Story by Josh Newkirk
“I was pleased with the way our team played," said Harbaugh. "They did what we asked them to do, and that was take care of business. (We) started fast. That was a key for us i the game. We wanted to improve in that area. We got our hands on the ball defensively. Our secondary players were breaking up the football... intercepting the football, and that happened on the first possession. UNLV put us in good field position. Our offense took the ball down, drove, and put a touchdown on the board (with) the pass from Jake Rudock to De'Veon Smith."
USC transfer Ty Isaac, however, stole the show, rushing for 114 yard on just eight carries. The former Trojan scored the first touchdown of his Michigan career on a electrifying 76 yard run. Isaac, who sat out 2014 due to the NCAA transfer rule, ran left, let his hole develop, made a swift cut, and then burst down U-M’s sideline outrunning UNLV’s defense.
"That was a fantastic run by Ty Isaac," said Harbaugh. "We didn't block it right. It was not blocked the way we drew it up. We missed a block... I thought it was going to be a tackle for loss. Ty did a real good job. Somehow he swerved, he avoided, he make a tackler miss, bounced off another, and the was off to the races. It was the darnedest thing I've seen in a long long time."
“Within the design of the play, you have to pace yourself.” Isaac said.
"That's one of those plays you can't really run too fast (or) you're going to outrun your blocks. So I just had to take my time, let the blocks develop, and set them up.
U-M (2-1) used its balanced attack on its opening drive, going 32 yards in seven plays with 16 yards coming on the ground and through the air respectively. The drive ended with Jake Rudock connecting with De'Veon Smith for 5-yard touchdown pass to put the Wolverines up 7-0 early.
Rudock finished with 14-of-22, for 123 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He now has five interceptions through his first three games.
“His job is to win football games,” Harbaugh said highlighting the bottom line.
The inconsistency through the air was rendered moot thanks to the aforementioned success on the ground and a stifling defensive effort the held UNLV (0-3) to 235 total yards, while forcing two turnovers.
Decker would finish 8-of-16 for 96 yards with one TD and two interceptions.
Late in the third quarter, Jeremy Clark intercepted another Decker pass, going up at the highest point, shielding his opponent coming down with his second interception of 2015.
Decker found Devonte Boyd for a 53 yard pass-catch combo to U-M’s five midway through the fourth quarter, then connected again two plays later for a six yard TD for the Rebels lone score.
“I think the big plays on us... just a lack of focus,” Ryan Glasgow said afterward.
Harbaugh was a little less critical.
“They wanted the shutout... they played really well,” Harbaugh said of his defense. “UNLV had a vote in (whether the shutout occurred or not).”
When thee curtain fell on the game Michigan had rushed for 254 yards, topping the 200 yard mark for the second consecutive week.
Sione Houma scored Michigan’s third rushing TD on a fullback dive with 11:31 left in the fourth quarter, his first TD of his U-M career, capping off a nine play 59 yard rive for the Wolverines.
Michigan out gained UNLV 233-93 in total yardage in the first half. The home team also ran for season high in the first half, totaling 171 yards on the ground. Isaac led the Wolverines before intermission with 84 yards and a touchdown on just three carries.
Michigan (2-1) next plays host to Brigham Young (1-1) next Saturday at noon ET.
Fifth-year senior fullback Joe Kerridge went down with apparent leg injury late third quarter. However, it was later ruled an ankle injury, and sat out the rest of the contest.
Rudock, who has six turnovers through U-M’s first three games, threw his fifth interception on tipped ball, as Rebels’ DB Fred Wilson came down with the catch early in the second quarter.