It’s difficult to really know what to expect tonight in Michigan Stadium.
We know Penn State’s strengths and weaknesses. And how the Nittany Lions’ largest problems must be worked on over the longer haul.
But the Michigan Wolverines? They have all of their scholarships, a tenured head coach, high-power assistants, lots of talent on both sides of the ball and a senior quarterback.
And yet they are the ones on a three-game losing streak. They have appeared sloppy, disinterested, mistake-prone and out-of-place — sometimes all on the same afternoon.
The Lions must get more out of versatile Bill Belton.
Still, they are a threat to fire out angry and meaningful at any time. Could that be tonight on national TV in their first Big Ten night game in the Big House?
Here are five Penn State pressure points … the areas that could very well determine victory or defeat:
1. Keep Hack clean. Judge most of the night by how comfortable quarterback Christian Hackenberg looks in the pocket … and how much space and time he’s getting to work free from those Wolverine rushers. The Penn State staff needed to tweak the play design, the pocket location, the blocking — something — to help its star quarterback do his thing.
Michigan can bring the heat with anyone. Keep an eye on Frank Clark, a big-time disruptor, and blitzing linebacker Jake Ryan.
2. Three is better than one. The Lions have a unique combination of tailback talents. But they’re not getting the most from them, not even close. We like Bill Belton catching passes (The traditional screen play, anyone?). If Zach Zwinak isn’t your choice to work behind this line, let him block. And if Akeel Lynch can’t handle blocking assignments, find more ways to use his slashing running style. Use them in tandem. Make them your advantage.
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