photo Michigan-Display-Ad-728x90-Die-Hard-Fans-only_zpskcnarkrk.jpg  photo MampGB header 2015 v6_zpsdluogxnr.jpg

Posts Tagged ‘Simmie Cobbs’

#17 Michigan 27 – Indiana 20 (OT): Michigan survives overtime scare in Bloomington on Higdon’s big day

Saturday, October 14th, 2017


(Isaiah Hole)

It wasn’t pretty, and the offensive struggles were still evident, but Michigan bounced back from its loss to Michigan State with a 27-20 overtime victory at Indiana.

The Michigan defense gave up 10 points in the fourth quarter — the first they’ve allowed all season — to send the game into overtime, but it held strong in the first overtime period to secure the win.

Michigan began the game as if it would make an easy go of it, scoring on each of its first three possessions and blocking an Indiana field goal to take a 13-0 lead.

Final Stats
Michigan  Indiana
Score 27 20
Record 5-1 (2-1) 3-3 (0-3)
Total Yards 329 278
Net Rushing Yards 271 80
Net Passing Yards 58 198
First Downs 17 14
Turnovers 0 2
Penalties-Yards 16-141 5-55
Punts-Yards 9-367 8-354
Time of Possession 35:09 24:51
Third Down Conversions 2-of-13 5-of-17
Fourth Down Conversions 0-of-0 0-of-1
Sacks By-Yards 2-20 0-0
Field Goals 2-for-2 2-for-3
PATs 3-for-3 2-for-2
Red Zone Scores-Chances 3-of-3 3-of-4
Red Zone TDs-Chances 1-of-3 2-of-4
Full Box Score

The first drive went 49 yards in 13 plays, taking up 6:35 and ended in a 40-yard Quinn Nordin field goal. Indiana responded with a 12-play, 54-yard drive, but Maurice Hurst blocked a 51-yard field goal attempt and Lavert Hill returned it 35 yards to the Indiana 27-yard line. Michigan’s offense couldn’t go anywhere and had to settle for a 38-yard field goal. After forcing an Indiana three-and-out, the offense finally found the end zone when Karan Higdon carried it in from 12 yards out to cap an 80-yard drive.

But Michigan’s offense would stall from there and Indiana kicked a 32-yard field goal of its own just before the half.

The second half started as poorly as possible as Michigan went three-and-out on its opening possession and Indiana marched right down the field for a a touchdown to pull within 13-10.

Neither team could muster any offense the rest of the third quarter, combining for just 39 yards on 24 plays from there on. In fact, aside from a 7-play, 30-yard possession for Michigan following IU’s touchdown, the two teams combined for seven straight three-and-outs.

Michigan broke the stalemate when Higdon broke free through the middle and raced 59 yards for a touchdown to widen Michigan’s lead to 20-10 with just over 10 minutes to play.

Yet again, the two teams traded three-and-outs, and then Hill came up big with an interception to give Michigan a chance to seal the win. But the offense wouldn’t make it easy, punting away to J-Shun Harris, who showed why he leads the Big Ten in punt returns this season, taking it back 53 yards to the Michigan 20. Indiana converted six plays later with a 8-yard touchdown pass from Peyton Ramsey to Whop Philyor with 3:27 remaining.

Indiana receiver Simmie Cobbs recovered the ensuing onside kick, but it was overturned as he didn’t have complete control prior to stepping out of bounds. What has become a familiar refrain during the Jim Harbaugh tenure, Michigan’s offense couldn’t pick up a first down to end the game, settling for a punt, which resulted in a touchback, and a holding call advanced the ball to the 30, meaning the punt only changed the field position by 15 yards.

With no timeouts, the ball at their own 30-yard line, and 1:05 remaining, Indiana completed passes of nine yards and 24 yards to the edge of field goal range. A false start backed them up five yards, but Ramsey found Cobbs for 14 yard and the Hoosiers were able to nail a 46-yard field goal as time expired to force overtime.

Michigan lost the coin toss, but wasted no time on its first possession. Higdon took a handoff from John O’Korn, ran into congestion in the middle of the field, and bounced outside to his left. He turned the corner and raced to the end zone to give Michigan a 27-20 lead.

Indiana got a pass interference call on David Long on its first play to move the ball to the Michigan 12, then back to back runs gave the Hoosiers 1st-and-goal at the 1-yard line. Rashan Gary stopped Morgan Ellison for a 2-yard loss on first down, then Ramsey threw an incomplete pass on second. Ramsey tried to run it himself on 3rd-and-goal from the three, but Gary and Noah Furbush stopped him for a loss of one. On 4th-and-goal, Ramsey rolled out to his left, and with Chase Winovich bearing down on him, lobbed the ball into the end zone, but Tyree Kinnel picked it off to end the game.

Michigan rushed for 270 yards on 6.2 yards per carry while holding Indiana to just 80 yards on the ground. Higdon became the first Michigan running back to top 200 yards rushing since Mike Hart in 2007. Higdon totaled 200 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries, averaging eight yards per carry. O’Korn managed just 58 yards on 10-of-20 passing and didn’t throw for a touchdown or an interception. Donovan Peoples-Jones led the Wolverines with four receptions for 34 yards.

Defensively, Devin Bush led Michigan with eight tackles, but Gary had his best game of the season statistically with seven tackles, 2.5 for loss, one sack, and two quarterback hurries. Hurst and Long each added half a sack.

Now 5-1 overall and 2-1 in the Big Ten, Michigan travels to State College next Saturday for a primetime showdown with Penn State. ESPN’s College GameDay has announced that it will be broadcasting live from Happy Valley, and with Clemson’s loss to Syracuse on Friday night, the Nittany Lions will likely move up to No. 2 nationally behind Alabama.

Game Ball – Offense

Karan Higdon (25 carries for 200 yards, 3 touchdowns, 8.0 yards per carry)
Last week against Michigan State, Higdon was the lone bright spot offensively, averaging 5.4 yards per carry and totaling 98 yards from scrimmage. He was inexplicably given just 12 carries despite consistently gaining yards. This week, he continued that momentum, cementing his spot as Michigan’s featured back with a 200-yard, three-touchdown performance. His 59-yard touchdown run put Michigan ahead by 10 points in the fourth quarter, and then his vision to bounce outside from what should have been a tackle for loss on the first play of overtime resulted in a 25-yard touchdown run. Eight of his 25 rushes were categorized as big plays (10 yards or more) against a defense allowing just 4.2 explosive runs per game.

Previous:
Week 1 – Quinn Nordin (4-of-6 field goals, 2-of-3 from 50-plus)
Week 2 — Ty Isaac (20 carries for 133 yards, 6.7 yards per carry)
Week 3 — Donovan Peoples-Jones (2 receptions for 52 yards, 2 punt returns for 104 yards and 1 touchdown)
Week 4 — John O’Korn (18-of-26 for 270 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception, 5 rushes for 12 yards)
Week 5 — Karan Higdon (12 carries for 65 yards, 5.4 yards per carry, 2 receptions for 33 yards)

Game Ball – Defense

Rashan Gary (7 tackles — 3 solo — 2.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 2 quarterback hurries)
Rashan Gary has taken some criticism this season for his perceived lack of production — just one sack and 2.5 tackles for loss entering the Indiana game. But the coaching staff and those who know have raved about his play, noting that he has constantly been drawing double-teams, which frees up other players to make plays. On Saturday in Bloomington, he finally got to show his production, adding a sack and 2.5 tackles for loss in addition to two quarterback hurries. His play was most apparent when the defense had its back up against the wall in overtime as he tackled Ellison for a loss of two on 1st-and-goal from the one and stopped Ramsey for a loss of one on 3rd-and-goal.

Previous:
Week 1 – Devin Bush (7 tackles, 5 solo, 3 tackles for loss, 2 sacks)
Week 2 – Tyree Kinnel (9 tackles, 8 solo, 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack, 1 interception return for touchdown)
Week 3 – Chase Winovich (9 tackles – 3 solo – 2 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 1 quarterback hurry)
Week 4 — Chase Winovich (6 tackles — all solo — 4 tackles for loss, 3 sacks
Week 5 — Maurice Hurst (8 tackles — 6 solo — 2.5 tackles for loss)

#17 Michigan at Indiana game preview

Friday, October 13th, 2017


(Isaiah Hole)

Michigan tasted defeat for the first time this season last Saturday, dropping a rainy, windy, ugly affair to its bitter in-state rival, Michigan State. While the Michigan defense was dominant after allowing a pair of first half scores, the offense was impotent, unable to move — or hang on to — the ball, drawing criticism from throughout the fan base.

Quick Facts
Memorial Stadium – 12p.m. EST – ABC
Indiana Head Coach: Tom Allen (1st season)
Coaching Record: 3-3 (all at IU)
Offensive Coordinator: Mike DeBord (1st season)
Defensive Coordinator: Mark Hagen (1st season)
Last Season: 6-7 (4-5 Big Ten)
Last Meeting: UM 20 – IU 10 (2016)
All-Time Series: Michigan 56-9
Record in Bloomington: Michigan 18-2
Jim Harbaugh vs Indiana 2-0
Last Michigan win: 2016 (20-10)
Last Indiana win: 1987 (14-10)
Current Streak: Michigan 21
Indiana schedule to date
Opponent Result
#2 Ohio State L 21-49
at Virginia W 34-17
Georgia Southern W 52-17
at #4 Penn State L 14-45
Charleston Southern W 27-0

Jim Harbaugh doesn’t care about fan criticism though. He’s focused on the task at hand and that task is beating a team Michigan has handled 21 straight times and 36 of the last 37.

Indiana has a different look this season than the offensive beast it has the been past few now that Kevin Wilson is the offensive coordinator at Ohio State. Wilson was forced out last December for player mistreatment and Allen, the defensive coordinator assumed the reins for the Foster Farms Bowl, which the Hoosiers lost to Utah. Allen remained the head coach and brought in former Michigan offensive coordinator Mike DeBord to run his offense, signaling a marked change from Wilson.

He also added former Michigan star running back Mike Hart as his running backs coach and former Michigan quarterback Nick Sheridan as his quarterbacks coach.

They had a tough first assignment with Ohio State to open the season and actually held a 14-13 halftime lead before surrendering five second-half touchdowns. They bounced back in Week 2 with a 34-17 win at Virginia, which looks better and better each week as the Cavaliers are now 4-1.

Indiana got an unexpected bye week in Week 3 when Hurricane Irma forced their matchup with Florida International to be canceled. A 52-17 win over Georgia Southern was as expected — the Eagles are 0-4 with an average margin of defeat of more than 24 points.

The Hoosiers then had to travel to Happy Valley where they were summarily handled by the fourth-ranked Nittany Lions. Penn State raced out to a 28-0 first quarter lead and cruised to a 45-14 win. But Indiana got back in the win column last week, topping Charleston Southern of the FCS, 27-0. IU held the Buccaneers to just six first downs and 134 total yards.

So how good is Indiana in its first season post-Wilson? Who really knows. They’ve beaten an FCS team, an 0-4 Sun Belt team, and a perennial ACC bottom-feeder that hasn’t had a winning season since 2011, and they’ve lost to the top two teams in the Big Ten.

It could be said that Michigan is the first happy medium on the Hoosiers’ schedule. Granted, Michigan was ranked 7th nationally just a week ago, but the way the offense is playing Michigan is nowhere near a top-10 team. The defense may be the nation’s best, but unless the offense shows significant midseason progress with its backup quarterback, it will continue to hold the team back and give teams like Indiana a fighting chance.

Let’s take a look at the matchup.

Indiana offense

(IU Sports)

Mike DeBord has had a long and winding career since playing NAIA football in northern Indiana in the late 1970s. He worked his way up the coaching ranks as an offensive line coach at Fort Hays State, Eastern Illinois, Ball State, Colorado State, and Northwestern before landing at Michigan under Gary Moeller. He was kept on staff by Lloyd Carr and was named offensive coordinator for the first time in 1997, helping guide the Wolverines to the national title.

Following the 1999 season, he left to take his first head coaching position at Central Michigan, where he went just 12-34 before retuning to Michigan for the remainder of Carr’s career. From there, he spent two years with the Seattle Seahawks and three with the Chicago Bears and returned to the college game as Tennessee’s offensive coordinator the past two seasons before moving to Bloomington.

So far this season, DeBord’s offense ranks fourth in the Big Ten and 69th nationally in total offense (408.4 yards per game), fifth and 67th in scoring (29.6 points per game), ninth and 78th in rushing (148.8 yards per game), and fifth and 46th in passing (259.6 yards per game) — a far cry from the high-powered offenses under Wilson.

Unlike Harbaugh, who will stick with his starting quarterback until he can’t anymore, DeBord began the season utilizing a two-headed quarterback system at IU. Fifth-year senior Richard Lagow and redshirt freshman Peyton Ramsey split time through the first four games before Ramsey got the full-time nod against Charleston Southern last week. I’m not sure how telling a 32-of-41, 321-yard performance is against a team that ranks 75th in the FCS in pass efficiency defense, but the Cincinnati native was a combined 11-of-20 for 88 yards, a touchdown, and an interception in limited time against Ohio State and Penn State. Lagow, meanwhile, was the Big Ten’s second-leading passer last season, but is completing just 56.3 percent of his passes this season.

True freshman Morgan Ellison has taken command of the running game, averaging 71.6 yards per game. The three-star product from Ohio State’s back yard (Pickerington Central) did most of his work this season against Georgia State, rushing for 186 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries. He did manage 5.9 yards per carry against Penn State, but got just nine carries as IU fell behind by 28 points in the first quarter. Ramsey is the second-leading rusher with 171 yards on 3.5 yards per carry, while redshirt freshman Cole Gest is the only other Hoosier with more than 100 yards and he leads the team with 6.1 yards per carry.

Simmie Cobbs seems like he has been at Indiana forever and leads the team with 33 receptions for 370 yards and three touchdowns. The redshirt junior was an honorable mention All-Big Ten performer in 2015, ranking third in the league with 1,035 yards, but suffered a season-ending injury a year ago. He was unstoppable in the opener against Ohio State, catching 11 passes for 149 yards and a score. He also caught 10 passes for 98 yards against Charleston Southern and leads the Big Ten with 6.6 per game.

Fellow redshirt junior Luke Timian is second on the team with 22 receptions out of the slot, but is ahead of only third-down back Mike Majette with 6.4 yards per reception. Junior Donovan Hale and redshirt freshman Taysir Mack are both tall targets on the outside with a combined 245 yards and three touchdowns so far. Mack had a big game against Charleston Southern, catching seven passes for 111 yards and two touchdowns, while Hale leads the team with 16.6 yards per reception. Senior tight end Ian Thomas is the team’s second-leading receiver with 254 yards and three scores.

The offensive line is middle of the pack in the Big Ten with 2.2 sacks allowed per game (Michigan allows 3.2) but struggles on the interior and hasn’t been able to get much push in the running game.

Indiana defense

(Sam Riche, AP)

Defensive coordinator Mark Hagen is a former IU linebacker who spent about a decade building his resume at Purdue before returning to his alma mater in 2011. He left to coach linebackers and defensive tackles at Texas A&M from 2013-15 and came back to Bloomington as the assistant defensive coordinator last season. When Allen was promoted to head coach he gave Hagen the reigns of the defense.

His senior-laded Hoosier defense ranks eighth in the Big Ten and 47th nationally in total defense (357.8 yards per game), ninth and 59th in scoring defense (25.6 points per game), 12th and 67th in rush defense (152.4 yards per game), and seventh and 42nd in pass defense (205.4 yards per game). But while those stats don’t show much, IU’s defense ranks 22nd nationally in S&P+.

The most notable player on the Indiana defense is senior linebacker Tegray Scales, who was a second-team All-American last season while leading the nation with 23.5 tackles for loss. He led the Big Ten with 126 tackles. So far this season he’s slacking off, only ranking fifth in the conference in both tackles (42) and tackles for loss (6.5). The linebacker corps is made up of experienced seniors and Chris Covington and Tony Fields join Scales. Covington, who started his career at IU as a quarterback, recorded a sack and fumble against Michigan last season and ranks second on the team with 32 tackles. Fields has 23 tackles and two for loss.

Indiana’s defensive front is led by fifth-year senior nose tackle Nate Hoff, who takes on double teams and clogs the middle effectively. He notched 1.5 tackles for loss against Michigan a year ago. Junior Jacob Robinson and redshirt freshman Jerome Johnson split time at the three-tech and have a combined 15 tackles, three for loss, and two sacks. Seniors Greg Gooch and Robert McCray II aren’t stars, though they may look like it against Michigan’s tackles. The ends and have combined for three tackles for loss and two sacks this season.

Fifth-year senior Rashard Fant is one of the Big Ten’s best corners after recording 39 pass breakups the past two seasons. He was a second-team All-Big Ten performer last season. He has three pass breakups so far this season and will present a very tough challenge for Michigan’s young receivers. Redshirt sophomore Andre Brown Jr is the other, less heralded corner and has 12 tackles and one pass breakup. Junior Jonathan Crawford and senior Chase Dutra are a pair of experienced safeties that have combined for 45 tackles, a tackle for loss, an interception, and four pass breakups so far this season. Crawford was honorable mention All-Big Ten last season.

Indiana special teams

Placekicker Griffin Oakes is the top kicker in Indiana history with 58 career field goals and a 74.4 percent career clip. He was the Big Ten’s Bakken-Andersen Kicker of the Year in 2015 and has made all five attempts so far this season with a long of 51. Redshirt sophomore punter Hayden Whitehead is an Aussie who ranks ninth in the Big Ten with an average of 40.3 yards per punt. He has downed 12 of 36 inside the 20 with three touchbacks.

Redshirt junior receiver J-Shun Harris II is a dangerous punt returner coming off an ACL injury in 2016. He leads the Big Ten with 22.8 yards per return and two touchdowns. Running back Devontae Williams is the main kick returner, averaging a modest 18.2 yards per return.

Prediction

I’m not looking forward to this game. I’m not worried about Michigan’s defense slowing down a Mike DeBord offense, but I am worried about this Michigan offense doing much against a pretty good IU defense. Unlike last week, weather shouldn’t be a problem with 80 degrees and sun expected in Bloomington, but weather was one of just many problems a week ago. This game has all the makings of a defensive slugfest.

Michigan’s receivers are going to have a hard time getting open in the secondary, so John O’Korn will have to rely on his tight ends. Indiana’s defense ranks fifth in the Big Ten with 2.8 sacks per game and Michigan’s line hasn’t protected its quarterbacks, so with tight coverage, O’Korn could be running for his life quite a bit. Perhaps Harbaugh, Tim Drevno, and Pep Hamilton will develop a different game plan this week, but it’s hard to see Michigan’s offense moving the ball consistently.

On the other side, there’s no way Indiana should more than about 10 points. Indiana is at its best in the air, but Michigan features the top pass defense in the nation. The Hoosiers may get a big play or two through the air, and may get another from Ramsey’s legs, but won’t get much from its running game.

Michigan wins a low-scoring game that doesn’t leave us feeling much better heading into a showdown at Penn State.

Score Prediction: Michigan 17 – Indiana 10

#14 Michigan vs Indiana game preivew

Friday, November 13th, 2015


Game Preview_Indiana_banner

After last season’s 5-7 finish, riddled with concussion controversies and firings, who would have predicted that Michigan would still be in the Big Ten title hunt with three games remaining in 2015? That’s precisely where Jim Harbaugh has his team, needing three wins and an Ohio State victory over Michigan State to secure a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game.

UM-Indiana-small
Quick Facts
Memorial Stadium – 3:30p.m. EST – ABC
Indiana Head Coach: Kevin Wilson (5th season)
Coaching Record: 18-39, 6-31 B1G (all at IU)
Co-Offensive Coordinators: Kevin Johns (5th season)
Greg Frey (2nd season)
Co-Defensive Coordinators: Brian Knorr (2nd season)
William Inge (3rd season)
Last Season: 4-8 (1-7)
Last Meeting: Michigan 34 – Indiana 10
All-Time Series: Michigan leads 54-9
Record in Bloomington: Michigan 17-2
Jim Harbaugh vs Indiana: 1st meeting
Last Michigan win: 2014 (34-10)
Last Indiana win: 1987 (14-10)
Current Streak: Michigan 19

It won’t be easy and it begins in Bloomington against an Indiana squad that doesn’t have a very good record, but has played close against some good teams. After breezing through a weak non-conference schedule for the first time in 25 years, topping Southern Illinois (48-47), Florida International (36-22), Western Kentucky (38-35), and Wake Forest (31-24), the Hoosiers have lost five straight. But they took Ohio State to the brink, stalling at the OSU 9-yard line on the game’s final play and falling 34-27. They were also within five of Michigan State until the Spartans scored three touchdowns in the final five minutes to make it look like a blowout, 52-26. Last week, Indiana trailed Iowa by one at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and after giving up back to back touchdowns, scored one of their own to pull within eight. But they fell 35-27.

On the other hand, the Hoosiers lost a shootout against Rutgers, 55-52, and got shut down by Penn State, 29-7.

Head coach Kevin Wilson is now in his fifth season and has yet to achieve a winning record. With Maryland and Purdue remaining and four wins already under their belt, six wins is well within reach, which means a win over Michigan puts a winning record within reach.

After a couple of windy days in the midwest, the weather forecast for Saturday calls for mid-50s and sunny with no chance of precipitation and only a slight breeze. Hoosier fans will turn out in full force for their final home game of the season. Oh, who am I kidding? It’s Indiana, so the crowd will be at least a third maize and blue. Let’s take a look at the matchups.

When Indiana has the ball

Indiana ranks 30th nationally and first in the Big Ten in total offense (460.9 yards per game), 48th and 4th in rushing offense (185.8 yards per game), 31st and 2nd in passing offense (275.1 yards per game), 49th and 3rd in passing efficiency (136.81), and 48th and 5th in scoring (32.4 points per game).

Senior quarterback Nate Sudfeld is the Big Ten’s passing leader, averaging 278.6 yards per game. That’s 11.4 yards more than Connor Cook, who threw for 328 yards against Michigan last month, and 66.6 more per game than Minnesota’s Mitch Leidner, who torched the Michigan secondary for 317. He was injured against Ohio State and missed the Penn State game, but returned to go 32 of 42 for 464 yards and four touchdowns against Rutgers. He then completed 23 of 37 for 308 yards and three touchdowns against Michigan State, but Iowa’s stout defense held him to 16 of 37 for 180 yards, a touchdown, and an interception last week.

Three receivers have at least 400 yards, led by redshirt junior Ricky Jones, who ranks sixth in the conference with 78.7 yards per game. He has three 100-yard games and has caught at least four passes in seven of nine games. Sophomore Simmie Cobbs is the team’s second leading receiver with 36 receptions for 552 yards and three touchdowns. After being held to just one catch for five yards by Penn State, Cobbs had seven for 107 against Rutgers and five for 108 and a touchdown against Michigan State. Mitchell Paige, a 5’7″, 176 pound redshirt junior, has 33 catches for 416 yards and two scores. He has caught eight passes in two of the last three games.

The Hoosier offense isn’t all passing. It also features the Big Ten’s second leading rusher, junior Jordan Howard. The UAB transfer averages 137.3 rushing yards per game, just a yard fewer than Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott. He has eclipsed 100 yards in five of the seven games in which he has played — he missed the Penn State and Rutgers games to injury — and reached 203 yards against WKU. The Ohio State and Michigan State games were the only two that the didn’t reach 100 yards, and they both also happened to be the only games in which he had limited carries. He had 14 for 34 against Ohio State before getting injured in the first half and 11 for 78 against MSU.

Sophomore Devine Redding, a Cleveland Glenville product, has 463 yards, but is averaging just 3.5 yards per carry compared to Howard’s 6.1. His best performance came in Howard’s absence when he gained 99 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries against Rutgers.

The offensive line is experienced and has done a great job of keeping Sudfeld upright. Indiana is tied with Michigan State for the fewest sacks allowed, 11. Michigan has allowed 13. Senior left tackle Jason Spriggs started 34 games entering this season and was named honorable mention All-Big Ten in 2012 and 2014. Redshirt junior right guard Dan Feeney is the second most experienced with 24 straight starts entering the season and all nine so far this year. Fifth year senior center Jake Reed is a converted defensive end and tight end who started five games at guard in 2013 before moving to center last season. Redshirt junior right tackle Dimitric Camiel started five games last season and all nine this year, while left guard is the long position that has seen a change this season. Redshirt freshman Wes Martin started the first six games, but redshirt junior Jacob Bailey, who had five career starts entering the season, has started the last three.

When Michigan has the ball

While Indiana’s offense ranks among the Big Ten’s best, its defense is at the opposite end of the spectrum. That’s nothing new for the Hoosiers the past few years. IU ranks 119th and 14th in total defense (504 yards per game), 77th and 13th against the run (174 yards per game), 126th and 14th against the pass (330 yards per game), 103rd and 13th in pass defense efficiency (144.83), and 114th and 14th in scoring defense (37 points per game).

Senior defensive end Nick Mangieri leads the team with seven sacks and eight tackles for loss. The nephew of former NFLer Ed Sutter carried 22 career starts into 2015. Junior tackle Darius Latham also has eight tackles for loss, but just two sacks, while fifth year senior nose tackle Adarius Rayner has 1.5 tackles for loss.

Junior middle linebacker T.J. Simmons is probably the best player on the defense, though he ranks second on the team with 58 tackles. He was a freshman All-American and All-Big Ten performer in 2013 and also has 4.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. Redshirt sophomore Marcus Oliver is the tackles leader with 79, but just 4.5 of those have gone for loss and just one sack. He also leads the team with four forced fumbles. The two outside linebackers are fifth year senior Zach Shaw and junior Clyde Newton, who have combined for 59 tackles, 10 for loss, and 3.5 sacks.

The secondary is led by redshirt sophomore free safety Chase Dutra, who ranks third on the team with 55 tackles, while freshman strong safety Jonathan Crawford has 52 tackles and a team-leading two interceptions. Redshirt sophomore corner Rashard Fant has the third most pass breakups in the Big Ten (13) behind Jourdan Lewis (19) and Iowa’s Desmond King (15). Freshman Andre Brown is the other corner with 35 tackles and four pass breakups.

While Michigan’s pass defense had two bad games against Michigan State and Minnesota, Indiana’s pass defense allows more passing yards per game than Michigan allowed in either of those games. Western Kentucky threw for 484 yards and Southern Illinois 411. Michigan State fell just short of 400 at 398 and Rutgers — who Michigan limited to just 164 passing yards last week — threw for 386. On the ground, while Michigan’s defense has allowed over 100 yards just three times and no opponent more than 144, Indiana’s defense has let seven teams rush for over 100 yards and four top 200, including Ohio State’s 272.

The other third

Redshirt sophomore kicker Griffin Oakes is 12 of 14 on the season with a long of 45. He made 13 of 18 as a freshman a year ago, including a school record 58-yarder against Maryland. Fifth year senior punter Eric Toth ranks eighth in the Big Ten with an average of 41.6 yards per punt. He has booted three over 50 yards, downed 35 percent of his punts inside the 20, and only four have gone for touchbacks.

Senior receiver Damon Graham and freshman corner Devonte Williams share the kick return duties. Graham averages 22.3 yards per return, while Williams averages 20.4. Paige is the lone punt returner, averaging 10.2 yards per return and has returned one for a touchdown.

Prediction

Michigan’s defense held Rutgers quarterback Chris Laviano in check last week, but will have its hands full with Sudfeld and Indiana’s offense. Rutgers was able to use some traps to spring a couple big runs, but Howard may be the best back the Wolverine defense has faced all season, so the defense will have to focus more on him. Indiana is surely the most balanced opponent so far in terms of threats in both the run game and passing game, so it will be interesting to see how the defense fares when it can’t focus primarily on one facet.

Regardless of how well the Hoosier offense does, I just don’t see its defense being able to hold Michigan’s offense out of the end zone enough to win. Almost without fail when a high-powered offense faces a formidable defense, the defense wins, and that’s going to be the case here as well.

Jake Rudock will build upon a great game last week with another big passing game against the Big Ten’s worst pass defense. Drake Johnson will lead the way on the ground and Michigan will near 500 total yards of offense. The defense will give up some yards and points, but it won’t be enough to seriously challenge. Michigan pulls off win number eight and stays in the title hunt for another week.

Michigan 47 – Indiana 21

2015 opponent preview: Indiana

Monday, August 10th, 2015


2015 Opponent Preview_INDIANA

NCAA Football: Indiana at Wisconsin(Jeff Hanisch, USA Today Sports)

Our season preview series continues with the first Big Ten squad we have previewed so far. The Indiana Hoosiers are the third-easiest opponent Michigan will face this fall, behind non-conference foes UNLV and Oregon State. Michigan visits the Hoosiers on Nov. 14, just two weeks before the regular season ending battle with Ohio State.

Overview

Schedule
Date Opponent
Sept. 5 Southern Illinois
Sept. 12 FIU
Sept. 19 Western Kentucky
Sept. 26 at Wake Forest
Oct. 3 Ohio State
Oct. 10 at Penn State
Oct. 17 Rutgers
Oct. 24 at Michigan State
Nov. 7 Iowa
Nov. 14 Michigan
Nov. 21 at Maryland
Nov. 28 at Purdue

After going 1-11 in his first season in Bloomington, Kevin Wilson looked to have the Hoosiers on the upswing. A 4-8 season in 2012 followed by a 5-7 finish in 2013 had Indiana poised to break through in 2014. Instead, the Hoosiers were unable to capture their second winning season in 20 years, falling back to 4-8.

Indiana sandwiched an early season road upset of Missouri with losses to Bowling Green and Maryland and then suffered further setback when quarterback Nate Sudfeld injured his shoulder. The injury forced unheralded true freshman Zander Diamont into action and the results were predictable. In six starts, Diamont completed just 48.5 percent of his passes for 515 yards, one touchdown, and four interceptions. Indiana went 1-5 over that span, beating only lowly rival Purdue to close the season.

Now, Indiana returns the second lowest offensive and defensive production in the Big Ten and it might be Wilson’s last chance to turn the program around. Only Maryland returns a lower percentage of offense (29 percent compared to Indiana’s 40 percent) and defense (44 percent compared to Indiana’s 53 percent), and only Iowa returns a lower percentage of offensive touchdowns (31 percent to Indiana’s 35 percent). Can that somehow equate to a winning season? Let’s take a look.

Offense

Projected Starters
Position Name, Yr. Ht, Wt 2014 Stats
QB Nate Sudfeld (Sr.) 6’6″, 240 101-167 for 1,151 yds, 6 TD, 3 INT
RB Jordan Howard (Jr.) 6’1″, 225 306 rush for 1,587 yds (5.2 avg), 13 TD (at UAB)
WR Simmie Cobbs (So.) 6’4″, 215 7 rec for 114 yds (16.3 avg), 0 TD
WR Dominique Booth (Fr.) 6’0″, 205
WR Ricky Jones (RS Jr.) 5’10”, 185 3 rec for 58 yds (19.3 avg), 0 TD
TE Anthony Corsaro (Sr.) 6’3″, 250 5 rec for 39 yds (7.8 avg), 0 TD
LT Jason Spriggs (Sr.) 6’7″, 305 10 starts (34 career starts)
LG Jacob Bailey (RS Jr.) 6’5″, 298 2 starts (5 career starts)
C Jake Reed (RS Sr.) 6’4″, 288 4 starts (4 career starts)
RG Dan Feeney (RS Jr.) 6’4″, 305 12 starts (24 career starts)
RT Tim Gardner (RS Fr.) 6’5″, 310 OSU transfer, sat out 2014

In 2014, Indiana ranked 61st nationally in total offense (fifth in the Big Ten), ninth in rushing (third in the Big Ten), 120th in passing (last in the Big Ten), 123rd in pass efficiency (last in the Big Ten), and 87th in scoring offense (10th in the Big Ten). The main factor in Indiana’s offense was running back Tevin Coleman, who ranked second in the Big Ten with 2,036 rushing yards, averaging 169.7 yards per game. His 7.5 yards per attempt matched Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon’s for tops in the conference. But now Coleman is in camp with the Atlanta Falcons as a third round pick in this year’s NFL Draft.

The good news for Wilson is that he has a talented back coming in to replace him. Jordan Howard transferred from Alabama-Birmingham after the program disbanded. He set a UAB single season record with 1,587 yards, averaging 5.2 yards per carry, and scoring 13 touchdowns. His 132.3 yards per game ranked seventh nationally and he earned first team All-Conference USA honors. But he’ll have to beat out sophomore Devine Redding, a Glenville High School product, who showed some promise last season behind Coleman.

The other good news is that Sudfeld is healthy again. He ranked among the top quarterbacks in the Big Ten in 2013 as IU’s pass offense ranked 17th nationally. He was on pace for similar production through the first six games of 2014 before injuring his shoulder and missing the rest of the year. Now, in his senior season, he has one final chance to show what he can do.

The receiving corps has some talent, but not very little proven production. It suffered a big loss when its only returning receiver, J-Shon Harris, suffered an ACL injury in the spring and will miss the entire season. His 18 receptions for 168 yards and two touchdowns led all returning receivers. In fact, he was the only returning receiver on the team that caught a touchdown pass in 2014. His spot will likely be filled by incoming freshman Dominique Booth, a four-star recruit out of Pike High School in Indianapolis. The other expected starters are sophomore Simmi Cobbs and redshirt junior Ricky Jones, who combined for 10 receptions for 172 yards and no scores a year ago.

The strength of the offense should be the line that returns 67 career starts, most notably senior left tackle Jason Spriggs and redshirt junior right guard Dan Feeney. The two have combined for 58 career starts, including 22 in 2014. Left guard Jacob Bailey and center Jake Reed started a combined six games last season, while the expected right tackle is Ohio State transfer Tim Gardner.

Defense

Projected Starters
Position Name, Yr. Ht, Wt 2014 Stats
DE Nick Mangieri (Sr.) 6’5″, 270 37 tackles, 2 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 INT, 3 QBH
DT Darius Latham (Jr.) 6’5″, 305 26 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 1 FR
NT Nate Hoff (RS So.) 6’2″, 300 29 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks
LB Zack Shaw (RS Sr.) 6’3″, 252 24 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 1.5 sack, 1 FR, 1 QBH
LB T.J. Simmons (Jr.) 6’0″, 233 72 tackles, 65. TFL, 2 sacks, 1 FR, 2 FF
LB Marcus Oliver (RS So.) 6’1″, 238 10 tackles, 1 FF
LB Tegray Scales (So.) 6’0″, 220 46 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 2 sacks, 3 INT, 2 QBH
CB Rashard Fant (RS So.) 5’10”, 175 23 tackles, 5 PBU, 1 FR
CB Noel Padmore (RS So.) 5’11”, 180
FS Tony Fields (So.) 5’11”, 205 14 tackles, 1 PBU
SS Chase Dutra (RS So.) 6’1″, 205 34 tackles, 2 TFL, 3 INT, 5 PBU, 1 FF

Indiana had one of the Big Ten’s worst defenses in 2014 and returns only four starters and none from the secondary. The Hoosiers ranked 120th nationally in total defense, 114th in scoring defense, 115th in rush defense, 118th in passing yards allowed, and 103rd in pass efficiency defense. The 32.8 points per game allowed were worse than every team in the Big Ten except Illinois.

There’s a lot to improve on Indiana’s defense, but at least the line is experienced, returning all three starters. Nose tackle Nate Hoff ranked second on the team with 3.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss last season as a redshirt freshman, while defensive tackle Darius Latham recorded 5.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. Last year’s starting defensive end, Bobby Richardson, is gone and so are his team-leading 9.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. But starting outside linebacker Nick Mangieri is making the move back to end, where he played his first two seasons in Bloomington and started 10 games in 2013.

With Mangieri’s move to the line, the Hoosier linebacker corps returns just one starter from a year ago, junior T.J. Simmons. He’s the leading returning tackler with 72 and he also ranked fourth on the team last season with 6.5 tackles for loss. A couple of promising youngsters join Simmons in the middle. Sophomore Tegray Scales was a Big Ten All-Freshman team member last season after notching 46 tackles, 4.5 for loss, two sacks, and three interceptions. Marcus Oliver was an honorable mention Big Ten All-Freshman team member in 2013, but tore his ACL in the third game of the season last year. The fourth linebacker should be fifth-year senior Zack Shaw, who has 36 games of playing experience under his belt.

While there is some talent and experience in the front seven, the secondary will get a complete makeover this fall. Last year’s leading tackler, safety Antonio Allen, should have been back to lead the group, but was kicked off the team in June due to legal troubles. The former U.S. Army All-American will be replaced by sophomore Tony Fields, who recorded 14 tackles and one pass breakup last fall. Strong safety started one game as a redshirt freshman in 2014, earning honorable mention All-Big Ten honors. He tied Scales for the team lead with three interceptions. The corners will likely be a pair of redshirt sophomores, Rashard Fant and Noel Padmore. Fant recorded 23 tackles and ranked second among Big Ten freshmen with five pass breakups. Padmore played exclusively on special teams last season.

Special Teams

Projected Starters
Position Name, Yr. Ht, Wt 2014 Stats
K Griffin Oakes (RS So.) 5’10”, 197 13-of-18 (72.2%), Long 58
P Erich Toth (RS Sr.) 6’3″, 208 40.7 avg., 18 in-20, 7 50+
KR J-Shunn Harris (So.) 5’8″, 170 19 ret, 20.6 avg
PR J-Shunn Harris (So.) 5’8″, 170 3 ret, 4.0 avg

Both kicking specialists return for a unit that wasn’t very strong overall. Kicker Griffin Oakes was solid, connecting on 13-of-18 field goals and set a school record with a  58-yard field goal against Maryland. It was the longest in the country last season and the 10th-longest field goal in Big Ten history. Punter Erich Toth has two-and-a-half years of experience under his belt and ranks fifth in school history with 177 career punts. Last season’s 77 punts set a school single-season record — not exactly a stat one wants to hold. Indiana ranked 98th nationally in net punting and Toth’s 40.7 yards per punt ranked eighth in the Big Ten.

Sophomore receiver J-Hunn Harris returns to handle the kick return duties and should also take over punt return duties from the departed Shane Wynn. Harris led the team with 19 kick returns for 20.2 yards per return last season, but returned just three punts in 2014.

Outlook

The schedule sets up nicely for Indiana with a non-conference slate of Southern Illinois, FIU, Western Kentucky, and Wake Forest. The first three are at home and only WKU had a winning record among the four (8-5). The schedule gets much tougher after that with Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan State in the month of October, with Rutgers in between. November sees Iowa and Michigan visit Memorial Stadium and IU travel to Maryland and Purdue.

Getting seven wins out of that schedule will require the Hoosiers to pull off at least one upset like they did against Missouri last season. But with very little experience in the secondary and no Tevin Coleman, a lot of pressure will be on Sudfeld’s arm. Indiana is looking at yet another bowl-less season.

What it means for Michigan

By the time Michigan visits Indiana, the Wolverines will already have played nine games. I expect the Harbaugh era to gain steam throughout the season — a departure from the previous two coaching staffs — so that bodes well for Michigan in this one. Michigan’s defense will be one of the Big Ten’s best and Indiana doesn’t have the firepower to score enough to keep up. It’s Michigan’s last good chance to get a win with a trip to Penn State the following week and then Ohio State coming to town a week later. But Harbaugh’s boys will get take care of business in Bloomington.