The Michigan Wolverines are coming off a thrilling, game-for-the-ages win against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Denard Robinson brought the Wolverines back from a 24-7 deficit to start the fourth quarter and had fans in Michigan Stadium singing “Victors” in between cheers of “Go Blue” at the top of their lungs.
Next week, the Wolverines play another home game at the Big House against the Eastern Michigan Eagles. Here are five things the Wolverines must do to avoid a letdown against the Eagles.
No. 1: Don’t Forget to Play Defense
The Michigan defense gave up 513 total yards to Notre Dame. This week, the Wolverines are playing against an FBS and in-state team in the Eastern Michigan Eagles.
The Eagles are averaging 419 offensive yards a game. Granted, it’s been against Alabama State and Howard, but it is still impressive.
Greg Mattison and Brady Hoke have to get their defense ready to play explosively and hold the Eagles to a low score.
The Wolverines key should be shutting down the Eagles running game as they run far more than they pass the ball.
- The Eagles running game has averaged 331 yards over the last two games. Plus they are averaging 7.4 yards a carry.
- Meanwhile, their passing game is averaging a meager 88 yards a game.
Start off strong and finish the same way should be the defense’s motto going into next Saturday.
No. 2: Let Denard Do His Thing
- Michigan had 90 yards in the first half and 362 in the second half. It scored seven points through three quarters, then four touchdowns in the fourth. Robinson had 290 second-half passing yards, which means he “amassed” 38 passing yards in the first half.
- Robinson touched the ball on all five touchdowns; one rushing on a fumble and four were passing touchdowns.
- Michigan’s scoring drives in the fourth quarter encompassed 261 yards compared to its lone 45-yard drive in the first half.
- The Wolverines finished the game with 452 total offensive yards. Robinson contributed to half of that alone in the fourth quarter. Amazing.
- Eastern Michigan is giving up 212 offensive yards a game, and that’s not against BCS teams. The Eagles also held their opponent to -13 yards last week.
Robinson and the running game are better than Alabama State, but will have to avoid their defense rush and be faster and more powerful.
Michigan should be able to put up plenty of points in this game. Score early and often should be the Wolverines’ offensive motto for Saturday’s game.
No. 3: Michigan Needs to Keep Winning to Go into Big Ten Schedule Confident
The Wolverines could be 4-0 heading into October 1st when they host Minnesota to start the Big Ten.
It certainly helps that the Wolverines continue to be at home for their non-conference schedule. Then, it gets tricky. Minnesota is at home, then they travel to Northwestern, and Michigan State. Then, Purdue at home, and travel to Iowa and Illinois. The Wolverines close out the season at home against Nebraska and Ohio State.
While Eastern Michigan and San Diego State (Brady Hoke’s former school) aren’t the perennial names like many of the Big Ten schools are, they shouldn’t be overlooked.
As you know from the previous slides, Eastern Michigan is tough against the run and has a good running game. San Diego State will be looking to beat its former coach. Hoke will be extra motivated as well. The Aztecs also have a very good passing game.
Michigan needs to go strong heading into the Big Ten, and a ranking going into its Big Ten schedule would be nice as well.
No. 4: The Wide Receivers Have to Keep Supporting Denard Robinson
Michigan’s wide receivers have really stepped up, as they did against Notre Dame. They gave Denard Robinson a security blanket, and confidence in his arm. Not to mention they also took some of the pressure off Robinson so he doesn’t have to run and get beat up.
Robinson hit seven different receivers last week, and none were bigger than the catches the receivers made in the fourth quarter.
Eastern Michigan’s strength is its rush defense, so Robinson should practice throwing the pigskin around.
He definitely could be in for a good day if he does.
No. 5: Brady Hoke and Al Borges Must Keep Trusting Denard Robinson
Last week, Brady Hoke and Al Borges got renewed trust that Denard Robinson can lead the Wolverines late in games when they need scores.
Robinson showed that he can air it out and not always just tuck it and run with it. Robinson also showed great mobility in the pocket and a willingness to hand the ball off to running backs Vincent Smith, Fitzgerald Toussaint and Michael Shaw.
It will be key to maintain Robinson’s confidence as I say this again: The heart of the Big Ten schedule is approaching, and it is tough.