This Saturday, SMU will go up against a very highly regarded Michigan team. This will be the Mustangs second week in a row playing a top 25 team. While we have seen the Mustangs play, some of us may have missed Michigan’s two games against Notre Dame and Western Michigan. So, I decided to ask Josh LaFond, of Maize N Brew, to give us a little more information about Saturday’s opponent.
Without further ado, here are the pertinent questions regarding Saturday’s game.
Nick Armstrong: There is a lot of mix reviews with Shea Patterson as a quarterback. Braylon Edwards tweeted that he played scared, even if he didn’t mean to insult Patterson. What is your analysis of Patterson through two games?
Josh LaFond: Braylon Edwards’ relationship with Jim Harbaugh factors in to that tweet quite a bit if we’re being honest but that’s a story for another day my friend… but if you click HERE you might figure out why he might have beef.
Getting back to the meat of your question, Shea Patterson. He’s the real deal. Michigan hasn’t had a talent like him at quarterback since Chad Henne lit it up back in the mid 2000’s. In Jim Harbaugh’s west coast offense, the QB has to make almost NFL level throws, and well, Patterson has been doing that over the first two games anyway.
Will he be a Heisman contender in his first season under Harbaugh’s tutelage in the maize and blue? Probably not. What he will be, however, is a QB who’s play will win Michigan games. And that’s something that hasn’t been seen round’ these parts in quite a while.
NA: We know that Jim Harbaugh has been confirmed as his job being safe, despite not living up to preseason expectations. What would you say is Harbaugh’s approval rating in Ann Arbor?
JL: I’d say it’s about a 8 out of 10. Fans want -- and expect greatness at Michigan. Jim Harbaugh understands that and with a revamped coaching staff, the aforementioned Shea Patterson and a dominate defense, this might be the year he achieves that greatness.
NA: The Wolverines looked average to below average in the first game against Notre Dame, but then blew out Western Michigan by 46 points. Do you think this Michigan team is closer to the first or second game?
JL; The second game, I’d say. If you watch the way Michigan played the 2nd half against the Irish, that’s the team that fans and the players expected to see… a suffocating defense and an offense led by a dynamic quarterback that moves the ball down the field efficiently. We saw that against Western Michigan, and while yes, it’s a blowout against a MAC school, the Wolverines struggled to put away teams of that caliber last year and last week, that domination reminds fans of previous Big Ten title teams. Ones that blowout the teams they’re supposed to (and hopefully) win the big games.
Michigan has to prove they can do the latter as the season progresses.
NA: Who are the top skill players on offense?
JL: WR’s Nico Collins and Donovan Peoples-Jones have emerged as real playmakers out wide. Look out for redshirt freshman Oliver Martin in the slot as well as defensive back and all around athlete, Ambry Thomas. Thomas is starting to get some looks on offense and is a game changing kick returner.
NA: Rashan Gary is an absolute beast on that defensive line. For comparison sake, he is similar to Ed Oliver from the AAC. What makes Gary such an effective player on the defensive line?
JL: His size coupled with the elite level athleticism he has. Rashan is constantly drawing double, triple, and yes, even QUADRUPLE teams as evidenced by this play against Western Michigan last week.
NA: What part of Michigan’s defense should SMU look to expose?
JL: They’ll want to run the ball early and often to set up the play action and entire passing game for that matter. I would expect Michigan to pound the rock for the better part of the first quarter and then try to hit on some deep bombs down the field.
NA: What is your final prediction?
JL: I like SMU, I really do. But I fully expect Michigan to play with the same anger they displayed against Western Michigan and blow out the Mustangs.
Michigan 52 - SMU 14
NA: Best place to eat near Campus?
JL: Ooooh that’s tough, man! I’ll go with The Pretzel Bell. It’s got a great vibe to it and has an excellent menu. Check out thepretzelbell.com for their full drink and food menu and for directions.
I want to thank Josh for taking the time to answer some must know questions before heading into Saturday’s game. Let’s hope for the best this weekend!