Michigan has been dominating inferior opponents all season and yesterday's win might've been the best example of it yet. The Wolverines scored 59 points on offense and special teams and gave up exactly ZERO points on defense. Obviously in a 59-0 win, most of what we saw was good, but there are a few things Michigan would like to do better once Big Ten play starts next week.
Blake Corum would not be denied
It wasn't a banner day for Corum in terms of yardage, but it was in terms of finding the end zone. The 5-8, 210-pound junior carried the ball just 12 times for 71 yards but he scored a whopping five touchdowns; the most of his career and tied for the most ever in a game by a Michigan running back in the modern era. With Donovan Edwards out, Corum became the standalone RB1 and he did not disappoint.
What a performance by Michigan's defense. They were close to pitching a shutout in both of the first two games but gave up late scores to lose the goose egg. In week three, the defense held firm blanking UConn for all 60 minutes. Not only did Jesse Minter's defense keep UConn out of the end zone, it held the Huskies to just 110 yards of total offense and gave up just six first downs. From start to finished the guys in the winged helmets flew around and tackled with a purpose. In fact, per Pro Football Focus, the Wolverines missed just one tackle during the entire game.
As good as Corum and the defense were, the special teams unit was just as good. Offensive weapon AJ Henning had a 61-yard punt return for a touchdown, Caden Kolesar blocked a punt and Brad Robbins had two punts go for 50+ yards and one of them was downed inside the five. Special teams coordinator Jay Harbaugh has been praised by just about everyone involved with Michigan football and it's performances like Saturday's that illustrate why.
Lack of sacks
After recording seven sacks in week one, Michigan has just one sack over the past two weeks. Against Hawaii, there was no time to get to the QB as the plan was clearly to throw the ball as quickly as possible. Still, getting home just once isn't ideal. Against UConn, there were opportunities to sack the quarterback and no one could do it. True freshman Zion Turner was able to drop back, climb the pocket and extend plays a little too often. He was under pressure quite a bit, and that certainly let to his paltry day throwing the ball, but better teams, with better quarterbacks and better wide receivers could take advantage of situations like that. The defense was lights out, but I'm sure the edges, linebackers and Minter would tell you they don't like finishing with zero sacks.
This is also nitpicking when you consider that Michigan is scoring 55.3 points per game while playing 80+ players each week, but the go-to guys have not been very involved in these blowout wins. For instance, sophomore Andrel Anthony, who many thought might breakout in a major way this year, has just one catch for five yards through three games. Erick All, who Jim Harbaugh once said could be the best tight end to ever play at Michigan, has just three grabs for 36 yards in three weeks of action. Wide receiver Roman Wilson, who seems to score a touchdown every other time he touches the ball, has only touched it 7 times in three games. Cornelius Johnson, who has played as many snaps as any pass catcher on the team, has just four grabs in three games.
Obviously Michigan has not had to air it out against Colorado State, Hawaii or UConn, but at some point they'll probably need to. You just hope that the chemistry and comfortability is there between McCarthy and these receivers who simply haven't had to do much in three weeks of action.
A few injuries
Obviously this one is no one's fault, and Harbaugh actually tried to combat it by playing just about everyone on the roster in the second halves of all three games, but there are a few injuries to deal with as Big Ten play commences.
Left tackle Ryan Hayes missed the opener but did play 43 snaps against UConn and appears to be completely healthy as U-M prepares for Maryland.
Hayes' backup, Karsen Barnhart, played just 19 snaps in the opener as he filled in for Hayes before he exited with an ankle injury that has now kept him out for the last two games. He's a versatile, athletic lineman who can play multiple positions so he's definitely valuable. If he's out again, it makes that offensive line just a little thinner.
Starting left guard Trevor Keegan played just 12 snaps against UConn before leaving with an injury and then spent the second half on the sideline in street clothes. Again, as Michigan begins conference play, two offensive line starters and a key backup have been dinged up enough to miss significant time.
Sophomore running back Donovan Edwards tweaked something against Hawaii and was held out against UConn. Corum is certainly good enough to carry the water, but the one-two punch of Corum and Edwards is much scarier.
Backup quarterback Cade McNamara played just three snaps against UConn but was hit hard twice. After the game, Jim Harbaugh said that McNamara was injured pretty badly and would miss several weeks but probably not the rest of the season. That's obviously significant as having an experienced and reliable backup quarterback can sometimes save a season.
We haven't seen potential starting linebacker Nikhai Hill-Green yet as he's working through something. He was dressed and going through warmups during week two but was relegated to street clothes and sideline duty against UConn.