Say When (Michigan 59, UConn 0)

Michigan annihilates another lowly non-conference foe

Photo: Zoey Holmstrom

For the first time since 1903, Michigan has scored over 50 points in three consecutive games. Fielding H. Yost and his boys did it in five straight games back during Teddy Roosevelt's first term when America had 45 states and before cars were a thing. 

Also, for the first time in modern Michigan football history, a player scored five touchdowns in a single game. Blake Corum joins Ron Johnson (1968 vs Wisconsin) and Hassan Haskins (2021 vs Ohio State) as the only guys to reach paydirt five times.

Michigan leads the country through the first three games in scoring offense averaging 55.3 points per game. First year co-offensive coordinators Sherrone Moore and Matt Weiss have Michigan's offense seemingly taking what they learned in the latter part of 2021, and evolving with new weapons. Now, yes, their first three games have come against the 103rd, 125th and 108th overall defenses in the country, respectfully. But you still can't deny how sharp Michigan's offense has looked under their new coordinators.

Check out our photos from the game here!

UConn, is bad. Like really bad. This game was never in doubt. Michigan scored points on eight of their thirteen total drives. UConn punted 10 times and only crossed the 50 once, turning the ball over on downs at the Michigan 43. Michigan outgained UConn 465 to 110. They had 26 first downs to UConn's 6. The Huskies came into this game averaging 205 yards rushing in their first 3 games – easily the strength of their offense. Yesterday they had 86, and only passed for 24. They were 2 for 14 on 3rd down and only averaged 2.1 yards per play.

This was a bloodbath.

It's more than clear now that JJ McCarthy is the right QB to lead this offense in the direction it needs to go. Last year, Michigan was a very run-to-set-up-the-pass offense. And that worked because of dominant offensive line play, a stable of great RBs led by Hassan Haskins, and a rock-steady QB that wasn't going to make costly mistakes by taking chances. If you recall around this time a year ago, Michigan's passing offense was sparse to say the least through the first part of the season. We really didn't know what we had. So playing it safe with Cade was the correct choice then.

Michigan's offense in 2021 took a while to really find itself. Not really until after the win at Penn State – a game JJ McCarthy didn't play in, did things really begin to click. The next game, a 59-18 win in College Park, MD, is when Jim Harbaugh and his staff realized how dynamic this offense could be, and how many playmakers they really have.

The 2022 edition of the Michigan offense is the next step in that evolution of becoming a more dynamic and more dangerous one. McCarthy offers them the best shot at doing so by being equal parts a great passer, a great runner, and willing to take chances to get the ball to his best weapons in space. Will he make some mistakes? Sure. But I think the biggest thing that separates McCarthy from McNamara this year is JJ's confidence. He just seems like he's enjoying himself more, while Cade seems frustrated and like he's second-guessing everything.

I said last week it's a long season and we'll certainly need Cade to step in at a pivotal moment at some point. I just hope he's mentally prepared to do so. He'll need the crowd behind him like they were yesterday, which was great to see and hear.

Not to be outdone, Michigan's defense has done an incredible job of adapting to life after Hutchinson, Ojabo, Ross and Hill. Junior Colson and Michael Barrett, who lead the team in tackles, have stepped up huge so far this season. Along the line it's been a revolving door of young talent including Mazi Smith, Mike Morris, Kris Jenkins, Jaylen Harrell, Eyabi Enoma and Braiden McGregor. All told, Michigan sent the almost all of its 2021 production to the NFL, and through 3 weeks in 2022, has the third overall defense in the country allowing only 194 yards per game. This, while having the rotating starters playing roughly half the game.

Sure, the competition hasn't been great...or even good. All 3 non-conference opponents are early in rebuild processes with first year coaches. But the same could be said for Michigan's defense, with new faces all around including first year co-defensive coordinators Jesse Minter and Steve Clinkscale.

You can choose to look at lopsided wins vs bad teams one of two ways. You can sit back and enjoy for what it is...a thorough domination over an opponent that you're supposed to thoroughly dominate. Or you can just doubt everything because CSU, Hawaii and UConn aren't good enough to really give Michigan a good enough gauge. Personally, I'll enjoy it because it's not very often Michigan plays a non-conference schedule like this. Plus, 3-0 is 3-0...whether you're playing cupcakes or juggernauts. Michigan will get tested this season for sure, there's plenty of talent in the conference – the Big Ten east's collective record is 20-1 through 3 weeks...sorry Sparty.

Nod not to be outdone either...Michigan's special teams had themselves a day! A blocked field goal by Caden Kolesar, a punt return for a touchdown by AJ Henning, two 50+ yard punts by Brad Robbins that ended inside the 20...the only thing that didn't go right was the 62-yard FG attempt by Jake Moody right before half that fell about 5 yards short. Those were all the highlights, but overall Michigan's special teams, led by Jay Harbaugh, have been rock solid through the first 3 games. I'm quite certain if they can keep this up, special teams will win a close game for Michigan this season. Maybe in Columbus?

Stay tuned.

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