After all the hype and excitement surrounding the Michigan football program in the off-season, the Wolverines finally had a chance to prove just how much they had improved in season two under head coach Jim Harbaugh. U-M kicked off the 2016 season as they welcomed the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors into the ‘Big House’.
One question that had yet to be answered this Summer was who would take the reigns of the Wolverines offense as Harbaugh decided to go with redshirt sophomore Wilton Speight over senior transfer John O’Korn.
Michigan decided to kick off first and welcome their extremely talented defense out on the field first. As expected the Wolverines picked up where they left off last season, shutting down the Warriors offense and forcing a three and out on the opening drive. The U-M offense would take over and on the first pass of the season, Speight would be picked off by senior defensive back Damien Packer. Although Hawaii was unable to capitalize on the early turnover, but they did pin Michigan down at their own two yard-line with an excellent punt.
With the pressure on deep in his own territory, Speight engineered a fabulous 98-yard drive that was capped off by a 12-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide out Grant Perry for the first score of the season. Later on in the first quarter, the Wolverines QB would find senior All-American tight end Jake Butt for a 19-yard score to make it a 2-touchdown lead.
(THRU 1ST: U-M LEADS 14-0)
The Michigan defense continued to dominate as they forced the Warriors into another three and out and a punt deep in their own territory. With excellent field position at the Hawaii 48-yard line after a nice return by Jabari Peppers, the Wolverines offense went back to work. Not long after did senior halfback Ty Isaac break off a 21-yard run to set up a 5-yard touchdown pass from Speight to senior WR Amara Darboh.
Trailing by three touchdowns, Hawaii needed a spark from their offense to try and claw back into the game. However, it would not be on the ensuing drive as senior QB Ikaika Woolsey would get picked off and taken back to the house for a touchdown by senior safety Delano Hill.
The onslaught continued as U-M added another score to increase their lead to 35-0 in the 1st half. On top of that, the Wolverines defense would not let up as they allowed just 86 total yards to the Warriors including -2 rushing yards. While the Michigan offense had 280 yards as Speight bounced back from an early turnover to throw for 145 yards and 3 touchdowns on 10 for 13 passing.
(HALF: U-M LEADS 35-0)
With the ball to start the second half, the Wolverines picked up where they left off as freshman running back Chris Evans got the hand off up the middle and found just enough space to race 43 yards for his second touchdown of the day.
With the game well out of hand, Hawaii turned to sophomore QB Dru Brown whose first pass was intercepted and returned for another pick six. This time by senior cornerback Channing Stribling for 51 yards.
Following a stop on 4th and 1 by the Michigan defense, O’Korn would get his shot to impress the U-M coaching staff as he entered the game to take command of the offense. The former Houston quarterback managed a 75-yard drive as Michigan fullback Khalid Hill barrelled his way into the endzone for a 4-yard touchdown.
(THRU 3RD: U-M LEADS 56-0)
Following the Hill touchdown, Hawaii received the kickoff determined to avoid a shutout at the hands of the Wolverines. With an interception earlier in the game, Brown led the Warriors offense into Michigan territory to give them a shot at a field goal. Hawaii senior kicker Rigoberto Sanchez connected deep from 55 yards to make it 56-3 in favor of U-M.
On the next Wolverines drive, Harbaugh gave the nod to senior QB Shane Morris who made some nice throws and even showed off his mobility on a 14-yard scramble. Sophomore HB Karan Higdon scored yet another Michigan touchdown as he ran in from 5 yards out for the score.
Overall the Wolverines offense racked up 513 yards, including 307 on the ground. Meanwhile the defense was stifling all game long as they allowed just 232 total yards, with a majority of those coming in the second half.
(FINAL: U-M 63, HAW 3)
- W. Speight: 10/13, 145 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT
- C. Evans: 8 carries, 112 yards, 2 TD
- A. Darboh, J. Butt, G. Perry: Rec TD each
- C. Stribling, D. Hill: INT TD return each