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Stadium and Main: Thoughts on the ND game

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Thoughts on the ND game

Disorganized, disheveled, and disturbing, as usual...

- Is Michigan gonna take the ball first if it wins the toss? For the first time in what seems like forever, Michigan won the toss last week against CMU and elected to take the ball first. The vast majority of the time, Michigan will defer until the 2nd Half, and take the ball then. Will Lloyd want the first chance to score against ND? Might be a good idea, seeing that if ND goes up 7-0, our mentality will change (like it or not). If we go up 7-0, our mentality will also change (in a good way).

- How much will we throw deep and/or over the middle? I fear that we will be able to run the ball on ND, and therefore we won’t try anything too fancy in the passing game. Against a team with suspect CBs, it would be crazy to not run Breaston and Manningham deep a few times. On a related note, let me ask you this – When was the last time you saw Henne stand in the pocket, know that the rush is coming, step into a pass, get drilled, and complete the pass? Ever? If so, I missed it. Henne is too jittery back there. At the first sign of trouble, he’s running. Most times it is unsuccessful, but every once in a while he can get us 6 yards or so. Regardless, I don’t like it. “Insiders” and “experts” have criticized Henne for checking down to his other receivers, not giving his primary WRs enough time to get open, and having poor mechanics. I’m surprised that more people don’t question his pocket presence, because I think this could be the root of many of his other problems. Henne needs to man up, take a step up, make the tough throw, and get us a first down on 3rd and 12 when ND is blitzing. If he can’t, our chances of victory decrease exponentially, in my opinion.

- Can the right side of our OL hold up? Jake Long and Adam Kraus are solid on the left. Rueben Riley and Alex Mitchell kinda aren’t on the right. This has been discussed by others ad nauseam, and (surprise!) is making me nauseas. I have nightmares of Riley getting smoked by quality ND DE Victor Abiamari, leaving Henne as a sitting duck. And I’ve already discussed how I think Henne handles a rush...

- Will our DL continue to get a good push without consistent blitzes? Woodley and Biggs have been really good. Alan Branch has been quiet, but he gets double-teamed a bit. Terrance Taylor got a big push up the middle a few times last week and blew up some running plays – a pleasant surprise. If they can keep it up, we’ve got a shot of holding ND in the 20’s. Reasons for optimism: ND has given up 5 total sacks in its first 2 games, so we’ll probably get a few. Also, ND starts True Freshman Sam Young at one of the Tackle spots. He’s very talented, but I’ll take Woodley, Biggs, or Jamison in that match-up.

- How will our DBs hold up? Virtually untested against Vanderbilt due to consistent DL pressure, and pretty pedestrian against Central Michigan, they’ll have to step it up against taller, faster, and simply better WRs this weekend. There can’t be any miscommunication in this game – Quinn and the WRs will eat that up.

- Will we run any trick plays? I remember getting a chuckle out of some random post this summer that just said “Michigan’s installing a fake punt for ND game.” I laugh, but the same thing happened prior to the opening game in 2004, and “random poster” was right (“Henne will start at QB Saturday. Gutz injured.”). So, hey, I’ve got my fingers crossed. We might as well try something – and I’m not just talking about the obligatory Reverse to Breaston.

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