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6B'- Football Saturday - October11, 2008
Breakdown: Michigan vs. Toledo
October 11, 2008 - Football Saturday - 3B
By IAN ROBINSON AND the Threet-led offense has gone
NATE SANDALS long stretches without moving the
Daily Sports Editors ball, like in the last three quarters
MICHIGAN RUSHING OFFENSE The Rockets have allowed over
VS. TOLEDO RUSHING DEFENSE 30 points in four of five games
Toledo returned almost its this season and rank 109th in pass
entire defense from last year, but efficiency defense. They have in-
that unit allowed 215 rushing yards tercepted just two passes and have
per game. But in the team's biggest recorded a mere six sacks. As bad
test against Ball State last week, it as Michigan's passing offense has
allowed 240 yards on the ground. been, the Rockets' pass defense
The Wolverines have had just has been worse.
one player run for 100 yards in Edge: Michigan
a game this season - freshman
running back Sam McGuffie at TOLEDO RUSHING OFFENSE VS.
Notre Dame. Part of that has to do MICHIGAN RUSHING DEFENSE
with the crowded backfield, and The Michigan rushing defense
Michigan's inexperienced offense was looking pretty good, rolling
has already started four different along near the top of the Big Ten
combinations of players at offen- rankings. Then Juice Williams
sive line. Still, Michigan is more strolled into Ann Arbor. The Illini
talented than the Rockets, and ran all over Michigan to the tune
should have its way on the ground. of 191 yards on the ground, with
Edge: Michigan 121 from their dynamic quarter-
MICHIGAN PASSING OFFENSE VS. There's no question that Michi-
TOLEDO PASSING DEFENSE gan is stronger against the run
At times, Michigan redshirt than they showed against Illinois,
freshman quarterback Steven and Toledo is a good place to start
Threet has looked like a legitimate regaining some confidence. Junior
Division-I quarterback, like in DaJuane Collins is a bruising back
the first quarter against Illinois. (5-foot-11, 211 pounds) and he is
But there have been times when averaging over seven yards per
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carry this season. But Collins isn't
an outside runner, and Michigan's
big defensive line, led by senior
Terrance Taylor, should be able to
shut him down.
TOLEDO PASSING OFFENSE VS.
MICHIGAN PASSING DEFENSE
As bad as Michigan's run de-
fense looked last week, the pass
coverage somehow managed to
look worse. Yes, Williams eluded
pressure and the secondary had
to hold its coverage longer than
normal - but 310 yards? Williams
collected just 70 yards against
Michigan last year.
The Rockets are averaging
less than 200 yards of passing
per game and junior quarterback
Aaron Opelt is completing fewer
than 60 percent of his passes.
Still, Michigan has to be wary of
Toledo's downfield threats, junior
wide receiver Stephen Williams
and senior wideout Nick Moore.
Williams is listed at 6'5" and
Moore is just an inch shorter. Tall
receivers have given the Michigan
secondary trouble in the past. If
the safeties bite on play-action,
If there's an MVP for Michigan
this season, it's redshirt junior
punter Zoltan Mesko. Thanks to
Mesko, the Wolverines lead the
country in net punting (42.09
The Michigan secondary will have its best game. Toledo
is averaging 187 passing yards per game. But the Michigan
defense was embarrassed against the Illinois spread offense
and, after a week of practice that started with coach Rich
Rodriguez calling his team's play "soft," the secondary will be
extra focused on not missing coverage. Expect plenty of pass
breakups while Toledo's receivers come up short.
Greg Mathews will tally at least 100 receiving yards. I said
this last week, but seriously, it'll happen Saturday. He has 221
for the season, but one of these games, the Threet-Mathews
combination has to click. Mathews has looked better each
game since coming back from injury, and it's time for Michi-
gan's offense to shine.
Michigan will win 31-13. For a non-Big Ten game, this match-
up has huge season implications. The Wolverines can't afford
to lose this game with Penn State looming next week. They
Both teams will fumble in the return game. When it looked like Michigan finally
found a go-to return man in freshman Martavious Odoms last week, he fumbled a
kickoff late in the game. The Rockets have also had their own issues on kick returns,
fumbling twice against Fresno State.
Martavious Odoms will score his first touchdown. Odoms was one of the few bright
spots against Illinois last week, accounting for 56 percent of the team's all-purpose
yards. It appeared as if he was starting to get into a rhythm with Threet. He is due to
get in the end zone.
Michigan will win 24-10. The Wolverines should get back to .500 with a win over the
Rockets. The result won't be in question very long, as Michigan will clearly be the bet-
ter team Saturday.
Redshirt freshman Steven Threet will help give the Wolverines
the edge against Toledo Saturday.
yards). But Michigan's biggest
problem on special teams has been
fumbling kickoffs. Even last week,
when freshman Martavious Odoms
emerged as a possible frontrunner
in the returner competition, he
fumbled a kickoff late in the game.
Toledo has also had fumbling
issues on kickoffs. Against Florida
International, the Rockets fumbled
twice. Toledo's kicker has been
solid, converting eight of nine
attempts, but the kick and punt
returner have not proven to be
gamebreakers this year.
Rich Rod looked pissed off
after the game on Saturday, and
he didn't look any happier at his
press conference on Monday.
The coach wouldn't say whether
he planned to make practices
harder this week, but the players
must have been a little worried.
After being embarrassed against
Illinois, Michigan should come
into this game with a chip on its
Of course, Toledo is 1-4, so
the Rockets probably haven't
had a sunny week of practice
either. This is the program's first
trip to the Big House, and even
though this might be the smallest
Michigan Stadium crowd in a
decade, it should still be pretty
Score: Michigan wins 24-10