Phil Callihan and Clint Derringer discuss Michigan’s 31-10 victory over Washington, .
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Final Score: 47-14, Michigan by 33 over WMU
SP+ Projection: Michigan by 19 (+14)
CD Projection: Michigan by 13 (+20)
Offensively, Michigan looked sharp and got multiple playmakers involved. A few early deep balls to Ronnie Bell showed that the Wolverines will threaten the field vertically. A swing pass completed to Blake Corum for a 14 yard touchdown served to stretch the defense horizontally. Josh Gattis’ group was able to build a big lead quick enough to get meaningful snaps for everybody we wanted to see, including a 69 yard bomb from freshman JJ McCarthy to newcomer Daylen Baldwin. The only rain cloud on this day for the offense appeared when their leader, Bell, came up limping after returning a punt in the 2nd quarter, and was carted off.
As great as Michigan’s offense looked in the opener, the biggest positive I am taking away is from the defense. Mike MacDonald implemented a solid game plan that held Western’s highly efficient pass offense to 191 yards on the day. Dax Hill clearly took a step forward this offseason. He made his presence felt throughout the first 3 quarters, especially fighting off blocks and making tackles near the line of scrimmage. The Wolverines were able to play a large rotation of defensive linemen, and the interior held up after some early challenges. Finally, and thank goodness for this, the corners on the outside were in good position to make plays on vertical routes. After Gemon Green initially gave up a sideline fade I felt a familiar doubt, but the DBs were able to adjust and clamp down early in the 2nd quarter.
The special teams not only held their own, but provided an early spark in this game. Blake Corum returned a kickoff 79 yards to set up Michigan’s second score, a Q1 field goal. Jake Moody was perfect on 2 field goal attempts and 5 PATs. The Wolverines’ field position advantage was worth a full point per drive, even after removing garbage time.
Overall, there are no major question marks that remain unaddressed after today’s performance. The biggest remaining issue is the health of OL Zak Zinter and WR Ronnie Bell, and their status for next week’s big matchup with #20 Washington. Phil and I joked in the 2nd half that some fans will still find some issues to be concerned with. Maybe they miss the drama between factions of the fan base. For me, I am 100% fine with this “boring” outcome. Onward!