Michigan vs. Northwestern Awards

Michigan vs. Northwestern Awards


October 2, 2018

Shea Patterson (image via Michigan Daily)

Let’s see more of this guy on offense . . . Chris Evans. Evans left the SMU game two weeks ago with a hamstring injury, and he’s still not back. He didn’t travel to Evanston with the team. Michigan needs more playmakers on offense, and Evans can be one of them.

Hit the jump for more.

Let’s see less of this guy on offense . . . Karan Higdon. With Evans out of the game, Higdon got 30 carries for 115 yards and 2 touchdowns. Michigan needs Higdon down the stretch, and I’m not sure he can handle 30 carries every time Michigan comes up against a solid opponent. The only other carry that went to a tailback was to Tru Wilson, who gained 6 yards on his one attempt. My take is that the staff doesn’t trust Wilson a great deal at this point, so they need to get both Higdon and Evans on the field.

Let’s see more of this guy on defense . . . Khaleke Hudson. For the first time in the last three games, Hudson was not called for targeting. Michigan typically starts a little slowly on defense, so this isn’t all on any one person. But the Wolverines really shut down Northwestern in the second half (97 yards allowed after halftime), and I think Hudson was a good chunk of that. He only made 2 tackles, but his speed and explosiveness are trouble for opponents.

Let’s see less of this guy on defense special teams . . . Brad Hawkins, Jr. I’ve never understood why Brad Hawkins is lined up deep on kickoff returns. Michigan puts their primary kickoff returner (Ambry Thomas) to the kicker’s left, and they put Hawkins deep on the right. Obviously, they want their primary guy returning, so the Wolverines haven’t made the mistake of putting Hawkins at #1. But why is he back there in a position to return at all? He’s a decently skilled safety on defense, but he’s not known for his speed or elusiveness, and he’s not an offensive skill player. I understand not wanting to put a starting skill guy back there (Donovan Peoples-Jones, David Long, Lavert Hill, etc.), but get someone back there with some juice – O’Maury Samuels, Ronnie Bell, Christian Turner, etc.

Play of the game . . . Shea Patterson’s scrambles. Patterson ran the ball 7 times for 31 yards in the game, but he had a few critical scrambles in crunch time. A sampling:

  • 3rd quarter: 3rd-and-6, Patterson scramble for 12 (drive ended with a Quinn Nordin field goal)
  • 4th quarter: 3rd-and-6, Patterson scramble for 9 (drive ended with a Nordin field goal)
  • 4th quarter: 3rd-and-6, Patterson scramble for 8 (drive ended with a Will Hart punt to give Northwestern the ball with 34 seconds left)

Every one of those scrambles was huge.

MVP of the game . . . Shea Patterson. The main reason is the scrambles I mentioned above, but he was 15/24 for 196 yards. He kept the ball moving when he had a chance. There were a couple throws that were off target, but he kept this team moving when the receivers weren’t getting open and the running game wasn’t working. Brandon Peters, Wilton Speight, and John O’Korn lose this game. Maybe Jake Rudock would have won it, and the jury’s still out on whether Dylan McCaffrey could have done it.

16 comments

  1. Comments: 995
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    je93
    Oct 02, 2018 at 9:20 AM

    MVP: Chase Winovich!

    Agree on Higdon. Remember when SMU gave us the opportunity to work on our pass game, but we insisted on running with our backups into a stacked box? Well, our pass game took a dump when we did need it

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3928
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Oct 03, 2018 at 12:12 AM

      Alternative view: the SMU focus on run game development helped execute the winning strategy against Northwestern.

      You don’t defeat a chess master by whooping a 6 year old at checkers.

      • Comments: 995
        Joined: 1/19/2016
        je93
        Oct 03, 2018 at 9:52 PM

        Lol, wut?
        Before the carry that injured him, Chris Evans averaged 2.9ypc…how does THAT help beat a chess master?
        Fact is, we have a very good run game against poor teams, but our pass game is in desparacy need of work (as evidenced last Saturday). We could have worked both against SMU, in reverse order and met both objectives

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 3928
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Oct 04, 2018 at 4:28 PM

          Do you agree that you learn very little from dominating an overmatched opponent?

          If you’re preparing to fight a MMA pro are you going to prepare for it by whooping a middle schoolers butt?

          No – that’s a waste of time. You’re going to challenge and push yourself to do hard things to get better.

          If you have to fight the middle schooler you should at least tie a hand behind your back.

          Running into stacked boxes by SMU (or anyone) is hard – but so is running against not-stacked boxes by OSU and Wisconsin. You might even argue that 9-SMU-men-in-a-box is similar to 8 for those elite defenses. It’s the closest practice you’ll get in this context.

          • Comments: 995
            Joined: 1/19/2016
            je93
            Oct 04, 2018 at 11:15 PM

            I’ll answer this one, since the second reply is both redundant and a bit long for a three week old game:
            1) since you brought up MMA, I grew up boxing. My dad was my trainer, and insisted on establishing the jab – he was dogmatic about the dang jab. Still, he had common sense: if my opponent was so concerned with my jab that he dropped his left hand, I was to make him pay by breaking tendency and delivering a right cross to his exposed chin!
            2) I’m also a retired Marine. If contact enemy is hunkered down behind cover, I won’t waste am to improve my marksmanship. Instead, I’ll lob a grenade. If the enemy is scattering, I’m won’t waste time on one with a grenade, I’ll pick them apart with small arms fire

            ALWAYS take what the opponent gives you – ALWAYS!

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 3928
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Oct 05, 2018 at 2:09 AM

              SMU isn’t a legitimate opponent. They are practice fodder.

              • Comments: 995
                Joined: 1/19/2016
                je93
                Oct 05, 2018 at 8:42 AM

                Yes. Practice what they give you. Practice your QB-WR timing & when they adjust – even a bit – smash with the run

                Win-win. Plus you’re putting on tape that tenancies don’t mean jack, and that opponents must respect both

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 3928
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Oct 04, 2018 at 4:45 PM

          Do you agree that it makes sense to work on your weaknesses?

          Michigan’s passing game has been pretty effective. (22nd in completion rate and 16th in marginal efficiency). That had people saying they need to pass more and be more aggressive. (pass game is 72nd in explosiveness).

          I understand the argument that they should work on that particular weakness, but anybody who watched Michigan football last year and the Notre Dame game this year knows that the OTs are weak at pass pro and throwing deep exposes the (very damn valuable) QB to injury.

          So – what is a weakness you can work on while not getting your QB potentially killed?

          The run game has produced some big plays (14th in explosiveness), but it’s not been very efficient overall (75th in efficiency) and the line is not producing consistent holes for the backs (52nd in stuff rate, and 103rd in opportunity rate). This run-blocking weakness (which was thought to be a strength) is evident in the team’s struggles to find success on standard running plays in short yardage. (98th in short yardage success rate despite all the Ben Mason stuff).

          So – Yes, Michigan could probably have passed to soften the SMU defense and then hammered them with the run once the job got easier.

          Again, SMU was not about winning by 100 points it was about preparation for the games that count and developing the balance that this offense will need to win. To beat WI-MSU-PSU-OSU, Michigan has to be able to run the ball at a base level of competence and consistency that they’re trying to get to.

          Michigan tried to pass 40+ times against Notre Dame and they’ll probably have to pass 40+ times to beat OSU and PSU. But there’s no way in hell Shea Patterson makes it to Columbus in one piece if they throw 40+ times every week.

          This is Michigan. They want to run the ball. They want to out man you and out execute you, regardless of what you do. They SHOULD be able to do that against SMU and WMU. SMU doing what they did was a reality check for the run game.

          There’s a weakness there – and Michigan worked on it.

  2. Comments: 22
    Joined: 8/20/2015
    Jetski
    Oct 02, 2018 at 12:03 PM

    Shea’s scrambles changed the offense. In addition to the ones that counted, his 28 yard scramble was negated by an inexplicable holding call on Higdon and would likely have led to another score.

    From my perspective, even down 17, this game never felt lost and as soon as they scored to make it 17-7 I knew Michigan would win. So much so that I stayed up until 4 am local to watch the end of the game (I live in Italy).

    • Thunder
      Comments: 2664
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Oct 02, 2018 at 12:58 PM

      Agreed. I was frustrated, but my thought after the first quarter was, “Okay, Michigan’s going to slowly regain the lead and this will be an annoyingly unsatisfying win.” I had no misgivings about Northwestern being able to keep up the offensive pace they set in the first 15 minutes. They’re just not that good.

  3. Lanknows
    Comments: 3928
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Oct 03, 2018 at 12:29 AM

    Let’s see less of on Defense. How about we give Rashan Gary the week off to heal that shoulder up? Give Paye the start against Maryland and let Hutchinson get his work in to prep for next year.

    While we’re at it – let’s get a lead and let Winovich watch his heir — Josh Uche! — get in there for the second half.

    Staying on DL: I want to see Solomon back and healthy. Our DTs are either run-stuffers or pass-rushers. Solomon offers both.

    I’m looking forward to Evans return since I think he’s clearly better than Wilson. Also agree we need him to help keep Higdon healthy through the WISC-MSU-PSU gauntlet.

    Special teams. Generally returners are faster than the RBs Michigan recruits – WRs and DBs. Hawkins was recruited (and practiced) as a WR, so he fits the athletic bill. But I kind of agree that I’d like to see somebody like Samuels or Bell in there over Hawkins. The coaches seem to really want Hawkins out there whenever they can.

    • Comments: 89
      Joined: 9/28/2015
      PapaBear
      Oct 03, 2018 at 9:49 AM

      Can we afford to sit Gary vs. Maryland? I get what you’re saying. He needs to heal or may never be close to 100%.

      But, are any of you nervous about Maryland. They seem to be so explosive with many playmakers. Hope I am wrong.

      • Thunder
        Comments: 2664
        Joined: 7/13/2015
        Oct 03, 2018 at 10:24 AM

        I’ve seen a lot of consternation about Maryland, which confuses me a little bit. I’m a little bit nervous about every team we play, because we’ve lost to Toledo and Appalachian State in recent years. But whenever Maryland plays us, they get shut down. Yes, they have a couple playmakers (Ty Johnson, Anthony McFarland), but Maryland has never been able to put those things together enough to create real problems for Michigan. And the QB has only had one game this season where he has completed over 60% of his passes (he was 10/14 last week against Minnesota). Last year they put up 51 on Texas, 63 on Towson, 42 on Maryland…and 10 on Michigan.

        • Comments: 89
          Joined: 9/28/2015
          PapaBear
          Oct 03, 2018 at 1:20 PM

          Good points, Thunder. The Temple game was either an anomaly or a template of sorts for beating them.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3928
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Oct 03, 2018 at 11:39 AM

        Not really. double digit favs. Homecoming game. I think we win by 20+. anyway, Paye is playing pretty well and Hutchinson is no liability either.

  4. Comments: 995
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    je93
    Oct 03, 2018 at 3:28 PM

    Yeah, I can see them putting up points. But being at home, we should cover the spread. If not, expect more meltdown

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