|Photo: Patrick Barron|
This Michigan team is not one of those teams.
Most if not all of that can be attributed to coaching. It’s clear now that not only is Jim Harbaugh a great coach, he’s officially the quarterback whisperer. Wilton Speight has gone from keeping the seat warm for Brandon Peters to the leading candidate for all-B1G first team quarterback. I don’t care who you are…that’s impressive.
Speight looked downright awesome in this game. Short passes, intermediate and long-balls were all right on the numbers. He’s been on a Rudock-esque trajectory this year, but given the choice right now…I’d take Speight.
Michigan’s defense was the recipient of some good fortune as a couple of Maryland drives that should’ve resulted in points, didn’t. The field goal off the upright, the shoelace tackle at the 1-yardline as the 1st half expired…those are the kinds of good things that happen to good defenses because fortune favors the bold. And Michigan’s defense, the #1 defense in the country in pretty much every category, is definitely bold.
Given that it happened more than once but not all the time, I’m not overly concerned at the current moment. I don’t think it’s scheme, I just think it’s poor effort and/or bad tackling. Mike McCray had a rough game, as did Channing Stribling. Again, it’s not a huge concern because frankly, I think Maryland just had some fast dudes which caught Michigan by surprise a few times.
Michigan only gave up 3 points on 11 drives. But they also allowed 19 first downs which is WAY more than normal, so I see where the discomfort is coming from, but…scoreboard, man!
OFFENSE: Wilton Speight
This one is obvious. Wilton had a day. 19 of 24 for 362 yards (292 in the first half!) and 2 TDs with another one on the ground…yeah, that works. And in doing so, he has continued his upward trend surpassing any other QB in the Big Ten for tops in the league. No doubt he’s back to his early season, pre-hit-in-the-Colorado-game form.
DEFENSE: Ben Gedeon
The senior linebacker led Michigan in tackles, which he does in most games, but he also had half a sack and 3 tackles for loss. He single-handily ended a couple Maryland drives and just made plays all over the field. Any stout defense has great linebackers…Ben Gedeon is turning out to be one of those for Michigan.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Kenny Allen
Basically when Jabrill Peppers has to fair catch a lot of punts, Kenny Allen is going to get the special teams game ball. But it’s not entirely by default. The senior punter/kicker/place kicker is doing it all for the Wolverines. He didn’t punt on Saturday, but he did knock in a 29-yarder in the 3rd quarter to make it 38-0. He’s clearly moved on from that awful Wisconsin performance.
COACHES: Jim Harbaugh
In a game like this, the entire staff really deserves the credit, but we have to give it to someone, so why not the guy who assembled this collection of football gurus? We are entering an golden era of Michigan football and it’s all because of this guy.
Also receiving votes: De’Veon Smith, Jehu Chesson, Jake Butt, Delano Hill, Jabrill Peppers, Chase Winovich, Jourdan Lewis, Dymonte Thomas, Tim Drevno, Don Brown.
2016 Game ball standings
1: Jabrill Peppers (8)
2. Jim Harbaugh (4)
3. Kenny Allen (3), Jourdan Lewis (3)
4. Wilton Speight (2), Amara Darboh (2), Don Brown (2)
5. Ben Gedeon (1), Karan Higdon (1), Dymonte Thomas (1), Khalele Hudson (1), Tyrone Wheatley (1), Channing Stribling (1), Greg Mattison (1), De’Veon Smith (1), Jake Butt (1), Chris Evans (1), Mike McCray (1), Chris Wormley (1), Chris Partridge (1)