MONDAY HUDDLE: Is Aidan Hutchinson’s slow start a concern for Lions?

Michigan set for showdown against Penn State, while Eastern Michigan is impressive

Detroit Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson (97) celebrates a sack in the first half against the Washington Commanders during an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski) (Rick Osentoski, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Huddle up! Here’s a look back at this weekend on the gridiron, with three key takeaways from the state’s football scene -- and a glimpse at what’s to come next week.

Lions have myriad of issues, but is Aidan Hutchinson one of them?

So, is anyone really that surprised that the Lions went on the road and lost to a third-string rookie quarterback making his first career NFL start? Or that what was the NFL’s best offense going in found a path to getting shut out?

Given the history of the Lions, it shouldn’t be surprising at all.

But something essential to the Lions going forward as a franchise is to make sure rookie defensive end is worthy of being the No. 2 pick in last April’s draft, and thus far the returns haven’t been good.

Other than a three-sack performance in Week 2 against a Washington Commanders offensive line that can’t block anybody, Hutchinson hasn’t had a sack in any of the other four games and has nine solo tackles on the season.

Maybe Hutchinson is still in a learning curve after his first five games, but the stats thus far don’t show the level of impact a No. 2 overall pick should be making.

That, more than anything, will be something for the Lions to monitor the rest of the season.

How concerned should Michigan be about Penn State?

The first of what essentially is a two-game schedule the rest of the year for No. 5 Michigan (the other is in Columbus to end the year obviously) has arrived, with No. 10 and unbeaten Penn State visiting Ann Arbor on Saturday.

The Nittany Lions turned some heads when they earned a blowout win at Auburn earlier in the year, but as it turns out, Auburn really isn’t that good.

But what problems can Penn State present?

One, the Nittany Lions will be the first team Michigan has faced this year than can match the Wolverines in terms of highly-ranked recruits that are on the field.

Second, Penn State has displayed a stout defense that has an athletic, playmaking secondary and a good front seven that will be a test for Michigan’s terrific offensive line and Heisman candidate Blake Corum.

Third, the Nittany Lions have the luxury of a sixth-year quarterback in Sean Clifford and an improved running game, with freshmen running backs Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen already making an impact.

Finally, Penn State had a bye last week, so it had more time to rest and prepare.

The Nittany Lions are by no means invincible and usually don’t play well in Ann Arbor (beside winning there two years ago in front of no fans), but in an awful Big Ten, this is the closest thing Michigan will have to a test until Columbus.

Eastern Michigan gets impressive rivalry win over Western Michigan

The first intra-state matchup in the MAC took place on Saturday, with Eastern Michigan going on the road and earning an impressive 45-23 win at Western Michigan.

It not only was the fourth straight win for Eastern over Western, but it was the largest margin of victory the Eagles have ever had over the Broncos.

About the Author:

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.