Wolverine Wednesday: Bye Week #2

#22 Michigan Wolverines 6-1 (2-1 Big Ten)

Michigan will have a week off following a 63-47 win against the Indiana Hoosiers.

Michigan’s performance last week in the Big House left a lot to be desired on defense. Although Indiana is a much improved team, especially on offense, the game raised some serious red flags. The Wolverines gave up 572 yards on defense, the most yards since their 2007 matchup with Oregon. Indiana’s hurry-up offense was highly successful, often times leaving Wolverine defenders scrambling as the ball was snapped. Passing defense has been a huge concern for Michigan all year. The game against Indiana was no exception. The Hoosiers passed for 410 yards and four touchdowns in a dual quarterback system. Fortunately for Michigan, both Indiana quarterbacks, Tre Roberson and Nate Sudfeld, threw an easy interception a piece.

Corners Blake Countess and Ramon Taylor need to find a way to matchup against larger receivers. In back-to-back weeks, we have seen quarterbacks pick on both corners by simply chucking the ball up to taller wide outs. Both corners come in at 5’10’’. Countess has shown his ability to make plays throughout the season and Taylor had four pass breakups against Indiana, but both need to find a way to guard bigger receivers.

Offensively, the Wolverines were firing on all cylinders against the Hoosiers. They finished the day with 751 total yards of offense (503 passing and 248 rushing). Getting running back Fitzgerald Toussaint more involved in the running game was obviously a big concern for Michigan. He finished with 151 yards on the ground and four touchdowns. Wide receiver Jeremy Gallon earned Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week for his outstanding performance. The senior finished the day with 14 receptions, 369 receiving yards, and two touchdowns. Quarterback Devin Gardner had an impressive 584 yards of total offense and five total touchdowns.

It is clear that when Michigan has success with Toussiant, they are a difficult offense to stop. Their running game opens up the play book and takes pressure off Gardner. With Gardner being an extremely gifted athlete, comes the fear that he will try to do too much, as he has all year. But, when Toussaint is carrying part of the load, Gardner doesn’t have to force as much. Offensive Coordinator Al Borges moving former tight end Devin Funchess to wide receiver has made a huge improvement to the offense. The 6’5’’ 235 sophomore forces the defense to pay extra attention to his side of the field; however opposite of him is Gallon. If the defense pays too much attention to Funchess, as Indiana did, then it allows Gallon to run free.

The rest of the year will depend on two factors. The first being how well the defense can defend the pass. Teams have torn apart Michigan through the air. The Wolverines could look to enter some young players such as safety Dymonte Thomas or corner Channing Stribling if they can’t find a way to stop the bleeding. The second factor is if Michigan can continue to include Toussaint in the running game. Without a successful run game, Gardner becomes a turnover machine.

The Wolverines will travel to East Lansing next week to take on rival Michigan State.

 

 

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

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