Michigan Football: Coach’s Corner — Illinois at Michigan — Homecoming Preview
We all remember the story; Illinois started off strong last year at 6-0 and fizzled at the end, going 0-6. The coaches were fired, an interim was named, and the Illini beat UCLA, a very similar story, before less than 30,000 in the Hunger Bowl. Tim Beckman, a coach with Ohio ties and an outstanding recruiter, was hired.
This Saturday is Homecoming in Ann Arbor with Michigan coming off an impressive game against Purdue and Illinois limping in at 2-4 on the season and 0-2 in the BIG. Illinois played pretty well against Wisconsin last week in the first half. Then the running game of Wisconsin took its toll.
In all four losses, Illinois had given up over thirty points. The offensive line has not pushed the line of scrimmage well and talented quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase has been lacking protection. Running back is a little thin and even though Illinois has a talented tight end not much in the way of productive yardage has been obtained. The defense shares line woes and giving up long plays really hurt a decent effort against Wisconsin.
Coach Beckman is not pleased with the offense and moderation/modifications would not be surprising for this week’s game.
The Wolverines have little room for error the rest of the way and do not have the luxury of taking selected games off and turning back on like a light switch.
Beckman ran a two-man show at quarterback last year at Toledo, but this year no such venture will occur. Nathan Scheelhaase has very good duel-threat ability and is capable of having a big game at any time.A look at the season statistics shows Illinois to be very even to the opposition, especially considering the 2-4 record. The two wins have skewed the statistical trends a little but the offense is running for 125 per game and giving up slightly more. A very useful but under utilized statistic is yards per attempt, and here the opposition is well ahead of the Illini.
Do not paint the Illini as hapless and lacking talent. Besides Scheelhaase, Illinois had two very talented running backs in Donovonn Young and Josh Ferguson, both averaging over 3.5 yards per carry but capable of more with better line play. The receiving corps is pretty much by committee with two of the biggest contributors being Young and Ferguson.
Michigan is in a similar situation as the last two games, playing a team that can yield yardage through the passing game. But the Illinois defensive linemen have not performed up to Notre Dame and Purdue levels. But things can change and Michigan will be prepared.
Coming in the near future a look at what the coaches will likely do on Saturday in the usual feature of “What may happen.” And yes, we will attempt to get into the cranium of Alchemist Al Borges. He of the anti-crystal ball clan should have more choices for the overall game plan.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff
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