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Friday Focus: Michigan Linebacker Jake Ryan

Michigan Wolverine linebacker Jake Ryan #47 goes in for the sack of the Purdue quarterback on Saturday.

Adam DiBartolomeoOn Saturday the Wolverines will host mobile QB Nathan Scheelaasse and the Illinois Fighting Illini. With a mobile QB it is key to contain the outside so what better player to focus on this week other than the monster of an outside linebacker Jake Ryan?

The hulking 6’3″ 242 lbs. sophomore is coming off of a solid performance last week against Purdue and is becoming Michigan’s biggest play-maker on defense.

This week could be another highlight reel for #47.

Nathan Scheelhaasse, though not quite as electric as Denard Robinson, can make things happen when he is on the move and it appears he is no longer bothered by the pesky ankle injury that put him on the shelf for two games this season. Last week against Wisconsin he was able to carry the ball 22 times for 84 yards and a touchdown, all of which were season highs.

This is a guy who ran for close to 900 yards in 2010 and over 600 yards last year.

The kid can move, and like most running QBs, he’ll be looking to break runs to the outside and get to the sidelines when he scrambles. It will be up to not only the DEs, but the outside LBs like Ryan, to keep him contained and make sure he doesn’t break off large chunks of yards. Ryan has shown that he has the speed and the football smarts to guard the sidelines.

The last time he faced a QB that ran a lot (Air Force) he recorded 11 solo tackles. He’ll need to be on his game once again against the Illini.

Scheelhaasse is also a capable passer. Last week vs. the Badgers he was able to throw for 178 yards and a score. He also racked up over 2,000 yards through the air last year. He is truly a dual threat. Many of his passes will be screens and other passes out of the backfield and in the flats.

Ryan needs to be solid in pass coverage and not allow these short routes to turn into big plays. Discipline and solid tackling will be key. Both of which are strengths of the sophomore linebacker.

If there is one thing we have seen, especially last week, Greg Mattison is not afraid to send to send Ryan like a bull after a matador at quarterbacks on passing downs. And when he sees red, LOOK OUT! Against the Boilermakers he may have only recorded one sack, but he was chasing the black and gold signal callers all day keeping them on the run and forcing them into quick throws. He wreaked havoc and was very disruptive.

He lived in the Purdue backfield. Look for Mattison to dial up those same blitzes on Scheelhaasse all afternoon and for the QB to see plenty of #47…and to be in need of an ice bath and Motrin after the game.

Ryan is thus far putting together a very impressive season through five games. Check out these numbers:

  • TOTAL TACKLES – 31
  • SOLO TACKLES – 19
  • SACKS – 1

As mentioned above, his performance last week against Purdue was very solid:

  • TOTAL TACKLES – 6
  • SOLO TACKLES – 4
  • SACKS – 1
  • HARRASSING QBS – ALL DAY

He is becoming a certified beast for the Wolverines’ defense. Heck, he even looks the part of the modern day star linebacker with his flowing blond locks that hang to his shoulders. It seems like every week he is making big plays, is always around the football, and affecting the stats columns.

With an Illinois offense that will look to utilize their speed on the outside, look for the long-haired play-making cyborg that wears #47 to have a Terminator-like afternoon.

You can follow Adam on Twitter at @adamdibart.

And also be sure to click on over to Adam’s blog for all things Detroit sports here at deeboknows.blogspot.com.

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