By the Numbers: Week 5 vs. Rutgers

Back to work! See you Saturday.


The Wolverines traveled to Madison.  Not good.  Actually, to quote Jim Harbaugh, “unacceptable”. 

NEXT UP: vs. Rutgers: 105th, -10.9

PREGAME SP+: Michigan by 27.3, Michigan Win Probability 94%
If seeing Michigan at 26th overall in SP+ surprises you like it did me, you’ll be floored to find out that the offense moved UP two spots after the Wisconsin loss.

Michigan Offense (72nd) vs. Rutgers Defense (78th)
We see and hear many pundits calling for more deep shots and 50-50 balls to the outside wide receivers. Consider these words of caution: making downfield vertical attacks the core offensive philosophy puts even more responsibility on the shaky pass protection. Such a path could turn out disastrous. Personally, I advocate for a philosophy that draws the offense up toward the line of scrimmage, then attempts to hit three or four big plays over the top, perhaps on double moves. The core package should remain inside zone, split zone, the Arc Read on the ground. Through the air, we could probably start with a mesh concept that Indiana and Ohio State killed our defense with, in addition to the RPOs off of the inside and split zone runs. These are just my two cents. I would be happy with any game plan that ends up greater than 45% success rate.

Michigan Defense (12th) vs. Rutgers Offense (112th)
Don Brown is not the problem.  He remains one of the top five defensive coordinators nationally, in my opinion.  However, his aggressive philosophy and man-to-man scheme provide clear opportunities for opposing offensive coordinators to exploit his tendencies.  One repeatedly successful tactic is employing pre-snap shifts and motions that force Michigan’s outside run support players to be moving inward and away from the line of scrimmage at the snap.  The Wolverines’ typically identify these scripted attacks in real time during the game and Don Brown’s adjustments normally shut out the lights. Against Wisconsin, some individual players were beaten, and others were caught out of position trying to do too much.  This week against Rutgers, Michigan won’t be at the same disadvantage up front. I expect to see some frustrating run game success for Rutgers early, but very little after the first quarter.

PREDICTION: In the preseason, I expected Michigan to be returning to the Big House with something to prove.  Somehow I underestimated. The Wolverines have EVERYTHING to prove. Both the offensive and defensive coaches need to establish clear visions of how they plan to attack successfully.  More importantly, the players need to start experiencing some sustained success to rebuild trust and confidence in their respective systems and coaching staffs. The lingering injuries and what I expect will be simplified offensive and defensive game plans still make me anxious.  However, I think we’ll see a much more acceptable performance from the Wolverines this week.
Michigan 34 Rutgers 14 (PRESEASON Michigan 55 Rutgers 10)


  • SP+ Overall: 26th (↓10), 13.9
    • SP+ Offense: 72nd (↑2), 28.3
    • SP+ Defense: 12th (↓11), 14.8
  • AP Poll: 20th (↓9), 287
  • Coaches’ Poll: 20th (↓10), 389
  • CFP Rank: N/A

About Clint Derringer

@clint_derringer Born & raised in Warren, MI. Now in Grosse Pointe, MI with my wife Bethany and our three hilarious kids.U-M B.A. Sport Management & Communications ‘05 U-M M.S. Program & Project Management ‘18