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First half observations: Wolverines offense struggling mightily

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Bloomington, Ind. – Michigan’s first half at Indiana looked vaguely familiar.

The Wolverines, reeling from a loss to in-state rival Michigan State last Saturday, has been stagnant in the first half at Indiana. The Hoosiers, which haven’t beaten Michigan since 1987, lead 24-7 at halftime at Memorial Stadium.

Michigan wide receiver A.J. Henning (3) loses control of the ball as he's hit by Indiana defensive back Devon Matthews (1) during the first half.

A week after losing to Michigan State, in which the Spartans scored first and never trailed, the No. 13 and unbeaten Hoosier took a 7-0 lead on their first possession, and after Michigan tied the game, immediately responded to regain the lead, 14-7 in the first quarter.

Michigan, with two new starters on the offensive line, had four possessions in the first quarter and went three-and-out three times. The Wolverines had 71 yards while Indiana had 153 and was 3-of-4 on third down in opening quarter.

For the half, Michigan had four three-and-outs in seven possessions. The Wolverines had 111 yards, including 15 rushing, and were 0-for-6 on third down.

Scrambling the O line

Michigan was with starting tackles Jalen Mayfield and Ryan Hayes, both not making the trip because of injuries, and inserted Karsen Barnhart at left tackle, freshman Zak Zinter at right guard for Andrew Stueber who moved to right tackle.

Hard to believe that’s the reason why Michigan couldn’t get anything going offensively. But there’s no doubt the Wolverines’ first series was a sign of things to come. First play to running back Chris Evans went for no gain, then Giles Jackson lost three yards and Joe Milton threw incomplete.

The Wolverines were stymied in the run game with 28 first-half rushing yards.

Where’s the D?

Indiana has looked like an offensive juggernaut in the first half with 296 yards, including 254 passing. IU quarterback Michael Penix has completed 22-of-32 for 254 yards and three touchdowns.

Michigan has been without starting defensive end Aidan Hutchinson most of the half. He left the game with an apparent injury to his left ankle.

Linebackers Michael Barrett and Cam McGrone, who left the MSU game with injuries, have been playing against IU and Barrett leads the team with six tackles. Michigan has three tackles for loss but haven’t been able to rattle Penix who has not been sacked.