Michigan vs. Hawaii Awards

Michigan vs. Hawaii Awards

September 5, 2016

Wilton Speight (image via Houston Chronicle)

Let’s see more of this guy on offense . . . Chris Evans. If you watched the game, you already know that Evans was the breakout star of the opener. He ran 8 times for 112 yards and 2 touchdowns. One of those touchdowns was a nifty run where he dived for the left pylon, showing good field awareness and body control. The other was a 43-yard burst right up the middle after being untouched at the line of scrimmaged. He hurried a couple runs, but he showed good patience on most of his rushing attempts. That’s how you average 14 yards/carry. Evans looks like the most explosive running back the Wolverines have had in several years.

Hit the jump for more awards from the Hawaii game.

Let’s see less of this guy on offense . . . De’Veon Smith. I’m not looking for Smith to be benched, but he suffered a rib injury that limited his effectiveness. I think Michigan needs him healthy for the stretch run against physical teams like Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Ohio State, and with other viable options (Evans, Ty Isaac, etc.), I hope that Smith plays somewhat limited snaps until he’s really needed to grind out yardage. Michigan has done a good job of rotating running backs since Harbaugh was hired, and hopefully that continues. The staff will have even more options when Drake Johnson returns from injury.

Let’s see more of this guy on defense . . . Noah Furbush. Furbush missed the Hawaii game with an injury, and Jabrill Peppers played a lot more at SAM than he probably should. Even after the game was well in hand, Peppers was still out there, attempting to help preserve a shutout. I think the coaches like Furbush enough to put him out there at SAM with the first unit sometimes, but beyond him, Michigan is very thin and inexperienced.

Let’s see less of this guy on defense . . . Jabrill Peppers. For similar reasons to De’Veon Smith (and related to Furbush), Michigan needs Peppers if they want to beat the big boys late in the year. I think he played too many snaps on Saturday, because there’s just very little depth at SAM linebacker and at safety. The staff really needs to work on Joshua Uche and potentially Khaleke Hudson to develop depth behind Peppers.

Play of the game . . . Chris Evans’s 43-yard touchdown run. (Here’s the link to yesterday’s breakdown of this play.) It wasn’t necessarily a great run, but it was perfect execution by Michigan’s offensive line against a stunting defense. I’ll grant that Hawaii had a breakdown and didn’t have the best call to stop the play, but the Wolverine linemen adjusted well on the fly, and Evans showed the speed to burst through the hole and take it to the house. That may not happen against tougher, more talented defenses, but you could say that same thing about virtually anything that happened on the field Saturday. This play was reminiscent of the Michigan of old, bringing back memories of a time when Michigan’s line could be dominant and Michigan’s running backs had the speed and patience to make defenses pay for getting blocked.

MVP of the game . . . Wilton Speight. Speight started off with an interception that was kind of ugly, but he could have gone into a shell or suffered from a bout of the jitters. Instead, he came right back out and responded well, going 10/12 for 145 yards and 2 touchdowns the rest of the way. If Speight had responded differently, thrown a bunch of balls into the ground, committed more turnovers, etc., then we would be hearing cries for John O’Korn to get a chance. Instead, I think fans are cautiously optimistic today that Speight can be The Man for the rest of the season.


  1. Comments: 522
    Joined: 8/12/2015
    Sep 05, 2016 at 7:38 AM

    I wonder if Peppers is a case where the player is *so* talented and *so* enthusiastic about being on the field the coaches bend a bit and leave him in longer than they might otherwise.

    Also, I wonder if the linebacker position is one where, statistically, there’s less a chance of injury than, say, a lineman or a receiver?

  2. Comments: 1356
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    Sep 05, 2016 at 8:47 AM

    There have been some nice pieces written over the past year about how Harbaugh and now Don Brown are difficult to prepare for because of the different and shifting personal packages that they both employ. If you sit and stare at this game some, the method starts to show up. All these Freshmen come in with a personal group, play or a couple of plays as opposed to having the entire playbook learned which seems to me like walking around with the playbook could conceivably be part of the S&C program. So now you’re a DC, you have to figure out what it means when Evens or McDoom comes onto the field, except, “Damn, Hill or Hirsch just came in for Poggi and hey, Bunting never lined up with thee guys before.” I’m guessing that’ll mess with you.

    On defense, I’m thinking that Uche comes in with a couple things he know how to do, does them and then goes off. Same with Hudson, Myers, probably Bush and the Frosh Corners.

    I’ve watched this game twice now and am anxious to see the every snap offense/defense thing when they get out. I’m thinking it’s a jumbled mess if you’re on the outside looking in.

  3. Comments: 1863
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    Sep 05, 2016 at 9:46 AM

    Great write up Thunder, but a slight disagreement on Speight. Sure he shook off the INT, but any of our top 3 QBs could have produced on Saturday. My pick would be for young Mr Evans!

  4. Comments: 117
    Joined: 9/28/2015
    Sep 05, 2016 at 10:00 AM

    Solid stuff, as per the usual! What is Drake’s injury? Also, do Colorado and Wisconsin worry you?

  5. Comments: 55
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Sep 06, 2016 at 9:22 AM

    May not be seeing Noah Furbush any time soon. Per Harbaugh in the presser transcript posted over on MGoBlog:

    Two more injuries you haven’t talked about yet: Noah Furbush and Drake Johnson. Can you update us on their statuses?
    “Yeah, they were both out for the ballgame this past week. We’ll see where they’re at this week. Noah may be working through something a little bit longer than Drake. We’ll see.”

  6. Comments: 6285
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Sep 06, 2016 at 10:56 AM

    Takeaways from the game:

    1. Evans!
    2. Freshman everywhere.
    3. McCray gonna blitz. Everyone gonna blitz.
    4. Kugler is serviceable. whew!
    5. Stribling still closer to wobbly than DUDEly despite INTs
    6. Newsome is your LT
    7. Need QB to keep improving
    8. OL still developing but consistency was there against Hawaii
    9. McDoom!

  7. Comments: 48
    Joined: 1/2/2016
    Sep 08, 2016 at 6:34 AM

    I am curious what is going to happen with Deveon Smith if Evans and Isaac continue to do well. Both are also threats out of the backfield. Higdon also looked good. Wonder how they are going to distribute carries going forward.

    • Comments: 3844
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Sep 08, 2016 at 11:56 AM

      I would guess the coaching staff will continue to feed De’Veon Smith the ball. They were protecting him in the spring. I doubt he’s going to lose a ton of carries or become a little-used backup like David Underwood in 2004. My guess is that he remains the starter, but at worst (if healthy), he gets about 50% of the carries.

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