Video: Offense, Defense, Special teams vs. Utah

Tag: Utah

8Sep 2015
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Michigan vs. Utah Awards

Jake Butt

Let’s see more of this guy on offense . . . Ty Isaac. It looks a little bit like De’Veon Smith might be the inside run guy, and Isaac might be the outside run guy. That is, at least until Drake Johnson returns from injury. Smith slammed it up inside 17 times for 47 yards, which is 2.76 yards/carry. Isaac wasn’t a great deal better on average (4 carries, 12 yards, 3.0 yards/carry) but he is quicker. Plus he can catch the ball, which Smith proved he could not do consistently when he embarrassingly dropped a wide open pass that hit him right in the hands. I don’t think Smith should be benched outright, but a 17-to-4 carry advantage is a little too lopsided.

Let’s see less of this guy on offense . . . A.J. Williams. He doesn’t have to play less, necessarily, but I would prefer it if he never or rarely gets targeted. He had 1 catch for 2 yards on Thursday night, and he was targeted at least twice more. There needs to be an element of surprise at times, and maybe he’s the best blocker of the non-Jake Butt tight ends. But he is also arguably the least athletic of the tight ends, and his targets should either go to wideouts or players like Ian Bunting, Khalid Hill, etc. I know the moderators at Rivals were touting Williams as a potential breakout player this year, but I’ll believe it when I see it – and I don’t expect to see it.

Let’s see more of this guy on defense . . . James Ross III. I have yet to be convinced that Michigan’s nickel safety and/or the other linebackers are better than Ross. Ross had 2 tackles and .5 tackles for loss in limited time on Thursday. I don’t think he’s a superstar, but I do think he’s pretty good at playing in space, and he’s perhaps the best hitter of the linebacker crew.

Let’s see less of this guy on defense . . . Channing Stribling. Stribling lost contain a couple times early in the game, and I don’t think his athleticism is anything special. He looks bigger and more physical this year, but I have yet to see him show the coverage ability to make a play on the ball. Through two seasons as a backup and one game as a starter, he has notched zero interceptions and zero pass breakups. I won’t declare him a total mess because he was not beaten over the top, but a guy who has been playing cornerback for two-plus seasons should have at least put a fingertip on a ball at some point in his career. Michigan has a transfer from Stanford in Wayne Lyons who has 3 interceptions and 6 pass breakups during his first three-plus years of playing time.

Play of the game . . . Jake Rudock to Jake Butt for a touchdown. Late in the third quarter, quarterback Jake Rudock was desperately looking for a score. He was so desperate that he launched a football into the midst of three red jerseys. Fortunately for him, the 6’6″, 248 lb. tight end Jake Butt rose up to reel in the pass, even though two Utes had chances to make a play on the ball with a third nearby. It turned into a 19-yard touchdown and one of Butt’s career highlights.

Player of the game . . . Jake Butt. Jim Harbaugh likes to use his tight ends, and Jake Rudock likes to use them as a security blanket, too. It’s fortunate that Michigan has a good one in Butt, who is a big target with soft hands who runs routes well. He ended the game with 8 catches for 93 yards (11.6 yards/catch) and the aforementioned touchdown. There were other players who played well for stretches (Jabrill Peppers, Chris Wormley, Amara Darboh), but nobody was as consistent as Butt from start to finish.

4Sep 2015
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Utah 24, Michigan 17

Jake Butt

Not bad for a debut.
Michigan was on its way to a very uninspiring debut with just 3 points at the half, but things picked up a little bit from there. This was a 5-7 team last year that had some things to clean up and some areas to improve. I think several of those areas have taken steps forward, but obviously not enough. Last year the Wolverines lost 26-10 without a lot of fight (Michigan’s only touchdown in 2014 was a Willie Henry interception return.) This year they scored a couple offensive touchdowns after halftime and had a chance to win/tie the game with their final drive. I’m disappointed in the loss, but things are looking up.

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3Sep 2015
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Preview: Michigan at Utah

Utah girls
Rush Offense vs. Utah Rush Defense

Michigan returns five offensive linemen with significant starting experience, although a few of them are playing new positions and last year’s starting center left with a year of eligibility remaining. From left to right, we should see sophomore Mason Cole (12 career starts), redshirt junior Ben Braden (12), fifth year senior Graham Glasgow (24), redshirt junior Kyle Kalis (16), and redshirt junior Erik Magnuson (13). That’s 77 combined starts on the line, and while Glasgow played guard last year, he started nine games at center during the 2013 season. New offensive line coach (and offensive coordinator) Tim Drevno should make a positive difference. Michigan’s offensive linemen have talked about running a lot of zone, but it would be a surprise if they don’t work in some traps and powers, let alone an occasional counter. On the other side, Utah’s best defensive unit is their line, but they were more effective at rushing the passer than they were at stopping the run. Junior defensive end Hunter Dimick made 14.5 tackles for loss, and sophomore defensive tackle Lowell Lotuleilei is stout in the middle. Senior linebacker Jared Norris is the star of the back seven after making 116 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, and 4 sacks last season. Michigan has to improve its running game, and I think they will with the improved offensive line and a solid stable of running backs.
Advantage: Michigan

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