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What We Need to See: Michigan vs Penn State

Michigan travels to Pennsylvania looking to protect its perfect record. What do we need to see from the team if it's going to walk away with a win and improve going forward?

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Continue to protect the rock

Michigan didn't turn it over against a bad Minnesota team because it was playing conservatively for most of the game. The Wolverines will need to put more pressure on Penn State, but it's imperative that Gardner plays a clean game nonetheless. Hopefully the embattled signal caller learns to take a sack or throw the ball away when he needs to.

Play to the offensive line's strengths while it meshes

It's clear that the offensive line isn't all where it needs to be yet. Kyle Kalis is still going through growing pains, and Chris Bryant clearly needs more time to familiarize himself with real game conditions. Both players need to learn from their past mistakes and get rid of the miscues.

None of this will happen overnight, so it's on Al Borges to help them out. I loved the heavy formations that utilized Taylor Lewan as a run blocker; it's clear Borges was doing this in an attempt to get his veteran tackles more involved in a stagnant running attack.

Don't waste Funchess and Chesson

Devin Funchess spent the majority of the Minnesota contest running past corners and safeties that were far too small to give him any sort of challenge, and Michigan fans across the country grinned from ear to ear imagining just how much of a weapon he could be down the road. Borges must, and I mean must, continue to use him in ways that get him open.

Then there's the matter of Jehu Chesson. The young receiver is seeing more and more touches as the year goes on for a reason: Chesson is stronger than he looks and every bit as fast as the coaches made him out to be. Michigan shouldn't have trouble getting him deep looks in most games when defenses are already worrying about the agility of Gallon and the sheer size and speed of Funchess.

Stay calm on the road

Michigan hasn't had a true road test this year. Can Devin Gardner play well in a hostile environment? Will the offensive line struggle even more in one of the noisiest stadiums in the conference? This Penn State team isn't good enough to suffocate Michigan and put immense pressure on them, but the crowd will still be problematic. Gardner and his offense need to play within themselves and give a great defense a chance to put the game away.


Another week of the same issues. Michigan took a few baby steps against Minnesota and needs to continue to shore up its weaknesses against a Penn State team that will struggle at times just the same. Whoever wins the turnover battle and plays defense will win this game, meaning Devin Gardner needs to outperform the true freshman on Penn State's sideline. I know I predicted Michigan to lose this game in the preseason but I'm betting on the Wolverines to win this one by more than Vegas predicts.