Michigan football has its hands full on Saturday with a road trip to Wisconsin, especially given what the Badgers have in their backfield. Junior running back Jonathan Taylor is a legitimate Heisman contender with 237 yards rushing and eight total touchdowns on the year so far and has the ability to put the team on his back.
So how does one defend that?
“He’s really good, to answer that question,” Harbaugh said on Monday. “He can run all the assortments of runs. An elusive back, power back, light on his feet and sees holes. Does everything well, blocks well. We are striving to kind of contain a back like that, not a realistic thing to think that you can stop him. Hope to contain and get stops, get the ball back over to the offense.”
Taylor has been a thorn in the side of Michigan’s defense at times in his first two matchups with the Wolverines. During his freshman season in 2017, he ran for 132 yards on 19 carries in a 24-10 win over at Camp Randall. Last year, Michigan blew out the Badgers in Ann Arbor by a score of 38-13, but Taylor still found a way to rack up 101 yards on 17 carries.
The best way to defend him might just be to let him get his and contain the big plays. Quarterback Jack Coan and the Wisconsin passing game has not been tested all that much in the first two contests of the year against South Florida and Central Michigan, so the defensive game plan could very well revolve around the defensive line getting pressure and the guys on the back end holding things down.
Don Brown defenses have surrendered 7, 24 and 13 points respectively in the three times they have met the Badgers with two wins coming in Ann Arbor. The 2017 game came down to the game just getting away from them at the end with the offense sputtering after Brandon Peters was knocked out of the game, so we will have to wait and see how Saturday goes.
It feels like another low-scoring slugfest, but both teams will be out to make a statement after having very different starts to the year. Michigan’s defense should be ready to roll and it sounds like the plan is in place for Saturday.