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Quarter-by-quarter observations from Michigan’s dismantling of Rutgers

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The Wolverines host the Scarlet Knights looking to get back on track after last week.

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Michigan Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan football hosted Rutgers on Saturday afternoon at the Big House looking to get itself back on track after last week’s effort at Wisconsin. Mission accomplished after a 52-0 victory and the first shutout since 2016, also against Rutgers.

Here were our live takeaways from throughout the game.

(Editor’s note: If you want to mentally add a “but dude, it was Rutgers” before every takeaway, that’s cool.)

First Quarter

  • Michigan started the first quarter on offense after Rutgers won the opening kickoff and deferred. And for the first time all season, they did not fumble on the opening drive of the game and were able to execute a five-play, 80-yard drive that was capped off by a 48-yard touchdown pass to Nico Collins. They started quick and made an effort to get the ball to their best offensive weapon, aided by a block along the sideline by Erick All to help spring Collins. Yeah, it’s Rutgers, but it was incredibly important for them to start fast and they did. They would score again on their second offensive possession of the day on a drive that went 61-yards in nine plays that was finished off by a Shea Patterson run from two-yards out that was set up by some solid playcalling along the way. The 14-0 lead over Rutgers after the first quarter was exactly what we needed to see from the offense.
  • Speaking of the offense, Josh Gattis moved down from the coaches’ box to call the plays on the sideline. The energy was there and it is clear that this is his offense, as Jim Harbaugh basically sat back and let him run the show down there despite people thinking that might not be the case. The tempo and execution was much more crisp to start the game and whether or not they were playing Rutgers does not change the fact they came out on fire after a tough week around these parts.
  • The defense, however, remains a concern as it pertains to guarding crossing routes, which is something Don Brown still has not adjusted to for whatever reason. Jordan Glasgow was on skates on the second defensive series of the day and Rutgers nearly drove into the endzone before getting stopped by the Wolverine defense on 4th and goal to start the second quarter.

Second Quarter

  • Patterson has played as locked in as we’ve seen him this year on Saturday in the first half. The ball was coming out quickly and the Wolverines made an effort to spread the ball around to the likes of Collins, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Tarik Black and Ronnie Bell. The pockets to throw from have been solid and the throws that we have seen sail or thrown wide through the first few weeks of the year were much more on point and decisive. He was at his most successful when given a chance to roll out of the pocket or throw on the run, which is something that Michigan can build off of moving forward.
  • Giles Jackson was getting a bit of run with the offense in the first half, as he was used as a jet sweep decoy on a play in the first quarter and then he was given a carry out of the backfield. They might be able to do some things with him as a gadget or decoy as the year goes on.
  • Daxton Hill was all over the field in the first half on defense and special teams. In addition to Cam McGrone getting the start at middle linebacker, it would be nice to see these guys get more snaps and just deal with the growing pains. The upside is worth it.
  • Their first half drives went touchdown, touchdown, punt, touchdown, field goal, so hats off to points on all but one possession. Pretty clean performance through 30 minutes of football.

Third Quarter

  • Rutgers muffed the opening kickoff of the second half on a play that I’m not sure how anyone saw. Michigan converted three plays later on three rushes for 15 yards from Christian Turner. The Wolverines lack explosion from their running backs right now, but Turner does run hard and might be deserving of more carries here and there moving forward.
  • Just about the only thing Rutgers has had any success doing is the crossing routes that continue to haunt the Michigan defense. That said, the officiating gave the Scarlet Knights a few charity flags here and there in the third that helped them extend drives.
  • The Wolverines made an effort to get Collins the ball in a single coverage situation down the field, but the ball was underthrown by Patterson and let to an interception. The play didn’t go as planned, but we need to see more of that.
  • The Wolverines had their fight and their heart questioned all week, but the team did a nice job all day for fighting for extra yards and keeping those legs moving until the whistle blew. Both third quarter touchdowns were on efforts like that and Ronnie Bell had a play right before the touchdown that did the same.
  • The pass blocking through three quarters was excellent all day and mostly a wall, which makes the team’s concerns in run blocking so confounding. They have not been able to consistently able to move teams off the point of attack and lack the holes and explosiveness for this to be a respected balanced attack. There’s still a lot of work to do there.
  • Joe Milton entered the game with the No. 1 offense after the Wolverines went up 38-0. Patterson finishes the day with 17-for-23 passing for 276 yards, one touchdown and the pick.

Fourth Quarter

  • Milton joined in on the bootleg fun on fourth and goal and was able to score his first career touchdown.
  • Mike Sainristil muffed a punt as Michigan started to empty its bench and get other guys in there. Probably not what he wanted to put on film as the hype from his offseason continues to sort of fizzle out. But he’s a freshman, so no cause for concern just yet.
  • Milton flashed a little bit of why he could be a special player if his skill-set comes together. His 23-yard touchdown pass to Giles Jackson was an effortless missile that flashed off the big arm we’ve all heard so much about. It’s one play in garbage time, but his development could be fun to watch if he continues to get some run.
  • With All and Dylan McCaffrey injured, this was Michigan’s second-team offense in garbage time.

We’ll have more throughout the rest of the afternoon and evening. Overall, a nice workmanlike effort against a hapless football team. There’s still a lot of work to do, but this will do for now.