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Getting To Know Michigan's Week Four Opponent: BYU Cougars

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Taking a look at Michigan's Saturday Independent foe and more in preparation for the weekend matchup.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout the season during game week, we will be taking a look at what Michigan's opponent that Saturday has done so far and what the team looks like. With the game against BYU being a week four opponent, we automatically go to the Cougars' loss to UCLA this past weekend and their freshman quarterback.

BYU Overview: The Hail Mary Kings

Ricky: BYU is known for its Latter-Day Saints involvement but it’s been getting acquainted with the Hail Mary this season. The Cougars shocked Nebraska with the passing play in the season opener, and completed a furious rally with it to take down Boise State in Week 2. Zach, how exciting has it been to see a team successfully convert Hail Mary play in consecutive weeks to start the season?

Zach: Never had an interest in supporting or cheering against the second best independent in the country, but watching BYU start off the season undefeated thanks to desperation throws in hopes for the best is always fun to follow. Especially with a freshman quarterback in Tanner Mangum, graduating as the No. 1 ranked pocket passer in the state of Idaho to stealing a victory at Lincoln and Provo. What’s your take on Mangum through three games?

Ricky: Mangum has really stepped up in the absence of Taysom Hill. The freshman has completed 62.8 percent of his passes and has thrown for 664 yards. He looked good against a top-tier opponent in UCLA and has rallied BYU to two wins this season. The Cougars will surely come out slinging against Michigan Saturday. What should we expect from Mangum as he takes on the Wolverines?

Zach: Mangum will be the second freshman starting at quarterback for an opposing team in Ann Arbor this season, following Seth Collins of Oregon State. Mangum is the king of final second miracles, but this Michigan defense understands decent pass coverage. I expect Mangum to absorb a much larger role in an attempt to steal a victory this weekend, being that the Wolverines are excellent in stopping the run. Speaking of quarterbacks, let’s focus on Jake Rudock, who’s thrown five interceptions in three starts. As the season progresses, will his starting job be in serious jeopardy?

Ricky: Rudock came to Michigan hyped as an efficient quarterback that could protect the ball. It’s troubling to see that he’s been the complete opposite, especially against lower-tier competition. There’s some things to consider with Rudock: he knows Big Ten foes well through his time as Iowa’s starting quarterback the past two seasons, and he is still getting acclimated to Michigan. Jim Harbaugh will probably consider a move if Rudock cannot shake this off, but I believe he is serious about redshirting Shane Morris. Partly because I also don’t believe Morris is the answer. Zach, what’s your take on Morris-gate and the quarterback situation Michigan might endure if Rudock isn’t the answer?

Zach: Regardless of Morris’ past of atrocious quarterback play, he’s still the second best option listed on the depth chart, assuming that there’s little-to-no trust in the freshman pocket passers and Wilton Speight. The idea of redshirting Morris, however, isn't a bad idea, considering that John O’Korn will likely be the starter next season after sitting a year out. Let Rudock polish up his game in a new system and soon, everything will come to fruition.

Recap: UCLA 24, BYU 23

BYU’s two wins this season have come on the heels of fourth-quarter rallies. Against UCLA, the Cougars were on the opposite side. They held a 20-10 lead in the second half but couldn’t keep the Bruins off the board late. UCLA scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to squeak out a 1-point win.

BYU freshman quarterback Tanner Magnum had a nice game against the then-10th ranked Bruins, going 30-47 passing for 244 yards and a score. Fifth-year senior running back Adam Hine rushed for 149 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries.

The Cougars solved UCLA’s super freshman Josh Rosen, forcing three interceptions and a poor performance through the air (11-for-23 for 106 yards). But Paul Perkins emerged for the Bruins and rushed for 219 yards and a touchdown.

When looking at the numbers, it’s hard to believe BYU lost this game. It held UCLA to 1-for-9 on third-down attempts, and dominated time-of-possession with 40:37 minutes to the Bruins’ 19:23 minutes. The Cougars won the turnover battle, too.

But with everything in their favor, they outgained UCLA by only three yards.

Key Players To Watch

Tanner Mangum, Quarterback

Since quarterback Taysom Hill went down to injury that cost him the entire 2015 season, it's been the Mangum show in Provo, making his third career start in Ann Arbor this Saturday. The Wolverines' defense has already seen a freshman quarterback this season in Oregon State's Seth Collins, who was 9-of-16 for 79 yards. Expect a much better showing from Mangum this weekend.

Adam Hine, Running Back

In the third quarter of Saturday's loss to UCLA, Hine showcased his athleticism by leaping over a Bruin defender to gain 28 yards as part of a touchdown drive that put BYU ahead 17-10. In three games, Hine has rushed for 279 yards and two touchdowns on 46 yards. That's the weapon at running back for the Cougars, averaging 6.9 yards a carry. No team has rushed for over 3.4 yards a carry against Michigan this season. That's the dilemma for BYU's rushing attack, finding a way to not slow down at the Big House.

Kai Nacua, Defensive Back

Remember Nacua? The guy who was caught on camera sucker punching a Memphis player following the Miami Beach Bowl last season. Well, he was suspended for the season opener against the Cornhuskers, but has arrived with a vengeance, as seen on the field by his three interceptions recorded during the Boise State game. Michigan's offense should think twice before throwing it near the junior.

Hot Takes

Zach: Mangum may have surprised Nebraska on the road, but it's not a guarantee that he'll prevail for a third time in A2. Michigan's secondary is too experienced and mentally tough to allow a toss up in the end zone decide the contest. The front seven will contain Hine from breaking out, putting the weight on the freshman's shoulders for four quarters.

Ricky: BYU doesn’t need any Hail Marys at Michigan Stadium. Tanner Mangum attacks Michigan with a barrage of over-the-middle throws as Jake Rudock continues to struggle. The Wolverines’ running game has been its strength through three games, but the unit cannot do everything. They lose the battle with the state of Utah, falling to BYU by three