Michigan football: What we learned, what to watch for

An official college football sits on a grass field in afternoon sunlight

Three things we learned

–Michigan has a running game — and a running back: Buoyed by big holes, De’Veon Smith showed he has the ability to handle the load with a career-high 23 carries for a career-high 126 yards and a career-high three touchdowns. All in just over three quarters. Maybe it was Oregon State’s defense, but maybe U-M gained confidence.

–The U-M defense doesn’t mind adversity: The Wolverines gave up a game-opening 79-yard touchdown drive and took it personally, storming back with 31/2 dominant quarters, pressuring Oregon State into a quarterback merry-go-round, if only for fresh bodies. Chris Wormley shined again with three tackles for loss and a sack.

–Jim Harbaugh still has the fire: When his players make a mistake, he bites his lip, but when the officials screw up — or he thinks they do, he can blow that top real fast. The official who called Jeremy Clark for roughing the kicker won’t forget that explosion.

Up next for the Wolverines: UNLV

Matchup: UNLV (0-2) at Michigan (1-1).

When: Noon Saturday.

Where: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor.

TV: Big Ten Network.

Line: Off.

Know the foe: UNLV made a bold move to try to turn around its perennially awful football program in hiring 40-year-old Tony Sanchez straight out of Las Vegas’ Bishop Gorman High. His teams there went 85-5 and won six state titles (and a mythical national title last season). Sanchez, only the fourth college coach hired out of high school, got a rude lesson Saturday night, getting thumped at home by No. 13 UCLA, 37-3.

Three things to watch

–Jake Rudock’s turnover tendency: One of the most appealing aspects of Rudock coming from Iowa was the grad transfer’s ball protection. But after throwing only five interceptions last year, he already has four this season and added a fumble Saturday. One game was an aberration. Two is a problem.

–Michigan’s passing game: UNLV won’t be a major test, but the Amara Darboh-and-Jake Butt show vanished in Week 2 and no one really picked up the slack. Obviously the offense shined running the ball, but the few passes deep didn’t click.

–Special teams: Freshman Brian Cole’s speed and athleticism got him close to blocking a few punts Saturday — fingertips away at times, it seemed — and when one of those blocks happen, it’ll be a massive boost for the Wolverines. It may not be necessary against UNLV, but in bigger games it could cover for deficiencies in other areas.

Contact Mark Snyder at msnyder@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter at @mark__snyder. Download our new Wolverines Xtra app on iTunes and Android! ___

This article was written by Mark Snyder from Detroit Free Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.