After a disastrous trip into Indiana two weeks ago, where Denard Robinson threw nearly as many interceptions as Geno Smith threw incompletions in last weekends WVU game, Michigan heads to West Lafayette to battle the Boilermakers.
There was plenty of blame to go around (especially in the first half) but Denard takes blame as much as he gets credit when things go well. Such is the life of a Michigan quarterback.
With 1/3 of the Leaders division not eligible for a trip to Indy, and Wisconsin looking far from typical Wisconsin, Purdue is ripe to play a 13th game this year before the bowl game. Pundits such as Kirk Herbstreit have predicted Purdue to take it one step further, to win the Big 10 (in addition to beating UM this weekend).
As another "famous" coach from the state of Indiana, Lee Corso would say, "Not so fast my friend!".
There are a couple things of a positive note to take out of the game against the little green leprechauns, in spite of my abhorrence of moral victories.
Taking sack yardage out of the numbers, Michigan ran for 191 yards against the Irish, who has an impressive front 7. Much of this was out of the tailback position, which had struggled quite a bit to put up any semblance of productivity. Denard accounted for the vast majority of the rushing yards in the previous 3 games.
Also not to be ignored is the improvement of the defense. While the defensive line is still lacking, there have been flashes of improvement. The saving grace is while Michigan’s weakness is their defensive line, they won’t play another team with as dominating of an offensive line as Alabama (and to a much lesser extent, ND) the remainder of the year. The back 7 have also improved greatly. Raymon Taylor has the ability to be a big physical corner and has shown he’s fitting in well after replacing Blake Countess after he went down in the Alabama game.
Giving up 13 points, when the offense turns the ball over in half their possessions (many in their own territory) is promising. While you won’t confuse them with the ’85 Bears, steady improvement can be expected. There is talent there, and frankly I’ll put Greg Mattison and the remainder of the defensive coaches up against anyone with regards to player development. We saw it last year, and have already seen it in 2012.
On defense, Purdue has a couple of outstanding players, namely Kawann Short and Ricardo Allen (who had a pick 6- 2 years ago in WL against UM) Short will likely be on the short list for B10 defensive POY.
On offense, QB Caleb TerBush has shown flashes (and Robert Marve may play, but is dealing with his 3rd knee injury). Akeem Shavers has potential to be dangerous.
Look for OC Al Borges to pound the ball, whether it be with Denard or Fitz. One prediction I’ll make is Michigan will possess the ball for 35+ minutes.
IF (and its a BIG IF with recent history) Michigan can limit turnovers, I think the 3pt road favorite spread will be far too low.
Fear the stache? Not this year. UM 34, Purdue 21.