No. 4 Michigan improved to 5-0 on the season after beating Iowa 27-14. Here are takeaways from the game.
Michigan’s defense generates pressure when they have to
It took a while for Michigan’s pass-rush to get home, but they sure did when their backs were against the wall and Iowa’s offense started generating first downs. Michigan didn’t tally a sack in the first half, but the second half was another story entirely.
Mike Morris had two sacks and plenty more QB hurries, Mason Graham had a sack, and Eyabi Okie and Taylor Upshaw both had a half sack. Michigan’s pass-rush has had ups and downs to this point in the year, but the potential is there, and the depth is there. Now they have to just get home more consistently.
McCarthy manages the game well
Last week against Maryland, Michigan’s young quarterback J.J. McCarthy fumbled the ball twice. He fumbled again this week too, with Michigan retaining possession just like last week. Besides that blemish, McCarthy was careful with the football, going 18-of-24 for 155 and a touchdown. McCarthy didn’t force the ball downfield in this one, as they played with their safeties back for most of the afternoon. McCarthy consistently hit check-downs for short gains to keep the ball moving. It wasn’t a glamorous performance, and he missed on a deep shot again in this one, but the bottom line is McCarthy handled himself well against the No. 1 scoring defense in the nation and got out of Iowa City with a win.
The offense left meat on the bone
With Michigan up 20-0, they could have put the game away a little quicker. Three consecutive three-and-outs weren’t optimal. Michigan wasn’t expected to put up massive points against a stingy defense, but missed opportunities here and there ended drives and led to no points being scored or settling for a field goal instead of getting a touchdown. No doubt Michigan could have generated another touchdown or two on the day. They did enough this time around, though.
Michigan’s running game looks dangerous
Blake Corum rushed for 133 yards with a touchdown, Donovan Edwards rushed for 29 yards with four receptions for 21 yards and a touchdown. Corum may be RB1, but Edwards will be making a lot of huge plays for the Wolverines this season as a runner and pass-catcher alike. Edwards has been out a couple of weeks and his presence was certainly welcomed. Michigan has one of the best backs in the nation in Corum, but who says you can’t have two of the best backs in the nation at the same time? The output of Corum and Edwards against a good Iowa defense was promising.
Michigan just won a big game and the program is in a good place
The Wolverines just beat the Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium for the first time since 2005, that’s kind of a big deal. It wasn’t an explosive game, it was what you’d expect out of a Big Ten game where two good defenses are going at it. Michigan still has issues to correct on both sides of the ball, they have a young quarterback who’s improving weekly, and they now play a team in Indiana they should beat before a stiff test against Penn State.
Michigan is in the top four, they’re undefeated at 5-0. Things might not be great just yet, but things are pretty good. They just have to keep getting better and continue playing turnover-free and penalty-free football.