The game this week seems to be as important as ever. With comments flying left and right from both sides there is a lot of emotion that will play out Saturday. The last foreseeable meeting between these two teams in The Big House will be one not quickly forgotten. So here are my Final Five Thoughts for success for the second edition of Under the Lights in Ann Arbor.
1. Devin Gardner
Although Devin had a decent game last week there were some points that left us fans scratching our heads. Gardner must make a few “better” decisions at possible key times via the passing game, as well as identify coverages quicker and audible effectively. But for a player with less than a full season of starting game experience in Ann Arbor, Gardner is right on track for success. I look for Gardner to have a big game, perhaps the biggest of his career up to this point.
2. The Blocking
Last year’s contest largely was lost due to poor blocking leading to all kinds of catastrophes. Headed by Lewan and Kalis this offensive line must make large strides this week. Its no secret we are relying on our run game more than ever this year, effective blocking could make or break our offensive output under the lights.
3. Pass Coverage
This has been a strength of ours since Mattison took over the defense. Yet, at times we have struggled greatly at this. Missed assignments and bad reads could lead to a long night, especially with an improved Tommy Rees at the helm for the domers. I expect to see Blake Countess make plays the way he did his freshman year, Raymon Taylor will be elite as always, and with Gordon back from suspension i have a very optimistic outlook for this group this weekend.
4. Play Calling
Al Borges is a great coach and I believe it will be proven once again on Saturday. Yet, after his uber-conservative play calling in the second half of the Ohio game last year there are still worries. He must know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em so to speak. Being aggressive when needed and conservative when in control. Knowing when to do which will be the key for Borges this weekend.
After Denards 4 INTs in last years game this is absolutely the most important aspect for Michigan heading into Saturday. If Michigan doesnt turn the ball over I see a rather easy win. If Michigan struggles with turnovers it could be another nail-bitter, or even worse a repeat of last year. As long as Michigan stays on its P&Q’s so to they should be just fine.
Prediction: Yet another close game through the first and second-and-a-half quarters with Michigan earning the advantage about halfway through the 3rd quarter.
Michigan – 31
Notre Dame – 24