Michigan focuses on tempo of Indiana’s No. 1 attack

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — Being ranked nationally in the top three of every major defensive category is nice, but defensive lineman Taco Charlton said Michigan’s approach to statistics is pretty cut and dry.

Michigan is No. 2 nationally in total defense (240.0 yards), No. 3 against the pass (159.4 yards) and run (80.6 yards), and No. 1 in scoring (11.9 points). And it’ll need every ounce of those statistics Saturday at Indiana, which boasts the Big Ten’s No. 1 offense.

Indiana is averaging 460.9 yards offense; Michigan is allowing 240 yards.

Charlton, however, was interested in one number — zero.

“We might see stats and stuff like that … that we’ve only give up this and that, but during the game, we don’t want to give up anything,” Charlton said. “We don’t like giving up yards, we don’t like giving up first downs. We want to be a stingy defense. We’ve just got to go out there and play with our effort and our passion, and we feel like we can be one of the best defenses doing it.”

Indiana hasn’t been slowed in terms of yardage, but it hasn’t won in the Big Ten. Indiana had 402 yards against Ohio State, 389 against Michigan State, 407 yards against Iowa and 627 yards against Rutgers.

The Hoosiers have done that with quarterback Nate Sudfeld running the high-tempo offense.

“Their tempo is unique,” Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin said. “The style they play with is not something you see week in and week out, (and) they have an experienced quarterback that knows where to go with the football. He gets rid of the ball really well, doesn’t take a lot of sacks, so there’s not a lot of plays for loss.

“They’ve really moved the ball on everyone they’ve played, they’ve scored points. ... We’ve got to get lined up and execute our defense and not let the tempo affect us.”

Sudfeld told reporters he respects the Michigan defense.

“They’re extremely good at what they do,” Sudfeld said. “They’re going to contest every throw. There’s going to be a lot of competitive plays, a lot of man defense. They’ve got great athletes, great coaches.”

Sudfeld leads the Big Ten in passing, averaging 278.6 yards, and has thrown 15 touchdowns and five interceptions. The Hoosiers have allowed 11 sacks.

Durkin said this week it’s all about preparing for the Hoosiers’ up-tempo style.

“We don’t ever huddle anyways, and it’s been something we’ve started on way back in the spring, because of the teams we were going to face this year,” Durkin said. “We’ve faced some tempo teams earlier in the year, (but) they’re probably the fastest tempo team that we have faced.”

Michigan at Indiana

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, Ind.

TV / radio: ABC / WWJ 950, WTKA 1050

Line: Michigan by 12.5

Records: No. 15 Michigan 7-2 (4-1 Big Ten), Indiana 4-5 (0-5)