What Michigan must do to beat the Hoosiers

Posted on Posted in Michigan Football
Tevin Coleman, a crucial piece to the Hoosier offense
Photo Credit: USA Today Sports

It’s no secret that Michigan is reeling from the events that occurred in Happy Valley last Saturday. 

With the bye week upcoming and Michigan State looming, the Indiana Hoosiers stand in the way and are looking to hit the Wolverines where they are most vulnerable. Luckily for the Michigan program as a whole, Indiana hasn’t proved to be much of a threat in recent years.

In fact, since 1967, the Hoosiers lone victory to the Wolverines came in 1987. With that being said, Michigan is looking to make it 18 straight victories against Indiana.

Number 18 won’t come easy this Saturday. With the true identity of this Michigan team still up in the air, this is the perfect opportunity for Michigan to regain some confidence and momentum heading into the bye week and a trip to East Lansing looming in two weeks time.

In the mean time, here are five things Michigan must do in order to beat the Hoosiers this Saturday.

1.) Slow down the Hoosier offense.

This Hoosier offense will not be afraid to score points against defenses. Coming off a 43-40 OT victory against Penn State two weekends ago, the offense will be confident it can move the football on the Michigan defense on Saturday.

The key to stopping this Hoosier offense starts with Tevin Coleman (So. RB). Coleman currently leads the conference in rushing touchdowns and is fourth in total yards. He’s incredibly fast and talented, so shutting him down is a huge first step in limiting the Indiana offense.

Indiana also utilizes a two-QB — both sophomores — system which has had some success against inferior opponents. Nate Sudfeld is arguably the better of two quarterbacks who has the stronger arm. This season, Sudfeld has thrown for over 1600 yards and 13 touchdowns. His partner, Tre Roberson, is the far superior running quarterback. Not only has Roberson thrown for five touchdowns this season, he also has four rushing touchdowns to his name as well.

It will be important for Michigan to shut down these quarterbacks in order to be successful. Hoosier head coach Kevin Wilson will freely insert and substitute both quarterbacks in order to confuse the Michigan defense, so a big play threat is always present. If Michigan shuts them down, victory is certain.

2.) Go back to what works.

If the running game isn’t working, fix it! Utilize read options, halfback screen’s, quick hitch plays, etc. Even dusting off the old Denard playbook, anything!

As of right now, Michigan isn’t ready to be the pro-style offense it once advertised itself to be. Which is OK, because they have Devin Gardner. Though the thought of Gardner running more than he already has is terrifying, it might be the only way to move the ball on the ground. If Michigan wants to go back to the Denard offense to be successful, then so be it. Because the style of play they have shown in the past is just not getting the job done.

3.) Go for the jugular.

This is the perfect time to throw away the conservative gameplan for the time being and go for the jugular. Considering who is looming after the bye week, Indiana is the perfect opponent to regain some lost confidence. You never want to look too far ahead, but Michigan needs all the help it can get in order to play at the level they should be playing at. Whatever aggressive means to the coaching staff, utilize it. Effective pass plays on first down, running Gardner more, the possibilities are endless. With all due respect to the Indiana Hoosier program, but this game should be Michigan’s to lose. Though we have seen what happens when an inferior team gameplan’s around your offense, the time has come to make the next step and start defeating lesser opponents soundly. With an aggressive offensive gameplan early, it will help take the Hoosiers out of the game without having to play catch-up for the second half, a habit Michigan has had the misfortune of doing as of late.

4.) Offensive line needs to contain.

It’s the same old narrative every week. Excuse the broken record excuse, but this is important.

Let’s be honest, the Michigan offensive line is bad. Very bad. This is week seven of the season and the coaching staff are still shuffling players in and out of the lineup in order to find a combination that works. Well, guess what? It’s not working.

No matter who starts or gets inserted later in the game, it needs to give Gardner time to shine in the pocket. End of story.

Gardner CAN make the plays when he has time. Once he is flushed out because the line collapsed, then it’s time to hold your breath a little bit. If Gardner can be smart with the ball and the offensive line can contain their blocks, the Michigan offense will be successful.

5.) Give Gibbons a chance.

It’s safe to say that Brendan Gibbons had some demons in his head after missing a potential game-winner (twice) and getting another kicked blocked against Penn State. Those are the type of demons that won’t go away until you regain your confidence back. Maybe he’s over it, or maybe he isn’t. But far too many times do you see kickers have lingering effects due to rare missed field goals.

If Michigan is in field goal range, the coaching staff has to trust Gibbons and his leg. Though this point is obvious and the coaching staff know what they’re doing, but they shouldn’t opt to go for it instead of kicking when it makes sense to avoid leaving points on the field. If the coaches show confidence in you, the feelings are usually reciprocated. He has been reliable for Michigan for the better part of two seasons. Like the saying goes, “every dog has its day.”

Gibbons leg will be a crucial component in the success of this Michigan football team as it makes the stretch towards the back-half of a daunting schedule.
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.