Football

Junior defensive lineman Donovan Jeter is fully healthy ahead of Michigan’s matchup with Wisconsin.

Don Brown let out a sigh and a trailing “you know” before pausing. Standing in the Schembechler Hall lobby last week, he had just been asked for his assessment of his defense through two weeks. The indecision in his initial reaction continued throughout his answer as he shuffled between positives and negatives, resistant to any grand declarations. The evidence for each came naturally. In its first two games, every regulation touchdown that Michigan’s first-team defense allowed came off a turnover. And yet, the Wolverines were 50th in Division I with 21 points per game allowed despite not facing a Power Five team. All of that, though, was before the bye week. “We haven’t been playing the best football we can play,” said senior safety Josh Metellus. “And we know that we’ve got guys in this building whose potential is way up here. We’re not reaching that.” A bye week, of course, isn’t some magic cure. Wisconsin had one of its own and was off a start in which it outscored opposition, 110-0. Still, it’s an opportunity for Michigan to look itself in the mirror and diagnose what went wrong in its underwhelming start. The Wolverines will hold most of that diagnosis close to their chest until Saturday, but junior defensive tackle Donovan Jeter’s return to full health is one piece of the puzzle that can’t be hidden.

Senior quarterback Shea Patterson is confident in Michigan’s chances Saturday.

Statements aren’t made in the quiet comfort of your own practice facility.
“I’m done talking about it,” Patterson said at the end of his session Tuesday, walking away from the group of reporters.
It’s time to show it.

Senior guard Ben Bredeson expects a lively environment at Camp Randell.

But perhaps the Wolverines have a built-in advantage in preparing for that. If you look at SP+, a comprehensive team evaluation stat, it’s actually Michigan’s defense holding the top spot. As senior guard Ben Bredeson put it, “it’s tough, and it’s tough going against our defense, too.” And the Wolverines have the advantage of knowing they’ll be the biggest challenge yet for the Badgers’ inexperienced quarterback Jack Coan.

Junior center Caesar Ruiz is among the offensive linemen who committed avoidable penalties against Army.

As Cesar Ruiz assessed the state of Michigan’s offensive line earlier this week, he was careful not to label any struggles as “growing pains.” The implication accompanying that term is that the Wolverines’ inconsistency on the offensive line is a result of Josh Gattis’ new offense. The junior center knows that isn’t the case.

Senior linebacker Jordan Glasgow has impressed Don Brown through two weeks of the season.

That gives him the license to make a determination that strays from conventional wisdom a time or two. On Monday, that particular claim came in regard to senior VIPER Jordan Glasgow. “I’ll say this, and I might be criticized: This guy might be one of the best players in the Big Ten,” Brown said. “Watch him run and hit people. Just watch him play.”

Redshirt sophomore linebacker Jordan Anthony (center) showed against Army that's he's a valuable depth option for the Michigan football team.

The example was small and understandable enough that Brown could explain it to a group of reporters — most of whom aren’t qualified to step onto a football field — in minutes. So imagine a whole book of them, then imagine a player getting that responsibility thrust on him midgame, and then you might understand Jordan Anthony’s predicament.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh suggested that Jess Speight switch from offensive line to defensive line in the offseason, then rewarded him with a scholarship.

The Monday after the Middle Tennessee game, Harbaugh gathered the team together and announced that Speight and junior offensive lineman Andrew Vastardis would receive scholarships. Speight had gotten into the game on special teams, making the moment even more special.

Fully healthy for the first time in two years, Tarik Black already has 104 yards this season.

Black stands at the center of the Wolverines’ offensive dichotomy. When Michigan’s offense was at its best in its 27-point first half against MTSU, he was its standout performer, notching 80 yards before halftime. Late in the second quarter, he missed a drive with cramps — a product of not having a full workload in two year. Since then, he has just 24 yards on three catches.

Offensive coordinator Josh Gattis lamented some mental mistakes he believes are handicapping the offense..

It’s unlikely Josh Gattis ever tried to envision what his first in-season press conference as Michigan’s offensive coordinator would look like because, frankly, he has better things to do. But if he did, he probably didn’t picture reporters trying their best to play Operation, guessing at potential issues to try and find an answer for why his offense hasn’t worked.

Defensive coordinator Don Brown explained the difficulties that went into approaching overtime against Army..

If there’s one team you really don’t want to face in overtime, it’s probably Army.

Like any team that runs the triple option, the Black Knights thrive on a short field, chipping away at the green turf until there’s no more empty space.