What We Learned: About Michigan
Michigan is loaded with young talent. 17 true freshmen played on Saturday for Michigan. SEVENTEEN! It's time for Michigan fans to remove the word "redshirt" from their vocabulary, as Jim Harbaugh has changed the way freshmen are used at MIchigan. 2016's recruiting class will eventually be considered a historically great one for Michigan, and a lot of guys are ready to play at a high level right now. These guys will be heavily relied on next year, as Michigan loses a bunch of upperclassmen this year, and possibly some underclassmen as early draft enrollees. The 2015 recruiting class was a very weak one, so there won't be many upperclassmen occupying starting spots next year. Therefore it is crucial that the freshmen this year get the playing time now, so they can be ready to lead the team in 2017 and beyond.
And many of these young players deserve the playing time. Ben Bredeson stepped in and contributed right away on the offensive line. Chris Evans showed initial explosiveness that I have never seen from a full time Michigan running back (only because Jabrill Peppers and Denard Robinson haven't played RB full time at Michigan). Rashan Gary stepped right in and terrorized the Hawaii offense. And there was this hit from Devin Bush on the first play of the game.
Surprised nobody seemed to catch this: Devin Bush Jr. WRECKED a guy on the opening kickoff. pic.twitter.com/AYMpcx9Awy— Ace Anbender (@AceAnbender) September 4, 2016
The list of freshmen contributors goes on and on, but those were a few that really stuck out to me.
Michigan's linebackers are noticeably more athletic than last year. Well, let's start off with Mike McCray, who is a huge addition if he can stay healthy. He is off to a great start to the 2016 season, racking up B1G defensive player of the week honors, for his 9 tackles, 3.5 TFLs, 2 sacks, and forced fumble. He spent enough time in Hawaii territory on Saturday to host a luau for his closest family and friends.
It was obvious that Jabrill Peppers was still learning the coverage aspect of linebacking,but he was a significant upgrade over what Michigan had last year. Last year, you could attribute just about any big play from an opponent to inferior athleticism in Michigan's LB corps. This year, that just won't happen.
Punting for Michigan in 2016 has been quite the easy job. (Yeah, I said 2016 to dodge the Blake O'Neill jokes from MSU fans. Those jokes are out there, and it's just about the only thing that MSU fans will have to hold onto this season. Because the Harbaugh Revenge Tour is headed to East Lansing on October 29. But back to my point I was going to make a while ago now.) Yeah, in the 2 games Michigan has played this year, Michigan has only punted once. It was during the first quarter of the Citrus Bowl. They have not punted in the last 7 quarters. They have also not surrendered a touchdown in the past 7 quarters. Now if the next 56 (44 regular season +4 B1G Championship +8 CFP) quarters go the same way, we might have a shot to do something special here. *But* let's remember that not every game on Michigan's schedule will be an inferior Hawaii team that recently logged enough frequent flyer miles to take the extended family on a nice European vacation. So I guess we shouldn't get ahead of ourselves.
Michigan doesn't appear to have quarterback problems. Yes, it was Hawaii. But a lot of the talking heads were throwing up huge red flags around Michigan's quarterback situation this offseason, and those concerns can probably be put to rest after Saturday. I personally put them to rest after reading these tweets:
Of note on the QBs: Harbaugh said QB play is better now than it was a year ago in camp. Keep in mind he rarely compares anything.— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) August 16, 2016
Lewis says Harbaugh is noticeably less frustrated with the QBs now than he was a year ago in camp.— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) August 29, 2016
Wilton Speight had a virtuoso performance after his initial interception. All of the reports about him making quick reads were accurate. He was able to find the open man, and his receivers did a great job of getting open for him. John O'Korn also looked more than capable in his limited action. It's safe to say that the quarterback position will never be a weak one as long as Jim Harbaugh is hovering on Michigan's sidelines.
What We Learned: About the Big Ten
Ohio State doesn't rebuild, they reload. It pains me to write this, but that school in Ohio had pretty much their whole team from last year drafted by the NFL, and they put up a school record in yardage last year against the defending MAC champion. I guess it could be said that Bowling Green doesn't start playing defense until later in the season though, as last year they gave up 59 points in their season opener, against Tennessee.
Wisconsin could be a trickier opponent than we thought. We all know by now that the Badgers took care of Top 5 LSU, in the first (and probably last) game that an SEC powerhouse voluntarily traveled north of the Mason-Dixon line for in recent memory. But let's remember that this LSU team features the same unimaginative offense as last year, and if you can stop Leonard Fournette, you can stop the whole offense. Still, this is an impressive win, and Wisconsin shouldn't be taken likely when they head to the Big House on October 1. At this point, most Michigan fans are not willing to put that game's toughness up there with MSU and Iowa though.
With OSU an obvious 1st, what do you consider the 2nd toughest game on Michigan's schedule? (poll closes at 9 pm)— LG (@LGhail) September 4, 2016
What We Learned: About the FBS
Outside of Alabama, the SEC is a steaming pile of garbage. Mississippi State lost to a team named South Alabama. I checked, and South Alabama actually exists. LSU lost to Wisconsin, who was not considered a Top 25 team by writers and coaches that had all summer to research their ballots. I'm watching Ole Miss blow a lead the size of the cash envelopes they give out to recruits on official visits, as we speak. Auburn looked decent against a great Clemson team, but couldn't protect home field. Tennessee needed overtime to dissolve of an Appalachian State team that basically lined up a tackling dummy at quarterback. Arkansas almost had another huge embarrassing loss, this time to Louisiana Tech. It was an embarrassing showing for the conference. However, when it's all said and done, all of these fanbases will forget about the plights of their own team, throw the confederate flag on their pickup trucks, and yell out a big "ROLL TIDE", because that's what SEC fans do when their teams are awful.
Tweets of the Week
The best pump up routine ever.https://t.co/1uGCw7561G— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) September 3, 2016
Jabrill Peppers leaping over players like his team down 3-1 https://t.co/rtI6RaElZr— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 4, 2016
Notre Dame can still get a win by stopping by Whataburger on the way out of Texas— Whataburger® (@Whataburger) September 5, 2016