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Stadium and Main: Some keys

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Some keys

Getting a bit nervous about the PSU game. Must type thoughts to prevent freak out:

- Mike Massey, this is the biggest game of your career (so far). Here’s the situation: PSU wants to prevent the big play, and has accordingly been burned by TEs most of the year (especially against Minnesota and ND). PSU also has a great LB corp that leads the 2nd-best Run Defense in the Big Ten. With Tyler Ecker limited by injury, and potentially unable to play, Massey needs to carry the load. I’d expect another false start penalty from backup Carson Butler before I’d expect a 35-yard gain from him (though I’d love to be wrong here). So Massey needs to get open and make catches, hold his ground on zone stretch runs, and pick up blitzes.

- Mike DeBord needs to be aggressive and make appropriate adjustments. Michigan and PSU fans alike expect a lack of deep passes due to PSU’s defensive style (“keep everything in front of you”) and Manningham’s injury. But if they’re there, we need to recognize it and take advantage. Michigan leads the nation in Time of Possession, and I’m hoping we can control the clock and run the ball against PSU. What I’m worried about, though, is whether we’re prepared to win a game where we can’t do so. We haven’t faced that situation yet, partially due to some good play-calling by DeBord. If we end up in that type of game, then I’ll be having flashbacks to 2005. The key differences? Henne is looking better, and the Defense is, well, playing Defense (with a capital “D,” mind you).

- Win the 1st Quarter. Michigan played a lackadaisical 1st Quarter against Wisconsin, and ended up in a close game in the 3rd. In every other Michigan game, the Wolverines have played well in the opening Quarter, and it has led to fairly easy victories. Taking the PSU crowd out of the game and demoralizing the PSU team would be huge this weekend. Coming out flat and falling behind could be disastrous.

- Can we rattle Morelli? His completion percentage (56) isn’t too hot, and he probably (knock on wood) won’t burn us for 3 TDs since he only has 6 on the season (with 5 INTs). So I say blitz, even if the front four is having some success. PSU’s Offensive Line isn’t terrible, but they had to replace a ton of guys after last year, and their best Tackle (Levi Brown) is coming off an injury. MSU avoided sacks by rolling Drew Stanton out. Minnesota did so by throwing quick passes. If PSU doesn’t adopt either tactic, we need to get pressure on Morelli and force some turnovers.

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