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Posts Tagged ‘Hoosiers’

The Numbers Game: U-M offense, defense remain among nation’s best entering The Game

Thursday, November 24th, 2016


smith-vs-iu(Isaiah Hole, 247 Sports)

Previously: Is Don Brown’s defense high-risk? The numbers say noMichigan’s Harbaughfense will be more explosive in Year 2, Run game makes big plays in Week 1, While UCF loaded the box Michigan went to the air for big plays, Michigan offense doubles 2015 big play pace through 3 weeks, UM’s smothering defense narrows gap between 2015 D’s big play pace, U-M offense maintains big play pace versus tough Wisconsin D, Michigan out-big-plays Rutgers 16 to 1, Michigan’s big play stats continue to tell good news, U-M offense third most explosive, defense best at preventing big plays, MSU wins big play battle, Michigan wins the war, As big play defense falls back to earth, U-M offense continues to soar, U-M’s dynamic big-play offense stalls in Iowa loss

For the second week in a row, Michigan held their opponent to just six explosive plays, which is their season average. Unlike last week, this time, Michigan managed to win the explosive play battle, but it was close as they managed just eight total under the watch of backup quarterback John O’Korn. But a win is a win, and Michigan moves their focus to The Game.

Offensive big plays
Michigan offense – 2015 vs 2016 first 11 weeks comparison
Year Big Run Plays Big Pass Plays Total Big Plays Big Play % Big Play Diff Toxic Diff
2016 82 43 125 15.80% 5.73% 66
2015 43 36 79 10.30% 0.13% 3

Despite Wilton Speight missing the game, back-up quarterback John O’Korn filled in admirably, adding an explosive pass in the first quarter and then finally sparking the offense with a 30-yard scramble on 3rd-and-8 during the third quarter. Michigan had seven explosive runs and De’Veon Smith led the way with four of them, three of which were over 25-yards including his two 30-plus-yard touchdown runs. Chris Evans added the other two and O’Korn added his name to the big play list with his one run.

Michigan didn’t look to be clicking on all cylinders under O’Korn, as was to be expected, but the defense did its job and Michigan pulled away late for the win. It will be interesting to see which quarterback trots out against the Buckeyes next week.

For the year, Michigan is averaging 7.45 explosive runs per game (17th nationally) and 3.19 explosive passes (33rd), for a total of 11.36 (9th). Their big play percentage is 15.8 percent (15th) and their big play differential is 5.73 percent (9th).

Through 11 games in 2015 the offense was averaging 3.91 explosive runs per game and 3.27 explosive passes for a total of just 7.18 explosive plays per game. Their big play percentage was 10.44 percent and their big play differential was just barely positive, 0.13 percent. Every single offensive metric has been improved from 2015 to 2016 and the pass number is the only one that hasn’t improved dramatically.

Garbage time

There was no garbage time in this game. For the season, only 36.8 percent of Michigan’s explosive plays come during garbage time.

Defensive big play allowed
Michigan defense – 2015 vs 2016 averages through 11 weeks
Year Big Run Plays/gm Big Pass Plays/gm Total Big Plays/gm Big Play % Big Play Diff Toxic Diff
2016 4.00 2.09 6.09 10.08% 5.73% 66
2015 4.18 2.27 6.45 10.30% 0.13% 3

Last year, Indiana gashed Michigan to the tune of 15 explosive plays — 12 on the ground and three in the air. They didn’t fare so well this time around, getting just three each on the ground and through the air. No one dominated the stat sheet like last week or at MSU.

Michigan’s defensive totals continue to impress, but not surprise the readers of this blog. They’re surrendering four explosive runs per game (28th) and 2.09 explosive passes (5th) for a total of just 6.09 explosive plays per game (5th) — more than one fewer allowed per game than 2015, right about where we predicted preseason. Their big play against percentage is 10.08 percent (26th) and their total toxic differential is 66, good for second on a per game basis.

The 2015 D.J. Durkin version of this defense was also very good through 11 games, averaging 4.18 explosive runs and 2.27 explosive passes for a total of 6.45 explosive plays per game. Their big play against percentage was 10.3 percent but their total toxic differential was a paltry three. Compared to this year’s numbers the 2015 defense would rank 35th in big runs, 12th against the pass, 12th overall, 29th for big play against percentage, and 68th in total toxic differential. Not quite the meteoric jump the offense has made but still an incredible feat. However, where there has been a major leap on defense is in the sack and tackles for loss category.

Garbage time

Again, there was no garbage time during this game. For the year Michigan surrenders 42.42% of their big plays during garbage time.

Sacks and tackles for loss

Michigan added three sacks and 12 total tackles for loss to their impressive season totals. Their 36 sacks ranks 8th overall, and their 3.27 sacks per game rank 9th. They lead the nation in both total tackles for loss (101) and TFL per game (9.18). They’ve long surpassed 2015’s totals and still have at least two games remaining.

Big plays by down

um-offense-big-plays-by-down-week-12

An explosive play is about equally as likely on first down (53) as it is on second down (54). An explosive run is more likely on second (39) than first down (36) and an explosive pass play is slightly more likely on first (17) than second down (15). Third down is highly unlikely to see an explosive run (only 7.32 percent of explosive runs happen on third down) but better than a quarter (25.58 percent) of the explosive pass plays happen on third down.

opp-big-plays-by-down-week-12

On defense, Michigan is also about equally as likely to give up an explosive play on first down (27) than second down (25) with third down a good deal behind (13). They’ve only surrendered one fourth down explosive play. Almost half of the explosive runs given up happen on second down (20), followed by first (16), and then third (7). Explosive pass plays are more likely to occur on first down (11) than second (5), third (6), and fourth (1) downs.

Big play percentage of total yards

Indiana had just four drives with at least one explosive play against Michigan, but only scored on half of them. Michigan had just six drives with at least one explosive play and scored on four of them (67 percent). For the year, Michigan has had 81 total drives on which they’ve had at least one explosive play, and they’ve scored on 59 of them, or 72.84 percent of the time. On defense, they’ve surrendered just 17 scores on 48 drives with an explosive play, which equates to just 35.42 percent of the time. What this means is that almost two-thirds of the time an opponent has a drive with an explosive play (which doesn’t happen often) they still can’t score on this Michigan’s defense. Remember teams are likely to score 75 percent of the time they have an explosive play on a given drive.

Next opponent
Michigan & Ohio State offense comparison
Year Big Run Plays Big Pass Plays Total Big Plays Big Play % Big Play Diff Toxic Diff
UM Off. 82 43 125 15.80% 5.73% 66
OSU Off. 90 32 122 14.29% 1.89% 47
Michigan & Iowa defense comparison
Year Big Run Plays Big Pass Plays Total Big Plays Big Play % Big Play Diff Toxic Diff
UM Def. 44 23 67 10.08% 5.73% 66
OSU Def. 65 25 89 12.40% 1.89% 47

The last time The Game held championship aspirations for both teams was 2006. OSU was No. 1 and Michigan was No. 2. This time it’s No. 2 vs No. 3 but it’s just as meaningful as it was then — the winner is likely headed to the College Football Playoff. OSU needs some help but it’d be hard to keep them out if they won this weekend. OSU has shown they’re very mortal this year, as has Michigan, but rest assured they’ll bring their A-game versus Michigan, and vice versa. Let’s take a look at how the Buckeyes stack up in the explosive play stats.

On offense, the Buckeyes are averaging 8.18 explosive runs per game (9th) an 2.91 explosive passes (76th) for a total of 11.09 explosive plays per game (16th). Their big play percentage is 14.29 percent (30th) and their big play differential is 1.89 percent (40th). The run and overall explosive plays are better than the 2015 version but you wouldn’t know it by watching the two teams play.

On defense, the Buckeyes surrender 5.91 explosive runs per game (77th), 2.18 explosive passes (7th) for a total of 8.09 explosive plays per game (54th). Their big play against percentage is 12.4 percent (80th) and their total toxic differential is 47, good for 47th on a per game basis.

#3 Michigan 20 – Indiana 10: Smith’s career day leads Wolverines to 10th win

Saturday, November 19th, 2016


wormley-hurst-snow-vs-iu

It was ugly. It snowed. It almost ended Michigan’s quest for a first Big Ten title since 2004. But when the clock hit zero and there was no green left on the field except for the snow angels made by the cheerleaders during a timeout, Michigan held off Indiana for its 10th win of the season.

It marks the first time Michigan has achieved back to back 10-win seasons since 2002 and 2003 and it was the 21st straight win over the Hoosiers, dating back to 1987. But for nearly three quarters, it didn’t look like it was going to happen.

With John O’Korn making his first start in a Michigan uniform, in place of the injured Wilton Speight, Michigan’s offense looked like it wouldn’t miss a beat on the first possession of the game. All four running backs touched the ball on the drive, but a promising 21-yard screen pass to Ty Isaac was called back for a block in the back and the drive stalled. Rather than trying to pick up a first down on 4th-and-4, Jim Harbaugh elected to punt from the Indiana 36. It netted 22 yards.

um-indiana_small-final
Final Stats
Michigan  Indiana 
Score 20 10
Record 10-1, 7-1 5-6, 3-5
Total Yards 284 255
Net Rushing Yards 225 64
Net Passing Yards 59 191
First Downs 15 15
Turnovers 0 0
Penalties-Yards 5-40 4-35
Punts-Yards 6-247 9-267
Time of Possession 34:21 25:39
Third Down Conversions 3-of-15 5-of-15
Fourth Down Conversions 3-of-4 0-of-0
Sacks By-Yards 3-28 2-9
Field Goals 2-for-2 1-for-1
PATs 2-for-2 1-for-1
Red Zone Scores-Chances 2-of-2 2-of-2
Red Zone Scores-TDs 0-of-2 1-of-2
Full Box Score

It was that kind of day for Michigan as the Wolverines punted on each of their first three possessions. When they finally got on the board with a 28-yard Kenny Allen field goal midway through the second quarter, Indiana responded with an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. For the first time this season, Michigan trailed at the half.

After forcing a punt on Indiana’s opening possession of the second half, Michigan rode the running game down the field, but once again stalled short of the end zone. Allen booted a 33-yard field goal to pull the Wolverines within one.

Indiana put together another 11-play scoring drive, but this time, after reaching the Michigan 5-yard line, the Wolverines defense held strong and forced a 24-yard Griffin Oakes field goal.

Michigan looked to be in trouble on its ensuing possession, facing 3rd-and-8 from their own 36. O’Korn dropped back to pass, but faced pressure. He stepped up and eluded the sack, then raced 30 yards to the Indiana 34 — the biggest run for a Michigan quarterback since Denard Robinson in 2012.

Then, still trailing 10-6 midway through the third quarter, De’Veon Smith took the game into his own hands. The senior, playing his final game in the Big House, took the handoff, cut to his left, weaved through the Indiana defense, and raced for the pylon. He dove from the three and reached the ball over the goal line for Michigan’s first touchdown of the day.

Two possessions later, Smith did it again. On 2nd-and-10, he took a handoff to the right, cut up the middle and then raced 39 yards, breaking a tackle at the 10, and into the end zone to put Michigan ahead 20-10.

Neither team would score in the fourth quarter as the snow quickly turned the field into a skating rink. But Michigan held the ball for more than 10 minutes in the quarter, running the clock down to victory.

Smith finished with a career-high 158 yards on 23 carries (6.9 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. O’Korn completed just 7-of-16 passes for 59 yards. Most importantly, O’Korn didn’t turn the ball over. As a team, Michigan rushed for 225 yards — the sixth time the Wolverines have topped 200 this season.

Defensively, Michigan held Indiana to its lowest offensive output (255 yards) and its lowest scoring total (10 points) of the season. The Hoosiers rushed for just 64 yards — also a season low — on 1.8 yards per carry. Quarterback Richard Lagow completed 14-of-29 passes for 191 yards, his second lowest passing total of the season.

At 10-1 overall and 7-1 in the Big Ten, Michigan closes the regular season next Saturday with a huge matchup against Ohio State. The Buckeyes, also 10-1 and 7-1, have beaten Michigan 11 of the past 12 games. If Michigan wins, the Wolverines will advance to the Big Ten championship game for a rematch with Wisconsin, who the they beat 14-7 early in the season. An Ohio State win will likely send Penn State to Indianapolis as they hold the head to head tiebreaker with the Buckeyes.

Game Ball – Offense

De’Veon Smith (23 carries for 158 yards, 2 touchdowns)
It’s fitting that Smith earns his first game ball of the season on Senior Day. The Warren, Ohio native has been a reliable piece of the backfield the past few years and turned in the best game of his career in his final game in the Big House. He carried the ball 23 times for 158 yards, averaging 6.9 yards per carry, and scored both of Michigan’s touchdowns. While Chris Evans, Karan Higdon, and Ty Isaac struggled to find running room, Smith broke through for two big runs that kept Michigan’s season alive.

Previous
Week 1 — Chris Evans (8 carries, 112 yards, 2 touchdowns)
Week 2 — Wilton Speight (25-of-37 for 312 yards, 4 touchdowns)
Week 3 — Jake Butt (7 receptions for 87 yards)
Week 4 — Grant Newsome, Ben Braden, Mason Cole, Kyle Kalis, Erik Magnuson (326 rush yards, 0 sacks allowed)
Week 5 — Amara Darboh (6 receptions for 87 yards, 1 touchdown)
Week 6 — Khalid Hill (2 carries for 2 yards and 2 touchdowns, 2 receptions for 19 yards and 1 touchdown)
Week 7 — Wilton Speight (16-of-23 for 253 yards, 2 touchdowns)
Week 8 — Amara Darboh (8 receptions for 165 yards)
Week 9 — Wilton Speight (19-of-24 for 362 yards, 2 touchdowns, 3 carries for 16 yards, 1 touchdown)
Week 10 — Kenny Allen (2-of-2 FGs, long of 51)

Game Ball – Defense

Ryan Glasgow (7 tackles (5 solo), 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble)
One of the unsung heroes of Michigan’s vaunted defense is fifth-year senior nose tackle Ryan Glagow. By the nature of his position, he’s not talked about as much as the others, but his impact is felt every week. It’s fitting that he earns the game ball against Indiana since he suffered a season ending injury in the game before Indiana last season and his absence was felt as IU rushed for 307 yards. This time around, he seemed to be in on every tackle, recording seven, three of them in the backfield, and bringing down the quarterback once. He’ll need a similar performance against Ohio State’s powerful offense next week.

Previous
Week 1 — Mike McCray (9 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble)
Week 2 — Rashan Gary (6 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks)
Week 3 — Jabrill Peppers (9 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 1 sack, 2 kick ret. for 81 yards, 4 punt ret. for 99 yards, 1 TD)
Week 4 — Maurice Hurst (6 tackles, 3 solo, 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack)
Week 5 — Channing Stribling (2 tackles, 2 interceptions, 2 pass breakups)
Week 6 — Taco Charlton (2 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 2 sacks)
Week 7 — Mike McCray (3 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, 1 fumble recovery, 2 quarterback hurries)
Week 8 — Jabrill Peppers (7 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 two-point conversion fumble recovery return)
Week 9 — Delano Hill (6 tackles (5 solo), 0.5 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions)
Week 10 — Chris Wormley (6 tackles (2 solo), 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack)

M&GB staff predictions: Indiana

Saturday, November 19th, 2016


StaffPicks_banner20152

Previously this week: First Look: Indiana, Tailgate Tuesday, Five-Spot Challenge, Big Ten power rankings, The Numbers Game, Tribute to BoGame preview

Michigan suffered its first setback of the season last week at Iowa. With two game remaining, Michigan must win both to advance to the Big Ten championship game. They can’t get caught looking ahead to Ohio State next week as Indiana has presented a tough matchup in recent years. Michigan hasn’t lost to the Hoosiers in nearly 30 years, but if they’re not focused and prepared that streak could end.

Justin won last week’s picks for his second win of the season. If Michigan wins out and reaches the College Football Playoff Championship game, he could catch Joe, but like Michigan, he has no margin for error.

Here are this week’s picks:

Justin (2)

Last week I had a bad feeling about the Iowa game all week leading up to Saturday. It just felt like a trap game in every sense of the word and unfortunately, I was right. This week, I have the opposite feeling. Even with starting quarterback Wilton Speight out, Michigan is going to roll Indiana and gain a lot of confidence heading into Columbus.

Staff Predictions
Michigan    Iowa    
Justin 42 14
Derick 41 17
Sam 27 10
Josh 27 24
Joe 34 17
M&GB Average 34 16

Indiana’s offensive strength — its passing game — goes up against the best pass defense in the nation and won’t be able to move the ball consistently enough to score man points on Michigan. Sure, the Hoosiers passed for nearly 300 yards and scored 31 points against No. 10 Penn State last Saturday, but let’s not forget the PSU’s pass defense ranks in the bottom half of the Big Ten. Let’s also note that Indiana has trouble putting the ball in the end zone and finishing drives.

The Hoosiers rank dead last in the nation with a 68 percent red zone scoring rate. And they’ve scored touchdowns on just 47 percent of their red zone trips. Michigan has done so on 71 percent of theirs. In other words, when in the red zone, Michigan converts touchdowns more often than Indiana converts points. To make matters worse for Indiana, Michigan’s defense is the nation’s best in the red zone, holding opponents to just 65 percent scores and 41 percent touchdowns.

On offense, Michigan will move the ball just fine with John O’Korn’s mobility giving an added dimension that wasn’t there with Speight behind center. Indiana will surely try to force O’Korn to beat them with his arm, and he’ll do so against the second worst pass defense in the Big Ten. He’ll throw for over 200 yards, opening up the running game for another 200-plus as the offense gets back to its high-scoring ways.

Michigan 42 – Indiana 14

Derick (1)

Michigan is coming off its first loss of the season, so Indiana has a chance to jump on the Wolverines while their down. On top of that, Saturday is the definition of a trap game before Michigan’s showdown with Ohio State, and the Wolverines will be without starting quarterback Wilton Speight for the first time all season.

John O’Korn adds another dimension to the offense with his legs, but Indiana’s defense is much improved from last season and should be able to make Michigan notice Speight’s absence. If the Wolverines can’t stretch the field in the passing game, this could get a little uncomfortable.

That said, Michigan has been historically dominant at home this season, and is one game away from a perfect 8-0 mark in the Big House. Brady Hoke would be proud. I think Michigan will get the job done, although it might be a little closer than people expect. Indiana has been one of the most interception-prone teams in the nation, so whoever starts at quarterback will have to be very careful against a star-studded Michigan secondary.

I’ll take Michigan to outlast Indiana for a big win.

Michigan 41 – Indiana 17

Sam (2)

After a lousy performance last weekend in Iowa, Michigan comes back home for Senior Day to face a roller coaster of a ride in Indiana. With some potentially inclement weather in the forecast, Michigan’s defense should be well suited to shut down an offense that is extremely reliant on the passing game, while the Wolverines’ run game will look to be the difference.

Michigan 27 – Indiana 10

Josh (1)

After last week’s heartbreaking loss I fully expect this team to be 100 percent prepared and into it for this one. But because this is Indiana, chaos will ensue and that makes this game a tricky one to call. IU gashed Michigan last year with Ryan Glasgow out. He’s here now but there have been some epic missed tackling problems and teams have figured out Michigan is weak on the edges. IU will exploit that. Oh, and they started running a 270 pound running back at quarterback last week. So yeah. And Wilton Speight is out. I was on the O’Korn bandwagon and I’m sure he’ll be fine, but as we saw with Jake Rudock, chemistry takes time. At least it’s a home game.

I almost forgot, IU plays defense now. Actual, decent defense.

Adversity typically makes a team stronger and Harbaugh hasn’t lost back to back games (at the college level) for three and a half seasons — 43 games. Michigan should win, but I don’t think it’s going to be pretty. I’m gonna put this right out there, if Michigan cannot get it together and put on a dominating performance this week they will lose to OSU and Penn State will be headed to the Big Ten championship game. I’m not sure what this team is made of, the past two regimes have jaded me despite the urge to remain positive because Harbaugh. Michigan wins but leaves more questions than answers heading into the showdown in Columbus.

Michigan 27 – Indiana 24

Joe (6)

This week should be fun. I have no idea what to expect from this team with a new quarterback under center. O’Korn should come in and sync with Butt immediately. The running game will also get a lot of work as we rotate through a bunch of fresh backs. I can see this one being tighter than everyone hopes for as Indiana is a solid team with a solid offense. Look for Michigan to slowly assert themselves up front and win a close one.

Michigan 34 – Indiana 17

#3 Michigan vs Indiana game preview

Friday, November 18th, 2016


um-indiana-game-preview-header

Michigan suffered its first loss of the season last weekend, but in the big picture, it didn’t really hurt them. Sure, it reduced the margin for error, but the Wolverines remain in the same position: win the next two and they’re in the Big Ten championship game. Win that one and they’re in the College Football Playoffs.

um-indiana_small
Quick Facts
Michigan Stadium – 3:30p.m. ET – ESPN
Indiana Head Coach: Kevin Wilson (18th season)
Coaching Record: 25-46, 11-36 (all at IU)
Offensive Coordinator: Kevin Johns (6th season)
Defensive Coordinator: Tom Allen (1st season)
Last Season: 6-7 (2-6 Big Ten)
Last Meeting: UM 48 – IU 41 2OT (2015)
All-Time Series: Michigan 55-9
Record in Ann Arbor: Michigan 32-7
Jim Harbaugh vs Indiana 1-0
Last Michigan win: 2015 (48-41 2OT)
Last Indiana win: 1987 (14-10)
Current Streak: Michigan 20
Indiana Schedule to date
Opponent Result
at FIU W 34-13
Ball State W 30-20
Wake Forest L 28-33
#17 Michigan State W 24-21
at #2 Ohio State L 17-38
#10 Nebraska L 22-27
at Northwestern L 14-24
Maryland W 42-36
at Rutgers W 33-27
#10 Penn State L 31-45

The final stretch begins tomorrow against the Indiana Hoosiers. Perhaps the silver lining of the Iowa loss is that Michigan won’t get caught looking ahead to Ohio State next week. They’ll be focused and prepared to get back on track this Saturday. And a win there will give them confidence heading into Columbus after Thanksgiving.

Indiana comes in with a 5-5 record, looking for one more win to gain bowl eligibility. They should be able to secure that next week against in-state rival Purdue, but head coach Kevin Wilson would love to beat Michigan to set up a great chance at the first winning season of his career.

Wilson is in his sixth season in Bloomington and has yet to turn the corner after going 1-11 in his first season. The Hoosiers have won between four and six wins in each of the past four seasons, topping out at six a year ago. They snuck into the Pinstripe Bowl and had a chance to finish 7-6, but lost to Duke on a field goal in overtime.

This season, Indiana opened with wins over Florida International and Ball State, but lost to Wake Forest. Then they beat Michigan State, which looked to be a big win at the time, but we later found out wasn’t worth much more than a win over FIU and Ball State.

Indiana then hit the meat of its schedule, falling by 21 at Ohio State, five against Nebraska, and 10 at Northwestern. They bounced back with wins over Maryland and Rutgers, but suffered a 14-point loss to 10th-ranked Penn State last Saturday.

Last season, the Hoosiers nearly beat Jim Harbaugh’s first Michigan squad, but the Wolverines pulled it out in overtime. Delano Hill batted down a fourth down pass at the goal line to secure the win. Harbaugh hopes to leave no doubt this time around.

Let’s take a look at the matchups.

When Indiana has the ball

Offense has typically been the strength of the Hoosiers under Wilson, but it’s not quite as potent this season as it has been the past few. The Hoosiers rank seventh in the Big Ten and 71st nationally in scoring with 27.5 points per game, ninth in the Big Ten and 77th nationally in rushing (164.6 yards per game), second and 20th in passing (302.7 yards per game), and third and 32nd in total offense (467.3 yards per game).

Redshirt junior quarterback Richard Lagow ranks second in the Big Ten in passing in his first season as the starter. He has completed 61 percent of his passes for 2,866 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. He has topped 200 yards passing in all but two games this season. Ohio State held him to 182 yards and Nebraska to 196. He has turned the ball over in six of 10 games and has multiple turnovers in four of them, so while he trails Purdue’s David Blough by fewer than six passing yards per game, he ranks just sixth in pass efficiency, about 10 rating points behind Wilton Speight.

Lagow has a group of talented receivers to throw to. Fifth-year senior Mitchell Paige ranks fourth in the Big Ten with 4.9 receptions per game, while sophomore Nick Westbrook ranks sixth at 4.4 and fifth-year senior Ricky Jones ranks seventh with 4.3. Westbrook is the conference’s second-leading receiver, averaging 79.3 yards per game. He has three 100-yard games including a 10-catch, 126-yard performance against Northwestern, but he didn’t catch a touchdown pass in that one. Last week, he caught his first touchdown pass since Week 3. Jones ranks sixth, averaging 71.3 yards. In Weeks 3 and 4, he caught a combined 13 passes for 332 yards and a touchdown. Since then, he has averaged 4.5 receptions for 60.5 yards. Paige isn’t as big of a home run threat, avearging just 10.9 yards per catch, but he also has two 100-yard games.

The running game has been the weakness offensively after losing Jordan Howard to the NFL. Junior Devine Redding is the Big Ten’s sixth-leading rusher, averaging 90.1 yards per game. He has topped 100 yards in half of the Hoosiers’ games and needs 99 yards on Saturday to eclipse 1,000 on the season. Ohio State, Nebraska, and Northwestern — three defenses somewhat comparable to Michigan’s — held Redding to just 59 yards and 3.6 yards per carry. But he went for 108 yards and two scores on 4.7 yards per carry against Penn State last Saturday. After Redding, Indiana’s backfield is pretty thin. Freshman Tyler Natee is the team’s second leading rusher with 220 yards, but he averages just 3.7  yards per carry. Sophomore Mike Majette and redshirt freshman Devontae Williams average about four carries apiece per game.

When Michigan has the ball

In years past, Indiana’s defense wasn’t able to stop, well, anyone. Most games were shootouts. This season, however, they’re actually somewhat respectable under the guidance of Tom Allen, who spent last season as South Florida’s defensive coordinator. The Bulls turned in the American Athletic Conference’s best scoring defense, allowing 19.6 points per game.

The Hoosiers rank 11th in the Big Ten and 67th nationally in scoring defense (28.4 points per game), 10th and 52nd in rush defense (156.2 yards per game), 13th and 73rd in pass defense (235.8 yards per game), and 11th and 55th in total defense (392.0 yards per game).

Junior Greg Gooch and sophomore Jacob Robinson are the starting defensive ends have combined for 6.5 tackles for loss and one sack. The defensive tackles, redshirt junior Nate Hoff and fifth-year senior Ralph Green III are a little more impactful with 11 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.

The linebacking corps is the strength of the defense, lead by junior middle linebacker Tegray Scales, who ranks second in the Big Ten with 94 tackles. He also ranks second with 15 tackles for loss — one more than Jabrill Peppers — and leads the team with four sacks. Redshirt junior SAM linebacker Marcus Oliver is the team’s second-leading tackler with 74 and has 10.5 tackles for loss, which ranks ninth in the conference. True freshman Marcelino Ball plays the HUSKY linebacker position and has had a pretty good inaugural campaign, ranking thid on the team with 68 tackles and tied for the team lead with two interceptions. He’s also third with seven pass breakups.

Redshirt junior cornerback Rashard Fant is the Big Ten’s leading pass defender in terms of passes defended with 18 and pass breakups with 16. By comparison, Channing Stribling leads Michigan with 13 and nine, though he does have twice as many interceptions as Fant. True freshman A’Shon Riggins is the other corner and he ranks second on the team with eight pass breakups. Safeties Jonathan Crawford and Tony Fields have combined for 108 tackles, 13 pass breakups and three picks.

The other third

Redshirt junior kicker Griffin Oakes won the Big Ten Bakken-Andersen Kicker of the Year award in 2015, but has struggled this season, converting just 12-of-21 attempts. He does have a big leg with a long of 54 yards, but has lacked the consistency that he displayed a year ago. Redshirt sophomore punter Joseph Gedeon ranks ninth in the Big Ten with an average of 40.6 yards per punt. He has been accurate, landing 21 of 45 punts inside the 20 with no touchbacks.

Williams averages 19.8 yards per kick return, while Paige averages 7.8 yard per punt return.

Prediction

Last week I had a bad feeling about the Iowa game all week leading up to Saturday. It just felt like a trap game in every sense of the word and unfortunately, I was right. This week, I have the opposite feeling. Even with starting quarterback Wilton Speight out, Michigan is going to roll Indiana and gain a lot of confidence heading into Columbus.

Indiana’s offensive strength — its passing game — goes up against the best pass defense in the nation and won’t be able to move the ball consistently enough to score man points on Michigan. Sure, the Hoosiers passed for nearly 300 yards and scored 31 points against No. 10 Penn State last Saturday, but let’s not forget the PSU’s pass defense ranks in the bottom half of the Big Ten. Let’s also note that Indiana has trouble putting the ball in the end zone and finishing drives.

The Hoosiers rank dead last in the nation with a 68 percent red zone scoring rate. And they’ve scored touchdowns on just 47 percent of their red zone trips. Michigan has done so on 71 percent of theirs. In other words, when in the red zone, Michigan converts touchdowns more often than Indiana converts points. To make matters worse for Indiana, Michigan’s defense is the nation’s best in the red zone, holding opponents to just 65 percent scores and 41 percent touchdowns.

On offense, Michigan will move the ball just fine with John O’Korn’s mobility giving an added dimension that wasn’t there with Speight behind center. Indiana will surely try to force O’Korn to beat them with his arm, and he’ll do so against the second worst pass defense in the Big Ten. He’ll throw for over 200 yards, opening up the running game for another 200-plus as the offense gets back to its high-scoring ways.

Michigan 42 – Indiana 14

First Look: Indiana

Monday, November 14th, 2016


indiana-hoosiers

Michigan suffered its first setback of the season on Saturday, falling 14-13 at Iowa. But the Wolverines still control their own destiny. Win their last two games and they’re in the Big Ten championship. Win that one and they’re in the College Football Playoff. It’s as simple as that — not that it will be simple to do.

It begins with the Indiana Hoosiers, who need to win one of their last two to earn bowl eligibility and both to ensure a winning season. At 5-5 overall and 3-4 in the Big Ten, IU head coach Kevin Wilson would love to do just that to collect the first winning season of his career. Let’s take a look at how the two teams compare through the first 10 weeks of the season.

Indiana & Michigan statistical comparison
Indiana | Michigan Rank Defense Rank
Points Per Game 27.5 | 44.5 71 6
28.4 11.0 67 1
Rushing Yards 1,646 2,363 1,563 1,131
Rush Avg. Per Game 164.6 | 236.3 77 19
156.2 113.1 52 13
Avg. Per Rush 4.0 | 5.3
3.7 3.1
Passing Yards 3,027 2,315 2,358 1316
Pass Avg. Per Game 302.7 231.5 20 68 235.8 131.6 73 1
Total Offense 4,673 4,678 3,920 2,447
Total Off Avg. Per Game 467.3 467.8 32 31 392.0 244.7 55 1
Kick Return Average 20.0 17.8 83 119 20.4 21.8 61 | 74
Punt Return Average 7.9 18.0 63 2 5.7 | 8.1 39 72
Avg. Time of Possession 28:42 32:59 86 18 31:18 | 27:01
3rd Down Conversion Pct 39% | 47% 71 22
31% | 20.0% 13 1
Sacks Allowed-Yards/By-Yards 20-142| 14-94
57 22
22-151 | 33-219 56 8
Touchdowns Scored 34 58
35 | 13
Field Goals-Attempts 12-21 12-17
14-17 | 6-12
Red Zone Scores (27-40) 68%|(51-56) 91% 128 | 20
(30-34) 88%|(11-17) 65% 93 1
Red Zone Touchdowns (19-40) 47%|(40-56) 71% (19-34) 56%|(7-17 41%
Off. S&P+/Def. S&P+ 31.0 37.4 53 25 26.4 | 5.1 46 1

Indiana won three of its first four games of the season, and when they beat then-No. 17 Michigan State it looked to be a big, program building win. In hindsight, it was simply what every other team in the Big Ten save Rutgers has done. The Hoosiers then proceeded to lose their next three, though they hung with Nebraska, before beating Maryland and Rutgers and then losing to Penn State this past Saturday. In short, Indiana’s five wins have come over the bottom three teams in the Big Ten East, FIU, and Ball State.

As usual, the Hoosiers do have a decent offense, averaging just a half yard more per game than Michigan does. But that hasn’t translated into points as they average 17 fewer points per game than the Wolverines. Indiana has topped 40 points just once in a 42-36 win over Maryland and 30 points in five of 10 games. They had a season low 14 points in a 24-14 loss to Northwestern. Against teams in the top half of the Big Ten in scoring defense, IU is averaging just under 18 points per game.

Indiana does it mostly through a passing game that ranks second in the Big Ten behind only Penn State. The Hoosiers average 302.7 passing yards per game (20th nationally), which is about 70 more per game than Michigan averages. Led by quarterback Richard Lagow, Indiana has thrown for more than 200 yards nine times, more than 300 yards four times, and more than 400 yards twice. They passed for 496 yards against Wake Forest and 420 against Rutgers, but Ohio State held the Hoosiers to their lowest total of the season, 182 yards on 14-of-28 passing.

The running game isn’t as explosive, averaging 164.6 yards per game, which ranks ninth in the Big Ten and 77th nationally. During the three game losing streak against Ohio State, Nebraska, and Northwestern, the Hoosiers failed to break 100 rushing yards, averaging 90.3 yards. They followed that with a season-high 414 rushing yards against Maryland.

As noted above, Indiana moves the ball well, but has trouble scoring. Much of that is because they rank dead last nationally in red zone offense. Only 57 teams have reached the red zone more than the 40 times the Hoosiers have, but they’ve scored on only 27 (68 percent) of those trips. To make matters worse, they’ve scored touchdowns on only 19 (47 percent) of those.

On the defensive side, Michigan fans won’t like hearing that Indiana’s defense ranks very comparably on paper — and even better in some areas — than the Iowa team that just shut down Michigan’s offense. Similarly to the offensive side of the ball, Indiana’s defense in terms of yardage allowed looks better than their scoring defense. This is because they allow opponents to score on 88 percent of their red zone possessions, which ranks 93rd nationally.

In terms of total defense, Indiana allows about nine more yards per game than Iowa does, although prior to Iowa’s performance against Michigan on Saturday, the Hawkeyes allowed more yards per game than IU currently does. Four of 10 opponents have topped 400 total yards against the Hoosiers and Maryland reached 517. Three of those 400-plus yard games have come in the last four weeks, suggesting that they’re wearing down a bit late in the season. During that span, Rutgers was the only team that didn’t reach 400.

Indian’s rush defense ranks seventh in the Big Ten and 52nd nationally, allowing 156.2 yards per game. Ohio State rushed for 290 yards on 5.8 yards per carry and Maryland managed 269 yards on 5.4. However, Indiana’s defense held Penn State to just 77 rushing yards on 45 carries (1.7 yards per carry). Saquan Barkley managed just 58 yards on 33 carries.

The pass defense ranks second to last in the Big Ten and 73rd nationally, giving up 235.8 yards per game. Ohio State passed for only 93 yards — because they had such success running the ball that they didn’t need to — but only one other opponent threw for fewer than 200. Wake Forest passed for 172. The last four opponents have averaged 280.8 passing yards per game, lead by Penn State’s 332 yards this past Saturday.

While I mentioned above that Indiana’s defense compares statistically to Iowa’s, the advanced stats tell a slightly different story. S&P+ has Indiana’s defense 22 spots lower than Iowa’s.

Overall, Indiana has a potent passing offense but a lackluster running game. They have a better defense than typical Kevin Wilson teams, but it’s not one that should be able to shut down Michigan’s offense like Iowa did on Saturday. That said, depending on the severity of Wilton Speight’s injury, if Michigan has to start John O’Korn, Indiana will look to stuff the run like they did to Penn State this past weekend and force the inexperienced quarterback to beat them.

Michigan 72 – #10 Indiana 69: Bench leads Michigan to upset win over top-seed Indiana

Saturday, March 12th, 2016


Chatman vs Indiana(MGoBlue.com)

When the day started Michigan was staring a second straight NCAA Tournament absence square in the face. Now, the Wolverines are being fitted for their dancing shoes.

It took a near miracle for Michigan to survive Northwestern on Day 2 of the Big Ten Tournament, but 24 hours later, John Beilein’s crew knocked off the outright conference champs to advance to the semifinals.

For Friday’s win, the Wolverines certainly took the route less traveled.

On a day when point guard Derrick Walton went without a field goal and scored just two points, a pair of rarely-used bench options stepped up to salvage the season.

Moritz Wagner gave Michigan a huge boost off the bench, scoring nine points on a perfect 3-of-3 from the field and 2-of-2 from the charity stripe. He also ripped down a pair of offensive rebounds and played solid defense against an Indiana team that makes a living inside the paint.

Four Factors
Michigan Indiana
52 eFG% 49
29 OReb% 48
16 TO% 24
29 FTR 40

But Wagner’s effort may have been for naught without the last-second heroics of Kam Chatman, a former five-star recruit and starting forward turned bench warmer. Chatman, who forced his way back into the rotation with solid play down the stretch, found himself with the ball in his hands as the clock sped toward triple zeroes.

So he shot, and it’s a good thing he did.

Chatman’s contested three-pointer went in with 0.2 seconds left on the clock and gave Michigan a 72-69 lead.

His final line — 5 points, 1 rebound, 1 steal and 1 block — won’t jump off the box score, but the sophomore made the only play he needed to: The biggest shot of Michigan’s season in likely the program’s most important game since Aaron Harrison’s miracle shot bounced the Wolverines from the Elite 8 two years ago.

As fate would have it, Chatman was only in the game after Teddy ‘TV’ Valentine’s crew bounced Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman from the game with just over a minute to go. MAAR left the game with 15 points, second only to Zak Irvin, who scored 17 points on 5-13 shooting.

Irvin, a 61.8 percent free throw shooter, went a career best 6-of-6 from the line.

Walton, who made a field goal in all 28 of his regular season games this year, is without a bucket in 77 minutes during the Big Ten Tournament. Instead, he dished out a Big Ten tourney record 12 assists in the win over the Hoosiers, giving him 17 in the two games combined.

Duncan Robinson also had a tough shooting day — just 4 for 12 total and 1 for 6 from beyond the arc — but his last make was a big one, tying the game at 69 with under a minute to play. It was the second straight game Robinson hit a triple with Michigan trailing in the final minute.

Now Michigan will turn its attention to a Purdue team that obliterated Illinois by 31 points in Friday’s second matchup. The Wolverines split two meetings with the Boilermakers this season, but the inside trio of A.J. Hammons, Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Hass will give a much smaller Michigan team fits.

Michigan allowed Indiana to grab 15 offensive rebounds Friday. Beilein will need to shore up that aspect before Saturday’s 1pm tip.

Another upset victory over Purdue would almost guarantee Michigan a spot in the NCAA Tournament. As it stands, the Wolverines are right on the cut line, along with teams like Syracuse, Florida, UCONN and Saint Mary’s.

Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
34 Mark Donnal* 6-6 0-0 0-1 1 3 4 4 12 0 2 2 1 20
10 Derrick Walton* 0-3 0-3 2-2 1 2 3 1 2 12 2 0 2 36
21 Zak Irvin* 5-13 1-4 6-6 0 5 5 2 17 2 2 0 1 35
22 Duncan Robinson* 4-12 1-6 3-3 0 1 1 3 12 3 1 0 0 34
12 Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman* 6-13 2-4 1-2 2 0 2 5 15 0 1 0 1 34
03 Kam Chatman 2-3 1-2 0-0 1 0 1 2 5 0 0 1 1 8
11 Andrew Dakich 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 4
13 Moritz Wagner 3-3 1-1 2-2 2 0 2 2 9 0 0 0 0 16
24 Aubrey Dawkins 0-2 0-1 0-0 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 9
32 Ricky Doyle 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 4
Totals 26-56 6-21 14-16 9 16 25 20 72 18 10 3 7 200
Indiana 24-53 4-17 17-21 15 22 37 17 69 13 15 7 6
200
Full Stats

Michigan hoops preview: #10 (1) Indiana

Friday, March 11th, 2016


UM-Indiana
Michigan vs #10 Indiana
Friday, March 11 | Indianapolis, Ind.. | 12 p.m. ET | ESPN
Line: Indiana -6
Offense
74.8 Points/gm 82.7
(849-1,809) 46.9 Field Goal % 50.2 (910-1,811)
(314-803) 39.1 3-pt FG % 41.9 (312-745)
(383-520) 73.7 Free Throw % 72.0 (432-600)
12.0 FT Made/gm 13.9
32.4 Reb/gm 37.4
14.9 Assists/gm 16.1
9.8 Turnovers/gm 13.6
Defense
67.2 Points/gm 68.8
(791-1,788) 44.2 Field Goal % 44.1 (795-1,803)
(232-666) 34.8 3-pt FG % 34.5 (194-562)
32.6 Opp. Reb/gm 30.3
5.5 Steals/gm 7.0
2.2 Blocks/gm 3.9
Individual Leaders
Caris LeVert (16.5), Derrick Walton (11.9) Points/gm Yogi Ferrell (17.1), James Blackmon Jr. (15.8)
Derick Walton (5.7), Caris LeVert (5.3) Reb/gm Troy Williams (6.0), Thomas Bryant (5.8)

Michigan stayed alive with a 72-70 overtime win over Northwestern in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday afternoon. Their reward? A matchup with Big Ten champion Indiana, who beat the Wolverines 80-67 on Feb. 2 in the season’s only meeting to date.

The Hoosiers have high hopes of making a deep NCAA Tournament run after winning the outright Big Ten title and look to capture the Big Ten Tournament crown as well. Michigan can clinch an at-large bid with an upset of Indiana, but will likely have to settle for the NIT if they lose.

Senior guard Yogi Ferrell led Indiana with 17 points and nine assist in the first meeting, while sophomore guard Robert Johnson added 16 points. Ferrell is the Hoosiers’ unquestioned leader, averaging 17.1 points per game, but Johnson has missed the last three games with a high ankle sprain he suffered against Purdue on Feb. 20.

Freshman forward OG Anunoby came off the bench to match his season-high of 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting and senior guard Nick Zeisloft — a three-point specialist — scored eight.

Michigan made just 7-of-23 three-point attempts in that first meeting and will need to do better than that if they want a chance of winning. More importantly, Michigan must play with the same defensive intensity that it did against Northwestern on Thursday. Indiana made 33 shots in that first meeting — only 10-of-30 from downtown — and if Michigan can’t hold the Hoosiers below 27 field goals today they’ll find themselves in the NIT next week.

Indiana 80 – Michigan 67: Hoosiers overwhelm Michigan in Bielfeldt’s return

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016


Irvin vs IU(MGoBlue.com)

Michigan started strong, racing out to a 17-6 lead, but went ice cold over the final nine minutes of the first half. Indiana closed the half on a 25-0 run and added a three to start the second half. Michigan couldn’t stop the bleeding. The final score of 80-67 doesn’t reflect how wide a margin the game really was.

After cruising through the easy portion of the conference, Michigan clearly missed its star, Caris LeVert, against perhaps the best team in the conference. A celebrity cast in the crowd — on hand for Wednesday’s Signing of the Stars — wasn’t enough to will Michigan to victory and Max Bielfeldt got revenge over his former team.

Indiana shot 50 percent from the field despite making just 10 of 30 three-point attempts. Michigan had no answer for the Hoosiers’ offense as they made 23 of 36 from inside three-point range. Michigan, meanwhile, shot just 28.1 percent in the first half, digging a hole that was too deep to crawl out of.

Michigan looks to bounce back against rival Michigan State on Saturday.

Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
34 Mark Donnal* 1-1 0-0 0-1 1 2 3 3 2 1 1 1 0 30
10 Derrick Walton* 3-10 1-3 0-0 0 3 3 1 7 3 2 0 2 28
21 Zak Irvin* 6-16 3-6 1-3 1 3 4 1 16 4 3 0 0 37
22 Duncan Robinson* 6-11 1-5 1-1 0 4 4 3 14 0 3 0 0 31
12 Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman* 3-8 1-3 0-2 0 4 4 1 7 1 0 0 0 34
03 Kameron Chatman 1-2 0-1 0-0 0 1 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 2
05 D.J. Wilson 3-4 0-0 0-0 2 1 3 0 6 0 0 0 0 5
11 Andrew Dakich 0-0 0-0 2-2 0 1 1 1 2 2 1 0 0 4
13 Moritz Wagner 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2
24 Aubrey Dawkins 2-7 1-5 0-0 0 3 3 1 5 0 0 0 0 19
32 Ricky Doyle 2-3 0-0 2-2 2 0 2 1 6 0 0 1 0 8
Totals 27-62 7-23 6-11 7 23 30 13 67 11 10 2 2 200
Indiana 33-66 10-30 4-8 14 30 44 17 80 18 12 5 6
200
Full Stats

Michigan hoops preview: #22 Indiana

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016


UM-Indiana
Michigan vs Indiana
Tuesday, Feb. 2 | Ann Arbor, Mich. | 9 p.m. EST | ESPN
Line: Michigan -3
Offense
77.4 Points/gm 85.2
(600-1,234) 48.6 Field Goal % 51.7 (667-1,291)
(233-565) 41.2 3-pt FG % 43.2 (220-509)
(269-361) 74.5 Free Throw % 71.8 (321-447)
12.2 FT Made/gm 14.6
32.8 Reb/gm 38.2
16.0 Assists/gm 16.7
9.8 Turnovers/gm 14.6
Defense
64.4 Points/gm 68.5
(518-1,221) 42.4 Field Goal % 43.4 (558-1,287)
(151-451) 33.5 3-pt FG % 33.3 (125-375)
31.6 Opp. Reb/gm 30.0
5.7 Steals/gm 7.4
2.5 Blocks/gm 4.3
Individual Leaders
Caris LeVert (17.6), Duncan Robinson (12.5) Points/gm Yogi Ferrell (17.5), James Blackmon (15.8)
Derick Walton (5.9), Caris LeVert (5.4) Reb/gm Troy Williams (6.5), Thomas Bryant (5.5)

After sweeping its easiest four-game stretch of the Big Ten season, Michigan returns home Tuesday to kick off a much more difficult second half of the conference slate against Indiana. Meanwhile, the Hoosiers come into the game after a pretty worry-free first half of their own.

Seven of Michigan’s last nine games will come against teams with a winning conference record, and none will be bigger than Tuesday’s matchup against an Indiana team currently tied at the very top. The Hoosiers, though they’ve yet to play any of the Big Ten’s top six teams, are 8-1 and winners of 13 of their last 14 games.

With top-five duo Maryland and Iowa setting the pace, Michigan will have to put together a string of quality wins in February to earn a double bye in next month’s Big Ten Tournament. That journey begins Tuesday night.

Here are three keys to the game.

1. Bielfeldt is back

It’s been a wild ride for former Michigan forward Max Bielfeldt over the last 12 months, going from bench warmer to rotation center to starting big man at Indiana.

Calves came out of nowhere in 2015, playing more than 20 minutes in eight of Michigan’s final 14 games. The redshirt junior topped 20 minutes only once in the team’s first 18 games: A four-point effort against Detroit.

But now Bielfeldt is a major contributor for the Hoosiers, averaging 8.1 points and 4.6 rebounds in 17 minutes per game. He’s also raised his field goal percentage by more than 10 percentage points, shooting a stellar 58.2 percent from the floor.

As a graduate transfer, this will be Bielfeldt’s last game at the Crisler Center, but Michigan fans will see a much different player than the one who came off of John Beilein’s bench with a minute left in blowouts. Bielfeldt is more involved on both ends of the floor with the Hoosiers and has scored in double figures nine times this season.

Beilein said on Monday that he didn’t agree with the NCAA allowing Bielfeldt to transfer to another Big Ten school. That quote alone will tell you Bielfeldt’s old coach understands the veteran’s value on the court.

2. To Caris, or not to Caris?

While the mysterious absence of Caris LeVert in Michigan’s backcourt continues to drag on, both sides of Tuesday’s matchup are focused squarely on one question: Will he play?

But regardless of LeVert’s status, the more appropriate question for Michigan fans might be, “Should he play?”

That’s no knock on LeVert. The senior guard is clearly the team’s most valuable player, leading the way in points, assists and rebounds before his “lower leg” injury. But it’s worth wondering if such a big stage is the right time for Beilein to pull the trigger.

Since LeVert hit the bench, Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton have really stepped up their play. Irvin is making a concerted effort to drive to the basket and find his teammates while Walton is filling LeVert’s absence on the defensive boards.

With the offense starting to click in its current rotation, is it the right time to reinsert a player like LeVert, who not only demands the basketball in his hands on most of the team’s possessions, but also might be knocking off a month’s worth of rust?

The obviously problem is that, with Michigan’s upcoming schedule, there’s really no good time to make the transition. The Wolverines only have two opponents left on their schedule — Northwestern and Minnesota — that they can beat without playing a solid game. With having LeVert ready by March as Beilein’s primary goal, he might have to bite the bullet and accept the growing pains that’ll come from putting LeVert back on the court.

Would the future first-round draft pick agree to come off the bench? If so, that might be a good way to ease him back into the flow of things. LeVert has never suggested to be a player with a huge ego, but coming off the bench would definitely be a transition for the third-year starter.

Michigan has been very vague about the nature of LeVert’s injury, so we probably won’t get an answer to our questions until he trots onto the court.

3. Protect this house

Michigan will play perhaps the most difficult second-half schedule in the Big Ten, but it can at least watch its destiny play out on its own turf.

Over the next five weeks, Michigan will host Indiana, Michigan State, Purdue, Northwestern and Iowa at the Crisler Center. That means before the conference title is decided, four of Michigan’s five greatest competitors for the conference crown will take a trip to Ann Arbor.

If the Wolverines can take care of business on their home court, the path to the Big Ten championship will run along Stadium Boulevard.

The Hoosiers didn’t make the trip north last season as the only meeting between these two teams came at Assembly Hall. In fact, last time Indiana saw Crisler, Michigan was cutting the nets and getting ready to raise another banner.

Michigan’s 84-80 win over the Hoosers on March 8, 2014, put the cherry on top of another Big Ten title for Beilein’s squad. Michigan polished off a 23-7 regular season with a 9-5 run in the final minute to hold off Tom Crean’s upset attempt. After a Stanford Robinson bucket tied the game at 75 with under 90 seconds to go, a Glenn Robinson 3-pointer and six perfect free throws sent Michigan into the conference tournament with a No. 1 seed.

Tuesday night’s game will begin with a much different feel. Michigan, for one, is unranked and expected to be a middling seed when it heads to Indianapolis. Meanwhile Indiana, at 18-4 overall, has its eyes set on a top-three seed in the Big Dance.

But those differences don’t change the importance of this game. Michigan can’t afford to drop home games like this if it hopes to emerge as a true contender. This appears to be a bit of a validation game for two teams hoping to keep pace with loaded rosters like the Hawkeyes and Terps.

Michigan’s guards will have their hands full with Ferrell on defense, but Indiana’s athleticism in the front court might be the biggest deciding factor in this contest. With eyes on LeVert, Bielfeldt, Crean and Ferrell in his last trip to Crisler, it should be an entertaining matchup to kick off February in the Big Ten.

#14 Michigan 48 – Indiana 41 (2OT): Michigan survives on record day from Rudock, Chesson

Sunday, November 15th, 2015


Chesson vs IU(Isaiah Hole, Wolverine247)

Parallels have been drawn between Jim Harbaugh and his mentor Bo Schembechler, and on Saturday afternoon in Bloomington, Ind., Harbaugh nearly achieved a dubious feat that no Michigan coach since Schembechler has done: lose to Indiana. Instead, his scrappy bunch of Wolverines survived an onslaught from the Big Ten’s best offense to take home a 48-41 double-overtime victory — the 20th straight in the series.

Jake Rudock followed last week’s career game with an even better one against the Hoosiers, completing 33 of 46 passes for 440 yards, six touchdowns, and an interception. It was the third best passing game in Michigan history and the first time a Michigan quarterback has thrown for back to back 300-yard games since Chad Henne in 2004.

UM-Indiana-small-FINAL
Final Stats
Michigan Indiana
Score 48 41
Record 8-2 (5-1) 4-6 (0-6)
Total Yards 581 527
Net Rushing Yards 141 307
Net Passing Yards 440 220
First Downs 28 32
Turnovers 1 0
Penalties-Yards 13-72 9-79
Punts-Yards 3-123 2-79
Time of Possession 32:33 27:27
Third Down Conversions 6-of-12 6-of-17
Fourth Down Conversions 1-of-1 3-of-5
Sacks By-Yards 1-12 1-7
Field Goals 2-for-3 4-for-4
PATs 6-for-6 3-for-3
Red Zone Scores-Chances 4-of-4 5-of-6
Full Box Score

Four of those six touchdown passes were caught by Jehu Chesson, who became just the second receiver in Michigan history to catch four touchdown passes in one game, joining Derrick Alexander, who did so against Minnesota in 1992. Chosen led Michigan with 10 receptions for 207 yards and the four scores.

But the big games by Rudock and Chesson were almost negated by the legs of Indiana running back Jordan Howard. The UAB transfer rushed for a career high 238 yards on 35 carries (6.8 yards per carry) and two touchdowns, shredding the nation’s third-best rush defense time and time again.

The game could not have started better as Michigan’s defense stopped Indiana short of a first down on 4th and 2 near midfield to start the game, and four plays later, Rudock connected with Chesson for a 34 yard touchdown. But Indiana responded with back to back field goals from 39 and 36 yards to pull within 7-6.

At the start of the second quarter, Michigan went 75 yards on 10 plays for another Chesson touchdown. On the first play of the drive, Michigan was backed up 12 yards for a chop block, and on the second play Jake Butt lost seven yards. But on 2nd and 29 from their own 6-yard line, Rudock found Butt for 24 yards, then scrambled for 23 more. Just like that, Michigan was near midfield. A few plays later, Michigan face 3rd and 13, but Rudock scrambled for 19 yards, and two plays after that he found Chesson for a 15-yard touchdown.

Indiana got another field goal from Griffin Oakes, this time from 51 yards out, but Michigan answered with a 64-yard catch-and-run by Chesson to give Michigan a 21-9 lead. Indiana finally found the end zone with 49 seconds left in the first half when Howard carried it in from seven yards out. Michigan added a 22-yard Kenny Allen field goal to end the half with a 24-16 lead.

While the first half started out perfectly, the second did not. Michigan got the first possession, but went three and out, and Indiana receiver Mitchell Paige returned the punt 51 yards for a touchdown.

Michigan’s ensuing possession stalled at the Indiana 24 and Allen missed a 42 yard field goal after a bad snap messed up the timing. Indiana marched 69 yards in nine plays and kicked a 24-yard field goal to take their first lead of the game at 26-24.

After a Rudock interception in the Indiana red zone, Michigan’s defense came up with a stop, forcing an Indiana punt. Michigan’s offense put together its best drive of the game, going 78 yards in 15 plays and taking up six minutes and 57 seconds. But although they reached the Indiana 1-yard line, they had to settle for a 20-yard field goal to retake the lead, 27-26.

Indiana took possession with 6:30 remaining and proceed to run the ball eight straight times as Michigan couldn’t stop it. Howard gained 61 yards on six of those carries, including a 24-yard touchdown scamper to give Indiana a 34-27 lead.

Jourdan Lewis returned the kickoff 33 yards to give Michigan’s offense good field position, and Rudock wasted no time testing the IU secondary yet again. Back to back passes to Butt went 16 yards and nine yards, and on 3rd and 3, Rudock lobbed a 41-yarder to Chesson to the Indiana two with less than a minute left. On 1st and goal, Sione Houma was stopped at the one. On 2nd and goal, Houma was stuffed for no gain. On 3rd and goal, Drake Johnson was dropped for a four-yard loss, setting up a make or break fourth down with six seconds remaining. Rudock fired a strike to Chesson on a slant to tie the game.

On Indiana’s first possession of overtime, the Hoosiers ran five straight times, culminating with a 1-yard Howard touchdown run. Michigan answered with a 21-yard touchdown pass from Rudock to Butt. The Wolverines wasted no time scoring on their second possession as Rudock hit Amara Darboh for a 25-yard touchdown. Howard gained 17 yards on Indiana’s first play and then three on the second to set up 2nd and goal at the Michigan five. He was stopped for no gain to force third down, and then Nate Sudfeld was stopped at the two. On 4th and goal from the two, Indiana elected to put the ball in the air, but Delano Hill knocked it away from Paige at the goal line and Michigan survived.

Michigan totaled a season high 581 yards of offense, but also surrendered a season high 527. In addition to Chesson’s big day, Darboh topped 100 yards with 109 on eight catches. Butt caught seven passes for 82 yards. Rudock led Michigan in rushing with 64 yards on seven carries, while De’Veon Smith gained 58 on 12.

Now 8-2 overall and 5-1 in the Big Ten, Michigan remains in the Big Ten title hunt. They travel to Penn State (7-3, 4-2) for a noon kickoff next Saturday needing a win to stay in contention. The Wolverines also need Ohio State (10-0, 6-0) to beat Michigan State (9-1, 5-1) in the afternoon game to set up a Big Ten East Division title game on Nov. 28.

Game Ball – Offense

Jake Rudock (33 of 46 for 440 yards, 6 TDs, 1 INT, 7 carries for 64 yards)
This could have easily gone to Chesson for his 10-catch, 27-yard, four-touchdown performance, but Rudock got the nod for the second straight week. Not only did he throw for the third-most yards in a single game in Michigan history and set the single-game record with six touchdown passes, but he also led the team in rushing with 64 yards. If not for the lone interception in the red zone, Rudock would have turned in a perfect performance. He has benefited from two of the worst pass defenses in the Big Ten the past two weeks, but there’s no doubt that he’s more comfortable in the offense than he was earlier in the season and has developed a good rapport with his receivers. Can that continue against Penn State and Ohio State? We shall see.

Previous:
Week 1 – Jake Butt (8 rec for 93 yards and 1 TD)
Week 2 – De’Veon Smith (23 carries for 126 yards, 3 TDs)
Week 3 – Ty Isaac (8 carries for 114 yards, 1 TD)
Week 4 — De’Veon Smith (16 carries for 125 yards and 1 TD)
Week 5 — Drake Johnson (13 carries for 68 yards, 1 TD, 1 rec for 31 yards, 1 TD)
Week 6 — Mason Cole, Ben Braden, Graham Glasgow, Kyle Kalis, Erik Magnuson
Week 7 — Kenny Allen (3-for-3 field goals, 2-2 PATs)
Week 8 — Jabrill Peppers (4 carries for 16 yards, 1 TD, 1 punt return for 41 yards, 1 kick return for 43 yards)
Week 9 — Jake Rudock (18 of 25 for 337 yards, 2 TDs, 1 carry for 4 yards, 1 TD)

Game Ball – Defense

Delano Hill (10 tackles, 8 solo, 1 PBU)
It’s usually not a good thing when a safety leads the team in tackles. In fact, both of Michigan’s safeties — Hill and Jarrod Wilson — led the team with 10 tackles apiece. Indiana running back Jordan Howard shredded the front seven all game, forcing the safeties to make plays. But more than just tackles, Hill saved the game two plays in a row on Indiana’s second possession of double overtime. On 3rd and goal from the Michigan five, Sudfeld faked the handoff to Howard and kept it himself, but Hill was there for the stop at the two. Then, on fourth down, Hill was in perfect coverage of Mitchell Paige at the goal line and knocked the pass away. On a defense that has been praised most of the season, but imploded on Saturday, it was the unheralded Hill that rose to the occasion.

Previous:
Week 1 – Chris Wormley (5 tackles, 3 TFL)
Week 2 – Chris Wormley (6 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 sack)
Week 3 – Jourdan Lewis (3 tackles, 4 PBU)
Week 4 — Ryan Glasgow (3 tackles, 2 TFL)
Week 5 — Desmond Morgan (9 tackles, 1 INT, 2 PBU)
Week 6 — Jourdan Lewis (4 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 INT, 1 touchdown, 1 PBU)
Week 7 — Willie Henry (5 tackles, 3 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 PBU)
Week 8 — James Ross (9 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 sack)
Week 9 — Chris Wormley (4 tackles, 2 TFL, 2 sacks)