This week’s game should be another special event in Ann Arbor — given that the Michigan head coach Brady Hoke was San Diego State’s head coach this same time last year. There is no doubt, that face is prevalent on the minds of all parties involved with the game and it could give us or them, the advantage. Both programs come into the weekend unbeaten.
The Aztecs – as expected – will bring a strong, sound football team to Ann Arbor this Saturday. They’ll be led from the sidelines by first year head coach Rocky Long, formerly of New Mexico. The Aztecs return 14 starters (7 on offense and 5 on defense). Coming back to lead the Aztecs on the field is senior quarterback Ryan Lindley. Hell be supported offensively by promising sophomore running back Ronnie Hillman and standout red-shirt freshman wide out Ezell Ruffin.
The San Diego defensive line could be a cause for concern though for the Aztecs… yea right!
As long as Rocky Long is coaching, the defensive performance will be a focal point for success that the rest of the Aztec team will build from. Long is the defensive mastermind that led the New Mexico Lobos to the 57th rated pass defense in 2007.
With his legendary 3-3-5 base defense (yes 3-3-5) and Long’s stealthily QB spy packages he likes to deploy along with the blitzing schemes, San Diego and company look to cause problems for Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson and the rest of the Michigan offense all game long.
The Long led Aztecs are led defensively by Long… confusing? I thought so. But let me clarify because I’m speaking about Jerome Long that is.
Jerome is a 6’4” 295 pound senior defensive tackle who will look to plug up the holes Shoelace, Toussaint and Shaw will look to squeak through to gain positive yardage.
Michigan — let’s admit — looked less than admirable last weekend. Although, ultimately winning in convincing fashion, I was not completely sold.
That kind of play may blow out EMU, but it sure won’t blow out the Aztecs who ranked in the top 20 in three different offensive categories last season.
Michigan Keys to Victory
Michigan linebackers Jake Ryan and Kenny Demens will have to mask their blitz packages and learn to spy better while watching the QB’s eyes and mannerisms. I believe and expect to see that the Mattison helmed Michigan defense will struggle early like they have all year.
Yet, they’ll find their groove as usual, play at a relentless pace and be the deciding factor on the outcome of this game.
Denard Robinson must improve his accuracy this Saturday to give the Wolverines a shot as well. To say it nicely, Denard has been rather shaky lately with his passing display. His play this year looks much like what we’ve seen before in the old spread-style scheme. In order for Michigan to begin making the transition to more of what Al Borges was brought in here to run, accuracy will be key. That is if Michigan is still interested in pursuing that path on offense this year.
All and all, Michigan might struggle a bit early but the Hokeamaniacs in maize and blue will pull off a nail-biter (again) and pull away with the victory a little more than mid way through the forth quarter…giving Hoke a smile and giving his old team a shiny L for their record book.
Michigan – 28 San Diego State – 21