It wasn’t the most convincing performance, but the Wolverines defeated SMU 45-20 to improve to 2-1 on the season. Our Sunday Five looks at the best of the best from the win.
Michigan's 5 best players:
DE Chase Winovich
Winovich’s game-high eight total tackles don’t begin to do justice to how dominant he was in this game. The fifth-year senior had two tackles for loss and was in the backfield all afternoon with an additional two QB pressures. He also displayed his ability to cover the entire field and react quickly to what he was seeing. When Winovich wasn’t making the play himself, he made the job easier for his teammates.
WR Donovan Peoples-Jones
The sophomore recorded a career-high 90 receiving yards and caught multiple touchdown passes for the first time as a Wolverine against the Mustangs. His three touchdowns showcased both his playmaking ability and understanding of the receiver position. People-Jones’ chemistry with Shea Patterson continues to get better every week.
QB Shea Patterson
There were still some shaky moments, especially in the first half, but not enough to overshadow the positive ones. Patterson completed 14 of his 18 attempts for 237 yards and was extremely accurate with the football. He has obvious natural ability that can’t be taught. Better protection from the offensive line helped Patterson feel even more comfortable.
TE Zach Gentry
Gentry posted career highs in both catches (4) and yards (95) while serving as Michigan’s leading receiver for the game. When the Wolverines needed to keep a drive alive, the senior stepped up and made a play. If he can become a consistent threat in the passing game, Michigan has another valuable offensive weapon at its disposal.
DT Bryan Mone
When Chase Winovich wasn’t the one causing havoc in the Mustangs’ backfield, it was Mone. He tied for the team lead with two tackles for loss and was responsible for one of Michigan’s two sacks. Mone’s ability to apply interior pressure like he did in this game could very well be the key to Michigan’s defense being among the best in college football.
Michigan's 5 best plays:
Josh Metellus' pick-six
Metellus’ interception and 73-yard return for a touchdown as the first half ended changed the entire complexion of the game. Instead of SMU attempting a field goal to make it 14-10, Michigan took a 21-7 lead into halftime. The junior read the pass the whole way and jumped in front of the SMU receiver, making far and away the biggest play of the game.
Peoples-Jones' 35-yard touchdown reception
This play couldn’t have been drawn up any better or executed at a higher level. The misdirection with WR Ambry Thomas and RB Tru Wilson got SMU’s defense focused on the other side of the field. TE Nick Eubanks’ route cleared space for Peoples-Jones to run into and the offensive line gave Patterson plenty of time. Michigan matched the Mustangs’ big play with one of their own, taking the lead back for good in the process.
Peoples-Jones' 7-yard touchdown reception
Similar to the touchdown the duo connected on against Western Michigan last week, this was terrific individual efforts from both Shea Patterson and Donovan Peoples-Jones. Instead of throwing a jump ball, Patterson used Peoples-Jones’ body position to shield the ball from the defender. Give Peoples-Jones credit for creating that window for his quarterback and coming back to the ball.
Patterson 32-yard pass to Gentry
This was by no means the most difficult throw in the world, but Patterson displayed nice touch and made Gentry’s job easy. What makes this play stand out is the completely clean pocket Patterson’s offensive line provided. He’s going to pick apart defenses all day long if he gets that kind of protection. The linemen made this completion happen.
Patterson 24-yard completion to Gentry
Staring at the possibility of a fourth straight scoreless drive to start the game, Patterson found Gentry on a 3rd and 4 to keep the drive alive. Patterson delivered a perfect pass in a tight window while a free rusher was bearing down on him. In addition to the toughness and accuracy the Wolverines quarterback displayed, the conversion led to Michigan’s first points of the game.
Five most interesting stats:
- Josh Metellus’ 73-yard interception return was the longest for a Wolverine in seven seasons.
Brandon Herron had a 94-yard pick-six in the 2011 season opener against Western Michigan. The Wolverines won that game 34-10.
- Donovan Peoples-Jones is the first Michigan receiver with three touchdown catches in a game since 2015.
Jehu Chesson caught 10 passes for 207 yards and four touchdowns in a 48-41 double-overtime win over Indiana.
- Michigan scored at least 45 points in consecutive games for the first time since 2016.
The Wolverines opened the 2016 season with 63 points against Hawaii, 51 against Central Florida, 45 against Colorado, and 49 against Penn State.
- For a second consecutive week, Michigan scored touchdowns on five straight possessions.
After two punts and an interception to start the game, the Wolverines’ next seven drives consisted of six touchdowns and a field goal.
- This is the first time in 10 games Michigan was called for over 100 yards of penalties.
The Wolverines amassed 141 yards on 16 penalties in last year’s 27-20 win over Indiana.
Five plays Michigan would like back:
SMU 50-yard touchdown
It only took one mistake by Michigan’s defense for SMU to capitalize and tie the game at seven. A miscommunication in the Wolverines' secondary left James Proche wide open. Mustang quarterback Ben Hicks recognized the blown coverage, allowing Proche to walk into the end zone untouched. With one play, SMU was back in the game and erased any momentum the Wolverines may have had.
Patterson tipped pass to WR Oliver Martin
The end result of this play doesn’t change how dangerous of a throw this was by Patterson. Trying to put the ball through a crowd, particularly in the middle of the field, is almost never a good idea. Patterson’s pass went straight to a Mustang defender and should’ve been picked off. Things won’t turn out as well in the future if Patterson doesn’t improve his decision-making.
Personal fouls and pass interference penalties
The Wolverines compiled three personal fouls and four pass interference penalties, including a targeting call on viper Khaleke Hudson that takes him out of the first half against Nebraska next week. Michigan’s 13 penalties gave SMU’s offense an extra 137 yards. With Big Ten play on the horizon, the Wolverines have to be more disciplined.
The Wolverines marched 73 yards in 11 plays, resulting in their first red zone appearance. On the 12th play of the drive, Patterson’s throw into the end zone was intercepted. Sean McKeon did his quarterback no favors by letting his defender beat him to the ball and doing very little to prevent the pick. In a situation like that, receivers should be doing everything in their power to knock the ball down.
Fumbled exchange on 3 yard line
After Michigan’s first trip to the red zone ended in an interception, the Maize and Blue's second nearly ended with a fumble. As Patterson backed up, he never gained possession of the ball and was eventually able to fall on it. The Wolverine offense struggled to find any rhythm in the first 20-25 minutes of the game. That disconnect was on full display during this play.
Five Performances of Note:
RB Jonathan Taylor (Wisconsin):
After averaging 199 yards through his first two games, BYU’s defense limited Taylor to only 117 on 26 carries. His longest run was 15 yards and he wasn’t able to find the end zone for the first time this season.
QB Trace McSorley (Penn State):
McSorley accounted for five touchdowns, two through the air and three on the ground. He completed 50 percent of his passes for a total of 229 yards and rushed for another 54. The senior also had a fumble and an interception in the game.
QB Andrew Bunch (Nebraska):
Filling in for the injured Adrian Martinez, the walk-on went 19 of 27 for 177 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. The Cornhuskers quarterback situation is very much up in the air heading into conference play next week.
RB Stevie Scott (Indiana):
Scott followed his 204-yard outburst last week with another 114 yards on 18 carries against Ball State. The true freshman also scored two touchdowns in the game. His emergence is a major reason for Indiana’s early-season success.
QB Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State):
Haskins threw for 344 yards and completed 63 percent (lowest completion rate of the season) of his passes in a win against TCU. The 38 attempts against the Horned Frogs were the most he’s thrown so far. Through three games, he has 11 touchdowns and only one interception.