Quarterback – 5
Patterson posted a 72.8 QBR (quarterback efficiency rating) per ESPN.com, which ranked 35th nationally for week 3. It felt better than that, as Patterson became the first Michigan quarterback since Wilton Speight against Maryland in 2016 to complete better than 75.0 percent of his passes (77.8) in a game in which he had at least 15 pass attempts. It was a near perfect game for the junior, who would probably only like one pass back (and not the interception – the near interception that was entirely on Patterson).
Season Grade: 4.3
Running Back – 3
In the first three quarters Saturday, Michigan’s running backs had 25 carries for 82 yards (3.3-yard average). They weren’t solely responsible for their lack of running room, but they did the offensive line no favors. Junior tailback Chris Evans also struggled (putting it nicely) in pass protection and was pulled from the game after his second blatant whiff. In the fourth quarter, the backs found their footing, however, averaging 10.1 yards per rush on nine attempts while junior Tru Wilson proved better adept at keeping Patterson standing upright.
Season Grade: 3.7
Wide Receiver – 5
The receivers were only targeted on nine plays, but they made the most of those opportunities, catching seven balls for 124 yards and three touchdowns, all three coming from emerging go-to target Donovan Peoples-Jones. The WRs did not have a drop in the win Saturday and moved the chains on five of their seven receptions. More could and should be asked of the wide receiver group because this is a unit that has made just about every play asked of them in the first three weeks.
Season Grade: 4.0
Tight End – 4
It was a bounce back game for redshirt junior Zach Gentry, who went from one target and one catch against Western Michigan to five targets and four receptions against the Mustangs. Gentry, who did have a drop, graded out well in run blocking while junior Nick Eubanks helped spring Peoples-Jones on his 35-yard touchdown with a strong downfield block. The only big blemish on the tight end resume was junior Sean McKeon allowing a defender to outplay him for an interception in the first quarter.
Season Grade: 3.0
Offensive Line – 3
According to ProFootballFocus.com, only one of Michigan’s five linemen graded out above a 70.0 percent (fifth-year senior right tackle Juwan Bushell-Beatty). The unit did cut down on QB pressures, allowing only four on 23 drop-backs, but the line really struggled to run-block in the first half, unable to execute against SMU’s quick-triggering linebackers. Stubborn play-calling didn’t help, but a number of former offensive linemen I spoke to were disappointed a veteran group was not quicker to adapt to a defensive approach that should only require one series to acknowledge.
Season Grade: 2.7