Thursday, September 12, 2019 - 7:27pm
Junior center Caesar Ruiz is among the offensive linemen who committed avoidable penalties against Army.

As Cesar Ruiz assessed the state of Michigan’s offensive line earlier this week, he was careful not to label any struggles as “growing pains.” The implication accompanying that term is that the Wolverines’ inconsistency on the offensive line is a result of Josh Gattis’ new offense. The junior center knows that isn’t the case.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019 - 8:01pm
Fully healthy for the first time in two years, Tarik Black already has 104 yards this season.

Black stands at the center of the Wolverines’ offensive dichotomy. When Michigan’s offense was at its best in its 27-point first half against MTSU, he was its standout performer, notching 80 yards before halftime. Late in the second quarter, he missed a drive with cramps — a product of not having a full workload in two year. Since then, he has just 24 yards on three catches.

Sunday, September 8, 2019 - 6:46pm
Freshman running back Zach Charbonnet saw an expanded role on Saturday.

Michigan’s running game wasn’t supposed to look this way.

All offseason, coaches posited that it would be a three-headed committee. When running backs coach Jay Harbaugh spoke to the media three days before the start of the season, he listed five names in consideration for touches.

And for one week, reality bore that out. Then Saturday afternoon arrived. The final carry split: Zach Charbonnet, 33; Christian Turner, 3; Ben VanSumeren, 1.

Saturday, September 7, 2019 - 4:56pm
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Tarik Black laid on the 15-yard line, face buried in the turf as Shea Patterson’s pass attempt hit the sideline beyond him.

If Army’s final drive of overtime had gone a little differently — ending with the Black Knights streaming into the south end zone rather than the Wolverines into the north one — it would have been the perfect summation of Saturday afternoon.

Thursday, September 5, 2019 - 6:48pm
Michigan's defensive line must stay disciplined in its rush lanes against Army's triple-option offense.

Brian Smith remembers the first time he saw Army on the schedule. The reaction, naturally, was dread. Now the defensive coordinator at Rice, which lost 14-7 to the Black Knights last week, that’s what happens when he thinks about preparing his defense to face the triple option.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019 - 9:16pm
Defensive ends Aidan Hutchinson and Josh Uche are a vital part of Michigan's new four-defensive end NASCAR package.

Saturday night against Middle Tennessee State, Don Brown introduced his latest innovation: NASCAR packages — looks with four defensive ends, bringing speed to the defense.
Michigan’s strength at defensive end lies in its depth. Sophomore Aidan Hutchinson and junior Kwity Paye are the starters, but Uche — typically a linebacker — can slot in as an edge rusher. Behind them, senior Michael Danna, a transfer from Central Michigan, brings a skillset that produced the nation’s second-highest success rate on pass rushes in 2018.

Monday, September 2, 2019 - 10:26pm
Redshirt freshman left tackle Ryan Hayes’ strong showing against Middle Tennessee adds questions surrounding the starting offensive line.

Eight seconds into the first game of his college career, Ryan Hayes faced his first test.

Khalil Brooks, Middle Tennessee State’s star linebacker, was barreling into the backfield, straight toward Shea Patterson’s blindside. Looking off a head fake from defensive end Malik Manciel, the left tackle dropped back, stared down the charging Brooks and nearly discarded him to the turf, allowing Patterson to escape the pocket.

Sixty minutes later, Hayes was Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh’s offensive player of the game.

Saturday, August 31, 2019 - 9:57pm
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The dominant, make-you-read-it-twice scoreline No. 7 Michigan (1-0) might have been hoping for against MTSU (0-1) never came — two turnovers in its own half and inconsistency on the offensive line made sure of that. But the diversity of Gattis’ offense shown through plenty in the Wolverines’ five-touchdown day.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019 - 4:26pm
Senior Tru Wilson will be a part of the mix at running back for Michigan.

It’s the inescapable — if understandable — question surrounding Michigan’s run game. Charbonnet carries the sexiness of an unknown and the promise of a four-star, top-50 recruit.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019 - 2:42am
Sophomore wideout Ronnie Bell has impressed in fall camp.

In these settings, Harbaugh prefers to be a man of few words, complimenting the player he’s been asked about and moving on to the next question. Parsing meaning can be fruitless — it’s rarely an endorsement or indictment. This time, he followed up with something far more telling: unprompted praise of sophomore receiver Ronnie Bell.