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Air Force vs. Michigan: Complete Game Preview

Adam BiggersSenior Analyst IISeptember 4, 2012

Air Force vs. Michigan: Complete Game Preview

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    Time heals all wounds...or at least that's how the old saying goes.

    But, in the Michigan Wolverines' case, they don't have much time to relive the nightmare that was their 41-14 loss to the defending national champion and newly-crowned No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide last Saturday night.

    However, the 19th-ranked Wolverines (0-1) host the Air Force Falcons (1-0) at 3:30 p.m. this upcoming Saturday at the Big House in Ann Arbor, and it's a perfect time for them to show their true colors and claim a lopsided victory in a game that they have no other choice but to win.

    Who has to show up for Michigan in order for it to regain confidence after suffering an embarrassing blowout? What has to happen for the Wolverines to knock off the pesky Falcons, who are fresh off a 49-21 trouncing of Idaho State?

    Glad you asked.

    Get ready for the Falcons-Wolverines preview with all the bells and whistles, including stats and depth charts, that you could ever care to wish for.

Game Day Information

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    Let's start with the basics...

    Who: Air Force (1-0) vs. No. 19 Michigan (0-1)

    When: Saturday, 3 p.m. (EDT)

    Where: Ann Arbor, Mich.

    Stadium: Michigan Stadium (The Big House)

    TV: ABC, ESPN

    Radio: 740 AM KVOR (Colorado Springs, Colo.), XM Radio 196, WWJ 950 (Detroit)

    There are several other secondary stations, so just follow the links!

    Internet Stream: Open Salon

     

Depth Chart for Michigan

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    Depth chart information obtained from TheWolverine.com. (Current as of Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 29, with latest update.)

    Offense (Power I) 

    QB: Denard Robinson, Devin Gardner, Russell Bellomy; RB: Fitz Toussaint, Vincent Smith, Thomas Rawls, Justice Hayes; FB: Stephen Hopkins, Joe Kerridge, Paul Gyarmarti; WR:Roy Roundtree, Jerald Robinson, Devin Gardner; WR: Jeremy Gallon, Drew Dileo, Jeremy Jackson; TE: Brandon Moore (questionable, stretched MCL), Mike Kwiatkowski; LT: Taylor Lewan; RT: Michael Schofield, Erik Gunderson; LG: Elliott Mealer, Joey Burzynski; RG: Patrick Omameh, Joey Burzynski; C: Ricky Barnum, Jack Miller

    Defense (4-3)

    DE: Jibreel Black, Frank Clark, Brennen Beyer; DE: Craig Roh, Nathan Brink, Keith Heitzman; DT: Quinton Washington, Richard Ash; DT: Will Campbell, Jibreel Black, Nathan Brink; LB: Jake Ryan, Cam Gordon; LB: Desmond Morgan, Brandin Hawthorne; LB: Kenny Demens, Joe Bolden, Mike Jones; CB: Blake Countess (out for season, knee), Courtney Avery; CB: JT Floyd, Raymon Taylor, Delonte Hollowell; S: Jordan Kovacs, Marvin Robinson, Floyd Simmons; S: Thomas Gordon, Jarrod Wilson, Josh Furman

    Special teams

    K: Brendan Gibbons, Matt Wile; P: Matt Wile, Seth Broekhuizen; LS: Tom Pomparico, Jareth Glanda; Returns: Jeremy Gallon, Dennis Norfleet, Drew Dileo

       
     
     
       
     
     
       
     
     
     
       
     
     
       
     
     
     
     
       
     
     
     
     
     

Depth Chart for Air Force

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    Information courtesy of Air Force Academy's David J. Kellogg

    Offense

    QB: Connor Dietz, Kale Pearson, Tucker Tipton; WR: Ty MacArthur, Colton Hunstman; TE: Austin Briehl, Marcus Hendricks; OL: Jason Kons, Evan Kaufman; OL: Drew Kerber, David Lore; C: Austin Haynes; Jordan Eason; OL: Jordan Eason, Moshood Adenji; OL: Alex Huskisson, Jerry Henry; RB: Wes Cobb, Cody Getz, Jon Lee; WR: Chris Jordan, Dontae Strickland

    Defense

    DL: Joseph Champaign, Riley Cannon; DL: Cody Miller, Nick DeJulio; DL: Nick Fitzgerald, Alexander Hansen; LB: Alex Means, James Chambers; LB: Austin Niklas, Connor Healy; LB: Jared Jones, Steven Sumpter; LB: Josh Kusan, Miles Fisher; DB: Brian Lindsay, Anthony LaCoste; DB: Chris Miller, Gavin McHenry; DB: Christian Spears, Anthony LaCoste; DB: Steffon Batts, Gavin McHenry 

    Special teams

    PK: Parker Herrington, Briceton Cannada; P: David Baska, Zach Hoffman; LS: Harrison Elliott, Kevin Carrington; H: David Baska, Tucker Tipton; PR: Cody Getz, Ty McArthur; KOR: Anthony LaCoste, Ty McArthur

     



What Happened to Wolverines Last Week

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    The Michigan Wolverines—ranked No. 8 heading into last week's contest—had the unfortunate experience of meeting the defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide on Sept. 1 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

    No. Match. Whatsoever.

    The Wolverines were pummeled 41-14 by then-second-ranked Alabama, which now sits atop the Associated Press rankings this week at No. 1.

    Wolverines senior quarterback Denard Robinson typically finds ways to make plays. However, on Saturday, he had to find ways to stay in one piece, suffering head-tilting hit after head-tilting hit courtesy of the Crimson Tide defense.

    Robinson rushed for 27 yards (eight in the first half), but made one key play during the second quarter, hitting receiver Jeremy Gallon for 71 yards and setting himself up for a six-yard touchdown run. At that point, Michigan was down 31-6.

    The highlight of Michigan's offensive showing was Gallon's four-catch, 107-yard night. If anything, Gallon emerged as Robinson's prime target. Considering he went up against one of the most athletic secondaries in all of college football, Gallon had quite the evening.

    Adam Biggers' live blog from Alabama-Michigan game

What Happened to Falcons Last Week

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    Falcons running back Cody Getz rushed for a game-high 218 yards and three touchdowns Saturday in a 49-21 thrashing of the Idaho State Bengals.

    Getz became the first Air Force player to rush for over 200 yards since Chad Hall put up 275 against Army in 2007.

    Quarterback Connor Dietz threw for 142 yards which accompanied 74 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown.

    The pair proved to be adequate replacements for quarterback Tim Jefferson and running back Asher Clark—Air Force's offensive spark plugs in 2011.

    "It's no surprise," Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said. "(Dietz) has been in our program for a while. He's got a nice grasp of what we're doing offensively, and he had some guys around him that made some plays."

What It Means to Both Teams

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    A 0-2 start isn't what the Michigan Wolverines have in mind—that you can take to the bank.

    After a humbling defeat, courtesy of Alabama, the Wolverines will need to use Saturday's game against the Falcons as a springboard into the rest of the season. There were some pundits who thought Michigan could go unbeaten, while others thought Michigan was capable of being a one-loss team come season's end.

    Another loss would likely crush any big-time BCS dreams, and it's only Week 2.

    If Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson wants to end his career on a high-note and at least be considered for the Heisman Trophy, he'll have to do what he does best and make electrifying plays—the same type of plays he made in Michigan's 30-10 season-opening win over UConn in 2010.

    Robinson tallied 383 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns against the Huskies, and the legend of "Shoelace" was born from the aftermath. However, another poor showing— especially against an opponent that's perceived to be inferior—would annihilate Robinson's chances at winning the stiff-armed trophy.

    The Falcons are coming off an impressive 49-21 win over Idaho State in Week 1, but perhaps they have intentions on avenging a 42-41 Military Bowl loss to the Toledo Rockets this past season. Playing Michigan is essentially like being in another bowl game except that this one is in September, not December or January.

    Look for Air Force to play the game like it has nothing to lose and to play like Michigan has everything to lose.

    Air Force is capable of hanging around with formidable competition, evidenced by two bowl wins over Houston—a team that comes from out of nowhere, it seems—and Georgia Tech during the past five seasons. To immediately say that the Falcons have no shot against Michigan is a bit disrespectful, but not out of line.

    Behind quarterback Connor Dietz and running back Cody Getz, the Falcons could build momentum and give the Wolverines quite the scare at the Big House.

Key Player for Michigan

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    Air Force allowed just 66 rushing yards during its 49-21 win over Idaho State.

    The Falcons defense is likely primed to stop Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, who is the unquestioned catalyst of his team's offense. But then again, Robinson ran for just 27 yards in Michigan's 41-14 loss to Alabama.

    That could mean a couple of things:

    1. Robinson wants to prove himself and Air Force better stand on guard.

    2. Robinson wants to prove himself and Air Force better stand on guard.

    Running back Fitz Toussaint could certainly play a key role Saturday, should he get the start. Receiver Jeremy Gallon could possibly be the unsung hero of the Wolverines offense this year, but make no mistake, the offense goes as Robinson goes.

    "Shoelace" will command attention on every down, every series and every minute on Saturday. It's time for him to put Alabama behind and show the college football world what it's been waiting for.

Key Player for Air Force

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    Cody Getz put up huge numbers in the Falcons' 49-21 blasting of Idaho State.

    The running back became the first Air Force player since 2007 to rush for over 200 yards with a 218-yard, three-touchdown extravaganza (Chad Hall had 275 yards against Army in 2007).

    So, needless to say, the 5'7", 175-pound Georgia native probably wants to show a Big Ten team his motor and use his speed and elusiveness to topple the Wolverines.

    How could Getz be so dangerous? Sure, he hung gaudy numbers on Idaho State, but what's the big deal?

    Right?

    Wrong.

    Getz had just 102 yards and a touchdown in 2011. Let's repeat that: Getz had just 102 yards and a touchdown in 2011. He eclipsed that mark by halftime against the Bengals. There may not be a more motivated player on the field Saturday when Michigan hosts Air Force.

    And remember, dynamite comes in small packages.

Michigan Will Win If...

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    Simply put, Michigan will win on Saturday if it does the opposite of what it did this past weekend.

    Quarterback Denard Robinson can't force throws, receivers have to catch the catchable balls, and the defense has to tackle.

    Robinson can't try to do too much, either. Sure, he probably wants to show up in a grand way, rush for 200 yards and score a dozen touchdowns. But he has to trust in his teammates, too. Spreading the ball around and getting a feel for the offense should be the Wolverines' intent Saturday.

    Sounds pretty easy, doesn't it?

    Michigan has to take advantage of its size advantage. The Falcons have 240- and 260-pound offensive and defensive linemen. That weight difference should "weigh" heavily in Michigan's favor. Wolverines like Taylor Lewan and Will Campbell should have their way on Saturday.

Air Force Will Win If...

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    The Falcons will emerge with a win Saturday if Michigan is overly-confident or flat-out cocky.

    The Wolverines can't take the Falcons lightly. Air Force won't simply roll over, so look for a close contest in the early stages. Typically touting a prolific, high-scoring offense, the Falcons could punch Michigan right in the mouth and never look back.

    Running back Cody Getz has to have the game of his life (again) if Air Force wants to cut down the 19th-ranked Wolverines.

    No mistakes.

    And remember, Air Force, Michigan isn't Idaho State.

    A healthy bit of fear mixed with a little magic would benefit the Falcons, who, if victorious, would have pulled off the second-biggest upset in the history of The Big House (Appalachian State beat Michigan 34-32 in 2007).

Prediction

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    If Wolverines coach Brady Hoke wants the Michigan faithful to continue with its "In Hoke We Trust" way of thinking, his team cannot lose Saturday.

    It's that cut and dried.

    No ifs, ands, or buts about it, Michigan must win—and winning decisively probably wouldn't hurt.

    The Falcons might hang around for the first half, even early into the third quarter, but Michigan's size will prevail.

    Prediction: Michigan 38, Air Force 17

     

    Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81

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