Preview: Michigan vs. Nebraska

Preview: Michigan vs. Nebraska


September 21, 2018

RUSH OFFENSE vs. NEBRASKA RUSH DEFENSE

Michigan is #60 in rush offense (188 yards/game) and #37 in yards per carry (5.17). Senior Karan Higdon (228 yards, 6.7 YPC, 2 TD) leads the way, even though he missed last week’s game with a lower-body injury. Junior Chris Evans (172/5.7/2) is second, but he left last week’s game with what looked like a hamstring pull (or maybe just a cramp). Both players are expected to return against Nebraska, but that could come down to a game-time decision. The third guy on the depth chart is junior walk-on Tru Wilson (107/6.3/1), who has done okay but is unremarkable. Up front Michigan has struggled with stacked boxes at times, but on the plus side, right tackle Juwann Bushell-Beatty graded out as Pro Football Focus’s top Big Ten right tackle last week. Nebraska is #20 in rushing defense (93.5 yards allowed/game), holding Colorado to 44 yards on the ground before giving up a modest 143 yards to Troy on 34 attempts. Junior inside linebacker Mohamed Barry (6’1″, 230 lbs.) leads the team with 15 tackles, followed closely by junior linebacker Tyrin Ferguson (6’2″, 230) with 14 and senior Luke Griffin (6’4″, 245) with 14.
Advantage: Nebraska

Hit the jump for the rest of the preview.

PASS OFFENSE vs. NEBRASKA PASS DEFENSE

Quarterback Shea Patterson has been as advertised so far – accurate (70.8% completions), efficient (9.1 yards/attempt), and occasionally turnover-prone (2 interceptions and 1 fumble lost). He’s crafty enough to get out of the pocket when necessary, and he’s very accurate on the run. Last week he found a rhythm with wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones (14 catches, 159 yards, 4 TD on the year) and tight end Zach Gentry (4 catches, 95 yards last week), representing the first solid all-around games from any Patterson-to-receiver pairings this season. The offensive line is tied for #78 in sacks allowed (6), and the biggest struggles have been at left tackle with redshirt junior Jon Runyan, Jr.¬†Nebraska is #80 in passing defense (231 yards allowed/game) and #80 in passer efficiency rating defense. They are tied for #54 in yards allowed per attempt (6.5). Sophomore cornerback DiCaprio Bootle (5’10”, 190 lbs.) leads the squad with 3 pass breakups, while junior Lamar Jackson (6’3″, 215) has the team’s lone interception. The Cornhuskers are tied for #11 in the country with 10 sacks, led by senior linebacker Gifford and senior defensive tackle Freedom Akinmoladum (6’4″, 295) with 2.5 each, plus 2 from junior tackle Khalil Davis (6’2″, 310). Nebraska will probably get to the quarterback, so it will be imperative that Shea Patterson stays upright throughout the game.
Advantage: Nebraska

RUSH DEFENSE vs. NEBRASKA RUSH OFFENSE

Michigan is #37 in rushing defense (122 yards allowed/game) and #24 in yards allowed per carry (3.09). All three opponents so far have averaged under 3.6 yards/carry, but that number has slowly been creeping up. Michigan has been missing its starting defensive tackles the past two weeks (Aubrey Solomon, Lawrence Marshall), and only Marshall may return this week. Middle linebacker Devin Bush, Jr. leads the team in tackles (23), followed by defensive end Chase Winovich (21) and safety Tyree Kinnel (18). Winovich has 6.5 tackles for loss, and Bush (2.5) is the only other guy with more than 2. Nebraska is #18 in rushing offense (258 yards/game) and #43 in yards per carry (5.09). Freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez (6’2″, 220) is probably Nebraska’s most dangerous runner when healthy, but a bum knee caused him to miss last week’s game. Junior running back Greg Bell (6’0″, 205) has 168 yards on 6.22 yards/carry and freshman Maurice Washington (6’1″, 190) has 126 yards on 5.73 yards/carry. Fifth year senior right guard Tanner Farmer (6’4″, 325) is an excellent lineman. This is a decided advantage for Michigan if Martinez doesn’t play, but if he does, there will probably be an adjustment period in the first quarter while the Wolverines catch up to speed.
Advantage: Michigan

PASS DEFENSE vs. NEBRASKA PASS OFFENSE

The Wolverines are #17 in pass defense (155 yards allowed/game) and #25 in passer rating defense. It was thought that Michigan would improve in this area with the entire secondary returning and both Winovich and Rashan Gary rushing the passer, but the loss of nose tackle Maurice Hurst, Jr. has hurt the interior pass rush significantly. Michigan is #53 in sacks, led by Bush (1.5). Michigan’s 3 interceptions so far have come from somewhat unlikely sources (Josh Metellus, Brandon Watson, Noah Furbush), but Lavert Hill has 4 pass breakups and opposing quarterbacks don’t seem to be testing cornerback David Long, Jr. Nebraska is #84 in passing offense (207 yards/game) and #72 in passer efficiency rating. Martinez is a good quarterback with a decent arm, but backup Andrew Bunch (6’1″, 210) isn’t close as a passer or runner. Senior wide receiver Stanley Morgan, Jr. (6’1″, 210) has 10 catches for 139 yards and 1 score, while sophomore slot receiver (5’9″, 185) has 9 catches for 112 yards and 2 scores. The Cornhuskers are tied for #61 in sacks allowed (5).
Advantage: Michigan

ROSTER NOTES

  • Nebraska players recruited by Michigan include: LB Quayshon Alexander, TE Austin Allen, S Marquel Dismuke, LB Breon Dixon, OT Matt Farniok, WR Tyjon Lindsey, WR J.D. Spielman
  • Michigan DE Reuben Jones was committed to Nebraska at one time
  • Nebraska Associate Athletic Director for Football Matt Davison is the guy who (illegally) caught the TD pass against Missouri in 1997 that allowed the Cornhuskers to share the national title with Michigan

LAST TIME THEY PLAYED…

  • Michigan lost to Nebraska in 2013 by a score of 17-13
  • Michigan ran 36 times for -21 yards
  • Brendan Gibbons was 2/2 on field goals
  • Devin Gardner was 18/27 for 196 yards and 1 touchdown, which went to Devin Funchess
  • Michigan is 2-4 all-time against the Cornhuskers

PREDICTIONS

  • Michigan 24, Nebraska 17

3 comments

  1. Comments: 974
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    je93
    Sep 21, 2018 at 9:11 AM

    If we line up against a stacked box and insist on running it down their throats, that score will be true. Nebraska will hang around and feel confident, making this game uncomfortable
    JH has to take what their D gives us. Go up quick and the cornhuskers will feel and play like an 0-3 squad. Play to your strengths!!!

    • Comments: 36
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Nick.
      Sep 21, 2018 at 3:01 PM

      I completely agree with you! It would be nice to see a coaching job where they have a gameplan based on what Nebraska does versus what the coaches just want to do. There seems to be a lot of square peg coaching forcing the team to be shoved into round hole situations. Show some versatility based on the opponent!

  2. Comments: 241
    Joined: 12/24/2016
    INTJohn
    Sep 21, 2018 at 5:02 PM

    So you have Nebraska’s Defence over Michigan’s Offense and Michigan’s Defence over Nebraska’s Offence………

    (Chuckle) Where are the 24-17 points coming from? Defensive scores & Special Teams? Or will the score actually be 5-4? Or maybe 3-0 in OT?
    ………and calling Patterson turnover prone is misleading; the fumble & an interception was against ND – since then, last 2 games he’s 1 INT while moving the ball & accounting for a lot of points; not TO prone in last 2 games.

    Also, seems to be some serious internal morale & chemistry issues on Neb’s team & its the Huskers first road game while unable to even win at home (Nebraska would be 0-3 if the Akron game wasn’t cancelled as Akron just spanked NW).
    Michigan wins by 17ish -maybe more……………..intjohn

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