Thursday, November 1, 2012
Five storylines: Michigan at Minnesota
By Chantel Jennings
Each Thursday, WolverineNation will take a look at five storylines for the Wolverines heading into Saturday's game. The Wolverines hit the road again and look to pick up their second road win of the season at Minnesota.
Minnesota QB Philip Nelson is a freshman but has shown impressive maturity.
1.) Wait and see who will be running the offense. At this point, there's no definitive answer as to who will be Michigan's main quarterback on Saturday. Will it be a healthy Denard Robinson? A mildly injured but still playing Robinson? Devin Gardner, who hasn’t taken a snap this season? Or Russell Bellomy? Which would be the best option? No one really knows. They've been splitting snaps in practice and it'll be interesting to see who starts and finishes against Minnesota, and if that's the same player.
2.) Is this the week to start the run game? The Wolverines have said it every week: We need to get the run game going this week. And every Monday, they've had to answer questions about why and how it didn't get going. Michigan can't win the Big Ten title if it doesn't have a running back or a running game. Brady Hoke has said championships are won in November. It's not an exact math equation, but by that reasoning, I'd say Michigan needs to get a run game going during these next four games if it wants to be in Indianapolis.
3.)Get pressure on Philip Nelson. The freshman is playing in his third collegiate game. If the sharks on Michigan's front line don't smell blood then I don't know what's going on. If they can pressure him early and often and get him rattled, the Wolverines can put this game away early. If not, Nelson's chemistry with receivers and his cool head could spell upset for Michigan, which hasn't finished out games well this season.
4.) The No. 1 pass defense in the nation. No, the Wolverines haven't played many teams that have tested them deep. Minnesota could, so it'll be interesting to see how the DBs react. Last weekend the defense, including the secondary, had some lapses with communication. Safety Jordan Kovacs said there's no such thing as overcommunication for a defense and that will be key this week against Minnesota.
5.) On the road again. Michigan has picked up only one road win this season (against Purdue). And when looking at the home-versus-away stats, it's pretty staggering. Away from Michigan Stadium, the Wolverines have passed for 300 less yards and rushed for nearly 400 less yards in the same amount of games (four). At home, they’ve scored 19 touchdowns. Away from home, they've scored six. The Wolverines have one more away game after Minnesota -- at Ohio state -- so it'd be good for them to pick up some stats, confidence and a win away from the Big House before they head to Columbus.