Michigan Wolverines still a work in progress despite win over Miami (OH)


The Michigan Wolverines football team handed Miami (Ohio) its 19th straight loss Saturday (Sept. 13), but there was little to celebrate on the streets of Ann Arbor.

Wolverine fans, as well as coach Brady Hoke, are well aware that the competition gets tougher with a good Utah team up next (Sept. 20) and the grueling Big Ten slate to follow.

The (2-0) Utes are led by 6’7″, 231 lb. junior quarterback  Travis Wilson, who this season has already tossed six TD passes without an interception.

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Utes defeated Michigan, Alabama in 2008

Not to mention the Utes average 57.5 points per game, albeit against powerhouses Fresno State and Idaho State.

Utah  finished the 2008 season undefeated (13-0), upsetting No. 4 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.

The Utes also spoiled the coaching debut of then Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez with a 25-23 victory in the 2008 season opener at the Big House.

Said Hoke: “Utah is a good football team. They’re a tough football team. They’ve had that MO [momentum] for a long time. I think Kyle (Whittingham), coaching against him in the Mountain West, playing against his teams, they’re always a physical group. We’ll have our hands full.”

RedHawks coach smelled upset

Against Miami (0-2),  three first half turnovers caused Michigan (2-0) to hold only a 17-10 lead at the break.

First year RedHawks coach Chuck Martin figured Miami was still in the game.  “You’re feeling pretty good, you feel like you’re in the game. Our kids have a lot of confidence, and you’re hopeful that Michigan is getting a little bit nervous that we’re hanging around. Our kids felt settled in and the speed of the game, they could handle it.”

As is the case with many Big Ten-MAC matchups, Michigan’s offensive line began wearing down cbs.com’s No. 128 ranked RedHawks. The No. 52 Wolverines finished the game with 276 yards rushing, 181 after intermission.

Wolverines Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith continued their battle for top running back slot. Green showed some of the moves which made him a household name in Richmond, Virginia.

Green No. 1, Smith No. 1A

Down some 20 pounds from last season, Green seemed to see the field better, followed his blockers better, and made sharper cuts. He finished the contest with 137 yards on 22 carries,  including two touchdowns.

Smith, who was named Ohio AP Division II “Offensive Player of the Year” as a prep senior, gained 44 yards on nine carries.

Which leads us to the offensive line.

While it’s safe to say there’s improvement over the disastrous 2013 season,  it’s obvious neither Appalachian State nor Miami possesses Notre Dame’s talent. Or Penn State’s. Or Michigan State’s. Or Ohio State’s.

Butt’s back

There’s also quality depth at tight end with Jack Butt back in the lineup and at wide receiver with Amara Darboh stepping in for Devin Funchess, who missed the Miami game with an ankle injury.

Defensively, it’s a whole  new ballgame with freshman Jabrill Peppers back in the lineup after an ankle injury sidelined him during the App. State win. “He’s gifted, Coach Hoke said. ” I think we all know that. He’s got makeup speed. He can be wrong once in a while. He kind of makes up for it. He’s got an attitude that he plays with.” 

Peppers, the all-everything freshman cornerback from Paramus (NJ) Catholic, looked very, very comfortable whether as a boundary corner or nickelback. With Raymon Taylor sidelined with a knee injury, Peppers stepped right in and Michigan never missed a beat.

A good thing for Hoke, it appears that Michigan’s excellent recruiting classes  (2012, 2013) are appearing to pay off.

Still on hot seat?

While Michigan fans may still be wondering if Hoke is the right man for the job, the support is still there.

Saturday’s attendance was announced at 102,824, which marked the 253rd consecutive game of more than 100,000 fans at Michigan Stadium.

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Bolded players and coaches are linked to Sports-Reference, an enhanced statistics website.