Michigan 29 – Minnesota 26
This one was a little closer than most expected it to be. Minnesota truly played their hearts out for former head coach Jerry Kill- who retired due to illness. This was their first game since Kill’s retirement and they wanted to win it for him.
The game meant more than just a W for the Wolverines. Last year, this team would have caved in and lost. It’s clear that Harbaugh has changed the attitude of the program as every player stood tall and played with confidence.
Rushing Offense against Minnesota
Michigan is lucky to have Drake Johnson back at full strength – he was the only running back to truly run with any purpose successfully. After 10 carries for 55 yards, it may be Johnson’s job to lose at this point.
Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith helped split carries but were ineffective to say the least. Jabrill Peppers took some snaps at quarterback, running the wildcat, and proved to be the explosive playmaker we have heard about for years. He should see more time as the season goes on, especially in games where the offense needs a spark. Peppers had four carries for 16 yards and a touchdown to help lead Michigan to victory.
Passing Offense against Minnesota
The Wolverines passing game is still a work in progress. This far into the season, however, don’t look for many fireworks going forward. Rudock is exactly what the coaches expect him to be, which is a game manager. He does give his receivers a chance to catch the ball, and that’s all you can anticipate at this point.
The bigger story in this one was the backup quarterback. Shane Morris and Wilton Speight both warmed up once Rudock went down with an injury, but it was Speight who finished the game for the Wolverines.
Earlier in the year, Harbaugh said that they would try to redshirt Morris by not giving him garbage time snaps. These were not garbage time snaps. These were very meaningful snaps, and the quarterback had to win the game for Michigan with the running game being stagnant. Speight struggled through his first two series but came back for a third – driving the team right down the field and hitting Jehu Chesson for a touchdown and Amara Darboh for the crucial two point conversion. I think it’s safe to say we don’t have a (backup) quarterback controversy. Speight has won the job.
Rushing Defense against Minnesota
The rushing defense has seen better days, but some fans might be a tad spoiled. Although it looked rough at times, it really wasn’t. They surrendered 144 yards rushing and struggled to stop the running quarterback, but did their jobs against a solid Minnesota offensive line.
Ryan Glasgow was impressive, finishing with six tackles. He plays in the middle of the line, so six tackles is very impactful from the nose tackle position.
Glasgow, Mo Hurst and Willie Henry all played a huge part on the final stop of the game. They were able to get below the Minnesota lineman and stand their ground, keeping Mitch Leidner from crossing the goal line.
Passing Defense against Minnesota
Minnesota was successful in the passing game. Even though they completed less than 50% of their passes, the ones they did complete were big hitters. The Golden Gophers had three plays of 39+ yards, and had a few crucial first down pickups. Leidner threw for 317 yards on the night.
Middle linebacker Desmond Morgan continues to struggle in coverage, and other teams know it. They will continue to make Morgan cover backs out of the backfield until he shows he can make the plays.
The defensive backs have to finish plays. Both Peppers and Dymonte Thomas dropped easy interceptions that would have changed the complexion of the game. Peppers and Jarrod Wilson both had two pass breakups.
Special Teams against Minnesota
Peppers. He finished with 100 all-purpose yards, 43 yards on a kick return and 41 yards on a punt return. As long as this guy is a part of the special teams units, it’s hard to pick against them in this phase.
Punter Blake O’Neill rebounded nicely from the MSU debacle by averaging 44 yards a punt and caught every ball that was snapped to him.
Photo Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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