RUSH OFFENSE vs. ILLINOIS RUSH DEFENSE
Michigan is #4 in rushing offense (251.4 yards/game) and #7 in rushing average (5.62 yards/carry). Heisman contender Blake Corum has 227 carries for 1,349 yards and 17 touchdowns. Backup Donovan Edwards (70 carries, 471 yards, 4 TD) got banged up last week, so his availability is in question, but freshman C.J. Stokes had a good showing last week with 8 carries for 68 yards in relief of Edwards. Michigan’s offensive line has been beaten up a little bit with Jeffrey Persi, Giovanni El-Hadi, and Karsen Barnhart all logging big minutes last week in the absence of Ryan Hayes, Trevor Keegan, and Trente Jones, respectively. Illinois is #6 in rushing defense (85.9 yards allowed/game) and #5 in yards allowed per carry (3.02). The Fighting Illini are tied for #4 in rushing touchdowns allowed with just 5 so far this year. Senior LB Isaac Darkangelo (6’1″, 230), sophomore DE Jer’zhan Newton (6’2″, 295), and senior hybrid S/LB Jartavius Martin (6’0″, 195) lead the team with 50, 49, and 48 tackles, respectively. The team is #37 in tackles for loss per game (6.4), led by Newton with 12 and sophomore DE Keith Randolph, Jr. (6’5″, 305) with 11.
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PASS OFFENSE vs. ILLINOIS PASS DEFENSE
Michigan is #96 in passing offense (208.9 yards/game) but #23 in passing efficiency and #32 in yards per attempt (8.1). It’s a heavy run offense that relies on tight ends a little too heavily, as quarterback J.J. McCarthy has struggled to sync up with many of his wideouts on downfield routes. McCarthy’s (69% completions, 14 TD, 2 INT) favorite targets have been WR Ronnie Bell (45 catches, 597 yards, 2 TD) and TE Luke Schoonmaker (30 catches, 315 yards, 2 TD), but Schoonmaker missed last week’s game due to injury. The Wolverines are tied at #21 in sacks allowed per game (1.2). The Illini have an elite pass defense statistically, giving up the 5th fewest yards per game (161) and ranking #1 in passing efficiency defense. They have allowed 8 touchdowns while making 17 interceptions, the latter of which is tied for #1 in the country. Senior safeties Kendall Smith (6’1″, 205) and Sydney Brown (6’0″, 205) are tied for the team lead with 4 interceptions. Newton has 5.5 sacks, while freshman OLB Gabe Jacas (6’3″, 265) and Randolph each have 4.0.
RUSH DEFENSE vs. ILLINOIS RUSH OFFENSE
Michigan is the #1 rush defense in the country (72.7 yards allowed/game) and the 2.6 yards allowed per carry is #3. Linebackers Junior Colson and Michael Barrett are 1-2 in tackles with 67 and 41 respectively, with DE Kris Jenkins, Jr. coming in at #3 with 38. Edge Mike Morris leads the team with 11 tackles for loss, but he left last week’s game late with an ankle injury. Five of the last six opponents have been held to 75 or fewer yards on the ground. Illinois is #41 in rushing offense (183.6 yards/game) and #74 in yards per carry (4.13). Star RB Chase Brown (5’11”, 205) has 1,442 rushing yards and 7 touchdowns, but last week was his lowest rushing total of the season (98 yards on 23 attempts) and he left the game with an injury. It’s unclear whether he will play on Saturday or not, but his chances appear better now than they were earlier in the week. The Illinois offensive line is pretty large with everyone except the center coming in at 6’5″ and 315+; the center is 6’6″ and 305. They run a variety of run schemes to give Brown as many different ways to succeed as possible.
PASS DEFENSE vs. ILLINOIS PASS OFFENSE
Michigan has the #4 pass defense (160.1 yards allowed/game) and is tied with Illinois as the #2 pass defense in yards per attempt allowed (5.3). They’re #2 in passing efficiency defense, right behind the Illini. The pass rush has been solid overall with Mike Morris notching 7.5 sacks to lead the team, but Morris’s aforementioned leg injury may hold him out or at least slow him down. On the back end, safety Rod Moore leads the team with 3 interceptions, and cornerback Will Johnson has stepped up in a big way with the short absence of Gemon Green. Illinois QB Tommy DeVito (6’2″, 210), a transfer from Syracuse, has completed 70% of his passes for 15 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He feeds the ball a lot to former quarterback Isaiah Williams (5’10”, 180), who catches a lot of passes (64) but not for much yardage (8.6 yards/catch). Fellow WR Brian Hightower (6’3″, 215) has 34 catches for 428 yards and 2 scores. The offensive line gives up 1.8 sacks per game, which is tied at #52 in the country. It’s not an explosive offense through the air, but DeVito is accurate on short throws and can move the sticks with his legs (79 yards rushing with 4 TD).
- Illinois players offered by Michigan include: LB Shammond Cooper, TE Luke Ford, RB Chase Hayden, WR Brian Hightower, QB Artur Sitkowski, WR Isaiah Williams
- Illinois defensive line coach Terrance Jamison is the brother of former Michigan defensive end Tim Jamison
- Former Michigan walk-on lineman Greg Froelich is a special teams analyst for Illinois
- Former Michigan assistant S&C coach Tank Wright is the S&C coach for Illinois
LAST TIME THEY PLAYED…
- On October 12, 2019, Michigan beat Illinois 42-25
- QB Shea Patterson completed 11/22 passes for 194 yards and 3 touchdowns
- RB Hassan Haskins (125) and RB Zach Charbonnet (116) both surpassed 100 yards rushing
- Michigan 34, Illinois 14
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