Michigan: Five things we learned

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and his players walk out of the tunnel before Saturday's game.

Field vision

Freshman Chris Evans rushed for 112 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries against Hawaii in the season opener, becoming the third freshman to gain 100 yards or more in his debut. (Walter Cross had 104 yards in 1998 and Chris Perry 103 in 2003). We also learned he is farsighted, and wears contacts when he plays. As a freshmen quarterback in high school, he wore glasses under his helmet until he was hit. “And my glasses shot out of my helmet,” he said, ending that experiment. He said he hates contacts, and wears glasses when not on the field.

No need to punt

As Michigan Radio analyst Dan Dierdorf mentioned during the game broadcast, Kenny Allen punting this season “remains a rumor.” Allen had five extra points and handled six kickoffs, but Michigan never punted in the blowout of Hawaii. It’s the first time since the 2009 Delaware State game the Wolverines did not punt. Allen also shared his finest moment of the game on Twitter, calling it the best “photobomb ever” as he (barely) appeared in the background of a picture featuring Charles Woodson, LaMarr Woodley, Derek Jeter and Michael Jordan.

Do not adjust your eyes

The veterans spoke during the preseason of freshman lineman Michael Onwenu as though he were a mythical figure. They are, to a player, amazed by Onwenu’s size – he weighs about 380 pounds, and by all accounts is as athletic and nimble as they come. Let’s just say you don’t need binoculars to pick him out on the field. He remarkably played on the offensive and defensive lines in the Hawaii game. “It was cool to see him do that,” said center Mason Cole, Onwenu’s roommate in camp.

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“Just MJ”

Since Jim Harbaugh arrived as coach before the 2015 season, the number of celebrity connections he has brought to Michigan certainly has climbed. With the new Nike deal with the Jordan Brand, Michael Jordan served as honorary captain for the opener. The Michigan players met with him and had a question-and-answer session for nearly an hour. Fullback Khalid Hill said Jordan was “real” with the team and apparently made them feel so comfortable that Hill said he wasn’t nervous: “It was just MJ.”

Resiliency matters

It was not a shocker when Wilton Speight took the field as the starting quarterback, but his start shocked himself and Michigan fans. On his first play of the game, he rolled right and threw an interception. He said Harbaugh, a former quarterback, apparently laughed and told him not to sweat it. Harbaugh actually enjoyed the scenario this provided because it gave him a chance to see how his starter would respond to adversity. This was how: He drove Michigan 98 yards on 11 plays, including two big third-down throws, and scored on a 12-yard pass to Grant Perry. He threw three touchdowns for the game and was 10-of-13 for 145 yards.