What To Take From The Northwestern Game

Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

Michigan took on a pesky Northwestern team and barely came out alive. What did we learn?

The Bad

The defense is still susceptible to the option

The Northwestern running attack did major damage against a hot Michigan front, putting up 248 yards on the ground while averaging 4.3 yards per touch. The linebackers took poor angles on many plays, and the front failed to keep Wildcat backs from reaching the edge. I was surprised to see such a dominating performance on the ground from Northwestern, especially since Michigan has been so dominant up front since the Air Force game. The Ohio State game is approaching quickly, so the Wolverines need to improve their ability to defend athletic option quarterbacks.

The running game just isn't what we expected it to be

It seems like we expect this offensive line to turn in a dominating performance sooner or later, but they probably aren't capable of such a performance. Fitzgerald Toussaint did get 92 yards on 18 carries, but if you take away his longest run you're looking at 42 yards on 17 carries. Toussaint was much more decisive in this game and still didn't perform up to his lofty preseason standards, which means that much of the blame falls on the offensive line.

The Good

Devin Gardner is showing us why he was a five-star recruit

His stats: 16/29 passing for 286 yards and two touchdowns with only one interception, to go with 47 yards and 2 TDs on the ground. Gardner's pocket presence was uncanny, and he made the vast majority of throws that he needed to make, flashing accuracy that we haven't seen from him before. He'll be a force by next season if he continues to improve at this rate, but for now we can just be happy that the offense still lives without Denard Robinson.

The 2013 offense could be great

Devin Gardner has impressed for two weeks in a row. If Michigan manages to keep Lewan and pull in Laquon Treadwell the 2013 offense could be deadly. Fielding Funchess, Gallon, Treadwell and Toussaint around an improving Devin Gardner is promising.

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