The No. 13 Wisconsin Badgers (1-0) are finally back in action this weekend after two straight weeks of cancelled games. They travel to Ann Arbor, Mich. to take on the reeling Michigan Wolverines (1-2) who have lost back to back games against Michigan State and No. 10 Indiana.
We wanted some answers about Michigan so we asked Maize N Brew’s Trevor Woods five questions about his Wolverines. Here are his answers and a game prediction at the end.
1) Since the Badgers haven’t played the past two weeks, I’ve had a lot of time to watch other Big Ten games. Joe Milton looks like a good player except it seems like he has trouble locating the deep ball. Has that been a problem all season or did I just see a couple of bad throws?
It has been an issue for Milton this season. Overall, Milton has been inaccurate 20-plus yards down the field. He’s putting too much juice on some balls and letting them sail. With that said, he’s made a few remarkable throws deep, but it’s about all the other downs in between that matter just as much. Milton looks like a QB who can get some stuff done, his ceiling remains high, but he’s forcing throws into double coverage and not seeing the field at a high level pre-snap.
Milton has done a lot of good things, and it’s important to keep in mind that he’s only started three games thus far in his college career. It would have been surprising if he didn’t have any growing pains. Unfortunately for Michigan, they’re now 1-2 and the growing pains have to stop if they’re going to turn the season around.
2) Based on the Wolverine fans I follow on Twitter, there seems to be a growing sentiment that maybe Jim Harbaugh isn’t the right man for the job. Is this true? What can he do to regain the trust of the fan base?
After losses to Michigan State and Indiana in back-to-back weeks, the frustration is at a boiling point in the fan base. I get asked this type of question weekly, in good times and bad, but it has a more weighted feel to it this season. Harbaugh is in Year 6, fans want to see Michigan beat all their rivals, Ohio State included. To regain some semblance of trust, the team has to finish the season 5-3 or 6-2.
3) What, if anything, changed from the Week 1 demolition of Minnesota to the Week 3 loss at Indiana? Was there a game plan shift or did MSU and Indiana just have Michigan’s number?
Some schematics and choice of game flow can be to blame, as is execution and not enough physicality. Both teams had Michigan’s number, they won fair and square, but Michigan committed way too many self inflicted errors in both games, racking up a lot of unnecessary penalties. They have not looked like a fundamentally sound team in pass coverage, catching the football and in the trenches on offense.
After beating Minnesota, Michigan looked like a physically dominant team on offense that would be able to score a lot of points via the run or pass, dictating what they do to opposing defenses. In the two weeks since, they look like a team trying to find their identity. Either way, the team needs to play with more aggression and the coaches can do a better job of putting the players in the best position to succeed.
4) Give me one player on offense and one player on defense to look out for this weekend that may be a little under the radar.
Michigan has a stable of backs, but I believe Hassan Haskins should be the RB No. 1 heading forward and he could be a difference maker in this one. Haskisn runs with great physicality but has good vision and shiftiness along with power.
On defense, safety/defensive back Daxton Hill (pictured above) has been Michigan’s best player and is arguably the most gifted athlete on Michigan’s roster. Hill said the defense needs to do a better job of communicating, and it appears Hill is ready to take on more of a leadership role. Maybe Hill’s presence and voice can lead to better production out of the secondary.
5) Alright, give me your score prediction and who will be the MVP for Michigan?
As your readers know, Michigan and Wisconsin go back and forth each year, with the home team usually winning. I don’t think it’ll be any different this year. I think the amount of time Wisconsin had off, along with the amount of players they may have sitting out in this one, is going to lead to an uphill battle for them. Michigan isn’t going to look great in this one, but they’ll improve enough to squeak by Wisconsin. There’s been a mass amount of shade thrown at the program the past couple weeks, and I believe that could be a motivating factor and may lead to a quick turnaround for Michigan.
However, if they continue to play with a lack of fundamentals, this will once again be a long day for them. My MVP is DE Kwity Paye, who will have a couple key sacks in this one that will give Michigan enough momentum to wind up winning this one 27-20.