By Emily Van Buskirk / @Emilnem
It was hard to see the reality through all the Jim Harbaugh hype these past few weeks leading up to a highly anticipated game at Utah, but as the dust settles the next day, Michigan fans depart Salt Lake City a dejected people.
Utah defeated the Wolverines 24-17 Thursday night at Rice-Eccles Stadium in front of the largest crowd in Utah history (47,825). There were interceptions, there were defensive touchdowns and, when it was all over, there were questions.
How will quarterback Jake Rudock improve going forward? The Iowa transfer finished 27-for-43 for 279 yards and two touchdowns, which is decent, but the three interceptions were costly.
How will Harbaugh generate more effective offense? Offensively, the struggle was real for the Wolverines. Michigan was held to 355 yards, gaining only 76 on the ground. Eighty of those yards came on Michigan's final drive of the game.
How much will Michigan have to rely on its defense? Defensively, Michigan looked conservative limiting Utah star running back Devontae Booker to just 69 yards in 22 carries (3.1 per carry). Also encouraging was that while Utah quarterback Travis Wilson completed 73 percent of his passes, he only averaged 8.7 yards per completion.
Harbaugh himself had some things to say on where the Wolverines need to improve, specifically citing a lack of “pop.”
Here is Jim Harbaugh's assessment of the game last night. #Utah #Michigan pic.twitter.com/Q0WDK8p5e6
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— Emily Van Buskirk (@Emilnem) September 4, 2015
Michigan fans learned a valuable lesson last night: Where there is smoke, there isn’t always fire. Sometimes there is just smoldering ash waiting to be stoked. Harbaugh has the ability to ignite flames, but it will take time and painstaking patience to turn Michigan back into a power.
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