IT’S A TRAP! I was expecting a relatively close battle (I predicted 28-17 Michigan), and the great and powerful Lee Corso predicted an Indiana victory. But it turns out Michigan had other ideas this year. After a slow start on defense, the Wolverines defense put the clamps on Indiana. Michigan was down 14-7 at one point and then scored 32 unanswered points the rest of the way. Indiana’s secondary was severely outmatched in this one, and Michigan took advantage to the tune of 366 passing yards and 5 touchdowns through the air.
Hit the jump.
Jeremy Gallon Jehu Chesson Nico Collins breakout time. Collins tied a career high with 6 receptions and set new career highs with 165 yards and 3 touchdowns through the air. That included a 76-yard score on an RPO. Last week Michigan went right to Collins on a post route after a turnover, and this week Michigan pulled out virtually the same exact play for a 19-yard touchdown after a turnover. Michigan and Indiana have had some close games in recent years, but it’s also the team that Michigan sets records against. In 2013 it was Jeremy Gallon with 14 catches for 369 yards and 2 touchdowns. In 2015 it was Jehu Chesson with 10 catches for 207 yards and 4 touchdowns. Collins’s game wasn’t quite on the same level as those, but it was still impressive and full of personal bests.
Michigan needs to improve in the running game. The battering of Notre Dame aside, Michigan needs to get better at running the ball. Zach Charbonnet had a 22-yard run, but otherwise, the longest run was 7 yards. Maybe Michigan had the idea of keeping Patterson healthy through to the Ohio State game, and it appears they’ve achieved that feat. Everything has to be on the table next week, including Patterson runs to open up things for the running backs and receivers. For the past two weeks, Michigan has won largely by having a good quarterback and better athletes on the edge than MSU or Indiana has had in the defensive backfield. That won’t be the case next Saturday, at least not across the board.
Still not impressed with the single wing. Michigan ran two plays with running back Hassan Haskins lined up behind center. One was a short yardage play on which Haskins got about 2 yards when he needed 1. One was a short yardage play on which Haskins lost 4 yards when he needed 3. It’s boring and unimaginative. There’s no motion, no pump fake, just snap and follow the fullback. This stuff works for a high school team I know because they’re just bigger and better than everyone and they snap it to a 6’2″, 230 lb. linebacker going DI. Haskins isn’t the same kind of mismatch.
Will Hart stinks sometimes. Punters are odd beings. It’s okay if they’re consistent, and it’s great when they’re booming punts. It’s really annoying when they’re shanking them, though. Hart had a long of 39 that was downed inside the 20, but he averaged 31.3 yards overall on 3 punts. That means his other two averaged 27.5 yards. Gross.
Who’s going to be the next Josh Uche? Michigan has done a good job of developing pass rushers over the past several seasons, from Frank Clark to Taco Charlton to Chase Winovich to Josh Uche. Uche (5 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble) has taken a roundabout path to being the ace pass rusher (he is/was a SAM linebacker), but I don’t know that Michigan has anyone up its sleeve for 2020. Aidan Hutchinson (7 tackles, 1 sack) will return, and so should Kwity Paye (1 sack), but neither one has the speed or pass rushing instincts that Uche possesses. It will be interesting to see if Luiji Vilain or someone else can take the next step.
I like what Indiana is doing. Indiana doesn’t have many dudes on offense or defense, but I feel like they’re maximizing their potential. They have a QB who can run a little bit, so they’re getting him on draws and zone reads and letting him throw bubbles. They don’t have many guys up front, so they’re spreading teams out. Their good-sized receivers on the edge are tough covers. Defensively, they attack and try to put pressure on your QB to make decisions. Unfortunately, they just don’t have the athletes to pull off many upsets. A 7-5 or 8-4 season at Indiana is an 11-1 season at Michigan, because that means you’re beating all the teams you should.
Can Michigan be creative against Ohio State? I know some people have griped far too long that Jim Harbaugh has his hands all over this offense, even though I don’t think that’s true. But here’s a key barometer: will Michigan try tricky stuff against OSU next week? One of my biggest gripes is that Michigan runs fly sweeps, Wildcat, funky formations, weird dudes in the backfield, etc. until the Ohio State game and then does nothing in the Ohio State game. Jabrill Peppers played some offense in 2016, and then Michigan had nothing for the Buckeyes in 2017 and 2018. I don’t like Haskins taking snaps in the single wing, but if Michigan breaks tendencies (jump pass, motion, jet sweep handoff, reverse, etc.), then I can understand it. If they line up in it on 3rd-and-1 with Haskins behind center, and Ben Mason next to him, and then run lead, I’m going to punch a unicorn. I like Giles Jackson in the backfield next to Patterson, or you can put Ronnie Bell or Donovan Peoples-Jones back there, too. Just give OSU something to think about to slow them down a little bit.
What’s Michigan going to do with Chase Young? That’s the million dollar question…
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