Northwestern Preview 2011

Michigan travels to Evanston, Illinois for their first road game of the season, 5-0 and ranked #12 nationally and is a 5 point favorite. When these two teams last met in 2008, the Wilcats prevailed, 21-14. Michigan has won 18 of 25 games at Ryan Field, and has won 52 of 69 games overall with two ties. Michigan has won 23 of 35 night games; Northwestern has won 3 of 9 night games at Ryan Field including two losses to Michigan in 1998 and 2005.

On Offense, the Wildcat offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Mike McCall, worked with Brady Hoke at Oregon State in 1989-1990. The Northwestern offense is led by returning Senior Captain and 1st Team All Big 10 Quarterback, Dan Persa. He tore his achilles in November, 2010 against Iowa, and missed the first three games of this season before returning last week against Illinois. He completed 10 of 14 including 4 TDs; the Wildcats had a 28-10 3rd quarter lead on Illinois, and Persa left the game with a sore foot while the Illini rallied for a 38-35 win. Sophomore Kain Colter is his backup, and he is 41 of 62 with one TD, and has rushed for 266 yards and 4 TDs. The offense is 14 of 18 in the red zone, and has only given away one interception and one fumble. Their favorite target is Senior Jeremy Ebert. The tight end or "superback" is Senior Drake Dunsmore; he has 9 catches including a TD against Illinois. The other receivers are Junior Demetrius Fields, Sophomore Rashad Lawrence and Senior Charles Brown. Sophomore Drew Moulton and Freshman Christian Jones will also rotate in at receiver. They use 4 receivers, spread out the defense and force the defense to play 5-6 defensive backs on every play. At running back, Freshman Treyvon Green and Senior Jacob Schmidt will carry the load because of the season ending injury to Mike Trumpy. Junior Tyris Jones and Sophomore Adonis Smith will also rotate in at running back. The offensive line is led by Senior Left Tackle and Captain Al Netter and Senior Right Guard Ben Burkett. The Center is Redshirt Freshman Brandon Vitable, Juniors Brian Mulroe and Patrick Ward man the Left Guard and Right Tackle positions. They are a quick, mobile offensive line and are most effective in space. They have a good rushing offense averaging 208 yards per games, but they haven't been able to get their passing game going and are only averaging 167 yards per game which ranks them 105th nationally.

On Defense, Mike Hankwitz is the defensive coordinator for Northwestern; he played at Michigan under Bo Schembechler and graduated in 1970, and served as a graduate assistant from 1970-72. Both Hoke and Mattison worked with Hankwitz on the Western Michigan coaching staff in 1982-84. The Wildcats are led by Senior WILL Inside Linebacker, Bryce McNaul; he has 31 tackles, 1.5 for loss and an interception. Their MIKE Inside Linebacker is David Nwabuisi; he has 30 tackles, 3.5 for loss and has recovered a fumble. Redshirt Freshman Collin Ellis is the SAM Outside Linebacker. Senior Ben Johnson and Redshirt Freshman Chi Chi Ariguzo will also see action at linebacker. Up front, their leader is Senior Defensive End Vincent Browne; he has 15 tackles including 2 sacks. Seniors Jack DiNardo and Niko Mafuli are the defensive tackles. Sophomore Tyler Scott is the other defensive end. Their cornerbacks are Senior Captain Jordan Mabin and Senior Jeravin Mathews, and their safeties are Senior Brian Peters and Redshirt Freshman Ibraheim Campbell. Peters is their big play guy with 28 tackles, 1.5 for loss including a sack, an interception, a forced fumble and 3 pass break ups. Maybin and Peters are the defensive captains. Northwestern's defense has allowed 414 yards per game, ranking them #12 in the Big Ten in total defense.

Sophomore Venric Mark is their primary kickoff and returner, and he is averaging 25.3 yards per return on 10 kickoff attempts and 17.3 yards on 3 punt returns. Sophomore Jeff Budzien is their placekicker, and he is only one of three this year, missing from 26 and 45 and hitting a 43 yarder; their field goal team ranks #12 in the Big Ten. On kickoffs, Junior Steve Flaherty is averaging 61.5 yards per boot with only 2 touchbacks. Sophomore Brandon Williams is their punter, and he is only averaging 37.5 yards per punt with 5 inside the 20 and 5 over 50 yards in 20 attempts. The Wildcat net punting is only 34.5 yards ranking them 101st in the nation and 10th in the Big Ten. We should be able to use their weak special teams to our advantage if we are ready.

Northwestern was ranked in the pre-season as a Top 35 team by both coaches and sportswriters based on Persa's healthy return. To say Northwestern's offense is dangerous is accurate, and they can put up a lot of points quickly so the longer we can possess the ball to keep them off the field, the better our chances of winning are. Our defense will need to contain the Wildcat quarterback, and limit their production and time of possession so our offense can get the job done. We should be able to take advantage of a weak special teams unit and mediocre defense to score enough points; the question will be: Can our defense contain the Wildcat offense led by Dan Persa? I think our improving defense and Greg Mattison's troops will be prepared.

Michigan 33 Northwestern 20

Friday Walk Through

Brady Hoke Press Conference on October 5

Greg Mattison Interview on October 4

Al Borges Interview on October 4

Brady Hoke Press Conference on October 3

Players Press Conference on October 3 Ryan VanBergen Denard Robinson

Michigan Game Notes for Northwestern (Northwestern Game Notes for Michigan)