Reviewing Miami (OH)

Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan Wolverines were able to pick up their first win of the season last Saturday versus Miami (OH). The win was not pretty, but it was a much needed victory and there was slight improvement on the offensive side of the ball. The running game evolved while the passing game took a step back.

I figured the Wolverines would be able to run the ball effectively against the Red Hawks because Vanderbilt was able to do so, but I didn't expect Steven Threet and the passing game to struggle as much as it did. The defense was nearly perfect as they picked up right where they left off against Utah the previous week. There were a few big plays given up by the secondary, but the Wolverines red zone defense held the Red Hawks to only two FG's.

Rodriguez alluded to the "Good, Bad, and the Ugly" to sum up his first victory and… one could certainly agree with that particular assessment. This game was basically a glorified practice for the young Wolverines as they were still trying to find a true identity on offense, but the road ahead is destined to get harder as the team travels to Notre Dame this weekend. Basically, the bad and ugly factors of play need a makeover… quickly. Some of the good consisted of the Wolverines playing a near error free ballgame. They managed to not turn the ball over and they also only had two penalties. Trust me! Those are the right kind of stats to have, especially from a young team that is trying to learn as they progress this season.

The Offense:

The first quarter started with a bang as the Wolverines offense moved down the field with precision. Threet connected on a short pass to Martavious Odoms which turned into quite a gain. RB's McGuffie and Shaw also chipped in. The surprise was Threet's ability to scramble in the open field. He scored the games first touchdown and actually ran the ball ok, BUT… his passing accuracy still needs improvement. When Threet tried to pass the ball to an open WR, his throws were way too high. Now, I don't know if you can solely pin the blame on Threet because the receivers appeared to be confused as well, plus, they are also young and Greg Matthews did not play. If a passing game was developed, I believe that the score could've been more lopsided.

The running game was the brightest and most consistent part of the offense as Sam McGuffie showed off his potential as a threat in the backfield. He had great speed in space and turned out to be dependable either running or catching the ball. Michael Shaw's skills were also on display, but he was slowed down by a minor injury later in the game. I tend to agree with RB's coach Fred Jackson when it comes to these two freshmen, they appear to have a great amount of talent and they will only become better as the season progresses; particularly because they are seeing a lot of playing time over the veterans.

I did not see Carlos Brown out there, but…Kevin Grady and Brandon Minor both had limited time. However, Minor scored the only time he was given the ball and that was in the fourth quarter. I see Rodriguez playing more of the veterans against the Irish this weekend, especially if Brown is healthy. Grady and Minor could be used more in the red zone.

Overall Grade: C+

The Defense:

Despite a few problems in the secondary and a small inability to penetrate the OL, the Wolverines defense was impressive. The only criticism that I can think of was at the safety position where Stevie Brown was repeatedly victimized (like Utah game).

The LB play improved as Jonas Mouton added great physicality and high intensity on the field. The front line stopped the running game for the most part, but they didn't attack the opposing QB until much later in the game. There wasn't really one dominant individual out there, it was more of a collective effort. However, some of the key players were Brandon Graham and Terrence Taylor. Freshman Mike Martin also contributed quite well.

Overall Grade: A-

Special Teams:

Well, the rugby experiment didn't last for very long and Zoltan Mesko was back in form, but… the special teams had some setbacks. Kicker K.C. Lopata made a 47 yd FG, but also missed one of 41 yds. There was also a botched extra point. This doesn't necessarily concern me too much because I'm certain they will be a bright spot throughout the season.

However, the return game could use some repair. I don't think Donovan Warren should be fielding punt returns. I believe he could be effective from time to time, but his place should be primarily on the defensive side of the ball. Rodriguez mentioned that the return game is a work in progress and plans to possibly use Boubacar Cissoko or Martavious Odoms.

Overall Grade: C

Go Blue! Beat Notre Dame!


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