The good, the bad and the ugly: Michigan vs. Western Michigan

Sunday, September 9, 2018 - 10:56pm

Senior running back Karan Higdon notched two two-yard runs in Saturday's game.

Senior running back Karan Higdon notched two two-yard runs in Saturday's game. Buy this photo
Alexis Rankin/Daily

The Michigan football team that played against Western Michigan was the team that most fans dreamed of heading into this season.

From the second drive on, the Wolverines dominated every facet of the game en route to a 49-3 win — the most points Michigan has scored since 2016.

The Daily breaks down the good, the bad and the ugly from the blowout.

The Good:

Junior quarterback Shea Patterson showed exactly why people were so excited about him before the season.

He showed his mobility on several occasions and his arm strength on several more. He finished with just 125 yards passing but three touchdowns, including the first receiving touchdown by a Wolverine receiver in 364 days.

The kicker to Patterson’s success is that he actually had time to throw this week.

The offensive line, unlike last week, protected Patterson well, and they also opened huge running lanes for junior running back Chris Evans and senior Karan Higdon.

Higdon had 140 yards in the first quarter alone, and Evans ran for two touchdowns.

“There was holes you could drive a car through, and people in there with nobody to block, because everybody was blocked and taken care of,” Evans said.

On the defensive side of things, the Wolverines were just as dominant. The Broncos did manage 208 yards, but until late in the game, when the backups were in, they didn’t get any deeper into Michigan territory than the 44-yard line.

The only reason the Wolverines didn’t get the shutout was because Western Michigan decided to kick a meaningless field goal on 4th and 10 at the end of the game rather than make any effort at a comeback attempt.

“Their offense, I think, going into the game — I’d have to go back and watch — but I felt like they came in and basically said, ‘Whatever happens, we’re just gonna try to not give up that many sacks,’ ” said fifth-year senior defensive end Chase Winovich. “Lot of max protection, lot of chipping on both sides. That’s a way to play football. Just, obviously, you see the results. I think they had like 200-something yards of offense. I just think, they were, well, I’m gonna stop myself. They’re a great football team. They’re gonna do well in the MAC.”

The Bad:

There really isn’t much bad. In fact, it’s really hard to say that there was any bad.

The one facet of Michigan’s game that was at all concerning was that redshirt sophomore kicker Quinn Nordin missed a 39-yard field goal.

This wouldn’t be an issue if Nordin hadn’t been shaky down the stretch last season. But he was, missing an extra point against Penn State, Minnesota and Ohio State, and missing three straight field goals against Rutgers, Minnesota and Maryland.

Nordin still clearly has the talent, and there likely isn’t a kicker controversy or anything, but the Wolverines have to be at least a little perturbed by Nordin’s miss.

The Ugly:

You’ll notice that at the beginning of the story, it says “from the second drive on.” That’s because Michigan’s first drive of the game was a mess.

The Wolverines got the ball to open the game, and the first play was a ten-yard toss from Patterson to redshirt junior tight end Zach Gentry.

Then things went sour.

Patterson had to call a timeout after what seemed like personnel confusion. When Michigan came back on the field from the timeout, fifth-year senior right tackle Juwann Bushell-Beatty moved early and incurred a false start penalty.

The next two plays were two-yard runs from Higdon, and the one after that was a pass to Evans out of the backfield that netted zero yards.

The Michigan Stadium crowd actually booed the unit as they ran off the field. That was absolutely not a preview of things to come, but at least for a moment, it looked like the Wolverines’ offensive woes against the Fighting Irish might bleed into this game too.