Michigan's running game paves way to 31-10 win over Washington, 2-0 start
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Apparently Michigan players really meant it when they said they wanted the offensive identity to be physical and pounding the ball in the run game.
That was the focus in the season opener and again in a 31-10 win over Washington before 108,345 at Michigan Stadium in a prime-time game Saturday. In what was dubbed a “maize out” at Michigan Stadium, the fans dressed accordingly while the players broke out all-blue alternative uniforms.
But there was nothing alternative about the Wolverines’ style of play. They said they wanted to run the ball, and that’s what they did.
In a game that lost some luster nationally after then-No. 20 Washington was upset by Montana, an FCS team, a week earlier, the Michigan players still looked at this as a statement game after winning convincingly in the opener last week against Western Michigan.
Just as the Wolverines did a week earlier, they relied on the run. And relied on it. And relied on it some more, feeling a little bit like a playbook from the 1980s.
Meanwhile, Michigan’s defense, directed by first-year coordinator Mike Macdonald, pitched a shutout in the first half and held the Huskies to 10 second-half points and 58 rushing yards for the game. Washington was 1 of 3 on fourth down, including late in the game after reaching the UM 44-yard line.
Linebacker Josh Ross led the team with 11 tackles, while Aidan Hutchinson was credited with 2 1/2 sacks. Michigan had 7 1/2 tackles for loss.
Michigan, which gained 335 yards rushing in the season-opening win, had 387 rushing yards on 55 carries against the Huskies, with Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins — Corum last week referred to them as “thunder and lightning” — handling the bulk of the offensive production. Corum had 21 carries for 171 yards and three touchdowns, including the team’s last score, a 4-yard run with 2:28 left, while Haskins had 27 carries for 155 yards and a score. Corum had 231 all-purpose yards.
This was the first game for the Wolverines without captain and leading receiver Ronnie Bell, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last week, and there were plenty of questions all week about who would fill that void. It was difficult to decipher an answer in the game. Quarterback Cade McNamara, who attempted only 11 passes in the first game, was 7 of 15 for 44 yards against the Huskies. He had three passes to three receivers, but the only play of substance was a 33-yard reception by Cornelius Johnson.
Michigan expanded its halftime lead, taking the opening drive of the second half 73 yards in eight plays, all runs, with Corum scoring on a 7-yard run to make it 17-0.
The Huskies finally got on the board with a 28-yard field goal in the third quarter, and Michigan responded with another run-heavy drive. Haskins made it a 24-3 lead after scoring on a 6-yard touchdown run.
Michigan held a 10-0 halftime lead, although it was a sluggish first half offensively for both teams. Michigan gained 195 yards and averaged 5.7 yards per play but didn’t always make those yards count. McNamara completed 4 of 10 for 30 yards.
The Wolverines’ first score, after starting from their 46-yard line, came on a career-long 52-yard field goal by Jake Moody, who had the wind behind him. Michigan reached the Washington 1-yard line on its next series in the first quarter but couldn’t convert and turned the ball over on downs.
Michigan took the 10-0 lead after Michael Barrett ran 3 yards on a fake punt. Corum then took off on a 67-yard touchdown run.
The Wolverines’ defense, the unknown heading into the season with a first-year coordinator, played with an emotion that has been lacking for the last couple years. Michigan held Washington to 126 yards of offense in the first half, including 15 rushing yards. Ross led the team with seven tackles, and the team had five tackles for loss. Hutchinson was been credited with 1 1/2 sacks and Brad Hawkins had a forced fumble, on a play he combined on with Hutchinson late in the half.