Playing the Oregon St. Beavers this weekend comes with good news and bad news. The good news is OSU is featuring a freshman starting quarterback, Seth Collins. The bad news is he’s a dual threat with legs to take it the distance on any given play. It is only his second collegiate football game, but he showed last week that he has the talent and swag to compete at the highest level. Over the years, Michigan has struggled to contain the running quarterback.
Rushing Offense vs OSU
The Oregon St. Beavers present a defensive line that only allowed 58 rushing yards in last weekend’s contest against Weber St. Considering Weber St. is a member of the FCS, it’s hard to gauge the true identity of the Beaver’s defensive line.
Senior nose tackle Kyle Peko was one of the standouts against Weber St., notching three tackles and pass breakup in the 26-7 victory. Linebacker Rommel Mageo also had a solid game stopping the run, forcing a fumble, and finishing with 11 tackles.
While Michigan’s offensive line struggled at times, expect some hard nosed coaching and healthy competition to fix these issues. They are likely to become a more cohesive unite with each line play. The same five lineman will start this week.
Expect Michigan’s running backs to exceed their showing last week against. Utah. Running backs coach, Tyrone Wheatley, will not accept another subpar performance from his group. De’Veon Smith earned the start last week but failed to pull away from the pack. Smith is still listed as the starter on this week’s depth chart, but expect to see more of Ty Isaac and possibly Derrick Green, who are next in line for reps at running back.
Drake Johnson is still not on the depth chart, but the situation is clearer after hearing Harbaugh’s explanation. Michigan’s trainers are being extra cautious with Johnson after suffering his second ACL tear though there are rumblings that he may see some action on Saturday.
The Beavers may have held Weber State to 58 yards rushing, but don’t expect the same result against a hungry Michigan offensive line. Anticipate two Wolverine backs rushing for at least 50 yards a piece.
Passing Offense vs OSU
The Oregon St. pass defense allowed only 120 yards through the air and no touchdowns last week against Weber State.
Senior cornerback Larry Scott started 12 games last season and returns as the most experienced member of the secondary. Scott finished 2014 with 11 pass breakups. Safeties Justin Strong and Cyril Norland-Lewis played extensively last season and have game experience.
The Wolverine’s offensive line has made some strides in pass blocking since last year. Quarterback Jake Rudock was rushed at times—but did have adequate time to make decisions. Pass blocking, however, looks better than run blocking at this point.
The Beavers will be expecting plenty of targets to tight end Jake Butt on Saturday. That will not stop Jake Rudock from looking his way. Rudock showed he is not afraid to give Butt a chance, even with solid coverage. Anticipate seeing more of the same. Amara Darboh will probably draw Oregon State’s best cover corner—and look for Jehu Chesson, Drake Harris, Brian Cole and Grant Perry to contribute more this week.
Jake Butt is the X-factor in this equation. Butt is the best pass catcher in this game and may be the best tight end in the country.
Rushing Defense vs OSU
Oregon St. may be without their top two rushers from the season opener. Both Storm Woods and Chris Brown are nursing injuries. That pushes redshirt freshman H-back Ryan Nall into the running back rotation for the Beavers. At 250 pounds, Nall brings a different element to the game. 250 pounds is hard to bring down, but it’s been done before. Nall ran the ball twice for four yards against Weber St.
Freshman quarterback Seth Collins had an exceptional first week. He ran for 152 yards on 17 carries. Somewhat of an unknown, Michigan has now seen the tape on Collins and will aim to take him out of the rushing game plan. Collins gained several yards on the zone read.
The Michigan front seven gets a chance to redeem themselves facing a freshman quarterback and redshirt freshman running back. Although age means nothing, Michigan is more experienced upfront and should be able to cause some havoc in the backfield. Completing tackles and maintaining responsibility will be key to stopping this Oregon St. attack. Joe Bolden and Desmond Morgan MUST wrap up, if they want to stay on the field.
Michigan will be too much for the two talented freshman in the Beaver backfield. Chris Wormley will continue to be a disruptive force and make plays behind the line of scrimmage.
Passing Defense vs OSU
Seth Collins is playing his first road game in front of 100,000+ fans. He passed for 92 yards in front of his home crowd, but that where he’s most comfortable. Throwing for two touchdowns, Collins completed 55% of his passes (but rememeber, that’s against an FCS opponent).
Enter the Michigan defense. It’s their home opener, their angry about a season opening loss, and they are up against a freshman quarterback. It sounds like turnovers in the making. Jordan Villamin was Collins’ favorite target last game. He finished with four catches and a touchdown.
The secondary was solid against Utah and are projected to improve as the season goes on. The defensive line will create pressure and force throws into the secondary. It will be the secondary’s job to take advantage and make plays on the ball, if they are poorly thrown due to pressure.
Playing against a freshman quarterback in front of over 100,000 people should be enough. Michigan will use crowd noise and disguise coverage to confuse the young freshman.
Special Teams vs OSU
Michigan faces another worthy special teams unit this week. Oregon St. will rely on the leg of kicker, Garrett Owens. Owens netted every attempt last week going 4/4 with a long of 45 yards. Punter, Nick Porebski, averaged 37 yards a punt with a long of 49.
It’s been a good week for walk-on kicker, Kenny Allen. Allen is now at the top of the depth chart after earning a scholarship. He looked confident in his attempts last week connecting on 50% and all extra points. Punter, Blake O’Neill, hopes to stay consistent with his rugby style punting.
Neither team has shown too much in the return game. Though Jabrill Peppers does look destined to take one back to the house.
Advantage: Oregon State
Michigan still has many questions when it comes to consistency and overall play in the special teams unit. An accurate, experienced kicker gives OSU the edge.
Prediction: Michigan 34 – Oregon State 17
Will Michigan solve the mystery of the running quarterback? I think so. Wolverines will force turnovers instead of making them this week. Michigan by 17 at home.
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