Let’s see more of this guy on offense . . . Drake Johnson. Jim Harbaugh said that Johnson was dinged up going into this week, so add him to the list that includes starting running back De’Veon Smith, who seemed to tweak his ankle by the end of the game, too. Michigan needs these guys healthy in order to compete. Derrick Green had one nice run where he made a rare (for him) jump cut, but otherwise, he only gets what the offensive line blocks. The coaches have demoted Ty Isaac (2 carries, 13 yards) after his two fumbles last week, and freshman Karan Higdon averaged 2 yards/carry (8 carries, 16 yards). Johnson had 2 carries for 3 yards and 1 touchdown, but he’s a slithery back who needs to be available next week if Michigan wants to have some versatility at running back against Michigan State next week.
Let’s see less of this guy on offense . . . Karan Higdon. I thought Higdon ran hard, but he’s small and inexperienced. Michigan has a huge game next week against Michigan State, and it would be nice if the Wolverines can have their top two running backs (De’Veon Smith, Drake Johnson) available to take most of the snaps.
Let’s see more of this guy on defense . . . Channing Stribling. Stribling has missed two consecutive games with an injury. Harbaugh said last week that it was a one-week injury, but now it’s been two weeks. Jeremy Clark has done a good job in his stead (2 tackles this week), but Michigan gets thin at the position after him, with only the inexperienced Brandon Watson left before you get to position-switchers or true freshmen. I hope can get healthy, especially because the next opponent is the Spartans, who have a decent passing attack.
Let’s see less of this guy on defense . . . no one. Three straight shutouts. Keep doing what you’re doing.
Play of the game . . . Jourdan Lewis’s interception return for a touchdown. First of all, the interception itself was very impressive, as Lewis raked out the ball with his left hand and secured it as the receiver came down on Northwestern’s sideline. But second, the acceleration from 0-to-60 for Lewis on his way down the sideline for a 37-yard score was impressive. Michigan has not used Lewis on offense and rarely done so on special teams, but with his speed and ball skills, Lewis could be a good kick returner or wideout, too. It was exciting to see something turn from a potential reception to a defensive TD so quickly.
Player of the game . . . Jarrod Wilson. I’m going to go with an unsung hero of the team this year, and that’s Wilson. Virtually every other defensive player has received more praise this season, but Wilson led the team with 7 tackles and cleaned up whenever there was a mess to be cleaned. He’s playing fast, hitting hard, and always seems to be in the right spot. There were other guys who had good games (Willie Henry, Jourdan Lewis, Ryan Glasgow), but Wilson has rounded into one of the best safeties we’ve seen at Michigan in a long time. He was always a good athlete, but I imagine quite a bit of credit goes to new safeties coach Greg Jackson.