What to Take from Michigan vs Penn State

Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan went east and failed to escape a loss after four overtime periods. What does it mean?

The Bad

Gardner is more frustrating than Robinson

Watching Denard Robinson wasn't nearly as gripping as watching Gardner because we all expected him to throw it into a crowd every time he let it go. We didn't expect to see Devin Gardner turn the ball over at an alarming rate for the first half of the season.

There's also the matter of potential. Denard Robinson never had great arm talent. Robinson wasn't tall enough to see over offensive lineman and was always looked at as a utility back playing quarterback. Gardner has the physical tools to be an elite NFL quarterback, yet he constantly makes the same mistakes that Robinson made. His Jekyll and Hyde at will continue to give Wolverine fans heart attacks.

Al Borges' time has run out

I would say it's been fun, Al, but it simply hasn't been fun. Michigan has walked into games ill-prepared on offense for three straight seasons now, refusing to lean on its strengths because of a few outdated football principals. No quality coordinator continues to call runs into the teeth of the defense when said runs are averaging a tackle for loss, but Borges doesn't have any problem with it.

The most disturbing part of Borges' tenure has been his simple refusal to properly use the tools at his disposal. Running a 5'7", 160 pound running back straight into South Carolina's defense is asinine. So is giving your backs thirty touches in a game when they're averaging less than a yard per carry.

I'm not the only one who thinks Michigan would be much better off without Borges.

The offensive line is in deep

This is obvious when Taylor Lewan goes down and things go from bad to terrible. So many fans tweeted us last night asking where all of these great recruiting classes are and when they're going to kick in. Many don't realize that offensive lineman take more time to develop than any other players on the roster, so it's going to be at least another year before Michigan's offensive line looks great across the board. The ideal offensive line graduates seniors and replaces them with rising seniors, juniors or redshirt sophomores; Michigan replaced Lewan by shifting Schofield and placing a redshirt freshman in at right tackle.

There will come a time when Michigan has one of the best offensive lines in the country under Brady Hoke, but it won't come as soon as many fans would like it to.

The Good

Jake Ryan is back and looks like his old self

Remember when I said not to expect Ryan to contribute until extremely late in the season? Forget I ever said that. Jake Ryan was on the field early and saw spotty action throughout the game, getting into the face of Hackenberg more than once – and being blatantly held on an early PSU touchdown.

Expectations for the defense are on the rise with Ryan back. The defense has its best pass rusher back and will soon be able to count on him to get consistent pressure, meaning no more infuriating complete passes as a result of unlimited time in the pocket.

The pass rush has made steady progress

Ryan wasn't the only one to get pressure yesterday. Frank Clark seems to be coming on at the right time and should give Michigan a solid pass rushing unit on long downs when combined with Beyer and Ryan. We'll see if the unit will continue to improve as Michigan heads into the teeth of its Big Ten schedule.

Jarrod Wilson has erased doubts and surpassed expectations

Wilson was looked at as the major weakness in Michigan's secondary at the beginning of the year. Three games in, Wilson was improved but still seen as young and in need of more practice time. Six games in, Wilson is playing fast and is one of the reasons why the defense has looked so good at times. Few of Michigan's recent safeties would've made the interception he made early against Penn State, and fewer of them have the length and long speed he has. His future is very bright.

The Takeaway

No more narrative changes. No more wondering if this is a bad team, inconsistent team or good team playing like trash. No more watching the television, wondering if or when Michigan would make enough mistakes to stain its once-perfect record. Watching this team was similar to watching a cheap horror film – it's not if they're going to get killed, but when.

The offensive line is going to struggle for the remainder of the year. Devin Gardner will continue to make simple misreads that have cost him countless times already this year. The defense might have the pressure issues fixed, but it remains a step behind expectations.

Every team left on Michigan's schedule is capable of beating the Wolverines. Don't ask me how many this team will win between now and December.

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