Take a deep breath.Take a deep breath. It’s hard after that game not to be very frustrated with the state of Michigan football, but I’ll say the same thing I said toward the end of the regular season: This was not going to be a great season from the beginning. Michigan lost almost everyone on defense from 2016, lost a bunch of production on offense, and lost three offensive line starters. They also didn’t get back their starting LT who got injured from last year, got their best WR hurt, and lost their starting four games into the year. If you’re an objective observer, you can probably admit that those are some huge, huge hurdles to overcome.
Let’s see more of this guy on offense . . . Brandon Peters. If Peters were the quarterback in this game, I think Michigan probably wins it. Unfortunately, Peters got concussed against Wisconsin and was still in concussion protocol when the Ohio State game came around. It was the right call for the health of Peters, and I’m glad the medical staff didn’t clear him. But it was unfortunate for Michigan. Hopefully Peters is ready to go for the bowl game.
Let’s see less of this guy on offense . . . John O’Korn. O’Korn didn’t have an absolutely terrible game (17/32, 195 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT), but he missed a handful of open receivers and threw a really, really, really, really, really bad interception when Michigan was down just 24-20 with a little less than three minutes left. O’Korn took the blame for the loss, and that’s entirely fair. Good for him. But he doesn’t give Michigan a very good chance to win.
Let’s see more of this guy on defense . . . Tyree Kinnel. For most of the season, I’ve said I like the defensive rotations. I just want Kinnel to be healthy after it looks like he suffered a concussion when hitting Ohio State receiver Austin Mack.
Let’s see less of this guy on defense . . . Jordan Glasgow. As much as I respect the Glasgow family – and even Jordan himself – Michigan has better safeties. Both Kinnel and J’Marick Woods got injured, which forced Glasgow into action late in the game. Hopefully, he can just concentrate on special teams in the bowl game.
Play of the game . . . Donovan Peoples-Jones’s 42-yard punt return. Peoples-Jones made several people miss, accelerated up the sideline, lowered his shoulder, broke a tackle, spun back for extra yards, etc. It was a brilliant return, and it indicated that it would be great if Michigan could find ways to get him the ball more.
MVP of the game . . . Rashan Gary. Naysayers might point to Gary’s missed tackle, which came right after he left the game with a shoulder injury (that seems to have been nagging him for several weeks). It didn’t look great, but bad shoulders can do that to a guy. Even so, he finished the game with 10 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks. He was Michigan’s best defensive player on Saturday, and nobody on offense had a standout game.
Let’s see more of this guy on offense . . . Karan Higdon. Higdon had 7 carries for 20 yards on Saturday, and he played second fiddle to Chris Evans while nursing an ankle injury. If Michigan has any chance to beat Ohio State, it has to have a healthy Higdon. Higdon is the team’s leading rusher this season (136 carries, 874 yards, 6.43 yards/carry, 10 TDs).
Brandon Peters, we hardly knew ye. The redshirt freshman quarterback was 9/18 for 157 yards in about three quarters of play before being knocked out of the game. This was just his third start after replacing the ineffective John O’Korn, who was himself replacing the injured Wilton Speight. Peters was in the midst of showing the whole country what a lot of us Michigan fans saw in the spring game, and that’s the fact that he’s Michigan’s best quarterback. Peters did lose a fumble while making an ill-advised lunge for the goal line, but that was his first and only turnover in about four full games of work and 64 passing attempts. Peters was being evaluated for a head injury, almost certainly has a concussion, and will probably miss next week’s game against Ohio State.
Red zone woes. Michigan has scored touchdowns on just 1 of 10 opportunities inside the 20-yard line. They don’t have difference-makers on offense at quarterback or wide receiver, and running back Ty Isaac needs a crease to be at his best. For the past couple years, Michigan could bring in Jabrill Peppers as a Wildcat quarterback, running back, or slot guy, but they don’t have that guy right now. The offensive line needs to improve to help make that difference, and Wilton Speight needs to be better, too. Luckily, kicker Quinn Nordin has been pretty darn good in his first three games, and he’s actually tied for #1 nationally with 11 made field goals (on 13 attempts). That is good for Nordin, but it’s disappointing that Michigan has attempted 13 field goals, which is the most in the country.