UM’s plan against Air Force dates back to spring

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — Way back in April, Michigan’s defense spent time during several spring practices preparing for Week 3 opponent Air Force and its tricky triple-option.

Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown said at the time he studied film during the long flight to Rome, and the Wolverines did work on Air Force during the three spring practices in Italy.

“We got all the initial pieces in,” Brown said at the time.

The seventh-ranked Wolverines (2-0) face Air Force on Saturday at noon at Michigan Stadium. Air Force (1-0) opened with a 62-0 win over VMI on Sept. 2. The Falcons rushed for 473 yards, led by Timothy McVey, who had 98 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.

Senior defensive tackle Maurice Hurst said Monday he has a feel for Air Force because of the NCAA football video game.

“I have a little bit familiarity with it,” Hurst said. “There’s a lot of things that go into it and there’s a lot of people you have to account for in the option game. It’s just really tough for any defense to have to switch your entire what you’re doing on defense just to play this one week then go back to a normal team. It’s really tough for the adjustments we have to make and making sure everyone’s really into it this week and understanding what we need to do.”

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And that’s exactly why Brown began Air Force prep in the spring.

“We have prepared a lot in spring and we used some of those practices to get ready for what we’re going to face this week so that’s not a complete shock to us,” Hurst said. “We’ll have our scout team ready to be able to give us a look we’ll need that they’ve been practicing and done before. That helps you understand the offense better.”

Defensive lineman Chase Winovich said after the second practice in Rome that the Wolverines will be prepared to face whatever Air Force presents.

“I think by the time we actually get to Air Force, the defensive line is going to be able to run their offense better than they do,” Winovich said in April. “We’re going to be prepared for them. We’re going to be prepared for anybody we play.”

Gary took it personally

Rashan Gary was called for a personal foul roughing the passer early in the fourth quarter that was reviewed for targeting, which was not called. Two plays later, he was credited with a quarterback hurry and his game seemed to take another step.

“I thought Rashan had one of his best games,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said.

Defensive line teammate Maurice Hurst said Gary switched to another level after the penalty.

“He was kind of worked up,” Hurst said. “It was a bad call even for roughing the passer. It was basically a split second after he threw the ball that he was hit. That definitely did work him up and he was able to make some plays after. (And) the crowd got really loud. That’s the loudest I’ve heard it in a while.”

Michigan slim edge on OSU

The Wolverines are now No. 7 in the Associated Press poll, while Ohio State dropped to No. 8 after a loss to Oklahoma last Saturday.

Michigan center Patrick Kugler said he noticed the Wolverines movement in the polls and Ohio State’s slight drop.

“That’s a good feeling, (but) nothing matters until we play them,” Kugler said Monday. “Hopefully we’re undefeated and they’re 10-1 so it’s a great game. Worry about it then.”

Jeter out for season

Freshman defensive lineman Donovan Jeter will miss the season with an undisclosed injury that required surgery, Harbaugh said Monday.

Running back Kareem Walker didn’t dress for last Saturday’s game because of a knee injury, while freshman receiver Oliver Martin has an upper body injury, Harbaugh said, and freshman defensive lineman Luiji Vilain also is out.

Big Ten honors

Michigan safety Tyree Kinnel, who returned an interception 28 yards for a touchdown against Cincinnati, was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. Kinnel also had team-best nine tackles, including a sack.

Michigan vs. Air Force

When: Saturday, noon

Where: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor

TV / radio: BTN / 950 AM

Records: Michigan 2-0, Air Force 1-0