Michigan Football is 4-0 and ranked at No. 14 in the nation, and they’ve achieved this in part by having major success running the football.
Michigan currently ranks fifth in rushing offense, and because of that quarterback Cade McNamara’s opportunities to produce through the air have been limited. In fact, only Navy, Air Force, and Army have thrown the ball less. Michigan ranks 116th in passing offense, although ranking No. 20 in passing efficiency is commendable.
Ahead of Michigan’s road game on Saturday against Wisconsin, UW defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard spoke about McNamara and doesn’t think production in the passing game is a problem for the Wolverines.
“They have not had to force the ball down the field and really put the ball in the quarterback’s hands much,” Leonhard said. “That’s the benefit of winning games and winning them big. I think they have more confidence in the quarterback than it appears.”
Leonhard thinks if a game comes down to McNamara passing at a higher clip that he has the ability to get some things done. “There’s people coming out and acting like it’s an issue for him. I don’t think it is. They just haven’t had to win a game that way yet,” Leonhard said.
Leonhard and Wisconsin are aware how good Michigan’s rushing attack has been, with Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins proving a great punch out of the backfield — the goal for Wisconsin will be to make Michigan more balanced, keep McNamara honest, and see if he can carry the load for the offense. “We’ve got to go in there and understand that they can be a more balanced offense than they currently are,” Leonhard said. “We have to force them into being that.”
Michigan is rushing the ball 74 percent of the time, a ratio Jim Harbaugh noted will even out over time. “Thirty-five percent pass, that would be the (lowest) it could possibly be,” Harbaugh told Ivan Maisel. “It would be closer to 60-40 or 55-45. It’s the strengths of this team and how games play out.”