Coming in to this game Michigan didn’t have a win over a ranked team. They come out of it with a statement victory against a talented Penn State team led by experienced quarterback Trace McSorely. The defense, perhaps the most talented in the nation, had a day to remember allowing under 200 yards and generating 3 turnovers. Don Brown has a group with a talented secondary, dominant defensive line and an exceptionally talented leader in Devin Bush at linebacker. They are the foundation on which this team is built.
In the week one game against Notre Dame, quarterback Shea Patterson didn’t look comfortable in this Harbaugh offense. However, over the last few weeks he has begun to look more and more at home. The offensive line play has improved and it has allowed Michigan’s playmakers at wide receiver to grow into the season.
Patterson was efficient throwing throughout the game, with a 65% completion percentage, 144 yards and two passing touchdowns. He showed great chemistry with Nico Collins and Donovan Peoples-Jones and was denied a fairytale touchdown throw to returning receiver Tarik Black due to a holding call. Harbaugh has his quarterback and this team is living up to its potential.
Karan’s Big Day
We have been waiting all season for a Karan Higdon break out game. It finally came on Saturday. Higdon averaged 6.6 yards per carry as he totalled 132 yards, over half of Michigan’s 256 yards on the ground with 20 carries. He was complemented by 57 yards from Chris Evans and 42 yards from Shea Patterson. The weather is getting colder as we enter the home straight of Big 10 conference play and this rushing attack will be all important to Michigan’s chances of a Big 10 Championship.
Players Stepping Up
Another 2 sack day on the defensive line from Josh Uche underlines his breaking out as a leader with this defensive line. Michigan lose Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich next year. It’s clear that in Uche they will be able to replace some of the production they are losing. Speaking of Winovich, he had another great day that maybe won’t show up on the stat sheet. He was constantly in the Penn State backfield, obtained a sack and recovered a fumble. The continued ineffectiveness of Rashan Gary will be a worry for this staff. He projects as a top 15 pick in next years NFL Draft but hasn’t got going for Michigan this season. He is due a big game soon. If that were to come in the Big 10 championship game, then no Michigan fan would bemoan his lack of production.
The Michigan secondary more than rivals the defensive line for the title of most impressive group on this team. They had a pair of takeaways and offered very little for McSorely to throw at. They have physical cornerbacks and smart safeties and will offer a tough test to any opposing quarterback.
This team has one big test remaining, against Ohio State on November 24th. Harbaugh’s record as a coach against this program’s greatest rival is atrocious. Both he and his team have some confidence in big games having beaten both Michigan State and Penn State this year. But going on the road, even against a depleted Ohio State is no easy feat. They will need to be at their best to win. Selfishly I hope they do, because I would love to see this defense against Alabama’s offense.
Guest article from Alex Chinery @iamalexchiner, host and producer of the Wasps Report Podcast.
Photo Credit – Maize and Brew