Michigan: Five things we learned

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Racking up points

The Wolverines are ranked fourth nationally in scoring, averaging 52 points a game. They have scored 45 or more points in each of its first four games, a first since 1947. The 208 points through four games are the most during that stretch in program history. The Wolverines had four games scoring 40 points or more over the last two seasons combined, a 25-game span.

Getting their sacks

Michigan had a season-best six sacks against Penn State, the most since recording six against Northwestern in 2014. The Wolverines have averaged 4.25 sacks a game this season, ranking them fourth nationally. Penn State had allowed only five sacks through three games before facing Michigan. Chris Wormley and Taco Charlton, in his first game since an injury in the season opener, each had 1.5 sacks.

Taking their shots

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said “it” seems to be happening more frequently these days, and by “it” he was referring to going for it on fourth down. Did that work for Michigan? To some extent.

The Wolverines were 2-of-4 on fourth down — the most bold attempt was on 4th-and-7 from the Penn State 24-yard line. Quarterback Wilton Speight converted with a nine-yard run. Harbaugh said Michigan was heading into the wind which helped urge him to opt against the field goal attempt. He said he wanted to “experiment and it worked out”.

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Run, run, run

Can Michigan run at will? That has yet to be seen. After all, against a stacked line a few weeks ago against Central Florida, the yards weren’t there. But against a weakened Penn State defense, the Wolverines, with perhaps their best offensive line performance, ran free.

Five running backs scored six rushing touchdowns — Karan Higdon had two — and Michigan had 326 rushing yards. De’Veon Smith’s 107 yards on 12 carries (8.9 per-carry average), was his sixth career 100-yard rushing game and the first of the season. He had a two-yard touchdown run. Ty Isaac, Chris Evans and Khalid Hill each scored.

Lewis is back

All-American cornerback Jourdan Lewis missed the first three games with a back strain and would have played had it been his call, although he knew he was not completely healthy. He said he’s 100 percent now and made his season debut in the Big Ten opener. He had two tackles, a tackle for loss and a pass breakup. He also returned two kickoffs (yes, being tackled by the kicker was not a highlight, he said). And the rust from not playing, he said, was gone by the second half.