and... i like them? I think I like them.
Week Two: Miami (OH) 6, UM 16.
The Good: The Offensive playcalling. The Defensive Line continued to be impressive. The LB play was much improved, but can still get better. The first and second year players (FR, rFR, SO), from a talent/potential standpoint (LBs Ezeh and Mouton, DT Martin, DE RVB, KR BooBoo, RBs McGuffie and Shaw, WR Odoms and Hemingway). Barwis - The team, especially the D gets stronger as the game goes on. Best players: DL (young guys too), "Sam I am", and Shaw (before he got hurt).
The Bad: The offense
struggled after starting the game looking sharp. The QBs still can't seem to complete a pass thrown further than 10 yards downfield (I know why Mario and Adrian left, and feel bad for the current WRs - this year only). The secondary was not sharp. They were bailed out of several long pass plays because of dropped passes by the Miami WRs. Special Teams started off good with a 47 yd FG, but then missed a 41 yd FG and an extra point. In addition, a holding penalty negated a 40-something yard KO return by BooBoo. Why does it seem like UM is playing against the best punters in the Country every week?
Summary: If Week One's Offense could best be summed up as "recruiting next years QB", then this week's Offense started off like it was preparing for "Ludicrous Speed" and ended like it too... Week Two's O got several more big plays and two long TD drives (Improvement). I expect the O to get better each week as the young players get more experienced and the game 'slows down' for them. The Defense continues to meet expectations, although the D needs to stiffen against the middle running game and the secondary needs to catch up to the DL. After two weeks (yes it is too early for this, but I couldn't resist): Coach Shafer (here, here, here, and here) said he wants his D to stop the run; get to the QB (knock him out) and then get to the backup; force turnovers; and score if possible. Measurables (National Rankings): UM is 4th in Rush YPG (41.5), 2nd in Rush YPA (1.1), 1st in Sacks (9), 1st in Sack Yardage (-69), and tied for 38th in Turnovers Gained (4)... so I'd say we are on track.
Week Three: In week two, ND confirmed that they are pretty much the same team as last year. That is great for UM, unfortunately UM is still learning who they are. Each week gets UM's O a little more experience and I expect another improvement this week. If the OL can keep it together, the run game should get even better, and if the QBs can hit a WR downfield (I think they will), then the O could really start to become effective. I think the O makes this step against ND. I really expect the best D performance of the season this week. Coach Shafer played against ND late last year, and is familiar with what ND will try and do. The UM DL can't wait to see the ND OL again (and add more sacks to the resume). Hopefully, the secondary will make a few of the catches that they have just barely missed in the first two weeks. ST will have another chance for a big day with returns. Prediction: UM 24, ND 10.
So this is what I said before week one in the
comments field of "Offense 2008: Five Questions, Five Answers" by
Brian. I decided to compare game results to this comment over the
course of the season (as time permits) out of curiosity to this historic year
of transition. The more I read, the more it seemed as if no one had a
clue what to expect. With each passing
week that will change, hopefully for the better.
"I think this offense with these players
will score on many big plays, and that will be fun to watch this year and in
the future. The inexperience will rear its head on the 3-and-outs and
lack of long drives. UM's time of possession will be an issue for the
defense. Barwis. The part that I am uncertain about is how long it
will take for the offense to gain the consistency needed to be a factor in the
Big 10 games.
The games I am most looking forward to are Utah, Wisconsin,
and osu. Utah is a 'just win baby' kind of game. The Wisconsin game opens the conference play after a bye week, against the second
best team in the conference. The osu game is against 'the best team ever'
since like 1969 or something, and they have TP to wipe up the leftovers."
Week One: Utah 25 UM 23.
The Good: The Special Teams were very good, aside from one shanked
punt (a forced fumble on punt coverage, one blocked extra-point, one blocked
punt, and a 50-yd FG). The D was much more aggressive in the second half
and showed the potential to dominate. I expect that to continue against
the next two opponents. Barwis - The team looked like they were in great
shape, which may have resulted in a few penalties. I thought some of the Utah OL penalties were
caused by the UM DL quickness, both off the snap and getting around the edge. Best
players: Obi Ezeh and the second-half DL. The Bad: The offense
struggled to do anything (only scoring on one big play), but did capitalize on
the opportunities given by the D and ST. As a unit, the O looked hesitant
and unsure of itself. There were 6 FR/SO in the starting lineup, many at
key positions. Summary: Aside
from the O’s complete shakiness and lack of any running game, pretty much what
I expected. The ST was much better than
I expected, and I don’t recall a more complete ST effort (unfortunately Utah has a fantastic K/P that had a huge effect on the
outcome of this game). Looking to
Week Two: The O must gain some composure and the RB/WR need to break some
tackles resulting in a few more big plays. This game should see marked
improvement across the board, resulting in some much better rushing
productivity. The D must play with the
intensity that they showed in the second half.
The return game needs to step up like the rest of the ST did in game one
to help out the struggling, and young, O.