Grading Michigan’s 51-14 win against UCF: Special teams, passing game score high marks
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — For the second consecutive week, Michigan won a one-sided affair against a mid-major opponent, this time crushing Central Florida 51-14.
The Wolverines developed consistency in the passing game, and capitalized on special teams, as defensive lineman Chris Wormley blocked a pair of field-goal attempts in the first half.
Here are grades for No. 5 Michigan (2-0) following its win over the American Athletic Conference’s Knights:
Offense (4 stars)
Michigan’s run game was shut down, but the passing game was prepared for this. Quarterback Wilton Speight threw for a career-best 312 yards, and more than 85 percent of those yards went to wide receivers Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson and tight end Jake Butt. Yet a week after finishing with 306 rushing yards against Hawaii, Michigan ran for only 119 yards on 41 carries, and needs to find a better balance between the run and the pass in preparation for Colorado and, effectively, for the Big Ten schedule, which begins Sept. 24 against Penn State.
Defense (4 stars)
Chase Winovich made five tackles and had one sack in his first start at defensive end. Rashan Gary had six tackles and combined with Ben Gedeon for his first collegiate sack, a resounding hit on UCF quarterback Justin Holman in the first half. Winovich, Gary and Wormley (6 tackles, sack), set the pace for the defensive line. Michigan’s secondary was all but untested, even with the absence of Jourdan Lewis (muscle strain), and gave up just 56 yards. UCF, however, capitalized on the run, finishing with 275 yards on 46 carries, including Adrian Killins’ 87-yard touchdown run.
Special teams (5 stars)
Michigan’s special teams forced UCF to make mistakes. When it didn’t do that, it made sure to be opportunistic on special teams. Tyree Kinnel got a hand on UCF’s first punt, the first of his two special-teams blocks Saturday, and the deflection helped give Michigan good field position on its first offensive series. Then, Wormley blocked a pair of field goal attempts by Matthew Wright, and Jabrill Peppers finished with two punt returns for 46 yards, including a 35-yard return that set up Michigan’s fourth touchdown.
Coaching (4.5 stars)
Never mind his 1997 advocacy for Nebraska to earn a share of the national title. Never mind the fact he groomed Marcus Mariota into a Heisman Trophy winner at Oregon. UCF’s Scott Frost was simply overmatched in a matchup that was finalized three years ago. Michigan took a 21-0 lead into the second quarter, a combination of precision passing — something that came out of necessity, because the Knights keyed on stopping the run — and capitalizing on special teams play.
Overall (4.5 stars)
Michigan continued its domination in nonconference games, and needs to sustain that momentum against Colorado on Saturday. Michigan also needs more production from its running backs — no back had more than 38 yards against UCF. Colorado has averaged 587.5 yards of offense in its first two games, including 578 (318 passing and 260 rushing) in a 44-7 win over Colorado State on Saturday.