Grades: How Michigan Fared in 45-20 Win over SMU

jim harbaugh michigan football

Grades: How Michigan Fared in 45-20 Win over SMU

Football

Grades: How Michigan Fared in 45-20 Win over SMU

Michigan took down SMU, 45-20, on Saturday, and while there was a lot to like, there were still some issues that the Wolverines have as the team eyes Big Ten play starting this Saturday.

In the inaugural WolverinesWire grades piece, we’ll take a look at how Michigan fared position-by-position, and see where the team needs to improve moving forward.

Offense

Quarterback

michigan quarterback shea patterson under center

Obviously it was all Shea Patterson on Saturday, and he continued to look more and more comfortable in what Michigan is trying to do — which actually is something that looks a bit different than what the offense looked like in Week One. That’s to say, Patterson is playing more from under center than in shotgun, and there’s less spread concepts than there were initially.

And, for all the talk that he can only survive in a spread/air raid, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

For the second straight week, Patterson eclipsed 70% passing, completing an astounding 78% of his passes for 237 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT. He was seeing the field well, and really only had the one mistake. Other than that, he was pretty amazing.

He gets dinged for the INT, but that’s about it.

Grade: A-

offensive line

ben bredeson michigan left guard

So the offensive line was interesting this week, in that, they didn’t make many mistakes, Patterson only had to scramble for his life a handful of times, but, at the same time, there wasn’t a huge push, especially in the run game. Still, the unit only allowed one sack, and mostly did its job. Still would like to see less than 4 tackles for loss.

For the second straight week — albeit against a lesser defense, once again — the offensive line looked like it could handle its own. Left guard and team captain Ben Bredeson continues to be a force, and the leader this unit needs. And very few mistakes from the tackle positions.

Grade: B-

Running back

tru wilson michigan running back

You could definitely see the difference without Karan Higdon in the game, as he was scratched at kickoff for an undisclosed injury.

Chris Evans eventually got things going, but it was a slow start. Part of that is on the offensive line (which is why they got a B- instead of a B+). Eventually his vision and elusiveness won out, and he amassed 88 yards on 18 carries, for an average of 4.7 YPC.

Tru Wilson played well as the second back, getting 4.8 YPC and 53 yards total.

O’Maury Samuels finally made some quality appearances as the third back in the game, and got 11 YPC on his two carries.

Overall, not as good of a game as they had against Western, and a definite inability to get first downs on third and short is concerning, especially when you have a fullback like Ben Mason leading. It’s still the third game, and Michigan has a couple weeks to see if it can run the ball against quality defenses. So far, it can do so against inferior teams, as expected.

Grade: B

Tight End

zach gentry michigan tight end

This basically should be headlined ‘Zach Gentry,’ because he was the sole pass catcher (and target) of all the tight ends. Sean McKeon and Nick Eubanks were in the game in stretches, but weren’t targeted even once by Shea Patterson.

But Gentry had his best game yet, amassing 95 yards on 4 catches, with a couple being big third down conversions. He had the false start, but other than that, we finally got to see some of his big play potential.

Still want to see more from the group as a whole, but you can’t ask for much more.

Grade: A

Wide receiver

donovan peoples-jones michigan wide receiver

Remember when 9 days ago, one of the big topics regarding Michigan football was that a wide receiver hadn’t caught a pass for a touchdown in over a year?

It seems like ancient history at this juncture, as all three passing touchdowns were to second-year wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, who was absolutely spectacular in Saturday’s win. He’s creating separation, running crisper routes, and playing more and more like the highly-rated recruit that he came in as.

Oliver Martin, Nico Collins and Grant Perry also each had a reception, and pretty much came down with that which was catchable. All-in-all, this effort should give faith to Michigan fans who were concerned about wide receiver play after last year, and a lot of that has to do with Peoples-Jones’ emergence.

Grade: A+

Offense overall: A-
NEXT PAGE: Grades for the Michigan defense and special teams

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