Grading The Michigan Wolverines First Quarter of the Season

jim harbaugh michigan football

Grading The Michigan Wolverines First Quarter of the Season

Football

Grading The Michigan Wolverines First Quarter of the Season

Before Michigan football kicks off tomorrow at noon, just wanted to drop a friendly reminder that the college football season is already 25 percent completed. I know, time flys when you’re having fun, but this season is going by quickly, so it’s time to see how things are doing overall for the Wolverines as conference play begins tomorrow.

Offense: B+

A rough start in South Bend gave the opinion that the Michigan offense was not going to be that good and Shea Patterson wasn’t the quarterback. When he went out with cramps and backup Dylan McCaffrey came in and did well, fans were pleading with head coach Jim Harbaugh to start McCaffrey week two.

Harbaugh obviously didn’t and stuck with Patterson, which was the correct move. Patterson has been doing well since then, and overall this season, going 46/65 for 589 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions, with a completion percentage of 70.8.

The running game has been inconsistent, with a poor performance week one with 58 against Notre Dame, then 308 against Western, before falling down to 197 against SMU. While 197 is still good, it is better on paper than what was seen. Running backs Karan Higdon and Chris Evans have been banged up, with Higdon missing last week, and Evans leaving early, both should return tomorrow against Nebraska.

What if I told you the Michigan wide receivers are surviving without Tarik Black? Donovan Peoples-Jones has stepped up his play and leads the team in all receiving categories with 14 catches for 159 yards and four touchdowns. Nico Collins has improved his game to help as well, getting five catches for 113 yards and a touchdown so far, and tight end Zach Gentry seems to have some chemistry with Patterson with seven catches for 116 yards.

The offensive line looked horrible against Notre Dame, but have improved since. They have kept Patterson upright and while they struggled with opening up running lanes until late last week, they seem to be stepping in the right direction for the rest of the season.

Defense: B

Yes, the 12th ranked defense in college football gets a B rating. They had the gates blown open against Notre Dame, allowing 21 points in the first half before coming down to earth, but it was too little too late. While they held Western Michigan to three points, they allowed 20 to SMU.

The defensive line has only gotten three and a half sacks in the three games played so far. They have held the opposing rushing attack to an average of 121.6 yards per game, and that can improve. Defensive end Chase Winovich seems to be improving his game as he has 16 tackles, five and a half tackles for loss, a sack, and a pass deflection. His help on the opposite side, Rashan Gary has 13 tackles, one and a half tackles for loss and a sack.

The linebacker core is doing well once again, led by captain Devin Bush. Bush with 18 tackles, two tackles for loss and one and a half sacks. They have helped contain the rushing attack and stop the scrambling quarterbacks they play from extending plays.

The pass defense for Michigan has been doing well, but like the entire defensive unit, they are getting too many penalties, especially pass interference calls. The air defense allows an average of 154.6 yards per game and they have many playmakers in the secondary. Safety Josh Metellus had a big pick-six against SMU to give the Wolverines a 21-7 lead at the half. Brandon Watson has been a surprise help in the secondary as he has nine tackles and an interception as his play has improved since last season.

Special Teams: A-

Kicker Quinn Nordin is 2/3 on the year with field goals, his longest being 45 yards out. He hasn’t seen much time as the Wolverines offense are finishing drives and putting up touchdowns instead of settling for field goals. Punter Will Hart has booted the ball well with eight punts for 401 yards.

Ambry Thomas started the season off well with his 99-yard kick return against Notre Dame, since then he only has two returns for 31 yards. Peoples-Jones is still struggling with punt returns with five returns for six yards, fumbling one return as well.

Overall Grade: B+

This team is good, but can certainly improve. The offensive line needs to be consistent in its play and show up every week. The defense needs to ease up on the penalties, especially in the secondary with the pass interference calls as they can really kill a drive. The punt return game can also do better.

This team is trending upwards and with Big Ten conference play getting underway tomorrow, this is when you need your team to be on its A-game.

If Michigan wants to compete for a Big Ten title and possibly a playoff spot they need to win these games, it won’t be easy as they still have to take on Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Ohio State, but nobody said the road was easy. Michigan has the talent and coaching to do it, they just need to execute it.

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