ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan completed its second consecutive 10-win season, but did so on a down note, with a 33-32 loss to Florida State in the Orange Bowl in Miami Gardens, Fla.
Land of 10 takes a look at how Michigan (10-3, 7-2 Big Ten Conference) fared this season on offense.
Michigan returned the bulk of its offensive lineup in 2016, including All-America tight end Jake Butt and wide receivers Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson, and four of its five veterans on the offensive line. Michigan also had to name a new quarterback to replace graduate transfer Jake Rudock, who threw for 3,017 yards and 20 touchdowns in his lone season at Michigan, and the Wolverines needed more production from their running backs.
|By the numbers||2016||Big Ten rank||NCAA rank|
|Third down %||43.17%||5th||40th|
|20+ yard plays||71||2nd||T-38th|
|50+ yard plays||5||T-10th||T-96th|
QUARTERBACK GRADE: B-plus
Named the starter a few days prior to Michigan’s season opener on Sept. 3, Wilton Speight emerged as not only a competent quarterback but a consistent quarterback. While Michigan wasn’t lights out when it came to its passing offense, Speight threw for 2,538 yards and 18 touchdowns on 204 of 331 passing. He was intercepted 7 times.
After a 362-yard performance Nov. 5 against Maryland, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh went so far as to deem Speight worthy of Heisman Trophy consideration. While there was some hyperbole, there was no exaggeration of Speight’s production, even as Speight missed a game with a left shoulder injury.
With Speight as the incumbent, Michigan’s next competition will be at backup quarterback, with 2017 backup John O’Korn, Brandon Peters and possibly incoming freshman Dylan McCaffrey.
RUNNING BACKS GRADE: B-plus
Nobody took on the role of “No. 1 running back,” and while Michigan didn’t need one — De’Veon Smith, Chris Evans, Karan Higdon and Ty Isaac combined for 2,302 yards and 25 touchdowns — it would have helped Michigan’s cause if someone had stepped up.
While Michigan’s running game was productive, it had its ups and downs. The Wolverines were second in the Big Ten in rushing offense and ran for more than 200 yards in seven games, but were held to under 170 yards rushing in six.
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS GRADE: A-minus
The chemistry between Speight and his receivers flourished as the season progressed. Amara Darboh, Jake Butt and Jehu Chesson combined for 1,908 yards, and Darboh was Michigan’s top receiver (862 yards, 7 touchdowns). While Butt’s career at Michigan ended with a knee injury in the Orange Bowl that could affect his NFL draft stock, he leaves Michigan with a school career receiving record for tight ends with 1,646 yards.
OFFENSIVE LINE GRADE: B
Michigan’s offensive line was made up primarily of upperclassmen who had been through the rough times on Michigan’s offense — specifically 2014, when the offensive line allowed its quarterbacks to get sacked 36 times.
Michigan’s line of Kyle Kalis, Ben Braden, Mason Cole, Erik Magnuson and Ben Bredeson wasn’t so much overwhelming as it was efficient, opening holes for its running backs and protecting Speight. Michigan had to shuffle its line following a season-ending injury to Grant Newsome in October, and it exposed a lack of depth and lack of experience within what depth it had. Also, in the first half against Florida State in the Orange Bowl, Florida State’s defensive line overwhelmed Michigan’s offensive line with its speed and athleticism.
OVERALL GRADE: B-plus
RELATED: Compare Michigan’s final grades to its midseason grades.