Michigan: Five things we learned vs. Rutgers
Here are five takeaways from Angelique S. Chengelis following the Wolverines' 35-14 victory over the Scarlet Knights Saturday.
PASS GAME OPENS, HELLO RUN GAME
QB Brandon Peters wasn’t asked to do anything fancy in directing the offense, but what he did do was go 10-of-14 for 124 yards, kept the Rutgers defense honest and away from stacking the line, and that allowed Michigan’s run game to be more effective. Peters gave Michigan that lift and allowed the Wolverines to have two 100-yard rushers — Karan Higdon (158 yards and two touchdowns) and Ty Isaac (109 yards) — for the first time since last year’s game at Rutgers. Michigan finished with 334 rushing yards, the most since gaining 481 in that game last season.
DIRECT SNAP IS THE D's KRYPTONITE
A week after being burned by Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, who took a direct snap and ran 69 yards for a touchdown against the nation’s then-No. 1-ranked defense, Rutgers’ dangerous Janarion Grant took a direct snap for 65 yards and a touchdown. Last week, DE Rashan Gary said the Wolverines were prepared for the play and one player made a mistake and boom, Barkley was gone. UM faces Minnesota, Maryland, Wisconsin and Ohio State in the final four regular-season games and undoubtedly the play will be used again if a player as skilled as Barkley or Grant is available.
THE O-LINE GETS SOME LOVE
Karan Higdon praised the much-maligned offensive line after Michigan produced 300-plus rushing yards, a week after getting pushed around at Penn State. The tests will keep coming, though. The Wolverines face Minnesota under the lights Saturday at Michigan Stadium, and the Golden Gophers are ranked 20th in total defense. In the final two games, Wisconsin and Ohio State boast the No. 5 and No. 12 defenses.
YOUTH IS BEING SERVED
The Rutgers game gave UM a chance to get a better look at some of the younger players, including redshirt freshman Brandon Peters, who made a smooth transition after taking over at QB. Then there was redshirt freshman RB Kareem Walker, who has been gradually seeing more playing time, and had six carries for 34 yards including a touchdown run. Freshman DT Aubrey Solomon got his first start and came up with three tackles, including two solo, and was credited for half a tackle for loss. Freshman WR Nico Collins got his first career reception on a 12-yard catch in the second quarter. Sophomore Michael Dwumfour earned the first sack of his college career and freshman fullback Ben Mason also saw some playing time.
PETERS TOOK HIS FIRST STEPS
Sluggish play from John O’Korn brought Brandon Peters in with 7:01 left in the first half and he was there to stay, leading the team on four touchdown drives including his first three series. Everyone knows to temper his success considering the opponent and playing at home, but he looked poised and confident, and he’s the starter going forward.