3 takeaways from Michigan's 30-3 blowout of East Carolina
As could have been predicted, there was more drama before Michigan’s 30-3 win over East Carolina than there was once the teams actually kicked off.
The Wolverines literally came off the bus looking to send a message. Whether the intended audience was the NCAA, athletic director Warde Manuel or both, it’s obvious that the players had some thoughts about Michigan’s self-imposed 3-game suspension of coach Jim Harbaugh.
— Scott Bell (@sbell021) September 2, 2023
Those thoughts were made more evident before the first play of Michigan’s second possession, which didn’t happen until after an act of protest.
Michigan players put up 4 fingers before their play as a tribute to coach Jim Harbaugh, who is suspended and not at the game.
— The Sporting News (@sportingnews) September 2, 2023
A bit overwrought when we’re talking about a person who is still actually alive, but at least the Wolverines had the sense not to do it on their opening possession, which began at their own 2-yard line.
Once the focus turned strictly to football, Michigan looked every bit the role of the No. 2 team in the country.
JJ McCarthy: As advertised
At Big Ten Media Days, Jim Harbaugh insisted that JJ McCarthy reminded him of Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen. And when asked if he was sure about that, Harbaugh doubled down. McCarthy will embrace being compared to the greats, he said.
McCarthy came out smoking, completing 16 of his first 18 passes for 181 yards and 2 touchdowns. With the Wolverines up 23-0 at halftime, there was no reason to keep that pace going. He finished 26 of 30 for 280 yards and another touchdown.
McCarthy’s most impressive play actually went for no gain when he somehow found Blake Corum on a dump-off to avoid a would-be sack. Though no yardage was gained, McCarthy’s vision and ability to avoid the defense was exceptional.
McCarthy wasn’t perfect — he also lost a third-quarter fumble near the goal line that would end up costing those who believed Michigan would beat the Pirates by no fewer than 35.5 points.
Yes, the opponent must be taken into account. But overall, McCarthy looked like a more self-assured passer than he was last season. He looks like he’ll be part of the Heisman discussion until someone is capable of dumping water on it. And looking at Michigan’s schedule, it’s difficult to see who that might be.
Jake Moody has left the building
It wasn’t a concern in a blowout win, but replacing all-American kicker Jake Moody could prove to be Michigan’s most difficult assignment this season.
Replacement James Turner yanked an extra point attempt, then later missed a 52-yard attempt. But the returns aren’t all bad — Turner also nailed a 50-yarder to close the first half, which is the definition of a clutch kick. Which shows why the Wolverines were comfortable with him later attempting a 52-yarder.
Michigan fans will have to hope it was just first-game jitters for Turner. The 50-yarder certainly gives hope that’s the case.
Peacock’s presentation could use some help
Peacock’s first B1G broadcast lived up to the billing… if you looked at it a certain way.
B1G TURD https://t.co/muHwODgiuq
— Jessica Smetana (@jessica_smetana) September 2, 2023
Color commentator Chris Simms, completely new to the booth, sounded flat as a pancake in the first half but improved as the game went on.
Of course, there’s no telling what he sounded like at all during a 3-minute stretch of the second quarter where the game lost all audio. The only thing that could be heard was the Michigan Stadium public address system.
Later in the game, the score bug showed Michigan with a 36-0 lead for several plays after the touchdown in question was overturned by replay review. Announcer Mike Tirico even had to make note of the fact that the score was actually still 30-0 on McCarthy’s lost fumble.
There are 8 B1G games exclusively airing on Peacock this season, including a Week 3 matchup between Washington and Michigan State. The product must improve dramatically if they insist on consumers paying for it.