Preview: Michigan vs. Iowa

Preview: Michigan vs. Iowa


October 4, 2019

RUSH OFFENSE vs. IOWA RUSH DEFENSE
Michigan is kinda bad at running the ball. They rank #94 nationally (131 yards/game), and the 3.48 yards per carry is even worse at #106. Those numbers could be better if the option runs were actually options, but Shea Patterson won’t keep the ball and Dylan McCaffrey got knocked out cold the last time he did. It doesn’t appear to matter who lines up at running back right now, because the offensive line doesn’t want to move anyone off the ball. Iowa is #10 in rushing defense (77 yards allowed/game) and #36 in yards allowed per carry (3.42). No team has topped 91 rushing yards this season. Senior linebacker Kristian Welch (6’1″, 239 lbs.) leads the team with 31 tackles, and sophomore Djimon Colbert (6’1″, 235) is second with 23. Sophomore defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon (6’3″, 309) leads the squad with 2.5 tackles for loss. This looks like a bad matchup for the Wolverines.
Advantage: Iowa

Hit the jump for more.

PASS OFFENSE vs. IOWA PASS DEFENSE
Michigan can’t run the ball, but they sure are mediocre at passing it! The Wolverines are #48 in passing offense (262 yards/game). Their passer efficiency rating is #76. Luckily, the Big Ten is the Big Fourteen, because Michigan is #10 in the conference in passer rating and touchdowns. Ronnie Bell has emerged as the #1 target in the offense (17 catches, 263 yards), while Donovan Peoples-Jones returned to form last week in his second game with 4 catches for 62 yards. People longed for 50/50 balls after the end of the Wisconsin game allowed the passing numbers to look decent, but garbage-time deep balls don’t mean an offense made of 50/50 balls is a smart idea. Michigan needs to get better. Michigan’s offensive line is #81 in Standard Downs Sack Rate and #105 on passing downs. Luckily, Iowa isn’t very good at getting after the quarterback this year. They’re tied for #113 in sacks (5), with the caveat that 6’6″, 280 lb. sophomore defensive end A.J. Epenesa had 10.5 sacks as a backup in 2018. The Hawkeyes are #19 in passing defense (174 yards allowed/game) and #29 in passer rating against them. Senior safety Michael Ojemudia (6’1″, 200) leads the team with 2 picks.
Advantage: Iowa

RUSH DEFENSE vs. IOWA RUSH OFFENSE
Michigan is #89 in rushing defense (168 yards allowed/game) and #56 in yards allowed per game (3.84). Wisconsin destroyed Michigan, but the other three opponents have done very little on the ground. Michigan starting middle linebacker Joshua Ross has basically played 2.5 games so far and isn’t expected back for this Saturday, so Michigan will probably start Cam McGrone for the second week in a row. Viper linebacker Khaleke Hudson has a team leading 41 tackles, and safety Brad Hawkins has 32. Kwity Paye has a team-high 5 tackles for loss. Through four games, Michigan’s defensive tackles have combined for 23 tackles, 0 tackles for loss, and 0 sacks. Iowa is #29 in rushing offense (218 yards/game) and they’re led by 5’9″, 212 lb. Mekhi Sargent (299 yards, 5.54 YPC, 2 TD). The Hawkeyes have two capable backups in junior Toren Young (5’11”, 223) and freshman Tyler Goodson (5’10”, 190). The offensive line is pretty good, though somewhat banged up. Left tackle Alaric Jackson has been injured for much of the year, and so has the starting center. It’s a solid offensive line but not spectacular.
Advantage: Michigan

PASS DEFENSE vs. IOWA PASS OFFENSE
Michigan is #3 in pass defense (128 yards allowed/game) but #40 in passer efficiency rating defense. The yards are mostly due to Army being unable to throw the ball. The Wolverines have shown very little organic pass rush except against opponents who don’t know how to pass block, including Army and Rutgers. On the plus side, Paye (2 sacks) can get to the quarterback, and so can some well timed blitzes; McGrone showed flashes of blitzing excellence last week. On the back end, Michigan hasn’t been tested a great deal, but cornerback Lavert Hill (1 INT, 2 PBU) exists. Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley (6’4″, 243) is considered to be one of the top passers in the 2020 draft class, but no one seems particularly excited about him, despite his 8-to-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio this year. Juniors Ihmir Smith-Marsette (15 catches, 254 yards, 3 TD) and Brandon Smith (15 catches, 170 yards, 3 TD) are the top targets, while a rare situation at tight end exists: Iowa doesn’t seem to have a good one. Despite a couple injuries on the offensive line, the Hawkeyes are tied for #27 in sacks allowed.
Advantage: Michigan

ROSTER NOTES

  • Iowa players recruited by Michigan include: DE A.J. Epenesa, OL Alaric Jackson, WR Oliver Martin
  • Iowa players from the State of Michigan include: WR Jack Combs (East Grand Rapids), DE Chauncey Golston (East English Village), OL Alaric Jackson (Renaissance), DL Cedrick Lattimore (East English Village), S Daraun McKinney (River Rouge), S Kaevon Merriweather (Belleville), S Michael Ojemudia (Harrison), DT Zach VanValkenburg (Zeeland West)
  • Iowa WR Oliver Martin spent the 2017-2018 seasons at Michigan before transferring prior to this year.
  • Iowa S Michael Ojemudia is the younger brother of former Michigan OLB/DE Mario Ojemudia.

LAST TIME THEY PLAYED…

  • On November 12, 2016, Iowa beat Michigan, 14-13.
  • Wilton Speight was 11/26 for 103 yards and 1 INT
  • De’Veon Smith ran 12 times for 28 yards
  • Iowa running back Akrum Wadley had 23 carries for 115 yards and 5 catches for 52 yards and 1 TD
  • Michigan’s offense sucked.
  • I still harbor ill feelings because Ty Isaac ran 1 time for a 7-yard touchdown and never touched the ball again.
  • I spent the night in the hospital due to a family emergency and watched the game on a tiny hospital room monitor.

PREDICTIONS

  • Shea Patterson throws for 220 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception
  • Khaleke Hudson has a big game with 8 tackles and 2 tackles for loss
  • Iowa QB Nate Stanley throws his first INT of the year
  • Michigan 24, Iowa 21

30 comments

  1. Avatar
    Comments: 335
    Joined: 12/24/2016
    INTJohn
    Oct 04, 2019 at 7:55 AM

    (Chuckle) Hmmmm, I kinda agree but I kinda don’t.
    5 weeks & 4 games into the season there’s a surprising 2 game common denominator between Iowa & Michigan so We’ve got a better handle on team comparisons/ matchups than what would be normally the case…….
    Each team has a ‘squeaked by victory’:
    Mich vs Army and Iowa vs Iowa St. I think Iowa’s was on the road tho and this helps Iowa now playin in AA.
    Which team is the better coached? At this point one has to say Iowa.
    Which team is the better disciplined? At his point one has to say Iowa.
    Mich OL vs Iowa DL: Iowa
    Mich DL vs Iowa OL; Iowa
    Quarterback Play: Iowa
    Turnovers: Mich: 11 Iowa ONE! ummm Iowa.

    Looks to me that one can conclude how is Michigan even favored in this game lil lone actually win. Well its at home for the Wolverines thats about all one can say based on previous 4 games both teams have played.

    Can Michigan win – sure If they play almost mistake free, no stupid penalties & don’t turn the ball over. There is no evidence tho, yet this season that they can do this. (Rutgers doesn’t count)

    This game is Iowa’s to lose…………..
    As I See It………….INTJohn

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3310
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Oct 04, 2019 at 8:44 AM

      If this were an away game, I would pick Iowa. The home atmosphere is what sealed my prediction.

      • Avatar
        Comments: 335
        Joined: 12/24/2016
        INTJohn
        Oct 04, 2019 at 9:56 AM

        Michigan might be able to turn it to their favor off a special teams play.
        Ferentz’ teams are very fundamentally sound tho so I don’t see anything like a blocked punt or FG kik happening but maybe a punt return for TD. Make the first guy miss and anything can happen anytime in a broken field punt return against any one.

        A DPJ punt return might be the game winning hope in this game….INTJohn

  2. Avatar
    Comments: 1575
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    je93
    Oct 04, 2019 at 7:57 AM

    I’m take ANY win tomorrow

    • Avatar
      Comments: 1575
      Joined: 1/19/2016
      je93
      Oct 05, 2019 at 7:41 PM

      I take that back. I feel even worse about the offense now

  3. JC
    Comments: 258
    Joined: 8/17/2015
    JC
    Oct 04, 2019 at 10:05 AM

    I feel like this game could go anywhere from us winning by 3 scores to them winning by 2 scores, and for those reasons, I’ll take the average and pick Michigan by 1/2 a score.

  4. Avatar
    Comments: 1252
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    WindyCityBlue
    Oct 04, 2019 at 11:11 AM

    Michigan needs to throw the ball early and often in this game. Getting only 220 yards from Patterson will lose us the game, because we won’t be getting 150-200 yards on the ground. We need 300+ yards passing, and to have Iowa’s safeties backing up on every snap by the second quarter.

  5. GrandLake
    Comments: 60
    Joined: 8/22/2019
    GrandLake
    Oct 04, 2019 at 11:22 AM

    Not to sound overly dramatic but I feel like the whole season is riding on this game. Iowa seems a solid team but if UM can’t win this game, I am not sure how they beat PSU MSU ND or OSU which equals 6 losses and a disaster of a season. What is most worrisome is that if Alaric Jackson does play, Iowa has 2 likely 1st rd OL going up against the the UM DL which is quite a mismatch – this is possibly a better OL than Wisc and we saw how that turned out. I do think UM can win this game – much better in Ann Arbor, DPJ now seems to be close to 100% and last week’s game plan looked a lot better but they will need 30pts to win.

  6. Lanknows
    Comments: 5422
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Oct 04, 2019 at 11:57 AM

    Despite the historical evidence that Rutgers tells us everything we need to know about this team, I feel entirely unsure. Michigan has looked like a different team every week. Meanwhile Iowa is the same every year.

    I agree that anything could happen. A decisive victory in either direction wouldn’t be a shock. I don’t feel that way often, especially with a couple common opponents to gauge.

    I’ve heard a lot of talk about how the season is on the line that I don’t get at all. To an extent that’s pretty much true every week but there are clearly more important games both in terms of how meaningful winning is and how damaging losing would be. It’s a close line but there will be more of those to come.

    I just don’t see us looking back on this game as some sort of season-defining one. The Iowa game is only that when they play the spoiler role. This Michigan team may not be good enough to have their season spoiled by anyone.

    But we’ll see about that… I do agree we will know MUCH more about this team after tomorrow. Rutgers was a critical step in the right direction. If it extends to legitimate competition we can start getting our hopes up.

    I’ve heard a lot of people talking about home field advantage this week which is a dubious thing to lean on. It does make sense when you have a low line but it feels like a bit of a mental security blanket I think. If that’s what you’re counting on well OK. Hopefully it means more than the bye week did.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 1252
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      WindyCityBlue
      Oct 04, 2019 at 12:31 PM

      Yes, the loss to Wisconsin basically left us with no margin for error, and any hope for our season to have any relevance is on the line every week. Another loss, and the only thing left to decide will be which meaningless bowl game we go to from third or fourth place in the division.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 5422
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Oct 04, 2019 at 12:42 PM

        I strongly disagree.

        OSU is THE season defining game. A 7-5 season with a win vs OSU will feel better than a 9-3 season with a loss to OSU. I understand the likelihood of things but you play the games.

        We should just go ahead and call it The Game.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 5422
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Oct 04, 2019 at 12:43 PM

        If you’re clinging to overachieving relative to objective expectations (9-3) after Wisconsin I don’t know what to tell you.

        • Avatar
          Comments: 1252
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          WindyCityBlue
          Oct 04, 2019 at 1:00 PM

          Not clinging to anything, only noting what’s still possible.

          And of course, some Penn State fans probably had the same attitude after we waxed them in 2016.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 5422
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Oct 04, 2019 at 1:49 PM

          Ha. Very optimistic. Yes, anything is possible but 7-5 feels more likely than 10-2.

          We have tons of margin for error if your expectation is 9-3 or 8-4. Which flavor of that record you get is still very meaningful to me and many other fans.

          • Avatar
            Comments: 1252
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            WindyCityBlue
            Oct 04, 2019 at 8:10 PM

            Sure, we still have a margin for error if we’re happy with a third place division finish and an Outback Bowl bid in Harbaugh’s 5th year. But not if we want to stay relevant past the first weekend of October.

    • GrandLake
      Comments: 60
      Joined: 8/22/2019
      GrandLake
      Oct 04, 2019 at 2:11 PM

      Home field means a lot more than a bye week to a team that has very few meaningful road wins under its current regime. Oddmakers generally assign 3 points for home field – assuming this hold than UM goes from a pick ’em to the current 3pt fav. In that sense, the market is assigning real value to home field
      I think the home field is even more important to a team that is struggling to find itself and the game is important /defining in what it will tell us about the team. Iowa is not going to come in a break out a whole new offense – they will run exactly what they have always run. If UM cant stop that than it is very likely that they will not stop better offenses all year hence lose to PSU ND OSU and possibly MSU.

  7. Lanknows
    Comments: 5422
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Oct 04, 2019 at 11:58 AM

    “It doesn’t appear to matter who lines up at running back right now, because the offensive line doesn’t want to move anyone off the ball.”

    Should replace the comma with a period there IMHO.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 1575
      Joined: 1/19/2016
      je93
      Oct 05, 2019 at 9:08 PM

      You see that JK Dobbins TD to end the half? RBs do matter

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 5422
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Oct 06, 2019 at 11:18 AM

      Thanks for bringing up Dobbins. First point – A Heisman candidate is not representative of typical players. Maybe Dobbins is the kind of Saquanian outlier that makes a difference. But let’s set that aside for a minute.

      Does Dobbins matter? Does he make a big impact or just fill a role? I don’t know but the stats don’t seem to show an impact player.

      Last year Dobbins ran for 4.6 ypc. His 3 top backups ran for 5.5, 5.8 and 6.2.
      This year Dobbins is running for 7.1 ypc. A huge leap! Did Dobbins get that much better in the offseason?

      Not likely. His top 3 backups are running for 6.3, 6.8, and 7.9 ypc. It seems this isn’t all Dobbin’s doin, it’s the team around him. More likely it’s a product of early season schedule and improvement in the OSU offense that benefits all the RBs. The biggest factor is probably Field’s legs opening up the offense relative to Haskins.

      Dobbins appears to be a better player than Mike Weber but Mike Weber didn’t matter either. Though he did get drafted in the 7th round he, like Karan Higdon and Deveon Smith and Wilton Speight, is busy doing something that isn’t playing in the NFL.

      Speaking of OSU’s rival, their team doesn’t make much of a case for the position being important either. The much loved much hyped 5-star freshman savior, he who has been risen, hasn’t done much for the running game’s success. He averages 4.3 ypc. His backups average 4.2, 4.6, and 4.9.

      Big dropoff from last year for Michigan RBs. Is that because Higdon and Evans matter? Maybe! That’s a better argument than Dobbins highlights that RBs are relevant, but given how Patterson and the OL look I think the more likely answer is that Pep Hamilton matters.

      Anyway I’m skeptical that Dobbins is an impact player and don’t think he should be a Heisman candidate. If he was at MIchigan he’d probably average something like 4.5 ypc like the rest of the backs are doing. If Charbonnet was at Ohio State he’d probably average something like 6.5 ypc like the rest of their RBs are doing.

      RBs don’t matter. There are exceptions but Dobbins probably isn’t one of them.

      Good player though! His highlights are impressive. I couldn’t do that stuff. I also couldn’t execute a block against a 290 pound DT or cover a WR with 4.5 speed for more than 2 seconds. Every single play in a college game has impressive athletic feats from my perspective.

      • Avatar
        Comments: 1575
        Joined: 1/19/2016
        je93
        Oct 06, 2019 at 5:22 PM

        Glad you’ve come around on the team game point. Progress

        “it’s the team around him”

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 5422
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Oct 06, 2019 at 9:16 PM

          faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaart

  8. Avatar
    Comments: 1252
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    WindyCityBlue
    Oct 04, 2019 at 12:19 PM

    Michigan needs to throw the ball early and often in this game. A typical ultra-safe 220 yard game from Patterson will mean a likely loss, because we won’t be getting 150-200 yards on the ground. We need to have Iowa’s safeties backing up on every snap from the second quarter on.

    If Harbaugh can’t coach his way to a win, we’ll be looking at an October and November of irrelevancy (fantasy scenarios of us still making the playoff by deluded Mgobloggers notwithstanding).

  9. Lanknows
    Comments: 5422
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Oct 04, 2019 at 12:34 PM

    Things I most want to see:

    1. Dwumfour healthy and playing at least half the snaps. Danna and Uche getting more snaps also to give our top 3 some rest. Settling the DL rotation would go a long way to resolving the problems exposed against Wisconsin.

    2. Rotation at LB. I like Glasgow but I think he’s a potential liability in coverage. We need to make it hard on opponents trying to pick on any one guy.

    3. Balanced playcalling on O. The run game has been mostly OK. The YPC is suppressed by a lack of big plays but that has been shown to not be predictive. The bigger concern is a lack of identity and inconsistency. Having healthy RBs and QBs may play into this some. There’s rumors out there about how serious ZC’s injury issue is so I’d like to see him get more work to dispel that concern. Same for Wilson and Turner. I don’t believe it’s a personnel issue with OL or RB. We have the pieces we need if everyone is healthy.

    4. Solid coaching. This is kind of general but it seems like Iowa is even more predictable than Wisconsin. If we look disorganized and stupid against a predictable opponent again it will be very disheartening.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 1252
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      WindyCityBlue
      Oct 04, 2019 at 1:08 PM

      Unfortunately, Harbaugh has also shown himself to be ultra-conservative and as a result highly predictable in games like this, especially when things are close in the second half. If we are always running the ball out of 2 or 3 TE sets on third and short (as Harbaugh seemingly can’t help but do), we will lose.

      I’m not sure how you define “ok” re the running game, but would you care to count the number of times we’ve gotten no push on third and short? Iowa will load 9 guys in the box on those plays all day and stuff them, because they know Harbaugh doesn’t have the balls to attempt even the simplest, easiest pass in those situations.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 5422
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Oct 04, 2019 at 2:02 PM

        I would prefer a boring playcall out of the jumbo package to most of the goalline plays we’ve seen so far this year. The short-yardage stuff has not looked good.

        Beyond that and fumbling I think the run game has been “OK” because they’ve generally moved the ball forward when they’ve bothered to try running. The competition wasn’t great but our backs have YPC in the mid 4s despite only 1 long run. Nothing amazing but not a disaster either. Especially on standard downs.

        I have no idea what that means for tough defenses but we need to be balanced enough to keep teams from teeing off on the QB. I don’t think our run game is any kind of disaster that should be discarded. But the playcalling needs to be refined so that it works with the pass game in a coherent way.

        Turner and Charbonnet look good to me. Of course like any running backs their skills are irrelevant if they dont get blocking and playcalling.

        I hope to see a breakout run game performance against Iowa. To me the coaches would be the ones who drive that, though it’ll be the running backs who get the credit.

        • Avatar
          Comments: 1252
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          WindyCityBlue
          Oct 04, 2019 at 8:13 PM

          A breakout running performance against Iowa? Talk about overachieving relative to objective expectations.

          • GrandLake
            Comments: 60
            Joined: 8/22/2019
            GrandLake
            Oct 04, 2019 at 8:24 PM

            Unfortunately there is no breakout running performance unless Shea is willing to keep on the read option. If he isn’t willing to run vs Iowa then when? This isn’t a team where the defense can be expected to keep the game close. Need to throw downfield against Iowa and that will be tough without a run game.

      • JC
        Comments: 258
        Joined: 8/17/2015
        JC
        Oct 04, 2019 at 2:06 PM

        I am with you on the 220 yards safe Patterson game comment.

        I am with you on the not deploying 2 or 3 TEs.

        I’m not with you with Harbaugh lacking the balls to attempt a simple pass in a 9 guys in the box situation. I think we went for it on a pretty long 4th down with a fake punt run vs. Army just 3 games ago, no? That took a decent pair of cojones.

        • Avatar
          Comments: 1252
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          WindyCityBlue
          Oct 04, 2019 at 8:14 PM

          That was one trick play that happened to catch the opponent by surprise. I’m talking about doing something regularly and making it work.

  10. Avatar
    Comments: 9
    Joined: 9/21/2015
    evey1975
    Oct 04, 2019 at 3:07 PM

    Will U-M run a real option game? If they do, will Patterson make it through the game?

    That situation is a big dilemma for us. Burning plays by running into stacked boxes (like against Army and Rutgers) won’t fly tomorrow, nor will ignoring running entirely (like Wisconsin). But M is also one hit from its 3rd stringer having to take over. We’re in a bit of a fix.

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