The Michigan Wolverines took care of business against the Indiana Hoosiers on Saturday, winning 39-14 and improving to 9-2 in the process.
There are a handful of positive takeaways from the game, let’s take a look.
Patterson continues to impress, as do wideouts and o-line
Shea Patterson had a heck of a game versus Michigan State last week, and he kept that production churning right along against Indiana. Patterson was assertive and dominated. The senior QB consistently found open receivers and got rid of the ball on time. In all, Patterson was 20-of-32 for 366 yards with 5 touchdowns and 1 interception. Patterson became the first quarterback in Michigan history to have consecutive games with 4 touchdown passes or more, and is now tied with Jake Rudock for the most touchdown passes in a single game in Michigan history (5).
What makes Patterson’s performance all the more impressive involves the weather conditions today at Memorial Stadium. There was misty rain, it was cold, the misty rain turned into snowflakes at time that didn’t accumulate once they hit the ground. To make things even nastier, there were strong gusts of wind that wouldn’t indicate a quarterback was going to be able to let it rip with authority all game long, and that’s exactly what Patterson did.
As good as Patterson played today, Jim Harbaugh made a good point at his post-game presser about Shea’s success. Harbaugh gave credit to the offensive line and the wideouts as well, saying it truly is all eleven on the field. And that was true today. The offensive line gave Patterson ample time to throw, and there were some tremendous catches made by the likes of Nico Collins (6 rec, 165 yards, 3 TD’s) , Donovan Peoples-Jones (5 rec, 73 yards, 1 TD) Tarik Black (3 rec, 30 yards), and Giles Jackson (1 rec, 50 yards). Good quarterbacks need to be protected by their o-line and have reliable targets to throw to if they’re to take their game to the next level, and that’s what we’re seeing with Michigan’s offense, especially how they’ve been throwing the ball of late.
Harbaugh said they’re going to keep riding Patterson, which means no matter what happens next week against Ohio State, they’re going to let Patterson pass the ball at a high clip and see how things play out.
Josh Gattis was a good hire and #SpeedInSpace can be a lot of fun to watch
Speed in Space is real.
While it may have taken the offense a little longer than they wanted to start performing at a high clip consistently, they are now, and along with it Gattis’ schematics and play-calling abilities deserve a tip of the hat. When a team thoroughly dominates another the way Michigan did today, I’m not going to point to one or two play calls that could have been better. The positives bury any nitpicking that can possibly be done.
The Michigan offense tried a few varieties of screen plays early on, along with runs to the outside, none of them had much success. Gattis started attacking Indiana in different ways instead. Michigan started pushing the ball down the field on intermediate patterns and a healthy dose of throws over twenty yards. Receivers were open in space, be it on vertical patterns or slants towards the middle of the field. Attack. Attack. Attack. That’s what Michigan’s offense did today, and it’s a product of Gattis’ mentality, along with Harbaugh, of course.
Dax Hill has solid debut
Freshman safety Daxton Hill picked up the first start of his career due to a Brad Hawkins injury. Hill had himself a memorable first start, leading the team in tackles and hauling in an interception.
Jim Harbaugh said that Hill is consistently by the football. That points to sound instincts by Hill and a high motor with the ability to fly downfield when need be. Hill is one of the fastest players on the team and he can hit about as hard as anyone on the team. Hill is just scratching the surface and will only grow and ascend from here, but as it stands, he already looks like a pretty darn good player.
The team has the right focus at the right time
Many screamed “trap game!” in regards to Michigan facing Indiana a week before facing Ohio State, but those concerns proved to be unwarranted to the max.
Michigan’s defense gave up two touchdowns early on in this one, but buckled down and slammed the door shut on the Hoosiers offense. For Michigan’s offense, they kept their foot on the gas for four quarters and played just as aggressive as their defensive teammates.
It looked like it could be a nail-biter of a game early on, but instead the defense and offense put nails in the coffin instead and buried any shot the Hoosiers had at a comeback.
Michigan has confidence right now at a time where they need it the most, heading into what many will consider a season-defining game versus the Buckeyes. Yes, the Wolverines are surging into the game.
Collectively, the team is playing without hesitation and are displaying a tremendous amount of physicality. Those apparent attributes, along with playing technically sound football, warrant giving a tip of the cap to the program as a whole.
Michigan has been one of the best teams in the country the past month of the season, and while they’re certainly playing one of the best teams in the nation next week, Jim Harbaugh is turning doubters into believes once again. Momentum can be overrated, momentum can cease any given Saturday, but blowing out a good Indiana football was precisely what Michigan needed to do today a week before playing the Buckeyes.