Thursday, September 03, 2009
GBMW: Doc4Blu Michigan Preview
The Fearless Prediction –
Brilliant or Buffoon, Or Even Somewhere in Between?
Thank you Eroc for inviting me to predict this week’s UM game against the Broncos of Western Michigan. Predicting football games is brutal and there is no more difficult time to predict a game result than the first week of a new season. The past is thrown out, only the present means a hill of beans. Compounding the new season syndrome is the new Michigan syndrome: new defensive coordinator, new quarterbacks, new safeties (yes, again), really, also add new running backs (just familiar names), and the promise of greatness mixed with the reality of newness. Not yet enough problems in picking this game? Now add a third layer of uncertainties, the garbage this team had to endure this week.
But I have learned to be bold and so the dialogue goes forward. My brother-in-law always pulled out his driver on a dog-leg par four, where it was 270 on the fly to cross the pond with the reward being the green was 30 yards from the lake’s edge. Half the time he made it. I asked, “Why do you do that,” and he responded,“God hates a coward.” I said ok and took out the three-wood and played the fairway. So, a coward I am not but the pond of prediction may be deep and is uncertain.
Can Western win this game: Yes. The past is the past but Iowa and Illinois have gone down to the Broncs.
Will anyone play scared? I do not think so; both teams will be pedal to the metal.
What about the coaches? Make no mistake; there are solid guys on both benches, professionals who know how to get it done.
Are there clear advantages for either side, at least on paper? Yes, but the first game of the year brings big surprises.
Western’s perceived advantages:
Hiller- Quarterback experience, field reading, throwing ability, and physical size. Hiller is big and smart. He will be drafted and if he enjoys a good year, drafted high. The pros may be in transition, but the guy of choice to wing the ball is still a 6’5”, smart rocket arm. See Matt Ryan as Exhibit A. He is not a twinkle toes and Hiller does occasional go through periods of rolls. Like a lot of spread guys, he loves to be in a rhythm. The key is to play havoc on the rhythm.
The offensive line of Western is huge, really huge, and they protect very well, especially the backside. Hiller has had really good protection over the years. Think BYU line as a downscaled comparison.
Western has had six months to prepare for this game. There is no way U of M has spent six months focusing solely on Western.
Western is a well-rounded offensive team, the Broncs can throw and run to score. UM is a mystery in this regard, and it will be neat to see what happens Saturday (I hope).
The return and kicking games on paper favor Western, perhaps even heavily. West is not only a solid back, but also a very high-end return man with a ton of experience and school records. The place kicking game is very adequate for Western, and all kickers and return guys are returning, something that can cause coaches to do cartwheels. The breath will stay in the lungs a little longer as the diaphragms lock up on Michigan field goal attempts.
University of Michigan’s perceived advantages.
WHAT IS COOKING? Even with the ample amount of preparation time, I would hate to state with confidence, as the offensive coordinator or offensive line coach, that every base has been covered for what Coach Robinson is going to bring on Saturday. Win, lose, or draw, I think the kitchen sink is coming to the garage sale.
The defensive line of Western is touted as being talented, but they are small, and for once U of M has a size advantage, even with the “slimmed down weight listings.” The real question is can the d-line of Western jam to let the linebackers clean up, or will the backs go “beep, beep, into the secondary? Both will happen Saturday, it just depends on which play, that is the nature of the spread.
There should be energy in the stands and on the field Saturday. People are going to hit and be hit. One wonders how the new contact rule will play out. I would love to hear loud support from the stands. So would almost everyone else.
There is a ton of talent at the skilled positions for Michigan. The most skilled player will be Hiller, but if the UM staff calls a good game, the rock should be shared and shared alike.
Zoltan is wearing the greatest helmet in college football history, the winged (say wing …ed) one. He can punt, run, tackle, and steal girlfriends.
Into the Breach: What are some factors/questions/unknowns that may swing this game either way?
What will be the result of the pissed off effect? This can go many ways.
Will Michigan play a blue-sky defense? It is going to be a great day, say the weather guys, on Saturday. Coach Robinson hopes that Hiller is lying on his back looking at the blue sky, early and often. I have my doubts here, Western is solid. But the kitchen sink can come from any spot.
Who will get the big jump, execute early, and get off to a lead? Iowa got down about 19 points early if I remember correctly. I believe this factor is more important for Michigan than Western. Western is going to throw, regardless of the score.
Which team will break the big play, and how many? Both sides have the capability to make house calls.
Who is going to hold on to the ball? Anyone wonder why this factor is listed here?
Can U of M’s secondary, and ESPECIALLY, I SAY AGAIN, ESPECIALLY, the safeties play at a needed level. This includes tackling and coverage. Every fan has to like Woolfolk and Williams. But the Achilles’ heel of the defense has yet to demonstrate an organ transplant.
Will the placekicking game difference be enough to bite U of M, or will the guys come through? Anyone feel lucky or brave enough to take this on?
Finally, I believe the biggest difference maker/question to be answered/unknown that will determine the game is tackling. Who can tackle? I believe if turnovers and field goals do not decide the game, tackling ability will. Both teams have spreads, and both teams must be sure tacklers to prevent big plays. Can a team that whiffed on Appy State’s wonderful, small, quick athletes, and allowed over 20 catches to a single player in the Toledo game exorcise the demons? Exorcism takes time; please find a quicker way to victory.
And so, I am now done and await Saturday, much more so than in the past.
Bo, pray for UM and hopefully praise the tackling.
Check back Friday for my prediction on the GBMW Preview and Predictions article.
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Written by Doc4blu- Go Blue!