The Wolverine

November 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 24 of 83

NOVEMBER 2018 THE WOLVERINE 25 QUARTERBACKS: A- Junior Shea Patterson has done just about everything expected of him in the first half except beat Notre Dame, and that was as much to do with get- ting used to new personnel and play- ing a tough road game as anything. Patterson ranked fourth in the Big Ten and 27th nationally in pass effi- ciency rating at 154.8, had thrown 10 touchdown passes against only three interceptions and — most importantly — led the Wolverines to a No. 6 AP ranking, firmly putting them in the national picture at the halfway point. He hadn't lit it up yardage -wise (1,311 passing), but he also made an impact with his running ability and scrambling (121 net yards, 1 TD). RUNNING BACKS: A- Senior Karan Higdon ranked third in the conference in rushing yards per game at 114.5 after seven weeks, be- hind only Wisconsin's Jonathan Taylor (158.3) and Penn State's Miles Sanders (116.7), and that was despite missing the SMU game due to injury. He eclipsed the 100-yard mark in five of six games and sat out most of the second halves of wins over Western Michigan and Maryland or his num- bers would have been even better. Junior and former walk-on Tru Wilson and sophomore fullback Ben Mason had been the biggest surprises. Wilson's pass blocking was even more impressive than his 214 rushing yards and 6.1 average, while Mason had been a wrecking ball as a blocker and as a runner down near the goal line, scoring five touchdowns on 16 tries. WIDE RECEIVERS AND TIGHT ENDS: B This group was still working on getting open through seven games, but it was much improved over last year, even without redshirt freshman Tarik Black (broken foot). Wide receivers caught three touchdown passes total last year, and had nine through only seven games this fall, including five from sophomore Donovan Peoples-Jones. Freshman Ronnie Bell had two TD grabs. Redshirt junior tight end Zach Gentry, though, had be- come Patterson's go-to guy with 311 yards through seven games. He and Peoples-Jones tied for the team lead with 21 catches. The group was expected to get Black back within the next few weeks. Sophomore Nico Collins had taken his place, though, and led Michigan receivers with 296 receiving yards through seven games. OFFENSIVE LINE: B- This group continued to improve after failing its opening test at Notre Dame, one that might have been expected given the addition of three new starters. Fifth-year senior right tackle Juwann Bushell-Beatty might be the most improved player on the team — he played his best game against Wiscon- sin, head coach Jim Harbaugh said — and the Wolverines were tied for third in the conference in sacks allowed at 1.6 per game. Patterson's escapability had some- thing to do with that, but at the same time some sacks were on Patterson or the backs. This is a group on the rise under first-year assistant Ed Warinner. SECONDARY: A- Michigan's secondary rebounded from a tough first half against Notre Dame to be as good as expected for most of the first seven games, though they also had some difficulty in man coverage at Northwestern in a 20-17 victory. Fifth-year senior corner Brandon Wat- son was the most pleasant surprise, recording 22 stops, three passes bro- ken up and two interceptions, while reported junior David Long was the most efficient cor- ner in the nation (0.15 yards allowed per coverage snap). Junior safety Josh Metellus led the team with three picks in seven games, while junior Lavert Hill paced U-M with six passes defended. LINEBACKERS: A- Junior middle linebacker Devin Bush Jr. was outstanding as expected through the first seven games, averaging 6.3 stops per contest and notching 3.5 sacks to lead the team. Junior viper Khaleke Hudson had been relatively quiet with 22 tackles and had missed more than two halves of games due to targeting calls, while sophomore Josh Ross had emerged as a dependable weakside option. He was fifth on the team with 28 tackles. Redshirt sophomore Devin Gil was also on the rise. He'd notched 17 stops (1.5 per loss) and had started to get com- fortable in the defense. DEFENSIVE LINE: A- Losing All-American Maurice Hurst to graduation was bad enough. The line took several other hits in the first seven games, losing sophomore and former five-star Aubrey Solo- mon for several games to a knee injury, and junior defensive end Rashan Gary for the Maryland and Wisconsin contests. Redshirt sophomore Michael Dwumfour started to emerge in Big Ten play — he'd notched two sacks in seven games — while junior Carlo Kemp was one of the pleasant surprises after moving inside. He'd been solid occupying blocks. Fifth-year senior defensive end Chase Winovich was ar- guably the team's MVP through the first seven games. He ranked third in the Big Ten with 1.5 tackles for loss per game. — Chris Balas Grading Michigan Position By Position After Seven Games Fifth-year senior defensive end Chase Winovich has produced at an MVP level for the Wolverines through seven contests, racking up a team-high 10.5 tackles for loss with three sacks among 39 total stops. PHOTO BY BRANDON BROWN

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Wolverine - November 2018