Michigan beat Nebraska on Saturday afternoon 34-3 and improved to 10-0 the season. There were some positives and also areas where the team can improve. Here are a look at key takeaways from the game.
Receivers need to start helping J.J. McCarthy out
Much has been made of McCarthy and his deep-ball passing. McCarthy put the blame on his shoulders last week, which is what a leader should do, but it’s not all on him. Multiple Michigan wideouts either dropped passes or didn’t run clean enough routes in this one. Andrel Anthony, Ronnie Bell, and Cornelius Johnson all dropped balls. Bell also fumbled a ball on the goal line — the fumble was ultimately recovered by Andrel Anthony for a Michigan score.
The vertical route running of receivers must improve as well, they are often too concerned with jockeying for position versus corners instead of just running to where the ball will land. Michigan receivers must gain more separation, must handle catchable passes, and help their quarterback out. It’s a team effort, J.J. has a job to do, but so do the wideouts, and they have to get better. McCarthy finished the day 8-of-17 for 129 yards with one passing down and one rushing touchdown. However, McCarthy could have easily had a few more completions.
Corum maintains Heisman contending pace
Blake Corum didn’t have a flashy day, but it was workmanlike and displayed why he’s going to be a Heisman finalist come December. Corum had 28 carries for 162 yards and one touchdown. Corum’s had many long runs this season, but his longest in this one was 12 yards. Nebraska’s defense wasn’t impressive by any means, but they didn’t give up many big plays in this one when Corum was running the ball. Still, grinding out yards matters, and Corum wore the Cornhuskers down.
Befuddled by Michigan’s two-minute drill
With Michigan up 14-3 nearing halftime, the Wolverines had the ball with 4:05 left but weren’t able to punch it in the endzone. Michigan rushed the ball seven times during the drive and called just one timeout instead of utilizing all three to save time and have a better shot at scoring a touchdown. Michigan ultimately kicked a field goal on the drive, but they let some time waste away instead of making the most of the remaining clock.
Michigan defense plays admirable overall
There was a long pass play given up in this one by D.J. Turner and R.J. Moten, there were too many successful quarterback runs by Chubba Purdy (39 rushing yards before getting injured). However, throughout the course of four quarters, the Michigan defense was able to dominate.
Michigan’s defense gave up just 146 total yards, and eight first downs on the day, impressive stuff. How good Michigan’s defense is remains to be seen, with the ultimate test coming against Ohio State in two weeks.
Michigan comes out of this one with some things to work on, they know they need to be as polished as possible heading into Ohio State and beyond. The good news is this is a motivated group and they won’t be patting themselves on the back too much after a 34-3 victory. Michigan is one of the best teams in college football, they’re now 10-0, and the last two weeks of the regular season should be exciting. Michigan must use its tilt against Illinois to correct any errors they’ve made recently before traveling to Columbus.