The Michigan Wolverines finished the non-conference portion of their schedule with an ugly 31-6 victory over Bowling Green. Michigan’s glorified preseason is over and the team will finally prepare to open Big Ten play next week against Rutgers.
For the third consecutive game, the majority of Michigan’s starters only played the first three quarters, but that was still enough time to earn a grade. However, unlike the first two games, this game was full of ups and downs. Let’s get to it.
This is the worst game J.J. McCarthy has ever played as a starting quarterback. McCarthy finished the game 8-of-13 for 143 yards, two touchdowns, three picks, and a QBR of 10.0. Somehow it still felt worse. The junior looked uncomfortable in the pocket, indecisive on reads, and a shell of the player we saw the first two weeks of the season.
Running backs: B+
Welcome back, Blake Corum! Corum effectively shook all the rust he displayed last week by finishing with 101 yards and two touchdowns on only 12 carries. Corum looked like his pre-injury self breaking tackles and cutting with confidence once again.
Donovan Edwards also had a bounce-back game adding nine carries for 50 yards.
Wide receivers: B
The receivers looked out of sync with their quarterback for the majority of the game, but still made the most out of it. Only two receivers caught passes last night — Cornelius Johnson and Roman Wilson — and they combined for five catches, 113 yards and two touchdowns. Johnson’s tip-drill circus catch was undoubtedly the highlight of the night for the group.
Tight ends: C
The tight ends struggled more with their blocks last night than in the first two games, but Colston Loveland flashed his receiving prowess with three catches for 30 yards. Much like the running backs, expect this position group’s responsibility and impact to drastically increase with conference play starting next week.
Offensive line: D+
This was a bad showing from Michigan’s offensive line, especially in pass protection. The stat sheet may only say one tackle for loss and one sack were allowed, but the front five never displayed their trademark dominance protecting McCarthy.
From the start, the unit looked disconnected, passive, and played like their feet were in concrete. It got so bad for right tackle Myles Hinton in the second half that he was benched. Perhaps serving as head coach, offensive line coach, offensive coordinator and the primary play-caller was too much for Sherrone Moore.
Defensive line: A
Michigan’s defensive line continues to impress. In this game, the unit held the Falcons to 79 rushing yards (2.2 yards per carry) and accounted for seven tackles for loss, two sacks, and one interception by Kris Jenkins. With a rotating wall of bodies, this unit has continually stayed fresh and looks like one of the best defensive fronts in the country.
Junior Colson (seven) and Michael Barrett (five) led the team in tackles and played with elite instincts and ferocity. Ernest Hausmann chipped in three tackles of his own, and this unit continues to perform at one of the highest levels in recent memory from a Michigan linebackers room.
Defensive backs: B+
The secondary — again without Will Johnson and Rod Moore — finished the game with one interception, one sack and two tackles for loss. The unit allowed two big pass plays, but always displayed poise and resiliency to recover and force field goal attempts. Team captain Mike Sainristil played one of his best and most complete games as a Wolverine.
Special Teams: C-
The good: Kicker James Turner was perfect on extra points and drilled a 42-yarder with ease. Punter Tommy Doman averaged over 46 yards —not to mention, ridiculous hang time — on three absolute bombs of punts.
The bad: Michigan failed to adjust to field a kickoffs. When Max Bredeson did field one, he promptly fumbled it right back to the Falcons. The next kickoff, they kicked a short one again, this time to Braiden McGregor who nearly lost it as well.
Although this balances out to lightly below average, based on the standard Michigan has set for itself in the special teams department, this barely felt above failing.