Let’s see more of this guy on offense . . . Dylan McCaffrey. I liked that Michigan started trying to devise ways to get McCaffrey involved in the offense, even with Shea Patterson still in the game. It didn’t prove beneficial in this game (McCaffrey lined up at slot receiver, motioned in behind the QB, and then ran a return motion while Michigan threw a quick screen to the opposite side), but it may set up some things in the future. The presence of an athletic QB (who had a 44-yard TD run) who can also throw the ball is probably more versatile than having a Wildcat QB like Jabrill Peppers, even though McCaffrey isn’t as explosive.
Hooray for fewer commercials. I have to say it was very nice not to have to sit through commercial break after commercial break after commercial break. I get that college football can’t exist in the form that it does without commercials, but some of the recent games have been tiresome. I don’t watch the commercials, ABC. I go to the bathroom, get a snack, or check my phone.
Name: Rashan Gary Height: 6’5″ Weight: 283 lbs. High school: Paramus (NJ) Catholic Position: Defensive end Class: Junior Jersey number: #3 Last year: I ranked Gary #2 and said he would be the starting Anchor (LINK). He made 65 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, and 1 forced fumble. TTB Rating: 100
Gary had an excellent season in 2017. He was named First Team All-Big Ten by the coaches and Second Team by the media. His best career game came against Ohio State at the end of the regular season, when he made 7 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks. He has versatility to play inside and out, and it’s rare that other teams can get the best of him. His season-long performance was good enough to win him the Richard Katcher Award for the team’s best defensive lineman or outside linebacker.
You’re probably wondering why the former #1 recruit in the country and an All-Big Ten guy is sitting at #4 on my list, and that’s fair. But keep in mind that this list is about importance, not talent. Gary will be the starting Anchor once again in 2018, without a doubt. The big question is what’s behind him. The Wolverines have been grooming junior Carlo Kemp over the past couple seasons to play strongside end or 3-tech, and Michigan has also moved sophomore Kwity Paye to strongside end. Defensive line coach Greg Mattison has always done a great job of developing his players, and Michigan can replace Gary with a solid college player. That’s not necessarily the case with the three players remaining on the countdown. On top of all that, Gary has been very good but not outlandishly productive. (For a comparison, Gary’s 16.5 career TFLs and 6.5 sacks are well behind Ohio State Buckeye Nick Bosa’s 23 TFLs and 13.5 sacks over the same time period.) Gary is a very good player, but the team would miss him less than a few other guys. I expect this to be his final season in Ann Arbor.
Prediction: Starting Anchor; 60 tackles, 7 sacks; First Team All-Big Ten
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.