With one week in the books, Michigan is off to a strong start for the 2020 season. The U-M offense was highly productive with a near 50-point effort, and the Wolverines pass rush was among the best in the country last weekend.
However, there are still a few areas that pose legitimate concern, just as there is with every team in the country. As a result, Wolverine Digest expounded on what those concerns for U-M could be.
Eric Rutter: At the moment, my concern is equally split between the offense and the defense. Though both units performed well on Saturday, there is reason to believe that may not hold up all season long.
Offensively, Joe Milton is still very young in terms of his collegiate career, and keeping his confidence high is crucial. It is likely that Michigan's success in 2020 will go just as Milton goes, so building a string of productive games will help keep the U-M QB on the right trajectory. It is likely that Michigan will encounter tougher defenses than what the Gophers featured in Week 1.
Defensively, the Michigan rushing defense and the secondary were both targeted at different times against Minnesota. The Wolverines have already allowed a 100-yard rusher and a 100-yard receiver in the same game, so U-M has a few adjustments to make in each phase of the game. Don Brown's defense has the potential to be one of the best in the conference once again, but it will take a bit of massaging before the Wolverines' defense is considered a final product.
Honorable Mention: Michigan's kicking game. Simply put, going 0-for-3 is unacceptable in the Big Ten, and it is pretty uncharacteristic of Jake Moody's talent overall. Still, the U-M placekicker whiffed on all three of his field goal opportunities last weekend. Quinn Nordin was injured, so it's possibly that Michigan makes a switch if he's available this weekend, but U-M has stuck to using Moody in short-to-mid-range distances and Nordin for the longer attempts throughout their careers.
Steve Deace: My primary concern is Covid. Michigan has already demonstrated a level of explosiveness and depth we haven't seen yet in the Harbaugh era, and probably not in these parts since the mid-2000s. However, as we're learning at Wisconsin this week, that can all be gone and your season threatened by the invisible enemy when you least expect it. That's why making grand predictions and long-term forecasts this season, particularly with the Big Ten's toughest protocols in the sport, are a fools' errand. Better to take each week as its own season, treat each game as its own season, and be thankful you got through it if you win. Typically its the months of May-July when college football fans don't want to hear any news about their team, because it's usually bad. But in the year of Covid, you want things quiet during the season, too, until kickoff.
Michael Spath: I agree with Steve on this one, but if we're talking about an in-game concern that arose during the Minnesota contest it was poor outside leverage/containment in the running game. Too often U-M allowed the Gophers' ball carriers to bounce outside, failing to set the edge that should funnel the running back into the teeth of the defense. This was largely a linebacker/defensive back issue, and I'm sure Don Brown has been addressing it all week with his defense.
Jake Sage: While the Wolverines looked outstanding against the Golden Gophers, there are still a few concerns I have about this Michigan team. Their kicking game was dreadful and their run defense was putrid. With Nordin hopefully coming back to sure up the kicking game, my primary concern is the Wolverines run defense. Michigan allowed Mohamed Ibrahim to rush 26 times for 140 yards with 5.4 yards per carry and two touchdowns on Saturday. The rush defense was a problem for the Wolverines at the end of last season also, as J.K. Dobbins ran for 211 yards and Najee Harris ran for 136 yards against the Wolverines defense in the final two games last season.
With a young secondary, who does not have a cornerback on the roster over 6-3 and an Ohio State pass offense that will be one of the best in the country again this season, Michigan needs to be better against the run in order to compete for a College Football Playoff berth.
What do you see as the top concern for the Wolverines? Is it something on the field of off the field? Let us know!