The Wolverine

October 2011

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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������ michigan football and he plays in this game. Every time he plays, he���ll get better. We have to make sure that these young guys keep improving and keep working up to the standard, then they���re going to be fine.��� ��� Andy Reid Big Ten Teams Show Strength, Vulnerability It���s time for the Big Ten season to get rolling, after a September filled with telling games. It���s still too early to get a gauge on which teams will meet in the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis come December. It���s not, however, too early to start forming some observations based upon results. They follow here, in The Wolverine���s Big Ten Power Rankings heading into the conference season: Big Ten Power Rankings Entering Conference Play 1. Nebraska (4-0) ��� The Cornhuskers are piling up the points in the early going, while taking on some respectable competition. Bo Pelini���s squad needed to fire up the offense in pulling out shootouts versus Fresno State (42-29) and especially Washington (51-38). The ���Huskers were supposed to be relying on defense this season, but quarterback Taylor Martinez & Co. have shown the ability to score. 2. Wisconsin (4-0) ��� The Badgers found their quarterback in transfer Russell Wilson and are on a point-scoring roll themselves. They rumbled past UNLV, 51-17, then whitewashed Pac-10 foe Oregon State at Camp Randall Stadium, 35-0. All eyes will be on the Oct. 1 showdown at Camp Randall, when the Cornhuskers kick off the conference season with a night game between Big Ten heavyweights. 3. Michigan State (3-1) ��� The Spartans were feeling pretty good about themselves in breezing past Youngstown State (28-6) and Florida Atlantic (44-0). Then came a trip to Notre Dame, and a 31-13 humbling that quieted some snickers about how lucky Michigan was in taking down the Irish. MSU still has plenty of big guns on offense, but depth is becoming an increasing concern on the offensive line. 4. Ohio State (3-1) ��� Fourth is pretty low for a program that has lived at the top of the Big Ten rankings for years (except for last season, which did not exist for the Buckeyes). Obviously, there are some issues here, problems that a 27-22 cliffhanger win over Toledo and a 24-6 smack-down loss at Miami further brought to light. The Buckeyes will rely on their defense, but questions at quarterback are looming large right now. 5. Illinois (4-0) ��� The Illini feature one of the better rushing offenses in the conference, while the passing game is starting to develop under sophomore quarterback Nathan Scheelhaasse. The Illini got everybody���s attention by winning their biggest test of the non-conference campaign, a 17-14 victory over Arizona State at Memorial Stadium. football Notebook Starting Slowly ����� In the first three games of the season, Michigan opponents averaged 62 yards of offense and scored a pair of touchdowns ��� only Eastern Michigan was stopped ��� on opening drives. Starting slowly (on both sides of the ball), U-M was outscored 21-0 in first quarters through three contests, and defensive coordinator Greg Mattison is determined to lead his unit to greater success early in games. ���It���s not lack of preparation, a lack of them wanting to do a Two of U-M's first three opponents scored on their opening drive, but coordinator Greg Mattison's defensive unit held San Diego State scoreless for the entire first half in game four. photo by lon horwedel 46��� the wolverine��� ������ October 2011 great job, a lack of hustle,��� Mattison said. ���In some ways, it���s just them not making the adjustments to something new that has happened that they haven���t been ready for. ���I have to do a better job of foreseeing anything possible that could happen and give them that beforehand. There are a lot of guys that haven���t played a lot of football, and it sort of shocks them.��� Western Michigan, Notre Dame and Eastern Michigan all came out on their first series showing a different look than what the Maize and Blue had seen on film, which partly explains the Wolverines��� struggles. With the opportunity to talk to Mattison between series, they have adjusted. That���s a good start. But the players have to be able to adjust on their own. ���The guys that are in charge of the defense, the guys that are communicators, really have to take urgency in communicating,��� Mattison said. ���It���s never going to be exactly like you practice. When there is an adjustment to be made, then guys have to step up. ���There are some guys that have never done that before, and they���re learning to do it. And they did it as the game went on, but that will bite us if we don���t get it squared away. And believe me we addressed it and will continue to address it.��� Akron On The Schedule �����Akron���s athletic department announced its non-conference schedule for 2012-16 and it included a Sept. 14 game at Michigan in 2013. U-M still has one more non-conference contest to fill that season (either Aug. 31 or Sept. 28) with meetings with Notre Dame (Sept. 7) and at Connecticut (Sept. 21) already announced. It also has a non-conference game for 2012 (Sept. 15 or Sept. 29) still to announce.

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