Run the damn ball. Coming into the game, Indiana was ranked #91 in rushing defense. And it was raining. So naturally, Michigan decided to come out throwing, with four pass plays and two rushes in the first six plays. Two of those pass plays resulted in sacks, and one was a drop by Colston Loveland. Meanwhile, the two carries by Corum averaged 4.5 yards per rush. Michigan wasn’t necessarily going to obliterate Indiana on the ground with huge runs, but they could have just taken over the game physically instead of trying to throw in those conditions.
Hit the jump for more.
McCarthy played a good game in the rain. There were a few questionable ball placements for McCarthy in this one, but aside from Loveland’s drop, Michigan’s receivers came through for him and made some tough receptions. He finished 14/17 for 222 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. McCarthy also made some plays with his feet, including a beautiful 54-yard scramble drill touchdown to Loveland. It’s hard to complain too much about going 14/17 in the rain . . .
. . . but McCarthy should be benched. Backup quarterback Jack Tuttle came in and went 5/5, so what’s up with J.J. McCarthy? Clearly he’s not taking practice seriously enough to complete all of his passes, and a strong message needs to be sent. He must be out playing golf with Shea Patterson. Also, a full 20% of Tuttle’s passes went for touchdowns (this one a 4-yarder to freshman Karmello English) while only 17.6% of McCarthy’s attempts resulted in scores. Shameful.
You know it’s coming. The saga of Donovan Edwards’s drop-off continues. With Kalel Mullings out due to injury, Michigan seemed to only really trust two backs for the majority of the game: Blake Corum (13 carries, 52 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Donovan Edwards (9 carries, 20 yards, 1 TD). Where Edwards made his biggest impact was in the passing game, where he caught 2 passes for 33 yards. Despite an ugly drop last week, he’s best as a receiver out of the backfield and a creator in space. His catches went for 17 and 16 yards, but his longest rush went for 5 yards. Late in the second quarter, he caught a short pass on a J.J. McCarthy scramble during a scramble drill and then got the ball down near the goal line on a carry. On the succeeding play, Michigan tried to sub in Corum for the goal line carry, but Edwards tried to wave him off. The coaching staff then took a timeout to make sure Corum got in the game, at which point Corum scored a goal line touchdown. A lot of people on Twitter didn’t like it, but it was the right decision. Corum is the superior short yardage back, and Michigan’s 14-7 lead at that point required a sure thing (Corum), not a feelingsball attempt to get a touchdown-less guy (Edwards) a touchdown. If Edwards wants goal line carries, he needs to start breaking some tackles and/or driving his feet after contact.
Pass protection needs to improve. Michigan’s pass protection has been a little underwhelming at times, and yesterday, a lot of the issues seemed to come from Karsen Barnhart at right tackle. There were a couple times where I just didn’t love Barnhart’s effort in pass pro. It was as if he had an internal clock that had run out, but McCarthy was still waiting for someone to come open. Sometimes that’s a sign that the quarterback is holding onto the ball too long, but I think it was more on Barnhart. Anyway, Barnhart wasn’t the only culprit, but Indiana notched 4 sacks altogether. The Hoosiers have only had 4 sacks in one other game so far this year . . . and that was against FCS Indiana State. Michigan is going to face much better pass rushers against Penn State’s Chop Robinson and Adisa Isaac and Ohio State’s J.T. Tuimoloau, so they need to shore that up.
The defense is playing lights out. Michigan is #2 nationally in total defense (233 yards allowed/game) and #1 in scoring defense (6.7 points allowed/game). There were some early issues in the first quarter with Indiana having success in the short passing game. Since Indiana installed a new offensive coordinator over the bye week in former NIU and Temple head coach Rod Carey, Michigan didn’t really have a bead on what the Hoosiers might try to do. It was probably smart for defensive coordinator Jesse Minter to play off a little bit and rally to the ball until they could figure out how they might be attacked. On Indiana’s lone touchdown, they picked on a young safety in Keon Sabb and threw a double-pass by former quarterback Donaven McCulley for a 44-yard touchdown. Hats off to Indiana for that, but otherwise, Indiana’s quarterbacks went 13/28 for 96 yards and 2 interceptions. Michigan also made 8 tackles, 4 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles, 2 of which were recovered.
Let’s check in on the freshmen. There were some noteworthy performances from freshmen in this game, so let’s take a look:
- WR Karmello English: 1 catch, 4 yards, 1 touchdown. We didn’t see much of English, but he set up a slant into the back of the endzone, and Tuttle waited for him to clear and put the ball right on him. He and Peyton O’Leary each have one catch on the year for a touchdown . . . which is the same number of touchdowns Cornelius Johnson has on 19 catches.
- RB Benjamin Hall: 9 carries, 58 yards, 1 touchdown. Hall looked just like he did in the spring game – great patience, good vision, and the ability to push the pile. He doesn’t look like a freshman.
- WR Fredrick Moore: 1 catch for 4 yards. It seems like the coaches like Moore, but they haven’t really found a way for him to be too successful just yet. He came in very skinny, and I think he’s going to need to get a little stronger before he can do much.
- WR Semaj Morgan: Morgan caught 1 pass for a 7-yard touchdown and returned 2 kickoffs for 36 yards. On the screen pass he turned into a score, he froze a couple defenders and then ran over Indiana defensive back Kobee Minor on his way into the endzone. He might not have the greatest speed, but he’s mighty tough.
- WR Tyler Morris (bonus freshman): Morris led the team in receptions (4) while gaining 54 yards and returning 1 punt for 27 yards. While he’s not technically a freshman, I kind of dismiss 2022 because he was coming off of an ACL tear. Not only does he appear to be a reliable passing target, but he’s got some of that Ronnie Bell balance and toughness on punt returns. He doesn’t have blazing speed, but he finds a way to gain yards after contact.
- CB D.J. Waller: 1 tackle. Waller allowed a touchdown in this one . . . even though the touchdown was reviewed and disallowed, since Omar Cooper, Jr.’s foot was on the sideline when he caught the ball. He got lost on the (disallowed) touchdown, so there’s still a lot of work to do, but it’s noteworthy that he’s out on the field ahead of some other guys.
I am very upset. Michigan had a chance to kick a field goal and make it a 48-7 game, which would have matched my game prediction (LINK). But noooooo…Jim Harbaugh had to go for a touchdown, so Michigan made it 52-7 instead. I swear he coaches just to spite me sometimes, but I’m glad he’s an avid reader.
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