Michigan 42 Illinois 25 – Week 7 Recap



Final Score: 42-25, Michigan by 17 over Illinois
SP+ Projection: Michigan by 15.4 (+1.6)
CD Projection: Michigan by 21 (-4)


WEEK 7 RECAP @ Illinois

I answered the question I heard most this week consistently. When I heard, “What do you want to see against Illinois?”  I said a clean, fast start on the road.  Be careful what you wish for.  We definitely saw a fast start. Michigan jumped out to a 28-0 lead in the second quarter.  The Wolverines had doubled Illinois’ total yardage at that point. Then the third quarter arrived, and fans remembered suddenly that Michigan still has issues.  I don’t think most of the fan base is going to feel any better after that 42-25 victory over the Illini.

Offensively, there was a clear commitment to running game from the start.   Michigan ran on 66% of their 68 plays. That represents the highest run ratio of 2019.  It seems the offensive line was challenged to steady the struggling offense, and they answered the call.  The 6.5 yards per rush today is nearly a full yard more than the previous high of 5.8 versus MTSU in Week 1.  When we pair that explosiveness with a 56% success rate on run plays, the Wolverines had a clear identity today.  Shea Patterson added 194 yards passing and 4 touchdowns (1 rush).

Reading that text implies that it was a great day for the offense.  Unfortunately, that is not the case. The fumbles continue to plague Michigan. They put it on the deck officially 3 more times today and lost 2.   A fourth fumble by Christian Turner didn’t make the box score because he was ruled down by contact. At a minimum, this offense was more explosive, but fumble-itis still appears to be a potential fatal flaw.

For the defense, Michigan was again dominant for 3 of the 4 quarters of this game.  Coming out of half time, while the offense could not move or hold onto the ball, the defense wore down.  Illinois was on the field for 24 plays in the third quarter, and Michigan only 11. During that stretch and into the fourth quarter, Illinois scored 25 unanswered points and cut the lead to just a field goal.  Finally, multiple senior leaders stepped up and made big plays to save the Wolverines. A strip sack by Jordan Glasgow, another strip sack by Mike Danna evened the turnover margin. That response allowed the offense to take advantage of the short field and create some breathing room.  

Michigan has now completed half the regular season.  I predicted the Wolverines would be 5-1 at this point, but something still feels off.  So far, this season feels like driving a car with the check engine light on, and the smell of burning oil in the air.  We are still moving forward toward the destination, but there is an ominous feeling that this thing could blow up at any moment.  The coming week is absolutely gigantic, and will be pivotal for the 2019 season. This staff and these players must get under the hood and tighten up all the loose connections and seal the leaks.  These Wolverines will need all systems functional to have any chance against Penn State. Once we get to the White Out on Saturday night, Michigan must press the gas pedal to the floor and pray for the best.   

About Clint Derringer

@clint_derringer on Twitter U-M B.A. Sport Management & Communications ‘05 U-M M.S. Program & Project Management ‘18

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