Michigan 20, Indiana 10 Comment Count

Ace November 19th, 2016 at 7:48 PM

De'Veon Smith's diving touchdown put Michigan up for good. [Eric Upchurch]

For 40 minutes, Senior Day at Michigan Stadium couldn't have gone much worse. The offense had nothing going with John O'Korn, who looked hesitant and flustered in Wilton Speight's stead. Indiana led 10-6 and looked poised to upset Michigan for the first time since 1987.

O'Korn had thrown for all of 46 yards when he dropped back on third-and-eight from the Michigan 36 with five minutes left in the third quarter. Indiana got instant pressure and O'Korn broke the pocket, jetting down the sideline for 30 yards, Michigan's longest play from scrimmage to that point.

"The opportunity presented itself. I thought I was going to score," O'Korn said, cracking a smile. "Then I got tackled from behind."

De'Veon Smith would not be denied in such fashion. He broke through the line, fended off a tackler, and scraped the ball along the top of the pylon for a spectacular 34-yard diving touchdown.

Following a short Indiana punt against the wind two drives later, Smith burst untouched into the secondary, and tiptoed down the sideline past a dominating block from Kekoa Crawford for a 39-yard score.

"Grinding out first downs. Grinding meat. De'Veon," said Jim Harbaugh, succinctly describing Smith. "It felt like old-fashioned, slobber-knocker football."

Smith accounted for over half of Michigan's total yardage with a career-high 158 yards on 23 carries. As Michigan Stadium turned into a Winter Wonderland in the fourth quarter, his punishing runs salted the game away on a 15-play, 51-yard drive that took nearly nine minutes off the clock and left Indiana with no shot at a comeback.

Michigan Stadium as snow globe. [Bryan Fuller]

While Michigan's offense scuffled early, the defense and special teams kept the Wolverines close enough for the eventual comeback. The defensive front, led by seniors Taco Charlton and Ryan Glasgow, ran rampant in the Hoosier backfield; those two accounted for 5.5 of Michigan's 12 tackles for loss. Ben Gedeon and Mike McCray both had excellent games, and the secondary shut down the passing game, holding the Hoosiers to 6.4 yards per attempt.

While Jabrill Peppers couldn't get much going in his few snaps on offense, he made his presence felt in the other two phases. He repeatedly gave Michigan great field position by fielding IU's line-drive punts, and a pad-popping stop on Richard Lagow in the backfield for one of his two TFLs helped hold the Hoosiers to a field goal on what would be their only scoring drive of the second half.

Special teams played a big part in this victory beyond Peppers's returns. Kenny Allen used the elements to his advantage, pinning Indiana inside their 20-yard line on four of his six punts, and he calmly connected on both of his field-goal attempts. When Peppers wasn't fielding punts, Michigan was blocking them; Michael Jocz and Khaleke Hudson got their hands on a punt apiece to help swing the momentum in Michigan's favor.

That proved enough for Michigan to avoid an upset. A much larger test looms next week in Columbus, of course, with the stakes about as high as they could be. It's yet to be seen if Michigan will have their starting quarterback on the field for the program's most important game since 2006.

"We'll see," Harbaugh said regarding Speight's status this week. "He's day-to-day."



November 19th, 2016 at 7:57 PM ^

Quarterback Whisperer is the most important position right now. Don't know how much of Speight's lousy performance last week was due to injury vs. mental game, but it's clear O'Korn is easily rattled and struggling with confidence/patience. We have an amazing D that allowed us to beat IU, but we'll need some semblance of a passing game next week. 


November 19th, 2016 at 10:45 PM ^

the first half I thought the QB issue was mostly poor protection from the OL.  It looked like he got immediate pressure on what seemed like most of his throws. 

He got sacked on one play because he held up on the throw when the receiver fell down.  I would like to see it again to verify, but it appeared that he was breaking open had he not tripped over the IU defender.


November 19th, 2016 at 7:59 PM ^

SMITH IS A BEAST. Thank you for saving our season in the moment of adversity. PLUS a big shoutout for the OL for your effort on SENIOR NIGHT !!!


November 19th, 2016 at 8:01 PM ^

You have to try Speight next week. Shoot him up, wrap it up, at least give him a go. If it's too painful or he is not effective so be it then pull him, but from what I saw from O'Korn today you have to at least give Speight a series or two. 

I know the conditions were tough, but I didn't see one high level throw today from O'Korn. You can't be that one dimensional and go into the Shoe and win. Obviously its football anything can happen, but for a realistic shot next week you need whatever Speight can give you. 


November 19th, 2016 at 8:20 PM ^

he will not play.  This is why Harbaugh is making the calls and your stuck on a message board. You don't just "throw" a qb in to play the best defense in the country if he isn't 95% or better.  I agree O'korn looked like a disgrace but at this point Morris might even be the better option if Wilton can't go.


November 19th, 2016 at 10:19 PM ^

Yeah, but we don't see practice. So how are we to know how the shoulder is holding up?

We thought O'Korn was better than Speight, or at least very close to being as good. And we thought Smith wasn't any good. And we thought Mone was better than Glasgow. And we thought Bush was better than McCray. It's practice's fault that it doesn't match up with our fantasies.


November 19th, 2016 at 8:41 PM ^

That is just a beyond stupid take. Players play at less than 100% all the time, many times much less than 100%. I'll take Speight at 75% over O'Korn all day. It's his non throwing shoulder, and Ohio State is absolutely not the best defense in the country. This the the B1G title and a spot in the playoff on the line, you give him a chance to play if its even a possibility. 


November 19th, 2016 at 9:09 PM ^

uhhhhhh okay, It's only the biggest game this program has played in 10 years. I'm going to try to win it with our hands down best QB if there's any chance at all he can play. 


November 19th, 2016 at 9:28 PM ^

This is not Street Fighter, where 75% is a predictable drain on the life bar. This is a very painful shoulder. It's not his throwing shoulder, thankfully, but it's not like there's an incremental level of pain increase that incrementally harms performance. 

If his shoulder is in enough pain, he cannot properly wind up or follow through. He cannot properly rotate his body. It affects his whole motion. He may also be unable to take a hit (and he will get hit, hard). He may be unable to hand off with his left hand. Even gripping the ball when it is snapped could be a problem.

If he can't go, he can't go. If he can, it's because he can function. You can't just put an imaginary percentage on it and figure that he can live with it. It doesn't work that way.


November 19th, 2016 at 11:01 PM ^

I think many assume it's just him being able to handle contact to the non-throwing shoulder. There is so much more to it. I think anybody that hurt even just the off-arm shoulder would agree; it affects ALL  movement of the body. Myself, I realized very quickly that start and stop movements are severely impacted.

I also think a big part of Speights game is his subtle shifts to avoid rushers. The injury will impact that.

That being said, everybody's different and some just handle pain well. I'm hoping Speight is that guy.


November 20th, 2016 at 2:13 AM ^

I would advise anyone wondering just to imagine throwing the ball. You will notice, if you are right handed, your left arm goes up involuntarily while preparing to throw the ball. Yes, the left shoulder is, indeed, a very important part of the throwing motion,  and if shoulder is not 100% it will cause pain and the adrenalin pouring through the body due to live action, will not off set it.