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October 10, 2014 - Image 9

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2014-10-10
Note:
This is a tabloid page

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V V

PSU defense could
be too much for 'M'

By GREG GARNO
ManagingSports Editor
Michigan pass offense vs.
Penn State pass defense
The Wolverines have failed to
throw for more than 200 yards as
ateam this season, and against the
No. 21 pass defense in the country,
it doesn't look like they're going to
reach the mark this season.
As usual, junior wide receiver
Devin Funchess will be Michigan's
prime target, which should be easy
for the Nittany Lions to prepare
for. Sophomore tight end Jake Butt
hasn't caught enough ofthe targets
thrown his way, and redshirt
sophomore wide receiver Jehu
Chesson is coming off an ankle
injury against Rutgers.
Gardner won't just need one
of the best performances of his
season to make an impact in
passing; he's going to need one of
the best games of his career.
Edge: Penn State
Michigan rush offense vs.
Penn State rush defense
Penn State's defense is the
strength of its team, and the rush
defense has been at the heart of
that.
The Nittany Lions rank second
in the nation in rush defense,
having allowed 60.2 yards per
game. Their front seven, which
Brady Hoke calls "salty," is led by
linebacker Mike Hull - whose 53
total tackles are 30 more than the
next closest on his team.
Sophomore running back
Derrick Green was declared out for
the season with a broken clavicle
sustained agginst Rutgers. Unless
sophomore running back De'Veon
Smith can step up in his absence,
Michigan's offense should be
rendered moot Saturday.
Edge: Penn State
Penn State pass offense vs.
Michigan pass defense
Nittany Lions quarterback
Christian Hackenberg isn't
expected to be the surgeon who
picks apart Michigan's secondary,
but then again, neither was Nova.
Hackenberghasabettercorpsof
wide receivers to throw to, though,
highlighted by 6-foot-1 standout
Greg Lewis. The Wolverines'
starting cornerbacks - senior
Raymon Taylor and sophomore
Jourdan Lewis - are both 5-foot-
10 and haven't shownthey can play

bigger than their height.
In his second year as a starter,
the sophomore sits second in the
Big Ten in yards per game (295.4).
But he's completing just 57 percent
of his passes, having thrown six
interceptions.
But he should look just fine
against a secondary that allowed
more than 400 yards through the
air.
Edge: Penn State
Penn State rush offense vs.
Michigan rush defense
If there's one thing Michigan
continues to do well, it's stopping
the run. The Wolverines have
allowed only one team -
Minnesota - to rush for more than
100 yards ina game.
The Nittany Lions sit 13th out of
14 teams in the Big Ten in rushing
yards per game, with no true
starter in the backfield. Running
back Bill Belton tops his team with
189 yards this season. And the
offensive line lacks the experience
to pick up the slack.
Players like Bolden and Ryan
should excel at plugging holes in
this matchup.
Edge: Michigan
Special Teams
Michigan has put 10 men on the
field on two separate occasions
this season during punt or punt-
return coverage. It hasn't returned
a punt or kickoff for a touchdown.
Nor has it blocked a field goal. And
senior Matt Wile has made five of
nine field goals this season.
So regardless of kicker Sam
Ficken's l0-for-12 mark this season
and one blocked punt, Penn State
is better by default.
Edge: Penn State
Intangibles
The team is under the lights and
at home, and it has proven that
anything can happen under those
circumstances. If there were ever
a chance for Michigan to have a
breakout game, this would be it.
While Penn State has struggled
itself this season, including a
loss to Northwestern two weeks
ago, the Wolverines are going to
need a coaching effort beyond
what they've received this season
to capitalize on a squad lacking
depth.
Edge: Michigan
Prediction: Penn State 31,
Michigan 21

PAUL SHERMAN/daily
Fifth-year senior quarterback Devin Gardner scored two rushing touchdowns last week in Michigan's road loss to Rutgers.
Chance to stop spiral

By ALEXA DETTELBACH
Daily Sports Editor
Michigan football has one last
shot to turn its season around, one
last shot to try and save a possible
coaching change and one last shot
to make a bowl game.
The Wolverines host Penn State
on Saturday in the program's third-
ever home night game. Under
the Lights I and II were met with
huge success, as Michigan beat
Notre Dame both times in front of
record-setting crowds. And with
road games against Michigan State
and Ohio State still looming on
the schedule, Michigan needs to
repeat those victories.
But the stakes are different
this time.
Last year, the Wolverines were
5-0 going into their matchup
with the Nittany Lions at Beaver
Stadium. After leading for most
of the game, Michigan lost in
devastating fashion in four
overtimes. Following the defeat,
the Wolverines finished 2-5,
including a blowout loss in- the
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
The Penn State game was a
turning point for the Wolverines,
and this year's squad needs it to be
the same - just in its own favor.
But it won't be easy.

The Nittany Lions started off
the season winning four straight,
beforelosing29-6 to Northwestern
two weeks ago. Penn State hasn't
played at Michigan Stadium since
2009, so it will be a new trip for
most of the players and first-year
coach James Franklin.
"We are excited about the
opportunity," Franklin said
Tuesday during his weekly press
conference. "This will be my first
time going to Michigan. Looking
forward to that and experiencing
that." '
Quarterback Christian
Hackenberg leads the Nittany
Lions amidst struggles on the
offensive line. The sophomore
has the makings for a future NFL
quarterback with his size, arm
strength and accuracy, but has had
issues as of late behind suspect
pass protection.
After throwing four touchdown
passes in Penn State's first two
games, the 2013 Big Ten Freshman
of the Year has been held without
a score since the fourth quarter
against Akron on Sept. 6.
But coming off a bye week,
Hackenberg should beas explosive
as ever.
Michigan's secondary and pass
rush, which struggled mightily
against Rutgers last week, will

need to make quick changes if it
hopes to contain Hackenberg and
his two favorite targets, Geno
Lewis and DaeSean Hamilton.
"As far as Hackenberg, he's
good," said defensive coordinator
Greg Mattison during his Monday
press conference. "He's got a
great arm. He can make all the
passes. He's a football player. He's
a football player, and this will be a
big challenge."
Like Michigan, where Penn
State's offensive line falls short, its
defensive line excels. The Nittany
Lions' front seven is ranked
second in the country in rush
defense, but its defensive unit has
allowed six rushing touchdowns
by quarterbacks because of weak
linebacker play.
The Wolverines will need to
utilize Devin Gardner's mobility
to get into the end zone and keep
Penn State's defensive line on its
toes.
"They've got a very salty
front," Hoke said Tuesday
during the Big Ten's weekly
teleconference. "When they need
to bring pressure, they've been
able to do that and be successful."
So the offensive and defensive
lines are on notice: Michigan
needs this one, or the 2014 spiral
will continue.

4 FootballSaturday, October 10, 2014

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