The Defensive Line– For the first time all season the defensive line put forth a dominant performance. In the wake of the Akron game, Greg Mattison vowed to get back to basics with the defensive line and the players responded. The off season hype machine on Frank Clark was enormous and through the first three games of the season was more bark than bite. Clark had a monster game against the Huskies however, accounting for 5 tackles and 2 sacks. Jibreel Black also had a strong game from his defensive tackle position and was a match up nightmare for the Huskies all night. The defense has the potential to make major strides if the Wolverines can get this kind of performance out of the defensive line for the rest of the season
The Offensive line- While the QB position is often the most important, everything cascades from the offensive line. If the offensive line struggles, so too does every offensive position. QBs and RBs magically look unstoppable when the offensive line does its job. Michigan is simply not getting winnable production from its offensive line. Running lanes are few and far between, and pass protection is spotty at best, especially against the blitz. While there is an injury issue, you know things are bad when Taylor Lewan struggles to protect the edge.
Devin Gardner above the neck- Devin is a broken QB at this moment. His confidence is shot, he’s playing scared to make a mistake, and he doesn’t trust his teammates to do their jobs. Turnovers were a big issues coming into the game and things just got worse against UConn. Between the constant pressure and turnovers DG has become a head case. He’s anticipating pressure even on plays where there isn’t any because he flat out can’t trust the line to keep him upright and bails before plays have time to develop. Thanks to the interceptions, and now what is likely constant emphasis on not turning the ball over, Devin has become gun shy. He’s so afraid to make a mistake that he hesitates, which ironically causes even more mistakes.
A high throw to Gallon, an underthrow to a covered Joe Reynolds, and fumble on a QB sneak nearly cost Michigan the game. Devin was erratic for much of the night and very easily could have turned the ball over 5 or 6 times.
Fitz Toussaint finally broke the 100yd barrier after struggling to do so through the first three games. Vision and anticipating defenders has been an issue for Fitz but he bounced back nicely in this game and was also a factor in the passing game and was great in pass protection.
The play at the QB position really limited potential production from the receiver core. For the most part, the receivers made plays when called up. Jehu Chesson blew what could have been a huge passing play by not running out his route but overall the receivers did not play a large role in the game.
After the last performance in the last two games one thing is clear, changes have to be made on the offensive line. Right now Michigan’s ability to win games is being hindered more than helped by the O-line.
A dominate performance highlighted by constant pressure on the QB and stout run defense.
Great play from the LBers in the running game but they needed to do a much better job of playing passing lanes and getting proper depth. Desmond Morgan had the pick of the year which turned the game around.
A step too slow on a lot passing plays. Secondary did a great job of tackling but tighter coverage would have kept them from having to make as many tackles as they did. Secondary must play more aggressively and with better fundamentals.
Special teams: A
Outside of freak play where the ball went off Da’Mario Jones leg, the special teams did their jobs. Matt Wile boomed 4-5 kickoffs through the end zone for touch backs and Drew Dileo made several key plays on punt return.
A: Unit played as close to flawless as possible. Unit played well enough to win the game on their own.
B: Unit had a major positive impact on the game but also had several assignment/execution miscues.
C: Unit did not negatively or positively affect the game. Unit made key positive plays along with several errors.
D: Unit made multiple critical errors that could potentially cost the team a win. Unit blew assignments and had poor execution across the board.
F: Play of the unit was bad enough that it could directly cost the team a victory.
Note: Plus and minuses denote degrees of the grade.