The Michigan Wolverines (1-2) fell to the Indiana Hoosiers (3-0) by a score of 38-21 on Saturday. Here are the takeaways from today’s game.
Michigan D doesn’t stop much
Caught flat-footed and tentative too often, Michigan’s defense gave up big plays which led to Indiana QB Michael Penix Jr. throwing for 350 yards and 3 TDs. More often than not the Hoosiers were able to do what they wanted, accumulating 28 first downs throughout the day. Michigan mixed up zone coverage and man coverage today but the gameplan didn’t work and Michigan got dashed and gashed.
An abundance of costly penalties on defense
Michigan was caught off-sides continuously and pass interference penalties extended drives on third down and led to points transpired. Michigan kept jumping on the clap count of QB Michael Penix, but clearly weren’t looking to see if the ball was snapped yet. The pass interference and defensive holding calls were mostly correct and unnecessary. Back-breaking.
Indiana is good
Head coach Tom Allen has turned this IU program into a contender. They have a quarterback in Michael Penix that can get things done, talent at tight end and wideout, and a defense that now plays tough. Allen said he wanted to turn Indiana into a nasty team, and they’re buying in. They play with physicality and confidence. They’re believing in Bloomington. The Hoosiers will likely crack the top 10 when the rankings come out on Sunday.
Michigan offensive line struggles
After struggling last week against Michigan State, the Michigan o-line did again vs. IU. No holes were opened up in the running game, U-M had just 13 yards of rushing on the day. Some of QB Joe Milton’s performance is on him, but the line could have helped him more, as he was sacked three times. Michigan was missing two starters, so a lack of cohesion was expected. Pass-protection struggling early in a year isn’t surprising for a revamped unit, but not being able to run the football back-to-back weeks is concerning and led to Indiana’s defense sitting on the pass and dropping more players into coverage.
Milton is better than how he played
Multiple receivers dropped catchable balls from Milton yet again, but Milton could have helped out his targets more as well. Inaccurate passes to open targets, forcing throws into coverage, locking onto one read for too long, these were all things that put a hault to Michigan drives. Milton is not processing things pre-snap well enough in terms of knowing what coverage is coming, and needs to be more aware of blitzing corners to his left and right alike. Milton’s first interception was a costly one and led to an Indiana touchdown midway through the fourth quarter after Michigan trimmed their deficit to ten. That may have been this week’s turning point. Milton threw a long touchdown pass to Cornelius Johnson earlier in the game that was as pretty as any throw you’ll ever see, but it’s about what he does all the plays in between. Consistency is key. After looking calm against Minnesota, the same cannot be said for Milton the past two weeks. There are a lot of areas where Milton has a long ways to go, the upside is still evident, but the improvement needs to come. And getting the run-game to start churning would help a lot as well.
Ronnie Bell was a bright spot
Ronnie Bell showed heart and passion throughout the game, trying to pump his team up and turn the tide. Bell had 6 receptions for 149 yards and a TD, but his demeanor was equally impressive. Bell wasn’t keeping his head down, he wasn’t staying quiet. Int a game like football which is always a battle, you need players willing and ready to be vocal. You can never have enough guys like Ronnie Bell, the definitive WR No. 1.
Hard to say where Michigan’s season goes from here
Can Michigan still turn the season around and finish above .500? Sure, but how they treat this week after losing two in a row will tell the tale. Nobody believes they’re a good team at this point, the coaching staff and the players are going to get dogged on heavily. It’s them vs. everybody, and they can use that as fuel or pack it in the rest of the year. The choice is theirs. They know what needs to improve in a hurry, and if that doesn’t motivate them, I don’t know what would. In short, don’t allow people to think you stink. Prove them wrong.