Rush Offense vs. BYU Rush Defense
Michigan is #55 nationally in average yards per carry at 4.78 and #61 in yards per game with 185. Those numbers come after a poor start against a pretty good Utah defense and then two fairly easy games against overmatched opponents. Starter De’Veon Smith had just 13 carries for 33 yards last week, but he leads the team in rushing yards while averaging just 3.9 yards/carry. Head coach Jim Harbaugh likes him because of his toughness, but he is not the most productive runner. Harbaugh said last week that he won’t discuss position controversies outside of QB, but backup Ty Isaac is making a push for more playing time after an 8-carry, 114-yard performance against UNLV. He leads the team with 8.9 yards/carry and broke a 76-yarder for a touchdown last week. On the offensive line, right guard Kyle Kalis and center Graham Glasgow were noted following last week’s performance for their quality play, and the line does seem to be performing at a higher level than at most points over the past couple seasons. BYU is #74 in the country for giving up 162 yards/game on the ground, and their average per carry allowed is 4.58, good for just #92 nationally. However, their three games have come against some pretty good competition in Boise State, Nebraska, and UCLA. The Cougars run a 3-4 defense where the linemen are going to eat up blockers while the linebackers and safeties hopefully run free. Strong safety Michael Wadsworth (6’2″, 221 lbs.) leads the team with 22 tackles, followed by middle linebacker Harvey Langi (6’3″, 240 lbs.), weak inside linebacker Manoa Pikula (6’1″, 235 lbs.), and SAM linebacker Fred Warner (6’4″, 225 lbs.). Nose tackle Travis Tuiloma (6’2″, 300 lbs.) is a formidable player who might be returning from the injury he suffered in week one, although his career highs of 27 tackles and 6 tackles for loss in 2014 are nothing too frightening. Michigan had a good rushing day against Oregon State, who ran a 3-4 as well, although not with the same size or talent. Part of the reason is that it freed up left guard Ben Braden to pull and release to the second level, where his leverage issues aren’t as apparent as when he has to deal with down linemen.
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