By JACK VANASSCHE, Editor-in-Chief
For the second straight week, the University of Michigan struggled to find a rhythm offensively, stalling in the red zone multiple times and settling for one offensive touchdown in a 29-13 win over Air Force.
Redshirt freshman Quinn Nordin was forced to attempt five field goals in the contest and tied a school record by making all of them. True freshman Donovan Peoples-Jones scored his first collegiate touchdown on a 79-yard punt return in the third quarter.
Peoples-Jones’ touchdown return early in the third quarter marked the first point in the game in which the No. 7 Wolverines (3-0) led by more than a field goal.
Struggles in the red zone continued for the Wolverines, frustrating both players and fans.
In the defining play of the young offenses’ struggles this season, Speight handed off an option play to running back Ty Isaac on third down. Isaac was met with a fleet of Falcons and was dropped for a loss.
As Nordin jogged onto the field for the field goal attempt, Speight tossed his arms up to the sideline in frustration. The Big House booed.
“I should probably keep that in,” Speight said. “Obviously, the frustration built up. They fooled us. We thought we had the look we wanted and as soon as I went down to focus on the snap, they brought the house.”
Speight said the Falcons (1-1) were exceptional at disguising its defensive plans on the field on Saturday, which he said led to the difficulty the Michigan offense had breaking through with a big play.
Coach Jim Harbaugh admitted that his team’s struggles were a result of Air Force’s play calling.
“They definitely called the better play on some of our red zone throws and runs,” he said. Harbaugh came short of saying his team has a serious problem offensively, noting that a young team at 3-0 is exactly what he was hoping for.
But Michigan has struggled to finish drives in the young season. In the Wolverines’ 10 drives that led inside the opposing team’s 20-yard line this season, they have only found the end zone once.
Michigan’s defense has offered support so far this season, putting up another strong performance against Air Force on Saturday.
Devin Bush, who led the Wolverines with 11 tackles on Saturday, said the Falcon’s triple option offense was “annoying.”
Regardless, Bush and captain Mike McCray recorded 11 tackles to help keep the Falcons rushing attack in check.
Despite giving up a 64-yard touchdown pass to Ronald Cleveland, the Wolverines kept dual-threat quarterback Arion Worthman to just 2.3 yards per carry. Worthman’s only completed pass on seven attempts was the touchdown pass to Cleveland.
Defensive lineman Chase Winovich said the defense is just one aspect of a potentially special team.
“It’s there,” he said. “We’re not perfect, either. Everyone has got to do their job. It’s the little details. We’re so close to being such a great team.”
The Wolverines will see Purdue on the road on Saturday as Big Ten play begins.