Wolverine Wednesday: Indiana

Michigan Wolverines 5-1 (1-1 Big Ten) v.s. Indiana Hoosiers 3-3 (1-1 Big Ten)

 

Michigan Last Week: Michigan lost a thriller in Happy Valley last weekend. The Wolverines had flirted with losses earlier in the year (Connecticut and Akron), but this time Penn State proved to be too much. It looked like Michigan was going to come away with a victory when they took a touchdown lead over the Nittany Lions with under a minute left to play. However, freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg orchestrated a last minute touchdown drive to send the game into overtime. The Wolverines allowed Penn State to score in a five-play eighty yard drive that took only 28 seconds off the game clock. From then on, the game was a story of missed opportunities for Michigan. In the first overtime, Penn State missed a field goal, allowing Michigan the chance to kick a field goal to win. Penn State blocked the kick, forcing a second overtime in which both teams made field goals, forcing a third overtime. In the third overtime, Penn State fumbled on a reverse, giving Michigan another opportunity to close the game on a field goal. This time, the fault rested on senior kicker Brendan Gibbons. His 33-yard attempt that would have kept a perfect Michigan season flew a few feet right of the goal post, creating a fourth overtime. Michigan had the ball first and was only able to convert a field goal. Penn State was more successful with their offensive possession, scoring a touchdown and giving Michigan their first loss of the season.

 

Indiana Last Week: The Hoosiers fell to 5-1 Michigan State in East Lansing. The 42-28 loss marks Indiana’s third on the season and first in Big Ten play. The Hoosiers jumped to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, but from then on the Spartans took over. Michigan State took the lead for good with 37 seconds left in the first half on a five yard rushing touchdown by running back Jeremy Langford. The tailback ended the day with a career high four total touchdowns. Indiana found their success on offense, with 351 total yards and 28 points. Michigan State proved to be too balanced of an attack for the Hoosiers defense. The Spartans rushed and passed for over 200 yards each and were 10-14 in third down conversions. Indiana has now lost to Michigan State for five years straight.

 

 

 

Michigan 2013 Team Leaders-

Passing- Devin Gardner 86/146, 1276 passing yards, 11 passing touchdowns

Rushing- Devin Gardner 80 carries, 439 yards, 5.5 yards per carry, 6 rushing touchdowns

Receiving- Jeremy Gallon 31 receptions, 462 receiving yards, 14.9 yards per reception, 5 receiving touchdowns

 

Indiana 2013 Team Leaders-

Passing- Nate Sudfeld 118/192, 1604 passing yards, 13 touchdowns

Rushing- Tevin Coleman 91 carries, 557 yards, 6.1 yards per carry, 8 rushing touchdowns

Receiving- Cody Latimer 35 receptions, 544 receiving yards, 15.5 yards per reception, 3 receiving touchdowns

 

 

Michigan National Rankings

Passing yards- 72nd 222.5

Rushing yards- 63rd 173.2

Points for-23rd 39.0

Points against-44th 23.3

 

Indiana National Rankings

Passing yards- 13th 331.5

Rushing yards- 64th 172.8

Points for- 15th 41.7

Points Against- 101st 32.8

 

The Matchup

 

Indiana came into last week ranked No. 1 in the Big Ten in total offense. Michigan has played well against the run all year, but struggled majorly against the pass. Indiana sophomore quarterback Nate Sudfeld is showing great promise in his first year as a full-time starter. The Hoosiers are currently ranked 13th in passing yards in the nation and 15th in scoring. This week’s matchup will be a big test for the Wolverines’ defense.

So, how does Michigan shut the Indiana’s spread attack? It starts up front with the defensive line. Earlier in the year, Michigan’s D-line couldn’t find a way to get a good pass rush. However, over the past few weeks, Defensive Coordinator Greg Madison has dialed up some different stunts and blitzes, which have proved successful. Defensive end Frank Clark has provided pressure off the edge and even had a fumble recovery for a touchdown against Penn State. Stud linebacker Jake Ryan made his return to the field against Penn State, coming off a torn ACL suffered in spring ball. Ryan blitzes hard and will no doubt be a factor in Indiana’s game plan. Him and “Will” linebacker Desmond Morgan should reek more havoc in opposing team’s back fields than Michigan had earlier in the year. Defensive end Keith Heitzman needs to make more of an impact up front. The redshirt sophomore only has 1.5 tackles for loss and no sacks.

Offensively, it may be time to panic for Michigan. Quarterback Devin Gardner is the leading rusher for a team that is supposed to be a pro-style offense. Against Penn State, running back Fitzgerald Toussaint rushed for 27 yards on 27 carries. The Wolverines just can’t seem to find a way to move the ball on the ground, unless it is Gardner scrambling around on broken passing plays. Freshman running back Derrick Green has seen a handful of snaps, but hasn’t been overly impressive. To add to the chaos, All-American offensive linemen Taylor Lewan went down with a supposed hip injury last week. Without Lewan in the game, Michigan’s offensive line was not nearly as productive.

Indiana is not a huge defensive powerhouse, ranking 101st in points against. In all three of their losses, the Hoosiers have given up over 40 points. If Michigan can find success with their running game, so that they can open up their playbook, this matchup could be a shootout. If Michigan can’t establish the run and they, once again, can’t find an answer for the pass, then the team could be looking at their second straight Big Ten loss.  One thing is for sure, Indiana is not a team that Michigan should underestimate.

 

 

Matt Moore contributes writings about the NFL Draft and Michigan Football for ProFootballCentral. Follow Matt on Twitter @Matt23Moore