Shut Down BYU's Passing Attack
The Cougars have not felt much of a dropoff in play from the injured Taysom Hill to freshman backup Tanner Mangum. The 22-year old freshman boasts a big arm and has come up in the clutch on a few occasions early on this season.
While he is not the running threat that Hill was, Mangum can still make plays with his feet and and be dangerous if he gets outside of the pocket. Michigan's pass rush is improved, but they will have to get in the backfield early and often to throw off the timing between Mangum and his wide receivers.
Speaking of those wide receivers, the Cougars have one of the taller, more physical corps in all of college football, led by 6-foot-6 Mitch Matthews. The Michigan secondary has been excellent so far this year, but this will be its biggest test so far. Jourdan Lewis and Channing Stribling have their work cut out for them.
BYU's big plays on offense this year have come through the air, so if the Wolverines are able to limit that damage and prove their defense is for real, they will be in good shape to walk out with win number-three on the year.
Run Game Must Lead the Offense
BYU will be without its star nose tackle Travis Tuiloma in this game. The Cougars gave up nearly 300 yards on the ground alone in their loss to UCLA last week. The recipe for success against them has been set.
Michigan's run game has steadily improved each week, but now we will see if they have truly made progress or just took advantage of vastly inferior competition. De'Veon Smith, Ty Isaac and Drake Johnson have emerged as a formidable three-headed monster, so the coaching staff should be able to keep their backs fresh and rotate them throughout the game. Without Tuiloma, the Wolverines have a real shot at pacing the offense through the ground game in a big way.
Jake Rudock: Game Manager
Jim Harbaugh squashed any speculation that Rudock was anything but entrenched as Michigan's starting quarterback this season during media availability earlier this week. This is his job, and this is arguably the biggest game the Wolverines have played, so it is time for him to put it together.
Rudock does not need to throw for 250 yards and four touchdowns, but he needs to find his targets and make the easy throws that he has failed to make the first three weeks of the year. He is famous for using his safety valves and checking down, so expect the Wolverines to use more of Jake Butt and Ian Bunting this week.
The pass protection has been pretty darn good, so time to make decisions should not be an issue. He does not have to be flashy, he just needs to settle down and find the open receivers.
With Michigan being semi-one dimensional on offense so far this year, BYU is likely going to try stacking the box. Rudock has to make them respect the pass. If he turns over the football and misses open targets like he has, it will be really tough for the Wolverines to win this game.
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