After seeing Michigan dismantle a Top 25 Florida team to open its season, many people predicted Saturday’s contest against Cincinnati to be over by halftime. Unfortunately, many Michigan fans were given a dose of reality watching a young team in its second game of the season. What they saw was many positives along with just as many negatives. Ultimately, Michigan got the win against the Bearcats but they must be much better as the season progresses in order to have any chance at contending for a Big Ten Championship.


In short, it wasn’t good. They weren’t too many positives to glean on Saturday on the offensive side of the ball. Outside the first drive where Wilton Speight connected with Kekoa Crawford for a deep touchdown, Michigan seemed to lack any rhythm or consistency. The Wolverines were plagued with turnovers and untimely penalties. Michigan gained over 400 yards of total offense, but they sputtered to do so. Speight appeared rattled at times. Early in the first half he fumbled a handoff exchange down on the goal line, recovered by Speight, where Michigan had to settle for a field goal instead of a touchdown. Later in the second quarter Speight once again fumbled an exchange with Crawford which was recovered by Cincinnati, as Michigan appeared to be driving for another score. Speight never really appeared comfortable throughout the game. He missed open receivers and short-armed many throws on key downs throughout the game.

The run game may have been the only bright spot of a rather forgettable afternoon on offense. Ty Isaac rushed for 133 yards on the ground on Saturday, giving him consecutive 100+ yard rushing games to start the season. Michigan appeared to have success running the ball on both sides of the line. A measure of success they didn’t reach last week as most run plays were being called behind Mason Cole and Ben Bredesen. When needed, the offense could run the ball against a smaller defensive front of the Bearcats and helped control the game as Cincinnati continued to hang around in a game where they were clearly outmatched talent wise.


Once again, the defense showed it will be the strength of this young team. Defensive coordinator Don Brown brought pressure throughout the game and created a few scoring opportunities for the defense. Junior Tyree Kinnel and sophomore Lavert Hill each had interceptions they returned for touchdowns. Through two games the defense has now scored three defensive touchdowns matching the entire output from the 2016 defense. The defense once again pursued the ball well and made many tackles in open space. They were times where the Bearcats hurt Michigan with tunnel screens and quick throws out of bunch formations. It was never going to be enough against a defense that was overwhelming an offense, but Cincinnati had much more success on offense than the Florida Gators did a week ago. All around , it was another outstanding effort by the defense which appears to be way ahead of the offense. They may have to carry this team until the offense can find any sensible rhythm.

Special Teams

The special teams were a mixed bag on Saturday. Kicker Quinn Nordin is showing that he can be a reliable steady kicker for Michigan. Nordin converted on both his attempts on Saturday and making his second kick with the Wolverines only leading by 10 and needing points desperately.

Punter Will Hart had a less than spectacular day. He shanked two punts giving the Bearcats short fields on each occasion. After two games, Hart has had one punt blocked and two shanked punts. The punting game has not been the consistent steady weapon it should be with a tremendous defense. Hopefully going forward Hart can correct those mistakes or it may require Jim Harbaugh to give freshman Brad Robbins a shot to secure the job.


The game was never really in doubt. However, Michigan couldn’t pull away as expected facing a five touchdown underdog. The Wolverines mistakes kept the Bearcats in the game through four quarters before the defense could secure the win. Michigan will have to be much better next week facing an Air Force team that won 10 games a year ago including an Arizona Bowl victory over South Alabama. The Falcons will present numerous challenges on both sides of the ball. Hopefully, this week was merely a case of a young team getting caught up reading their press clippings from a week ago.

This article first appeared on and was syndicated with permission.


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