Michigan: Five things we learned

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Michigan running back Chris Evans gets tripped up against Central Florida on Saturday.

Offensive line needs work

Michigan’s offensive line remains a work in progress. Ben Braden returned to the lineup at left guard after missing the opener because of an injury, but he and freshman Ben Bredeson both got playing time at that position against Central Florida. This is why there is reason to wonder about the line –Wilton Speight was sacked twice and UCF had eight tackles for loss.

Run game consequences

Hand in hand with the offensive line play is the run game. Yes, Central Florida loaded the box as Michigan had expected and combated that by relying on play-action. But Michigan rushed for only 119 yards – freshman Chris Evans had 112 in the opener vs. Hawaii – and averaged of 2.9 yards a carry. Tight end Jake Butt said Michigan isn’t going to force the run if it’s not there, but swimming under the 100-yard mark until late in the game isn’t ideal.

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Speight solid again

Wilton Speight has settled in at quarterback. After his first-play interception in his debut, Speight has been efficient. He was 25-of-37 for 312 yards and threw four touchdowns (Jake Butt scored twice and Amara Darboh twice). His timing appears on-point. He completed long throws of 45 yards to Darboh and 35 to Jehu Chesson. Remember when timing on the deep ball was an issue at this time last year?

Bad sign?

Michigan’s defense needed to shore up some things against a quick, up-tempo team, but this has been a recurring issue for the Wolverines. Certainly, giving up some seriously big plays, like an 87-yard touchdown run and another 34-yard run for a score, ultimately did not threaten the Wolverines’ ability to win. But those are breakdowns that could be costly against better opponents.

Finally, a punt

Kenny Allen actually can punt. Michigan didn’t punt in the season opener against Hawaii, and Allen joked maybe that wouldn’t be part of the game plan the rest of the season. He punted three times against UCF and averaged 45.7 yards. He also was 3-for-3 on field goals. His only miscue was fumbling the snap on a punt. Meanwhile, Michigan blocked a field goal and a punt against UCF.