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A college sports blog from The Oakland Press, dedicated to covering Michigan and Michigan State athletics as well as former Oakland County athletes at other schools.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Five keys for the Wolverines today vs. EMU

Michigan is indeed 2-0, but how good this Wolverine team is, or isn't, has yet to be determined. Michigan routed Western Michigan in Week 1 -- a game that could have gone differently if not for an untimely turnover by the Broncos at the goal line. Then came the back and fourth pillow fight between the Wolverines and Notre Dame last week. Michigan has another opportunity to win today vs. EMU, here's five keys to getting it done:

1. Run the ball (with the running backs) -- Michigan's running backs combined for just 10 yards rushing last week in a game in which the Wolverines scored 35 points. That has to change. Earlier in the spring, both head coach Brady Hoke and offensive coordinator Al Borges said they want one feature back to take over the lead rushing role. Three weeks into the season it's still Denard Robinson and nobody else running for Michigan.

2. Keep points off the board -- This game is an opportunity for Michigan to restore some faith in its defense. EMU is not a good offensive team and Michigan should be able to hold them to a maximum of 14 points and win going away.

3. Execute on special teams -- The Wolverines weakest link this season has been on special teams. While obviously Hoke is hoping they won't have to kick too many field goals today, they do need to sure things up in the return and coverage aspects. Stan Kwan had a better special teams approach than Michigan has had so far this season.

4. Remember Appalachian State (and Toledo) -- Michigan should win this game. But that by no means guarantees that it will. Underdog teams have come into the big house and win before, see Appalachian State and Toledo. Miami of Ohio almost did it a few years back. EMU is 2-0 (albeit only by defeating Howard and Alabama State) and coach Ron English would love nothing more than to get a win in the place where he felt he deserved the head job after Lloyd Carr stepped down.

5. Turnover margin -- The only reason Michigan didn't get crushed in the turnover battle last week was because Notre Dame may be the most careless team in the country when it comes to taking care of the football. Denard Robinson did not look good passing out of the pocket last week. This game could be an opportunity for him to work on improving that. No picks today would be a nice boost for his confidence.


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