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Takeaways from Michigan’s 27-20 win over Indiana

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We have some stuff to talk about

NCAA Football: Michigan at Indiana Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan Wolverines pulled off a 27-20 win in overtime over the Indiana Hoosiers, and gave us plenty to talk about. From an abundance of penalties to an epic day from a running back, this game had a lot of takeaways.

Takeaways from Michigan’s 27-20 win over Indiana

Offensive line was impressive

This was by far the best game for Michigan’s offensive line. The unit gave John O’Korn time to throw for most of his attempts, and excelled in run blocking, providing big holes for Karan Higdon and Ty Issac to navigate through. Tim Drevno had this unit prepared and focused after less than stellar showings to this point in the season.

A very positive development for Michigan, as an offensive line drastically impacts whether a team can be a championship contender or not. Steady as she goes, but the performance was one that should leave the team and fans optimistic that they can be a force to be reckoned with, not bludgeoned.

Higdon the bell-cow back?

Karan Higdon has been Michigan’s most impressive back this season, and it earned him the most carries against Indiana, and he sure made the most of the opportunity. Higdon rushed for 200 yards on 25 carries and had three touchdowns.

All of his touchdown runs were huge. His first was a 12 yard scamper in the second quarter which gave Michigan a two-score lead. His second, a 59 yarder in the fourth quarter again gave Michigan some breathing room, and his third came on the first play of overtime. Higdon has shown power, acceleration, vision, shiftiness, and the ability to ad-lib when the run lanes are clogged. He should have every opportunity to be the feature back going forward and receive at least 15 carries. The combination of the offensive lines newfound success and Higdon’s abilities could bode well for the Wolverines offense to get going against Penn State and future opponents.

Inexcusable penalties

Michigan had 16 penalties on the day for 141 yards. Most were on the defensive side of the ball. The penalties extended drives, and lead to points on the board for the Hoosiers.

Two of the penalties were unsportsmanlike conduct calls, which are even more egregious. Jim Harbaugh was not happy with Kekoa Crawford, as he drew the penalty blocking a player when he was already out of bounds and then pushing the player in the facemask afterwards.

Penalties amassed this way will lose a team a game more often than not. Michigan escaped with a victory, but this will be a major point of emphasis going forward. Play within the confines of football regulations. This has to be corrected.

Defense bent, but didn’t break

This was not Michigan’s defense best game, they’d be the first to admit that. There were blown assignments, miscommunication, and far too many missed tackles from not wrapping up. With that said, the Wolverines had one hell of a goal-line stand in overtime to seal the victory. Hoosiers quarterback Peyton Ramsey was hard to take down and the pass-rush kept bruising him, but he made it tough for the defense.

Play-calling was good, but O’Korn missed his chances

The approach to this game was good. It was run-first and give your quarterback a chance to execute when his number is called. There was a lot of pro-style i-form smash-mouth football going on, which does lead to a lot of third and manageable situations. John O’Korn was not seeing the field well today, throwing a couple dangerous passes into draping coverage, or missing the right read. This is a major reason Michigan was just 2-13 on third down.

O’Korn also had other chances in the game to make big plays. He had Donovan Peoples-Jones deep in the first quarter, but missed him by a few steps, the play would have been a touchdown if thrown on the money. He also had an incorrect read in the second half where he threw deep into double coverage when he could have hit Zach Gentry wide open for at least a 40 yard gain.

Plays like those keep points off the scoreboard, and make an offensive coordinator look bad when the final score is viewed, but once again, the play-calling was fine, O’Korn’s execution could have been better. After throwing with authority and quickness versus Purdue, O’Korn held onto the football too long and missed some reads today.

Also there was a diversion play at midfield where the motion to the right allowed for a toss-run up the middle for a Michigan first down, but O’Korn didn’t get the playoff on time, a delay of game was called. Another missed chance. Harbaugh could be seen yelling “Come on, John!” Expect Harbaugh to give O’Korn his toughest week of practices yet.

Give Indiana credit

Indiana coach Tom Allen is a good head coach with the right attitude to get an underdog team to compete. The offense approach was good by the Hoosiers, and almost won them the game. Quick slant after quick slant were dialed up, timely runs by the quarterback transpired, and with the help of countless Michigan penalties, the Hoosiers kept marching the ball down the field.

Quarterback Peyton Ramsey didn’t get it done with goal to go in overtime, but he gave the Michigan faithful a big scare, as he already made a lot of clutch plays on the day. Even getting the game into overtime was impressive, with just a minute to go Ramsey made the right decisions to get Indiana into field goal range.

When Jim Harbaugh and Allen met at mid-field there was a sincere and genuine mutual respect displayed, these teams went the distance and one of them took a couple less hits. Respect should be given to Allen and Indiana, this is no slouch of a team, they can compete with anyone and are far better than mediocre.