Enjoy Michigan football. I’ve seen a lot of complaints about Michigan’s offense, which we will indeed discuss. But those complaints are probably coming from a lot of the same people who have said Jim Harbaugh can’t win big games against tough opponents. Iowa was 4-0 and ranked #14 coming to Ann Arbor. It wasn’t a pretty win, but it counts the same in the Big Ten standings as a win over Ohio State or Rutgers.
Hit the jump for more.
The defense played a great game. I won’t go as far as to say that Michigan has a great defense in 2019. There are some holes in a couple spots, and the Don Brown scheme still needs to be tested against good spread teams, not just Rutgers and Middle Tennessee. But the defense matched up well against Iowa’s pro-style offense. It was obvious pretty early that Iowa couldn’t handle Michigan’s blitz packages up front, and that turned into a nightmare performance for Nate Stanley. I’ve never understood the Stanley NFL Draft hype, because he’s immobile and can be indecisive. He’s like a lot of Iowa quarterbacks, in my opinion: he feeds off of a solid offensive line and running game, along with good ol’ fashioned downhill play action.
Kwity Paye had a coming out party. Defensively, Michigan had an excellent game overall and made 8 sacks. Paye had 2.5 of those sacks, and he didn’t even play the whole game after suffering a lower body injury of some sort. That’s the second multiple-sack game of his career (Northwestern 2018 was his first), but he now has 4 in the past two games. Paye has a good mix of strength, athleticism, and leverage, and he seems to be working on some counter moves to aid his natural ability. Shaun Nua took some criticism early in the year for the defensive line’s performance, but that unit made 4.5 of the 8 sacks on Saturday, and they have picked up their play recently.
It might be time to give the starting running back some playing time. If I have time, I’ll be talking more about this in a separate post early this week. But coming out of spring and then going into August practices, Jim Harbaugh said Tru Wilson was the starting running back. Zach Charbonnet has been the #1 guy so far, and Wilson has been limited by a hand injury. Wilson got 4 carries for 28 yards, and there was no garbage time for him to pad his stats. Michigan probably needs to give him more of a look.
Stop calling for Joe Milton. Shea Patterson didn’t have a great game, and I won’t suggest he played well. He was 14/26 for 147 yards and 1 interception; he was sacked twice and ended with a total of 7 carries for 25 yards. His one interception was a simple high-low read that he never should have thrown, but quarterbacks make mistakes. I see people on Twitter begging for Milton, and that’s not something I want to see anytime soon. He has 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions on 11 career passing attempts, mostly in garbage time. His strong arm is enticing, but he’s not mature enough (in the football sense) to handle the load in crunch time. While the deep ball might suddenly become more of a factor, the short-to-intermediate passing game would disappear.
The old Joe Milton is next. Up next week is Illinois and (potentially) former Michigan quarterback Brandon Peters. Peters was injured on Saturday against Minnesota, and his availability is in question for next week, which would be a little disappointing if he can’t play. Hopefully that will be a productive game offensively, because then Michigan will face Penn State and Notre Dame in back-to-back weeks.
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