Michigan: Five things we learned

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Michigan running back Karan Higdon fights his way through an attempted tackle against Illinois.

1. Higdon surges: It’s running back by committee at Michigan, but Karan Higdon has turned it on the last two games. In the win over Illinois, he had his second straight 100-yard rushing performance, gaining 106 yards on eight carries, including a 45-yard touchdown run. That was his sixth touchdown in five games, and he’s had a 40-yard run in each of the last three games. He said the running backs the last two games are coming up with competitions within the games for their unit. He clearly won this last one.

2. Where the kickers stand: Kenny Allen hasn’t forgotten out to make field goals. It had been three weeks since Michigan had attempted a field goal, since Allen missed two and Ryan Tice one against Wisconsin. The Wolverines didn’t make an attempt in the Rutgers blowout and were off before facing Illinois on Saturday. Coach Jim Harbaugh said there was an ongoing kicking competition but would have gone with Allen at Rutgers if needed. Allen is handling all the kicking duties and made both field-goal attempts, from 23 and 27 yards, against the Illini.

Henning: Harbaugh cautious now, but wait until Saturday

3. Steady Speight: Quarterback Wilton Speight is finding his way. With the stifling defense Michigan has, Speight has not had to do more than what has been asked of him – don’t turn over the ball (he has 13-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a fumble) and play steady. He hasn’t been perfect, but is coming off his best game of the season.

4. Top target: Amara Darboh has emerged as the go-to receiver for Speight. Darboh had five receptions for 99 yards, but did not have one of the two receiving touchdowns against the Illini – tight ends Jake Butt and Tyrone Wheatley Jr. scored. Darboh leads all receivers with 499 yards on 30 catches.

5. Big picture: The Michigan players are not going say anything negative about Michigan State as they near the rivalry game on Saturday at Spartan Stadium. While they all agree the finish of last season’s game stung, they look at the Spartans this year as in their way as they work toward a championship. And just to be sure you know the Michigan players’ mindset, cornerback Jourdan Lewis suggested Sunday on Twitter: “Stay humble y’all the grind not over.”