Throw Caution to the Wind
Much was made of Jim Harbaugh's stubborn play-calling in the first quarter against SMU, and I've made much of his stubbornly running the ball on pretty much every first down the past couple of years. However, let us not forget this is the same Harbaugh that had a third-string quarterback throwing in a torrential downpour last season. Or produced the second-most prolific single-season passing total in school history his first year. So it's not like he's passing adverse. I think he's been trying slowly but surely to bring along Shea Patterson, who we forget didn't play a lot last season because of a knee injury. With the Big Ten's second best passer rating, and averaging over nine yards per attempt, Shea has shown he's capable of carrying a larger load. It's time for Harbaugh to unleash his five-star quarterback now that Big Ten play is here.
Start Me Up
The Wolverines have been slow starters so far this season, but Saturday would be a good time to cease and desist that trend. Nebraska comes in here 0-2 for the first time since Ward was originally hard on the Beaver last night (1957). And with Coach Scott Frost publicly challenging his team after an ugly loss to Troy at home, the Cornhuskers will come in here hangry. That's exactly why Michigan needs to jump on them from the get-go, and not let the Cornhuskers turn that angst into confidence as the game goes on.
It's hard to say you're struggling in the secondary when you're still 24th in the nation in pass efficiency defense. But when you're used to being one of the elite in the sport in that category, expectations are justifiably high around here. In Stanley Morgan, Jr. and J.D. Spielman, Michigan's secondary will face the best wide receiver duo on its schedule not located in East Lansing or Columbus. And when you play as much man-to-man coverage as we do, we're not asking a quarterback to read a defense as much as we are to make a throw into a tight window. Of course, the better the wide receiver, the wider that catch-window becomes. Michigan's corners are overdue for one of those games that make the analytics guys at Pro Football Focus turn you into a social media graphic. If they don't cover better than they did last week against SMU, that might turn out to be an unflattering meme instead.