Michigan football notched its first victory of the season on Saturday afternoon against Hawaii by a score of 63-3. They came into the game as a heavy favorite and played like one throughout.
The seventh-ranked Wolverines are still a few weeks away from facing a stiff test, but they made quick work of the Warriors in Ann Arbor. Here are some takeaways:
Throughout camp, freshman running back Chris Evans was cited as a first-year player that could make some noise in year one. He backed it up in his first collegiate game, rushing for 112 yards on eight attempts with two touchdowns of 18 and 43 yards, respectively.
De’Veon Smith left the game early, but still should be the team’s “lead” back throughout the year. Evans brings something to the running back corps that the Wolverines do not really have as a home run threat and pass catcher. He makes plays with the ball in his hands and to see how his role develops as the year goes on will be something to keep an eye on. He could be the change of pace that the backs have been looking for.
Evans was one of many freshman to see the field on Saturday afternoon. Jim Harbaugh said throughout camp that the 2016 recruiting class would have a chance to impact things early at Michigan and they definitely did with 17 members playing on Saturday afternoon.
The Wolverines returned a ton of talent from last season, but the new blood is already paying dividends as a shot in the arm for the team. Yes, it is Hawaii, but the more seasoning these young players get, the better. Some will see the field more than others throughout the year, but any reps are good reps moving forward.
Speight Settles In
Wilton Speight had about a bad as start in a single play that one could imagine for a collegiate debut. He threw an interception on Michigan’s first offensive snap, but from there settled in nicely and finished the day 10-of-13 with 145 yards and three touchdown passes.
Harbaugh said after the game that the most important thing he could have seen from Speight was how he responded after the interception, and the adversity that followed was a tall task, as well. Michigan started the following drive from their own two-yard line. From there, Speight led the team on a 98-yard scoring drive capped off by a 12-yard strike to Grant Perry.
Speight certainly looked like he had some butterflies early on, but he was efficient the rest of the day. He has some things to improve, but now that his performance is on tape he can re-tool and fix things from there.
Michigan lost all three of its starting linebackers from last season and came into 2016 with a new defensive scheme, but Jabrill Peppers, Mike McCray and Ben Gedeon all played great games and showed off the blitzing ability that Don Brown wants on his defense.
The four sacks that Michigan had on the day all came from the above three names with two of them credited to McCray, who also forced a fumble. We will have to wait and see how they do against higher-powered offenses, but at least for now, it appears they are in good shape at the position.
Not Playing Around
The Wolverines came in as a huge favorite today and played like one, crushing Hawaii by 60 points. It can sometimes be difficult for a team to take an inferior opponent seriously, but the Wolverines outperformed them in every phase of the game and did what a team in their position should have.
It is still possible to be impressive while doing what is expected, and Michigan did just that. They had 512 yards of total offense and smothered Hawaii offensively.
That is not to say that in the coming weeks, they will not look shaky at times. This is the part of the season to adjust and improve and the schedule sets up for that. We will see how they come out next weekend against UCF.
What did you take from today’s game? Sound off in the comments below!