Ken’s Keys to Victory: Air Force

Posted on Posted in Michigan Football

Michigan has no time to feel down about what occurred in Arlington. As Coach Hoke has reiterated to his team, “we cannot let Alabama beat us twice”. This game makes Michigan fans nervous, because the triple option attack Air Force runs is efficient and effective.

Last year, Air Force averaged 34 points a game which ranked 19th in the country. I would be more worried if most of Michigan’s defensive staff did not put so much emphasis on the defensive line.

I think Michigan will come in extremely prepared, but in order to slow down the Air Force attack, Michigan will need its players to execute the game plan will not be the issue.

Keys to Victory: Playing Physical and Smart
Defensive Keys
1. Playing physical is always going to be key number one for Michigan. 
But against Air Force it is going to take more than just being physical. Michigan is the much bigger team and our DL should be able to push the offensive lineman of Air Force backwards, but that actually can play into their advantage. If the DL gets too greedy and penetrates too much by trying to fill a gap that they are not responsible for it will be a long day for Michigan’s defense. As Air Force will capitalize and get massive chunks of yardage on the ground.
2. Tackling has to be solid against Air Force. 
The way Air Force plays offense, they spread the field with their running game so well that one missed tackle equals a huge gain. Running back Cody Getz had a career day last week (218 yards and three touchdowns), and he will look to keep that momentum going against Michigan.
3. Maintain Gap responsibility.
I mentioned this earlier, but it deserves a spot all to itself. The Linebacker core and the Defensive ends for Michigan have to maintain gap responsibility.
4. Tackling, Tackling, Tackling
It does absolutely no good to maintain your gaps, get in the proper lane, and then miss a tackle. Tackling was an issue against Alabama, in my opinion, because Michigan did not take the proper angles because they were not used to the speed at which Alabama played with. Air Force may not have the athletes or the speed, but their offense is designed to put players in one-on-one situations. If Michigan fails to tackle in those situations, Air Force will be able to run the ball effectively all game long.
Offensive Keys:

1. Michigan must be able to run the ball effectively against Air Force.
The Falcons do not have the size that Michigan has, but they will play hard every snap and hustle beats talent when talent does not hustle. If Michigan is unable to maintain a running game against Air Force, I actually might start to worry just a little bit. Fitz should come back with vengeance and run with authority.

2. The receiving core for Michigan must get separation from the defense and make plays when called upon.
It is going to be a recurring theme throughout the year. When Denard is asked to throw, his receivers have to help him out and make the catches when they are available to be made. This also includes running the proper routes. Simply put, this should be the wide receivers week to shine, and if they don’t then Michigan may have a real issue on their hands. Which might include having to start looking at the younger guys to step in and try and make some plays.

3. Denard has to play better.
His mechanics in week one were much better than what I saw last year. He was quiet in the pocket and made some good reads. His deep ball to Gallon was the best I have ever seen him throw (although his overall accuracy is still an issue), Against Air Force, he must run the ball when he is given the opportunity and be more comfortable in making that choice to do so. I look for him to make his reads quicker, notice nothing is there, and then make something happen with his feet more on Saturday. He has not quite learned yet how to make “plays and not miracles” and also just simply taking what the defense gives him.

4. Air Force is an opponent that will play hard every snap and force Michigan to do so as well.
This is a great opportunity for Michigan to make a statement and let the country know although they are not at the level of Alabama yet they are still a good football team. I expect to hear the phrase, “how come they couldn’t do that against Alabama?” to be used for the next 11 games. But, for now, it is one game at a time. Air Force is the next step to see if Michigan is indeed a good football team who happened to play a great opponent in week one or a football team who has plenty of holes to fill. This Saturday we will have a much better idea of exactly where this football team is and the direction they are going to go for the rest of the season.

Please follow Ken on Twitter, @kboxx97!
Derek Devine
Institutional voice of Alma College during the day, Michigan fanatic at night. Taking TBHR to the next level one post at a time.