The Michigan Wolverines are coming fresh off a bye following an unnecessarily difficult start to the 2019 football season. Thankfully, the maize and blue still sit a 2-0 to start the season and have had moments of looking like a good football team. Here are some of the top moments of 2019 so far.
No. 5: Tarik Black’s touchdown against MTSU
Michigan scores its first touchdown of the season to Tarik Black after a long recovery process through two injuries for Black. In fact, this was Black’s first touchdown since his freshman season (2017) when he caught a touchdown pass in his first collegiate game against Florida.
Not only is the story great, but so is the play. Black goes right up the seams of the defense and is left wide open when he runs a go route. Michigan picks up the blitz with a key block from runningback Tru Wilson, giving Patterson enough time to hit Black with nobody around for an easy six points.
No. 4: Ambry Thomas INT vs MTSU
Many Michigan fans were worried about the secondary heading into the season. To make it even worse, Thomas, a projected starter, was diagnosed with colitis right before the start of the season. No one knew how long the illness would sideline the sophomore cornerback, but he has fought through the pain and sickness through the first two weeks of the year.
The football gods rewarded him for his play with an interception in the first game of the year against MTSU.
Thomas recognizes the play in man coverage as the back wide receiver in the stacked set ran a swing route towards the sideline. He saw the QB rolling to his left and knew the ball was coming his way, so he jumped the route and made a spectacular leaping interception to give the Wolverines the ball back after they just scored a quick touchdown.
No. 3: Kwity Paye strip-sack to beat Army
I think we all know that Michigan din’t play to its fullest potential against Army in Week 2. After trying to lose this game many times, the Wolverines finally made the big play defensively that sealed the victory in double-overtime.
Kwity Paye had an awesome jump on the snap and was immediately in attack mode. The whole Army offensive line crumbled on this play as Aidan Hutchinson and Carlo Kemp broke through the middle. The Army quarterback had no where to go and was hit from behind by Paye, losing the football in the process. Josh Uche picked it up and sealed the win as the Wolverines yet again had to rely on their defense to pick up a victory.
No. 2: Mike Barrett completion on a fake punt
Everybody needed a turning point in the game against Army. The Wolverines already found themselves down seven late in the first quarter and they were about to give the ball back to Army who milked the clock on every possession they had.
It appeared that this may have been an audible at the line of scrimmage, but it was a really good one. True freshman Daxton Hill was lined up as the gunner, but no one was on him in coverage. The upback was multi-purpose man Mike Barrett who has seen himself on the Michigan depth chart at quarterback, runningback, safety, and now linebacker. Barrett, the former quarterback makes an easy touch pass to a wide open Hill for a big first down.
The drive continued, and eventually led to Michigan’s first touchdown of the game on a Zach Charbonnet touchdown run. This play had huge implications and got the Wolverines’ offense kick started for at least a little bit.
No. 1: Nico Collins touchdown against MTSU
Nico Collins’ 28-yard touchdown pass from Shea Patterson comes in at No. 1 because it gives me hope. This is the kind of playcalling and execution that had me wanting more after the first week of the 2019 season. It’s a deep shot with a mentality of “my guy is better than your guy” and it leads to big plays and touchdowns.
The MTSU defense is in a man-to-man defense with help over the top from a safety. The safety travels with Ronnie Bell who cuts in on a post route leaving Collins one-on-one against a smaller MTSU cornerback. Patterson lines up and fires a deep ball with enough air under it for Collins to go up and get it. The result: a 28-yard touchdown pass and a 17-7 lead for the Wolverines.
Plays like this were absent from the Army game which cause mass hysteria and questioning of Josh Gattis’ system. We will see which offense we see against No. 13 Wisconsin this Saturday. Kickoff is at 12:00 ET.