Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh praises QB Shea Patterson in 42-7 win over Rutgers, Nov. 10, 2018.
Nick Baumgardner, Freep
Free Press sports writer Nick Baumgardner looks at which Michigan football players/position groups who helped and hurt their stock in Saturday’s 42-7 win at Rutgers:
QB Shea Patterson
Patterson was outstanding Saturday afternoon, despite a rather serious wind. He went 18 of 27 for 260 yards and three touchdowns and looked to be in complete control. Rutgers stacked up against the run, so Patterson took whatever he wanted with the pass. U-M’s quarterback now has a season rating of 160.3. If the season ended today, that’d be No. 6 on Michigan’s all-time single-season list, just ahead of Drew Henson’s 2000 season. Patterson now has 17 touchdowns against just three interceptions. He also made it through the game without suffering a serious hit. Another plus for the Wolverines.
More on Patterson: Windsor: Patterson’s skills on the run is reason to get excited
WR Donovan Peoples-Jones
Peoples-Jones finished with five receptions for 83 yards on Saturday, including two big plays on third down. For the year, the sophomore from Detroit has 30 receptions for 447 yards and seven touchdowns. Every piece of his game has improved this season – his route running, blocking, hands and confidence. He is Michigan’s most complete receiver and his presence helps everyone around him. Peoples-Jones has shown terrific growth all year long.
More on U-M: Bo Schembechler would be proud of this team
WR Nico Collins
Collins, like Peoples-Jones, is a completely different player this year. He is using his body better, catching the ball in traffic and understanding how to become a big-play threat. Collins had three catches for 56 yards, including a wide open 36-yard touchdown catch. His 10-yard grab in the second half came off a great throw, but Collins also beat his man to the spot. Collins is now averaging 16.5 yards per reception this season, No. 1 on the team.
Michigan did get gashed on an 80-yard touchdown run from Isaih Pacheco, a play that featured a few blown assignments on the Wolverines’ part. U-M, for the most part, did its job in this one. But Rutgers finished the day with 193 yards on 33 carries. That’ll be too much for Don Brown and just enough for the Wolverines to push harder to correct errors heading into the final two games of the season.
Time will tell how serious any of this is long-term. But cornerback Lavert Hill was being evaluated for a concussion, safety Josh Metellus sat out with a “soft tissue” injury, defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon missed the trip due to an illness and defensive end Kwity Paye left the game with an apparent arm injury. U-M has a lot of defensive depth, but it needs all four of these players moving forward.
The kickoff team did nearly get burned on a big play in the first half that came back on a Rutgers penalty. The penalty, of course, played a part in the return but Michigan also lost control of its lanes and nearly gave up a big one.
Contact Nick Baumgardner: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.