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Although Saturday's victory was closer than many expected, Michigan was still able to grab a 36-14 win over Cincinnati this afternoon.
The defense did its part — specifically when it returned two interceptions for touchdowns — but the offense struggled all day.
Redshirt junior quarterback Wilton Speight was never able to get in any sort of rhythm, and missed several open receivers throughout the game.
Fifth-year senior running back Ty Isaac was a bright spot, rushing for 133 yards on 20 carries. Isaac seems to have separated himself from the other running backs, as the coaches clearly wanted him to be 'the guy' today.
Find out what others are saying about Isaac, Speight and much more in this edition of What They're Saying:
"Michigan fans showed up for a blowout, but the Wolverines absorbed a host of body blows before subduing Cincinnati, 36-14.
"Fumbles, special teams errors and assorted other Michigan miscues let the Bearcats hang around after nearly wiping out a 14-0 U-M start. In the end, the Wolverines (2-0) righted the ship against former Ohio State coach Luke Fickell’s team, returning two interceptions for touchdowns and posting a special teams safety.
"It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t always pretty, but the bottom line remained unscathed.
"'There was a lot of good,' head coach Jim Harbaugh observed. 'There was a lot of good, and there were times when the screen was going a little fuzzy, not doing our assignments.
"'We’ll just keep going. Wins are tough to come by, and we’re happy to have this one.'
"They had to be happy, after Cincinnati rallied back to within three less than four minutes into the second half. But Michigan’s defense pitched a shutout from there, and the Wolverines scored 19 second-half points to put the Bearcats away."
"Michigan’s run game wasn’t overly consistent Saturday, but neither was its play-calling. Even after Michigan went up 24-14 and took some control back in the second half, you’d have thought the Wolverines would’ve gotten the ground game going a bit.
"But Michigan opted to stick with the passing game and still spun its wheels.
"Isaac – who earned a start – had another nice day with his vision and feet (133 yards on 20 carries). Though the offensive line might not have progressed as much as it was hoping for from Week 1 to Week 2.
"Again, no one — coaches included — looked to be on the same page when it came to Michigan's offense."
"Defense as the Closer
"Ideally, the offense would be able to put up more points and be able to drive a stake in the heart of the opponent late in games, but they have not been able to do that.
"However, the defense has.
"In the last two games, Michigan has scored defensive touchdowns late to seal the victory. Saturday’s game saw sophomore Lavert Hill close it out with a pick-six in the fourth quarter, the team’s second of the game.
"There were some big plays given up here and there, but nobody can expect perfection on every single snap, despite the fact that is what is being strived for.
"The defense was almost every bit as stifling and frightening as it was during the win over Florida, and we also got a glimpse at what happens when Rashan Gary is pissed off. After a roughing the passer penalty that was originally called with targeting, Gary was relentless in a pass rush that buried Cincinnati quarterback Hayden Moore into the Big House turf.
"Don Brown’s unit is going to have to continue to lead the charge while the offense figures out their issues."
"1. Sloppy play
"Michigan entered the game favored by 34 points and got off to a quick start, scoring a touchdown on its first possession and getting a pick-six later in the first quarter for an early 14-0 lead. Not much went well from there until late in the third quarter. The Wolverines' offense couldn't find a rhythm and had several mishaps (more on that later).
"There were mistakes on special teams, most notably a fumble on a punt return that resulted in a Cincinnati touchdown in the first quarter. Sophomore punter Will Hart also had two punts of 21 yards, setting up Cincinnati with good field position.
"The Bearcats, coming off a sloppy win of their own against a FCS Austin Peay team that has lost 28 straight games, had two possessions in the third quarter with a chance to tie, despite having just 206 yards of offense on 56 plays through the first 45 minutes.
"Luckily, Michigan's defense continued to wear down Cincinnati and took over in the fourth quarter."
"Michigan's defense didn't appear to be as dominant as it was against the Gators, but did limit the Bearcats to an average of 2.3 yards per carry, forcing them to throw a lot more than Moore appeared to be capable of doing successfully. Isaac started a week after backing up Chris Evans and took advantage, following up his 114-yard performance with another impressive game.
"'He keeps ascending,' Harbaugh said.
"Isaac pushed Evans to the sideline for much of the afternoon as Karan Higdon was the team's primary backup at running back."
"Michigan’s defense accounted for two touchdowns, with Tyree Kinnel and Lavert Hill each recording a pick-six. Wilton Speight had a nice day in the box score with 221 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns, but there is still some passes that were off the mark and could use some polish. Ty Isaac led all players with 133 rushing yards, with 53 coming on one run. Of the 192 rushing yards Michigan compiled as a team, 97 of those yards came on two separate runs. The Wolverines converted just five of 15 third-down conversion attempts, and Michigan was flagged for seven penalties.
"But defensively, the Wolverines have not skipped a beat this season. Through two games, the Wolverines have showed some of the best defense in the nation, thus putting to rest any concerns about the roster turnover from a year ago. That defense will see better tests coming their way though, as neither Florida or Cincinnati was expected to do much on offense against Michigan in the first two weeks. Air Force will present a different offensive style, but Michigan should have the depth to preview once again even if the offense is not clicking as desired."
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