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Michigan Game Preview

by Adam Frank, KMOV.com

KMOV.com

Posted on November 11, 2009 at 8:44 AM

Game 8: Michigan (5-3, 1-3) at Illinois (1-6, 0-5) - Memorial Stadium, Champaign, IL
Kickoff: 2:30pm CT
TV: ABC (Play-by-Play: Mike Patrick, Expert Analysts: Craig James)
Weather: 56 degrees with 20% chance of rain
All-Time Series Notes: 91st meeting. Michigan leads 66-22-2 and leads 31-11-1 in games played in Champaign.
Fun Facts: Illinois has only beaten Michigan once in Champaign since 1956...Ron Zook is one of only 13 coaches to win games in Ann Arbor and in Columbus.

Illinois Probable Starters

QB 7 Juice Williams (Sr) or 12 Jacob Charest (Fr)
RB 5 Mikel Leshoure (Soph)
WR 19 Jack Ramsey (Fr)
WR 9 Arrelious Benn (Jr)
WR 8 AJ Jenkins (Soph)
WR 15 Chris Duvalt (Sr)
TE 16 Michael Hoomanawanui (Sr)
LT 71 Jeff Allen (Soph)
LG 66 Randall Hunt (Sr)
C 62 Eric Block (Sr)
RG 52 Jon Asamoah (Sr)
RT 72 Hugh Thornton (Fr)
K 84 Matt Eller (Soph)

DE 95 Doug Pilcher (Sr)
DT 92 Josh Brent (Jr)
DT 56 Sirod Williams (Sr) or 93 Corey Liuget (Soph)
DE 97 Clay Nurse (Jr)
LB 38 Ian Thomas (Soph)
LB 51 Evan Frierson (Fr)
LB 33 Russell Ellington (Soph)
CB 28 Dere Hicks (Sr) or 25 Ashante Williams (Fr)
SS 4 Donsay Hardeman (Sr) or 15 Walt Aikens (Fr)
FS 20 Garrett Edwards (Jr)
CB 12 Terry Hawtorne (Fr) or 3 Tavon Wilson (Soph)
P 87 Anthony Santella (Jr)

Michigan Probable Starters

QB 5 Tate Forcier (Fr)
RB 4 Brandon Minor (Sr)
FB 24 Kevin Grady (Sr)
WR 13 Greg Mattthews (Sr)
WR 9 Martavious Odoms (Soph)
WR 21 Junior Hemingway (Soph)
TE 86 Kevin Koger (Soph)
LT 71 Mark Ortmann (Sr)
LG 52 Stephen Schilling (Jr)
C 60 David Moosman (Sr)
RG 72 Mark Huyge (Soph)
RT 79 Perry Dorrestein (Jr)
K 92 Jason Olesnavage (Sr)

DE 55 Brandon Graham (Sr)
DT 53 Ryan Van Bergen (Soph)
DT 68 Mike Martin (Soph)
OLB 88 Craig Roh (Fr)
MLB 45 Obi Ezeh (Jr)
WLB 8 Jonas Mouton (Jr)
SLB 3 Stevie Brown (Sr)
CB 6 Donovan Warren (Jr)
FS 40 Mike Williams (Soph)
SS 32 Jordan Kovacs (Fr)
CB 29 Troy Woolfork (Jr)
P 41 Zoltan Mesko (Sr)

5 keys for Illinois

1. Contain Graham

The soon-to-be NFLer has had his way against Illinois the past two seasons, including a couple of sacks last year in the Big House. Whether it be the struggling Jeff Allen or the inexperienced Hugh Thornton, Illinois must limit Brandon Graham whenever possible. Look for Michael Hoomanawanui to help out by lining up next to Graham on the line or a running back to help block in the backfield. Contain Graham, Illinois will control the line of scrimmage on offense.

2. Control the ball

It's safe to say, Illinois needs to play a near perfect game to win at this point. One thing that does need to be absolute perfect for the Illini is ball control. Turnovers and field position have been killers this year for the Illini. Horrific decisions by Juice Williams and Eddie McGee have changed the momentum of the game drastically all season and the defensive line lack of pressure has given opposing quarterbacks all day to find an open receiver. In terms of field position, the Illini have either started drives offensively deep in their own territory or are forced to defend a short-field defensively. Feed off with should be an emotional albeit on-edge crowd and get some early stops and early first downs.

3. Pressure Tate

I don't mean Champaign News Gazette columnist Loren Tate, whose article regarding Ron Zook and Ron Guenther has drawn praise throughout the Illini Nation this week. I mean Michigan freshman quarterback Tate Forcier. The phenom out of San Diego, Calif. started the season on fire but, as of late, looks human. Forcier is also battling multiple injuries so any hit or knockdown should do some sort of damage. Illinois' defensive line needs to start playing to their ability and put pressure on the quarterback. With all-Big Ten caliber center David Molk out for the season for the Wolverines, Corey Liuget and Josh Brent should have a solid game tomorrow afternoon.

4. Someone make a play!

Last season, Illinois found ways to score quickly, often using the big play to get points on the board. This season, only Mikel Leshoure seems to have that spark. Arrelious Benn made some nice 40-plus yard catches but, in the end, they led to very few points. Maybe a slant to Jack Ramsey over the middle opens up for big yardage or an interception returned for a touchdown by Terry Hawthorne can give the Illini some much needed confidence.

5. Come out firing

As I said earlier, feed off the crowd. Play loose and take some shots. Get the sideline going and the student section rocking. Illinois is 1-6 but anytime Michigan comes in, it's a "big-time" game. Couple in Halloween and the fact that Illinois has only one home win against the Wolverines since 1956, I expect the Illini to "come out firing."

Key matchup

Illinois' quarterback vs. Michigan's linebackers

Juice or Jacob? That will be the debate at tailgates all day tomorrow. But, what it comes down to is playing smart and hitting your receivers. Michigan has four fantastic and seasoned linebackers who would love to give some payback to Juice for setting the Michigan Stadium total yardage record a year ago. If the Michigan linebackers stop the Mike Schultz "dink-and-dunk" offensive scheme, Juice or Jacob will have another long day.

Predictions

Adam Frank: Michigan 28-17 (Season Record: 3-4)
Dan Fredman: Michigan 31-10 (Season Record: 5-2)
Josh Keller: Michigan 36-14 (Season Record: 4-3)
 

 

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