We enter the home stretch in the B1G season, as the Wildcats of Northwestern travel to the Big House.
While the status of Denard Robinson is up in the air, my personal opinion is he won’t play unless absolutely necessary. It’s merely an educated guess, but given Devin Gardner’s performance last week in Minneapolis, there’s growing confidence he can get the job done. At the end of the day, the staff has to feel they need him more in Columbus than any other game left on the schedule, and making sure he’s as close to 100% as possible for November 24th has to be the goal. Nobody really knows…
On to defense. What can be said about the performances, week in, and week out, that the Michigan defense has come up with this season. An expected weakness (at least in the front 4) has actually proven to be a strength, and kept Michigan in many games (see MSU, ND and others). Expect Michigan to stack the box against Northwestern, who runs nearly 2/3 of the time, and force them to throw. Veneric Mark is a heck of a tailback (one of the 3 B1G finalists for the Doak Walker award) but NU hasn’t played a defense as stout as Michigan’s. He’s capable of taking it the distance every time he touches it. Gap integrity is of utmost importance.
When Michigan has the ball, assuming Gardner takes the reigns again, expect to see a gameplan that mirrors last week. With the weather being so good tomorrow, you may even see Michigan attempt to take advantage downfield a bit more, with a very capable passer in Gardner in the lineup. Its imperative that the offensive line makes strides, because frankly, in the vast majority of the season, it may be the teams biggest disappointment. We’re hearing Jack Miller and others have gotten some run with the first team, as the interior of the line continues to struggle. Not sure if they’ll pull the trigger and make a change, but if they continue getting blown up too frequently up the middle, don’t be shocked.
Michigan holds Northwestern to a few field goals in the red zone, performs well enough to pull it out, Michigan 27, Northwestern 16.