Grades Are In: Tight Ends Make Their Mark Against Northwestern

Michigan's QB, TEs and RBs led the way for an offense that struggled to capitalize consistently against NU.

Grading scale is 1-5 (5 being the best)

Quarterback - 4

The numbers will show a pedestrian effort for Patterson - a 131.1 pass efficiency rating, his lowest completion percentage all year (62.5) and zero touchdowns responsible for - but in that second half, the junior signal-caller willed Michigan to victory, completing 7 of 10 passes for 124 yards and running four times for 24 yards on U-M's three second-half scoring drives to overcome its 17-7 halftime deficit.

Season Grade: 4.2.

Running Backs - 4

Can't ask much more from Karan Higdon than a 115-yard, two-touchdown effort against a Northwestern defense that crashed its defensive ends to prevent Michigan's pulling guards from opening up the holes Higdon is used to. In the first three quarters, Higdon was effective, rushing for 89 yards on 18 touches (4.9 yards per attempt). His numbers only nosedived as Michigan tried to run out the clock (five carries for 13 yards). Meanwhile, fullback Ben Mason picked up a pair of first downs on his only two attempts.

Season Grade: 4.0.

Wide Receivers - 3

A poor showing from the wide receivers, they were targeted 15 times but came down with just eight receptions for 87 yards. No one had a bigger mixed bag than sophomore Nico Collins, who led all wide receivers with six catches for 73 yards but also failed to pick up first downs on a pair of plays in which he needed to get upfield but danced with defenders instead, short-armed a slant across the middle for a would-be touchdown (Michigan settled for a field goal), and landed out of bounds when he had the chance to get his feet down on a crucial third-down play.

Season Grade: 3.6.

Tight Ends - 4

Tight ends were targeted on seven passes, catching five of them, all five receptions going for first downs. Junior Zach Gentry continues to lead all receivers with five grabs this year of 20 yards or more and has emerged as someone that Patterson trusts in key situations. Junior Nick Eubanks matched a career high with two catches and might start taking opportunities away from classmate Sean McKeon, who dropped the only pass thrown his way.

Season Grade: 3.4.

Offensive Line - 3

The good - very little QB pressure given up to the Northwestern front seven. In fact, I charted the OL for allowing one pressure all game while strong coverage led to two more pressures. That is a huge improvement. The bad - the line did a very bad job at the point of contact along the edges and adjusted extremely slowly, hampering Michigan through much of the first half. It was only after halftime that the line evolved under the direction of coaching. For a unit with four upperclassmen, an inability to adapt early in the game was concerning.

Season Grade: 3.2.