The Wolverine

December 2020

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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DECEMBER 2020 THE WOLVERINE 29   MICHIGAN FOOTBALL back to him, knowing he'd progress and make those plays. "We said, 'We're going to be be- hind you. We have full confidence in your ability,'" Moore said. "He continues to do it every day with us, and we know how good a player he is, so we just continue to empha- size the fact and the confidence we have in the young man. Make sure he knows that just because that hap- pened, we're not down on him or anything. "He went back in the game and actually had a heck of a block and did some more good things. We'll just continue to build his confidence. He continues to show it in practice … so we continue to be excited about him." All caught two passes for one yard in the 49-11 loss to Wisconsin Nov. 14 and leads the way for his posi- tion group among pass catchers with seven receptions, which have gained 47 yards. — Chris Balas DEFENSIVE ENDS TAYLOR UPSHAW, LUIJI VILAIN READY FOR MORE RESPONSIBILITY J u n i o r d e f e n s i v e e n d A i d a n Hutchinson is out with a leg frac- ture which means the majority of the snaps at his strongside position are up for grabs. Redshirt sophomore Taylor Upshaw and redshirt junior Luiji Vilain have waited their turn with the Wolverines and both are now ready for increased roles. At 6-4, 256 pounds, Upshaw played just 34 snaps a season ago and has made only eight career tackles, seven of which came after Hutchin- son got hurt. "I mean, it's a huge opportunity for me," Upshaw told reporters on a Zoom call. "You guys probably know that I haven't received the playing time that I would have wanted. But now it's a do-or-die situation, so I'm happy that I get to showcase my skills to the nation." Vilain also received extended play- ing time versus the Hoosiers, notch- ing three stops, after seeing action on just 47 snaps in 2019 and having seven career tackles entering the 2020 campaign. The more time Vilain sees on the field, the better he is getting, he told former U-M All-American offensive lineman Jon Jansen on the 'In The Trenches' podcast ahead of the Wis- consin game. "Everything is much faster," Vilain said. "I'd say I'm getting more com- fortable and just trusting in my tech- nique. I feel like the game is going to slow down a lot more for me as the weeks go by and with the more reps I take." — Clayton Sayfie OFFENSIVE INCONSISTENCY GOES DEEPER THAN THIRD DOWN Redshirt sophomore quarterback Joe Milton completed 61 percent of his passes through four games and threw for more than 300 yards in two of the team's first four outings. In addition, the Wolverines were aver- aging 6.1 yards per play from scrim- mage through four games (33rd in the country and third in the Big Ten), according to This raises the question, why has the unit, led by coordinator Josh Gat- tis, produced only 26.3 points per game (83rd nationally), including an average of just 18.7 in the losses to Michigan State, Indiana and Wiscon- sin? "We'd be in rhythm then we wouldn't; then we wouldn't be in rhythm, and then we'd get it," head coach Jim Harbaugh explained, fol- lowing the loss to MSU in which his team gained 452 total yards but scored only 24 points. "We didn't finish the drives and [weren't] in rhythm throughout the drive like we wanted to." When searching for the reason why the offense has been out of rhythm, look first at U-M's struggles con- verting on third down. Against the Spartans, Hoosiers and Badgers, the Wolverines went a combined 13 of 39 on third-down attempts (33.3 per- cent). But even more staggering than that is the fact that U-M averaged a whopping 10.1 yards to go on those 39 attempts, making it obvious that the issues are more about the failures on first and second down. U-M had 19 plays that went for negative yardage in its first four games and committed 7.3 penalties per game (90th in America), mean- ing that gaining positive yardage on early downs and not getting behind the sticks would be a start to fixing the problem. — Clayton Sayfie MICHIGAN Auto MAts VINYL AUTO MATS Available in 2-pc or 4-pc Sets #1239 - 2pc Vinyl Front Mat Set $49.95 + FREE S&H #1246 - 2pc Vinyl Utility Mat Set $37.95 + FREE S&H #1285 - 4pc Vinyl Mat Set (Includes 2 front & 2 utility mats) $79.95 + FREE S&H 1-800-421-7751 THE WOLVERINE PO BOX 2331 • DURHAM, NC 27702 Please add sales tax in NC (7.5%), IN (7%), MI (6%) Order by Dec. 3 for Holiday Delivery Item #1253 31" VINYL CARGO MAT $59.95 + FREE S&H

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