The Michigan Wolverines head into the 2013 season with a number of goals that must be reached to label the new year a success. One of those is knocking off their bitter rival Ohio State at the end of the year.
Last year the Wolverines were in position to drive for a win, but mistakes on defense and bad field position led to Ohio State finishing 2012 undefeated and with a win over the Wolverines. This year these three defensive keys will help the Wolverines walk away with a win.
Rush the Passer
Last year the Wolverines did everything they could to stop the ground threat that Braxton Miller brings to the game. The Wolverines played well against the run and neutralized Miller’s running threat for the majority of the game, but Michigan failed to apply pressure on passing downs.
Taking a look at this screenshot, it is clear to see that the Wolverines only have a four-man rush attacking Miller. This play resulted in a long first down for the Buckeyes.
With only four linemen bringing pressure, Miller had all day to throw. When the left guard is searching for someone to block, there is an issue. The Wolverines can’t afford to allow this again next fall.
Here is another shot showing Miller facing only a two-man rush on a long third down play. This ended in a dropped pass, but it should have been an Ohio State first down.
In this final screenshot we see Michigan using the right strategy. The Wolverines rushed six men on this play bringing a blitz, and a play that began at the 40 ended at the 22 thanks to the pressure.
Miller ran around trying to create a play and he failed. The Wolverines need to bring pressure if they intend on stopping the pitch and catch session that Miller had last season.
Stay Home Against the Option
One thing that the Wolverines did very well was guard the option attack of the Buckeyes.
There were times that the option should have earned more yards for the Buckeyes, but the scenario was played perfectly by the Wolverines defense.
This is a shot of the Wolverines defense staying home and keeping containment. There are three players (marked by a blue circle) that can make the play, and this is a stop for no gain.
Michigan came to stop the option and it was obvious, but that alone won’t win the ballgame.
The Wolverines were always in position, but on occasion, they did fail to make the play. Those mistakes happen, but if the Wolverines play as sound schematically in 2013 as they did this past fall, the option will not beat this team.
Play Field Position
Brady Hoke took a lot of chances last fall trying to win “The Game,” but one of the most questionable decisions was attempting a fourth down conversion to begin the second half.
With more than 10 minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Wolverines lined up near mid-field and attempted a conversion from three yards away. The play was a disaster and resulted in a turnover and an eventual Ohio State score.
It was only a field goal for the Buckeyes, but of the three drives that started on the 40 or better for the Buckeyes, resulted in two scores and the end of regulation.
Field position matters and last season the Wolverines gave it away. This year has to be a battle for every inch and the gambling ways need to stay out of Ann Arbor.
Without this turnover on downs the entire game profile changes.
If Michigan can continue to man up against the option, bring a pass rush and not make bonehead coaching decisions, the Wolverines will have a solid shot at shattering the dreams of the Buckeyes in 2013.
Note: All screenshots pulled from YouTube video uploaded by user mgodisney