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Matchup to watch against SMU: Legion of Blue vs James Proche

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Admittedly, this is probably a stretch.

NCAA Football: Outback Bowl-Michigan vs South Carolina Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Guys, SMU is a terrible, no good, very bad football team. They’re 0-2 following bad losses to North Texas and TCU to open their season. Their defense is allowing 44 points per game and their offense is only putting up 17.5 after scoring 12 against a comparable TCU defense last week. Rian’s comments on Western could honestly be used again this week:

Can the offensive line actually block?

Will Michigan’s safeties keep giving up passes up the middle, and will the linebackers stop over pursuing?

Is Harbaugh’s offense doing enough to keep opposing defenses on their toes?

I know what you’re thinking. “This doesn’t say anything about the Broncos Mustangs? What’s the real matchup to watch? Did I click on the wrong article?”

No, you didn’t. For a team as talented and with as high of expectations as Michigan had less than a two weeks ago, a game against a team that allowed 31 points in the first 20 minutes to Syracuse lost by 23 to North Texas should be a cakewalk.

Last week’s demolition of Western was the Harbaugh-style blowout that last year really missed. A similar result should be expected this week, but let’s give the ‘Stangs some credit. They have receivers who don’t stink.

James Proche is a 5-foot-11 junior from Dallas who is SMU’s top weapon on the perimeter. He’s got eight catches for 127 yards and a score over the first two games of the year. Against North Texas, Proche scored on a 59-yard strike, following up some of his highlights from last year — a season that featured a 173-yard effort against National Champions, UCF.

Proche is extremely explosive and will likely spend time matched up against all three of Michigan’s top corners: David Long, Lavert Hill and Brandon Watson. For those that didn’t notice, on nickel situations against Western, Hill snuck inside while Watson played out on the perimeter. We saw this pay dividends last week as Hill, Khaleke Hudson, Devin Bush, and others created havoc on the inside, while Watson continues to show his tremendous growth out by the hashes.

The Legion of Blue held Western Michigan receiver D’Wayne Eskridge to two catches and 20 yards just one week after he exploded for eight catches and 240 yards against Syracuse. A similar effort against Proche will go a ways in making sure Michigan starts the game strong and avoids unnecessary stress.