On Saturday next the Beavers will gnaw on the Wolverines, and try to hand them a second straight defeat to start the season, and Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan coaching tenure.
A noon kick off Saturday will happen in the friendly confines of Michigan Stadium. For a successful season the Wolverines must prove they own their own stadium. While the more experienced Wolverines are favored by 14 points over the younger Beavers, the Wolverines are still a team learning to win, while the busy Beavers won last week over Weber State 26 to 7.
The Oregon State Coach, Gary Andersen, is familiar with the Big Ten through a stint as Wisconsin’s head man. He has proved his coaching mettle. He has had past coaching connections to the Utah program, and you can bet on the fact that he has been in contact with them verifying flaws in the M play. The Wolverines will see some more hurry up offense. Oregon State is in transition under Andersen from a pro set offense to a hurry up spread offense.
The OSU OC said in the spring that they want 50% efficiency in getting four-yards or more on first down, and they want the 12% rule in eliminating errors such as turnovers, believing that games will be won if the errors make up less than 12% of total plays. They want 44 percent third down efficiency, and they want to score 70% of available points in the red zone, which means TDs. And they want to win the fourth quarter. The need to do all this to win. Plus offensively they have to be physical and let their opposition know they been in a football game, let them know that when they walk off the field the opponent knows the Beavers have beat the crap out of them. We shall see.
Back to the Wolverines. Offensively, some of the flaws last Saturday against the Utes were obvious. Three interceptions, for example, and the overthrows were obvious. While Harbaugh said that QB Jake Rudock should not have tossed some of them, he pointed out an inexperienced receiver’s lack of precision in route running, and a receiver slowing his rout when he thought he was open were important errors. Probably the receiver was slowing down after the ball had been tossed. Through it all Jake Rudock endured, and earned the starting position this coming Saturday against the Beavers.
The word or has now been dropped from the depth chart QB list. Jake showed his toughness as he took a tremendous hit after one of the long throws, was not sacked, and limited TFL losses. Together with tossing for 279-yards on 23 attempts and two TDs, and by maintaining good field presence, he earned the start this Saturday. A repeat performance of the errors would undoubtedly shake that position. As I said in another article, I though Coach Harbaugh did a great job in handling the QB situation.
Defensively, the interviewees that I heard at the Monday after game press conference indicated that they did not handle the up tempo sequences of the Utah offense effectively at times. A very correctable issue.
Also, some defensive players indicated that it was their job to help the team by creating opponent’s turnovers.
Coach Harbaugh said Monday that both the offensive and defensive lines were hesitant at times, and needed to play faster. Half time adjustments by the coaching staff eliminated some of this. This too is a very correctable issue.
It appears that RB Drake Johnson is approaching a level of healthiness that will allow a return to playing soon, and Fred Canteen says he will be good to go.
Against Utah the offensive starters were TE Poggi (two tight end set), LT Cole, LG Braden, Center G. Glasgow, RG Kalis, RT Magnuson, TE Butt, WR Chesson, QB Rudock, FB Kerridge, and TB D. Smith. The defensive starters were: DE Henry, NT R. Glasgow, DT Godin, Buck Ojemudia, ILB Morgan, ILB Hill (started five DBs), LCB Lewis, FS Wilson, SS Peppers, RCB Stribling.
While nothing but wins are acceptable in the portfolio of Coach Harbaugh, his assistants and the team, know now exactly what they have to work with after their opening game loss. Future improvements are possible all season long, but let us hope they start with a vengeance for this very important next game.