Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, September 23, 2017
Michigan?s defense sent a loud message on Saturday at Purdue.
The unit, rebuilt with 10 new starters, smothered the Boilermakers in a dominating 28-10 victory. The defense limited Purdue to a scant 189 yards, squashing any notion the Boilers had of upsetting the No. 8 team in the nation.
The Wolverines trailed, 10-7, at halftime. But it sat on Purdue in the second half, outscoring the Boilers, 21-0. Michigan allowed only 14 yards in the fourth quarter. Impressive.
Aside from one touchdown drive in the second quarter engineered by Elijah Sindelar, the Purdue offense did squat all day vs. coordinator Don Brown's defense. Check this out: The Boilers were 0-for-12 on third downs. Forget about running the ball. Purdue basically ditched any plan to do that early on and finished with 30 yards on 20 carries. With no run game, the Boilers tried to sling their way to victory. But Michigan would have none of that.
Michigan had a similar strangle hold on the Boilermaker passing game, as Purdue?s signal-callers combined to hit 13-of-30 passes for 159 yards. Starter David Blough (5-of-13 for 32 yards) wasn?t any more effective than Sindelar. Heck, it wouldn?t have mattered if Drew Brees or Kyle Orton were quarterbacking Purdue. The Michigan defense was too good led by linebacker Devin Bush and bullish line paced by Mo Hurst.
Time and again, the Wolverines were in the face of the Purdue quarterbacks, who had myriad hurried throws. And when they got a pass off, the window to hit was small.
This, people, was complete domination.
No shame for Purdue. The fact many felt the Boilermakers even had a shot to win this game is amazing, when you consider the gloom and doom predictions in the offseason for the program in Year One under Jeff Brohm. Better days are ahead for Purdue. They just aren?t ready to trade punches with a program like Michigan.
Michigan? Maybe it can be a real factor in the rugged Big Ten East, a division most feel will be won by Ohio State or Penn State. But don't discount the Wolverines, who are looking for the first Big Ten title since 2004. Anytime a team plays defense like this, it?s gonna be in games.
The Wolverines' hopes to crash the party in the Big Ten East figure to come down to their offense. But it showed some life today, especially after John O?Korn came on for an injured Wilton Speight in the first quarter. The Houston transfer hit 18-of-26 passes for 270 yards with a touchdown and interception.
O?Korn found wide-open Wolverines all day. Tight end Sean McKeon had five grabs for 82 yards. Tight end Zach Gentry had three for 48 and a TD. Wideout Grant Perry had three for 39. And on it went all day under the hot mid-north Indiana sun as 10 different players caught passes. Toss in a ground game that showed life behind Chris Evans' 97 yards rushing on 14 carries with two TDs, and the Michigan attack showed potential
It also was good to see the Wolverines' red-zone offense show life. Entering the game, Michigan was 1-of-10 in the red zone. But it clicked today.
Michigan is off next week. Then, Michigan State comes to Ann Arbor on Oct. 7 followed by a trip Indiana. Then, the Wolverines travel to Penn State on Oct. 21 in what looks like a huge game.
It?s going to be fun to watch this Michigan team develop. The defense is legit. Can the offense keep developing?