Quarterback - 5
ProFootballFocus.com ranked Shea Patterson the No. 1 signal-caller in the Big Ten for week 6 (and does a terrific job analyzing the entire conference's QBs so far), and it's hard to argue with their assessment after Patterson threw for a Michigan career-high 282 yards on 19 of 27 attempts, eclipsing 70.0 percent completions for the third time this season. Maybe for the first time all year, Patterson looked like the gunslinger we saw in Ole Miss clips, both his TD passes to freshman WR Ronnie Bell and sophomore WR Donovan-Peoples-Jones the type of broken-play home runs that only truly special talents can make.
Season Grade: 4.3
Wide Receiver - 4
Receivers caught 7 of 12 targets Saturday, but didn't have any drops, and were responsible for three of the biggest plays of the game - Nico Collins' 51-yard reception that led to Michigan's first touchdown, Bell's 22-yard second-quarter TD and Peoples-Jones' 34-yard catch-and-run score in the third quarter. You'd like to see the wide receivers earn more targets (though admittedly they need to continue to create separation with defensive backs).
Season Grade: 3.7.
Running Back - 4
Running backs averaged 4.2 yards per carry against Maryland and probably left a few yards out on the field - though if we eliminate short-yardage specialist Ben Mason, it goes up slightly to 4.5 YPC. U-M didn't get the big-play run the Wolverines' ball carriers had been producing consistently (senior Karan Higdon had five runs of 30 yards or more in his previous three games but had a long of 18 vs. the Terrapins) and that dragged down their average too, but the group was tremendous in pass-pro. The fact is, the RBs played well, but that lack of explosive runs keeps them from a five.
Season Grade: 4.0.
Tight End - 4
I can forgive junior Zach Gentry's misplay on a 50-50 ball that led to an interception when you put up career highs across the board - receptions (seven) and yards (112). He moved the chains on 4 of 7 catches and has become that dependable go-to guy for Patterson. I was prepared to give the tight ends a five after junior Sean McKeon bounced back with three receptions for 22 yards but watching Football 101 with former Michigan QB Devin Gardner Tuesday he was really down on McKeon for not getting more out of his grabs (he had just one yard after the catch, was twice tackled short of a first down, and ran away from a pass from WR Grant Perry on a trick play that forced him to go to the ground to snag it).
Season Grade: 3.7.
Offensive Line - 4
Maryland's defense was yielding just 104.0 yards rushing per game in its first four contests and 2.7 yards per carry (admittedly, against four opponents that rank among the worst programs in the country on the ground, averaging 137.8 yards per game). Still, Michigan's 171 yards and 4.3 yards per carry were another positive sign that this unit will be up to the task when it faces off against Top-30 defenses. The line also did not yield a sack (for the first time all year) and continues to grade out as one of the best pass-pro offensive lines in the country according to ProFootballFocus.com.
Season Grade: 3.3.