Michigan football: Grading the Wolverines after 49-3 win over Western Michigan
Everyone was curious to see how No. 21 Michigan would bounce back after a season-opening loss to Notre Dame, and they did just fine Saturday. The Wolverines throttled a decent Western Michigan team 49-3, impressing at every level on both sides of the ball.
The Wolverines are now 1-1 and host SMU at 3:30 p.m. ET next Saturday in Ann Arbor. They do so feeling much better about themselves, and rightly so.
Here’s what I thought of their effort in the home-opening victory:
What I liked
1. The defense played like the elite unit it is: You can belittle Western Michigan and say that they’re just a MAC team and all, but they’re better than most. They scored 42 on Syracuse last week, so Michigan posting a near shutout is very impressive. Western’s only points came against the reserves with 2:34 left.
Western gained only 208 yards all day. The Broncos averaged only 3.1 yards per carry on the ground (40 carries for 123 yards) and threw for only 85 yards on 34 attempts (just 2.5 yards per attempt). This was a big performance for the Michigan defense, because they were still smarting from allowing two long drives to Notre Dame last week and putting UM in a 14-0 hole. This was much better.
2. Shea Patterson had time to throw, and he looked great: The Michigan quarterback was efficient and played well. He didn’t have huge numbers — just 12 of 17 passing for 127 yards — but he threw three touchdown passes and that’s what matters.
Patterson took a lot of criticism for last week’s performance, but he wasn’t the key factor in that loss. The offensive line was a mess, and there was noticeable improvement on that level this week. Patterson is a very good quarterback, and with time to throw, he can be very dangerous. Saturday was a good step in the right direction.
3. Running game produces big plays, as well: Give the offensive line props for also playing a big role in the running game. The Wolverines gained 308 yards on the ground and had three running back who had huge days.
Karan Higdon led the way with 156 yards on just 13 carries, and hit it big with a 67-yard touchdown run. Chris Evans (10 carries for 86 yards and two scores) and Tru Wilson (6 carries for 54 yards) were also impressive.
What I didn’t like
1. Oh, the O-line: Clearly, they were much better as a unit, but they need to continue to improve as the schedule gets tougher. Patterson was still throwing on the run way too much. “Shea played really well, again, A couple throws he made out of the pocket on the run were dead on, getting out of trouble.” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. “He made some big-time plays.”
2. Western just didn’t show up: I watched this very same Western Michigan offense score 42 points on Syracuse last week. They have talent, but they didn’t show a thing Saturday. I didn’t like that this wasn’t a closer game.
3. We need three?: Yeah, that was a reach, I know. So a third thing? Really, I got nothin’. That was a solid, impressive win for the Wolverines.