Michigan vs. SMU Awards

Michigan vs. SMU Awards


September 17, 2018

Donovan Peoples-Jones (image via Michigan Daily)

Let’s see more of this guy on offense . . . Karan Higdon. Higdon was a game-time decision in this game, and he ended up sitting out the contest. The Wolverines struggled to run the football, even if the overall numbers ended up okay due to SMU wearing down in the second half. Leading rusher Chris Evans had 18 carries for 85 to lead the team, but his day ended with his game-high 35-yard run in the third quarter, which saw him grab his right hamstring area and go down. Whether it was a cramp (hopefully) or a hamstring tear, it left Michigan with walk-on Tru Wilson and sophomore O’Maury Samuels handling the load for the remainder of the game. Higdon should be back for next week if he was a game-time decision two days ago, but Michigan needs him back.

Let’s see less of this guy on offense . . . Tru Wilson. I think Wilson is probably the best pass blocker of all the running backs, so I don’t want to see him disappear entirely from the rotation. While he averaged 4.8 yards/carry (11 carries for 53 yards and 1 TD), Michigan needs some other guys to step up. Wilson isn’t particularly quick or powerful, and he generally seems to just get what the offensive line gives him and nothing more.

Let’s see more of this guy on defense . . . Brandon Watson. Watson has been playing very well as the third corner, and he might even be playing better than the starters. He left the game on Saturday with cramps, and SMU seemed to have more success in the passing game after he left. Hopefully Watson is ready to go next Saturday.

Let’s see less of this guy on defense . . . the head zebra. Michigan was penalized 13 times for 137 yards, which is a ridiculous number for a college game. Four of those penalties were for pass interference (Josh Metellus, Tyree Kinnel, Lavert Hill, Josh Ross), one was a questionable late hit out of bounds (Jordan Glasgow), one was a late hit on the QB (Aidan Hutchinson), and another was targeting (Khaleke Hudson). Those are seven (7!!!) penalties that are all 15-yarders. That won’t fly against better teams.

Play of the game . . . Josh Metellus’s 73-yard interception return for a touchdown. SMU had a scoring opportunity going into the half when they tried to run a wheel route down the offense’s left sideline. Metellus, who had struggled up to that point in this game, got a great jump on the route and picked it off. He sprinted down the sideline, got a great block from Aidan Hutchinson, and then cut back to the middle of the field to get in the endzone. When he caught the ball, there were about 14 seconds remaining on the clock, and time ran out as soon as he scored, so getting tackled down inside the 5-yard line may have run out the clock without giving the Wolverines a chance to score.

Player of the game . . . Shea Patterson. Patterson was 14/18 for 237 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception. He also ran 6 times for 20 yards. Though his one interception was maddening, as it came in the red zone in a 0-0 tie during the first quarter, the rest of his day was pretty flawless. He made some pinpoint throws to Zach Gentry (4 catches for 95 yards) and Donovan Peoples-Jones (4 catches for 90 yards and all 3 touchdowns), particularly a back-shoulder fade to Peoples-Jones that other quarterbacks over the past couple years have not been able to make.

29 comments

  1. Comments: 92
    Joined: 9/13/2015
    AC1997
    Sep 17, 2018 at 8:53 AM

    Thunder – How much of Shea’s interception do you put on McKeon for standing in the endzone instead of coming back to the ball even if it took him out to the 2- yard line? I know it wasn’t a great pass or great decision, but it felt like McKeon could/should have done more. I’m just not sure how much.

    • Blue in NC
      Comments: 41
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Blue in NC
      Sep 17, 2018 at 10:11 AM

      Thanks for making this comment. I put 80% of the INT on McKeon and the other 20% on a great play by the CB. I have no problem with Shea throwing that ball. Shea was trying to get points on third down and directed McKeon, who has a step and would have made the catch if he continued to come to the ball. Instead he tried to stay in the end zone. I get very tired of Michigan QBs throwing it away on third down in the red zone (yes, I know sometimes it’s the smart play to take the 3 points but we seem to give up too easily).

      • Comments: 974
        Joined: 1/19/2016
        je93
        Sep 17, 2018 at 10:30 AM

        Disagree. He had sentry wide open for an easy 6, bit of he went to McKeon four a TD, he could have placed the ball higher. This is one time I agree with the height advantage crowd

    • Thunder
      Comments: 2626
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Sep 17, 2018 at 7:58 PM

      It’s hard to say. Sometimes you’re told “Make sure you get in the endzone” before the play, so you don’t want to leave. (Or “get to the sticks.) So if a coach or the QB told him “Get to the endzone on this,” then maybe that’s not on him so much. He might have been able to save that pass, but it probably would have been 4th-and-goal, and I think the DB might still have broken it up.

  2. Comments: 974
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    je93
    Sep 17, 2018 at 9:22 AM

    It may have been better for UM to not bulldoze Hicks. He looked pretty shook up, and was replaced at the half with Brown, who then made a few heisman-level plays

    ‘He sprinted down the sideline, got a great block from Aidan Hutchinson”

  3. Lanknows
    Comments: 3878
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Sep 17, 2018 at 12:12 PM

    Patterson’s playing great. There’s a few things we can nitpick (e.g., throw it higher to TEs) but overall it’s pretty awesome to see a level of passing ability we haven’t seen since at least Chad Henne.

    • Comments: 974
      Joined: 1/19/2016
      je93
      Sep 17, 2018 at 12:17 PM

      Agree. Patterson is our best O player, and has reliable options to deliver the ball to… yet we will continue to force the run with our 3d RB, behind a struggling OL that probably won’t even be together by October

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3878
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Sep 17, 2018 at 12:39 PM

        If they don’t run the ball, Patterson won’t be on the field in October.

        • Comments: 974
          Joined: 1/19/2016
          je93
          Sep 17, 2018 at 2:16 PM

          Sure. But why not set up the run, by passing first? Get the back7 to respect the pass, so our OL stands a chance. Evan’s might have had a 100yd day if he had room to wiggle

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 3878
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Sep 17, 2018 at 10:48 PM

            You’re facing a tomato can. If this was OSU Higdon and Marshall would have been in the game and the playcalls would have been more aggressive.

      • Comments: 18
        Joined: 8/12/2015
        LeeR
        Sep 18, 2018 at 7:35 AM

        My guess is that the staff used these last two games to work on OLine run blocking/confidence — including getting tough yards when the box was stacked. UM won’t beat the better teams on its schedule if it can’t convert on 3d & 2. Or, as we saw against tOSU, there are times when we’ll need to be able to grind out some yards.

        If the Husker QB is out for this game — meaning 17 or 21 points should win — then we might see more of the same.

        UM passed very well when it had to — and it just passed enough so that the game result wasn’t in jeopardy. I think we’ll see more diversity and audibles as we move into the tougher part of the schedule.

        Even if I’m guessing right about what the team is trying to accomplish by running into a crowded box, I’d still like to see the pace of the offense pick it up. Get the play signaled in, move your @sses and get up to the line, and go.

        • Comments: 974
          Joined: 1/19/2016
          je93
          Sep 18, 2018 at 10:41 AM

          If true Lee, I think it’s a problem. The likelyhood of both Runyan & JBB starting in November is at least slim, and Tru Wilson is our third RB. If that were the strategy, it was as close to wasted as I can imagine

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 3878
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Sep 18, 2018 at 5:38 PM

            People keep asserting this about the tackles and a)not much reason believe it’s true and b) reminiscent of Brandon Peters last year.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 3878
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Sep 18, 2018 at 5:35 PM

          Right. At the end of the year it doesn’t matter if they score 70 or 35 on SMU. People upset about suboptimal playcalling are missing the point.

          The thing that matters is if they can execute. They shouldn’t (and don’t) have to gameplan around SMU.

          • Comments: 832
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            WindyCityBlue
            Sep 19, 2018 at 8:21 AM

            But it absolutely does matter if you have to play your starters deep into the second half against a team you should have rolled easily.

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 3878
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Sep 19, 2018 at 4:38 PM

              When I look back on the 2017 season, how long the starters were in against Cincinnati and Rutgers isn’t in the top 100 things I care about. I’m not alone.

              • Comments: 832
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                WindyCityBlue
                Sep 19, 2018 at 4:49 PM

                Well, when you do start giving more importance to it, you may start to realize why this team falls apart at the end of the year and has more trouble just plugging in new starters, as compared to our chief rivals.

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 3878
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Sep 19, 2018 at 4:52 PM

                  No, the 4th quarter of WMU, SMU, or Rutgers games doesn’t matter at all.

  4. Comments: 8
    Joined: 2/4/2016
    SailingNomad
    Sep 17, 2018 at 3:57 PM

    Surprised at the comments regarding Tru Wilson. He’s no All-American, but I thought on at least two of his runs (including the TD) he pretty clearly fought for (and got) more than just what his blocking gave him. Also seems a stretch to complain about the number of penalties when at least half of them (admittedly an uneducated estimate) looked to be bogus.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 2626
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Sep 17, 2018 at 8:06 PM

      Yeah…I mean, he looked fine at the end of the game when the outcome was already decided and SMU was worn out. When everyone was pretty fresh, he didn’t do anything noteworthy other than block well.

      • Comments: 8
        Joined: 2/4/2016
        SailingNomad
        Sep 18, 2018 at 12:44 PM

        Fair enough. I was thinking of the play to the sideline where he fought for the first down and ended up grinding out three or four extra yards (with Ruiz’s help). Between that and the TD run, he at least looks to have decently powerful legs and above-average balance. Agree that “quick” is not a descriptor I would use for him, however.

  5. Comments: 832
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    WindyCityBlue
    Sep 17, 2018 at 6:11 PM

    How about seeing more DPJ on offense? He looked like he could have had his own way all afternoon, but they only got the ball to him 4 times. SMU’s best receiver had 11 catches.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3878
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Sep 17, 2018 at 10:50 PM

      You be you WCB.

  6. Comments: 974
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    je93
    Sep 19, 2018 at 2:31 PM

    But they do game plan, at all levels of sports, for all opponents
    If we can’t run against SMU, we won’t run against sparty, wisc, or ohio. The strength of our O is Shea. The next tier is a mix of Nico, Gentry, and DPJ. Third tier is probably McKeon & Higdon/Evans
    Why not play to your strengths? Get the back7 to respect the pass, and the run opens up. Who knows, with space, guys like Evans & Samuels might be pretty dang lethal

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3878
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Sep 19, 2018 at 4:51 PM

      That’s all fine an sensible if you’re talking about the 5 games that matter. AI: we talkin bout Mustangs man.

      Shea might be able to beat SMU by himself but he’ll need help against OSU.

      And, again, we need him to be upright. Every dropback pass is another opportunity for OTs to get him lit up. If you go all out to try to maximize your scoring against SMU you put Shea at risk. The fleeting satisfaction of beating a dead mustang isn’t worth it.

      They need to protect Shea. They do that by improving the run game and limiting his exposure. Against SMU I know they did the latter and hope they did the former. It’s the right call.

      I hope they keep Shea pass attempts under 20 through to the Wisconsin game.

      • Comments: 974
        Joined: 1/19/2016
        je93
        Sep 19, 2018 at 10:10 PM

        You’re arguing against a point I didn’t make. I’m not saying abandon the run. I’m saying our strength is our QB and his targets. Our weakness is the OL. Running Tru Wilson behind JohnRunyanJr isn’t going to win us The Game. We’ll need the pass to set up the run. Embracing the strength of the team is no bad thing!

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 3878
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Sep 20, 2018 at 2:10 PM

          I agree. The point of debate is what to focus on against SMU. I’m good with working on the weaknesses.

      • Comments: 832
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        WindyCityBlue
        Sep 20, 2018 at 8:40 AM

        You also limit Shea’s exposure to injury by not making him play the whole damn game against a cupcake. Same for all of the other starters. That’s the part you don’t seem to get. Build up a big lead when you can, then give the guys who will have to play next year game reps and keep your starters fresher. The more downs you play, the more banged up you’re going to be by the end of the season. Even if you’re not injured to the point of not being able to play, bodies can only take so many impacts and so much pounding.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 3878
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Sep 20, 2018 at 2:12 PM

          The idea that you can pass less by passing more is debatable.

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