by Mark Edwards
Webster’s dictionary defines the word panic as “sudden uncontrollable fear or anxiety, often causing wildly unthinking behavior” but as any Michigan fan knows, last Saturday took it to a whole new (and quite honestly embarrassing) level. Michigan fans expect a 63-0 victory every week. So I thought this week I’d give you a little interaction fan trivia as we prepare for the Air Force Academy Falcons.
Q. Which team has the better statistical defense?
A. Air Force. The Falcons have not allowed a point all season. Before all of you start to flood my email inbox (firstname.lastname@example.org), I know they’ve only played one game. In week one, they defeated VMI by a score of 62-0. They only gave up 40 passing yards and 55 passing yards to VMI. AFA had a week two bye so their defense averages less than 100 yards allowed per game and gives up 0 points per game. Most fans would say that Michigan’s defense is superior. Not according to the stats, which is the rationale that fans and writers on this blog use to bash Speight. Look for a theme going forward.
Q. Which offensive line is best equipped to move the other defense?
A. Michigan. The Wolverines outweigh Air Force by 37 pounds per player. Air Force outweighs the Wolverines defensive front by just 2 pounds per player. As you can see, 37>2 so I’ll give the edge to the Wolverines. However, Air Force will shift, stunt and blitz at an effective level that will leave the malcontents in the Big House upset. Air Force uses discipline above all else. Speight’s numbers haven’t sparkled yet this season but numbers alone don’t tell the whole story.
Q. Shouldn’t Michigan wipe up the hallowed ground of Michigan Stadium with the Falcons?
A. No. Many fans hear “Air Force” and think that it should be an automatic yes. However, Air Force plays people tough (beat Boise State last year). So if this one isn’t “over” by the fourth quarter, don’t be surprised. Michigan will get tested this week and I think that is really good for the team’s maturation. (NOTE: To the fans who still need to mature, don’t BOO Air Force. Root for the Maize and Blue but remember that Air Force’s players will fight for us all.)
How does the Michigan offense attack Air Force?
I think this week you see Michigan play a very efficient and sound offensive game. Michigan’s run game will be used to compliment what I expect to be a tight end heavy passing attack. Isaac, Evans, Higdon…they’ll all have their shots to show how deep Michigan’s stable of running backs is. Speight will see McKeon, Wheatley Jr., Gentry and company work the middle of the field for 150+yards and 2 scores. Then, the WR group will get theirs and I fully expect a big game from the McDoom/Peoples-Jones monopoly.
How does the Michigan defense attack Air Force?
You will see Don Brown’s defense prove to be much more than a blitzing machine. They will play disciplined and only when Air Force gives you the spread-type of formation will Dr. Blitz show why he earned his nickname. If you’re going to stop triple option football, your linebackers have to play well. I expect Bush, McCray and Co. to play well although you have to expect Air Force to move the ball and score a little bit. Air Force RB Timothy McVey (I bet his parents want his name changed) will be very good coming off of a 77-yard receiving and a 98-yard rushing effort in their opener. Falcon QB Arion Worthman will struggle to find openings to run but don’t discount his ability to move the ball in the air as evidenced by his 172 yards passing vs. VMI.
PICKS TO CLICK: Offense – Karan Higdon, Defense – Tyree Kinnel
CONFIDENCE LEVEL: Some Nerves Exist
ONE THING THAT MAY SURPRISE: I would say that Wilton Speight will play his best game of the season to date.
ONE THING THAT MAY DISAPPOINT:
Air Force will run the ball for 175+ yards on the Michigan defense. That number seems high but their attack is so different.