Wolverines offensive lineman Ben Bredeson says he's not worried about quarterback bouncing back. Angelique S. Chengelis
Ann Arbor — The Michigan players were numb after losing to Michigan State last Saturday night, but that could only last so long as the Wolverines switched their course toward Indiana.
Michigan, which dropped 10 spots to 17th in the AP poll after the loss, will play the Hoosiers Saturday in Bloomington.
“It was a tough loss,” safety Josh Metellus said this week of MSU. “Not something you expect, not something you want to happen, but the way we take it is as we take any other game and just come back and just focus on the next one because the next one’s more important than the last.”
Michigan’s defense is ranked No. 1 nationally, while the offense continues to struggle and is ranked among the nation’s worst in tackles for loss and sacks allowed. Against Michigan State, the Wolverines had five turnovers, including three interceptions, and John O’Korn was sacked four times.
This is when teammates are tested, but the players say their focus has not wavered.
“We just want to stay together as a team,” Metellus said. “Don’t put the blame on nobody. Don’t make anybody feel bad. You just try to make sure the whole team stays together and stress the little things and make sure we focus on what’s more important.”
Offensive linemen Ben Bredeson said the focus during practice was “getting back to the basics.” There were fundamental and mental errors during the MSU game, he said, so they worked to clean up those issues.
He acknowledged that each week there have been small mistakes made by the offense that have piled up.
Wolverines running back Chris Evans discusses the importance of being focused against Indiana on Saturday. Angelique S. Chengelis
“That’s definitely been a theme,” Bredeson said. “We’re eliminating small mistakes, each one, one at a time. Everybody’s got issues we need to clean up both individually and collectively as an offensive unit.”
Michigan’s defense, while it held Michigan State scoreless in the second half, did not force any turnovers. While the Michigan offense worked on protecting the ball in drills this week, the defensive players most certainly worked on ball-stripping drills.
The Wolverines will face a young quarterback in redshirt freshman Peyton Ramsey and an offensive staff that looks familiar. Mike DeBord, a former Michigan assistant coach and offensive coordinator, is the Hoosiers’ offensive coordinator and hired former Michigan players Nick Sheridan and Mike Hart as quarterbacks and running backs coaches, respectively.
Greg Mattison, Michigan’s defensive line coach, is familiar with what DeBord likes to run.
More: Wojo's Pigskin Picks: Michigan needs a new rival, like Indiana
“Mike and I came here together,” Mattison said, smiling. “I remember his locker was right next to mine. You’re going to get a very well-coached team. I spend a lot of time looking at opponents and seeing if they give you something you can put your hat on, and Mike doesn’t.
“Mike is really, really sound. Their offense is very sound. I really see the difference with him there. They’re a very good team and a very good offense because of that. You can see Mike in it. (There’s a) difference in the backfield set. The difference is in some of the plays they run and what they’re really trying to do. You can see Mike’s influence on it.”
DeBord said he sees no drop off at any position on defense for Michigan, and Hart said he is struck by the athleticism of the front seven.
Wolverines offensive lineman Ben Bredeson addresses how team is cleaning up mental errors and focusing on Indiana. Angelique S. Chengelis
“Obviously, it’s a great defense,” Hart said. “Devin Bush is special. He strikes you at the point of contact. As an overall defense, that front seven is really special. Rashan Gary, Maurice Hurst in the middle, they’re just tough. They run after the ball.”
For the Wolverines, who have won 21 straight against Indiana, the week after the loss to Michigan State has allowed them to grow, they said. Now it’s about where they’re heading.
“I think it’s going to bring us more together as a team,” Metellus said. “We haven’t really faced adversity as a team. Everything’s been going pretty smooth for us, and I feel like this is a test of what we have planned for the season, and I feel like it’s going to bring us all together and bring us to our full potential.”
Michigan at Indiana
Kickoff: Noon Saturday, Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, Ind.
Records: Michigan 4-1, 1-1 Big Ten; Indiana 3-2, 0-2
Line: Michigan by 6