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Let’s see more of this guy on offense . . . Chris Evans. Something must have been going on with Evans (discipline, injury, etc.), because he’s a potential playmaker and only touched the ball 4 times in the season opener against Notre Dame. I heard in the off-season he was working in the slot, and Michigan is short on receivers. But all Evans got was 2 carries for 1 yard and 2 catches for 37 yards. The coaching staff needs to find a way to get him the ball.
Hit the jump for more awards from Saturday night.
Let’s see less of this guy on offense . . . backup quarterbacks. I’ve never seen a quarterback cramp up in a game like Shea Patterson did. The weather will be cooling off in the near future, so cramps won’t be a huge issue. But with all that Michigan went through last year with backup quarterbacks forced into action, it sure would have been nice to get through game one without needing the #3 quarterback to come on the field because the #1 quarterback was cramping and the #2 guy hurt his knee in practice.
Let’s see more of this guy on defense . . . Brad Hawkins, Jr. I know Hawkins was beaten deep for a touchdown shortly after entering the game, but I thought he played well overall and showed some good athleticism. Even on the touchdown, he got his hands on the ball. I’m not saying he should start over Josh Metellus (who was kicked out of the game early for targeting) right now, but I would like to see Hawkins get some snaps in the coming weeks to give him some experience. From what I saw, I think he has a good chance of replacing Metellus later this year or taking Tyree Kinnel’s spot in 2019.
Let’s see less of this guy on defense . . . Devin Gil. The battle has been ongoing to see who would replace Mike McCray II at WILL linebacker, whether it’s Gil or Josh Ross. Gil missed an opportunity for a sack, and I thought Ross looked quicker than what I remember from last year. I would be leaning toward Ross playing the WILL spot at this point.
Let’s see more of this guy on special teams . . . Ambry Thomas. He had a kickoff return for a touchdown and looked pretty good doing it. He looks stronger this year, and he has good long speed.
Let’s see less of this guy on special teams . . . Will Hart. Hart had a botched hold that ended up losing Michigan 11 yards and a chance for a field goal. I’m not a fan of playing the backup walk-on punter as the holder. (Yes, I know Hart started this game, but Brad Robbins was supposed to be the starting punter until he got injured.) The holder should be a receiver or a backup quarterback, your better athletes who are used to making plays with the football in their hands.
Play of the game . . . Ambry Thomas’s 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. It’s pretty self-explanatory. Michigan’s offense was unable to do much, but Thomas got the juices flowing on a middle return where he showed some strength, vision, and speed toward the end of the 2nd quarter. That helped Michigan get within two scores of Notre Dame at halftime. A three-score deficit would have seemed insurmountable with the way the offense was playing.
— Evan Petzold (@EvanPetzold) September 2, 2018
MVP of the game . . . Chase Winovich. Winovich did have a bonehead late hit that extended a drive and allowed a touchdown, but he lived in Notre Dame’s backfield all night long. The Fighting Irish have an excellent offensive line, and Winovich made them look average. He finished with 6 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, and 2 quarterback hurries. With the interior defensive line unable to push the pocket, having an edge rusher who could chase down Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush was necessary to keep this game from getting out of hand.
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