Free Press sports activities author Michael Cohen seems forward to Michigan soccer’s sport towards Indiana on Saturday:
Matchup: Indiana (2-6, 0-5 Massive Ten) vs. No. 10 Michigan (7-1, 4-1 Massive Ten).
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor.
TV/radio: Fox; WWJ-AM (950), WTKA-AM (1050).
Line: Wolverines by 19½.
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Know the foe
A 12 months in the past, Indiana was among the many most shocking tales in school soccer because the Hoosiers posted three victories over ranked opponents — together with Michigan — en path to a 6-1 file in Massive Ten play and a visit to the Outback Bowl. Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. ascended to nationwide prominence with huge performances towards Ohio State (491 yards, 5 TDs), Michigan (342 yards, 3 TDs) and Rutgers (238 yards, 4 TDs). The Hoosiers’ terrific season created heightened expectations for IU coming into 2021, mirrored by a preseason No. 17 rating and loads of fanfare surrounding Penix.
However nothing has gone to plan for the Hoosiers, who enter Saturday’s sport with no win in convention play. Quarterback Michael Penix by no means regained the shape he displayed final season and threw seven interceptions within the first 5 video games. Accidents to Penix and backup Jack Tuttle compelled the Hoosiers to begin true freshman Donaven McCulley of their most up-to-date loss to Maryland over the weekend as coach Tom Allen searches for tactics to salvage the season. Indiana’s solely victories got here towards Idaho and Western Kentucky. Three of their losses in Massive Ten play had been by 20 factors or extra. “We’re what we’re,” Allen stated after a 38-35 loss to Maryland. “And we’re simply going to maintain battling, hold combating and proceed to do every little thing we are able to each single week to seek out methods to win soccer video games.”
Three issues we discovered
McNamara can air it out: With tailbacks Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum navigating clogged operating lanes, offensive coordinator Josh Gattis entrusted Cade McNamara to reap the benefits of a Michigan State go protection ranked among the many backside 10 within the nation. McNamara responded by posting profession highs in go makes an attempt (44), completions (28) and passing yards (383). His willingness to assault the Spartans on vertical routes by tight finish Erick All and vast receivers Andrel Anthony, Cornelius Johnson and Mike Sainristil gave the offense a brand new dimension. He additionally carried out exceptionally nicely below strain Saturday to buck a detrimental pattern from the primary seven video games. McNamara accomplished 11 of 16 passes for 139 yards and a landing on performs when the Spartans generated strain. “I don’t actually care about that,” McNamara stated when requested if he proved doubters fallacious together with his efficiency. “We misplaced, and that’s what I care about.”
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Crimson zone is a crimson flag: Among the many explanation why U-M misplaced to MSU on Saturday was an incapacity to transform journeys to the crimson zone into touchdowns. The Wolverines reached the MSU 20-yard line on six events and produced factors on all of them — however 4 of these scores had been area objectives by Jake Moody, who saved the offense afloat at instances. A dreary exhibiting in East Lansing dropped Michigan to 84th within the nation in landing share for drives that attain the crimson zone at 56.4%. The crew’s total crimson zone conversion charge of 92.3% speaks to how important Moody has been for an offense liable to derailments. Minnesota leads the Massive Ten in landing share within the crimson zone at 71.4% with Ohio State subsequent at 68.6%, adequate for twenty second and thirty sixth nationally. “I feel us stalling out, I imply, it’s quite a lot of causes,” McNamara stated. “I feel final sport we weren’t in a position to get the ball ultimately zone. We had our alternatives final week (towards Northwestern) and we didn’t execute. It could possibly be a mixture of that as nicely this week. Clearly, we’re going to look at it on movie. We all know now we have to try this and now we have to get higher.”
Gamers stay assured: How the Wolverines reply towards Indiana will communicate volumes about the legitimacy of the offseason tradition change described advert nauseam the final two months. Coaches and gamers alike have stated this crew has a stronger, closer-knit bond than the 2020 squad that cracked and crumbled following an upset loss to Michigan State. That resolve will probably be examined throughout every week when uncomfortable questions are more likely to be requested about coach Jim Harbaugh’s job safety and the way Michigan plans to proper the ship after one other rivalry loss. However confidence appeared excessive within the fast aftermath of Saturday’s sport. Practically all of the U-M gamers who spoke to the media referenced the significance of staying collectively and regrouping to proceed reaching for a spot within the Massive Ten title sport. “It’s going to be a type of issues the place we actually simply lock arms, develop collectively as a result of lots of people are going to hop off the bandwagon,” middle Andrew Vastardis stated. “However this season shouldn’t be over. Not even shut.”
Three issues to look at
McCulley is subsequent in line: With Penix and Tuttle described by Allen as “really week to week” it looks like the freshman McCulley will get one other begin in Ann Arbor. McCulley is a former four-star recruit from Indianapolis who dedicated to Indiana over Iowa, Kentucky and MSU, amongst others. He accomplished 14 of 25 passes for 242 yards, two touchdowns and 0 interceptions within the loss to Maryland over the weekend and drew robust opinions from his coach. Earlier than Saturday, McCulley had tried six passes this season and accomplished only one in reduction towards Ohio State. “He made some good throws,” Allen stated. “Gave us an opportunity on a pair deep balls. Donovan is an efficient quarterback. He simply must play. He’s acquired an actual expertise however he’s younger. He’s actually, actually younger. … So I simply felt like he confirmed some poise, confirmed some skill to scramble slightly bit, prolong the performs together with his legs slightly bit, discover receivers open. Simply made some good throws. Made some contested throws the place he had some strain in his face and needed to put the ball in the fitting spot. I imply, he had a very good, strong week of apply so I actually anticipated him to play nicely and hoped he would play nicely. However clearly you need to do it within the sport, in order that’s undoubtedly one big optimistic is his efficiency and simply enchancment on our offense.”
McFadden is disruptive: Indiana linebacker Micah McFadden has developed into among the finest gamers within the nation. The senior ranks second within the nation in tackles for loss with 14 and leads the Hoosiers in sacks with 5½. He additionally has two fumble recoveries and one compelled fumble. With 479 snaps to his title, McFadden is the fifth-highest graded linebacker within the nation amongst gamers with not less than that many snaps, in keeping with Professional Soccer Focus. Malcolm Rodriguez of Oklahoma State and Devin Lloyd of Utah are the one gamers from main conferences forward of him on that listing. He was named midseason second-team All-America by Rivals and The Athletic. Indiana and Boston School had been the one Energy 5 faculties to supply McFadden a scholarship popping out of Plant Excessive Faculty in Tampa, Florida, in keeping with 247Sports.
Not sufficient takeaways: Allen was extraordinarily crucial of his protection following Saturday’s loss to Maryland. The Terrapins racked up 498 yards of whole offense, together with 419 by way of the air, and transformed seven of 15 third downs to take a double-digit lead on 4 separate events and didn’t flip the ball over. An incapacity to generate takeaways on protection is what Allen stated represents the most important distinction between this 12 months’s IU crew that’s winless in Massive Ten play and final 12 months’s crew that solely misplaced to Ohio State. The Hoosiers are tied for one hundredth in turnover margin at minus-4 because of poor ball safety on offense and solely eight takeaways on protection. A 12 months in the past, Allen’s membership ranked tied for eighth within the nation in turnover margin at plus-8 on the energy of 17 interceptions, which was greatest amongst Energy 5 faculties. “I feel that’s actually type of the distinction, to be sincere with you,” Allen stated. “I imply, we gave up yards final 12 months. And we gave up drives final 12 months. And folks overlook that as a result of we acquired numerous takeaways, and people erase numerous stuff. … Very irritating for our protection simply to have the ability to not get these. We did drop one. We acquired some strain however not sufficient strain. To me, that’s simply the truth of what we’ve acquired to have the ability to return to the drafting board and do a greater job of. … We’ve acquired to discover a option to give our offense an opportunity to have some momentum and play downhill as an alternative of simply having to drive 75 or 80 yards each time.”
This text initially appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan soccer seemingly going through true freshman QB vs. Indiana