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Class is in session: Handing out grades by position unit in a 33-17 win against Florida

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We break down and grade some of the position groups from the season opener.

NCAA Football: Florida at Michigan Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

With week one in the books and another game around the corner, I decided to start grading the position groups to help keep track of the team’s growth over the season. But first, let’s review what this assignment was all about in the first place.

Week 1 overall assignment: Show that you belong

With the youngest team in college football and lots of questions to answer, Michigan wanted to hush the Gator faithful with a dominating game and prove they were for real. A 33-17 score could have been a lot bigger, but they got the job done. Michigan moved up in the AP Poll after the game.

Here are my grades by position, and see below for an ultimate grade of the game.

Quarterback: C+

Yes, I was concerned just like you after two consecutive pick six plays for Florida in the second quarter. Wilton Speight started the game 3/8 with a touchdown and those two picks, but somewhat salvaged his afternoon with a 8/17 finish. (His YPA were almost identical before and after that benching, so he didn’t become more of a ‘game manager,’ he just stopped throwing picks in the second half.)

We’ll see how this unit responds to Cincinnati.

Running Backs: B+

Ty Isaac had a dominating game with 11 carries for 114 yards and earned the offensive player of the game honors. I want to see more from this group in the next few games and think we will see it by Chris Evans especially, because if we can create a solid run game we will be tough in the second half of the season. He had 78 yards with 22 carries, with one run of 22 yards. Karon Higdon had 7 carries for 28 yards and one touchdown.

Offensive Line: B-

There were a few guys fighting for the right tackle job and having Nolan Ulizio getting the nod, Florida used that side to create plays and get to the quarterback for five sacks. There were big plays in the air and that happened partially due to solid blocking and pass protection.

They also helped capitalize on several third and long plays on the ground to create first downs.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: B

I think this group is better than what we saw on Saturday. There’s certainly a lot of depth among both the wideouts and the tight ends, and we’ll see some of those guys who didn’t get a catch in Week 1 get their opportunities later on.

You could tell this is a young group that’s still getting its sea legs under it, and that combined with Speight’s inaccuracy meant there was more explosiveness than there was consistency. We’ll see how they handle that going forward.

Defensive Line: A

The defensive line dominated, allowing only 11 rush yards, 192 total and helped the team force five fumbles by the Gators with three going to the Wolverines. Mo Hurst was a terror all night.

Linebackers: A

Coach Harbaugh also commented about the impressive speed to the ball all day, and that’s a way this team might be an improvement over its predecessor. The aggressive performance by Devin Bush Jr. is what led him to earning defensive player of the game honors with seven total tackles.

Secondary: B-

While this group was one of the biggest concerns and question marks leading up to the season, they did fairly well overall. One of the biggest plays came from Brandon Watson on third down.

However, the Gators had 151 of their 192 total yards in six plays, with five passes getting at least 20 yards. So there’s some room to improve.

Special Teams: A-

Kenny Allen was a special player and the program was looking for new players to pick up the special teams success where he left off.

But Quinn Nordin exceeded that expectation on Saturday with four field goals and two over 50 plus yards. He becomes the first in program history, in fact, to make two over 50 yards, and it was his first game in the winged helmet. He also earned Big Ten honors as well.


While this was not a perfect game, many concerns about Michigan’s youth and problems on the offensive line were put to rest. Our defense was very impressive allowing only three points, so if the offense can establish the run game, this may be one team nobody wants to face in November.

Mission accomplished, thanks in large part to an A+ coaching staff.

Grade: A-