Michigan Football: Post Game Thoughts

Finally. We have a real football game to talk about.

A lot of people came into the season feeding into the mainstream headline that the Michigan Wolverines would have to adjust to returning only one starter on defense. How much accuracy is in that statement is up for debate, but “experts” on all networks played that tune all summer.

It was realized rather quickly that it didn’t actually seem to matter.

Michigan’s defensive front seven was as dominant as they were last season. Rashan Gary, Maurice Hurst and Chase Winovich all showed why the defensive line for the Wolverines might just be the best unit in the country. Sophomores Devin Bush and Khaleke Hudson didn’t show any signs of youth at all. Bush may have gotten too excited on the first offensive play of the game, when he hit a Florida Gator out of bounds and drew a personal foul penalty, but he recovered and had a solid game.

Not all of the questions were answered, however. Cornerbacks LaVert Hill and David Long seemed shaky at times. Hill had a couple nice pass breakups. But as a tandem, there are still worries that they will struggle against better passing teams.

Speaking of throwing the ball, the other major concern coming out of the Florida game was Michigan’s quarterback play.

Redshirt junior Wilton Speight struggled for the majority of the game His final line was 11-for-25, 182 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. The worst of his showing came early in the second quarter when he threw back-to-back interceptions that were returned for touchdowns. The first tipped off the hands of Kekoa Crawford – that probably should’ve been caught – and the second he just completely overthrew junior Grant Perry.

After the game, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh said Speight throwing a few high passes was “out of character,” but the inconsistency in his game is not. Speight did have a few really nice plays. On a play action pass, he found Tarik Black wide open in the end zone on a beautifully thrown deep ball. He also had a couple nice scrambles that extended drives for the Wolverines. 

After his two pick-sixes, Speight was removed for John O’Korn. A move that Harbaugh said was planned even though he admitted taking Speight out at that particular moment wasn’t. Harbaugh felt it was a good opportunity for Speight to calm down. It worked as Speight played better in the second half, but by then the Michigan defense was beginning to dominate Florida’s offensive line, and take over the game.

The running game did its part, but its success was more about when they ran the ballnot how they ran it. Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Tim Drevno called up some really sneaky third-and-long run plays that caught everybody in the stadium off guard.

Let’s give out some helmet stickers.

Offense: Ty Issac

I’ll be the first one to admit I am not a big fan of Isaac but man I was impressed with his play on Saturday. I thought he had some really nice runs, and looked a little faster than last year. He was the beneficiary of one of those third-and-long runs, but he made sure he got the first down and some. Isaac finished the game with 114 yards on 11 carries, and earned some trust in my book.

Defense: Khaleke Hudson

On most nights I would’ve selected Devin Bush. But for Hudson’s first game at the highly coveted VIPER position, I was impressed how well he handled it. For replacing now Cleveland Brown Jabrill Peppers and having that pressure on him in the off-season, I thought Hudson was all over the field and made some great plays. He finished with only three tackles, but hurried the quarterback on a number of occasions and deflected a pass as well.

Final Thoughts:

This game went the way I thought it would for the most part. How the two teams scored not so much; but it was a close game for about a half to three quarters before Michigan started to take control. I wouldn’t stick out my chest too far if I’m a Michigan fan, but I would definitely be optimistic. The whole “this team is too young to resemble last year” narrative was put to rest. But to say this team will be better than last year or even as good as them remains to be seen.

When we reach the end of the season, we’ll realize Florida isn’t that great of a team. But nonetheless, it’s still a good neutral site victory and a step in the right direction. The Wolverines now get Cincinnati and Air Force at home to work out any bugs in the system and hopefully get their quarterback situation on track.