By Tom Orr
Michigan completely and totally dominated Eastern Michigan University in every facet of the game on Saturday.
They scored their first touchdown less than two minutes in, lead 14-0 just four minutes in, and pretty much sealed up the victory by making it 21-0 with 7:23 left in the first quarter.
At the end of that first quarter, Michigan had 28 points and EMU had a total of ZERO yards of total offense. Thank you, drive home safely.
A bunch of Michigan’s starters (HB Mike Hart, OL Matt Lentz, OL Jake Long, OL Mike Kolodziej, TE Tim Massaquoi) did not play at all. Neither did contributors WR Adrian Arrington or FS Ryan Mundy. Lentz and Hart figure to return next week, along with possibly Kolodziej. The others are likely out for longer.
The second half was just a parade of backups and a whole lot of fighting the urge to change the channel to a more interesting game.
When Michigan had the ball: Hart sat out after tweaking his hamstring against Notre Dame. There’s no official word on his availability for next week.
A wave of injuries left the starting offensive line as: Adam Stenavich, Leo Henige, Mark Bihl, Adam Kraus and Rueben Riley. Of those, only Stenavich and Henige were starting in the same place they opened the year. During the game, Stenavich suffered what’s being reported as a possible back injury, and Alex Mitchell took his place. Simply, Michigan can not afford to lose any more linemen.
If Stenavich or Lentz is out for an extended period (and right now, there’s simply no way to know thanks to Michigan’s CIA-worthy level of secrecy) and Kolodziej can’t return next week (again, we don’t know), this team is in a world of trouble. This was not a tremendously deep unit to begin with, and they’re scraping the bottom of the barrel right now. There’s no one left with any real game experience.
Riley had some problems at RT, getting flagged for holding at least once, and giving up a sack when he was beaten around the corner on a straight bull rush. The rest of the line was okay, but remember… it was Eastern Michigan.
With Hart gone, sophomore Max Martin got the start and the bulk of the carries, but it was a tailback-by-committee for much of the game. Martin ended up with 26 rushes for 117 yards and two scores. Junior Jerome Jackson had six rushes for 40 yards and a score. Freshman Kevin Grady carried eight times for 30 yards and most importantly no fumbles. Junior Alijah Bradley had seven carries for 13 yards and a score and senior Jason Eldridge saw his first career action with one carry for three yards. Over a total of 56 carries, all those running backs only managed a long run of 14 yards. There’s really no deep threat among the group, even including Hart.
The most noteworthy thing that happened all day was redshirt freshman WR Antonio Bass lining up at quarterback and running three times for 20 yards (much the way they have used Steve Breaston in the past).
Breaston continues to basically be invisible offensively. He had two catches for 20 yards, bringing his season totals to five catches and 44 yards through three games. He did, however, have a 71-yard return of the Eagles’ first punt that gave Michigan the ball at the EMU 10.
Michigan’s second drive started at the EMU 20, after a snap sailed over their punter’s head.
Jason Avant had a nice day, catching eight balls for 93 yards and two scores in basically a half of work. One came on a nasty post-corner route where he schooled the DB. Six other receivers all caught two passes each, including Kevin Grady. It turns out that he can catch screen passes (there was some question about a lack of screens to him last week).
Henne didn’t seem to throw into coverage much, if at all, which was a big change from a week earlier. Granted, there wasn’t much tight coverage to throw into. When he saw the DBs playing 10 yards off the receivers (it happened a lot), he just took a one-step drop and rifled the ball out to the WR to let them try to make a play. More often than not it gained a solid 5-6 yards. Henne also showed an ability to scramble for yards when he needed to. It wasn’t Vince Young-esque by any means, but he got 14 yards to convert a 3rd-and-12.
Backup Matt Gutierrez played during the second half. He finished 7-for-9 for 86 yards, but got lucky when a sure “pick-six” bounced off an EMU defender, right into the waiting arms of WR Carl Tabb. He ended up with 17-yard gain on the play.
Really, there wasn’t a whole lot to take out of this game. Michigan just did a bunch of very basic stuff, played a whole lot of guys and marched up and down the field, more or less at will.
When EMU had the ball: Michigan played a four-man front for almost all of the game, and basically just rushed those four guys. They got decent, but not overwhelming pressure, but they didn’t really need to. There was almost no blitzing to speak of, and it looked like a whole lot of very plain coverage schemes as well.
All-conference DT Gabe Watson played sparingly again. DE LaMarr Woodley has basically assumed Watson’s role as the guy you’re afraid of along the Michigan defensive line. He finished with six tackles and a sack in about 30 minutes of action.
CB Morgan Trent (a redshirt freshman) snagged his first career interception. He was covering another receiver, but read the quarterback’s eyes and made a nice break on an overthrown pass. He’s supposedly the fastest guy on the Michigan team, and his development is good news for UM because their defensive backfield has been criticized for a general lack of quickness.
There really isn’t much else to say. Michigan totally dominated the Eagles early, and the game was completely over by the time EMU got anything going.
Eastern completed its first pass of the day for 18 yards and a first down. By the time they picked up their next first down, it was 35-0 Michigan.
The good news for Michigan is that EMU runs a spread offense with a semi-mobile quarterback (the kind of offense that has shredded UM over the last season or so) and the Wolverines were able to shut it down. The bad news is that things are going to get substantially tougher next week.
Michigan’s special teams: Breaston’s big punt return was the highlight of the day. For one play, at least, he finally looked like the explosive threat he was two years ago. Granted, he got caught from behind, but that was mostly a result of A) Breaston slowing down to make a move and B) a guy having an angle.
Things looked pretty good all around. Three different guys made place kicks for Michigan. Garret Rivas was 5-for-5 on PATs and kicked a 37-yard field goal. James Bloomsburgh came off the bench to hit a 21-yard field goal and a PAT during the second half. Craig Moore hit the final PAT of the game. Those were the first kicks ever attempted by Bloomsburgh and Moore.
Ross Ryan was solid on kickoffs again, sending a majority deep into the end zone for touchbacks. The only complaint about this unit was the one big kickoff return they gave up, out to about the 40. Other than that, it was smooth sailing.
What does it mean?: Precisely nothing. Michigan’s offense moved the ball all over the field, but EMU’s defense isn’t even as good as the Wolverines’ scout team. Michigan’s defense pushed the Eagles around all day, but again, you have to consider the level of competition.
Yes, UM looked a lot better with their cupcake than OSU did against theirs.
None of that will matter next weekend, when the Wolverines make their first road trip of the year, a night game against suddenly dangerous Wisconsin up in the friendly confines of Camp Randall.
Here’s something to think about as you look ahead to the start of Big Ten play: Michigan is just 1-6 in its last seven road openers—and they were favored in six of those seven games.
The road to the big one
Sept. 3: Michigan 33, Northern Illinois 17
Sept. 10: Notre Dame 17, Michigan 10
Sept. 17: Michigan 55, Eastern Michigan 0
Sept. 24: @ Wisconsin
Oct. 1: @ Michigan State
Oct. 8: Minnesota
Oct. 15: Penn State
Oct. 22: @ Iowa
Oct. 29: @ Northwestern
Nov. 5: Idle
Nov. 12: Indiana
Nov. 19: Ohio State
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