The numbers inform a narrative. The Wolverines lead the FBS in complete protection (220 ypg) and cross protection (122.9 ypg). They rank sixth in scoring protection (14.four factors per sport) and ninth in run protection (97.1 ). However Large Ten Community analyst Gerry DiNardo gives a contrarian viewpoint — one the place the numbers do not inform the entire story.
“It’s a must to take a look at Michigan defensively solely towards one of the best groups they play,” Large Ten Community analyst Gerry DiNardo informed Sporting Information. “Have a look at them towards Penn State final yr.”
That is the sport Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown stated he has thought of daily for the reason that Nittany Lions routed the Wolverines 42-13 final season. Michigan (7-1, 5-Zero Large Ten) has an opportunity to retake that check when No 14 Penn State (6-2, 3-2) visits Michigan Stadium on Saturday.
It is right here we’ll discover out if Michigan has a protection able to successful a Large Ten championship. Like previous seasons — 1997, 2006 and 2016 come to thoughts — beating Penn State serves because the litmus check to find out whether or not the Wolverines are prepared for bigger conversations.Not that Brown would ever look that far.
“The strategy Coach Harbaugh has had the entire workers and gamers is to maintain what’s in entrance of you,” Brown stated. “In case you get too far forward, then dangerous issues occur.”
So neglect about Ohio State, the Large Ten championship or Michigan’s No. 5 rating within the School Soccer Playoff rankings this week. Brown prefers to maintain the give attention to Penn State, and with good purpose.
These numbers inform a narrative, too. The Nittany Lions racked up 506 complete yards on 8.Three yards per play — probably the most on the Wolverines since Brown took over as defensive coordinator in 2016. Michigan has allowed the mix of greater than 300 complete yards and 5.Zero yards per play in simply seven video games since Brown arrived. They’re 2-5 in these video games.
|12 months||Opponent||Complete Yards||Yards per play||End result|
|2017||Penn State||506||8.3||L 13-42|
|2016||Michigan State||401||5.7||W 32-23|
|2016||Florida State||371||6.0||L 32-33|
|2017||Ohio State||350||5.6||L 20-31|
|2017||South Carolina||300||5.2||L 19-26|
These are the numbers DiNardo is speaking about.
“The place Michigan will get itself in a bind is that they minimize guys unfastened within the secondary however the quarterback cannot get the ball off,” DiNardo stated. “You may play towards an offense that may shield, they will assault that.”
MORE: That is Simply Hint
Enter Penn State quarterback Hint McSorley, who had 282 passing yards, a landing and an interception in final yr’s sport — but in addition added 76 dashing yards and three dashing scores. That’s the problem for the Wolverines’ protection.
“(McSorley) has a very good really feel for what Coach Franklin desires to do offensively, particularly within the throw sport, and he has numerous guys he to the throw the ball to,” Brown stated. “It is a wholesome stability between attempting to cease the run, stress them in that respect and attempting to get after them within the cross sport.”
What’s totally different that means Michigan can cross this check the second time round? The offense is improved round Shea Patterson and the offensive line. The protection is coming off its greatest effort of the season in limiting rival Michigan State to 94 complete yards in a 21-7 victory. The sport is at Michigan Stadium, the place the Wolverines routed the Nittany Lions on 49-10 in 2016.
Michigan’s 2018 protection — led by senior defensive finish Chase Winovich — is taking part in with an edge. That is one other cease on the self-proclaimed “Revenge Tour.”
“These three quarters have been issues we’ve got to maneuver on, and I feel we have executed that on the each side of the ball. I feel there is a bit more confidence on this staff.”
Brown talked about the protection had dangerous first quarters towards Notre Dame within the opener and Northwestern this yr, to not point out a tough third quarter towards SMU. The Wolverines gave up 30 factors in these three quarters of play, however have allowed simply 85 factors within the different 29 quarters the remainder of the season.
“We will current a formidable four-man entrance rush or get into all of our stress stuff, Brown stated. ” It actually is determined by the strengths and weaknesses of who we’re taking part in by way of which means we need to go. The good factor is we will decide how we will go forward and assault individuals.”
Michigan will proceed to do this with Brown, and a win on Saturday would set the Wolverines up for the following leg of the Large Ten race, which ends Nov. 24 at No. Eight Ohio State.
There’s a sense the Wolverines can cross that check, too. But it surely begins with Penn State. That is the problem Brown faces subsequent.
You may’t say he hasn’t put a number of thought into it.
“That is the cat-and-mouse sport, and that is the enjoyable a part of teaching,” he stated.