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Michigan’s keys to victory versus Nebraska

Let Shea show what he’s got. The D needs to be penalty free and bottle up the QB.

2005 MasterCard Alamo Bowl: Michigan v Nebraska Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Michigan vs Nebraska.

The day is here.

And it is of the more intriguing games on Sept. 22nd.

The Cornhuskers are 0-2, but they’ll be coming in swinging and trying to make a statement.

I have some keys to victory for Michigan, so let’s get to it.

Stop Martinez

Starting quarterback Adrian Martinez will be a game-time decision, but he got in some full-pad practices before the week was over and it sounds like he’ll be playing.

Martinez completed 15-of-20 passes for 187 yards, one touchdown and one interception versus Colorado and bring that dual-threat layer to the position that could give Michigan’s defense a challenge.

If the Michigan D can bottle Martinez up, it would be a promising sign of things to come in that realm. The unit has struggled twice this season against scrambling quarterbacks, and the same can be said about various dual-threat QB’s versus Michigan in 2017.

Martinez has the best arm talent of any quarterback that Michigan has faced this season so far, the whole defense will need to stay sharp or he has the ability to burn them throwing or running.

Patterson-centric gameplan

The last time Harbaugh faced a Scott Frost team, Michigan beat Central Florida 51-14.

Central Florida stacked the box the entire game versus Michigan, with run blitzes coming aplenty at the Wolverine rushing attack.

Harbaugh let Wilton Speight be the focal point of Michigan’s offense, completing 25-of-37 passes for 4 touchdowns.

Frost will likely try to implement the same plan again and dare U-M quarterback Shea Patterson to beat Nebraska. Be careful what you wish for if that is indeed the case, as the Cornhuskers secondary has been highly vulnerable so far this season.

Pass-blocking ascension

The first quarter was rough last week versus SMU, but the Michigan offense adjusted.

The offensive line started giving Shea Patterson time to throw.

This trend must continue, as even stiffer challenges are near.

Nebraska will be sending everything and the kitchen sink at Michigan in passing situations, and the offensive line will be tested.

Along with the offensive line, the pass-protection from the running back unit should be taken note of. Karan Higdon has been the best protecting Patterson, Chris Evans has to pick up more blitzes, and Tru Wilson has shown a lot of promise as a pass-blocker.

Penalty free game

Michigan recorded 13 penalties for 137 against SMU, 11 of those penalties were against the defense. This has to be fixed quickly. You cannot expect to win close games if you keep getting flagged and extending drives for the opposing offense.

Secondary adjustments

James Proche went off against the Michigan secondary last week, hauling in 11 receptions for 166 yards and two scores. A good goal for the Michigan D would be to not allow another receiver to get over 100 yards on them for the rest of the season.

Nebraska has surely looked at the film and will try to mimic some of Proche’s routes and exploit the the U-M secondary, so Don Brown would be wise to throw a few curveballs into the gameplan himself this week. Maybe some more zone coverage would be a good idea.