As a complimentary footnote to all of our Nebraska-Michigan preview content this week, here are a few leftover items on the Wolverines to look out for Saturday.
Sort of a mini-scouting report here, overlooking the game keys already addressed in article form earlier in the week — like stopping Denard Robinson, or fixing Nebraska’s short yardage problems, or correcting the special teams issues. More can be found by scanning through this webpage.
Anyway, some Michigan-related tidbits…
>> NU better watch out for slot receiver Drew Dileo, a 5-foot-10 junior who caught four key passes against Michigan State (two on third down and another to set up the game-winning field goal). He’s the holder on the field goal unit, so you’d assume he’s a reliable pass-catcher. Is this another week where nickel back Ciante Evans shadows an opposing receiver all game long?
>> Which version of junior Fitz Toussiant shows up Saturday? He had 138 rushing yards on 29 carries against NU last year, including a lead-cushioning 31-yard touchdown run when he maneuvered through at least four poor tackle attempts. But this year, he’s averaging just 3.5 yards per carry. Toussiant ripped off a smooth-looking 38-yarder against MSU, but had just 14 yards on his nine other attempts.
>> Big key for Michigan: When inside the 20-yard line, score touchdowns. Seems like an odd problem to have with a guy like Denard Robinson under center. Nonetheless, it’s an issue for Michigan. Only one Big Ten team (Iowa) is scoring touchdowns less frequently than the Wolverines (at 53.9 percent) once they get inside the 20-yard line. … By the way, Nebraska, at 71.4 percent, is second in the conference in TDs per red zone trip.
>> Linebacker Jake Ryan leads Michigan in tackles (52), sacks (3 1/2) and tackles for loss (8 1/2). He’s tied for the team lead with three pass breakups and has forced two fumbles. He can do it all. … And Nebraska should be concerned about his 242-pound frame sprinting off the edge in blitzing situations (he’ll line up as D-end at times, too). Big responsibility for Ameer Abdullah in blitz pick-up Saturday.
>> As stingy as Michigan’s defense has been, it’s not forcing turnovers as often as its coaches would like. Opponents have thrown six interceptions and lost five fumbles against the Wolverines, who are minus-3 in turnover margin. Of course, that’s better than Nebraska (minus-9). … Side note on the Huskers: They’ve recorded just three interceptions (two against Idaho State) this year. Only 12 total teams have fewer.
>> The Wolverines have allowed 11 passes of 20 yards or more this year (second-fewest nationally), but do teams perceive that they’re vulnerable there? Michigan State tried over-the-top deep balls on five different occasions last week, completing one for 45 yards. You better believe Nebraska will take some shots Saturday, especially if UM sells out to stop the run.