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The Wolverines are smack dab in the middle of the pack at #67 in passing offense (226 yards/game) and they’re #40 in passing efficiency. Meanwhile, they’re #86 in passing attempts with just 359 on the season. Starting quarterback Cade McNamara has completed 199/308 (64.6%) of his throws for 2,470 yards, 15 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions. McNamara does not have a particularly strong arm, but he has done a good job of deciphering defenses and keeping the ball out of harm’s way.
The offensive line has allowed just 0.77 sacks per game. Just like in the run game, they don’t have a ton of great players up front, but they play well together. Some stunts and games inside confused the group early in the year, but they seem to have righted the ship as the season went along.
On the receiving end, ten different players have caught touchdowns . . . and no one has caught more than 3. It’s hard to predict from week to week who might step up and make a big play, but the two primary targets have been wide receiver Cornelius Johnson (37 catches, 620 yards, 3 TD) and tight end Erick All (34 catches, 374 yards, 2 TD). However, the two biggest yardage games have come from true freshman running back Donovan Edwards (10 catches, 170 yards, 1 TD vs. Maryland) and freshman wide receiver Andrel Anthony (3 catches, 155 yards, 2 TD vs. Michigan State).
Hit the jump for more.
Georgia is #3 in pass defense (172 yards allowed/game) and #2 in passer efficiency defense. They have held five teams sub-100 passing yards, and only two squads have topped 300 yards against them (Tennessee and Alabama). Altogether, they have allowed just 8 passing touchdowns while nabbing 12 interceptions.
The Bulldogs are tied for #36 in interceptions with 12. Cornerback Derion Kendrick (6’0″, 190 lbs.), strong safety Christopher Smith (5’11”, 190), and inside linebacker Nakobe Dean (6’0″, 235) all have 2 interceptions. Hybrid safety/linebacker Latavious Brini (6’2″, 210) and free safety Lewis Cine (6’1″, 200) are tied for the team lead with 8 pass breakups each, while frequently used redshirt freshman corner Kelee Ringo (6’2″, 205) has 7.
Georgia is tied for #6 in sacks with 41 this year. Butkus Award-winning linebacker Dean is tied for the team lead with outside linebacker Adam Anderson, who has missed the past several games dealing with a hand injury and a rape allegation; both of them have 5 sacks. The next most dangerous players are senior Robert Beal, Jr., a 6’4″, 255 lb. outside linebacker, and another inside linebacker, 6’2″, 225 lb. Channing Tindall; both of them have 4.5. Georgia is a dangerous team without any one significantly imposing pass rush threat.
PATH TO VICTORY
Michigan needs to run the ball to set up the pass, which was discussed in the run game preview (LINK). I like Michigan’s pass protection better than the run blocking, but Georgia has so many athletes in their front that it’s going to be a struggle. Michigan’s offensive line can’t just focus on stopping one or two guys, because somebody else can still get after McNamara. So the best way to set up the pass is to establish the run and make the linebackers and defensive linemen think a little bit. Alabama was able to throw the ball very well, but they had one of the best receivers in the country, Jameson Williams. Oh, and they also had the Heisman winner at quarterback Bryce Young.
I think Michigan can manufacture some plays in the passing game. Throwing short over the middle is going to be tougher than in some other games because of the speed of Georgia’s linebackers, so I would not expect Erick All to be the breakout player in this one. I think Michigan needs to get running back Donovan Edwards involved out of the backfield, and they also need to set up deep crossers with play action, likely to Cornelius Johnson. I also mentioned that I think Michigan might try to use flea flickers, reverse passes, etc. to give different looks and manufacture plays in the passing game.
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