Friday, October 5, 2012

Keys to victory for MSU vs. Indiana & Michigan vs. Purdue

Michigan and Michigan State hit the road for Big Ten play on Saturday. Here is a look at some key to victory for both teams.

MSU at Indiana, Noon
Avoid the big play on defense – The Michigan State defense has been good, but not as good as many of us expected. Its big flaw is allowing the big play, especially in the passing game. The Hoosiers surprisingly come into Saturday’s game as the top passing offense in the Big Ten. While you can’t expect Indiana to light up the air against the Spartans, the Hoosiers may only need to connect on a few big throws to win the game. The secondary must avoid that and not get beat deep.
Be a quick-strike offense – That doesn’t mean big plays. What I mean by this is get the ball out of Andrew Maxwell’s hands quickly in the passing game. Use bubble screens, swing passes and slant routes to attack the Indiana secondary. With the injuries to the offensive line, you can’t expect there to be a lot of time for pass protection. Getting short, quick passes early will build some confidence in Maxwell and the receivers and open the door for long passes later in the game. Indiana also has a poor rushing defense, so the opportunity for Le’Veon Bell to have a big game will be there. Make things easy on Maxwell and the line by getting the ball outside the tackles in both the running and passing games.
Win the turnover battle – Michigan State’s defense has given up the big play and not been creating them. For having a hyped defense, the Spartans have not been great at getting to the quarterback and intercepting passes. The front four has to pressure the quarterback, get sacks and force fumbles. The secondary needs to make plays when they get the opportunity. The defense can make life a lot easier for the offense by giving them the ball with good field position thanks to a turnover.

Michigan at Purdue, 4 p.m.
Stick with your strength – Obviously the issue in the loss to Notre Dame was turnovers. The offense was able to continually move the ball down field, but turned the ball over before getting points. Purdue comes into Saturday’s game as the top rushing defense in the Big Ten, but the Boilermakers haven’t exactly faced offensive juggernauts this year. Michigan needs to do what works and that is run the football. If Michigan can’t run the ball consistently, it is going to be a problem. I am not saying avoid the passing game, but be smart about it, especially in the red zone. Three points are still better than none.
Avoid mistakes early – This is similar to my first point, but with this being the first Big Ten road game for Michigan, it needs to do what it can to control the atmosphere early on. That makes the opening offensive drives all that more important. Don’t give Purdue, or its fans, any reason to really get into the game by giving up a big play offensively. The Boilermakers have three interception returns for touchdowns already this year. If Robinson forces a bad pass or Michigan decides to be overly aggressive, it could lead to a big play for the Boilermakers and put the Wolverines in an uphill climb all game.
Get off the field on Third Down – The Michigan defense took a step forward against Notre Dame and gave the Wolverine fans some hope moving forward. Purdue appears to have a better overall offense than Notre Dame, as the Boilermakers average 42.5 points and 463.5 yards per game. The big key to Purdue’s offense this season has been third down conversion. The Boilermakers lead the Big Ten in that stat, converting on 58.5% of their attempts. If Michigan wants to win this game, the Wolverines need to get off the field on third down and now allow Purdue to systematically move down the field.

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