Washington went into Saturday night’s game at The Big House intending to stop the run quite particularly. Well, 343 yards and four touchdowns surrendered later, it didn’t exactly work that way.
On the other side of the ball, Washington seemed intent on running until Michigan had the game in-hand, yet, again, the Huskies couldn’t achieve what they set out to achieve.
After the game, UW head coach Jimmy Lake made no excuses about what happened in Ann Arbor.
“We went into this thing trying to run the football and the goal was to stop the run,” Lake said. “We did not get that done and Michigan did.”
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Though the Huskies gave up 13 carries for 72 yards in the first quarter, Lake was pleased with the job his defense was doing. That is, until sophomore running back Blake Corum exploded for a 67-yard score, putting Washington down 10-0 in the second quarter. From there, the wheels started falling off, he says.
“Early on we did a nice job,” Lake said. “They’re a talented team. Early on I think we did a nice job of stopping it. And then they hit that big one. And it only takes one run. It was a 60-plus yard run in the second quarter. And then I think we’ve gotta play as a team. For us not scoring any points whatsoever and for our opponents a reason to throw the football and they can just keep pounding it at us, that’s a good way to win football games. Yeah, it’s team football, we’ve gotta put points up, we’ve gotta make our opponent not be able to just hand the football off and win the football game.”
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Michigan particularly broke Washington’s back in the second half when it ran an eight-play, 73-yard drive, all of which were running plays. Lake says the defense got worn down and from there, there wasn’t much it could do against the Wolverines’ offensive front.
On the other side of the ball, while UW looks like it had a decent game in some respects — the Huskies finished with 293 yards passing, albeit at a 54% clip — the run game could not get going against the new-look Michigan defense under coordinator Mike Macdonald.
The Wolverines managed to hold Washington to just 50 yards on 32 carries — an average of 1.6 yards-per-run.
Lake says that the Huskies had to really go to the well when it came to trying to figure out what Macdonald’s defense would look like, noting that Western Michigan, in what it ran a week beforehand, did his team little favors when it came to revealing what he and UW might have seen on Saturday night.
“Yeah, we had to study a lot of the Baltimore Ravens,” Lake said. “We had to study a lot of their defense to see a lot of what we were gonna see. Western Michigan only lined up in one personnel grouping for most of the game so we only saw structure-wise what they were gonna do in that group — that personnel grouping. So there was still a lot of mystery as to what they were gonna do to our personnel sets we were gonna do. But we had a general idea and they were gonna play sound defense and tackle well and they did a great job of bottling us up and stopping the run and putting pressure on our quarterback.”
Up next for Michigan, it will host another MAC team, this time Northern Illinois (1-1), which won against Georgia Tech in Week 1 but lost to Wyoming, 50-43, in Week 2.