Observations on the loss to USC, 18-32!

1-USC creates 4 red zones, 3 in the 2nd half, for 20 points plus 2 big play TDs for their total of 32. Michigan doesn't create a red zone for the first 3 quarter; then, creates one 4th quarter red zone for 8 points. USC gets 7 points off one Michigan turnover while Michigan does nothing with one Trojan turnover. Trojan defense blitzes Michigan into 6 sacks, one turnover and forces 6 punts while holding the Wolverines to 12 net yards rushing and 321 yards in total offense in 68 plays. We got most of the second half yardage after USC went three scores up, and went to a prevent scheme rather than a blitzing scheme.

2-Henne was 26 of 41 for 309, 2 TDs and one costly pick to Lawrence Jackson early in the 2nd half with the score tied 3-3. Breaston had 8 catches for 115 yards a late TD with one minute to go. Manningham and Ecker had 6 catches each for 79 and 78 yards, and Arrington had 4 catches for 34 yards and a TD. We had 19 first downs and were 7 of 16 in 3rd and 4th down conversions.

3-The rushing game was non-existent due to a stalwart Trojan defensive performance! Hart had 47 yards in 17 carries and a 2 point conversion. Minor had 2 carries for 3 yards. Cushing led their defense with 7 tackles, 3 for loss including 2 sacks and a forced fumble on Henne. Rivers had 9 tackles and Ellis had 7 tackles, two for loss including one sack. Carroll had them well prepared, and he is one outstanding coach.

4-The Trojans outplayed and outhustled us on special teams holding Breaston to 52 yards in 4 kickoff returns, and no punt returns. Their place kicker missed two extra points, but they weren't needed; Danelo did make two field goals. Buehler had 7 kickoffs and 3 touchbacks. There was no time of possession or penalty advantage.

5-Booty was 27 of 45 for 391 yards and 4 TDs with no picks. Jarrett caught 11 for 205 yards, and 2 TDS; he was obviously the player of the game. Smith caught 7 passes for 108 yards and 1 TD. Trent and Hall couldn't stay with them for four quarters, and our safeties showed again our weak link. Barringer and Adams do not play as if they are experienced players. Engelmon and Mundy didn't play at all, but they didn't play well in the Ohio State game and possibly they were injured. USC was 8 of 16 in 3rd and 4th down conversions; they didn't establish a running game, but didn't need to as they passed at will. USC ended up with 21 first downs and 439 yards in total offense.

Harris and Trent had 7 tackles each, Barringer secured 6 tackles, Hall and Crable came up with 4 each. Burgess only had 2 tackles and Chris Graham had none from the WILL position. Branch thinks he can make it in the NFL, but he only came up with 2 tackles, none in the second half. Woodley did get a sack, but late in the 4th quarter with the game already decided. It was a disappointing defensive effort to say the least!

6-I think I can speak for every Michigan fan when I say that we are all thoroughly disappointed by the effort of this team and the coaching staff in the second half. We were outplayed, outhustled and certainly outcoached. Our coaches didn't help our team with halftime adjustments, and our game plan offensively was utterly ridiculous. Coach Carroll and his staff knew exactly what we were going to do, and they predicted and adjusted to our uncreative, unimaginative offensive game plan and play calls. They prepared to stop our zone blocking scheme and Michael Hart, and they were determined to blitz us on every down that passing was a possibility. They succeeded in their game plan, their game adjustment and they took the "wind out of our sails" with their second half execution of big plays on both sides of the ball.

7-I am happy now that we didn't replay Ohio State in the BCS game; I think they would have beat us again based on the performance today and probably by a larger score. Our defense finishes the season by giving up 41 and 32 points in the final two games, methinks they have some work to do in the Spring. We really need to come up with better safety and linebacker play.

I see our starting line-up next year on defense as: Jamison and Brandon Graham at the ends, Taylor and Branch or McKinney at the tackles, Panter, Crable and Chris Graham at linebacker with Trent and hopefully Ron Johnson at the corners, Adams, Mouton and Stevie Brown, Engelmon and Harrison fighting for playing time at safety. I also see Laterryal Savoy and Charles Stewart moving to safety in the Spring. Perhaps Finch can contribute as a frosh.

On offense, Henne, Hart and Minor are the backfield with Arrington, Manningham and Butler at the receivers. Our offensive line will be Long, Kraus, Mitchell, Boren and Schilling in some configuration. I think frosh Hemingway, Clemons, Maze and Webb will all get a chance to contribute at receiver and on special teams.
Observations on the first half of the Rose Bowl, 3-3!

1-USC has one red zone for 3 points, and Michigan's offense creates zero red zones; however, the Wolverines drive for a field goal to tie the score. Michigan creates one turnover for zero points while USC forces Michigan to punt 4 times with 5 first half sacks.

2-Henne is 8 of 12 for 85 yards, Breaston has 3 catches for 42 yards and Manningham has 2 for 30 yards. Ecker, Butler and Hart also have catches. We have 6 first downs and are 3 of 7 in 3rd down conversions. We hold a one minute time of possession advantage.

3-The rushing game is non-existent!!! Hart has 21 yards in 9 carries and after 5 sacks on Henne, we have a net rushing total of -9 yards in the first half. Minor has 2 carries for 3 yards. We have 28 offensive plays for 76 yards; they have 29 offensive plays for 122 yards.

4-They are really coming after Mesko, and have almost blocked two punts; he has a 43.5 average in 4 attempts. Breaston has one kickoff return for 17 yards, and no punt returns. Rivas hits his 43 yarder and a 61 yard kickoff that was returned for 28 yards. No penalties called in this clean, hard-hitting game.

5-Booty is 10 of 16 for 102 yards with 6 completions to Jarrett for 58 yards. Gable has only 19 yards on 10 carries so we are doing a good job containing their offense; they have 8 first downs and are 4 of 7 in 3rd down conversions. Harris has 6 tackles to lead the defense, Trent has 4 and Crable 3 with a forced fumble. Branch has a tackle and a fumble recovery, and Barringer has 2 tackles and a nice pass break up on a bomb to Smith.

6-USC starts the second half on offense, and our defense must continue to put the kibosh on the Trojans! We must find a way to get the offense going, and that may include a defensive score. We must find a way to protect Henne, and Henne must exploit their blitzes by reading them and hitting the open zone the defender has left open. I'm sure they have seen this and practiced it.

7-This game is ours to win, but we must win it by outplaying them. They have a great strategy in stopping our run, blitzing us into mistakes and we must adjust.

Rose Bowl Preview: Michigan vs. USC 2007

Although Michigan is the higher ranked team, USC seems to be the predicted winner by most experts and has the betting line down to even money. Why? The Rose Bowl is practically a home game for them and they have an advantage of five wins in nine games over Michigan and have won the Rose Bowl 21 of 30 attempts. Michigan's Rose Bowl Record is 8 wins in 19 attempts. Previous games have shown USC wins in 2004, 28-14, 17-10 in 1990, 17-10 in 1979, 14-6 in 1977, 10-3 in 1970; Michigan wins in 1989 by 22-14, 20-19 in 1958, 16-6 in 1957 and 49-0 in 1948. History and home field advantage may play a part in this game, but the team who executes the best and is the hungriest for the win with sustained effort over four quarters will prevail.

Offense: On offense, USC has a clear advantage! Their passing offense averages over 250 yards per game, and Pete Carroll is arguably the best coach in NCAA football. Their scoring offense is ranked 19th nationally averaging over 30 points per game. 1st team All-Conference Quarterback, Josh Booty, averages over 240 yards per game in total offense and has thrown 25 TDs with 9 picks for a +16, and his favorite targets are Steve Smith and Dwayne Jarrett. The twosome average 11 receptions and 155 yards per game with 18 TDs. Smith was the team's MVP in 2006. Patrick Turner is their 3rd receiver. Michigan's cornerbacks, All-American Leon Hall and Morgan Trent will be hard-pressed to contain them, but USC doesn't have the depth that Ohio State showed with their receivers.

USC's offensive line is rugged! They protect Booty while allowing 18 sacks on the season, and provide power to support three running backs, C.J. Gable, Chauncey Washington and Emmanuel Moody; Gable and Moody are true freshmen. USC is ranked 57th in rushing offense with 134 yards per game with Washington running for 9 TDs, Gable 4 TDs and Moody has 2 TDs. The "kiss of death" in this game would be for us to let USC establish a running game. I don't think any of their runners bolt for 50 yard TDs as we saw in the Ohio State game. Their offensive line is led by tackles, Sam Baker and Kyle Williams plus center, Ryan Khalil who was a finalist for the Rimington Trophy. Jarrett and Baker were voted 1st team All-Americans; the other two starters are Drew Radovich and Chilo Rachal. The tight end is Toledo's Fred Davis, and he has 35 receptions on the season which is similar to Michigan's tight end production; also, their fullback is used similar to Michigan's scheme of H-Back with Oluigbo, and their fullback is Thomas Williams. UCLA was able to force two sacks, one turnover, 7 punts, 14 first downs, thwarting one of two USC red zone opportunities and holding them to 6 of 17 in 3rd down conversions, zero second half points and 55 yards in net rushing in winning the Gauntlet Trophy on December 2nd. Michigan's #1 ranked defense will have to come up with an outstanding effort like the Bruins; they'll have to force turnovers and sacks on Booty. Senior All-Americans, Woodley, Hall and Harris, will have to come up big on New Year's Day!

Defense: On defense, Michigan will have a tough time moving the ball against a solid Trojan team that is led by linebackers, Keith Rivers, Rey Maualuga and Dallas Sartz. They are big, fast and active threatening the blitz in every passing situation. Rivers leads the team with 3 forced fumbles. The pass rush features ends, Brian Cushing and Lawrence Jackson, and tackles, Sedrick Ellis and Chris Barrett; the team has 34 sacks and 37 tackles for loss for the season. Sartz and Jackson are their two leaders in sacks and tackles for loss. Rivers, Maualuga and Ellis were named 1st Team All Conference. If Henne does find the time to throw, USC has great covers in corners, Terrell Thomas and Cary Harris. Thomas has 12 pass break ups and 2 picks this year. Safeties Taylor Mays and Kevin Ellison are very athletic and as big as most team's linebackers. Mays leads the team with 3 picks, and was one of three players chosen as Conference Freshmen of the Year. Our receivers, Breaston, Arrington and Manningham will have to play their best game in getting open and making big plays. Hopefully, we can even find out tight ends: Ecker, Butler and Massey for some key first down throws. The Trojan pass efficiency defense only allows 108 yards per game which ranks them 19th nationally Mike Hart will also have a tough time getting started against a Trojan defense that is ranked 19th in the nation against the run allowing only 97 yards per game. The USC defense allows only 15 points per game ranking them 13th nationally, and they are ranked 20th in total defense; they were ranked first in their conference in most important defensive categories. We will need to create time of possession advantage by holding the ball while keeping the ball away from their offense.

Special Teams: Steve Breaston had a huge Rose Bowl in 2005 against Texas with a record 315 all-purpose yards, and he may need to have another big game on Monday. USC is ranked 96th in punt returns and 75th in net punting, but is ranked 18th nationally in kickoff returns with Gamble as their deep man. Desmond Reed returns punts and kickoffs. Their field goal kicker, Mario Danelo, has made 11 of 12 with his longest being 43 yards; he has made 83 of 86 point after touchdown conversions. Greg Woidnek average 38.6 yards per punt. Troy Van Blarcom kicks off and has 37 touchbacks in 69 kicks so Breaston may have a chance to return some. Breaston, Mesko and Rivas should give us an edge in this area, and hopefully this will lead us to field position advantage.

USC has won three 4th quarter games with Washington, Washington State and California while losing to UCLA and Oregon State on the road in games decided in the 4th quarter. I think this game will come down to who plays the best in the 4th quarter, too. I think this game will be 14 to 10 Michigan at half, and we convert three red zones plus one big play into points while holding USC to 13 points in three red zone attempts for the win. I think Michigan wants to win this game more, and has more to prove after the Ohio State loss and poll votes.

Michigan 24 USC 13

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