Coming off of a terrible performance against Michigan State last week, the Michigan Wolverines have to get back on track. Normally, heading to Bloomington, Indiana to take on the Hoosiers is just what the doctor ordered. However, given what we saw in the rain-soaked game a week ago, this game could very well set up as a trap for the boys in Maize and Blue.
We know the defense is going to be good. They will keep us in nearly every game this season. In fact, they were the sole reason we had a chance to toss a Hail Mary against “Little Brother,” in a game we didn’t deserve to share the same field as the Spartans. So our keys this week will focus on our offense because if they perform like they did last Saturday night, we again will be wiping the tears from our eyes.
Children of the O’Korn –
Stephen King’s short story “Children of the Corn” begins with a car wreck. And, to be frank, John O’Korn’s tenure at Michigan has been one and the same. The performance he gave Saturday night was nearly as bad as Ben Affleck when he was trying to play Batman–it sucked.
O’Korn is a fifth-year senior, though never really in the spotlight, he should be experienced enough to not act like a deer in the headlights against a rival. His happy feet and unwillingness to hang in the pocket cost him opportunity after opportunity against MSU. You didn’t see it against Purdue when he was forced into duty, but for some reason last Saturday it seemed like he bailed from the pocket quicker than a whore leaves a church on Sunday.
Plain and simple, if Michigan’s offense is going to be sufficient enough to win ball games this year it starts with #8. He has to be the leader, he has to keep himself composed, he has to play like a fifth-year senior.
4 yards and a cloud of dust –
The staple of Michigan football for years was their running game. A big featured back who carried the load, and the team, when they needed them most. This year, no one person has established himself as “the guy.” It’s not for lack of talent either. Ty Isaac, Chris Evans, and Karan Higden are all capable backs.
On the season, Michigan running backs have gained 992 yards on 211 attempts for a 4-yard-per-carry average. Isaac leads the bunch with 372 yards on the season, yet he only had four carries in the MSU game. I guess taking the “hot hand” approach will be the status-quo going forward, which means there will be no “the guy” going forward.
However, establishing a good running game, even by taking the “hot hand” approach, is key to take the pressure off of John O’Korn (see above). Especially when you note the struggles the offense has had in the red zone. On the season the Wolverines are a paltry 5-for-15 in red-zone touchdowns–that’s 33% for your math nerds. You cannot expect to win the big games if you do not capitalize on the opportunities presented to you. Establishing a solid running game, and allowing one guy to get into a rhythm, is key for Michigan to get back on the right track.
It all starts with the big boys up front –
None of the above matters if the offensive line doesn’t play well. Against Michigan State, they allowed four sacks of O’Korn, and there was pressure all night long. Some of this falls on O’Korn for not getting into the right protections, but the rest falls on the linemen.
Our line boasts two sophomores, which leads one to believe that the inexperience is catching up with us. That may be true, but “this is Michigan, for God’s sake.” Know your role and do your job. The line has to be better, plain and simple.
If the Michigan Wolverines want to avoid a trap game this Saturday in Indiana, it is of utmost importance they keep John O’Korn comfortable and upright. If not those happy feet will get to dancing again, and well, we’ve seen that picture before. And in order to avoid a repeat performance, it all starts with the big fellas up front.
Prediction: Michigan 17, Indiana 13