Michigan: Five things we learned
‘D’ gets mostly As
Michigan delivered a strong defensive effort with eight sacks of Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett and a season-best 13 tackles for loss for 44 yards. The debate will go on and on about the Barrett run on fourth down in the second overtime and whether the Michigan defense held him short as coach Jim Harbaugh and the players believe. The Buckeyes gained 330 yards, but in the final 10½ minutes of the game, including the overtimes, Barrett turned it on and the Buckeyes gained 178 yards of that total. He accounted for 249 yards for the game.
On the mark
Since his early Big Ten issues missing two field goals of three total missed against Wisconsin, Kenny Allen has continued to be the most consistent player. He made two field goals against Ohio State — he has not missed his last 12 attempts. Allen’s punting put Ohio State in tough field position much of the game. Of his seven punts, five were inside the 20. OSU started two drives inside the 5-yard line, from the 2 and 4 and another from the 8. The Buckeyes returned only one punt, a 2-yarder by Curtis Samuel.
The Wolverines need more consistent run-game production. In their two road losses, Iowa and Ohio State, they gained 98 and 91 yards rushing, respectively. De’Veon Smith ran hard again but had had 60 yards on 21 carries. Overall, the Wolverines averaged 2.1 yards a carry. That output is not going to win games. Understanding the concept of a tailback rotation and how that keeps backs fresh, it still seems imperative to have that one marquee back who can deliver game after game.
Playing through pain
Quarterback Wilton Speight is a tough guy who played with some sort of injury to his left shoulder suffered two weeks earlier at Iowa. He wouldn’t say anything about the nature of the injury after the Ohio State game, but by no means was his left shoulder in good working order for the game. With that in mind, Speight went with quick releases early in the game to help him avoid taking any hits. That paid off for the most part. He took two sacks. He didn’t throw deep, but he did have two picks.
We know the Wolverines were supremely disappointed with the outcome, and we all are aware Jim Harbaugh was disgusted with the officiating. This is about the five things we learned, but this item is really about what will the Wolverines will learn about themselves. It will be interesting to see how they react now that their Big Ten title and national championship hopes are dashed. Harbaugh said he was “bitterly disappointed” with the officiating and certainly the players are bitterly disappointed by their November. How will they rebound?