After starting 6-0, tying one of their best starts since 2016, the Michigan Wolverines have garnered the No. 8 ranking in the AP Poll at the halfway point of the year. While the start has been impressive and four of the games have been decided by two or more scores, there were a couple of games too close for comfort. By no means is Michigan going to look perfect in every game, therefore, it is a testament to the team they have won no matter the overall performance.
There is no game this week, so it’s important for the team to maintain their competitive edge while also establishing and executing changes that will benefit them for the duration of the season. In doing so, let’s revisit what has gone right and what has gone wrong.
A lot of talk this week has focused on the highlights of the season so far. Michigan has one of the best backfields in Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins. After losing their top receiver in Ronnie Bell in Week 1, the Wolverines have seen players like Cornelius Johnson, Roman Wilson and Mike Sainristril make some impressive catches. Starting quarterback Cade McNamara has been one of Michigan’s most consistent at the position in a decade, though that depends on who gets asked. The Wolverines appear to be utilizing freshman J.J. McCarthy in a similar combination of Dylan McCaffery and Shea Patterson from two years ago. While fan narratives can be consumed in the quarterback debate, McNamara’s leadership is apparent, and that goes a long way for the trajectory of this team.
Michigan’s defense has been one of the biggest changes since last season. While the growing pains are noticeable, they have stepped up and kept the Wolverines in both of their close games this season. They are by no means perfect, and in some instances match offensive play calling in terms of who fans are pointing their fingers at for blame. However, they typically come off with game-changing turnovers and hits. David Ojabo has been one of my favorite players so far this season, forcing three fumbles through six games. Dax Hill has been utilized to his potential and it’s extremely noticeable, especially with some of the hits, interceptions and broken up passes he has produced so far this season.
It’s easy to want the things that have gone right to maintain through the season. This week gave the staff some time to hit the recruiting trail, but it also gave the team time to hone in on the highs and lows of the season thus far. With an extra week to build up their strengths, there is just as much time to work out solutions for what’s gone wrong.
In some instances this season, play calls caused some unideal third and long situations. Against Nebraska, for example, these situations produced multiple instances where points went missing from the board from not finishing out drives. Jim Harbaugh said this week would have heavy film analysis on previous and future opponents. The glaring holes fans have seen will surely be the main focus of the team with their extra week of rest and work.
What do you think Michigan should be focusing on or looking into during their bye week? Should it be mainly on their lows or should it be a combination of their strengths and weaknesses?
The Wolverines are back in action on Oct. 23 when they will host Northwestern. What do you hope to see from the Wolverines based on what you think they should be focusing on during the bye? I hope there is just as much maintenance of what the Maize and Blue have done well because their ability to maintain a level head in less-than-ideal scenarios has been something inherently different from most teams in the Harbaugh era.
In my opinion, Northwestern represents a game to work out potential offensive play call scenarios that could be utilized more effectively and efficiently down the road. What the Wolverines have is essentially two weeks to create their response to the remaining half of the season that consists of their biggest opponents.
What have been your highlights? What have been your lows? Will Michigan be able to continue their season successes after the bye? Let us know in the comments!