This Saturday’s game against the Miami (OH) RedHawks will hopefully be a chance for the Michigan Wolverines to get back on track for the rest of the season. The RedHawks have lost 18 consecutive games, dating back to the latter part of the 2012 season, but it looks like this could be a team trending in the right direction so far in 2014. That’s because of one key component which Michigan may have a hard time containing come Saturday afternoon.
Matchup of the game: Miami (OH) QB Andrew Hendrix vs. Michigan’s secondary
Andrew Hendrix spent four seasons with Notre Dame—sorry if you thought we were done talking about the Irish—where he appeared in 16 games as a backup, completing 25-of-58 passes for 360 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Although he was a former four-star high school recruit, Hendrix was never able to beat out Tommy Rees or Everett Golson for the starting job in South Bend, so he opted to follow Chuck Martin, the Irish’s former offensive coordinator, to Miami.
The RedHawks’ offense is an extremely pass-heavy attack, and the results are astounding for a team that hasn’t won a game since Oct. 27 of 2012. Miami’s offense ranks 18th in the country with 338.5 passing yards per game. With 101 pass attempts through the first two games of the season, only four teams have attempted more passes to this point.
What Miami doesn’t have, though, is any kind of a running game. That has ultimately been the flaw of the offense this season. Six players have rushing stats this season—all positive—yet the RedHawks have only rushed for 186 yards and zero points. Spencer McInnis leads all rushers with 54 yards on 11 carries; the digression begins there. Needless to say, if Hendrix doesn’t have it working through the air, Miami’s offense will completely stall.
Michigan’s job then becomes rather simple: Rely on the defensive line to continue stuffing the run, and drop back into coverage. There’s still no word on whether Jabrill Peppers and Raymon Taylor will be back on the field for the Wolverines this week. If not, there’s no real reason to panic, for this game alone. We know the plan, and hopefully it works well enough to put the clamps on Hendrix and the RedHawks’ air game.
It’ll be interesting to see how defensive coordinator Greg Mattison elects to use his corners this week. Last week, press coverage was the answer, but not the solution. Miami is never going to go away from Hendrix; he has given them the best chance to win through the first two games, and there isn’t any reliability coming out of the backfield. If Michigan can disrupt the passing game and force a few turnovers, the RedHawks have nothing with which to counter.