The Game Preview: Final Thoughts

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23Nov 2018
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The Game Preview: Final Thoughts


  • Ohio State players recruited by Michigan include: OL Joshua Alabi, WR Kamryn Babb, LB Dante Booker, LB Baron Browning, DE Jashon Cornell, OL Wyatt Davis, TE Luke Farrell, DE Tyler Friday, S Jordan Fuller, LB Dallas Gant, RB Jaelen Gill, WR Jaylen Harris, QB Dwayne Haskins, TE Jake Hausmann, LB Justin Hilliard, CB Tyreke Johnson, DT Dre’Mont Jones, LB Keandre Jones, OL Matt Jones, OL Michael Jordan, OL Demetrius Knox, WR Austin Mack, QB Tate Martell, RB Demario McCall, LB Teradja Mitchell, CB Jeffrey Okuda, WR Chris Olave, OL Nick Petit-Frere, OL Isaiah Prince, S Josh Proctor, S Isaiah Pryor, S Amir Riep, TE Jeremy Ruckert, CB Kendall Sheffield, WR L’Christian Smith, RB Brian Snead, DT Tommy Togiai, WR Binjimen Victor, DT Taron Vincent, CB Shaun Wade, RB Mike Weber, LB Pete Werner, CB Marcus Williamson, OL Max Wray
  • Ohio State players from the State of Michigan include: Detroit Cass Tech OL Joshua Alabi, Plymouth OL Michael Jordan, Troy Athens LS Bradley Robinson, Detroit Cass Tech RB Mike Weber
  • Michigan players from the State of Ohio include: FB Matt Brown, LS Cameron Cheeseman, LB Noah Furbush, P Will Hart, S Tyree Kinnel, WR Jake McCurry, S Ryan McCurry, P Brad Robbins, OL Greg Robinson, LB Adam Shibley, OL Nolan Ulizio
  • Michigan offensive line coach Ed Warinner is a former Ohio State offensive line coach and offensive coordinator


  • On November 25, 2017, Ohio State beat Michigan, 31-20
  • Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins was 6/7 for 94 yards after starter J.T. Barrett was injured
  • Michigan QB John O’Korn was 17/32 for 195 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception
  • Michigan WR Kekoa Crawford led the Wolverines with 2 catches for 57 yards
  • Michigan RBs Karan Higdon and Chris Evans combined for 22 carries, 122 yards, and 1 touchdown


  • Michigan 38, Ohio State 34
23Nov 2018
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The Game Preview: Michigan Pass Defense vs. Ohio State Pass Offense

Dwayne Haskins (image via SB Nation)

Previously: M Rush Offense vs. OSU Rush Defense, M Pass Offense vs. OSU Pass Defense, M Rush Defense vs. OSU Rush Offense


Michigan is the #1 passing defense in the country (123 yards allowed/game) by a wide margin (#2 is Miami at 142 yards allowed/game). The Wolverines are #1 in opponent completing percentage (47.1), #1 in yards per attempt (4.9), and #1 in passer rating defense. Only one time this season has Michigan allowed more than one touchdown pass in a game, and that was an anomaly against SMU in the non-conference season.

It starts up front for Michigan, where the Wolverines have several effective pass rushers. One of the best pass rushers is hurt, though, in the form of Chase Winovich (4 sacks); it’s unclear if he will play this weekend or not. The leading sacker is pass rush specialist Josh Uche (8 sacks), and linebacker Devin Bush, Jr. has 5. If Winovich doesn’t play, Michigan will need a big day from Rashan Gary, who has 3.5 sacks but has been underwhelming at times. Michigan is #3 in overall Sack Rate, including #1 overall on passing downs.

The secondary has improved since last year, and starting cornerbacks David Long and Lavert Hill have been two of the toughest guys to throw against in the whole country. Long was beaten for a TD for the first time against Indiana, and Hill has been called for several pass interference penalties. Third corner Brandon Watson has been very good but got burned last week by Indiana when he missed a jam at the line of scrimmage, but that’s nitpicking. Overall, it’s been a very good group. The safeties have improved their coverage on wheel routes and slot fades, but they will be tested against the Buckeyes.

Hit the jump for the rest.

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22Nov 2018
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The Game Preview: Michigan Rush Defense vs. Ohio State Rush Offense

Previously: M Rush Offense vs. OSU Rush Defense, M Pass Offense vs. OSU Pass Defense


Michigan is #14 in rushing defense (111.6 yards allowed/game), and the 3.28 yards allowed per rush ranks at #14 also. Despite having the #1 passing defense in the country, teams have still only run for 11 touchdowns this season, which is tied for #20 overall.

Michigan runs mostly a 4-man front, but defensive end Chase Winovich – the team’s third-leading tackler with 58 – is questionable after suffering an injury against Indiana. Devin Bush, Jr. is a sideline-to-sideline middle linebacker, and his 73 tackles lead the team. Safety Tyree Kinnel (62 tackles) has improved his tackling this year and frequently pokes his nose up into the box to help in the run game. Winovich’s 13.5 tackles for loss will be greatly missed if he’s unable to play, and Bush is second with 9.0.

As for the defensive line overall, Michigan is #10 in Line Yards, #3 in Opportunity Rate, and #15 in Stuff Rate; where they struggle is in Power Success Rate (#80), which is the result of a lack of a powerful nose tackle. Michigan has not had great production from the interior line, which makes Michigan’s defensive success so impressive: the top three defensive tackles (Lawrence Marshall, Bryan Mone, Auburey Solomon) have combined for just 26 tackles and 2 tackles for loss. For a comparison, Maurice Hurst, Jr. had 61 tackles and 14.5 tackles for loss by himself last year.


Ohio State is #53 in rushing offense (182 yards/game) and #66 in yards per carry (4.4). Their 20 rushing touchdowns come in tied at #61.

Ohio State’s line is as follows:

  • LT: Thayer Munford (So., 6’6″, 325)
  • LG: Malcolm Pridgeon (RS Sr., 6’7″, 315)
  • C: Michael Jordan (Jr., 6’7″, 310)
  • RG: Demetrius Knox (RS Sr., 6’4″, 311)
  • RT: Isaiah Prince (Sr., 6’6″, 306)

Munford was not heavily recruited, Pridgeon is a JUCO transfer, and Jordan was thought to be a tackle or guard coming out of high school. As a group, they are #34 in Opportunity Rate, #67 in Line Yards, #67 in Stuff Rate, and #101 in Power Success Rate. It’s not a great group, but it is Ohio State: they’re still not bad, because of the talent and the coaching.

The Buckeyes have a good 1-2 punch with sophomore J.K. Dobbins (5’10”, 214) and senior Mike Weber (also 5’10”, 214). They have combined for 1,626 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. Weber missed last week with an injury, leading to Dobbins’s 37 carries for 203 yards against the Maryland Terrapins. Dobbins has generally been held in check by solid defenses (28 yards against Michigan State, 57 against Penn State), but Weber went for 102 against MSU two weeks ago. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins (6’3″, 220) is decently mobile, but he’s not really a runner like J.T. Barrett, Braxton Miller, and other past OSU quarterbacks; Haskins has 93 yards and 4 touchdowns on the year and is more in the mode of Cardale Jones.


The fact that Haskins isn’t a great runner should help Michigan out here, because Urban Meyer used J.T. Barrett to great effectiveness over the past several years. Even in their worst rushing game against Michigan over Meyer’s tenure (the 2016 game), Barrett ran the ball 30 times for 125 yards and 1 score. Michigan should do well, but the absence of Chase Winovich would be a big blow. Backup Josh Uche isn’t a run-stopper, and Aidan Hutchinson can be taken advantage of because of his inexperience. Michigan’s best defensive end combo, sans Winovich, would be Rashan Gary on the strong side and Kwity Paye on the weak side, but that leaves the backup situation in flux.

It will also be important for Michigan to control the ball on offense. Michigan can get worn out on defense, like they did against Indiana last week, and that has also hurt them in the past. Several players went down with cramps last week. No Barrett probably means a lesser chance of getting worn down on extended drives, but it will still be something to watch for in the fourth quarter.

Advantage: Michigan

21Nov 2018
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The Game Preview: Michigan Pass Offense vs. Ohio State Pass Defense

Shea Patterson (image via the Sporting News)

Previously: M Rush Offense vs. OSU Rush Defense


Michigan is #87 in passing offense (211 yards/game), which sounds pretty bad. However, they’re #111 in passing attempts (272). Shea Patterson’s efficiency numbers are what stand out. The Wolverines are #14 in passing efficiency and tied at #20 in yards per attempt (8.5). Starting quarterback Shea Patterson is completing 65.9% of his passes for 2,177 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions; in his last four games, he has 8 touchdowns and 1 pick, with that one interception coming on an RPO last week against Indiana.

I’ve posted about the evenness with which he has spread out the ball, but I’ll emphasize it again: Michigan’s top two wideouts (Nico Collins and Donovan Peoples-Jones) and top tight end (Zach Gentry) all have between 29-32 receptions and 461-477 yards. It’s very interesting how consistent that distribution has been over the last several weeks. Various other receivers have shown a penchant for making big plays (tight end Nick Eubanks, wide receiver Ronnie Bell, and wide receiver Oliver Martin), but they have been targeted inconsistently.

The Wolverines are #24 in sacks allowed with 15 so far, which meshes well with their #25 ranking in Sack Rate. They’re #45 on Standard Downs, but #21 on Passing Downs.

Hit the jump for the rest of the preview.

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19Nov 2018
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The Game Preview: Michigan Rush Offense vs. Ohio State Rush Defense

Chase Young (image via Saturday Tradition)

I’m breaking up the preview for The Game into several installments, so here’s your look at Michigan’s rushing offense against Ohio State’s rushing defense.

We’re five days away.


Michigan’s offensive line is huge:

  • LT: Jon Runyan, Jr. (RS Jr., 6’5″, 310)
  • LG: Ben Bredeson (Jr., 6’5″, 320)
  • C: Cesar Ruiz (So., 6’4″, 319)
  • RG: Michael Onwenu (Jr., 6’3″, 350)
  • RT: Juwann Bushell-Beatty (RS Sr., 6’6″, 318)

The offensive line has mostly moved up in recent weeks and ranks #49 in Line Yards, #89 in Opportunity Rate, #70 in Power Success Rate, and #30 in Stuff Rate. It’s not a great line, but they are massive and have eliminated a lot of the frustrating blown assignments that resulted in tackles for loss in previous years. This year they are #13 in tackles for loss allowed, while last year they were #101 and they were #97 in 2016. Against Indiana last week, Michigan had to substitute in redshirt sophomore offensive tackle Andrew Stueber (6’7″, 323) at right tackle for Bushell-Beatty since the latter has been dealing with an injury and an illness over the last couple weeks. Stueber graded out as Michigan’s top lineman in that game, according to Pro Football Focus.

As a team, Michigan is #23 in rushing (219 yards/game) and #27 in yards per carry (5.03). Starting running back Karan Higdon eclipsed 1,100 yards last week and averages 5.3 yards/carry with 10 touchdowns. Backup running backs Chris Evans (370 yards, 5.6 YPC, 4 TD) and Tru Wilson (323 yards, 6.2 YPC, 1 TD). Meanwhile, in the last five games, quarterback Shea Patterson has run the ball 37 times for 224 yards and 2 touchdowns – and he didn’t run the ball once against Rutgers two weeks ago. That’s 58 yards and 0.5 touchdowns per game in games where the coaching staff planned to have him run the ball.


Ohio State’s defensive line is not particularly huge with defensive end Chase Young (6’5″, 240), defensive tackle Dre’mont Jones (6’3″, 295), nose tackle Robert Landers (6’1″, 283), and defensive end Jonathan Cooper (6’3″, 250). However, they are ranked highly in several categories, including Line Yards (#5), Opportunity Rate (#19), and Stuff Rate (#5). They’re #120 in Passing Down Line Yards. They’re tied for #24 in tackles for loss (80), led by Jones (12.0) and Young (9.5). Young is a former 5-star recruit who’s extremely quick and athletic.

The next three guys on their TFL list are linebackers: Tuf Borland (6’1″, 230), Pete Werner (6’3″, 236), and Malik Harrison (6’3″, 245). They have 9.0, 7.5, and 6.5 tackles for loss, respectively. All three guys are listed as starters, and while they are prone to go to a 4-2-5 look against spread looks, the number of offensive personnel sets that Michigan will run out there to include tight ends and fullbacks will probably keep them in a 4-3 for much of the game. The Buckeyes have had some solid performances (84 yards allowed to Indiana, 54 to Michigan State), but they just got torched for 339 yards and 5 touchdowns against Maryland, including 81- and 75-yard touchdown runs by Anthony McFarland.


While it would be nice to be able to replicate what McFarland did last week, Michigan doesn’t have anyone with his explosiveness. Decent rushing offenses have generally been okay against Ohio State, so I do think the Wolverines will be able to run the ball somewhat efficiently. Patterson will need to be a part of the running game, and it will be interesting to see if Michigan adds some wrinkles to the run game, such as the power read. Michigan does a pretty good job of game planning against Ohio State, and this year they have the talent and experience to produce against the Buckeyes.

Advantage: Michigan