Game 3 Wrap Up: Michigan 45 Colorado 28

James Coller
Its one thing to want to win...its a whole nother thing go out and do it in the face of an early 14-point deficit and zero momentum.

In games like this in recent years Michigan would not emerge victorious. But this Michigan did. While it was ugly early on, how you respond says a lot about a team. It's also how a team gains an identity.

Some call it character. I call it grit.

This is the new Michigan.

By the time the clock read zeros, the scoreboard told the tale of the type of game Michigan fans had hoped for earlier in the day. But just how they got there was maybe more impressive than had they came out firing and let Colorado creep back into per a more typical and more believable script (looking at you Sparty).

I had this strange gut feeling all week that Colorado would be a tougher challenge than most people were predicting. I know they've only played pushovers to start the season, but so had Michigan, and I was pretty impressed with Colorado's numbers as I was making last week's STAT-O.

The season will play out how it plays out, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Colorado upset some teams this year in the Pac-12. In the first half, this game had the same feeling the 2nd half had against Ohio State last year. Thankfully, this time, Michigan was able to stem the tide with improved play calling and better overall execution to come out on top.

By the end, we knew two things. Colorado was a pretty good team, and Michigan was better.



Pac-12 Network:

Best of the game
What can I say...they guy was just everywhere for Michigan. He's the closest thing I've seen to Charles Woodson since, well Charles Woodson. Tackles, tackles for loss, coverage, blitzing, running the ball, catching the ball, returning punts and kickoffs...he does it all, and he does it extremely well. I know it's early, but there are Heisman lists out there, and I think they should include Jabrill Peppers.

No panic
Down 14 early in the game with Colorado seemingly moving the ball at-will, I'd like to think this was just the product of playing two cream puffs to start the season, but so did Colorado. Michigan was flat early on. Poor tackling, poor coverage and a lackluster offensive attack plagued Michigan's 1st quarter and much of the first half.

Like Jake Butt said after the game, Michigan was punched in the face...but this time they punched back. That's a beautiful thing considering this is one of the first times in recent years I can remember Michigan punching back so decisively. That's a huge boost for this team, and an indicator that things are on the the right track. Colorado's entire offense hinged on the ability and arm of Sefo Liufau. No doubt he was the spark Colorado needed in this game, and his absence in the 2nd half was noticeable.

Speight to Butt
Wilton Speight did not have his best game of the year, but after looking pretty rough through the first half he was able to create more opportunities later in the game by moving well in and out of the pocket...where more often than not, he would find Jake Butt on a crossing route. Those quick dump offs were very successful in keeping drives going and more importantly, keeping Colorado's offense off the field. Butt proved his worth on this offense with those types of plays.

Special special teams
Once again, Michigan was able to capitalize on special teams early in the game. The punt block couldn't have come a more perfect time. Michigan had a rough day kicking field goals, but other than that they were sharp and able to make good on Colorado blunders.

Worst of the game
Kenny Allen
Not a banner day for Kenny Allen. He had some iffy punts and two badly shanked field goals. When one guy is responsible for all of your kicking, that is worrisome.

Pass coverage
I know he doesn't deserve all the blame, but Dymonte Thomas had a rough day in pass coverage. And it was maybe only 2 plays that he really struggled with, but it was enough to give Colorado a huge boost early in the game. Overall, Michigan had a hard time with Colorado's smaller but fast receivers. Here's to hoping Jourdan Lewis gets back on the field this week.

Game balls
Jake Butt is going to be a high draft pick because of his hands and his speed. He's not a dynamic blocker, but he makes up for that with everything else he does. Time and again against Colorado he was the safe check down option for Speight. Colorado has a good pass defense, but when you put so much coverage on the wideouts, it leaves key weapons like Butt uncovered.

DEFENSE: LB Jabrill Peppers
A few guys had big days on the defensive side of the ball, but none better than Jabrill Peppers. He's a blitzing linebacker, he's a safety, he's a cornerback and he's a traditional linebacker. He does everything and he does it better than almost anyone else. And for a guy who also returns kicks and plays offense, it doesn't affect his ability to be the truly remarkable defender he is.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Jabrill Peppers
You all saw what he did. No question he gets the special team game ball as well.

COACHES: Jim Harbaugh
I think in-game adjustments payed off huge for Michigan, and most importantly Wilton Speight as Harbaugh was able to settle Wilton down and allow him to use his feet to create better opportunities. Play-action, quick passes...I thought the play-calling really kept Colorado from getting any real confidence defensively so maybe Jim should share this with Tim Drevno. The use of Jabrill Peppers and Chesson/Darboh in the running game was huge at key points in the game.

Also receiving votes: Khalid Hill, Jehu Chesson, Amara Darboh, Maurice Hurst, Rashan Gary, Mike McCray, Tim Drevno

2016 Game ball standings
1: Jabrill Peppers (4)
2. Jake Butt (1), Jim Harbaugh (1), Chris Evans (1), Mike McCray (1), Don Brown (1), Wilton Speight (1), Chris Wormley (1), Chris Patridge (1)

On the field right after the game Jake Butt talked about how Colorado punched them in the face, but “we punched back harder.” Imagine that. Punching back. Sadly I feel like that’s a move we haven’t had around here for a long time.

Hoover Street:
In sailing, when the direction that one wants to sail in is into the wind, a sailor, with great effort, must tack, or turn its bow into the danger zone, to achieve the desired direction. It requires discipline, recognition of the circumstances, and willingness to do what is needed to find a way forward.
Gammers from MGoBlog, UMGoBlue, M&GB

Related MBN content
STAT-O, Game story, Game Photos

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