Freshman Shane Morris made his first career start against the Wildcats tonight. And while Kansas State came away with the 31-14 victory, Morris impressed with his poise in the pocket all game long. He finished the contest throwing for 24-of-38 for 196 yards and one interception. His arm strength was apparent and did show ability to hit his second and third options on passing routes. It didn't help that his receivers had some key drops that hurt Michigan's drives. Overall, it was a good first showing for the Michigan signal caller. Is he close to a finished product? No, but his performance is something to build on for the future. And some positives are what Michigan would take right now.
The running backs were non-existent tonight. Michigan's leading rusher was Morris, had four carries for 43-yards, with most coming on 40-yard scramble late in the game. Freshman De'Veon Smith had four carries for 7-yards and fellow freshman Derrick Green only had one carry for 5-yards. Part of the blame wasn't necessarily the runners, but the lack of blocking on the offensive line. But still, the runners were unable to get anything positive for the Wolverines all night.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
There were some nice plays by the U-M wide outs but nothing spectacular. Jeremy Gallon finished with nine catches for 89-yards and broke two Michigan receiving records in the process. Gallon finished the season with 1,373 yards, breaking Braylon Edwards previous record of 1,330 yards set back in 2004. He also became the first U-M receiver with a catch in 39 straight games. Freshman tight end Jake Butt contributed with three catches for 33 yards. But again, there were too many small gains and some glaring drops. Sophomore tight end Devin Funchess bobbled a sure-fire first down on a key third down early in the third quarter, which was a omen of the game to follow. In the end, the unit overall was just too inconsistent with not enough big plays to compete with the KSU offense.
Well it was the same ol' story with the Michigan offensive front. They did provide Morris with plenty of protection but were unable to get any push up the middle in the run game. U-M would finish with 65 yards on just 15 carries, with most coming on a late 40-yard scramble by Morris late in the fourth quarter. With the lack of production in the run game, Michigan became one dimensional and the KSU secondary just sat back and waited for the pass. Senior Taylor Lewan did his part, but it only proves you need more than one player to be a good offensive line. This unit terribly needs the off-season to develop and become a more cohesive unit.
The offense had its moments, but just couldn't get the job done when it mattered. U-M would finish with 261 yards of total offense on the night, and had little-to-no rhythm in the second half after a decent first half showing -- though even then KSU was putting the ball in the end zone early and often, whereas the Wolverines had to settle for two field goals. And when Michigan's defense was able to get some breaks in the second half, the offense was unable to capitalize. When you combine no run game, bad drops, and a freshman quarterback making his first career start, 31-14 sounds about right. A Michigan offense never needed an off-season more than this team.
Final Grade: D