Michigan football avenges red zone woes in the win against Rutgers

The biggest thing that hindered Michigan football wasn’t its scoring offense — Michigan entered the game averaging 41 points — or being able to gain yardage at a high level — the Wolverines went into the game averaging 469 yards. No, what hurt the maize and blue was not being able to score touchdowns when it reached the opponent’s red zone.

Michigan entered Rutgers week scoring 28 touchdowns in 44 red zone attempts. Last week, against Michigan State, the Wolverines stalled twice when they took the ball inside the Spartans’ five-yard line. J.J. McCarthy and Blake Corum told us last week that they would be working on the red zone offense this past week to have a better showing against Rutgers.

The Wolverines did just that.

Michigan took the ball inside the red zone seven times on Saturday night. The Wolverines scored six touchdowns and had to only kick one field goal against the Scarlet Knights inside the 20-yard line.

Corum liked the results from Saturday evening. But Corum thinks the offense can continue to get better and he says they will get back to work figuring out how to make the red zone offense even better.

“Better, better, you know, coming off last week, and when all we did was really kick field goals,” Corum said. “To limit that a little bit. It definitely felt good. But you know, we can get better. We can get better at what we do, we get better on the goal line, you know, and in the red zone. So there’s definitely work to still be put in. But when you know, when you go six for seven, it definitely feels a lot better than the previous week. Yes. That’s all you can ask for. You know, now that’s just going back to the drawing board. And seeing how we can get even more.”

It wasn’t all easy for Michigan though. Twice in the first half, the Wolverines pushed the ball inside the Rutgers five-yard line. And twice it took Michigan all four downs to punch the ball into the end zone. Corum gave credit to the Scarlet Knights’ defense. He said the Wolverines expected it to be tough to punch the ball in but in the end, the maize and blue scored both times against Rutgers.

“I mean, Rutgers had a stout defense,” said Corum. “They knew what they were doing in the red zone and the goal line. So you know, kudos to them. I think they had a stout defense, you know, we didn’t expect nothing else. You know, we knew Rutgers was a good team. But we were able to punch it in. But it took some work.”

Jim Harbaugh gave a bode of confidence to Corum and the offensive line by going for it on two fourth-down attempts. After the game concluded, Corum is now tied with Israel Abanikanda from Pittsburgh with 16 rushing touchdowns.

“It definitely gives a sense of confidence, you know, they believe in you they believe in the O-line,” said Corum. “They believe in — just everyone’s gonna come through and do their job. And so when they stop us three times in a row, and we go for it again, a fourth down, you know, it boosts your confidence. That the coaches really believe in you.”

Jeffrey Persi got the nod at left tackle on Saturday with Ryan Hayes out. Persi was a former four-star recruit in the class of 2020. Persi told the media that the offensive line and Michigan love to run the ball. It was a tip of the cap to going for two fourth downs in the red zone.

“As coach Moore would put it ‘smash’ but I mean, we love to run the ball,” said Persi. “We’re confident in the O-line and everyone around supporting and you know, it’s a full-go mindset. We’re getting the first down and that’s the only thing we’re thinking about.”

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Michigan vs. Rutgers: Players of the game

Blake Corum
Blake Corum

Story originally appeared on Wolverines Wire