The Michigan Wolverines picked up their first win of the season on Saturday night over the Minnesota Golden Gophers 49-24. There was some bad, but certainly a whole lot of good to go with it. Here are takeaways from the victory.
Milton delivers and shows flashes of what’s to come
Quarterback Joe Milton, starting for the first time in his Michigan career, played quite well overall for four quarters. Milton looked cool, calm, and collected, going 15-of-22 for 225 yards and a TD in the process. In fact, if not for a couple drops Milton’s numbers would look even better. Milton also gashed Minnesota with his feet to the tune of 52 yards and a rushing score.
Milton distributed the ball to 7 different targets, with stellar accuracy on slants. Milton let a couple balls sail on him, threw a couple into traffic as well, but his arm talent is undeniable.
Joe Milton has a GUN. This was incomplete but wow. pic.twitter.com/WCf0pLcHYQ— Thor Nystrom (@thorku) October 25, 2020
It wasn’t even all about what Milton did, it’s about what he didn’t do. Milton didn’t turn the ball over, he didn’t look confused, didn’t look timid, he looked like a starting quarterback that has the potential to win a team a lot of games. We’ll see how Milton’s career pans out, but it couldn’t have been a much better first start for him.
Diverse offensive identity, playmakers aplenty
Michigan’s offense has a lot of talent. Their new look offensive line fared real well and was controlling the line of scrimmage most of the night.
- Michigan’s stable of running backs all played well, with Hassan Haskins, Zach Charbonnet, Chris Evans, and Blake Corum showing the backfield has finesse, speed, and power.
- Wide receivers showed a lot of speed. When Josh Gattis said speed in space, this is the kind of offense he envisioned, and in year two he has the players that are better tailored for his scheme.
- Michigan has a full-fledged full back again and it showed.
- Tight End Erick All has the makings of a major contributor and matchup nightmare.
- Joe Milton had a firm grasp of the offensive game-plan
Gattis has talked about how he wants Michigan’s offense to be able to dictate what they do to opposing defenses, and that could be trending toward reality in motion. The play-calling was spot on more often than not and the schematics weren’t one extreme or the other. There were times the offense was methodical, other times where they were quick-hitting. They showed speed, then they showed power. The offense looked well-rounded, with a wide variety of plays and playmakers that can lead to the unit scoring a lot of points this season.
Kill the ‘can’t win on the road versus ranked teams’ narrative
Michigan were the underdogs when betting started last week, and pundits like Tim Tebow told Michigan they better show up or they’d get an L. Well, Michigan showed up. This was a national game, the nightcap for ABC, and Michigan gave Minnesota a bit of a whoopin’ when a lot of people doubted if Michigan could head up to Minnesota and win to start the season.
Jim Harbaugh had his team prepared. Yes, there were some miscues, but the team played well on way more downs than they didn’t. Minnesota is a good team, but Michigan showed who holds higher supremacy in the Big Ten power rankings.
Kicking woes can’t be ignored
Michigan has two kickers they feel are quality options in Jake Moody and Quinn Nordin. Unfortunately, Moody got the nod tonight and went 0-for-3. That’s not going to cut it and this needs to be corrected quickly before it costs Michigan a game.
Michael Barrett dominates, Kwity Paye does Kwity Paye things
From forcing fumbles to recovering them to nearly return a kickoff for a score, VIPER Michael Barrett showed he could be a special player for Michigan. Barrett displayed great field awareness, quick acceleration, and a nose for the football.
It’s great that Kwity Paye is still in a Michigan uniform and he’s going to kill quarterbacks all year long while being a huge asset on containing the edge against running backs. Paye’s 2 sacks and 3 TFL’s led the team.
Keep utilizing Ben Mason
Ben Mason created holes for running backs all night long and had an athletic dive to the pylon for a receiving touchdown. Mason didn’t play a ton on offense last season like he did in ‘18, so this is a nice and refreshing reminder that Ben Mason is one of the best fullbacks in college football and one of the strongest players on the Michigan team.
A building block game with lots of room for improvement
There were fumbles, there were dropped passes, a blocked punt, missed field goals, chunk plays given up on defense. Make no mistake, Michigan played well, but Harbaugh says the team is chasing perfection and that leaves mistakes that need corrected when they watch the film.
The team should be proud of their effort, especially factoring in such a weird offseason. This is a win that will be celebrated and surely felt well for the Wolverines. Michigan showed flashes of what they can become, but they need to keep improving, and tonight was a great start. A 49-24 victory over a ranked opponent on the road? You take that every single time. Even more impressive when factoring in they were in a quick early hole after the blocked punt. Michigan should be feeling pretty good heading into a rivalry game against Michigan State, who just lost to Rutgers.