In No. 4 Michigan’s 42-7 triumph at Rutgers on Saturday, there wasn’t much to take away.
Really, what can you learn from a 9-1 team’s 35-point victory over a 1-9 team?
Typically, nothing; However, this contest did teach us some things about U-M, along with a few questions that haven’t been answered, as head into the 11th game of the season.
Here’s three things we learned and three we didn’t from Michigan’s win over Rutgers.
What we learned
Shea Patterson can do it all on his own
For the first time since Week 1, Michigan running back Karan Higdon didn’t eclipse 100 yards rushing. Despite that, Shea Patterson had his best performance yet as a Wolverine. Passing for 260 yards at a 70-percent clip, Patterson made plays all day. Albeit, against Rutgers; nonetheless, it was an impressive day for the junior transfer.
— PFF College (@PFF_College) November 11, 2018
The defense is human — for at least one play
A first-quarter Rutgers handoff went for 80 yards and a score. Defensive end Chase Winovich overpursued, Brad Hawkins took a bad angle, and that was it as Rutgers back Isaih Pachecko dashed to the end zone. It’s one play, but it’s the first one against this defense in non-garbage time since SMU’s James Proche’s big day in Week 3. Reminder: besides this play, Rutgers had just 172 yards of offense, including 59 yards passing.
Shea Patterson ➡️ Nico Collins: wide open Michigan TD
Big day in for Patterson in the Wolverines win pic.twitter.com/wVScrxsNtD
— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) November 11, 2018
Nico Collins and Donovan Peoples-Jones making a run for Most Improved Player
On offense, the most improved position is certainly quarterback, but Patterson having not been on the roster in 2017 disqualifies him from this award.
The most improved position group is undoubtedly the offensive line.
The two most improved players, though? Wide receivers Nico Collins and Donovan Peoples-Jones, both from the same recruiting class. At Rutgers, the two combined for 139 yards and two touchdowns (both by Collins).
Combined this season, the two have 56 receptions for 876 yards to go along with 11 touchdowns.
What we didn’t
Field goal unit still a question mark
Quinn Nordin’s still the starter but his struggles have been obvious. Fans and coaches alike want to see some consistency from him before the big one in Columbus — a game that very well may go down to a field goal.
Michigan didn’t attempt a field goal at Rutgers so from what we’ve seen, there’s still reason for worry. The good news is Nordin was one of the best in the country just a season ago and is still capable to make a kick over 50 yards with his strong leg.
We’ll see if he gets some action against Indiana.
The sophomore receiver returned from injury against Michigan State three weeks ago but hasn’t registered a catch.
Though he did have a touchdown catch called back due to holding against Penn State.
Welcome back, Tarik Black. I don't care about the holding. pic.twitter.com/sU8U9zSlPT
— Alejandro Zúñiga (@ByAZuniga) November 3, 2018
Despite that encouraging route the week before, Black didn’t register a statistic at Rutgers.
Harbaugh said during his Monday press conference that Black is “progressing,” but his routes remained limited.
There’s a lot going around about some tweets Black liked regarding his snap counts and zero targets. Look, if we’re really considering a few likes on Twitter gospel, we’re doing everything wrong.
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