Michigan football was put through the grinder in a slugfest against Iowa on Saturday at the Big House and walked out with a 10-3 victory to move to 4-1 on the season. At the time, things looked ugly, but there are always things you do not pick up on live. Now that the rewatch is done, here’s how they graded out in each phase of the game.
We have been doing these as position unit grades throughout the early part of the season, but it might be more pertinent moving forward to go through the positives and negatives of each side of the ball as a whole instead of singling out position groups, which might be better suited for more longform applications during the week.
Anyways, here we go.
What went right: The first quarter of this game saw Michigan got out to a hot start offensively, at least on the scoreboard. A 51-yard bomb down the field to Nico Collins was really the only notable big play of the game and it set up the only touchdown drive of the day. The offensive line was a lot better than it had been and did move some more bodies that we had seen, but still can do much better. The only thing that saves this effort from being a total bust was the quick 10 points out of the gate. The offense did a nice job of limiting the damage of a talented Iowa front that features a first round talent in AJ Epenesa
What went wrong: Everything else. Shea Patterson continues to struggle and looks like he has reached his ceiling in this offense while holding onto the ball too long and not processing things quickly enough. The wide receivers cannot seem to get open enough consistently and they lack a running back that is a home run threat. We will get to Josh Gattis later, but overall, just not a good enough job executing and left a ton of opportunities on the field.
What went right: Jim Harbaugh called Don Brown’s effort a “masterpiece” and the tape backs that up. Iowa does a lot of the same types of things that Wisconsin does and the Wolverines flipped the script and played its best defensive outing of the season. Even more impressive is that the 13 tackles for loss and eight sacks came against an Iowa line that features a pair of NFL linemen in Alaric Jackson and Tristan Wirfs. Also encouraging was the fact that a pair of young guys in Dax Hill and Cam McGrone continue to flash star potential and are trending heavily as guys that are in that best 11 players on defense. They probably already are.
What went wrong: Some of the crossing route stuff continues to hurt over the middle of the field. There are some young mistakes out there, but you can live with that with some of the talent that they have out there that is starting to come into its own.
Special Teams: Burn the tape
What went right: They made a field goal in the first quarter.
What went wrong: Just about everything else. Will Hart wasn’t his normal self. Both Jake Moody and Quinn Nordin missed field goals, though Nordin’s was from a mile away at the end of the first half. Moody’s was much more costly, as he could have extended Michigan’s lead to 13-3 late in the game, which would have all but iced it. Iowa had a few decent returns Donovan Peoples-Jones also fumbled a kickoff. They are usually so sound int his area that it feels like this game was just a weird blip on the radar.
Brown and his staff get an A for what they were able to accomplish this week. Jim Harbaugh deserves a tip of the hat for how his team has responded since the wakeup call a few weeks ago and has both sides of the ball playing physical football, but they have major offensive concerns right now. Gattis does not trust his quarterback and it seems he still does not know what he wants this team to be. They do some things good, a lot of things not good enough, and some things that just need to be killed with fire and through out of the playbook. We are six weeks in plus what they did in spring and fall camp and this Michigan offense still has no plan or idea of what it wants to be. At this point, it is a bigger concern than anyone could have imagined. Things are stagnant right now and first-year playcaller or not, they need to figure this thing out.