RUSH OFFENSE vs. RUTGERS RUSH DEFENSE
Michigan is now #106 in rush offense (117 yards/game) and #55 in yards per carry (4.59). As bad/mediocre as that sounds, it's worse than that, because Michigan ran all over Minnesota in the opener and has done nothing since. No word has trickled out about whether Michigan's starting offensive tackles will return this weekend from injury, but I expect very little unless at least right tackle Jalen Mayfield returns. Last week Michigan gave leading rusher Hassan Haskins (7.8 yards/carry) just one touch, so I have no idea what's going on with the running back rotation. Rutgers is #70 in rushing defense (175 yards allowed/game) but #46 in yards allowed per carry (4.0). They're led in tackles by senior linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi (6'1", 234 lbs.) with 50, while senior Tyshon Fogg (6'1", 232) is second with 39. Fatukasi (6.5) and defensive tackle Julius Turner (6'0", 265) lead the team with 6.5 and 4.5 tackles for loss, respectively. Turner is undersized, but I like his quickness. Former Michigan defensive tackle Michael Dwumfour (6'1", 296) has notched 14 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss so far this year.
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PASS OFFENSE vs. RUTGERS PASS DEFENSE
Michigan is a respectable #40 in passing offense (260.3 yards/game) but has a much more modest #73 ranking in passing efficiency. Quarterback Joe Milton was replaced probably for multiple reasons (ineffectiveness, loss of confidence, physical protection) last week, but I imagine he will earn the start again. He has 4 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Redshirt freshman Cade McNamara entered and played well last week, but his overall numbers on the season are not good: 4/10, 74 yards, 1 touchdown, 0 interceptions. Pass protection has been okay, but Michigan insists on doing dumb things in the passing game, such as running out three tight ends when they have a bunch of 4.4 receivers on the roster. Ronnie Bell leads the team with 18 catches for 325 yards (18.1 yards/catch) and 1 touchdown. Tight end Erick All leads the team in drops with . . . well . . . most of them. Rutgers is #73 in passing defense (243.8 yards allowed/game) and #115 in passing efficiency defense. Senior safety Brendon White (6'2", 220) is an Ohio State transfer who has notched an interception, and senior corner Tre Avery (5'11", 180) leads the team with 3 pass breakups. Rutgers is #81 in sacks per game (1.75), led by sophomore linebacker Mohamed Toure (6'1", 221). I do think Michigan has the weapons to throw the ball against the Scarlet Knights, but Milton needs to play better.
RUSH DEFENSE vs. RUTGERS RUSH OFFENSE
Michigan is surprisingly not absolutely terribly ranked at stopping the run, coming in at #77 (178.5 yards allowed/game) and #58 in yards allowed per carry (4.25). Safety Brad Hawkins leads the squad with 31 tackles, and weakside linebacker Josh Ross is second with 29. Ross in particular has not played well, but his struggles have been pass coverage and run fits. He tackles pretty well if he's in the right place, but he's too often in the wrong spot. I think the defensive line has received a bad rap in one way: People think they're not talented, but they do have talent - they just don't play hard. It's hard to believe that defensive line coach Shaun Nua will still be employed at Michigan in 2021. Rutgers is #93 in rush offense (133.5 yards/game) and #87 in yards per carry (3.84). I really like the ability of running back Isaih Pacheco (5'11", 210) and he could be trouble if they get him in space, because he averages 5.2 yards/carry behind a bad offensive line. Quarterback Noah Vedral (6'1", 195) also has some good running ability. I think a motivated Michigan team should be able to handle Rutgers up front. If they play with no heart like last week, Rutgers might embarrass them, though.
PASS DEFENSE vs. RUTGERS PASS OFFENSE
Michigan is #78 in pass defense (247.3 yards allowed/game) and #71 in passer efficiency defense. The Wolverines have allowed 9 touchdowns while making just 1 interception, which came in week one against Minnesota. I'm going to cut right to the chase and say that Rutgers's offensive line is not athletic whatsoever, and they don't appear to be well coached. Their fundamentals are disgustingly bad for an FBS team, and they remind me of the Maryland team a few years ago that just had to run screen after screen because the offensive line (and quarterbacks) were so terrible. Rutgers is #93 in passing offense (195 yards/game) and #105 in passing efficiency. Vedral completes 63.1% of his passes, but for just 5.5 yards/attempt with 5 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. I've always liked senior receiver Bo Melton (5'11", 190), even when Michigan recruited him in high school, and he's got 20 catches for 334 yards (16.7 yards/catch) and 4 touchdowns. Embarrassingly bad is fellow receiver Aron Cruickshank's receiving average, as he gets just 6.1 yards/catch on 21 - 21!!! - receptions this year. Gross. Michigan should win this matchup, especially if defensive end Kwity Paye returns from injury.
- Rutgers players offered by Michigan: DT Michael Dwumfour, DE Aaron Lewis, WR Bo Melton, OL Raiqwon O'Neal, LB Drew Singleton, QB Artur Sitkowski
- Rutgers has three transfers from Michigan: Dwumfour, Lewis, and Singleton
- Michigan players from New Jersey: S Brad Hawkins, S Jordan Morant, S R.J. Moten, S Hunter Reynolds.
LAST TIME THEY PLAYED . . .
- On November 10, 2018, Michigan beat Rutgers 42-7 in Piscataway, NJ
- QB Shea Patterson went 18/27 for 260 yards and 3 touchdowns
- WR Nico Collins caught 3 passes for 56 yards and 2 touchdowns
- Rutgers RB Isaih Pacheco ran 16 times for 142 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown
- Michigan 34, Rutgers 27