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Michigan-Ohio State scouting report

November 25, 2010
By ED PUSKAS Tribune Chronicle Sports Editor

QUARTERBACKS

MICHIGAN - Denard Robinson has passed for 2,229 yards and rushed for 1,538. He's a dynamic player, but he is prone to mistakes and his best games have come against weak opposition. The Buckeyes can't let him get to the edge, or he can cause big problems.

OHIO?STATE - Terrelle Pryor came up with the play of the season against Iowa, racing for a first down on fourth-and-10 from midfield to keep the Buckeyes' eventual winning drive alive. Pryor's passing has slipped the last few weeks, although he can't be blamed for those awful drops by DeVier Posey and Corey Brown last week. But the interceptions he threw against Penn State and Iowa? He telegraphed those passes, floated them and delivered them late.

EDGE - Buckeyes.

RUNNING BACKS

MICHIGAN - Vincent Smith and Michael Shaw have combined for 902 yards and 13 TDs, but Robinson is the Wolverines' de facto feature back with his 227 carries. Redshirt freshman Fitzgerald Toussaint - a former Liberty High School standout - has two carries for 66 yards and a TD this season.

OHIO?STATE - Remember when Beanie Wells ran 39 times for 222 yards and both TDs in a 14-3 win in a rainy Ann Arbor in 2007? Don't be surprised if Dan Herron has a similar workload. Herron needs 107 yards to reach 1,000 for the season. He could get it by halftime.

EDGE - Buckeyes.

RECEIVERS

MICHIGAN - Sophomore Roy Roundtree has a team-leading 58 catches for 839 yards and 6 TDs. Juniors Darryl Stonum (35 receptions, 4 TDs) and Junior Hemingway (28 catches, 4 TDs) are also among Robinson's favorite targets.

OHIO?STATE - Dane Sanzenbacher leads the Buckeyes with 49 receptions, including 10 TDs. Sanzenbacher's clutch grab late in the fourth quarter against Iowa - when he somehow managed to control the ball and get a foot down inbounds near the sideline - set up the winning TD run by Herron. Posey (45 catches, 5 TDs) will be looking to make up for that drop against the Hawkeyes.

EDGE - Even.

OFFENSIVE LINE

MICHIGAN - One of the first things Rich Rodriguez set out to do in Ann Arbor was develop a mobile line with the stamina to play at the pace his schemes demand. It took a while, but the Wolverines have that group now. Of that group, only LG Stephen Schilling and RT Perry Dorrestein are seniors.

OHIO?STATE - The Buckeyes' blocking has improved steadily from the beginning the season. LT Mike Adams was OSU's offensive lineman of the week. Adams and his cohorts gave Pryor lots of time in the pocket on his deep throws. This will be an emotional game for LG Justin Boren, who will be playing in the Horseshoe for the last time, and doing so against his former team.

EDGE - Even.

DEFENSIVE LINE

MICHIGAN - Part of the reason the Wolverines' secondary has been so bad is that the front four isn't getting to the QB. Michigan has just 16 sacks, with tackles Ryan Van Bergen and Greg Banks (each with three) sharing the team lead.

OHIO?STATE - Sophomore DT John Simon, a Cardinal Mooney High School product, was honored as the top defender among the Buckeyes' front seven against Iowa. Simon and DE Cameron Heyward had critical fourth-quarter sacks. The Buckeyes have been looking for those impact plays all season.

EDGE - Buckeyes.

LINEBACKERS

MICHIGAN - The Wolverines' defense is ranked 112th in the nation. How bad would Michigan be without senior Jonas Mouton? With 102 tackles (7.5 for losses), two sacks, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries, Mouton is Michigan's version of former Ohio State star James Laurinaitis.

OHIO?STATE - Brian Rolle and Ross Homan are going to be tested by Robinson. Rolle, the quickest of the Buckeyes' linebackers, will be especially important as they try to contain the versatile Robinson and the Wolverines' read-option spread. Rolle, who had 10 tackles against Iowa, was the Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Week.

EDGE - Buckeyes.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

MICHIGAN - Get ready to see a lot of freshman free safety Ray Vinopal, a Cardinal Mooney High School product, who is now a starter. Strong safety Jordan Kovacs is second on the team with 95 tackles. Attrition and injuries have decimated the Wolverines' depth in the secondary, and it shows on the field every week.

OHIO?STATE - Star Jermale Hines had the Buckeyes' hit of the week. It probably was for his crunching of Iowa running back Adam Robinson to break up a screen pass on the Hawkeyes' final possession. Hines appeared to arrive a bit early, but no flag was thrown. Earlier, he was assessed a personal foul for decking a "defenseless" receiver on an incompletion, although it the play looked worse than it was because the Iowa player never turned to look for the ball.

EDGE - Buckeyes.

SPECIALISTS

MICHIGAN - The kicking game is pathetic. Redshirt freshmen Seth Broekhuizen and Brendan Gibbons are a combined 4-of-13 on field goals. The Wolverines do tend to score a lot of TDs (53, to date), but it's hard to win close games when you can't make clutch kicks. Freshman P Will Hagerup is averaging 43.6 yards.

OHIO?STATE - The Buckeyes seem to have fixed their kickoff coverage. Iowa had just 107 yards on five returns last week. PK Devin Barclay is 16-of-19 on field goals, so if it somehow comes down to a kick, OSU is in great shape. P Ben Buchanan is averaging 40.9 yards.

EDGE - Buckeyes.

PREDICTION

OHIO?STATE 48, MICHIGAN 21 - Look for OSU to dominate in time of possession behind Herron and the offensive line. Running the ball will create opportunities to throw downfield, and Pryor, Sanzenbacher and Posey should have a field day against the Wolverines' secondary. When Michigan has the ball, the Buckeyes' fast, hard-hitting defense will limit the Wolverines' big plays.

epuskas@tribtoday.com

 
 
 

 

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