It was a crazy day of Saturday football at the Big House in Ann Arbor.
The Wolverines welcomed in the Black Knights of Army into a stadium packed with 111,747 people on a very sunny Saturday afternoon. The Wolverines were coming off a win over Middle Tennessee State where senior quarterback Shea Patterson put the ball on the ground twice.
This game would be the same for the beleaguered Patterson where he fumbled twice in the game against the surging Black Knights. Army capitalized on both turnovers scoring two touchdowns. The Wolverines bright spots from the first half came in a surprise fourth down punting opportunity. The Wolverines faked it and threw it to Daxton Hill who ran the ball for 25 yards and a much needed first down.
Freshman running back Zach Charbonnet took it into the endzone in the first quarter for his first score as a Wolverine. Charbonnet was the work horse for the Wolverines Saturday as he ran it 33 times for 100 yards and all three of the Wolverines scores.
Army would take a 14-7 lead into halftime and the Wolverines behind Charbonnet would even it out at 14-14 late in the third quarter.
Army’s plan all game was to run the ball at the Wolverines defense and just slug it out. It worked for the most part until they started to throw it late in the game. Lavert Hill picked off a pass near the endzone stopping a definite touchdown for the Black Knights.
The Black Knights had a chance to finish off the Wolverines with seconds to go as their freshman kicker Cole Talley just did not have enough leg to seal the deal. The score remained deadlocked at 14-14 entering overtime.
The Wolverines won the toss and let the Black Knights take the ball first in overtime. Quarterback Kelvin Hopkins Jr of the Knights scored a touchdown putting them up 21-14 with the extra point.
The Charbonnet show continued as he scored his third touchdown of the day tying the game once again.
The Wolverines went on offense first in the second overtime with Patterson throwing three incomplete passes, two of them too high and the third not far enough for his speedy, tall receivers. Jake Moody made the field goal putting them up 24-21.
Army then got their chance and could not convert first down while losing a yard. On second down they tried to throw it and Hopkins Jr. was sacked – the ball stripped and the Wolverines recovered it for the win.
The Wolverines won the game and are now 2-0 going into the bye week. The shining stars for the Wolverines were Charbonnet with his 100-yard, three touchdown day. Khaleke Hudson who had 12 total tackles and Jordan Glasgow who added 11 tackles. Aiden Hutchinson had another monster day as he had 10 total tackles, combined on a sack and forced the game winning fumble. Hutchinson was all over the field and you heard his name all game long.
The Black Knights had 200 yards on the ground primarily behind Connor Slomka’s 92 yards on 29 rushes. Hopkins added 41 yards on the ground and had two touchdowns. Elijah Riley led the Black Knight defense with 13 total tackles, two sacks for 17 yards lost and forced a fumble.
Almost every Wolverine fan, “football expert” and even the Vegas betting line thought the Wolverines would just roll over the Army team by 23 points. This was a slugging match between two great teams and it was fitting it came down to double overtime to settle this game.
The Wolverine offense has a real problem with fumbling (5 times in two games), and with continuity because they do not seem to be gelling yet. They could not convert on two 4th downs, adding proof they need to fix their offensive approach. Patterson has to hold onto the ball as he has fumbled four times in two games. He has got to be on the hotseat with Dylon McCaffrey nipping at his heals.
The defense needs to find better ways of putting pressure on the opposing quarterback at the start of the game or they may suffer defeat against Wisconsin in two weeks. Wisconsin has outscored teams 110-0 in its first two games.
The helicopter flew over the stadium before the game and the two teams sung each other’s fight songs after the game. It showed the class of these two historic programs.
As a season ticket holder, I go with my wife to every game, and the booing from fans is getting louder and more prominent. The play calling has been spotty at best. Especially running the ball straight up the middle. We need to clean it up now or the cries for McCaffery will grow louder and Patterson will lose his job.
The bye week is here. Fans need to relax, the Wolverines are 2-0. The team needs to fix their issues and come out stronger and more composed against Wisconsin on September 21st. They travel to Madison, Wisconsin to take on the red-hot Badgers. If you think the Badgers are not looking for retribution for last year – you are kidding yourself.
My suggestion: have Patterson carry around a football for the next two weeks and lets all be happy football season is here and we are still undefeated.