Alabama will face off against the Michigan Denards, I mean Wolverines, on Sept 1st. I have been looking forward to this game since it was announced, since one of my friends at work is a HUGE Michigan fan. I have worked with him for 7 years now, and we are finally getting to play against each other. And during a time when Bama is the dominant team, as it appears.
So let's talk a little about Michigan and what kinda team we can expect to face in 2 weeks. I made reference to him a second ago, but Denard Robinson is clearly one of the best players in college football right now. Every single time I was at Buffalo Wild Wings last year and they would have a Michigan game on one of the TV's, it seemed like every time I glanced at it, Robinson was off on a 40 or 60 yard TD run. The guy is amazing. He is crazy fast, and he made news this past week by publicly stating that he could beat Usain Bolt in a 40 yard dash. That's awesome. It's always worked out great for the other team when they talk shit like that before playing Bama. Makes me happy. For reference, see Miami in 1992, LSU in January, Georgia in 2008, Clemson in 2008, I could go on and on.
But let's get down to what we will see on the field from Michigan
The Wolverines are coming off an 11-2 record that included a BCS bowl win over Virginia Tech and defeating Ohio State, ending a streak very much like the one Auburn had over us a few years back. Last year might be a tough act to follow. It was a hell of a first year, and definitely have Maize and Blue fans optimistic about the future. And with good reason. I really respect the type of coach that Hoke is. He is all about Michigan Football, the way that it should be played. Similar to the way we know that Alabama Football should be played. Great up front play on both lines, great defense, and tough hard nosed smash mouth football. Hoke will have his team in regular contention in the Big Ten for a good while, I believe
Michigan averaged 33 points a game last year on offense, which was good enough for second in the Big Ten. By contrast, Alabama averaged 35 points a game.
I will breakdown the Michigan defense later, but today it is the Offense. Which, according to Michigan fans, is the best most unstoppable offense in the country.
Robinson passed for 2100+ yards. Alabama's returning QB, AJ McCarron passed for 2600+ yards last year, and against better defenses. The difference between the two players is obviously rushing yards. Robinson ran for over 1100 yards last season. Containing him will be the key to beating Michigan. If Alabama can keep Robinson from being able to run the ball effectively, or break any big plays, then it could be a beatdown
Robinson is a great player. But his backup will be one to watch for as well. The reason I say that, is because Robinson seemed to come out of half of Michigan's games last year with one injury or another. His style of play lends it's self to injury and facing the hardest hitting defense he will face all year is not gonna be good for that. I expect to see the backup, at least a few times when Denard has to sit out a couple plays, if not for the rest of the game if Denard gets put out completely, which wouldn't surprise me at all. Devin Gardner has switched from QB to WR so their backup might be a guy named Russell Bellomy, who is a freshman. I wouldn't be surprised to see Gardner actually play the role if Robinson goes down though
At running back, Fitz Toussaint is Michigan's returning star. He ran for over 1000 yards and will be counted on to be a star for them as well this year. But his backup will be important to know about as well, because Toussaint was recently arrested for a DUI and has been suspended for the fall, though he has been allowed to practice this week. Hoke said that it is still "undecided" whether he will get to play against Alabama or not, but I think we all know what will happen. He will play. Whatever it takes. They will say that he has done everything that was asked of him since the suspension, met certain conditions, blah blah blah, and he will be re-instated the week before the game. That is my prediction. If not though, expect to see Thomas Rawls as the starter. He's a little bigger than Toussaint and about the same type of runner. Vincent Smith could also play
Whether Toussaint plays or not, I'm not worried about any team's running game against Bama's defense, which has specialized in stopping the run for the past 5 seasons. Only one player has rushed for 100 yards in a game against Bama since 2007, and that was Tennessee RB Tauren Poole, mainly because he broke a 50 or 60 yard run at one point in the game. Nobody runs against Bama, and neither will Michigan
Roy Roundtree is Michigan's best guy, and is expected to be a breakout player this year. But he just had knee surgery this week, though they are saying he will only miss two weeks and will be back just in time for the Bama game. Roundtree will be wearing number 21 this year in honor of Desmond Howard. We will see if he is ready for primetime at kickoff on that day
As I stated in the QB section, Devin Gardner will see time at this position going forward. Other guys to watch for are Jeremy Jackson and Jerald Robinson. Robinson was arrested in the spring for destruction of property, and then he got injured in the spring game, but is expected to compete for a starting position this season. Jeremy Gallon and Drew Dileo are a couple of other guys competing for starting positions
Michigan lost 3 very good receivers from last year in Junior Hemingway, Kelvin Grady, and Martavious Odoms. This unit in 2012 remains to be seen, but I think as far as the first game goes, they will be raw and probably a good warm up for a young Bama secondary that is replacing a couple of great players as well
I see this as a potential weakness for the Wolverines this year, mainly because of so much youth and little quality depth.
At Right Tackle, it is looking as if a true freshman will start. Kyle Kalis is a 5 star recruit, rated as one of the top 5 offensive linemen coming into college this year. He will most likely be a good one down the road, but my God, his first start ever in college will be against ALABAMA. That's not good for the youngster. His backups are walk ons. I know it's unprofessional in this format to use the following, but I can't help it: L O L
At Right Guard, Patrick Omameh returns as a 3rd year starter. Well look at this shit, a VETERAN! But his backups as well are freshmen and walk ons. L O L again
Ricky Barnum is a senior starter at Center, but guess what his backups are? I know. This is getting repetitive
At Left Guard, a couple of walk ons are competeing for the starting position. This is getting ridiculous. I would be embarrassed and terrified if Alabama was entering the season with this level of youth and lack of talent over the entire o-line
Left Tackle is Taylor Lewan. He's not bad, but his backups are nobody freshmen and walk ons as well.
This line is gonna get beat to hell and back throughout this entire game and if ANYONE goes down with an injury, Denard Robinson better have developed the ability to FLY during the offseason, cause he isn't gonna have anywhere to run
At the end of the day, I think that Michigan's offense will probably once again average over 30 points a game for the season. They'll probably rack up over 40 against a few of their Big Ten opponents. But they'll be lucky to get 13 in this game, for the main reason that their offensive line will be overmatched and unable to allow Denard the time and space he needs. Denard is a busted play specialist. He makes his big plays on mistakes that opponents make, when a large area is left uncovered. That might happen once or twice in the first game against Bama, cause we have a couple new young guys in the secondary. But even if that does happen, the chances of Denard getting to that space are slim
- Eric Blackerby
- My name is Eric. My love of and loyalty to the University of Alabama football team is unparalleled and completely inappropriate. I hate all other teams, and wish them peril. Also, you can hear my music at www.reverbnation.com/EricBlackerby or www.youtube.com/EricBlackerbyMusic