The Wolverines face a formidable challenge versus the Alabama Crimson Tide. Most of the nation believe that a victory over Alabama is beyond the reach of the Wolverines, but in the words of the immortal Fielding Yost, “Who are they that they should beat a Michigan team?”
These are keys the to a Wolverine victory
- Make Alabama grind it out on the ground. On its face this makes little sense, Alabama’s strength is in its offensive line but lots of bad things can happen on long run oriented drives. Backs fumble. Kickers miss field goals. The Wolverines absolutely cannot get involved in a shoot out with Alabama. Without its first string running back, with multiple questions on the offensive line and wide receiver, Michigan needs to keep this a low scoring affair. Last season we saw Alabama struggle converting drives to touchdowns. If Michigan can hold them below 20 points they have a real chance to win this game. Crazy? Offenses typically struggle with timing early in the season. Stop Alabama early, give then some doubt. I’m not so sure that the crown will be as partisan behind them as some believe.
- Get Denard into space. The newly constituted offensive line needs to open up some gaps for Denard to run. After 3 seasons of experience, and 8 months since last being tackled in fury, he’s at his best right now. During his career we’ve seen him get progressively dinged up as the season progresses. He’s deadly fast and fresh right now. We know when given the slightest gap he’ll blow past the defensive line into the secondary, where Alabama’s only weakness may be. Their defensive secondary is talented but relatively inexperienced. They have a JUCO transfer starting at cornerback and a free safety who has never started a game. The difference between an open field tackle and giving up a 75 yard run can be a player being slightly out of position. Forget about how these guys defend the pass, how they position themselves and tackle might be the difference in this game. Tackling is always weaker earlier in the season. Against a dynamic player like Denard that’s a huge weakness.
- Survive the 1st quarter. Alabama is coming in looking for a quick knockout. The entire nation is expecting this to be over by the first commercial break. The Wolverines need to show Alabama that this is a fight not a tune-up game. If the Wolverines can manage a quick score or stymie the Alabama offense in the first 2 or 3 drives the Tide may start having some doubt.
My intellect tells me that Alabama is deep and talented while the Wolverines are thin in the key areas of offensive and defensive lines. But my hearts bleeds maize and blue. When asked how I can believe that Michigan can win this game I have to give the same answer as Brady Hoke when asked the same thing in his press conference this week, “I like Michigan.”
Go Blue! Flush Tide!