With Michigan's first game in the books, an offseason filled with question marks are finally alleviated-- or at least shelved until the Wolverines play a closer game.
From beginning to end (minus the blocked punt), U-M was able to find great success on both sides of the football. Michigan ran the ball with effectiveness and passed when necessary, then on defense U-M had a menacing pass rush that took pressure off of a relatively inexperienced secondary. In all, it combined to total a 25-point win over then-No. 21 Minnesota on the road.
So, what aspect of that outcome was the most surprising?
Eric Rutter: To me, the biggest surprise was how effective Michigan's offense was from the very first snap on offense. With Joe Milton running the show, it was clear that offensive coordinator Josh Gattis has ingrained his system into the QB's head. In a first start, timid demeanor is usually expected, but Milton did not hesitate and he reacted based on what the defense gave him. Just how quickly it took Milton to look comfortable was a big surprise.
However, it was not the only surprise, the other being how much Michigan spread the football around. With so many new faces at wide receiver, it would not be illogical to think Michigan would lean on its three or four most consistent playmakers in fall camp in order to maximize their efficiency on the field, but with eight players logging receptions it seems more as if U-M wanted to get a plethora of players involved and to see who would produce with their given chances and who wouldn't. Given the nature of the 49-24 win, most players produced when given the opportunity, so the diversity of the Wolverines' attack combined with the poise of Milton in Week 1 struck me as the two most surprising aspects from last weekend.
Steve Deace: My biggest surprise was how well and consistent the Michigan offense played with four new starters on the offensive line, an overhauled receiver unit, and a first time starting quarterback. Of course, not having any fans there made it easier to execute on the road, but even if this were a home game at the friendly confines of the Big House the level of precision Michigan showed would've been impressive. That's a lot of moving parts, especially with no spring ball or any in-person prep until workouts began in mid-June.
How many times over the years have we seen Michigan, or any big-name college team starting so many new guys for that matter, scuffle through an opener at home against an underwhelming opponent. This squad went on the road and did this against a Top 25 foe.
Then there was all the times they seemed to answer the Gophers, whenever the home team threatened to take back the momentum. How often have we seen Michigan unable to lay the hammer down in such situations, and then hope to hold on? Nick Saban recently admitted you don't win championships with defense anymore, a lesson the Wolverines have painfully learned in the Harbaugh era. And now you wonder if Michigan is poised to join the evolution.
Michael Spath: Two running backs averaged better than 13.0 yards per carry! Though that's an anomaly and is not sustainable. But still ... the running game was outstanding, Michigan finishing with 256 yards and five touchdowns, utilizing five different ball carriers effectively. We won't know for sure how good this offensive line and ground game are until Week 4 against Wisconsin (maybe Week 3 at Indiana), but it was an impressive start.
Overall, the biggest surprise for me, though, was how many young people saw meaningful playing time. Freshmen RB Blake Corum, WR AJ Henning, WR Roman Wilson, S Makari Page and LB Kalel Mullings were all contributors offensively/defensively, with Corum starting (and getting the first look of the season) and Page settling in for safety Daxton Hill after the sophomore was sidelined at the half with an injury.
U-M has immense talent in its 2019 and 2020 recruiting classes and it appears the staff has coached them up and has every intention of using that talent.
What was the most surprising aspect in your mind? Did anything fail to happen that you had planned on seeing? Let us know!