Michigan beat Washington 31-10 on Saturday night on primetime to improve to 2-0 this season. The game featured a few impressive performances, as well as a few areas that will need to be cleaned up before their Big Ten schedule begins at the end of the month against Rutgers.
Here are takeaways from Michigan’s win.
Rushing attack and offensive line played well
If it wasn’t for Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins, Michigan might have lost this one. Corum rushed for 171 yards and 3 touchdowns, while Haskins rushed for 155 yards and a score.
Michigan’s offense was predictable, they had little success passing the ball, and Washington stacked the box. Michigan’s o-line proved to be stronger, and the combo of Haskins and Corum were lights out. Haskins had bruising runs repeatedly where he trucked defenders while also showcasing good cuts and shiftiness. Corum, who has more top end speed than Haskins, had a few really impressive long gains including a 67-yard touchdown run.
This is just about the best Michigan’s o-line and rushing attack have looked to start a season since 2016.
We’ll be diving into the glaring area that needs improving on offense in a moment, but Michigan has two NFL caliber backs in their stable that will be able to keep them in games when things get dirty. A major tip of the cap to Corum, Haskins, and Michigan’s line.
McNamara’s production must improve
Someone can try and counter the statement above by saying that Michigan didn’t need to lean on McNamara due to the running game powering the offense (McNamara threw for just 44 yards). Another counter would be that Michigan was going against a talented secondary and a team that led the Pac- 12 in total defense a season ago.
McNamara’s arm strength needs to improve down the field, as does his mechanics. McNamara had happy feet at times and wasn’t really stepping into his throws — his upper body and feet didn’t appear to be in sync.
Part of McNamara’s troubles can be attributed to receivers not gaining separation, another element would be the predictability and lack of execution on bubble screens. The case can be made the flow of play calls in the passing game did not allow McNamara to get in a rhythm.
Michigan is nearing the Big Ten portion of their schedule, and the passing game needs to get better all around. It’s only a matter of time (now) before future opponents devote most of their game prep towards bottling up the rushing attack. It won’t get any easier for Michigan to rush the ball moving forward. Maybe Corum and Haskins can continue at a prolific pace, but balance is needed for Michigan to beat every team on their schedule.
McNamara will have more opportunities to show he can get the job done, but this performance cannot become a common occurrence, and good quarterbacks have the ability to hang in there and be trusted against talented secondaries.
Smash-mouth football can take you far, but it rarely takes you all the way. National Championship contending teams have elite quarterbacks, not game managers.
Hutchinson is a bad dude
Aidan Hutchinson continues to wreak havoc on defense, making opposing quarterbacks lives a nightmare. Hutchinson had 2.5 sacks, and threw off the timing of Washington QB Dylan Morris all game long.
Hutchinson can’t do it all alone, Michigan’s secondary gave up too many chunk plays in the second half, but his presence gives the defensive unit energy. His leadership and toughness is incredibly important to his defense.
If Hutchinson continues to play in the manner he is, there’s a good chance he winds up as a first round NFL draft pick.
Michigan fans were highly energized
It was a maize out, a legitimate one — with over 90 percent of the crowd wearing good ole maize. It was a night game on ABC, a game that started at 8 local time, but the fans stuck around the entire time, as did the student section. This is my sixth season covering Michigan Football and this was the loudest I’ve heard the crowd throughout four quarters. This was a pleasant occurrence.