RUSHING OFFENSE vs. NOTRE DAME RUSHING DEFENSE
Michigan’s offensive line and running back situation will remain largely the same from last season. The biggest changes will come at left tackle, where Jon Runyan, Jr. has taken charge, and center, where Cesar Ruiz will be a “new” starter after starting six games at right guard in 2017. The offensive line was #20 in Adjusted Line Yards and #7 in Power Success Rate. The top two running backs also return: Karan Higdon and Chris Evans averaged 6.1 and 5.1 yards/carry last year, and Higdon was six yards shy of hitting 1,000 yards for the season. Michigan does lose two experienced fullbacks, so the usage of sophomore Ben Mason, fifth year senior Jared Wangler, and/or freshman Ben Van Sumeren could be interesting to watch. Michigan will also have a mobile quarterback in Shea Patterson, who had 136 yards rushing and 1 touchdown (but lost 152 yards in sacks). Notre Dame inside linebacker Te’von Coney (6’1″, 240 lbs.) led the team last year in tackles (116), and weakside linebacker Drue Tranquill (6’2″, 231) was third with 85. Those are the top two returning tacklers, and they also led the team with 12.5 and 10.5 tackles for loss, respectively. Defensive tackle Jerry Tillery (6’7″, 305) is the most dangerous defensive lineman and had 56 tackles with 9 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks in 2017. The team was 51st in rushing defense (154 yards allowed/game), but they were tied with Alabama for #7 in fewest rushing touchdowns allowed (9).
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