On the Other Sideline with the Michigan Wolverines


Steven M. Ross

The Utes travel to Ann Arbor, Michigan to face their biggest test of the young season on Saturday afternoon. In preparation for the showdown in the “Big House,” The Daily Utah Chronicle caught up with The Michigan Daily co-managing sports editor Greg Garno to get the lowdown on the Wolverines.
Ryan Miller: How hot is Michigan head coach Brady Hoke’s seat? How does the public view him?
Greg Garno: Right now it’s getting warmer, but I don’t think he’s at do-or-die time. He’s still got a Big 10 season to prove himself. I think a win against Utah would help certainly, and then a win against Michigan State and Ohio State would go a long way.
I think the public right now is a little upset, some of his comments about fans or lack of transparency at times, but I think they are sticking with him for the time being.
RM: How do the Wolverines and their fans view the Utes as an opponent?
GG: I think at first there wasn’t a ton of excitement, I’ll be honest. But I think the excitement has grown as they have seen how Utah’s season has progressed. It’s served as a reminder that this is a Utah team that has entered the Pac-12 and they are still a team that made it to the BCS and done well in the postseason.
RM: What offense does Michigan run? Who are the playmakers?
GG: Michigan’s offense is new this year, a bit different, I should say, not completely new. It’s run under Doug Nussmeier, the new offensive coordinator who came over from Alabama and the offense still runs kind of a pro style, still uses his running backs and the ground game. You should expect to see Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith, their two physical bruising backs.
Devin Gardner and how he does in the passing game, they don’t necessarily try to stay in the air all the time, but when they do they’re going to Devin Funchess. The problem is he was out against Miami [RedHawks], and Brady Hoke won’t comment on his status for this weekend.
I would say he could be ready to go. Against a team like Utah, they are going to want to try and put him in.
RM: What do the Wolverines look like on defense?
GG: What they are trying to do is speed up their practice. They run a 4-3 defense, they have a pretty solid linebacker core and a front seven as a whole that’s done really well. They’ve done a great job at stopping the run, one of the best in the Big 10. It’s the secondary that will be interesting to see. They’re missing safety Jarrod Wilson and cornerback Raymon Taylor, but I think they still have the talent to hang with [Utah’s receivers]. I think it will be interesting to see what Travis Wilson can do against the secondary that is inexperienced.
RM: What does Michigan need to do to get a win?
GG: I think number one — they are going to have to get the ground game going, that’s going to be key. You can tell when Michigan is able to start running really well. If they can get Derrick Green close to 100 yards or De’Veon Smith between 50-75 yards, it means they are having some real good success. It will be interesting to see if they can establish that against Utah.
I would also say they need to find a way to stop Travis Wilson and get to the quarterback from the pass rush. That’s been a real big issue for Michigan. The past three games they haven’t gotten to the quarterback quick enough. They can stop the running game, but it’s going to be critical for them to get to Wilson and keep him from airing it out like he’s capable of doing.
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