Report Card: Grading Michigan Football In A 33-7 win over Northwestern
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Report Card: Grading Michigan Football In A 33-7 Win Over Northwestern

Grading Michigan football in all facets of a win over Northwestern

Michigan Football Rushing Offense: A

Michigan Wolverines football running back Hassan Haskins
Michigan Wolverines football running back Hassan Haskins broke 100 yards against Northwestern. (USA TODAY Sports Images)

Another week, another 300-yard game ... or at least close to it (294). The Wildcats thought they had things figured out after holding Rutgers' running game in check last week, and their run defense was solid out of the gate. Minus a 19-yard run on which Hassan Haskins pushed the pile 14 yards with the help of his line, Northwestern's defense allowed U-M's backs only 31 yards on seven carries in the first quarter.

But Michigan's line and some fancy footwork by the backs proved to be too much. The Wolverines had 101 yards at the half, led by freshman Blake Corum's 62, and finished with 294. They had 114 in the third quarter alone and got frosh quarterback J.J. McCarthy involved, too, with two carries for 36 yards.

Michigan Football Passing Offense: C

There's nothing special about Michigan's dink-and-dunk passing game. U-M managed only 5.1 yards per attempt on 31 throws, and while redshirt freshman Cade McNamara completed 20 of 27 passes, he forced some deep balls (veteran Mike Sainristil stopped his route on two) and threw for only 129 yards.

Most of the damage in the passing game was done on checkdowns and underneath routes, and the Wolverines managed only two completed passes of more than 15 yards. One was an 18-yard completion — a team long for the day — from McCarthy to Sainristil when the game was no longer in doubt.

U-M will lose two or three games if it can't figure out a way to improve the vertical passing game.

Michigan Football Rushing Defense: B+

One run, a 75-yard touchdown by back Evan Hull just before the half, skewed an otherwise incredible performance, but they all count. Hull managed only six yards on his other five carries and the Wildcats 25 yards on 22 carries minus the big run.

The Wildcats managed only one yard rushing in the third quarter (five carries) when U-M took control of the game, outscoring Northwestern 17-0 in the stanza.

Michigan Football Passing Defense: A

A 29-yard completion on a wheel route to open the game and a 26-yard screen to Hull that should have been stopped after 10 accounted for nearly half of Wildcats quarterback Ryan Hilinski's passing yardage (114). Northwestern managed only two other passing plays of 12-plus yards and was never a threat downfield.

Redshirt freshman corner D.J. Turner enjoyed a breakout performance with solid coverage and an interception plus 23-yard return. He was flagged for pass interference, a call that should have gone against the receiver (who pushed off).

The back end got an assist from a pass rush that hounded Hilinski much of the day (four official hurries, one sack).

Michigan Football Special Teams: A-

Kicker Jake Moody made two of three field goals, but only got two of his seven kickoffs to the end zone. He'll need to kick deeper next week at Michigan State. Punter Brad Robbins was stellar again (47.7-yard average on three kicks), and coverage on punts and kicks was outstanding.

The return game hasn't been great — freshman A.J. Henning managed only 19 yards on three punt returns — but sophomore receiver Cornelius Johnson's blocked punt set up a touchdown and all but secured the win in the second half.

The special teams continue to be a huge plus for the Wolverines under Jay Harbaugh.

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