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Q&A: Inside NU reacts to Michigan’s win over Northwestern

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A Northwestern writer gives his analysis

Michigan v Northwestern Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Michigan was down big and came back against the Northwestern Wildcats on Saturday. The game had many twists and turns that made for a memorable and somewhat crazy game.

To make sense of things, we wanted to speak with someone who has a Northwestern perspective.

Caleb Friedman of InsideNU.com was happy to talk about the game and answered questions Michigan fans would like to know.

Did you feel Northwestern was going to win after being up 17-0?

In all honesty, no. If you know Northwestern, you know no lead is safe. We were talking in the press box about NU would probably blow the lead, and, well, they did.

Northwestern QB Clayton Thorson eluded to the fact they planned some adjustments at halftime for the second half but they didn’t transpire or didn’t work? Why do you think that is?

It’s tough to say because I don’t really know what the adjustments were, but Michigan’s defensive line just wore Northwestern offensive line down. Thorson didn’t have much time to throw, so the offense became limited to shorter throws. With a virtually nonexistent running game, there was no real explosiveness or downfield threat, which made the offense relatively easy to defend. It’s become a trend this season of Northwestern struggling to string together drives in the second half of games.

What did you see out of Michigan? Offensively, defensively, what do you think they did good, did bad?

Personally, I was not impressed with Shea Patterson Saturday. Yes, he made the plays he needed, but that was in part because he was getting the ball back over and over in the second half. He missed a lot of throws, even though he was generally well-protected. He’s definitely a good runner, and that burned NU several times, but I’m still not sure he can win from the pocket consistently, which will be more important against teams like Ohio State and Penn State.

I thought Michigan’s defensive ends were outstanding Saturday, particularly Chase Winovich. He was around Thorson all game, and proved far too quick for the NU offensive tackles to handle.

How big of a loss is this for Northwestern? What is the general feeling about Fitzgerald right now? Are fans proud of the way they fought, or furious they blew a 17 point lead?

Realistically, very few people thought Northwestern would win this game -- Michigan was favored by 14.5 points. So, in a vacuum, losing by three isn’t a terrible performance for the Wildcats. But, when you blow the lead, and the offense is atrocious in the second half, which has been the case all season, frustration kicks in. NU fans have called for the firing of offensive coordinator Mick McCall for years, and those cries will continue to get louder after Saturday. Given the loss to Akron and the blown lead against Michigan, people are not happy. But then again, NU wasn’t supposed to win this game, so I don’t think it’s that big of a loss.

What players stood out to you the most on Michigan?

I mentioned Winovich above, but I also thought Karan Higdon had a nice day. Obviously, Donovan Peoples-Jones is electric with the football; I was a bit surprised Michigan didn’t get him the ball more often on quick-hitting routes. Kwity Paye was also great throughout the game.

From a scouting perspective, what did you find to be Michigan’s biggest strength and most glaring weakness?

The penalties jump out as a potential weakness going forward. Michigan too often shot itself in the foot and allowed Northwestern to keep drives alive or get off the field on defense. In the meat of the Big Ten schedule, that probably can’t happen for Michigan to win.

On the flip side, the front seven is really, really good. The combination of star power in the pass rush and good tackling in the run game is a strong one, and should keep Michigan in every game.