College football is back and it was well worth the wait.
110,222 fans watched as Michigan opened up the season on Saturday afternoon with a visit from the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors. Hawaii, however, did have a game under their belt, that being a loss to California in Australia, 51-31. Unfortunately for the Warriors, it didn’t matter as the Wolverines tore up their defense on the ground and through the air with the noticeable help of some freshmen.
Chris Evans is the one that sticks out first as he had a great day on the ground by rushing for 112 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries(!). Meanwhile, the quarterback question was answered as Wilton Speight took the field as the starter. In his first series, Speight did throw an interception, but after that, he answered back with three touchdowns and had about a 77% completion rate (10 for 13) along with 145 yards. John O’Korn and Shane Morris did spend a small time on the field and together totaled 7/7 for 61 yards.
My first thought of Speight is that he’s still growing, but it isn’t anything to really worry about. He has a couple more games to grow and there should be more than enough time for Michigan to get that taken care of, along with (if any) offensive line issues. Speaking of that offensive line, they improved as the game went on and provided some nice running lanes and great protection for Speight. Thanks to that, and some outstanding plays, Michigan’s offense was able to score 9 touchdowns and create over 500 yards of offensive production.
High Flying Defense
After this game, the one word I can say for this defense is “outstanding”. This is as advertised. There was nothing but pressure, which caused confusion and breakdown in the passing game, along with a limited running game. This defense held Hawaii’s offense to 232 total yards, 151 of it was through the air. They only allowed one redzone appearance and they were able to prevent a score before the half. Jabrill Peppers was…well, Peppers..and he did some Peppers things, including hurdling a defender and making a few huge tackles for losses. Peppers finished with eight tackles and a sack. Rashan Gary held his own on his first career game with three tackles and a couple of nice pressure blitzes. Both Delano Hill and Channing Stribling were able to pick off both of Hawaii’s quarterbacks and return them for touchdowns.
This defense was very interesting to watch and makes me curious to see how they will fare as the season continues on. It seemed like this defense was everywhere on the field most of the time. There’s a lot of young talent, including freshmen like Gary, and the good news is this team has time to grow and improve before the B1G season. By the time the Wolverines have to travel to East Lansing, they should be more than prepared to take on the Spartans…but, that evaluation is for another time.
It’s hard not to be impressed with this showing, but this Is Hawaii. Baby steps. However, this shows A LOT of promise and that this team is on the cusp of being a conference and national title contender. This offense actually impressed me more than the defense. I was more worried about the offensive line and how they would hold up during the game. Again, yes, it’s Hawaii, but this line still needed to make the blocks and keep protection without making much mistakes. I feel that this team has the talent and the coaches to help develop the talent to make this year’s team, not next year’s team, a conference champion. This team went out and proved that this team is for real. This may be game one, but in one game, they have shown that they are aiming for something higher than just a double digit season.