Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
The offense isn't pro-stylish.
An average of 39 points per game has Michigan ranked at No. 4 in Big Ten scoring.
But that's an illusion.
To the naked eye, that type of scoring clip would indicate domination—which clearly hasn't been the case for Michigan, as it is lucky to be at 5-1 (1-1).
No, this average reflects similar deficiencies suffered through the painful Rich Rodriguez era, a time of Wolverines football when points were plentiful but defense was not.
Under Mattison, the defense has promise. But it's still a work in progress. For now, wins aren't ironclad guarantees unless Michigan puts up a huge number on the scoreboard.
And that hasn't always been enough, as Saturday's loss to Penn State demonstrated.
The average is "A"-worthy. But other corresponding statistics simply are not.
Let's take a look.
|395.7 (No. 9 in Big Ten)
||222.5 (No. 5 in Big Ten)
||173.2 (No. 9 in Big Ten)
Explanation of the Marks
Getting nearly 400 yards per game is a feat for any offense. That area was given a below-average grade because of potential. The same goes for the rushing production. There is no reason why the Wolverines shouldn't be at or over the 200-yard mark.
What happened to 300-passing-yard games from Gardner?
Without naming names, here is what Michigan has in the backfield: a former 1,000-yard rusher, a kid once compared to 2009 Heisman winner Mark Ingram and one of the top-rated backs of 2013. On top of that, there are a speedster with great hands and another bowling-ball runner.
That's enough to carry the load, but Devin Gardner—the quarterback—has been the team's top rusher. During the loss to Penn State, he rushed for a team-high 121 yards. He rushed for 103 during the 28-24 win over Akron.
Achieving wins has been predicated on Gardner's legs being the difference. He leads Michigan with 577 rushing yards (118 yards lost). That's not going to cut it for Team 134.
Taylor Lewan isn't the entire line, but the All-American left tackle is the steadiest contributor. The senior could have left early for the NFL draft, but he chose to finish his career at Michigan.
Likely to his dismay, his counterparts up-front haven't played up to par. The Wolverines have juggled Graham Glasgow and Jack Miller at the center position.
Kyle Kalis and Chris Bryant make appearances at guard, and Michael Schofield anchors the right tackle spot.
The running game has been a no-show. Gardner has been sacked 10 times.
Grading the offensive line is easy: It gets a "U" for unsatisfactory. All isn't lost yet.
Tale of Two Halves, Two QBs
High-scoring second halves against Minnesota and Penn State should give Wolverines fans a little hope. Michigan scored 28 in the second half during a 42-13 routing of the Gophers and put up 24 against the Nittany Lions during the final two quarters of regulation.
But it still lost the four-overtime thriller 43-40.
Obviously, scoring a ton late in the game gives a team a better chance to win. But sometimes, said team finds itself in a hole. Managing the game from that position doesn't always lead to success.
Gardner, who is either wonderfully on-point or dreadfully inconsistent, seems to make timely plays in the second half. But he's also thrown his share of picks and cost his team field position due to poor decisions.
Michael Spath of TheWolverine.com hasn't fully given up on Gardner:
Does Gardner deserve credit for second-half surges, or should he be ridiculed for not showing up for four quarters?
You be the judge.