Michigan ready for ‘intimidating’ Iowa defense in Big Ten title game
Even before the season began, Michigan’s offensive linemen said the offensive identity would be physical and run-heavy.
That’s the approach the Wolverines took when they beat Ohio State, 42-27, last Saturday at Michigan Stadium to win the Big Ten East and earn a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game on Saturday against Iowa. .
Hassan Haskins led the ground effort with five touchdowns behind an offensive line that played his best game of the season. The line didn’t allow a sack against the Buckeyes.
Michigan is ranked No. 9 nationally in the rushing rush, averaging 224.9 yards per game.
“We have stayed true to our identity,” Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis told the “Inside Michigan Football” radio show Monday night. âWhen you get involved in something, you get good at something, and that’s what we did. We’re committed to wanting to manage football better, so we’ve spent our entire offseason doing ‘Beat Ohio’ drills, that’s what we call them where we’re just going to run the ball and create the physical presence in the game. and take that part on the lines.
The Wolverines opened the game with a 75-yard 10-game scoring practice that featured six carries, including a 14-yard touchdown on an AJ Henning backhand.
âStarted quickly by setting the tone for the game and really creating the identity of the game that we were going to dominate on both fronts,â said Gattis, ânot just the offensive line but the defensive line as well, just being able to crush them, however, we were able and really set the tone.
“It’s a good team. It’s a finesse team. It’s not a difficult team. And we knew that before the game we could surpass them physically, we could surpass key of the game, and that ‘ that’s what we’ve been preparing for throughout the year.You saw earlier this year in the game they lost to Oregon, Oregon was the most physical team on the field. That’s how they lost, and we made a commitment to stick to that recipe, and it paid off.
Iowa has long been known for its strong defense, and this season is no different. The Hawkeyes are 13th nationally, averaging 315.7 yards per game and 14th against the rush, allowing an average of 105.8 yards. They are stingy when it comes to points awarded, averaging 17.2 which is the ninth-best nationally.
The Hawkeyes (10-2) are ranked third in terms of turnover margin and have 22 interceptions. Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara has three interceptions this season.
âI would say Iowa in all respects,â Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said Monday, ârun the defense, pass the defense, the way they approach, offensively, their execution, the way they block, the the way they run, the enormous attention to detail on special teams, (the Hawkeyes are a) basically good football team in every way.
âAnd that’s really intimidating in itself. And you also add that you look at 12 weeks of that consistency. And understanding that, now you’re going back to the previous seasons, and there’s a lot of creativity in there and it’s all available to them. . It’s a daunting task in itself to understand that you are up against a team that knows what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, the execution is great throughout. You are so focused on the stopping that everything else is still a possibility.I would say it’s a tall order.
Michigan will try to shoot the ball against Iowa because that’s what the Wolverines are doing. It starts with Haskins, who completed most of the race last month while Blake Corum recovers from a sprained ankle. Corum played against Ohio State and ran six times for 87 yards, including a gain of 55 yards.
Haskins has 1,232 yards and 18 touchdowns and is averaging 102.7 yards per game and 5.0 yards per carry this season. Before Corum’s injury, the two full-backs, who called themselves âThunder and Lightningâ, shared the workload. In recent weeks, freshman Donovan Edwards has gotten more work in games. But it was Haskins who was the biggest producer last month.
âWe started out by calling it the beef because it can carry the load,â Gattis said. âHe takes great care of his body and it is a physical specimen. He never misses any training. he doesn’t take a day off. He’s preparing so well and he’s so humble. Whether he scores five touchdowns or one touchdown, he’ll be smiling.
âIt’s the Big Ten’s best comeback, there’s no question in my mind. He would have the same numbers as anyone else in the country if it were just him, but we have the luxury of having really good running backs in the room.
Michigan’s offense has evolved in the latter half of the season. It was a heavy race early on and in the Michigan State game when both teams were 7-0 before the Spartans win, Michigan was ranked 104th nationally in assists, averaging of 189.6 yards per game. That included a 44-yard passing performance from McNamara against Washington as Michigan rushed for 343 yards and four touchdowns.
Against MSU, Michigan threw for 406 yards and three touchdowns and in the four games before the Ohio State game, the Wolverines are averaging 299.5 passing yards. Against OSU, McNamara threw for 159 yards and JJ McCarthy for 31.
“It’s not a one-dimensional team,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said of Michigan. “When you come into a championship team that’s really what you expect is to play against a full team and that’s what we see in Michigan.”
This was the evolution of Michigan’s offense, but Gattis said the balance was still there.
âWe choose to do things differently,â said Gattis. âThis is the biggest narrative that had to be changed. A lot of people thought we couldn’t throw the ball just because we didn’t choose to throw the ball and not because the throw wasn’t successful.
âA lot of people thought we couldn’t throw it deep. It is because we have chosen not to. We were doing what we did best and that allowed us to create an identity. It allowed us to build the team that we wanted to build and that we knew could win and put us in a position to play for a Big Ten Championship.