Preview: Michigan at Penn State

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20Oct 2017
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Preview: Michigan at Penn State

RUSH OFFENSE vs. PENN STATE RUSH DEFENSE

Michigan is tied at #50 with 185 yards/game on the ground. Junior Karan Higdon has broken out the past two weeks with 37 carries for 265 yards and 3 touchdowns. Penn State is #24 in rush defense with 117 yards allowed/game and #15 with just 3.09 yards allowed/rush. Their leading tackler is Jason Cabinda (40), followed by safety Marcus Allen (34). Defensive end Shareef Miller leads the team with 6.5 tackles for loss. Despite the breakout from Higdon, Michigan struggles up front.
Advantage: Penn State

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13Oct 2017
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Preview: Michigan at Indiana

RUSH OFFENSE vs. INDIANA RUSH DEFENSE

Michigan is #63 in rushing offense (167.8 yards/game) and #84 in rushing average (3.98 yards/carry). That’s on the heels of 2.6 yards/carry against Michigan State last week. Ty Isaac leads the squad with 61 carries, 365 yards, and 5.98 yards/carry, but a fumble last week got him removed from the game for a stretch and he seems to have been hampered by an injury for the past couple games. Meanwhile, Karan Higdon had 12 carries for 65 yards last week and ran hard. It’s anyone’s guess who gets the ball most in this game. On the offensive line, Michigan replaced right tackle Nolan Ulizio with Juwann Bushell-Beatty, who isn’t very good, either. On the other side of the ball, Indiana is #67 in rushing yards allowed (152.4 yards allowed/game) and tied for #39 in yards allowed per carry (3.61). Ohio State and Georgia Southern fared well against the Hoosiers, but Penn State and Saquon Barkley averaged just 1.05 yards on 37 attempts. Senior middle linebacker Tegray Scales (6’0″, 230 lbs.) and senior weakside linebacker Chris Covington (6’2″, 230) lead the team with 42 and 32 tackles, respectively. Overall, Indiana is #35 in tackles for loss, led by Scales (6.5) and Covington (4.0). Fifth year senior nose tackle Nate Hoff (6’2″, 310) is Indiana’s toughest defensive lineman. This is a stout front that will give Michigan’s soft offensive line issues.
Advantage: Indiana

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6Oct 2017
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Preview: Michigan vs. Michigan State

RUSH OFFENSE vs. MICHIGAN STATE RUSH DEFENSE

Michigan is #51 in rushing offense (184.5 yards/game) and #65 in yards per carry (4.28). It’s been an up-and-down season so far, with Ty Isaac leading the way in the first three games and then Chris Evans leading the team in rushing for the Purdue game. Meanwhile, Karan Higdon started the Purdue game but has the lowest yards per carry of the three at 4.12. Isaac appeared to suffer a rib injury two games ago, and he looked extra tentative last game. Hopefully the bye week allowed him to heal, because he’s averaging 6.25 yards/carry this year. The offensive line is iffy, even though Michigan has stayed intact since the spring. Redshirt sophomore right tackle Nolan Ulizio is the weak spot, and sophomore right guard Michael Onwenu is that rare offensive lineman who gets rotated out of the game at times (replaced by redshirt sophomore Jon Runyan, Jr.) because he gets gassed. On the other side of the ball, Michigan State is #16 in rushing defense (96 yards allowed/game) and #19 in yards per carry allowed (3.07). They have done that while only being #63 in tackles for loss, which means they’re making a ton of tackles for short gains. Sophomore middle linebacker Joe Bachie (6’2″, 233 lbs.) leads the team with 34 tackles and 4 tackles for loss, while senior strongside linebacker Chris Frey (6’1″, 238) is second in TFLs with 3.0. Junior strong safety Khari Willis (6’0″, 215) is entrenched as the starter there and is second on the team with 24 tackles. The Spartans aren’t very big at the end positions, but defensive tackles Raequan Williams (6’4″, 300) and Mike Panasiuk (6’4″, 294) are powerful and will give Michigan trouble.
Advantage: Michigan State

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22Sep 2017
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Preview: Michigan at Purdue

RUSH OFFENSE vs. PURDUE RUSH DEFENSE

Michigan is #42 with just over 199 yards/game on the ground and #48 in rushing average (4.67). That’s the good news. There’s some bad news, though, and plenty of it. First is that starting running back Ty Isaac (112 yards/game, 7.1 yards/carry) left last week’s game with some sort of rib/abdominal injury, and while Jim Harbaugh says he should be fine and ready to go, a rib injury won’t just disappear in a week. Backups Chris Evans and Karan Higdon have combined for 228 yards on 56 carries, which is just barely over 4.0 yards/carry. The other bad news is that Michigan’s offensive line has struggled, particularly on the right side where sophomore Michael Onwenu and redshirt sophomore Nolan Ulizio reside. Purdue is #54 with just under 130 yards allowed per game and #80 in rushing yards allowed per carry (4.09). The Boilermakers’ leading tackler is middle linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley (6’2″, 250 lbs.), followed by strong safety Jacob Jacob Thieneman (6’1″, 210) and weakside linebacker T.J. McCollum (6’3″, 235). Fifth year senior outside linebacker Danny Ezechukwu (6’2″, 242) leads the squad with 3 tackles for loss, and Bentley has 2. Michigan will probably mostly see a 3-4 defense, and the defensive linemen aren’t very good. If they can get a hat on Bentley, the Wolverines should be in decent shape.
Advantage: Michigan if Isaac plays; otherwise, Purdue

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15Sep 2017
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Preview: Michigan vs. Air Force

RUSH OFFENSE vs. AIR FORCE RUSH DEFENSE

Michigan is #47 nationally with 204 yards/game on the ground, and most of that (123.5 yards/game) is coming from fifth year senior running back Ty Isaac. Isaac (8.0 YPC) was expected to be the #3 back coming into the season, but he has overtaken sophomore Chris Evans (3.4 YPC) and junior Karan Higdon (3.7 YPC). The Wolverines usually try to hit a jet sweep or two per game, and those targets so far have been Eddie McDoom (4 yards), Donovan Peoples-Jones (44 yards), and Kekoa Crawford (uhh…a fumble). Michigan is #53 in rushing average (4.74 YPC) and only has 1 touchdown, so there are things to fix, mostly up front. There has been some talk that right guard Michael Onwenu is on thin ice, and redshirt sophomore Jon Runyan, Jr. is a possibility at that spot. Air Force is #10 in rush defense, although their only game so far was against VMI…except AF was also #10 nationally in 2016. They gave up 3.4 YPC, which was tied for #15 in the country. The Falcons run a 3-4 defense with undersized linemen, notably 263 lb. nose tackle Cody Gessler. The leading tackler so far this season is senior inside linebacker Jack Flor (8 tackles), followed by senior cornerback Marquis Griffin (5 tackles). Senior Grant Ross leads the team with 1.5 tackles for loss. Both inside linebackers are 225 lbs., and senior outside linebacker Ja’Mel Sanders is 6’1″, 200 lbs. They’re undersized but get to the ball quickly.
Advantage: Michigan

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