U-M prepares for IU's fast offensive attack
October, 18, 2013
By Chantel Jennings | ESPN.com
Michigan runs physical and fast practices. Sometimes -- when it comes to injuries and wearing players down -- that’s not a good thing. But with the uptempo Indiana offense visiting Ann Arbor on Saturday, the Wolverines’ usual practice tempo is a very good thing.
“We pretty much all year practice [at a] high tempo,” Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. “We do it at a pace so we can get reps of what the plan might be against certain plays so that we can see it as coaches and evaluate it, if it’s good and all that. So we do that constantly.”
The Hoosiers average 77 plays per game -- nearly nine more plays per game than the Wolverines' own offense is accustomed to running.
AJ Mast/Icon SMIIndiana's offense has been flying high, but Michigan's defense is ready for the fast-paced attack.
Most of Indiana’s offensive attack comes in the air. The Hoosiers average a Big Ten leading 331.5 yards of passing per game. Their 18 passing touchdowns are second only to Ohio State (19) so far this season.
On the ground the Hoosiers are less effective, only averaging 172.8 yards per game. Sophomore Tevin Coleman picks up the majority of the yardage on the ground for Indiana.
But it’s not the speed of the players that makes the Hoosiers so difficult to defend. It’s the speed at which they play, call plays and execute.
In Indiana’s 44-24 blowout of Penn State on Oct. 5, the Hoosiers ran 80 offensive plays.
But simply slowing them down isn’t the answer. In Indiana’s three losses this season, it still averaged 74 offensive plays per game even though it didn’t possess the ball for more than 24 minutes in any of those games.
By those numbers, Michigan’s offense needs to work to sustain long drives that end in scores in order to give itself a chance against the Hoosiers.
But the defensive pressure will be paramount. Of late, Michigan’s four man rush has shown improvement as has its blitzing, and with the return of linebacker Jake Ryan, the Wolverines continue to build depth at crucial pass rushing positions.
Obviously the fast tempo can mess with Michigan’s schemes and communication, especially considering how much and how often Greg Mattison likes to rotate his defensive players. Hoke could only think of one time that Penn State really “got” Michigan in that kind of a situation, and he said it had more to do with the Wolverines trying to match personnel than anything else.
But just because the Hoosiers move at a faster pace doesn’t mean Hoke isn’t expecting a growth in the defense’s pressure on quarterbacks.
“I’m not going to say it’s harder because I think you can do it,” Hoke said. “I’ve experienced it being done. It can get you rattled a little bit and sometimes that makes it harder.”
But the Wolverines hope to get back on track this week, and a solid defensive effort would go a long way to making Hoke and Co. happy.
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BIG TEN SCOREBOARD
Final Washington State 45 Colorado State 48 Final 20 Fresno State 20 25 USC 45 Final Buffalo 24 San Diego State 49 Final Tulane 21 Louisiana-Lafayette 24
Final Pittsburgh 30 Bowling Green 27 Final Utah State 21 23 Northern Illinois 14
Final Marshall 31 Maryland 20 Final Syracuse 21 Minnesota 17 Final Brigham Young 16 Washington 31
Final Rutgers 16 Notre Dame 29 Final Cincinnati 17 North Carolina 39 Final Miami (FL) 9 18 Louisville 36 Final Michigan 14 Kansas State 31
Final Middle Tennessee 6 Navy 24 Final Ole Miss 25 Georgia Tech 17 Final 10 Oregon 30 Texas 7 Final 14 Arizona State 23 Texas Tech 37
Final Arizona 42 Boston College 19 Final Virginia Tech 12 17 UCLA 42 Final Rice 7 Mississippi State 44 Final 24 Duke 48 21 Texas A&M 52
Final Nebraska 24 22 Georgia 19 Final UNLV 14 North Texas 36 Final Iowa 14 16 LSU 21 Final 19 Wisconsin 24 9 South Carolina 34 Final 5 Stanford 20 4 Michigan State 24 Final 15 UCF 52 6 Baylor 42
Final 13 Oklahoma State 31 8 Missouri 41 Final 12 Clemson 40 7 Ohio State 35