Northwestern QB Kain Colter and RB Venric Mark were certainly an extensive part of the defensive game plan for Michigan heading into Saturday afternoon's Leaders Division battle in Ann Arbor. Still, it didn't take long for the elusive tandem to make their presence felt.
On Northwestern's first drive of the game, Colter put together a drive that struck quickly and easily, going 78 yards in 10 plays that was capped off by a 3 yard touchdown run by Mark.
In the end the Wildcats attacked and exploited the edge to the tune of 431 total yards of offense and 31 points for the game, leaving Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke disappointed in the aftermath of the Wolverines 38-31 overtime win.
"Need to play better on the perimeter of the defense," said Hoke. "Need to get off blocks better."
Northwestern set up several one on one situations for their athletes, with the Wildcats coming out on the winning side of those individual battles more times than not. Whether it be with option plays, something Michigan struggled with in the second game of the year at home against Air Force, or even in broken play situations, the Wolverines missed several tackles and failed to disrupt the flow of the Northwestern offense that finished with 27 first downs.
"We need to do a better job in the seam part of our defense when they were throwing it," said Hoke. "He scrambled at times and we missed a tackle, which we did a couple times on the scramble. Or we didn't force the ball enough as far as when you talk about your lanes and compressing the pocket from the outside to the inside."
Fortunately for Michigan, which gave up a go-ahead Northwestern touchdown to wide receiver Tony Jones with just under four minutes to go in the 4th quarter, all's well that ends well. And Saturday in overtime, the game couldn't have ended in a more exciting way.
After forcing the Wildcats into a 4th and 2 at the Michigan 17, Northwestern stuck with the ground game and senior Kenny Demens burst through the middle of the offensive line to stone Tyris Jones and secure the 38-31 win.
"On the last tackle there, I think, number one I like the call that Greg made because it was one where you may have talked them into running the football because of some of the space inside," said Hoke. "And then Kenny just did a nice job of working inside out to the ball where maybe a little bit earlier we were getting too far ahead of it."
To watch video of Hoke from his post game press conference, press play below.
D struggles, finishes strong (w/ Hoke video)
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