Michigan Football 2012: 5 Ways That Michigan Can Beat Alabama
Michigan will undoubtedly face its most challenging game of the season during its first matchup when they play the defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide.
The neutral site game in Arlington, Tex. at Jerry's House will be simply electric not only for both teams involved, but also fans that are paying top dollar to see this football game.
This is the Big Ten versus the SEC for bragging rights across the conferences.
For many fans and alumni of the Michigan Wolverines and Alabama Crimson Tide, the beginning of September marks an extremely exciting time in the 2012 season.
Exploit the Inexperienced Defense of Alabama
Alabama lost a lot of players to graduation and the NFL this past season.
They lose a lot of players—especially on the defensive side of the ball—including Courtney Upshaw, Dre Kirkpatrick, Dont'a Hightower and Mark Barron, so there are a lot of questions about how the defense will reload.
Inexperience is a double-edged sword. On one hand, the lack of knowledge and experience can cause many of the Alabama players to lose their confidence and playmaking ability. The other side of the equation is that first-time starters are very hungry and eager to prove themselves.
If Michigan has a chance of winning this football game, they have to take advantage of the inevitable mistakes the Crimson Tide can and will make defensively.
Force A.J. McCarron to Throw the Football
Alabama lives and dies by their rushing attack. They've done a terrific job of producing NFL talent such as Mark Ingram and the soon-to-be-drafted Trent Richardson.
Stuff the rushing game, and Alabama will be forced to throw the football.
A.J. McCarron doesn't make many mistakes, as he threw just five interceptions all season. He also had a 66.7 completion percentage, which is more than respectable. His weakness is that he averaged only 200 yards passing per game.
If the Crimson Tide fall behind, then McCarron will be forced to throw more than he wants to. Michigan can and will exploit their quarterback.
Win the Turnover Battle Against Alabama
Having Alabama give up the football is easier said than done.
Between all interceptions and lost fumbles, the Crimson Tide only gave up possession of the football a total of 12 times last year. Oddly enough, 10 of those turnovers were at home and just two were on the road. In contrast, quarterback Denard Robinson had 15 interceptions by himself.
Winning the turnover battle will be a key element in becoming victorious in this football game.
Frustrating running back Eddie Lacy could get him careless rushing the football. This could lead to turnovers, and if they get behind, getting an interception or two from A.J. McCarron will go a long way in getting some turnovers.
Near-Flawless Quarterback Play
While Denard Robinson was as explosive as ever rushing the football, it's widely believed he took some steps back with his development as a passer.
He must not throw off of his back foot when passing and also must not throw into double and triple coverage in this game, or he'll pay with an interception.
Shoelace must make decisive throws that are both smart and catchable to the wide receivers.
But Robinson must do what he does best: run if there's no passing opportunity.
If the Alabama defense gets confused as to what he'll do, he can both pass and run effectively.
Strong Offensive Line and Running Back Play
Fitzgerald Toussaint and Denard Robinson became the first Michigan teammates since the 1970's to rush for 1,000 yards in the same season in 2011.
This season, they must wear down the Alabama defensive front seven and frustrate them into making mistakes.
Then, Michigan can pass the football efficiently and confuse them even more.
A rushing attack also takes time off of the clock and away from Alabama's offense.
In addition to Toussaint and Robinson, perhaps even Thomas Rawls and Justice Hayes can contribute if they're needed.
The odds are not stacked in favor of the Wolverines on Sept. 1. However, beating Alabama isn't impossible with proper preparation by the coaching staff.
As I've noted in this article, the Crimson Tide have weak points that Michigan must take advantage of in order to have a chance in winning.
Michigan will need to pull no punches the entire game to throw Alabama off of its game. This will be a low-scoring affair, but it will also be very close in the end.
Brady Hoke, Al Borges and Greg Mattison will need to have this team ready come Sept. 1. Nick Saban will be right there waiting for them.