Michigan Football: Wolverine Defense, Running Game Come Up Big


What a difference a week makes.

The University of Michigan Wolverines made some huge improvements between the Utah and Oregon State games. To begin, they tripled their rushing yards to 225. With the 180 passing yards added in, that makes an impressive total of 405 on the day. De’Veon Smith had 126 of those rushing yards on 23 carries; a respectable average of 5.5 yards per carry to go with his three touchdowns. He also had the longest run of the day (and season) at 19 yards. There were even pleasant surprises from the bench, like Sione Houma, who got his chance toward the end of the game when Smith was done. He had two carries for 20 yards.

I have to say, I was worried about the run game after Utah, but was very happy with what I saw against OSU.

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My favorite statistic of the game, however, comes from the defense. When Oregon State charged down the field and scored on its first drive, things looked grim. The 136 yards they got in the first quarter were worrisome, too … until, of course, the Wolverine defense decided to ONLY GIVE UP TWO MORE YARDS THE REST OF THE GAME. Talk about making an adjustment. I initially thought that number was a misprint when I read it. Amazing.

It is good to know that the defense can adjust to a team’s game plan. Making changes on the fly shows the Wolverines and staff know what they’re doing and can do it quickly. (It’s kind of like what the San Diego Chargers did against the Lions on Sunday…)

One area where U-M still struggled was turnovers. Jake Rudock, who now has a quarterback rating of 119.1, has thrown four interceptions and just two touchdowns in the two games the Wolverines have played this season. The team’s turnover ratio is also -3, tying for 107th nationwide. I realize it is still very early, but these turnover stats need to change sooner than later.

It would also be nice to get a run longer than 19 yards or a passing play longer than 28, but that should come with time, once the players get their bearings. When the Wolverines really gain confidence in each other, and Rudock throws a few more TDs, big plays will happen.

Next up for Michigan is UNLV at noon Saturday in Ann Arbor. Let’s be honest, this game should be won by Michigan. With some authority. UNLV was 2-11 last season and lost to Northern Illinois this season. I’d like to think the Wolverines have this in the bag, but my years as a sports fanatic have taught me that over-confidence can lead to painful embarrassment (the Appalachian State game in 2007. Never forget.)

Next: College Football Top 25 Rankings Week 3: Michigan State Climbs to Number 3

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