Ty Isaac thud. I was very disappointed in running back Ty Isaac’s performance. As the second-string running back, he got a chance to start this game since De’Veon Smith was injured and stayed home. He promptly fumbled twice (losing one) on his way to a 6-carry, 17-yard performance. He was not seen after the second fumble except on special teams. In addition to the fumble, Isaac extended a drive by roughing the punter. He had a chance to stake his claim as the potential starting running back, and he literally fumbled away the opportunity, putting the ball on the ground 33% of the time. Welcome to third- or fourth-string, Ty. You just lost your job to Drake Johnson.
Hit the jump for the rest of the game summary.
Drake Johnson got his vibe back. Johnson looked tentative leading up to this game, and even his first few carries showed a guy who didn’t have the same burst or fluidity of movement as last year. He was going down too easily in previous weeks, and he didn’t show great vision, either. Then he caught a screen pass for a 31-yard touchdown, and that seemed to help him get his confidence back. After that he was seeing holes, picking his feet up through gaps, and gaining pretty good yardage. He finished with 13 carries for 68 yards and 1 touchdown. It’s good to have him back in the swing of things.
Maryland is not good. When the quarterback wasn’t bad, the wide receivers were bad and dropped a bunch of passes. The offensive line was bad. The running backs were decent. The long snapper had a bad snap. The punter/kicker shanked a punt. Anyone not named Will Likely or Yannick Ngakoue was mediocre on defense. Maryland has a couple playmakers, and running back Brandon Ross is pretty solid, but this is not a good football team. I know Maryland fans are down on head coach Randy Edsall and the quarterbacks, but the wide receivers should be taken to task for their play, too, at least this weekend. This is a team that could realistically go 3-9, though.
I don’t buy Michigan as a real contender. If Maryland makes a play here or there, the Wolverines are on their heels and having to fight out of a hole. Both teams left a lot of opportunities on the field, and the game was 6-0 at halftime. Ultimately, Michigan can’t hit a thing downfield, they struggle to make plays in the running game, and they have to manufacture explosive plays. Good teams can create big plays with their base offense at least once in a while, but Michigan needs end arounds, jet sweeps, reverses, fancy double- or triple-screens, etc. They created a couple big plays in this game, but mostly in the second half when I’m sure Maryland’s whole team was getting frustrated that their offense couldn’t achieve anything. Michigan’s offense is really going to bog down against some of the defenses they’ll face in coming weeks.
Jehu Chesson is fast. I’m glad Michigan’s coaching staff has found a way to use Chesson. The guy is strong, fast, and blocks well. The knock on him (at least from me) is that he’s not a natural receiver, struggles to adjust to the ball and catch with his hands, etc. Brady Hoke’s staff never really took advantage of his speed and thought Devin Funchess was the only guy who could run reverses and such, but Chesson can outrun some people if you can figure out how to get him the ball. Harbaugh has done a good job so far by setting up some quick hitches, and he now has 3 carries for 106 yards and 2 touchdowns on the year. Safety Jabrill Peppers has admitted that Chesson is the fastest guy on the team.
Jeremy Clark might be the biggest success story of this regime so far. Clark played some last year as a backup safety, but he was not seen as a quality option and had some issues in space. This coaching staff moved him to corner, put him under the tutelage of Mike Zordich, and has turned him into a pretty decent player. Starting cornerback Channing Stribling missed the game with an injury, and the defense didn’t miss a beat with Clark at cornerback – he made 3 tackles and 1 interception. That pick was his third of the year, and he leads the team in that category. If Jourdan Lewis were to jump to the NFL early, Michigan would still have two guys with some pretty good starting experience coming back next season. The one guy we know needs to be replaced next year is strong safety Jarrod Wilson, but it would not be surprising if some of these positions get reshuffled in the off-season.
Mario Ojemudia injury scare. Starting Buck linebacker Mario Ojemudia went down late in the game with an injury that looks like an Achilles issue. That’s unfortunate for Ojemudia, but it’s also bad news for the team, because that’s a position where Michigan is very thin. Backup Royce Jenkins-Stone doesn’t offer much playmaking ability or pass rush, and the other obvious option is redshirt freshman Lawrence Marshall, who has barely played so far. The coaching staff might have to look at changing someone’s position (Ben Gedeon?) or unleashing a true freshman (Shelton Johnson or Reuben Jones). Redshirt freshman Noah Furbush also made an appearance and made 1 tackle, and he’s a guy I have pegged in the past as a potential weakside end. Michigan was already lacking an elite edge rusher because Ojemudia was not great in the first place, and now I imagine the senior’s Michigan career is finished. You hate to see injuries, period, but especially to seniors.
I’ll pat myself on the back for my predictions this week (LINK). I predicted 6 catches for 75 yards for Jake Butt to lead the team (he got 4 catches, 61 yards to lead the team), 3 interceptions for Michigan (they got one each from Clark, Desmond Morgan, and Jourdan Lewis), an appearance from backup Daxx Garman (yep), and 100 total yards from Drake Johnson (he got 99). I did miss on the final score, which I pegged for 31-10.
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