Michigan football: Grading the Wolverines after beating SMU in Week 3
Michigan concluded the nonconference portion of the schedule Saturday with a 45-20 victory over SMU in the Big House. The Wolverines were impressive for stretches, but a slow start and some other issues — most notably a slew of penalties at the wrong time — are still limiting potential for this team.
They sit at 2-1 as the Big Ten season begins, with wins over Western Michigan and SMU and the season-opening loss to Notre Dame. Struggling Nebraska is the opponent in the conference opener, at Noon ET in the Big House.
First, let’s put a bow on the SMU game. Here’s what I liked, and what I didn’t like:
What I liked
Donovan Peoples-Jones steps up in a big way: Jones had 58 receptions as a freshman a year ago, but didn’t have a single touchdown. He broke the seal last week with a score, but then had three touchdown catches on Saturday against SMU. It was great to see. Jones and quarterback Shea Patterson are making nice connections, and it’s going to be interesting to see how they grow throughout the year. “We’re getting closer to being good — really good,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. “We’re still not quite there yet.”
Shea Patterson keeps posting good numbers: The transfer quarterback from Ole Miss was 14-for-18 passing (78 percent) for 238 yards and those three scoring passes to Peoples-Jones. He’s still completing more than 70 percent of his passes on the season, which is great considering he’s been throwing under duress quite a bit.
Josh Meteluss’s big interception return: SMU was still making this a game as the first half was winding down. It was just 14-7 Michigan and SMU was marching down for a game-tying score before the break. Johns Meteluss made sure that didn’t happen. He intercepted a pass and went 73 yards the other way for a pick-six. It was huge, giving the Wolverines a little cushion, which they needed.
What I didn’t like
The slow start and why it happened: On Michigan’s first possession, the Wolverines faced a third-and-1 situation and tried to run Chris Evans in a power set to get in. He lost 2 yards and they were forced to punt. On the second possession, Shea Patterson was sacked on third down when the line collapsed. That’s on the offensive line in both cases. They need to get better.
A baker’s dozen of penalties to go, please: Yes, please let them go. There’s just no way this Michigan team as constituted can survive games against good teams when they have 13 penalties for 137 yards. That’s just a disgrace and it needs to get cleaned up quickly. Watching film is not going to be pretty this week.