Northwestern-Michigan grades: Wolverines' defense dominant
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from Michigan’s 38-0 victory Saturday over Northwestern:
– The Wildcats were simply overmatched on the offensive line, and Michigan knew it. Their running backs had no holes, and their quarterbacks had no time. The best overall grade for a Northwestern lineman was -2.4 (left guard Geoff Mogus), and they allowed pressure on 17-of-30 dropbacks.
– With the offensive line as big of a mess as it was, it’s not too surprising that quarterback Clayton Thorson (-4.2) couldn’t put much of anything together. Thorson did himself no favors, though, with an accuracy percentage of just 56. The real struggles came when pushing the ball down the field, where he completed only 3-of-10 on passes targeted more than 10 yards past the line of scrimmage.
– There weren’t many bright spots for Northwestern, but Ifeadi Odenigbo’s (+3.4) performance definitely qualifies as one. The junior had been having a quiet year up until this point after finishing his sophomore season as one of the top graded edge rushers in the Big Ten. On Saturday, he compiled a hit and four hurries. That exceeded his pressure total from the previous three games combined.
DE Kemoko Turay (+4.3)
LG Dorian Miller (+3.8)
DE Ifeadi Odenigbo (+3.4)
C Derrick Nelson (+2.5)
LT Keith Lumpkin (+2.4)
– Michigan’s defensive line is the story of this one. The defense, as a whole, gets credit for the shutout, but it was really this superb line doing all the heavy lifting. Just looking at the top performers list below gives you a pretty solid indication of what I’m talking about. Five different linemen graded at +2.5 or above. Mind you, only four defensive lineman see the field at one given time. That’s utter domination. Michigan may very well be the best team at executing stunts in the entire country. The power and speed with which they can attack both sides of a stunt was too much for the Northwestern line to handle, and I only saw a few stunts all day that the Wildcats’ line was even able to pick up.
– If you don’t know cornerback Jourdan Lewis’ (+4.2) name yet, you’ll be familiar soon enough. The 5’10” junior figures to be shooting up draft boards in the near future after another special performance. He allowed five of eight targets for only 21 yards, and had one of the best pick-sixes in college football this year. For the season now he’s yielded 11-34 targets for just 67 yards and is currently our top graded cornerback.
– The offensive line for Michigan continues to have their way late in ball games. It was a good (not great) performance from their front five until the last drive of the game, where Northwestern knew what was coming and just couldn’t stop it. Graham Glasgow (+2.5) was the most effective of a unit that saw all five linemen grade positively.
DT Ryan Glasgow (+7.2)
DT Maurice Hurst (+5.2)
CB Jourdan Lewis (+4.2)
LB Royce Jenkins-Stone (+3.9)
DT Willie Henry (+3.8)