The Wolverine

November 2016

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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36 THE WOLVERINE NOVEMBER 2016   MICHIGAN FOOTBALL blown away by Onwenu's ability. "He's a football player," Drevno said. "He's a big, physical guy that can really hold the point on defense and he does a good job on the offen- sive side of the ball. You don't see guys who can do that very often. "He's a football player and can really understand things … is very serious about it and really wants to be good at it." MICHIGAN ALLEVIATES HALF OF JIM HARBAUGH'S WORRY Michigan's overwhelming 78-0 win over Rutgers Oct. 8 did more than set some new standards for the present crop of Wolverines. It served as the first of a two-part mission to eliminate one of the head coach's concerns. Bye weeks can interrupt the rhythm of a season, even when they're seem- ingly well placed and welcomed by those beaten up through the opening six games. At 6-0, ranked No. 4 in the nation heading into their game-free Saturday, the Wolverines couldn't have been much better off. But head coach Jim Harbaugh ex- pressed his pre-Rutgers worry in a postgame session with the media. "As a coach, you worry," he said. "The two weeks you worry the most about are the week going into a bye week — we call it an improvement week — and the week when you're coming out. Our players were as fo- cused as I've seen them." They were focused enough to post Michigan's third-largest victory mar- gin ever in a Big Ten game. Only U- M's 107-0 win over Iowa in 1902 and an 85-0 destruction of Chicago in 1939 outpaced the victory over Rutgers, in terms of the massive gulf of points be- tween the teams. The win also marked Michigan's 12th-greatest margin of victory in any contest. Harbaugh walked a fine line afterward, not wanting to throw too much shade on the already van- quished Scarlet Knights while simply acknowledging reality. "Our players were better," Har- baugh said. "Not to take anything away from their players. They've got a lot of good players, too, a lot of tal- ented players. We had more of them tonight, and one great player — great, great player. "Jabrill Peppers really ignited every- thing in this game. The speed that he had was on a different level, a different plane." Michigan senior linebacker Ben Gedeon echoed those thoughts after witnessing another eye-opening Pep- pers performance. "He's such an impressive athlete," Gedeon said. "To play next to him and to watch him play … it's just fun to watch. His half speed is a lot of guys' full speed. You can tell that in practice. You saw it in some of those runs tonight. He's got a different gear." Gedeon also indicated Michigan's players absorbed Harbaugh's inten- sity regarding the week leading up to the game prior to the "improvement" week. "We talked about how important it was, going into a bye," Gedeon said. "The game before a bye, the game after a bye. Getting some momentum going into the off week was impor- tant to us. We got it done." If the second part of the plan is any- thing like the first, Illinois might ar- rive justifiably concerned. FRESHMAN TE DEVIN ASIASI IS ON THE FAST TRACK Devin Asiasi isn't showing a whole lot of patience as a Michigan true freshman. The best part? He hasn't needed any. The 6-3, 287-pound rookie isn't waiting around for anything. He's arguably Michigan's No. 2 tight end, behind All-American senior captain Jake Butt, on a squad that plays mul- tiple players at the position. He possesses the size, speed and athleticism to mix it up right away — and he has. Asiasi put off making his first catch (a three-yard TD grab over the middle versus Penn State) only until the Big Ten season opened. "Having my first catch be a touch- down reception in The Big House, with 110,000 people screaming, and celebrating with my teammates — it was a special feeling," Asiasi assured. The big freshman out of Shorev- iew, Calif., wasn't a pass-catching machine in the run-crazed power- house that is De La Salle High School football. He snagged 17 receptions for 311 yards and five touchdowns as a senior, but could have more than doubled those numbers elsewhere. That didn't matter to him then, but he's plenty excited to be performing so early for the No. 3 college team in the nation, one not the slightest bit afraid to target tight ends. To be fair, JIM HARBAUGH SUPPORTS EARLY SIGNING PERIOD FOR RECRUITS Count Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh among those in favor of an early signing period for re- cruits. One of the proposals that has surfaced from the NCAA Division I Council, based on recommenda- tions from the Football Oversight Committee, is for a pair of early 72-hour signing periods — the fi- nal Wednesday in June and in mid- December. The current signing period starts on the first Wednesday of February and would continue under the pro- posal. "I'd be in the category for it," Har- baugh said. "I feel like if somebody wants to sign an agreement, they should be able to sign before the first Wednesday of February. "I feel like we haven't changed in so long. It's been the same an- tiquated system for 30 to 40 years and, obviously, as people make their decisions earlier, they should have the ability to sign that agreement." Michigan currently has 16 com- mitments in its 2017 recruiting class and is ranked No. 16 nationally by as of Oct. 17. Head coach Jim Harbaugh had concerns about both games sandwiched around Michigan's Oct. 15 bye, but the contest lead- ing into the off week resulted in a 78-0 vic- tory over Rutgers. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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