Blitz, blitz, blitz, and blitz some more!
Northwestern's weapons, even before the loss of Jeremy Larkin, were...um...let's call them "pedestrian." Beyond Larkin, there's a lot of thick ankles out there wearing purple on offense. And now that he's sadly been forced to retire with cervical stenosis, it's time for Dr. Blitz to unleash the hounds. Not that Don Brown ever needs encouragement to bring the heat, but if Michigan plays zone at any point in this game before Northwestern scores an offensive touchdown, there needs to be a NCAA investigation. Especially because Northwestern's offensive line is one of the weakest units on the team, too. Oh, and did I mention Clayton Thorson is basically a sitting duck back there at quarterback, not fully recovered from his ACL tear?
Bring. The. Heat.
Play the long game
Because of Northwestern's offensive limitations, field position is at a premium here. There's simply no way the Wildcats are going to be successful having to drive the length of the field to score against Michigan's defense. Nobody will be more aware of this than the Michigan coaching staff, which is why I wouldn't be surprised to see a somewhat conservative offensive game plan, at least to start. No use committing an early turnover on the road that gives the Wildcats some cheap points they probably couldn't earn on their own. Especially when you have maybe the best punter in America right now.
This is a good trial run for our next road game at Michigan State in three weeks. On grass against an offense similar to Sparty's, and coached by a guy that also preaches intense, physical football. I don't need to rehash our road woes in recent years. We all have the scars to show for them. So let's see the "get 'er done" approach here we've lacked too often while wearing those all-white jerseys for a change. Let's play with the focus, concentration, execution, and attention to detail it will take to win those tougher road games to come, which will ultimately define our season.
Don't beat yourself
All things considered, Northwestern cannot beat Michigan at home or anywhere else without help. The talent gap is that great. There's maybe three guys in its starting lineup who would play for the Wolverines, and they're all on defense where Michigan is already stacked. So the good guys can only lose if they're also the bad guys. Michigan is playing Michigan every bit as much as the Wildcats on Saturday. If Michigan doesn't beat itself, it will win. It's just a matter of the final score.