Maize&BlueReview – Halftime Reactions to Michigan vs. Rutgers
Here are the three big takeaways after a sloppy first half for the Wolverines who trail Rutgers 17-14 at the end of the half.
While their first offensive drive ended in a three and out, Rutgers found their first score on a blocked punt, scoop and score in the first quarter. While former Michigan TE called Jake Butt during the broadcast, Michael Barrett missed his assignment and Max Melton gave Brad Robbins a free pass.
On the next kick-off, Rutgers went through the middle with an onside kick, but Michigan recovered. Still a bold conversation with the Scarlet Knights looking for a potential advantage to stave off the turmoil.
In the passing game, Rutgers has not been afraid to take shots. After a double reverse flea flicker that found the grass, thanks to coverage from Mike Sainristil that Greg Schiano said was interference, the Knights took to the skies again with a deep ball pointed high over DJ Turner.
Towards the end of the half, Rutgers went down with a 4th down call that brought Rutgers into the red zone. On the next game, Sean Ryan made a back-shoulder touchdown, despite being held by DJ Turner to take the lead 17-14.
Rutgers plays physically in defense, creating pressure and getting a lot of solid hits on JJ McCarthy. In the same ride we saw Ronnie Bell and Luke Schoonmaker taking hits that also made them take the time to get up. We always say Michigan gets the best of each of its opponents and we see it in the first half against Rutgers.
No secret that the red zone violation in Michigan has been a major topic of conversation in recent weeks, with the Wolverines settling for FGs far too often. The biggest criticism, aside from not scoring touchdowns, was the creativity of the playcalling.
The beginning of this game won’t make that go away. Michigan’s first 12 plays in the red zone were all runs in the middle, including 8 runs inside the 5 where the Rutgers defense held their ground before finally bursting at 4th and inches, once to Blake Corum and later to JJ McCarthy.
The offense in Michigan looked messed up after those touchdown drives, and hasn’t continued since. Michigan went on to play 5 and punt, play 9 with a missed 50-yard FG from Jake Moody,
Many thought this would be the game where Michigan took JJ McCarthy’s theoretical line in the passing game. On the first game of the game, McCarthy linked up with Ronnie Bell on a 35-yard pass, we also saw him make early contact with Andrel Anthony, but unfortunately missed the sophomore receiver on a deep shot a drive later.
3 of McCarthy’s first 4 throws were over 20 yards, but he only connected with Bell. There’s a good reason that coaches start the game with nice easy throws for the quarterback to build confidence and get the QB into rhythm. The first few throws for JJ didn’t, and we’ve seen JJ as awkward as we’ve seen all season, starting 3-8 for 55 yards. Rutgers gets pressure and JJ forces the ball into cover.
The Wolverines will have to calm down their sharpshooter and let him get into his game. The low blows are there, and McCarthy has to connect with them, but you can’t force them at the expense of what McCarthy has been good at all season.
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