After outscoring its opponents 110 to nothing in their first two games, Wisconsin takes a step up in competition as Michigan ventures to Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday.
We take a deeper look at how Michigan has looked so far this year.
The report card is in from #Michigan’s close call against Army on Saturday with Don Brown’s defense earning high marks for its collective performance.— Maize n Brew (@MaizenBrew) September 8, 2019
On the other side of the ball, well, time to go spend some extra time in study hall. https://t.co/koEMT9WykZ pic.twitter.com/S6q3xScemp
The Michigan offense has struggled so far this year. The Wolverines have only averaged 32 points and just under 400 yards of total offense per game against Middle Tennessee State and Army. Both of those numbers place Michigan outside of the top 50 in each category, and they are 11th in the Big Ten conference in total offense.
While Michigan exited that portion of non-conference play unscathed at 2-0, the Army game was a little too close for comfort for most Michigan fans.
Shea Patterson says he’s healthy, and Michigan is looking to “make a statement” against Wisconsin. Sounds like having a couple weeks to stew over that Army game has Michigan feeling pretty edgy.— Austin Meek (@byAustinMeek) September 17, 2019
Turnovers have also been a critical issue for Michigan, as starting quarterback Shea Patterson has already fumbled the ball four times in the young season, losing three of them. As a team, Michigan has fumbled eight times, losing five total.
At running back, decorated true freshman Zach Charbonnet has carried the majority of the load running for 190 yards in two games of work. There is not much depth behind him, though, after Chris Evans left the team during the summer.
Jim Harbaugh, on "Inside Michigan Football" radio show, says Christian Turner stepped up as the No. 2 running back. Tru Wilson did not practice last week.— Aaron McMann (@AaronMcMann) September 16, 2019
The off-season story-line for Michigan was a high powered offense under new offensive coordinator Josh Gattis. So far that has not come to fruition, but his offensive identity is very friendly to the talented group of wide receivers that Michigan has on the roster.
Michigan has four legitimate receiving threats outside in Tarik Black, Nico Collins, Ronnie Bell, and Donovan Peoples-Jones. The problem however has been the inefficiency of the quarterback position in getting those playmakers the ball. Michigan ranks 74th in the nation in passing efficiency, good for 12th in the Big Ten. Michigan will look to get the offensive side of the ball going against a much improved Wisconsin defense from a year ago.
Michigan lost some high level NFL talent in last years draft, but defensive coordinator Don Brown is excellent. The Wolverines return a great deal of talent, and the defensive unit has so far have held up its end of the bargain. In the first two games, Michigan is ranked 21st in total defense. While that number is considerably down from a last years dominance, Michigan still has the defensive players to improve as the season progresses.
Michigan is giving up an average of 21 points per game, landing it at 51st in the nation. Up the middle of the defense is where they are most susceptible as seen in their contest with Army. Michigan does have some outstanding young defensive ends in Aidan Hutchinson and Kwity Paye. The duo will be a big test for the Wisconsin tackles in pass protection. Senior linebacker Jordan Glasgow who leads Michigan with two sacks is also a threat in pass rushing situations.
Are you among the legion of fans still overlooking #Michigan LB Jordan Glasgow?— Isaiah Hole (@isaiahhole) September 9, 2019
His defensive coordinator isn't.
Don Brown explains why he thinks Glasgow 'is one of the best players in the Big Ten.' https://t.co/lTnwBsaPu6
With Devin Bush gone to the NFL, Josh Ross is the man at middle linebacker with Khaleke Hudson at Michigan’s patented viper position. Hudson leads the team in tackles and is a versatile playmaker. He has the size and speed to make plays all over the field and is probably the most important player on the defense to keep an eye on.
The cornerbacks are a strength of the defense as Lavert Hill and Vincent Gray have both been solid for Michigan so far. Hill could have bolted for the NFL after a solid season, but returned for his senior year.
While Michigan has not performed up to expectations to this point, they were picked to win the Big Ten by many pundits for a reason. Jim Harbaugh’s squad has a lot of talent, and will be thirsty to get back on track against a Wisconsin team that has looked stellar.
The early season contest will be a great litmus test for both teams as the grind of Big Ten play begins.
Michigan has lost its last 13 games as an underdog. Last time Michigan won as an underdog was 2013 Northwestern in 3OT after the Dileo slide and hold forced OT.— Drew Hallett (@DrewCHallett) September 16, 2019