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November 06, 2009 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2009-11-06

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s" " Nove ber 00"

Breakdown: 'M' will squeeze past Purdue

Daily Sports Editors
Michigan fans should see
something new this weekend -
a healthy Brandon Minor.
Rodriguez said Wednesday
that the senior tailback has
"done more than he's probably
done in a month, or more." The
Wolverines are a different team
when their most physical back is
in the game. Minor has just 322
net yards this season, but with
five touchdowns, you know he
can get the job done. If Minor is
indeed healthy enough to take
the majority of the carries, he
should take over the game.
Purdue boasts the Big Ten's
ninth-ranked rush defense,
allowing 168.4 yards per game.
Michigan's success really
depends on how the offensive
line can gel this week. Against
Illinois, the 0-line was streaky
against the Big Ten's worst rush
defense. But if the group can
find some rhythm, it should
open things up for Minor and
freshmen quarterbacks Tate
Forcier and Denard Robinson
to break loose.
It's been four straight games,
and still no touchdowns from
Much of that has been due
to injury, but the freshman
has really tapered off since his
late-game comeback attempt
in East Lansing more than
a month ago. In those four
games without a touchdown
pass, Forcier has a lowly 47.3
completion percentage and is
just 36-for-76.
Purduestands atarespectable.
fourth in the Big Ten in pass
defense, allowing 194.7 yards
per game. David Pender and
Brandon King are no slouches
in the secondary. Pender is
best in the Big Ten with 11 pass
breakups this season, and King
has three interceptions.
The Wolverine receivers
have not impressed during
Michigan's recent losses, with
dropped passes their new
mantra. With slot receiver
Martavious Odoms out
Saturday, it will take a lot to
get Michigan's receivers going.

Senior Brandon Minor has been hampered by injuries this season, but he was able to work more in practice this week than he has in months.

Let's call this the battle of the
Michigan's rush defense is No.
85 in the country. Purdue's rush
offense isn't much better at No.
That is sort of surprising,
considering how the Wolverines'
front four have emerged as the
strongest unit of the defense. But
big play after big play (not sure
if you've erased Juice Williams
from your memory yet) has
hampered Michigan.
The Boilermakers will likely
rack up a good chunk of change
- unless the Wolverines stick to
their assignments and play solid
gap defense, which sophomore
defensive tackle Mike Martin
said they didn't do against
The best indicator for whether
the run defense is playing well
won't be the average yards per
carry or total yards, but rather
how many over 20-yard carries
Michigan gives up.
The Wolverines can defend
the ground game well, but they
just can't afford to lose the game
on a single play.
For the Wolverines to win

Saturday, they need to win this
Michigan's secondary has
been shredded in recent weeks,
and it was particularly bad in
its last home game against Penn
State, when quarterback Daryll
Clark threw for 230 yards and
four touchdowns.
Since then, the Wolverines
have lost former starting
cornerback Boubacar Cissoko
for a violation of team rules,
while defensive coordinator
Greg Robinson has struggled
to find an effective personnel
combination in the secondary.
The big plays that Michigan
fans have come to expect
against their defense probably
won't disappear against Purdue,
which despite a rough season,
has a very good passing offense.
Against Iowa and Indiana,
the Wolverines gave up a
combined 554 passing yards.
The Boilermaker offense ranks
higher than both of those.
So yes, it's going to be a long
day for the Michigan secondary.
The only saving grace for
the Wolverines? Purdue has
thrown 12 interceptions, the
second-highest total in the Big
Ten. But Michigan hasn't forced
a turnover in three games, so it
will be interesting to see if it can
capitalize on the opportunity.

Fifth-year senior Zoltan
Mesko had one of his worst
games of the year punting last
week, but he appears to have
a significant advantage on
Michigan is still the best
punting team in the Big Ten,
while Purdue sits in 10th,
nearly 10 net yards per punt
fewer than the Wolverines.
With both teams averaging
about 20 yards per kickoff
return, punting will likely be
the difference in field position
this weekend.
And if the game comes down
to a field goal, Michigan is
also at an advantage. Purdue
has missed over 30 percent
of its field goals, while fifth-
year senior Jason Olesnavage
is 8-of-9 on the year.

The Wolverines need this
win. Badly.
It's not a must-win to
become bowl eligible, but
the Wolverines will only
have an uphill battle ahead
at Wisconsin and against
Ohio State if they can't
beat the Boilermakers.
For two weeks now, it's
seemed the bowl-eligibility
factor would play some
motivational role. Instead,
the Wolverines have choked.
This is their best (and some
would argue last) chance to
lock up a postseason game.
That's enough to give them the

It's OKfor Blue
to be desperate
L ast year at this time, Desperation.
Michigan's bowl eligibility Saturday's game is the Wolver-
depended on winning out. ines' last real shot for relevancy in
This year, all it needs to do is the regular season. Yes, I know it's
win one game. against Purdue. And some (most?)
But heading into Saturday's Michigan fans would argue that
game against Purdue, the scene a win against Ohio State in two
sounds too weeks would make up for the rest
much like 2008. of the year. But Michigan needs
That game to salvage this season well before
started like Nov. 21.
this: ' 4 "What's desperate? Not in foot-
Michigan ball terms, I've never, ever used
blows two- y that," Michigan coach Rich Rodri-
touchdown guez said Wednesday. "You want
leads two COURTNEY to have a hungry team, I guess,
separate times. RA'KOWIAK but you want that whether they're
In the third winning or losing. I don't want
quarter, facing them to have some fatalistic view
a critical Purdue third-and-9 at the of this last ballgame or anything.
Michigan 30-yard line, the defense It's in the past. You can't do it over
misses multiple tackles to give the again. Let's worry about this next
Boilermakers the first down. They game."
tie the game four plays later. But that last ballgame - that
And it ended like this: Illinois meltdown - isn't really
"Never in my wildest imagi- in the past. Those defensive woes
nation did I think we'd score 48 have been a recurring problem,
points," then-Purdue coach Joe including in last year's Purdue
Tiller said while examining the game, and repressing those memo-
box score. ries after the team has had what
That, of course, was after Rodriguez calls "24 hours to think
Michigan gave up the winning about the loss" obviously hasn't
touchdown with 26 seconds left worked. On Saturday, the Wol-
in the game, on a hook-and-ladder verines need to have last week's
that left the Wolverines completely 99-yard Illini touchdown drive
baffled. in their heads during every single
Post-halftime collapses, massive play. That series alone should
defensive breakdowns and heart- make them desperate enough to
breaking last-second losses are still come out Saturday and make Pur-
issues 12 months later. That's a let- due bowl-ineligible, just like the
down, considering this team looked Boilermakers did to Michigan last
like it had all the momentum in the year.
world six weeks ago. The Wolverine players are
But now, the Boilermakers must talking more about "playing with
be salivating at the opportunity to heart" now because they have to
face a Michigan team that looks know they can't purely rely on
similar to last year's on paper. technique and talent.
The Wolverines are coming into That much was clear when
this game with the exact same Donovan Warren was asked on
number of Big Ten wins as they Monday about giving offensive
had before the Purdue matchup in players large cushions - a second-
2008 - one - and with a defense ary issue that has drawn the ire of
that is equally bad at preventing fans and the media alike.
big plays. "I'm just doing what's asked of
"It's all about what you got me and playing to the best of my
inside of you to make sure you ability," he answered, before being
work as hard as you can," Brandon asked if he likes press coverage. "I
Graham said Monday. "That's like playing guys press coverage,
just how I'm going to bring it. I'm man-to-man. At the same time,
gonna tell them it's all about your I have to do what's best for my
heart now." team."
Knowing how vulnerable this It was also clear when Rich
year's defense really is, playing Rodriguez was asked Monday if he
with heart alone won't be enough was surprised success hasn't come
to beat Wisconsin or Ohio State. sooner, and he dryly responded,
Against a 3-6 Purdue team, that "Not after I got here."
might work. Illinois is asteam on the outs,
But it needs a different name: See RATKOWIAK, Page 6B


1. Minor, Brandon Senior, No. 4
2. Brown, Carlos Senior, No. 23
1. Moundros, Mark RS junior, No. 44
2. Grady, Kevin Fifth-year senior, No. 24


1.Stonum, Darryl Sophomore, No.22
2.Mathews, Greg Senior, No. 13
W R 1. Hemingway, Junior RS sophomore, No. 21
2. Savoy, LaTerryal Fifth-year senor, No. 82
1.Odoms, Martavious Sophomore No. 7
S 2.Grady, Kelvin RS sophomore, No.19

NIT 1 Marlin, Mike Sophomore, No. 68
NI 2. Campbell, William Freshman, No. 73
O LB 1. Rob, Craig Freshman, No. 88
2. Herron, Brandon RS sophomore, No. 58
M LB 1. Leach, Kevin RS sophomore, No. 52
2 Ezeh, Obi RS junior, No. 45
1. Mouton, Jonas RS junior, No. 8
2Weach, Kevin RS sophomore, No. 52
1. Brown, Stevie Senior, No. 3
2. Simmons, Floyd RS freshman, No. 23
L"C 1. Warren, Donovan Junior, No. 6
2. Turner, J.T. Freshman
iKovacs, Jordan IS freshman, No. 32
SS 2. Van Slyke, Jared RS sophomore
1. Williams,Mike RS sophomore, No. 40
F 2. Emilien, Vladimir RS freshman, No. 5
RC 1. Woolfolk, Troy Junior, No. 29
2. Floyd, J.T. RS freshman, No. 12

November 7, 2009 -- Footbal Saturday

1. Forcier, Tate Freshman, No. 5
2. Robinson, Denard Freshman, No.16


1. Graham, Brandon Senior, No. 55
2. Heininger, Will RS sophomore, No. 39
1.Van Bergen, Ryan RS sophomore, No. 53
2. Banks, Greg Junior, No. 92



1. Koger, Kevin Sophomore, No. 86
2. Webb, MartellJunior, No.80
1.Ortmann, Mark Fifth-year senior, No. 71
2. Dorrestein, Perry RS iunior, No. 79
1. Scbilling, Steve IS iunior, No. 52
2. Mealer, Elliot IS freshman, No. 57
1. Moosman, David Fifth-year senior, No. 60
2. Kboury, Rocko IS treshman, No. 63
1. Omameh, Patrick Sophomore, No. 65
2. Barnum, Ricky RS freshman, No. 56
1. Huyge, Mark RS sophomore, No. 72
2. Dorrestein, Perry RS junior, No. 79


From page 3B
too, and it didn't bother to
hide its desperation last week.
Juice Williams had lost sole
possession of the starting spot.
Ron Zook was the most disap-
pointing coach in the confer-
ence after running a team of
veterans into the ground, and
he readily admitted the week

before facing the Wolverines
that he didn't know what was
wrong with his team.
But that 1-6 squad somehow
found a way to win.
Playing desperate isn't
shameful. At this point, with
the Wolverines badly needing
to seal a bowl game this week-
end, it's necessary.
- Ratkowiak can be reached at




1. Olesnavage, Jason R S senior, No. 92 1. Mesko, Zoltan RS senior, No. 41 1. Stonum, Darryl Sophomore, No. 22
2. Gibbons, Brendan Freshman, No. 34 2. Wright, Bryan RS junior, No. 43 2. Grady, Kelvin RS sophomore, No.19
Note: Depth chart as predicted by Daily football writers.

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