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What We Need to See: Michigan vs Indiana

Michigan welcomes a dangerous Indiana team to Ann Arbor a week after coming up short in Happy Valley. What must the team do to bounce back?

Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Trade offensive coordinators

Indiana put up 486 total yards of offense on Penn State despite playing a football game that lasted a normal amount of time. Michigan, on the other hand, managed only 389 yards of offense in a game that lasted longer than any other Big Ten Conference game before it. You see what I'm getting at here.

Al Borges brought all of the calls for his head upon himself when he decided to run Michigan's offense into the dirt against Michigan State in 2011. Against Iowa in 2012. Against Penn State in 2013. He's in dangerous water right now and needs to out-duel an Indiana team that can only dream of recruiting the kind of talent Michigan has on its roster.

How do you out-duel an opponent that is supposed to lose? You use what you have on your go#@$*^ roster and keep us all from stabbing our eyes out with plastic sporks. Devin Funchess needs to see the ball at least as many times as he saw it against Penn State. Devin Gardner better not turn around and hand the ball off behind an unbalanced line that screams HEY HEY HEY I'M ABOUT TO RUN THE BALL TO MY LINE'S STRENGTH – he should keep the ball after pulling it from the belly of his halfback on plenty of read options. Jeremy Gallon should run something that doesn't resemble a ten-yard curl, because Jeremy Gallon is capable of running the entire route tree. And for the love of all things football, give your 6'3" Missouri speedster a chance to make the defense pay when you're dumb enough to let them stack eight men within feet of the football.

Oh, and bubble screens are free yards when defensive backs give ten-yard cushions, Borges. Free. Who doesn't like free things? No one.

Use Jake Ryan like he's the Jake Ryan of 2012

Now that I've got the Borges rant out of my system, let's move on to someone who has earned his spot on the football team: Jake Ryan. He looked plenty healthy against Penn State and will only grow stronger as the season progresses. Assuming he can handle the load, let him play like he did a year ago. Use him in the pass rush whenever possible, and trust that he'll shut down anything that comes to the edge damn near by himself. If he isn't ready to overtake Beyer for the majority of the SAM snaps he should be used on specific downs that allow him to make plays.

But then again, Michigan has Greg Mattison on defense, and.. yea, Jake Ryan will be properly implemented.

Show minor signs of improvement on both fronts

The offensive line looked very bad at times against Penn State. The defensive line has taken minor steps in the pass-rushing department, but it could still generate more pressure. Both front units need to mold in the next two weeks if Michigan wants to beat a suddenly capable Michigan State team in two weeks time, and they probably needs to improve this week if they want to beat Indiana.

Don't turn the bal–

Forget it. We all know how that sentence ends.


These articles continue to write themselves as the season goes on. Michigan seemed to have three major weaknesses – the running game, pressuring the passer and turning the ball over – but now it looks to have four major weaknesses when you factor in the fact that its offense is run by someone capable of losing games via pure ignorance.

Will the woes on the offensive line be fixed anytime in the near future? I'm betting against it, although there is plenty enough talent up front to find five capable bodies who can pass protect and supply the occasional boost in the running game. Don't expect this unit to move the line of scrimmage and power its way through defensive lineman at all this year.

Defensively, Michigan has hope in the form of Jake Ryan. His return helps the front seven in big ways, allowing Mattison to replace his weakest rusher on long downs with Ryan, in turn allowing all of them better match-ups. The defense isn't elite, but it can be very solid.