The general consensus seems to be that Rich Rodriguez's defense took a big step forward against the Bowling Green Falcons. In my opinion, however, the biggest reason the defense gave up 16 fewer points than the previous week was the overall physicality of the opponent.
In particular, the Bowling Green offensive line was simply outmatched by the stronger Wolverine defensive front. Although he Wolverines will not enjoy such a lopsided physical advantage up front against most Big 10 offensive lines, any line anchored by bull-pounder Mike Martin will spend its share of time in the opposition's backfield.
UConn, ND, and UMass all feature noticeably more physical offensive lines than Bowling Green. In those first three games, the Wolverines surrendered an average of 178 yards on 37 carries on the ground.
In previous years, these would be very disturbing numbers. Michigan fans are used to seeing a defense that can totally stuff the run. This year, the team is just built very differently.
Teams can’t realistically expect to outscore Michigan just by getting 150 – 175 yards on the ground. More weeks than not, teams will need to really light up the scoreboard in order to hang with the Wolverines. It will not faze Big Blue most weeks if teams who make a serious effort to run the ball are held to under 175 yards on the ground.
This article covers both last week and the entire non-conference schedule. We’ll go over five observations about the defense and three about the incredible offense.
Let’s start with the defense: