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Speak Your Truth: Michigan Q&A

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The Badgers and Wolverines both enter Saturday’s game with some offensive...questions. We appreciate Trevor Woods for stopping by and giving us the inside info on UM.

NCAA Football: Northern Illinois at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

We love early season inflection point games, don’t we folks?

The Wisconsin Badgers (1-2 overall, 0-1 Big Ten) and the No. 14 Michigan Wolverines (4-0 overall, 1-0 Big Ten) are set to face off on Saturday morning at Camp Randall Stadium and, well, nobody seems too excited about it.

Trevor Woods from Maize N Brew was kind enough to stop by and answer our questions about the Wolverines. Whoever wins this game will have a much rosier outlook about how the rest of the season will go and whoever loses it...well, let’s just say we don’t want to be cheering for the team who loses.

I haven’t seen one Wisconsin fan predict a Badgers victory on Saturday and I’ve seen very few Michigan fans looking confident either. What is the general feeling of Wolverine fans heading into this matchup?

The fringes of the fan base will always be pessimistic unless they go undefeated — I believe the majority of fans realize Michigan has made a lot of improvements on both sides of the ball compared to a disastrous 2-4 season in 2020.

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The lack of confidence heading into the game stems from two things, the first being Michigan hasn’t won in Madison since 2001, the other being the lack of production from QB Cade McNamara. We’ll know damn well who both teams are after Saturday.

Wisconsin has an elite run defense. Michigan has an elite run offense. If the Badgers slow down Blake Corum, Hasaan Haskins and co. what else do the Wolverines bring to the table on offense?

Michigan does have playmakers at receiver and tight end, but McNamara has to hit his shots when he gets them. Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard believes Michigan has more confidence in their QB than it appears. He could be right, he might be wrong. McNamara hasn’t turned the ball over, he’s thrown a few impressive deep balls on the money, but he’s also missed some open targets and netting just seven yards in the second half versus Rutgers is certainly concerning.

Cornelius Johnson, Mike Sainristil, A.J. Henning, Roman Wilson, Daylen Baldwin, and Erick All are all part of the plan for Michigan in the passing game — all of those names lead to Michigan being deep at receiver, it just boils down to more consistency from McNamara.

The Badgers offense has been ::quickly takes blood pressure medicine:: not exactly living up to expectations so far. There is talent there, but the offensive line has played poorly as has QB Graham Mertz. What are Michigan’s strengths on defense and do they pressure the passer well?

They’ve pressured the passer quite well through four games. Even when they haven’t gotten a sack on the QB, there have been a lot of QB hits and pressure applied. The time clock of opposing quarterbacks has been consistently disrupted. Michigan’s front-seven has been a strength for them thus far.

NCAA Football: Wisconsin at Michigan
Looks like Brad Hawkins is good at shoestring tackles too.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The secondary needs to tighten up, they’ve given up some yards, but not a lot of big plays. The safety play of Dax Hill and Brad Hawkins has been good. The corner play has been the most up and down, but it hasn’t been bad either.

The unit is vastly improved compared to the horrible output from 2020 and defensive coordinator Don Brown. New DC Mike Macdonald, who was the Baltimore Ravens linebackers coach, has brought a new energy to that side of the ball for sure. I’d expect the pass-rush to disrupt Mertz.

What needs to happen this season for Jim Harbaugh to be off the hot seat? Is it as simple as beating (a down) Ohio State or is there more to it?

It would be as simple as beating Ohio State, or so you’d think — and if Michigan was actually able to beat the Buckeyes, that means they’re a good team and likely beat all or most of the teams on the schedule before they play OSU the last week of the season.

Paul Finebaum didn’t even give Harbaugh a chance before the year, saying they should have fired him before the season started — Michigan is 4-0 and is in a way better place than they were a year ago.

Hit me with your winner and score prediction and also maybe one under-the-radar Michigan player who will make an outsized difference on the game.

For the under-the-radar player I’m going to say tight end Joel Honigford, who has been wreaking havoc as a blocker and greatly aiding in the running game. Definitely look out for him on Saturday. As far as a score prediction, I don’t think it’ll be all that low scoring if Mertz continues turning the ball over with regularity. 31-13 Michigan