Michigan hosted the Mustangs of SMU this past Saturday and won 45-20. This game was a rough one to watch in the first quarter, but Michigan exploded in the second by putting up twenty-one points. Including a Josh Metellus pick six right before half. Michigan as a whole, looked flat coming out of the gate, then the second quarter came around, and the whole team started playing with fire in their stomachs. The run game opened up a little for Evans and walk on, Tru Wilson. Shea Patterson did throw a pick, but you could make the argument that Sean McKeon should’ve come back to the ball more assertively. Other than that, Shea Patterson dominated. Patterson went 14/18 for 237 yards, and again throwing three touchdowns. All three touchdown passes were to a player waiting to explode, sophomore wide receiver, Donovon Peoples-Jones. This passing game is starting to find it’s groove and opening Big Ten play this Saturday. This passing game is finding its stride at the perfect time.
The Michigan running game was below average at best against an undersized and thin SMU defensive front. Karan Higdon, Michigan’s leading rusher last year and this year was out with a vaguely described ankle injury. And on top of that, Chris Evans is now banged up. This week’s presser leading up to this Saturday’s clash with Nebraska, Jim Harbaugh described both of his top backs statuses are “day today.” Jim Harbaugh never really likes to give out detailed injury updates, so we can take that as Karan Higdon, and Chris Evans is going to be a game-time decision. This offensive line is still struggling to open up holes for the Michigan running backs. Chris Evans maxed out against SMU for only 88 yards, no touchdowns, and an injury. The one bright spot for this group, is walk-on running back, Tru Wilson. Tru Wilson got his first career touchdown that was the cherry on top of the Wolverines victory last Saturday. But Michigan needs to have Higdon and Evans ready to go because the Wolverines are heading into the bulk of their schedule.
Zach Gentry had a game that you expect a 6’8 tight end to have. He was a converted tight end after Harbaugh recruited him as a QB. This 6’8 260Ib tight end is a nightmare to cover. He caught four passes for 95 yards and led the team in receiving against SMU. Why it took Harbaugh three games to put this massive human being more in the gameplan is beyond me. He is so difficult to cover going up the seams and has excellent hands. Gentry is the best tight end on the team at the moment, and Harbaugh should come up with more gameplans around him.
We all know this defense has the opportunity to be the best defense in the country. And when Chase Winovich has a game like that, it proves my case even more. He was by far the best defensive player on either team last Saturday. He is hard to miss with that blonde hair pouring out of his helmet, but when you play like that, you can have any hair you want. Winovich and his luscious lox were everywhere on Saturday. Winovich recorded eight tackles and two of those for loss. There were some moments in this game where SMU had the ball, and you just knew, pre-snap, that Winovich was going to be the one who will make the play.
This running game was not hitting on all cylinders on Saturday. But the one kid that has everyone talking has been a walk-on, Tru Wilson. Tru Wilson is a junior and walked on his freshman year, and has been awarded a scholarship earlier this Spring. Tru got lost in the wash of talented Wolverine backfields throughout the years. But now, he is starting to make a name for himself. He is a naturally gifted runner with shiftiness and good lateral movement, but he isn’t lighting the stat sheet up with 100-yard games. His pass protection is top-notch. There was one play that SMU brought a linebacker blitz, and this SMU linebacker was about to cream Shea, but Tru Wilson gave this linebacker the cleanest and smoothest cut block I have ever seen. He isn’t the biggest, but you can tell that he is not scared to hit someone that has easily 20-30Ibs on him. Tru Wilson also got his first career touchdown, and with Chris Evans and Karan Higdon being “day to day” at the moment, we might want to get used to seeing #13 running the football. Especially on third down.
This game was sloppy at first, but the boys pulled out a pretty comfortable win when it was all said and done. Shea Patterson continues to look more and more comfortable each week. This week though is going to be a test on how much Harbaugh trusts Shea. Nebraska is by far the most talented team, other than Notre Dame the Wolverines have faced this year. However, Nebraska has one of the worst passing defenses in the country. And with Karan Higdon and Chris Evans futures unknown, this would be the perfect time for Harbaugh to take the handcuffs off his talented quarterback FINALLY. Let him run the show. This receiving corps is exploding with confidence at the moment and has improved immensely from last year. Shea Patterson has completed 70% of his passes through three games, and six touchdown passes in his previous two. This is the perfect game to let Shea be Shea. Let him throw the ball thirty or more times and get him comfortable distributing the ball to these talented receivers. I have said it once, and I’ll say it again. Michigan is not going to be able to run this power offense against the big teams. Michigan State, Penn State, Wisconsin, and the team that shall not be named. So let Shea and these receivers get game time experience and let them solidify chemistry.