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Final Five Thoughts: Homecoming Michigan vs. Minnesota

John Kayser Hokeamaniac.com Feature WriterThe last two games have been…rough to say the least. What has to be described as, horrible, decision making at times and a lack of discipline have been abundant . But, Big Ten play is here and every goal is still achievable for Brady Hoke’s team, so enough of the past, it’s time to get back to the present where the Little Brown Jug is at stake. This game shouldnt be much of a game yet I’m not sure what to expect. So here are my Final Five Thoughts on Minnesota:

1. Turnovers
Turnovers cannot be stressed enough in my opinion. If it wasnt for turnovers the last two games might not have been close contests at all. If Michigan can keep the ball while also causing turnovers with their defense, this game could look more like traditional Michigan football. No interception, no fumbles on offense!

2. Devin Gardner
This goes hand in hand with my first though as Devin Gardner currently leads the nation in interceptions. He has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns thus far in the season. If Gardner calms down, like he needs to, and he uses his progressions and reads, and plays smart football, the turnovers will dissipate. Gardner makes or breaks the offense with the ability to make big plays and also give them away. He has proven he has all the tools required to be a successful, outstanding quarterback. This is his team now.

Gardner just needs to learn to take a loss or throw the ball into the stands. And that is what I expect to see today.

3. Confidence
After UConn and Akron, this team is obviously visibly shaken. Wolverines have said as much in their post-game interviews. Hopefully the team used the bye week to get rid of the jitters and iron out the issues that were causing mistakes. Confidence is key in football and in life. If Michigan comes in confident, calm, and collective they should be in good shape. They know they are good enough. They know they have more talent than almost anyone they line-up against on the field. I might be overstating this item, but if they just keep believing, then they will be fine.

4. The Offensive Line
The line has been lacking no doubt about it. Brady Hoke has already decided to make some changes in the offensive line as it was reported this week. In order for Michigan to get a strong run game going and keep pressure off of Gardner, the line must play the best it has in weeks. Conference play is no joke and Minnesota should present the Wolverines biggest challenge yet. Iowa rushed for 246 yards last week against the Gophers. I’m sure that plan of attatck will be in effect again today.

It very well could make or break the game, the team, and the season…Let’s hope Hoke and Funk have these kids ready to play and ready to protect and dominate upfront.

5. Get Others Involved
This is a puzzling one to some, yet its easy to see Gardner is far more productive as is the entire offense when Gardner isn’t the end-all be-all of the offense.

If Michigan can get the run game going it could open a lot of possibilities for Al Borges to call plays for Gardner to be successful. In the pro-style scheme, play-action is key. That only works if the defense has to respect the run and yet worry that big-play passes downfield are possible. Michigan has always been know for the tight end position play. We’ve seen moments of that QB to TE connection, but not consistent enough. Gallon has been the go-to target for Gardner so far. Heck, we could even use some screen passes to the running backs out of the backfield. The weapons are there. Now we need to see them used.

If all the aforementioned items happen, it could lead to a big things for the Maize and Blue today. Here’s to hoping and being optimistic…I guess.

As sketchy as I am in giving a final score prediction after the last two games, I must! I will! And i see it:

Michigan – 34
Minnesota – 27

John Kayser

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Hokeamaniac.com - May the Hoke be with you! © January 11th, 2011
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