Michigan Stadium Best Venue in CFB, According to Fan Poll

On Thursday, USA Today Sports released a College Football Fan Index Poll that resulted with Michigan Stadium, “The Big House”, receiving 33.33% of the votes, taking first place. Ann Arbor’s top venue holds a capacity of 107,601 seats, but holds records for the most people to attend a football game (115,109), a hockey game (105,491), and even a soccer game (109,318).

Ohio Stadium, and Kyle Field tied for 2nd place in this fan poll, receiving 16.67% of votes each.

The original capacity of “The Big House” was around 72,000, but of course there have been numerous renovations, and upgrades to enhance the stadium’s atmosphere, expanding most recently in 2010.

Michigan has hosted just three prime-time slot games at the “Big House”, 2011 vs. Notre Dame, 2013 vs. Notre Dame, and 2014 vs. Penn State. The Wolverines have satisfied their home crowds with three wins whilst playing under the lights. Rumor has it that 1-2 night games are in the works for the 2017 regular season.

To this day, college football fans recognize Michigan Stadium as a top atmosphere for college football, and crowds of 100,000+ will continue to pack the seats for many years to come.

 

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Bo’s Warning About Purdue – Game Prediction

by Mark Edwards

Finally…the Big Ten opener is upon us!  The beginning of conference play always seems to bring a heightened anxiety level to fans and considering that some are in the stratosphere already, I’m worried.  When I say worried, don’t confuse that with a lack of confidence.  I’m confident that Michigan gets the job done and looks good doing it.

In 1989, a VHS tape was released called “Vintage Bo.”

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The 30-minute video is the precursor to any “Hard Knocks” or “Training Days” production that football fans clamor for like it is a right of passage.  In the video, the camera crew follows a 42-year old head coach named Glenn E. “Bo” Schembechler in 1971 as he prepares his Michigan squad to take on Iowa on November 6, 1971 in Michigan Stadium.  They have footage of Bo at home with his family, on the practice field, in the locker room and on the field during the game.   Michigan won 63-7 that day and left Michigan with only two games left in the regular season.  Obviously, “The Game” was last on the 1971 schedule but there was a trip to West Lafayette, Indiana to take on Purdue sandwiched in there.

In the victorious locker room, Bo gave his team this warning:

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“DON’T THINK PURDUE WON’T BE TOUGH DOWN IN WEST LAFAYETTE.  YOU KNOW THEY WILL.”

If Bo was still with us today, that would be his message for Coach Harbaugh, the team and the fan base.  I expect his words to be correct again.

OFFENSIVE PREVIEW

Is this the week that it happens?  Can Michigan put it all together and emerge from the shadows of one of the top defenses in the country?  Can Wilton Speight march the offense up and down the field?  Will the WRs show up?  Basically, can the fan base have last year’s offense back?

Purdue’s defense comes into Saturday’s matchup (4 p.m. FOX TV) with the same type of look as Michigan’s offense.  They’ve been good enough to beat Ohio (not that Ohio) and Missouri (not old school Missouri) but gave up 524 yards to Louisville in the opener at Lucas Oil Stadium.  Purdue will play inspired and their effort will be really good.

How does Michigan move the ball on the Boilermakers?

The answer has to be “however Michigan wants to move the ball on them.”  I’m not being disrespectful but it’s time for Michigan to impose their will on a defense (and I’m sure Bo is smiling down on that mantra).  Whether it be Michigan’s toss sweep game or their shotgun inside zone running attack, I think Michigan will be very efficient is that part of it.  Ironically, Michigan needs the three-headed attack to be lethal.  The three heads are:

  1.  Base run game
  2.  Special schemed runs (jet sweeps with McDoom & Peoples-Jones)
  3.  Intermediate passing game

If Michigan can accomplish those three, I think the offense not only moves the chains (which they have been doing more than fans want to acknowledge) but we finally see a red zone offense that reminds us of the first 10 games last season.  Did you ever think we’d miss Peppers as our wildcat QB?  Well, we have missed him (See #2 above).  I think Jim Harbaugh, Tim Drevno and Pep Hamilton have focused on getting the ball to playmakers in the red zone this week.  Look for Peoples-Jones, Gentry and Grant Perry to be called upon in the red zone.

NOTE:  Losing Tariq Black will be compensated for by the infusion of Peoples-Jones and Nico Collins.

DEFENSIVE PREVIEW

When you hear Don Brown say “Oh, we’ve got a lot left”, you have to smile.  Dr. Blitz will return to his comfort zone as I expect a heavy amount of blitz on Purdue QB David Blough in first-year coach Jeff Brohm’s offense.  The mission…make Purdue one-dimensional.  Do you want Purdue to be the team who ran for 51 yards vs. Louisville or 223 vs. Ohio?  Survey says…Louisville in the #1 answer.  If this happens, the focus then gets shifted to the coverage of the secondary.  Michigan has far exceeded a “solid” label in the back half of the defense.  Can Hill, Long, Watson, Kinnel and Metellus lock down the Purdue passing attack?

How does pressuring the QB help this defense?

Count to 4…1, 2, 3, 4!  Boom!  That’s how long the UM secondary needs to cover if the Gary, Hurst, Winovich, Bush wrecking crew can get home vs. a Purdue offensive line that gave up four sacks to a mediocre Louisville defense.  Get home…get home…get home.  I don anticipate Michigan to roll safeties down in to the pressure, which is only made possible because of the Khaleke Hudson skill set.

If Michigan can get Purdue to be one-dimensional by execution and score of the game, I would expect the big Michigan contingent that travels to West Lafayette to be happy come 7:30.  If Michigan cannot get the job done, this game turns into a 50/50 “free for all” that puts more pressure on the offense than any game this schedule.

FINAL SCORE:  Michigan 34, Purdue 14

PICKS TO CLICK:  Offense – Wilton Speight, Defense – Maurice Hurst

CONFIDENCE LEVEL:  Confident but uneasy

ONE THING THAT MAY SURPRISE:  Michigan will win the turnover battle by at least 3 turnovers (+3).

ONE THING THAT MAY DISAPPOINT:  Purdue will hit one trick play that drives the fans nuts.  So if you find yourself thinking “How could they fall for that?”, I’m talking to you.

Don Brown’s “Pressure of the Week” – Air Force

by Mark Edwards

With the unique and highly effective triple option offense of the Air Force Academy entering the Big House, Michigan Defensive Coordinator Don Brown must have felt like it was Halloween.  With his normal “heavy blitz” apparel being replaced by a “read-react disciplined approach”, this week I’m going to feature the discipline of the Michigan defense while also the speed of the back seven.

THIS WEEK’S PRESSURE

SITUATION:  2nd & goal, Air Force ball on Michigan’s 6 yard line

TIME:  8:16 left in fourth quarter

WHY THIS SERIES:  Michigan held a nine-point lead in front of an anxious Michigan Stadium.  Air Force had driven the ball to the doorstep of “full-blown” panic among the fan base who doesn’t understand why we should be upset with Dave Brandon for scheduling triple-option service academies.  It was at this point that Don Brown’s unit needed to step up and make a stand.

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FRAME #1

OFFENSIVE FORMATION: Double Wing Ram (meaning you have four offensive linemen to the right of the center)

AIR FORCE  PERSONNEL: 32 (3 running backs, 2 tight ends)

DEFENSIVE BASE:  3-3

MICHIGAN PERSONNEL NOTES:  Michigan has three down linemen with linebacker Noah Furbush #59 standing up in the A gap.  Linebacker Devin Bush Jr (#10) is four yards from the ball while fellow linebacker Mike McCray (#9) is lined up in the B gap at three yeards.  This is obviously a reaction to the unbalanced formation from Air Force.  Note that cornerbacks Lavert Hill (#24) and David Long (#22) are one yard from the line of scrimmage in a contain shade.  Lastly, Michigan viper Khaleke Hudson (#7) is the spy at seven yards over the center.

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FRAME #2

What is Air Force doing here?  Air Force has motion wingback #33 Tim McVey to the right, which is the motion for the triple option pitch back as well as their toss sweep motion.

What has changed:  While the ball hasn’t been snapped, Michigan S Tyree Kinnel (#23) is rotating back to the middle of the field.  Devin Bush Jr. is already running downhill to the weak side A gap.  Lastly, Hudson is rotating down to the C gap on the strong side, which is where the motion is headed.

Michigan’s pressure:  The only pressure is the Bush attack on the weak side A gap.  The secondary rotation is predetermined and was consistently used in the red zone in yesterday’s game.

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FRAME #3

What is Air Force doing here?  Now that the ball is snapped, Air Force is running their power toss play.  It is called power toss because they are pulling the right guard (#74) , right tackle (#77) and the extra tackle (#60) to the top of the screen.  They have blocked down with their tight end, which is meant to set the alley for the RB to run through.  The wing back (#12) is arcing to the flat defender, which is Michigan safety Josh Metellus (#14).

What has changed:  The Michigan defensive line has been cut blocked on the bottom of the screen.  Air Force is attempting to “reach and run” to the top of the screen which let’s Hurst (#73) and Winovich (#15) to run wide to the top of the screen.  McCray is spying the fullback who stepped to the weak side.

Michigan’s pressure:  Bush Jr. has blitzed away from the play and is forced to redirect in pursuit.  Hudson is still coming downhill in an inside-out relationship.  Metellus is attempting to run wide as his job is to set the edge.

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FRAME #4

What is Air Force doing here?  Air Force has lost the point of attack.  Michigan CB Lavert Hill has defeated the extra tackle (#60) and the Air Force RB is now going to be forced to bounce the play to the edge.  This play was designed to run up the hashmark much to the chagrin of every rocket football coach who tosses the ball the fast kid who runs around everybody.

What has changed:  Besides Hill, Hudson (#7) is now unblocked and running through the C gap while Metellus is still in position to force the run to go inside of him.  Why does Metellus do that?  His job is to make Air Force cut the ball back to the pursuit (Look at #73, #15 #7 and #9.

Michigan’s pressure:  While I don’t know if I would call it pressure, I’d say that the pressure come from Hudson because Hill’s technique/responsibility is so well-played.

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FRAME #5

What is Air Force doing here?  They have lost 5 yards and left themselves with a 3rd & goal from the 11 yard line, which is what this offense is ill-suited to conquer.

What has changed:  Hill (#24) has defeated #60’s block and it is now a gang tackle, which is a true sign that you are defeating the triple option.  In the spread offense world, it’s all about the “1 on 1” match up.

PRESSURE OF THE WEEK DIAGRAM

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FINAL THOUGHT:

I cannot tell you how impressed I was with Michigan’s defense and their ability to be disciplined.  I know that many fans left less than entertained but when you play a triple option offense, this is how you win.  Handling your assignment with physicality is exactly what you would expect from Don Brown’s defense and this play is a great representation of it.  This play led to a failed third-down conversion and a missed field goal.  Effectively, the game was over when that kick sailed wide.

Can Michigan Unleash The Air Attack Vs. Air Force – Game Prediction

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.

TRIVIA TIME

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 (markedwardsum@yahoo.com), 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.

FINAL SCORE:  Michigan 42, Air Force 24

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.

LAST NOTE:  Handle yourselves with class as you fans represent the best in Michigan and Air Force represents all of us.

Wilton Speight on the Struggle Bus

After two wins over #25 ranked Florida, and Cincinnati, Michigan has climbed to #7 in the latest polls.

If you looked at the twitter-feeds, online chat-rooms, and all other media speculation: you’d believe that Michigan is 0-2. All this negative feedback comes from one specific, singular, player — Wilton Speight. The quarterback who through nine games in 2016, looked like the best in the Big Ten conference.

After injuring his throwing shoulder in early November against Iowa, Speight would go onto lose the rest of his starts. Of course, he had that excuse at the time; no quarterback with an injury regarding his throwing shoulder, or arm, should be expected to deliver the same, tight, spiral as he could before said injury.

His performances caused for him to lose trust within the fan-base, a good amount of fans wanted anyone to start but him come 2017. If you’re like me, you saw him lead a team to 9-0 in an impressive regular season stretch, and knew that it only made sense for him to keep his job as the starting quarterback.

Now we’re here, after Wilton Speight made the first two starts, and people who were supporters of him weeks ago are now calling for his job.

Throwing back-to-back pick sixes, and under 50 percent completion percentage against Florida were just the beginning. Against Cincinnati, on paper, it doesn’t look like Speight had a horrible game. He tossed two scores, threw for 221 yards, close to 60 percent completion, and was interceptionless on the day.  However if you watched the game, you’d know that the tale of the tape certainly went in the opposite direction, and Speight did everything but impress.

On Saturday, Speight played like a true freshman quarterback. Disregarding downfield, open targets, horrid inaccuracy on very make-able throws, making bad reads, and his pocket presence that we normally notice, was non-existent. I started to watch his eyes every time he dropped back just to see what he was looking at, and I noticed that he doesn’t use his eyes — Speight has a target in mind every play, and more times than not, he sticks with his desired target despite other open options. He doesn’t look around, he doesn’t look down-field, he doesn’t use his eyes correctly. It baffles me to know that a Jim Harbaugh coached quarterback makes a classic rookie mistake of that caliber.

Jim Harbaugh took to the media on Monday to remind everyone that Speight is “the starter”, and he also went onto note that redshirt freshman, Brandon Peters, is “progressing”.

Are Michigan fans overreacting to these early season passing-game struggles? Do we need to give Wilton Speight more time to create chemistry with his young receivers? Do we criticize Jim Harbaugh? In this Michigan offense, you don’t have to be a Tom Brady to succeed. I think it’s important for Harbaugh to remind Speight that he is replaceable, and we need to expect more out of him because the way it’s being looked at right now: he’s the sole road block to a championship season.

John O’Korn came in for a series or two against Florida following the pick six fiasco, and it felt as if Harbaugh wasn’t comfortable with him in. Wilton Speight likely is the best quarterback we have on this Michigan roster, scary thought for fans everywhere.

As of today, my vote would be to trust the coaching staff, trust the process. If this trend continues, take affirmative action, and bench the kid. Fortunately for the Wolverines, they have a bit of time at this point in the schedule to work out the kinks before playing in a big game. The excuses are slim — the play-makers around Speight are young, but solid, the defense will do their job. It’s time for Wilton Speight to produce, and it needs to happen quickly, or Michigan will have to move on.

Don Brown’s “Pressure of the Week” – Cincinnati

by Mark Edwards

The Michigan defense was really good yesterday.  Were they as dominant as in week one vs. Florida?  No but in  the quest for full disclosure, Cincinnati is a much more diverse and better-prepared offense than the Gators.   The Bearcats used a completely different approach to counter Michigan’s attacking defense.  Middle screens, commonly referred to as “rocket screens” because Raghib “Rocket” Ismail was featured  in the late 1980s with this type of screen.  Florida used edge tunnel screens, which allowed the UM defense to redirect and run to the football.  Cincinnati’s screen game was much better designed to counter Michigan blitz heavy philosophy.

THIS WEEK’S PRESSURE

SITUATION:  2nd & 1, Cincinnati ball on their own 34

TIME:  6:18 left in first quarter

WHY THIS SERIES:  With Michigan already leading 14-0, the feeling in Michigan Stadium was that Cincinnati was on the verge of getting blown out.  Therefore, getting off of the field would have been huge.  Also, Cincinnati had gained nine yards on first down so Don Brown’s belief that “you solve your problems with pressure” is going to come into play.

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FRAME #1

OFFENSIVE FORMATION: Spread Left Tight (Twins into the boundary with an tight end and a flanker to the field)

CINCINNATI PERSONNEL: 11 (1 running back, 1 tight end and 3 wide receivers)

DEFENSIVE BASE:  3-3

MICHIGAN PERSONNEL NOTES:  Once again, we see Michigan in a 3-3 base alignment.  Rashan Gary (#3), Maurice Hurst (#73) and Chase Winovich (#15) all have their hands on the ground.   Hurst, aligned head up on the center, will be the key to understanding the design of the pressure.  Khaleke Hudson (#7) in walked up on the line of scrimmage and is an over alignment, which is proof of Michigan’s 4-3 philosophy.  Note that Michigan’s safety Josh Metellus (#14) is in a bump alignment on the flanker to the bottom of the screen.  Brandon Watson (#28) is in pressure coverage on the very top of our screen.

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FRAME #2

What is Cincinnati doing here?  The ball has just snapped. The Bearcat offensive line is in a pass set position (more on this to come).  The wide receivers are into their release.  The flanker to the bottom of our screen is inside releasing, which is usually the beginning of either a crossing route or a pick concept.  This will be a pick with the running back running to the flat.  Linebacker Noah Furbush (#59), who had stepped up to the line presnap, has now joined the run.

What has changed:  Devin Bush (#10) has already initiated his pressure while linebacker Noah Furbush (#59), who had stepped up to the line pre-snap, has now joined the rush.  Notice that #14 Josh Metellus is not bumping the receiver and instead he has properly anticipated that someone is coming back to him.  In this case, it is RB Mike Boone (#5) on an out cut.

Michigan’s pressure: The defensive line plus Furbush are slanting to the right while Gary is using an outside rush to pull the left tackle out of protection.  You can already see that the B gap is going to open because of the design of the pressure.

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FRAME #3

What is Cincinnati doing here?  Cincinnati’s offensive line has handle the Michigan front’s pass rush.  However, the right guard is double teaming Furbush while Bush is already in a dead sprint with the quarterback in his sights.

What has changed:  Mike McCray (#9) is looking for the crossing wide receiver while Hudson is in a trail technique.

Michigan’s pressure:  This is a straight five-man pressure.  It’s in no way exotic but is going to prove to be effective.

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FRAME #4

What is Cincinnati doing here?  They are running a variation of the “snag” concept to the bottom of the field while crossing receivers to the top of the screen.  Once again, four Bearcat interior offensive linemen are blocking three Michigan defenders.  On the offensive line, they are clearly running a slide protection, which causes a B gap run through due to poor communication.

What has changed:  The receivers are not ready for the pass.

Michigan’s pressure:  DEVIN BUSH IS ABOUT TO EXPLODE INTO THE QUARTERBACK.

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What is Cincinnati doing here?  They have turned a 2nd & 1 into a 3rd &10.

What has changed:  Not only has Bush wrapped up the QB but Hurst has defeated the left guard and will get “home.”

Michigan’s pressure: Gary is now beginning to pursue across the field.  McCray has missed the receiver on the hash and is chasing the back, which makes me think this could have proven to be a blown coverage.

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Do I need to analyze anything else?

PRESSURE OF THE WEEK DIAGRAM

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FINAL THOUGHT:  I think going forward that we can expect to see the newly introduced 3-3 base used.  However, next week it will be difficult  to use that because Air Force will run a triple-option, no huddle offense that can really hurt a three-man front.  I don’t expect to see the same amount of pressure but we will all have to wait to see what Dr. Blitz will have in store for us.

Harbaugh Looks to Go 3-0 In Home Openers vs. Cincinnati -Game Prediction

by Mark Edwards

It’ll be really difficult this Saturday to not look at the Cincinnati sideline and think “Bobby Boucher isn’t coaching the Bearcats.”  Why?  Not because UC will have a linebacker that is all over the place but because Luke Fickell is a doppleganger.  Seriously.  Take a look.

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Movie reference aside, this week will answer a lot of questions.  Was the defense THAT fast?  Has Wilton Speight regressed?  Can Michigan clean up mistakes against a program that is in year one of a makeover?  Can Cincinnati “shock the world?”

Was the defense THAT fast?

The short answer is…YES.  Now, let’s distinguish speed from efficiency.  The Michigan defense can run.  What made last Saturday so eye popping is the inferred perception of the SEC.  How long have we heard the critics say “The teams in the north just aren’t as fast as SEC teams?”  The better part of a decade on ESPN has driven that narrative.  What Urban Meyer has known and what Michigan now knows is that the elite northern teams are every bit as fast as those in the south.  How does that happen?  Recruiting.  I know Sean Baligan has railed on the annual February focus on recruiting rankings and I believe he’s had good reason.  His thoughts only become irrelevant when you see speed go from HS to the top tier squads in non-SEC conferences.   Last week, that’s exactly what you saw.  The six sacks and numerous pressures made Florida’s passing ineffective until the last drive.  What I saw that I was most encouraged by is the fact that the run defense and it’s EFFICIENCY made the Gators one-dimensional.  I think that Don Brown & Co. will do the same thing this week.  The only pause for concern is that the Bearcats will be more adept in passing the ball than Jimmy Mac’s Gators.

Has Wilton Speight regressed?

I don’t believe that I can make that argument.  However, the troubling part of game one for Speight was the number of deep throws that he missed.  Actually, it wasn’t even the number.  As I watched it, it was apparent that those misses included balls that were thrown out of bounds.  If Speight is to regain his form, he’ll have to put those passes in a place where his receivers can go make a play.  I’ll go on the record and say that I believe he will be able to do that this Saturday.

Can Michigan clean up mistakes against a program that is in year one of a makeover?

This has been the staple of the Harbaugh regime.  I would list the mistake areas in order of importance:

1.  Right tackle pass protection

2.  Special teams getting back to being special (Obviously, I’m not talking about Nordin here)

3.  Passing game efficiency

4.  Defensive secondary technique improvement

Overall, I was okay with Nolan Ulizio’s first start at right tackle.  However, he had 6 misses in pass protection that can ultimately force a tight game to sway to the opponent.  However, I think Harbaugh and Drevno/Frey have earned the right for the fan base to trust their decision…and I do.  Getting a punt blocked certainly is “out of character” for Michigan since 2015 (one fumbled punt snap aside).  Actually, I think Jay Harbaugh and Chris Partridge have shown that Michigan’s special teams are among the nation’s most efficient.  I expect this to continue as the new faces become more comfortable in their roles.  The passing game cannot produce a 11 for 25 outing from Speight in big games.  Look for UM to want to get early completions against a Cincinnati defense that gave up 9.9 yards per completion to Austin Peay.  Look for Michigan’s number to be closer 12 yards per completion.  Lastly, the young defensive secondary had some lapses in their man-to-man technique that you rarely (Orange Bowl aside) saw from last year’s gang of Stribling, Lewis, Hill and Thomas.  Cincinnati is going to throw the ball around…a lot.  If you see separation on vertical routes between the receiver and the defender, it will be a sign of more work to do.  If you don’t see separation, you should get very excited.

Can Cincinnati “shock the world?

The answer is dependent upon Cincinnati.  It has everything to do with Michigan.  Was the emotional high of last week too much for a younger team to deal with?  Ay, there’s the question.  My answer is no.  Schembechler Hall has a way of keeping teams grounded.  It’s been the trademark consistency that Harbaugh brought to Ann Arbor.  Cincinnati’s best player is running back Mike Boone.  They’d be smart to feed him the ball but I don’t see the Michigan defense allowing that to happen.  If I’m right, then quarterback Hayden Moore will be under the gun of that pass rush, which I’m sure will include linebackers like Devin Bush.

Offensively, I think Speight will move the team up and down the field enough to calm the anxiety-ridden fanbase as we will see more tight end production as well as a breakout performance by one freshmen wide receiver.

FINAL SCORE:  Michigan 49, Cincinnati 10

PICKS TO CLICK:  Offense – Donovan Peoples-Jones, Defense – Mike McCray

CONFIDENCE LEVEL:  Confident (I would like to see this team stack performances of the highest level)

ONE THING THAT MAY SURPRISE:  Khaleke Hudson will be this week’s “Devin Bush Breakout Award” winner.  I anticipate a few sacks and a pick for #7.

ONE THING THAT MAY DISAPPOINT:  Running Backs not named Chris Evans.  Ty Isaac had a great game one and Karan Higdon scored a touchdown but I expect rushing numbers to be spread out (including McDoom).