Devine Intervention | Episode 3

On this week’s episode of Devine Intervention, Derek Devine and Von Lozon review Michigan’s victory at Penn State and discuss how much of an impact Jabrill Peppers could have against Ohio State in “The Game.” Could we see #5 on offense even more this weekend and in years to come?

Gameballs: Michigan at Penn State

(Photo courtesy of Michigan Athletics)
(Photo courtesy of Michigan Athletics)

The Michigan Wolverines improved to 9-2 (6-1 Big Ten) on the season, with its 28-16 road win on Saturday. The Wolverines capped off an undefeated Big Ten road schedule, winning four road games for the first time since 1997. The game started where the Indiana game left off, as Penn State running back, Saquon Barkley, busted a 56-yard rush into the red zone. Michigan’s defense tightened up and held the Nittany Lions on three straight plays, forcing them to settle for a field goal. On its first drive, Michigan marched down the field with ease and Jake Rudock found Jake Butt for a 26-yard pitch and catch, to give the Wolverines a 7-3 lead. After the two teams traded touchdowns in the second quarter, Michigan took a 14-10 lead into the locker room. The second half didn’t go much differently, as the Happy Valley crowd saw Penn State kick two field goals, and Michigan scored two rushing touchdowns on its way to a 28-16 Big Ten victory. At the end of the day, it was another great TEAM win for Michigan, but there is one person most deserving of this week’s recognition. Let’s see who is awarded this weeks gameball.

Continue reading “Gameballs: Michigan at Penn State”

Last Look: #12 Michigan at Penn State

The Michigan Wolverine football team will be in hostile territory again this week as they travel to Happy Valley to face Penn State. Penn State fans are showing up in all white and calling it a white out to try and intimidate the Wolverines. As of late, Michigan has struggled on the road so it could help out the Nittany Lions. Michigan has had close calls on its last two road games, a last minute goal line stand vs Minnesota and a double overtime nail biter at Indiana. The main thing is that the Maize and Blue came home with two wins and won three in row. Now they are ready to get its fourth win to stay alive in the Big Ten Conference Championship race. Here is your Last Look at what you need to know prior to kickoff.

What: #12 Michigan Wolverines (8-2, 5-1) at Penn State Nittany Lions (7-3, 4-2)

When: Saturday, Nov. 21 at Noon

Where: Beaver Stadium University Park, Pennsylvania

Channel: ABC

Series History

Michigan leads the series 11-7 and won last year 18-13 in a battle of field goals.

Last Week

Michigan outlasted Indiana 48-41 in two overtime periods. A win is a win but the Wolverines cannot be happy with giving up over 500 yards of offense and 41 points. Jake Rudock had a career day with 440 passing yards and 6 touchdowns.

Penn State was edged 23-21 by #21 Northwestern when its kicker Jack Mitchell hit a 35 yard field goal with nine seconds left to play.

Players to Watch for on Michigan

Cornerbacks Jourdan Lewis and Jabrill Peppers are phenomenal at their positions and, in general, just great athletes. Lewis now holds the record at Michigan for most pass break ups, has 39 tackles and two interceptions. He is even getting more active on special teams by having some great kickoff returns. Look for him to take one to the house this week because Penn State gives up a ton of return yards. There are writers out there mentioning Lewis for being a possible Heisman Trophy candidate.

On the other corner, Penn State will be looking at super athlete Jabrill Peppers, who I believe can play just about any position on the football field. He too can disrupt passing lanes, has great open field tackling and has the speed to catch any receiver from behind. So the Penn State offensive coordinator will have a tough decision to make, which side of the field will he try to attack? Which shutdown corner do they want to break up the pass or take the interception back for a pick six? If these two guys can lock down the Penn State receivers, than this gives the Michigan defensive front longer to get to the quarterback and record some sacks.

Tight end Jake Butt is having a great season and this shows how important his position is in Jim Harbaugh’s offensive system. Butt is just 50 yards shy of 1,000 in his career. He has 38 receptions for 500 yards this year. He is a trust pass catcher for Rudock and has made big plays all season. He has great size to go over the middle and is able to hold on to the ball after taking a hit. Look for Butt to surpass the 1,000 yard mark this weekend!

Players to Watch for on Penn State

Senior quarterback Christian Hackenberg will be the biggest threat to Michigan on the field tomorrow. He has had a very good career and is being looked at as a first or second round NFL draft selection. This season, Michigan has had trouble with veteran quarterbacks by letting them put up good numbers. The problem is he does not have the most skillful receivers to make the needed big plays. If Hackenberg has to start forcing throws because of the tight defensive coverage, than Michigan should win the turnover battle.

Penn State’s offensive line does give up a lot of sacks on its signal caller so he will have to get rid of the ball quickly because the Wolverines have some talented pass rushers. Hackenberg has been sacked 33 times so far, so I see no reason why the Wolverines cannot add five more. They will need to put constant pressure on Hackenberg and not give him time to connect on big pass plays.


The match up I am looking forward to seeing and one that could decide the game is Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock versus the Penn State defense. The Nittany Lions are one of the top passing defenses in the nation (2nd) and they will need to play like it to cool down the red hot Rudock. He has thrown for almost 800 yards in the last two games with nine touchdowns, and has a couple of rushing scores of his own. If he can continue this hot streak and not turn the ball over, we will see Michigan get its 9th victory. We need him to be the smart game manager that he has been these last few games, nothing fancy but consistent good decisions. Michigan’s offensive line has done a great job of giving Rudock time to throw and read the field. They have to help him out in this critical game so they can keep this top defense out of the backfield.


This will not be a 48-41 game like last week and could be half of the offensive production too. The Nittany Lions will not give up 400 yards passing, and they will definitely not gain 300 yards on the ground. Michigan will start to get the run game going early and try to pull more guys in the box so Rudock can throw downfield. The Wolverines will contain the run but will give up some yards in the passing game. In the second half, Michigan will score off special teams and hold Penn State to a couple of field goals. Michigan will win another tough road game 24-13 to keep them alive in the Big Ten East division.

TBHR Roundtable: Michigan at Penn State

Game Predictions:
Michigan at Penn State

(Photo: Isaiah Hole, 247Sports)
(Photo: Isaiah Hole, 247Sports)

Derek Devine – @DerekWDevine

Michigan 28, Penn State 21

Michigan will travel to Happy Valley this weekend to face a Penn State squad that is hungry to prove that they are a serious contender in the B1G East. Keep in mind, Penn State has a shot at beating two top 15 teams in a row (Michigan 11/21, Michigan State 11/28). Ohio State plays the same two teams in opposite order, so yeah, things could get pretty chaotic on the East side.

Once again, Michigan is the better team on paper (still getting used to that), but as we have seen in the Wolverines last two road appearances, records and statistics don’t mean anything. Michigan is two plays away from being 6-4 (3-3 B1G), yet one muffed punt away from having a 9-1 (6-0 B1G) record.

So if this isn’t already obvious enough: ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN!

Regardless of records, Michigan needs to come out and execute on Saturday. The Wolverines are definitely beatable, so it will take a great effort to take down Penn State in front of an electric crowd in Beaver Stadium.

Michigan wins if the Wolverines can find a balanced attack on offense, and avoid surrendering 350+ yards on defense.

Von Lozon – @Von_Lozon

Michigan 28, Penn State 20

I think this will be another really close road game for the Maize and Blue. After another near heart break last weekend at Indiana, Michigan is faced with another tough task of going to Penn State. The Nittany Lions have been playing their best ball as of late and nearly beat a hard fighting Northwestern team on the road. If Michigan can win this one, I think they have a prime chance at Ohio State come Thanksgiving weekend. Michigan will win this game if, and only if, Jabrill Peppers is seen more on offense. Peppers wasn’t a big factor in the game last weekend and it really hurt us down the stretch. That third down and goal play should have at least seen Peppers on the field to be a decoy, if not be handed the ball. Peppers is Michigan’s superstar and they MUST utilize his talent more often than not. Expect this game to be another close shootout.

David Mormino – @DavidMormino

Michigan 24, Penn State 13

Michigan is in a serious ‘must win’ game this weekend against Penn State. Before anyone can even consider talking about a run at the Big Ten title, they need to take care of business at noon on Saturday. The Wolverines cannot afford to slip up this weekend, and I believe that Penn State is a team that could possibly ruin the hopes of Michigan fans across the country. However, I think with the play of Jake Rudock as of late, and the fact that they would have a chance to play for more than just bragging rights next weekend, will lift the Wolverines this week. Rudock has been playing like a man possessed, which has led Michigan to back-to-back forty-point outings, and guiding Michigan to the number twelve ranked team in the country. Michigan goes to Happy Valley and makes sure next week versus Ohio State will be a war for the Big Ten East.

Chad Finley – @FinFive1

Michigan 24, Penn State 13

Michigan is coming in off of a close double overtime win last week, so I expect them to have a slow start Saturday. The defensive front will need to put a ton of pressure on Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg because they have allowed veteran QB’s to have some success in the passing game. It is a road game, another struggle Michigan has had this year, with the Nittany Lions fans are showing up for a white out. With all of these concerns in mind, I believe Michigan will overcome and get its 9th victory of the season. The defense will get a few sacks, a turnover or two and contain the Nittany Lions pass attack. The Wolverines will struggle versus Penn State’s tough pass defense but that will allow the running game to evolve. Look for Michigan to score on s kickoff return too. For Michigan to win the game they have to stay focused on this week and not for a second look ahead to next weeks showdown with its rival.

Patrick Connors – @TheRealPConnors

Michigan 20, Penn State 13

Penn State is coming off of a bye week and the week before a close loss to the hands of Northwestern. This is a very good Penn State squad. They hung in there with Ohio State. Look for Carl Nassib to reek havoc in Michigan’s back field and when given time, Hackenburg looks like a stud along with Saquon Barkley. However that glaring weakness at offensive line should give Michigan a huge advantage upfront. I expect between 4-6 sacks on Saturday along with a ton of QB hurries. Look for Penn State to try to counter with a lot of Jet Sweeps so the back seven of Michigan will have to be prepared. I expect Michigan to go into Happy Valley and pull out a close win on the road, setting up a HUGE match up next weekend.

Michigan wins IF they get pressure on Christian Hackenburg and if Michigan can establish a ground game to alleviate some of the pressure from Rudock.

Craig Compton – @Craig_TBHR

Michigan 24, Penn State 17

Michigan has played very close games on the road this year. My confidence in them goes down every time they wear those all white jerseys. They squeaked by with wins over Minnesota and Indiana, and they head to Happy Valley for their last road game of the regular season on Saturday. Do I think Michigan is the better team? Yes. Do I think Penn State is a better team than both Minnesota and Indiana? Yes. With an experienced  quarterback at the helm, Penn State is going to come out firing on all cylinders. Michigans run defense was pretty awful last week, and there’s a possibility Penn State will try to exploit that again this week. I don’t think the Nittany Lions will have too much success through the air on Saturday. Michigans secondary seems too consistent for that to happen in my opinion.
On the other side of the ball, I believe Jake Rudock will have his way in the passing game yet again this week. I look for a big game out of Jake Butt, and think him and Rudock will connect a ton this week. It feels like I have been saying this for weeks, but Michigan NEEDS to get the run game going. At some point there will come a defense that will be able to stop the pass, and without good balance, the Michigan offense will have trouble scoring. I see this being a tight game all afternoon, but at the end I see Michigan prevailing 24-17.
Michigan wins this game if their defense can tighten things up, and they can establish a run game. 

Can Michigan squeeze out another victory on the road?

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Gameballs: Michigan vs. Indiana

Game Recap:

The Michigan Wolverines improved to 8-2 (5-1 Big Ten) on Saturday when they squeaked by the Indiana Hoosiers with a 7-point victory. The Wolverines outlasted Indiana in a double overtime thriller. The contest was close all afternoon as Michigan didn’t have an answer for the Indiana rushing attack. Jordan Howard lead the Hoosiers with 238 yards and 2 TD’s, as he carried the rock a whopping 35 times. As time expired in the fourth quarter, Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock found Jehu Chesson for a 5-yard touchdown pass. The touchdown was Chesson’s fourth of the game, and put the Wolverines down just one. A Kenny Allen extra point squared things up, and fans were treated to some “free football”.

Michigan won the overtime coin toss, and elected to put their defense on the field first. Indiana marched down, and started overtime off with a 1-yard Jordan Howard rushing touchdown. Michigan answered right back with a 21 yard pass from Rudock to junior tight end, Jake Butt, to send the game into a second overtime. With the college overtime rules, Michigan’s offense was back on the field to start the second overtime. They wasted no time, as the first play was good for a 25 yard passing touchdown from Rudock to Amara Darboh. The Wolverine defense took the field looking for their first real stop of the game. To nobody’s surprise, Indiana put the ball in Howard’s hands, and thanks to a few big plays, the Hoosiers found themselves with a 1st and goal opportunity. Michigan’s stout defense got three straight stops to force a 4th and goal with the game on the line. The Hoosiers decided to turn from the run game, as Nate Sudfeld attempted a pass to Mitchel Paige on the goal line. The ball was batted around a bit, and eventually fell to the ground thanks to a great defensive play by Wolverine safety, Delano Hill. At the end of the day, it was another great TEAM win, but a few players stood out on Saturday. Let’s see who deserves this weeks gameballs.

Gameball: Jake Rudock, Quarterback

“Some people may not have their minds made up yet on whether or not Jake Rudock should be the guy leading the Wolverines. My mind was made after the Utah game. Jake Rudock is the guy.” – Gameballs: Michigan vs. UNLV

“This Michigan team is rallying behind Rudock, and his leadership is growing more with every snap he takes.” – Gameballs: Michigan vs. BYU

“Each week we see a new, better, version of Jake Rudock. Each week the quarterback play seems to improve, and the leadership is much more obvious.” – Gameballs: Michigan vs. Rutgers

Man…Jake Rudock is making me look somewhat intelligent.

Listen…if you don’t already know, Jake Rudock is good…really good. On Saturday, he single handedly torched the Hoosiers defense. We thought Rudock was good after his 18-25, 337 yards, 2 TD performance last week versus Rutgers, but he out did himself this week. Rudock was 33-46, with 440 yards, 6 touchdowns, and 1 INT. Rudock also added 64 yards with his legs, including a 23 yard scamper at one point. The 64 rushing yards led the Wolverine rushing attack.  If you watched this game at all, heck, even if you are just looking at stats, I would hope you agree with me when I say that Rudock was the best Wolverine on the field all day. This kid is a leader on and off the field. Be excited Wolverine faithful, his best football is ahead of him!


Gameball: Jehu Chesson, Wide Receiver

Rudock’s passes had to go to someone right?! Although coming into Saturday’s contest, Chesson ranked 3rd amongst Wolverine receivers when it came to yardage and catches, that didn’t stop him from having a HUGE day. Jehu tallied a 10 catch, 207 yard, 4 touchdown day against a weak Hoosier secondary. It seemed like Chesson was open the entire first half as he went into half time with 3 touchdowns. He of course added has fourth touchdown grab as time was expiring in regulation. Chesson played a great game on Saturday and the Wolverines will need him to be at his best the next two weeks. When Michigan has Chesson, Darboh, and Butt playing at the levels they did on Saturday (they all had great games), the Michigan offense can be very dangerous.


Go Blue!



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Last Look: #15 Michigan at Indiana

Michigan is on a two game winning streak and looking for its third in a row today as they travel to Indiana. The last road game versus Minnesota was a little scary for the Wolverines. It took a goal line stop to get the win, so hopefully today will not be a similar game. Although it is possible because Indiana has a very talented, quick to score offense. The downfall for them is its defense. Michigan put up 49 points last week on Rutgers and honestly, can do the same today. Michigan needs to win today to stay alive in the Big Ten Conference championship race. Here is your last look at everything you need to know prior to kickoff.

What: #15 Michigan (7-2, 4-1) vs Indiana (4-5, 0-5)

When: Nov. 14, 2015 at 3:30 p.m.

Where: Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Indiana

Channel: ABC/ESPN2 Check local listings

Series History:

Michigan leads the series 54-9 and has not lost to Indiana since 1987. Last year the Wolverines won 34-10, but the Hoosiers were without its starting quarterback.

Last Week:

Michigan took care of business beating down Rutgers 49-16. Indiana lost to #9 Iowa 35-27.

Players to Watch for on Michigan:

Quarterback Jake Rudock played a great game last week, throwing for 337 yards and 2 touchdowns. He had several connections that gave them big yardage and easily moved the ball downfield. With the Hoosiers’ poor defense, he should be able to do the same thing this week. Rudock just needs to take care of the football and continue to play smart. The defense will have to watch Rudock in the pocket because he has good running ability as well. He scored a rushing touchdown on a spectacular leap three yards from the goal line.

Obviously, the Indiana coaching staff will try to be prepared for Jabrill Peppers. Peppers is one of the most exciting players in the country. He scored another touchdown last week when he took a screen pass and ran through the defense for around a 20 yard score. He will continue to be the punt returner as well as cornerback. Indiana might want to try to stay away from his side of the field.

Players to Watch for on Indiana:

Quarterback Nate Sudfeld is a talented athlete who the Hoosiers will need to play some flawless football if they want to beat Michigan. He averages 278 yards passing per game and is the Hoosier’s all time leader in touchdown passes with 49. He has great decision making and that will need to be on display today as he faces a very skilled Michigan defense. A defense that is stingy when its opponents reach the red zone.

Running back Jordan Howard ran for 174 yards and scored twice last week versus Iowa. He will be trying to do the same today so he can take some pressure off the passing game. Howard is going up against a defensive front that has struggled a little these past three games, giving up some big rushing plays. The Wolverines will need to play aggressive and smart against this offense because Indiana can put a lot of points on the board and move the ball quickly.


The group that can make the difference in this ball game is Michigan’s defensive line. If these guys can plug the gaps in the line and shutdown the running game of the Hoosiers, then that will force Indiana into a lot of 3rd and long situations. The D-line will need to put heavy pressure on Sudfeld, forcing him to throw quickly and to throw some interceptions. I believe they will get a few sacks as this is a very talented group of pass rushers. If the front line does its job, the secondary will take care of the rest.


This game does scare me a little just because Indiana’s potential to score easily. Michigan has to tackle better than last week because they missed several tackles giving Rutgers more yards than they should have had. If they do that again this week, the Hoosiers will put the ball in the end zone instead of field goals. I believe the defense will play similar to the way they did in the first six games of the season, shutting down the run game and creating turnovers. I look for Rudock to have another big game throwing for three touchdowns, including one to Peppers. I think the game will be closer than we want at halftime, then Michigan will pull ahead in the second half. Michigan gets another conference win 38-21.

TBHR Roundtable: Michigan at Indiana

TBHR Roundtable
Game Predictions:
Michigan at Indiana

Derek Devine – @DerekWDevine

Michigan 34, Indiana 27

This is a trap game. I’ve been floating back and forth with my opinion about this game, and at times I’ve looked at it on the schedule and thought, ‘Michigan will pummel the Hoosiers’. However, after Michigan’s near slip up at Minnesota, I see this game as a potential scare for the Wolverines. Similar to the Nebraska Cornhuskers who beat Michigan State, the Hoosiers are due for a big conference victory, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see this one come down to the wire.

Michigan is by far the better team overall, but that doesn’t mean anything if Jim Harbaugh’s squad doesn’t show up on the road. Jake Rudock will need to match the play of Hoosiers QB Nate Sudfeld, who will be looking for his final victory in Memorial Stadium. Michigan’s secondary will have to shut down Indiana’s passing game, and force them to find production on the ground.

Jabrill Peppers adds another TD to his collection, and De’Veon Smith breaks the 100-yard mark late in the fourth quarter. Michigan stops the Hoosiers late to seal the victory in Bloomington, IN.

Von Lozon – @Von_Lozon

Michigan 31, Indiana 14

Indiana started their season strong with four straight wins. Since then, they have lost five straight. Out of those five, three of those were Ohio State, Michigan State and Iowa, all ranked in the top 15. With that said, Indiana is incredibly due for a victory. And returning home to play against a top ranked UM team might be the game. BUT! I believe Jim Harbaugh will have his boys ready for the trap game and handily give Indiana their sixth straight loss. I expect yet another big game from Peppers, and I’m really hoping this is the game he returns a kick for a touchdown. Or throws one…either one would be okay with me.

David Mormino – @DavidMormino

Michigan 42, Indiana 21

Michigan faces a difficult task this weekend when they travel to Indiana to face the Hoosiers. Indiana has an offense that’s capable of throwing this game completely out of whack, and make it look like a game we haven’t seen yet during the Jim Harbaugh era at Michigan. However Michigan has a few tricks up their sleeve as well to make sure all things go right, one being Jake Rudock, and the other being Jabrill Peppers. Peppers is explosive in every facet of the game no matter what position he is playing, if his team has the ball or not, and can really hit that “home run,” type play. We’ve seen it in the return game, defensively and even on the offensive side of the ball, so Peppers is my player to watch. Rudock has developed nicely over the last few weeks, and was a big reason Michigan beat Rutgers last week (which is hilarious because it’s Rutgers and that game was over before the first half ended.) Indiana has a shot to really disrupt everything Michigan has going for them, and another Big Ten conference loss would be catastrophic for their hopes of making it to Indianapolis for the Big Ten title game. I think Michigan rolls, winning by three touchdowns and making sure that Ohio State know is that they are not messing around. Is the trap game? Yes, but Jim Harbaugh will make sure his team is ready to go, so I say Michigan wins 42-21

Chad Finley – @FinFive1

Michigan 38, Indiana 21

This week Michigan faces a very talented Indiana offense, who can put up big numbers on the scoreboard. Last week we saw the Wolverines put up 49 points of its own versus a poor Rutgers defense. The good news is the Hoosiers defense is not much better so Michigan will be able to move the ball down field quite a bit.   It’s big offensive line will wear down the Indiana defense and pull ahead big in the second half. Quarterback Jake Rudock will continue to play smart football and throw for over 250 yards. Michigans defense needs to force some turnovers so the Hoosiers cannot keep pace on the scoreboard. Also they have to do s better job tackling this week. They had a dozen or so missed tackles versus Rutgers that would have limited the Scarlet Knights offensive drives even more. Michigan gets its third straight victory and improves to 8-2.

Patrick Connors – @TheRealPConnors

Michigan 45, Indiana 17

Hello my fellow Hoosiers! This Saturday we take on the Michigan Wolverines who have had a spectacular season up to this date. If it weren’t for a botched snap against Michigan State, this team would be in the top ten and maybe even the top 5!
But remember, this is Indiana! We do it B1G!we have come close to beating Ohio State, Michigan State, and Iowa this year! We are on the brink of doing something special here. This is the game where we decide to put 4 quarters together and beat those Wolverines! This is our…

Yeah right. Michigan will go into Memorial Stadium Saturday and put a number on these Hoosiers. While IU may have kept the games close against those other teams, IU has not seen a defense like this all year. Expect a combination of 3 rushing touchdowns and 3 passing touchdowns. Michigan is flat out better than IU.

Wabash 38, DePauw 14

Also, in the game that will be featuring yours truly, the 122nd annual Monon Bell Classic between Wabash College and DePauw University kicks off tomorrow at 1 pm. Whether or not this is the right thing to do for this website, might as well try. Wabash is 9-0 while the Tigers are 8-1. The winner of this game gets the conference title, the automatic bid to the playoffs and to lay claim to the Monon Bell for a year. Wabash has held on to the Bell for the past 6 years and tomorrow, WE go in search for 7! There may be a little bias in here;), but I fully expect Wabash College to bring the bell back to Crawfordsville and ring it loud and proud for all of Wabash to hear!

Craig Compton – @Craig_TBHR

Michigan 35, Indiana 7

Michigan returns to action this weekend as they travel to Bloomington, to take on a Hoosiers team that is much better than their 4-5 record indicates. The Hoosiers started the season 4-0 for the first time in 25 years, before dropping 5 straight games. Michigan HAS to win the battle up front. Indiana brings a very talented offensive line into this game, that is fast, and strong. Michigan needs to be able to break through the line and get to the quarterback. On the offensive side of the ball, the Wolverines need to do the same. I have been waiting for a big rushing day for far too long. The Wolverines started the season with such a great rush attack, and they need to establish that again on Saturday. I don’t really see this game being too close for too long. Michigan will commit to the run in this one, and will win 35-7. Give me another Jabrill Peppers touchdown too! Go Blue!

What do you think of this week’s TBHR Roundtable? Who you got this Saturday?

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Michigan Hoops Preview: NMU at Michigan

Michigan Hoops Preview

Game:             Northern Michigan (0-0) at #25 Michigan (0-0)

Day:                Friday

Date:               Nov. 13, 2015

Location:        Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Time:              7:00 P.M. EST

TV:                  BTN Plus


Opponent Analysis: East Lansing wasn’t good to the Northern Michigan Wildcats, but they’re hoping that they’ll have better luck in Ann Arbor. The Wildcats are coming off an exhibition loss to the Michigan State Spartans, in which they were defeated 94-53. Though it ended as a blowout, the score isn’t indicative of how the game really went…at least in the first half. NMU stuck around in the first half and only trailed 38-33 at halftime. The Wildcats couldn’t establish a shooting rhythm against MSU, ending the game 27.5% from the field and going 19-69. Michigan ended the game against Le Moyne shooting 58.6%. That difference in percentages doesn’t bode well for Northern Michigan. Another factor working against NMU is that they have a notable lack of size. Freshman center Vejas Grazulis is the only guy on their roster who has decent height at 6-10. Then, there is a severe drop-off as the next tallest guy is 6-7. It’s evident that Michigan will have a serious size advantage over the Wildcats. NMU has some players to watch out for. Sophomore guard Jordan Perez played well against the Spartans tallying 15 points. Freshman guard Naba Echols also contributed by adding 13 points and dished out a team-best seven assists. Sophomore forward Kenny Williams will also be someone to keep an eye on coming off the bench, as he was able to grab six rebounds against MSU. Head coach Bill Sall is heading into his third season as the NMU head coach. Previously, he spent 11 seasons as the head coach at Ferris State University where he went 171-145.

Here are my three keys to the game:

1.) Defend the Entire Game – Michigan basketball hasn’t been known for defense in the John Beilein era. He knows that and he’s trying to change the perception. He’s harped all off-season about the improvements he wants the team to make defensively. If the first game against Le Moyne is any indication, then they have a lot of work to do. Le Moyne notched 52 points against the Wolverines. The team defense wasn’t cohesive for a lot of the game. Often, the Wolverines struggled in man-to-man, much like last year. There are a few players that struggled more than others. While Duncan Robinson was fantastic offensively, he couldn’t replicate that success on the defensive end. At Williams College, he played zone 100% of the time, so he’s not accustomed to playing man-to man. That has to improve going forward. Moritz Wagner and Aubrey Dawkins also looked sloppy on the defensive end. They’ll be looking to redeem themselves Friday. Northern Michigan went 9-26 from behind the three-point arc and 6-12 at the free-throw line against MSU. They are not a good shooting team by any means. There is no doubt the Wolverines can and should be able to out-shoot NMU, but it will be important to limit opportunities by defending not just for one half, but the entire game. This is the season where a team with an offensive identity must find the same on defense.

2.) Taller is better– The Wolverines have a notable size advantage over the Wildcats. Out of 53 points, NMU only had 16 points in the paint against the Spartans. Michigan will have the opportunity to post up all game. They’ll also have the opportunity on the perimeter to shoot over the top of guys. In their last game, NMU tallied 32 rebounds compared to 39 for the Wolverines over a much shorter Le Moyne team. The rebound battle will be a big key in this game, because on paper, Michigan has a big advantage. The Wolverines have the length and the height and that will have an impact on both ends.

3.) Still Banged Up? – Junior Zak Irvin was really coming on in all phases of the game late last year. He had to carry much of the load when guards Derrick Walton Jr. and Caris LeVert suffered injuries in January. Unfortunately, Irvin caught the injury bug in the off-season as well. He is currently recovering from back surgery. Coach Beilein said on Tuesday that Irvin may play on Friday. That’s questionable, because they may save him until they really need him. Walton Jr. and LeVert played well in the exhibition game and didn’t seem to have any health related setbacks. Dawkins did tweak his ankle in the game, so that may be something to keep an eye on going forward. Spike Albrecht is also recovering from his hip surgeries. Michigan is not as healthy as Beilein would like at this point. Irvin was the leading scorer last year averaging 14.3 points-per-game, so that’s a big piece of production that’s currently missing. If he does come back on Friday, then it could get uglier than anticipated for the Wildcats. Against Le Moyne, everyone except Brent Hibbitts saw double digits minutes. That won’t be likely against NMU. We should realistically see the bench go eight deep at the highest. It’ll be interesting to see how Beilein distributes minutes and balances lineups with the many question marks on the roster.

Prediction:  Michigan 81 – Northern Michigan 59: This game should be a blowout. Michigan has more talent and more height. The Wildcats didn’t shoot well against the Spartans and I expect the same against the Wolverines. It’s the first game of the season and the Wolverines are at home. Everything is working in Michigan’s favor. If they defend solidly the entire game and don’t play down to their opponent, like we saw last year, then Michigan will walk out starting the season 1-0.




Gameballs: Michigan vs. Rutgers

The Michigan Wolverines football team improved to 7-2 (4-1 Big Ten) on the season Saturday, as they handled the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, 49-16. The Wolverines dominated the entire game, and this one was never in any doubt. They put up 35 points in the first half, and had 6 different players score in the contest. The Knights only touchdown came on a Janarion Grant 98-yard kickoff return in the second quarter. The Wolverines were clicking on all cylinders Saturday, as their offense repeatedly beat the Rutgers secondary. While it was another great TEAM win, a few players played above the rest, and deserve this weeks gameballs. Let’s see who they are!

Gameball: Jake Rudock, Quarterback

One week after being injured, Jake Rudock returned to game action, and lead the Wolverines to a victory. To say he played great on Saturday could be an understatement. Rudock was 18-25, for 337 yards, and 2 touchdowns. He also added another score with his legs, as he dove into the end zone in the first quarter, to put the Wolverines on top 14-3. The 337 yards were a new career best for Rudock, and you could tell he was really feeling it out there. Jake has stepped into this offense, and has completely taken over. Each week we see a new, better, version of Jake Rudock. Each week the quarterback play seems to improve, and the leadership is much more obvious. I hope the other quarterbacks on this team are learning a lot from Jake, on and off the field. He is a great leader, and I’m excited for the rest of the season!


Gameball: Jake Butt, Tight End

After the first game of the year (8 catches, 93 yards, 1 touchdown), it seemed as though Jake Butt was going to explode this year and put up ridiculous stat lines. Although he has had a solid year, it is safe to say he hasn’t put up those “ridiculous stat lines”. However, Butt still ranks 2nd on the Wolverines roster, trailing only Amara Darboh, with 31 catches for 418 yards and a touchdown. In the win over Rutgers, Butt tallied 4 catches for 102 yards, to lead the Wolverines in receiving. One of his catches went for 56 yards down the middle of the field. Jake has been a solid option in the passing attack all year, and has proved to be a trusted receiver of Rudock’s. I look for big things in the coming games from him!


Gameball: Jourdan Lewis, Cornerback

How can you not give it to a guy who just broke a school record? Especially a school record at Michigan! On Saturday, Jourdan Lewis broke the Michigan school record for pass break ups in a season with 19. The crazy thing is, there are still three more games for Lewis to add to his total. Lewis has been a spark for the Michigan defense all season, and I don’t expect that to change. Hopefully he turns some of those breakups into interceptions in the coming weeks.


As always…..Go Blue!

Last Look: #16 Michigan vs Rutgers

Thanksgiving is still a few weeks away but the Michigan football team is thankful for coming out of Minnesota with a victory.  It was ugly, but as they say in sports, a win is a win.  Hopefully it was just an off day for the defense so we don’t have to see them give up that many yards again.  I imagine coach Jim Harbaugh lit a fire under the team this week in practice and we should see a different Michigan team take the field Saturday.  A team that is determined to show the nation that they are a contender in the Big Ten Conference, and a team that is eager to prove continued progression from a year ago. Here is your Last Look at everything you need to know before Michigan takes on Rutgers.

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