I apologize for the delayed/short post. I had a crazy busy weekend and I was on the road for much of it, so I didn’t have much of a chance to write.
Great win. It shouldn’t be underestimated how great of a victory this was, in light of all the distractions in recent weeks. Michigan went into Happy Valley missing its head coach, a head coach that was stupidly suspended at the end of the day on Friday with zero new information in the previous week. I postulated last Monday on Rivals that the Big Ten might make a decision late on Friday, making it impossible or at least unlikely that Michigan would be able to get an injunction/temporary restraining order in time to get Harbaugh available for Saturday. Sure enough, that’s what happened. Supposedly, commissioner Tony Petitti released the suspension to the media before notifying Michigan itself, so M heard it first through the media. From a public perception standpoint, Petitti is lucky Michigan won this game, because the uproar would have been deafening if suddenly the Wolverines lost a game less than 24 hours after its head coach was suspended for such stupid reasons.
Who cares if Sherrone Moore cried? It was an emotional victory, for all the reasons mentioned above and more. I wish he didn’t cuss a couple times on national TV, but he’s not paid to be interviewed in an emotional moment after games. You know who is paid to do that? Jim Harbaugh. If the Big Ten wants family-friendly interviews after games, maybe they should let the guys who are head coaches coach the games and be interviewed, since that’s part of their job. The cussing would be a bigger deal if it was Harbaugh, who has two decades of head coaching experience. So f*** the Big Ten.
Anyway . . .
Hit the jump for more.
Kenneth Grant, #1 freak. I was amazed during the broadcast that the announcers didn’t make a bigger deal of 6’3″, 339 lb. Kenneth Grant chasing down 5’11”, 222 lb. Penn State running back Kaytron Allen. Allen isn’t really known as a speedster, but the fact that Grant ran him down on a 34-yard run was pretty astonishing. Not only did it show Grant’s speed, but it also showed his effort. I kept an eye on Grant the next couple plays to see if he was winded, and it did seem like he lost a little bit of energy, at least temporarily. But who cares? That might end up being a career highlight and the type of play we see in highlight packages when he gets drafted in the first round in 2025.
I still like Drew Allar. Penn State has one of those offenses that I find a little bit painful to watch for whatever reason. Maybe it’s just their uniforms. I don’t know and can’t put my finger on it. Everything with them is just so boxy and linear. I don’t find anything surprising about their offense. They seem like a Wing-T team where you’re never surprised about what they’re running. Sometimes they’re efficient and sometimes they’re not. Regardless, I think Allar has a lot of tools. He’s more athletic than some people want to credit him for, and he has a good arm. He makes some silly decisions at times, but he’s only 2/3 of his way through his first year as a starter. J.J. McCarthy was making some stupid decisions last year, too, and he’s turned out to be pretty good. I’m not sure James Franklin is capable of coaching up a capable NFL quarterback, but if Allar were in the right situation, he might be better regarded. He finished 10/22 for 70 yards and 1 touchdown, plus 10 carries for 49 yards and 1 touchdown.
Michigan’s running game came to play! Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition! Blake Corum ran 26 times for 145 yards and 2 touchdowns, and even Donovan Edwards had a solid day (10 carries, 52 yards, 1 touchdown). Michigan ran the ball 32 times straight to close out the game, an unbelievable stat, especially since it wasn’t raining or snowing. Penn State has a good defense and they were giving Michigan a lot of problems, but McCarthy (8 carries, 34 yards) as a part of the run game changes things. It’s hard to take away all of Michigan’s threats, so if the coaching staff makes him available as a runner, look out. I think Michigan probably could have opened things up a little bit more – and would have if necessary – but since PSU couldn’t put together much on offense, there was no real need to push the offense.
Pass protection was sketchy. Penn State has some good pass rushers in Adisa Isaac and Chop Robinson, but Michigan – in particular right tackle Karsen Barnhart – looked totally vulnerable to straight dropback pass rushes. Barnhart is odd to me, because he was such a good athlete in high school as a tight end. When he gets out on the run, he moves well. But his lateral quickness and the angles he takes make me scratch my head sometimes. Maybe the coaches just don’t work on straight dropback passing enough. This is in no way an indictment of Michigan’s offensive line coaching overall, but the tackles are kind of a weak spot, and that’s disappointing because Barnhart has been at Michigan for five years now.
James Franklin is dumb. A video went viral with him arguing with a journalist about the second time he went for 2 points, when PSU was down 24-15. (That 2-point attempt failed, leaving a two-score, 9-point deficit with a few minutes left in the game.) The bigger question mark for me came when they scored a TD to make it 14-9 and he went for two points, which would have made it 14-11. I mean . . . yeah, you’re within a field goal if you make it. Maybe that makes sense if you think you can shut down Michigan’s offense in the second half and score a field goal to tie it, but . . . that’s just chasing things way too early. When it was 14-9, Franklin should have just kicked the extra point and taken the gimme.
Hail to the victors! On to Maryland next week, which is a likely win for Michigan unless something goes horribly awry.
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