Penn State 28, Michigan 21

Penn State 28, Michigan 21


October 20, 2019

This was Shea Patterson’s best game. Patterson has taken a lot of criticism this season, and some people were still clamoring for backup Dylan McCaffrey – or even Joe Milton – to start. I thought this was Patterson’s best game this season by far, and one of his top few performances as a Wolverine overall. His numbers weren’t great (24/41 for 276 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT; 12 carries, 34 yards, 1 TD), but part of that was due to drops and general refereeing inefficiency. Donovan Peoples-Jones dropped two passes and Ronnie Bell dropped one, and there were a couple pass interference calls that should have been called against Penn State but weren’t, resulting in incompletions. Patterson had one truly bad throw, and that was the interception.

Hit the jump for more.

Speaking of the referees… The referees were terrible. Their interpretations of pass interference were laughably inconsistent. They called offensive pass interference against Michigan, defensive pass interference against Michigan, and…nothing against Penn State in the passing department. I guess the whole white-gloves-against-white-uniforms plan worked out well for their defensive backs.

Is the offensive line good again? Last year we heard that Ed Warinner’s offensive line coaching would really kick in after about six weeks. I didn’t think that would be a thing in 2019, because Warinner had been there for a year already and had four returning starters, with the only new guy being a redshirt freshman right tackle who learned under Warinner last year. The Wolverines ran for 141 yards and 3 touchdowns on 3.44 yards per carry. That yards per carry is the highest of the year, and you can compare it to 2.33 (Iowa), 1.76 (Maryland), and -0.68 (Purdue) for Big Ten framing. Zach Charbonnet had his best college performance, a 15-carry, 81-yard, 2-touchdown performance that resulted in a healthy 5.4 yards per carry.

BLAME RONNIE BELL!!!…for being Michigan’s best receiver. There’s a reason that Ronnie Bell leads the team with 25 catches for 443 yards. It’s because Ronnie Bell is pretty dang good, and Shea Patterson and the coaches trust him. They design plays for him, and he usually comes through. Sure, he had a couple tough drops in the first couple games, and the drop in the end zone that sealed the game against the Nittany Lions wasn’t a great play. He had 5 catches for 82 yards. Michigan wouldn’t have pulled within a touchdown if not for Bell, who had some great yards after the catch to put Michigan in scoring position. He also showed great awareness to grab a pass that bounced off Donovan Peoples-Jones and ran into the endzone for a score, except Cesar Ruiz was illegally downfield, which negated the play.

BUT THROW IT TO A 5-STAR RECEIVER! I’m not saying anything bad about Peoples-Jones, but he dropped two passes in that game, a bubble screen and a leaping grab in the middle of the field that he allowed to be raked out by a defender; on the latter play, he would have come down with it if he had kept two hands on the football. Five-stars aren’t infallible. Nico Collins was double-covered on the play, and Patterson had to scramble before he even had a chance to find Bell. I’m not a mind reader, but I don’t think Patterson was considering the 247 Composite while going through his scramble progression.

Michigan’s safeties are an issue. Josh Metellus has turned into a pretty good player, but he can’t play K.J. Hamler one-on-one in space. This has long been a problem. Don Brown loves to blitz and match up his safeties against slot receivers. It’s not a terrible thing if the slot guys run fades, because safeties can use the sideline for help to either make it a difficult throw or run the guy out of bounds. But if a fast guy runs a post across your safety’s face, really bad things can happen.

That being said, I’m not sure what Brad Hawkins is doing on this play. It’s man coverage, and he’s just hanging out covering no one; on top of that, his right hand appears to be, I dunno, putting in his mouth piece or something. He doesn’t seem to be fully engaged in playing football fundamentally.

It’s not going to be a great season. Michigan has lost two games now, to the two best teams on its schedule through seven games. The team has a chance against good teams if it plays like it did in the second half, but the first quarter was pretty abysmal. Don Brown is generally good at making adjustments, but the reason he has to make adjustments is that Michigan often gets punched in the mouth early and has to recover. There are way more times Michigan’s defense looks good near the end of game instead of looking good early and then fading. Of course, that was one complaint about Greg Mattison as defensive coordinator, that they looked good early and faded late in games. Was that a conditioning/mental issue or an issue of teams adjusting to Mattison’s defenses? It’s hard to say. But Michigan’s early struggles, offensively and defensively, doomed them later in the game. The Wolverines dominated total yardage, first downs, passing yardage, rushing yardage, and time of possession, but still lost.

20 comments

  1. Avatar
    Comments: 1575
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    je93
    Oct 20, 2019 at 12:32 PM

    Awful start

    After that, they played better than most expected. I said 14-27, but we were even better than that (stupid 1stQ)

    I now think we have A CHANCE against Notre Dame, but we cannot take a full Quarter off again! My timeout from TTB will be well worth it in exchange for a W against the Irish or (crosse fingers) ohio

  2. GrandLake
    Comments: 68
    Joined: 8/22/2019
    GrandLake
    Oct 20, 2019 at 12:50 PM

    Only real solace is that UM should have decent chance against ND and should beat MSU if they continue to play as they did in 2nd half. Not sure PSU is elite but to go in there for a night game and come within a dropped pass of likely OT with a multitude of awful PI calls shows that they are heading in right direction at least on offense. Amazing what no fumbles and an actual QB threat to run can do. Most disappointing has to be the call on a Hill in 2nd that bailed PSU out of a punt. Receiver looked like he was falling down and wasn’t even in the play. I honestly think that was the only time I heard his name all night which isn’t a bad thing for a DB.

  3. Avatar
    Comments: 60
    Joined: 9/18/2016
    Chowman
    Oct 20, 2019 at 3:14 PM

    If I can take one positive out of this game it was the adjustment the offense made in the 2nd half where they got the ball out quick to the edges and negated PSU’s blitz. I might be completely off base on this, but that kind of an adjustment isn’t a signature Jim Harbaugh move. Josh Gattis has been taking a lot of heat, but that was a nice adjustment and might bode well for the future if Jim can leave the offense alone and not revert back to 3 yards and a cloud of dust mode any time things get dicey.

  4. Avatar
    Comments: 24
    Joined: 9/3/2015
    Joby
    Oct 20, 2019 at 3:21 PM

    The loss is a drag, of course, but there are several positives of note:

    1. Michigan showed some fight.
    2. 400+ yards offense vs. a top-10 D.
    3. A screen game that is viable and interesting.
    4. Patterson’s good Devin Gardner impersonation: one bad INT, otherwise dealing. Could have pulled the ball even more, but that’s a good start.
    5. Inside zone and split zone looked way sharper with the threat of the QB keep. Charbonnet ran hard, the keep threat kept the second level more at bay, and the interior OL did work in the 2nd half.
    6. Even though they didn’t have a ton of sacks or TFLs, the Salt and Pepper DEs had pretty good games. Paye had 10 tackles – excellent for a DL, and obviously those runs aren’t picking up many yards – and Hutchinson had several nice pressures. They’ll be All-B1G candidates next season.
    7. We know it, but the corners are top-notch. They erased the outside receivers, except for the perfect throw from Clifford in a tiny window from Ambry Thomas when he didn’t get his turned around in time and the bogus flag vs. Hill.

    There is plenty to be frustrated about, yes, but there are some unqualified positives to take from this game.

  5. Avatar
    Comments: 24
    Joined: 9/3/2015
    Joby
    Oct 20, 2019 at 3:23 PM

    Thunder, did my other comment post? I’m not seeing it here. It was just a list of positives from the game.

  6. Avatar
    Comments: 99
    Joined: 9/13/2015
    AC1997
    Oct 20, 2019 at 5:31 PM

    I hate being the guy who bitches about the refs…..but can anyone remember a game where we thought we got a generous whistle? Maybe some Northwestern game?

    Obviously Michigan blew many chances, but there were so many calls that went the other way. Very frustrating when the margin between win and loss on the road against a top ten team is so small.

  7. Avatar
    Comments: 96
    Joined: 9/28/2015
    PapaBear
    Oct 20, 2019 at 7:50 PM

    Sorry, may not be the best place for this, but over on Mgoblog, there is a discussion about next year’s team?

    1) Are Dwumfour and Uche juniors?
    2) Of the Big 3 receivers, who do you see as returning?
    3) Any surprise departures?

    • Avatar
      Comments: 1575
      Joined: 1/19/2016
      je93
      Oct 20, 2019 at 11:08 PM

      1) both are seniors, unless there’s a medical RS somewhere down the line
      2) all three should return, but I could see Nico bolting for a 3d or 4th round payday. DPJ, if he plays to potential in November
      3) Black would be a surprise because he hasn’t been good; Ruiz too. On D, Paye and Thomas would be surprising, but for different reasons

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 5452
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Oct 21, 2019 at 1:33 AM

      Kemp but Dwumfour especially – would be coaching malpractice to not have the 5th year available if he wants to use it. Garbage time snaps in 1 game or 2 games.

      • Avatar
        Comments: 1575
        Joined: 1/19/2016
        je93
        Oct 21, 2019 at 8:22 AM

        Stop bashing the coaches

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 5452
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Oct 22, 2019 at 3:17 PM

          I hope Michigan beats Notre Dame

          • Avatar
            Comments: 1575
            Joined: 1/19/2016
            je93
            Oct 22, 2019 at 7:58 PM

            So do I!

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3321
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Oct 21, 2019 at 7:55 PM

      1. Dwumfour and Uche are both seniors, but there’s the potential for them to be redshirt juniors if they have documented injuries from 2016. Michigan won’t apply for those years to be “redshirt” years until after this season if/when they want to return. They’ll have to provide documentation to the NCAA at that time.

      2. I think Donovan Peoples-Jones will come back in 2020. I get the feeling that Collins has one foot out the door, and Black doesn’t seem fully on board with spending four years in college, at least not this college. Peoples-Jones is an academic guy, though, and his foot injury sort of derailed this season. I could see him leaving if he gets feedback about being a high draft pick, but I don’t necessarily see that happening.

      3. I’m not sure what you mean about surprise departures. I wasn’t surprised about the J’Marick Woods departure, because there wasn’t a path to playing time for him. There are others that will leave, and I’ve heard rumors about a couple. But they’re not surprising. I can only think of two relatively recent transfers that “surprised” me: James Hudson and Devin Asiasi.

      • Avatar
        Comments: 96
        Joined: 9/28/2015
        PapaBear
        Oct 21, 2019 at 9:37 PM

        So…without being facetious, where will Black go? To another school? Draft???

        Honestly, if one or two of the Big 3 come back, I think it for the best. We have too many Alphas on the field. It’s like having too many selfish scorers on a basketball court.

        One of the Big 3, Ronnie Bell, C. Johnson, and the sophomore slot ninjas will be fine.

        • Thunder
          Comments: 3321
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Oct 22, 2019 at 5:04 AM

          I don’t know where Black would go. But he tweeted in the off-season that he was planning for 2019 to be his last year at Michigan. I think he thought this was going to be a breakout season for him.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 5452
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Oct 22, 2019 at 3:24 PM

            I think Black will be back. It’s good to have goals but he looks like the 4th WR option right now. Especially if Collins and DPJ go, there will be an opportunity at Michigan for him.

            DPJ has elite athleticism that translates to the NFL. His combine numbers will be excellent. I doubt he returns.

      • Avatar
        Comments: 1575
        Joined: 1/19/2016
        je93
        Oct 21, 2019 at 11:13 PM

        I don’t see how either gets a Medical RS
        Uche was Scout team player of the week, in November
        Dwumfor isn’t as bad, but was also a scout team stud in late October

        https://mgoblue.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=19084

        https://mgoblue.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=19009

  8. Avatar
    Comments: 96
    Joined: 9/28/2015
    PapaBear
    Oct 21, 2019 at 9:45 AM

    Uche and Dwumfour are both eligible for a 5th year? Medical Redshirt?

  9. Avatar
    Comments: 338
    Joined: 12/24/2016
    INTJohn
    Oct 21, 2019 at 5:33 PM

    To Bell’s defense with a DB crawling up his back:
    One of the greatest of all time in the Super Bowl WHA WHA WIDE OPEN in the end zone and he’s in the Hall OF Fame.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ezJ5zWBqhSk
    It happens, even to the greats…………INTJohn

  10. Avatar
    Comments: 1575
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    je93
    Oct 26, 2019 at 5:36 PM

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