Utah takes down Michigan in Harbaugh's debut

Geoff Robinson
The Detroit News
Utah quarterback Travis Wilson is tackled in the second quarter Thursday night.

Michigan falls to Utah in Harbaugh's debut

They looked like a team with more fight and focus than they did under Brady Hoke, but Michigan still came up short in 24-17 loss at Utah.

Jake Rudock, who threw just five interceptions all of last season at Iowa, threw three picks to the Utes. That includes a devastating pick-six in the fourth quarter with his team trailing 17-10.

The two areas where the Wolverines struggled tonight were obvious to anyone watching: Rudock couldn't hit wide open receivers with a deep ball, and the offensive line couldn't get a push to get the running game going.

It's back to the drawing board for Jim Harbaugh, who needs to find a way to settle his quarterback down before Michigan takes on Oregon State next Saturday at the Big House.

Michigan scores late, Onside kick goes awry 

Jake Rudock did his job and Michigan was still alive after an Amara Darboh touchdown with 54 seconds left to play made it 24-17.

The offense picked up a fourth down conversion on the drive, and the Utah defense showed no urgency in keeping the Wolverines from scoring.

Kenny Allen kicked the ball out of bounds on the onside kick attempt, sealing the game's fate.

Reality sinking in for Michigan

Michigan got the ball into Utah territory, but it came up short after failing to pick up a yard on third and fourth down. Jake Rudock couldn't do it with the quarterback sneak, and De'Veon Smith was stuffed at the line.

Utah leads 24-10 with less than five minutes to play.

Rudock throws pick-six

It appeared Michigan had momentum on its side, but Jake Rudock stared down his receiver on third-and-short, and Justin Thomas intercepted the ball and took it to the house to put Utah up 24-10 with 7:58 remaining.

That's Rudock's third interception of the night. Michigan had the ball near midfield and had looked good in the second half, but mistakes like that just can't happen when you're trying to comeback from a late deficit.

Utah can't capitalize on stellar drive

After picking up a first down on fourth-and-one inside the Michigan 30, Utah seemed destined for points. Two plays later, they were backed up six yards after the Wolverines defense blew up two swing passes. The Utes got back to the original line of scrimmage to set up a slightly easier field goal attempt, but Andy Phillips missed his second of the night from 46 yards out.

It's still 17-10 with 10:25 left to play.

Earlier in the possession, Travis Wilson made a great play as it looked like he was going to be sacked. Wilson sidestepped some defenders and found Britain Covey on the outside, and the wide receiver gained 18 yards to get the ball into Michigan territory.

Utah penalty gives Michigan new life

Jake Rudock couldn't find anyone open on third down, and he essentially gave up on the possession by heading out of bounds near the line of scrimmage. That's when a Utah player drilled him on the sideline and gave Michigan a new set of downs at the 20-yard line. On the very next play, Rudock found Jake Butt, who made a great catch over two defenders for the touchdowns. It's now 17-10 with 46 seconds left to play in the third quarter.

Rudock again missed a wide open receiver in the end zone two plays earlier, but he made up for it with the toss to Butt. Michigan's offensive tempo is much better in the second half, and the Utah secondary looks vulnerable. The Wolverines have to continue to attack the defense downfield.

Wilson comes up big for Utah

Travis Wilson carved up the Michigan defense with his arm on the Utes first drive of the second half, but he finished it off with a 14-yard touchdown run to put Utah up 17-3 with 5:49 to play in the third quarter.

The middle of the field was a problem for the Wolverines throughout the drive, whether it be through the air or on the touchdown run.

Utah went 74 yards in 4:09 on 10 plays, and the Michigan defense just didn't have an answer for the pace.

Allen misses field goal after solid drive

The Michigan offense looked more decisive to start the second half, picking up three first downs through the air, but having to settle for a 44-yard field goal attempt that Kenny Allen sent just wide right.

The Wolverines got into scoring position when Jake Rudock found Amara Darboh over the middle for a 16-yard gain on third down and five. Rudock went 3-for-5 on the drive for 30 yards, but it stalled when Darboh went to the ground and the ball came out of his hands on third down. It was initially ruled a catch and first down, but the review booth overturned the call on the field.

Halftime: Utah 10, Michigan 3

After another Michigan three-and-out, Utah took its shot at getting points before the half in a very conservative way.

The Utes ran the ball twice to start the drive before picking up a first down on a short pass to Devontae Booker. With 22 seconds left, Utah went for it on fourth-and-one, picking that up with another short pass to Booker out of the backfield. With four seconds left in the half, Travis Wilson threw a hail mary from the 38-yard line, only to be intercepted by Jeremy Clark, who returned it to the 15-yard line to end the half.

The bottom line for Michigan right now is that the offensive line is getting absolutely schooled by the Utah defensive line. They can't create holes for the running game, and that doesn't help quarterback Jake Rudock, who is already having trouble hitting receivers downfield.

Rudock struggling, Utah misses FG

After back-to-back three-and-outs from Michigan and Utah, the Wolverines took over at their own 20-yard line in hopes of getting something going. Well, that didn't happen.

Jake Rudock found Jake Butt (of course) on third down, and Amara Darboh picked up another first down on a quick pass before Rudock again overthrew a wide open Jehu Chesson. Then, Rudock threw his second pick of the night while looking for Grant Perry on the outside.

Rudock is struggling to hit receivers down field. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised to see Shane Morris get a shot in the second half.

Utah took over at midfield and picked up a first down on a pass interference call, but they couldn't pick up a first down, forcing a 48-yard field goal attempt that Andy Phillips missed wide right with 3:29 to play

Utah takes to Michigan on quick scoring drive

10 plays and 75 yards doesn't seem right. Utah appeared to move so much quicker than that in scoring the game's first touchdown to take a 10-3 lead with 10:33 to play in the second quarter.

Devontae Booker punched it in from one yard out, but it was a nice mix of plays at a good pace that got Utah on the board. On the second play of the drive, Travis Wilson found Britain Covey, who beat Jabrill Peppers for a 20-yard gain over the middle of the field. Booker ran tough on a 10-yard gain near midfield, and the Michigan defense was handled on a scoring drive that took just 3:40 to put together.

Michigan settles for field goal deep in Utah territory

Another quick three-and-out from a Michigan defense set its offense up in great field position, this time on the Utah side of the field at the 42-yard line. This time, Michigan turned that into points as Kenny Allen hit his first career field goal attempt form 30 yards out with 14:13 to play in the second quarter to tie the game, 3-3.

Jehu Chesson ran a great route on the first play of the drive and found himself wide open in the end zone. Rudock put too much on the pass, though, and it sailed over Chesson's head and out of the back of the end zone.

Amara Darboh helped his quarterback out on the very next play, taking a quick pass to the outside 28 yards down to the Utah 13. After two runs from De'Veon Smith netted just a yard, the first quarter ended. Facing third down and long from the 12, Rudock hit Brian Cole for no gain.

Michigan can't take advantage of good field position, pins Utah back

After forcing a three-and-out from Utah on its next drive, Michigan got the ball in good field position at its own 45-yard line.

Ty Isaac rushed for no gain on first down, and Rudock looked to Jake Butt for the third and fourth times this first quarter, garnering a total of nine yards as Michigan punted back to Utah on 4th-and-1.

Blake O'Neil pinned the Utes down at their own 3-yard line with 1:54 left to play in the first quarter. Utah still leads, 3-0.

Rudock throws a pick on first drive

Suspicions were confirmed when Jake Rudock took the field to lead Michigan on its first drive of the season.

Rudock hit tight end Jake Butt for a short third down conversion for Michigan's first first down of the season. Utah handed Michigan another first down on a late hit after a second down run by Ty Isaac that went for five yards and would have led to a third down. After a false start on first down, confusion led to a Michigan timeout. On second down, Rudock again found Butt for a first down at the Utah 26. De'Veon Smith, who carried the ball 4 times 5 yards on the drive, picked up four yards on first down and another one on second. On third down, Rudock completely missed freshmen wide receiver Grant Perry, throwing an interception to Cory-Butler Byrd at the 14-yard line.

Utah gets early field goal

Utah got off to a fast start, but conservative play-calling inside the red zone and solid tackling on the part of Michigan forced the Utes to settle for a 30-yard field goal with 10:30 to play in the first quarter.

Travis Wilson opened things up with three straight runs, picking up 13 on the second play of the drive for a first down. Wilson found playmaker Devontae Booker out of the backfield for a 20-yard screen that got Utah into Michigan territory. After a 14-yard completion to Bubba Poole, Booker was stuffed on two runs up the middle before the Utes failed to convert on third down.

Not a good sign for Michigan that they're giving up big plays at the outset, but they can take some solace in the fact that they kept Utah out of the end zone.

Pregame

The hype for Jim Harbaugh's debut at his alma mater has been built up endlessly over the last eight months, but now it's time to play some football.

Harbaugh's squad faces a tough task at Utah tonight, and while many have their suspicions, there's still no confirmation on who'll be taking the snaps at quarterback on Michigan's opening drive. Most believe it will be former Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock, but Shane Morris is still in play for the job until the offense takes the field.

Jabrill Peppers it the playmaker to watch in the return game and on defense for Michigan tonight. There was a lot of buzz about this young man coming out of high school, but he spent most of 2014 dealing with various leg injuries. He's healthy now and ready to roll, and he could prove to be an X-factor for the maize and blue this season.

I'll be providing updates all night long, so keep it here for the latest from Michigan and Utah.