDs and Tosu managed to rack up 267 yards through the air. Perhaps Michigan is vulnerable through the air. This could play into Penn State's hands as, if the Lions are to go anywhere, they will need to air it out.

This is going to be a high-scoring, exciting game. Michigan has too many weapons on offense to keep them off the scoreboard. Mike Hart will rush for 100 yards give or take, Chad Henne will pass for 275 yards but 2 uncharacteristic turnovers will be his undoing. Anthony Morelli will have the performance Penn State fans have been waiting 4 years to see. If you want me to get even more specific, Penn State will win the game on a game winning field goal. Sharpen you knives haters of Loyd Carr, Penn State will beat Michigan for the first time in....well, too long.

PSU: 30
Mich: 28

If Penn State is going to lose a game this year, this is where it will happen. Michigan is a great football team and it could be them playing for the little crystal trophy..... and photos of Brittany Spears fellating Loyd Carr will start circulating shortly.



Anonymous said...

Chad Henne will pass for 275 yards but 2 uncharacteristic turnovers will be his undoing.

I don't know, man. When you're counting on your opponent to play out of character you're grasping at straws.

I think we have a chance at this game. The defense has to hold them to 17 points like last year which I think they can do. Of course Manningham will be back for this game so who knows. Hopefully our offense is improved enough and their defense has a dropoff enough that we can outscore them. I just hope we either win or lose in a blowout. I can't deal with another last second or overtime loss in Ann Arbor.

JB said...

The reason why i inserted the turnovers is because of my insisence (hope) that penn state brings a lot of pressure to bear on Henne. I really don't expect both of them to be Interceptions. I think one or both (if they occur) will be fumbles. Connor and Lee need to be knocking Henne down all day, they have to.

Anonymous said...

I hope you're right, but you know how the PSU coaches react to offenses with weapons. We sit back in zone coverage keeping everything in front of us. Let them drive down to the red zone where we can tighten up and hopefully make them kick a field goal.

Unknown said...

I linked over here from Mzone. Good post, glad I took the time. I like our chances at home against PSU.
1. Bringing the heat: I don't think that's gonna happen, the line is deeeeep and good.True, King is proficient, but how are your other corners? I think if you drop King on Super Mario all game, Arrington is going to kill you.
2. UM defense this year. well, we lost alot to the draft, so, if Morelli plays well, it will be interesting.
I think UM wins by at leat 10, but it's a close game until the 4th qtr, when Hart and the O line take over.My 2 cents.
Good unbiased post, I'll come back and check in on your site again.
Good luck this year, until you come to the Big House.
Go Blue!

Anonymous said...

Like the post, like the site. Just a couple observations:

1. Under the rushing attack analysis, Jackson is actually gone. He graduated. Minor is back and so is Carlos Brown but Kevin Grady is out with ACL tear.

2. Hart isn't a breakaway threat so the "big play" concern should be limited to the air. PSU will definitely have to do something to get to Henne FAST or it's gonna be a long day.

JB said...

Thanks dude, It is tough to tell those UM guys apart! They all look alike to us. However, if PSU does their typical soft-zone bullshit it will be a very long day for us.

Anonymous said...

As a Michigan fan, I can definitely agree that Michigan will be vulnerable through the air. In fact, I think it will be that way for the next couple of years.

I don't care how good our Oline is, and it is supposed to be good....if you bring a lot of pressure, Henne will get rattled. But lets face it regardless of what Penn State does, Lloyd Carr kinda has your number in the last ten years ;)

Anonymous said...

Michigan fan here.

Is a PSU win your prediction, or your hope? Judging from your writing, it is a hope. You are counting on Henne underperforming, and Morelli playing the game of his life (against our corners, it is possible, but we are strong at safety with Adams and co. so the big plays may be tougher to come by than you think).

I dont think that a PSU win is out of the question here, but I do think that it is pretty unlikely.

Your idea of pressuring Henne like mad is a good one, but when you start bringing lots of people after him, you face lots of screens and draws, which Michigan has done very well historically.

Like I said, its possible for PSU to win this game (hopes of being undefeated are very far-fetched), but I think that predicting a PSU win is more hopefulness than true belief that it will happen.

Michigan 35, PSU, 20

Anonymous said...

Michigan's offensive line as well as the great blocking of Mike Hart will thwart any attempt at consistent pressure on Henne. Manningham, Arrington, and Matthews along with some freshman talent at wr will feast all day if PSU blitzes too much. We lost guys on defense, but we're still Michigan and will fill the holes around our returning guys. Michigan will be an offensive juggernaut and will be defensively solid. Michigan 35 PSU 13

JB said...

Oooh...the great blocking of Mike Hart ON TOP of the god-like warriors they have on the offensive line! That sounds positively unstoppable! I bet Henne won't be sacked once all year!

Unknown said...

Michigan fan here... to say this:

Michigan fans can be freaking arrogant.

Anonymous said...

This is a good piece, but a weird angle to approach beating Michigan from.

Any team that beats Michigan this year will have to do so by exploiting defensive weaknesses, not shutting down the offense (God I hope so anyway. Are you listening, Mike DeBord?). It's a well-oiled machine this year, and (GOD I HOPE) it's just too slick. Any losses will come in shootouts.

Anonymous said...

JB, I didn't say Henne wouldn't get sacked. I simply stated that our O-line is fairly stout and that Mike Hart is a good blocker as well. I also said that those two factors would not let PSU get CONSISTENT pressure on Henne all game long. He may well take a sack or three if PSU brings the house all game. However, that is a very dangerous gamble with this offense. It's a very logical and reasonable assesment and response to your own offering of a gameplan. Don't try to be a smart ass when someone differs from your opinion. However right they might be or not be.

JB said...

Smart ass? Moi?

Anonymous said...

yes, you. I just wanted to point out that I made a reasonable statement and not a completely one sided argument with blind loyalty to my team. I am as fair in my assessments as you were with yours. You're preview was very well written. I just posted an opposing argument in support of my team and their strengths. Keep up the good work.