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What we learned Week 6: Michigan still has no offensive identity midseason

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The Wolverines have no offensive identity, Ben Mason continues to be the coolest cat on the team and more.

Maryland v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Michigan Wolverines put up a great performance on Saturday en route to a 42-21 victory over the Maryland Terrapins.

We saw a more open playbook in the game, as Patterson threw the ball 27 times for 282 yards and three touchdowns. The ground dame was also impressive as Karan Higdon picked up another 103 yards on 25 carries. In total, the Wolverines put up 465 yards of offense and held the ball for 35 and a half minutes.

The defense was same old, same old and held the Terrapins to only 220 yards despite not having Rashan Gary on the field.

The Wolverines also lost defensive tackle Michael Dwumfour in the second quarter of the game. Yet, the Michigan defense allowed only 147 rushing yards to the 10th best rushing offense in the country.

These factors and more led to an easy win for the Michigan Wolverines. Here is what we learned from this game:

The offense still doesn’t have an identity

Does anyone actually know what this Michigan offense wants to be?

We have seen this awkward transition from what was predominantly a Power O in Week 1 against Notre Dame to this hybrid Pistol/Spread/Power offense conglomeration that just doesn’t know what it wants to be. Oh yeah and according to the players, we have yet to see half the playbook.

Sure, it is great to run all of these different formations, but where is this offense going to turn in the big games? You want to have certain plays down you have run a hundred times for top-tier games. While it does keep an element of surprise for the big games coming up, I would feel more confident going in knowing this offense is good, not speculating what it could be.

There are still way too many question marks on the board. Sure, they have rolled through the teams they have supposed to. But lets be honest here guys, wins against Western Michigan, SMU, Nebraska, Northwestern and Maryland aren’t that impressive. Those are teams Michigan SHOULD be putting close to 500 yards up against, no matter what formation is being used.

But how is this going to translate in the next few weeks here with Wisconsin, Michigan State and Penn State all in a row? The lack of identity to this offense could end up doing more harm than good. It’s tiring to consider game after game how great this offense could be when they haven’t showed up in big games under Harbaugh.

A sense of identity and a solid knowledge of the playbook in-game would be much more beneficial than throwing in a play they have never run before. I guess we will have a bit more of a sense of the offense this Saturday when the Wolverines play the Wisconsin Badgers.

Ben Mason is the most entertaining player on the team

I cannot get enough of Ben Mason, and clearly the media is starting to feel the same way. Let’s take a look at some of his highlights for the week:

First off, this wrecking ball of a man showed a little grace and athleticism on this impressive play:

More people are becoming fond of the personality of this guy, too:

And the fullback just keeps making everyone else feel inferior:

Ben Mason now has five touchdowns on the season, which puts him in a tie for the lead for a skill position player on the team (Higdon and Peoples-Jones). There is no doubt Mason is proving his value to the team even though he has only touched the ball 17 times in 2018. It’s fun to see he is finally getting the national recognition he deserves.

Gentry is now the clear No. 1 tight end

Last week I called for Gentry to get much more playing time and more targets over Sean McKeon, and Harbaugh must have viewed it the same way.

Gentry had himself a day against the Terrapins bringing in seven receptions for 112 yards. There was one specific play I absolutely adored from the Harbaugh offense despite my criticism before, and that was the short passes to Gentry towards the middle of the field and in the flat. Each time they did that play it was an easy five to six yards for the Wolverines, and that is something I definitely would like to more of.

The Patterson to Gentry connections have been something to behold all season. Gentry now has 306 yards on 20 receptions and a couple touchdowns. I expect those numbers to get a lot better over the course of the season.

If the Wolverines move more to a pistol and spread offense like we saw against Maryland, Gentry will be a top target for Patterson along the way.

For more quality and up to date information on the Michigan Wolverines follow @Maizenbrew and @DanPlocher on Twitter.