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Discussion: What crucial things were revealed about Michigan in the first half of the season?

The Michigan Wolverines are seven games in to their 2022 season. What did we learn about this team in that time frame, and what does it mean moving forward?

Maryland v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

After a dominant performance at the Big House last week against now-No. 16 Penn State, the No. 4 Michigan Wolverines enter their bye week 7-0. With not much else to do this weekend besides watch how the rest of the country fares, let’s look back on the lessons of the season thus far.

From what has been seen from the maize and blue through seven weeks of play, the Wolverines have been nothing short of impressive. In each game, there were moments where the picture became clearer about this team. Which game(s) revealed the most about their capabilities to defend their Big Ten title this year? What did you see in Michigan’s first seven games that showed off just how good this team is?

What comes to mind for me, outside of last week’s win, were the Maryland and Iowa games. Maryland has been working hard to no longer be the butt of the jokes and is 5-2 to prove it. Combining this record and Michigan’s firsthand experience, which wasn’t a walk in the park like last year’s was, and it looks like that transformation is here. The Terrapins have an incredibly sound offense, at least passing wise, and Michigan was able to outperform it.

Michigan is currently fifth in the conference in pass defense, allowing on average 164.1 passing yards a game. The defense ranks second in total yards allowed at 250 yards a game. To paint the picture, Michigan has the ninth-ranked passing offense in the Big Ten. Of the eight opponents above the Wolverines, they have played three so far; Michigan has beaten the third-, fifth-, and eighth-ranked offenses in average passing yards a game.

Of all the teams that the Wolverines have played in conference, outside of Iowa, each has an offensive identity that relies on their quarterback to throw a high number of attempts and a high number of yardage. To negate those performances to essentially season-lows in all three of those games strongly emphasizes how solid Michigan’s pass defense is. This is huge for the team moving forward.

The other was Iowa, the one with an obvious flare for defense and nothing else. The Hawkeyes are currently the fifth-ranked defense in total yards allowed per game in the Big Ten. They are second in passing yards allowed and points allowed, averaging 154 yards and 9.8 points allowed a game. Michigan relies heavily on its ground game, and that is what shone against Iowa’s defense. For a defense that currently allows 110.7 rushing yards a game, Michigan rushed for 172 in their game against the Hawkeyes.

While there have been calls for expanding the passing threat of Michigan’s offense, there really hasn’t been a moment where that was absolutely necessary. The Wolverines lead the conference in average rushing yards a game, putting up 241.7 yards a game. They also come in second behind Ohio State in points per game. So the Wolverines see nearly the same fruition from offensive drives as the Buckeyes but with a different level of efficiency.

To put that into perspective, Michigan has the second-ranked rushing defense in the conference, only allowing 85.9 rushing yards a game. They’ve gone against the current seventh, eighth, 10th, and 11th teams in the conference along that same metric. Those teams probably got there because they played Michigan, as Penn State is now ranked 10th in the conference. So the offensive identity they bore a year ago has remained and has still caused teams issues.

Seeing how Michigan operated its offense to still be effective and efficient without having to open the playbook pointed out something quite obvious: the Wolverines can operate a high powered offense by being ordinary. It can be boring, but there is almost no need for something more because it’s already effective. Why mess with something that works and that no one has been able to stop?

For me, these games demonstrated how tough Michigan is on both sides of the ball, especially against varying opponent strong suits in the conference. Obviously heading into a bye week, I hope to see Michigan continue this trend in its five remaining games when they return to action. If they do that, I think they are fully capable of reaching the same heights as last year. Maybe even beyond.

So now the floor is yours. What has been revealed about Michigan that is absolutely crucial for the team moving forward? What do the moments that you chose reveal about this team? How important are they for the team moving forward?

Share with us your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!