The No. 8 Michigan Wolverines (3-0) found themselves in what’s becoming a common pattern on Saturday; winning a close game despite mediocre offensive production and several missed opportunities. Time is running out for them to change that as they start their Big Ten conference schedule against the Purdue Boilermakers (2-1) in their first road game of the season.
The Boilermakers have looked fairly strong since falling to No. 19 Louisville in Indianapolis to start the season. Since then, they’ve beaten Ohio 44-21 and Missouri 35-3 on the road.
Much of their success has come thanks to junior quarterback David Blough, who has thrown for 597 yards and six touchdowns. Expect him to split some time under center with sophomore Elijah Snyder, who had 293 yards and two touchdowns.
The majority of the workload in the running game has fallen on Tario Fuller thus far. The sophomore running back leads the team with 43 carries for 261 yards and two touchdowns.
The receiving core for the Boilermakers is much more diversified. Junior tight end Cole Herdman leads the team with 200 receiving yards while freshman wide receiver Jackson Anthrop leads the team with 17 receptions and four touchdowns. Other receivers to keep on the radar include tight end Brycen Hopkins, receiver Anthony Mahoungou and receiver Gregory Phillips.
Players to Watch
In last Saturday’s game, the Michigan secondary was rarely tested against an Air Force offense that only attempted nine throws and made one completion. However, that one completion was a 64-yard touchdown that let the Falcons back in the game.
Of the 624 total yards that Michigan’s defense has allowed this year, 377 of them have been passing yards. It’ll be interesting to see how the likes of Khaleke Hudson, Lavert Hill and Tyree Kinnel handle a Purdue attack that features several weapons on the perimeter and tight ends coming off the line of scrimmage.
Every week Wilton Speight takes the field as the maize and blue’s starting quarterback and every week he seems to underwhelm.
He didn’t turn the ball over and did throw for 169 yards in Saturday’s win. However, the offense failed to get a touchdown on any of its drives that went into the opponent’s 20-yard line.
Unfortunately, things will getting worse for the redshirt junior as freshman wide receiver Tarik Black (who currently leads the team with 11 receptions and 149 yards) could be out for the season after being diagnosed with a crack in his foot. Regardless, Speight will need to get back to being the guy who helped Michigan win its first nine games a year ago. That means showing more confidence in the pocket and making better decisions down field.
For a while, fans of the maize and blue began to wonder when the top recruit in the 2017 class would start to heat up and find his niche in Ann Arbor. After Saturday’s game, there’s reason to believe he’s done just that.
The true freshman had two receptions for 52 yards and ran a punt back 79 yards for Michigan’s first touchdown the game. It’s especially encouraging to see the later as his position there was initially seen to be in jeopardy.
Peoples-Jones could get even more time to evolve now that Tarik Black is out. As a result, fans might finally be seeing the receiver that they knew he can be.
The game against Purdue will be this Saturday, Sep. 23 at 4:oo p.m. EST on FOX.