With a one-hour rain delay and Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh naming sophomore J.J. McCarthy as the starting quarterback mere seconds into his press conference, it was not a typical game by any means.
Though practically out of contention after one quarter, there remain things to be learned from a rout such as this. Here are some takeaways from the Wolverines’ drubbing of Hawaii.
Michigan D-Line still finds success:
The defensive line had far less eye-popping statistics than it did last week against Colorado State — only one sack, zero turnovers and only two tackles for loss against the Rainbow Warriors. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the unit was struggling. In reality, Michigan’s defensive front was still quite dominant, easily handling Hawaii’s overmatched offensive line.
In combination with strong coverage from the defensive backs, the Wolverines held Rainbow Warrior quarterback Joey Yellen to a very pedestrian stat line. Yellen was consistently pressured from all angles, and as long as Michigan kept its starters in, Hawaii’s offense was suffocated by winged helmets.
“I think we did good for what we were given,” junior edge rusher Braiden McGregor said. “I mean, the quarterback was getting the ball out pretty quick. As a defense, we want to be fast and get wherever the ball is… Our whole thing is everybody eats, so it’s just about getting sacks, it’s about getting pressure.”
As McGregor alluded to, a lot of Wolverines did eat on Saturday night. Considering the scoreboard at the Big House read 42-0 by halftime, Michigan had ample opportunity to get rotational players some experience.
“I think we played a little over 90 (players),” junior running back Blake Corum said. “That’s why they came to Michigan… It’s a dream come true.”
A lot of value can be found from games like Saturday’s when it comes to showcasing more of the unseen talent tucked away at the bottom of the depth chart. A good example being sophomore tight end Max Bredeson. It was just the third game he ever played in, and only his second reception, but Bredeson got 56 of his now 59 career receiving yards on one play in the third quarter.
There was more than just Bredeson, junior wide receiver Jake Thaw got a shoutout from graduate wide receiver Ronnie Bell after the game.
“One of the guys I was most proud of was Jake Thaw,” Bell said. “He hurt his knee as well in the fall camp, so me and him we were rehabbing together… I was really happy for him.”
Realistically Thaw’s lone punt return didn’t do all that much, he broke a couple tackles but it was called back due to a penalty, but seeing guys like him get in the game means a lot for a team.
Running back depth showcased:
The running back group had a strong showing. Despite sophomore running back Donovan Edwards leaving the game early with an undisclosed injury, five different Wolverines scored rushing touchdowns. Freshman running back CJ Stokes found the endzone for the first time in his collegiate career with a 15-yard scamper. Stokes has been the topic of a lot of praise as of late, with some high praise from Corum.
“He’s going to be one of the greatest,” Corum said. “As long as he keeps working, keeps his head down, I see some stuff from him and I’m just like, ‘Wow.’ I think he’s gonna be a great player.”
Stokes showed some glimpses of his strong breakaway speed. Look for him to get more touches as the season progresses, especially if Edwards misses time.It didn’t stop at Stokes, either. Junior running back Isaiah Gash also found the endzone for the first time at Michigan with a 38-yard touchdown rush. After the departure of workhorse-back Hassan Haskins from last year’s team, the Wolverines have been in need of depth behind Corum and Edwards. And yes, while it was just Hawaii, Gash and Stokes — him especially — have done enough to earn themselves some more touches.