Wolverines survive scare in overtime win over Army
Written by Matt Pargoff   

 

For the second week in a row in Michigan’s young season, the Wolverines struggled with first half turnovers. While it ultimately played very little role in the final tally of the opener, that recurrent issue nearly set the stage for a big upset on Saturday while hosting Army. In the end though, it was a forced turnover by Michigan’s defense that sealed a 24-21 double overtime victory.

Stuck in a defensive struggle, both the Wolverines and Black Knights punched in scores in the initial overtime. Michigan then kicked a field goal in the second extra session, claiming victory on a strip sack from Aidan Hutchinson, recovered by Kwity Paye.

“Like I told the team, that’s how you fight,” said head coach Jim Harbaugh. “That’s how you scratch and claw. Both teams did that. I was very impressed with both squads. But our team, the way they hung in there, their courage and resilience, their sharpness of mind; I thought that seemed to be at a higher level this year.”

Michigan outgained Army 340-243, but the struggle to find consistency on offense for the Wolverines raised questions after the game, including U-M’s stretch of 12-straight running plays. While head coach Harbaugh objected to second guessing of play calling after the fact, he explained his thinking decisions to go for it on fourth down in two consecutive possessions in the fourth quarter.

“Our analytics had it that the best thing to do in that situation, fourth and three from that distance was to go for it,” Harbaugh noted. “We didn’t convert. Same with the second one. That was another fourth and two. On fourth and two, the analytics told us to go for it.”

The Wolverines got a big turning point in the game in the second half when it appeared that Army was driving in to take a two-score lead, only to have Lavert Hill step up and make a critical interception. That led to a 78-yard touchdown drive to tie things, ultimately sending things into overtime.

Shea Patterson completed 19-of-29 passes for 207 yards in the game, sharing fewer snaps with Dylan McCaffrey than a week ago. The bigger issue raised continued to be ball security, with the senior quarterback leaving the ball on the turf twice for the second week in a row. Harbaugh attributed the second fumble to a mistake in blitz pickup.

While freshman running back Zach Charbonnet didn’t come out of the game with a great average per carry, he proved that he can be a workhorse player, rushing the ball 33 times for 100 yards and three touchdowns.

The Wolverines head into an early bye week, getting a chance to pour over their flaws and make adjustments from the first two games heading into Big Ten play. Michigan will travel to Wisconsin on Sept. 21, facing off against the Badgers at noon eastern time on Fox.


 
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