"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
Preseason predictions are fraught with adventure.... and hard line views after 1 week are similarly difficult. But egg on face is fun so let's have at it.
I did season previews on most UM opponents - I skipped UNLV and Rutgers out of boredom, and OSU out of fear. The rest are below
First - a look back at Utah
Here was my overall view:
It may seem strange that I fear BYU more than Utah but if this game was in Michigan Stadium and game 5 rather than 1 I'd feel like Michigan should be favored and not by a tiny amount. Utah does all the small things right. Utah is well coached. Utah's kicking game is real good. Utah is greater than the sum of the parts. But UM matches up better with this type of offense than BYU's offense. A steady QB with a very good RB is the type of offense UM's defense should do "well" (not great but well) against. As for Utah's defense, I don't expect fireworks from Michigan's run game early so I Rudock needs to carry the offense a bit early in the year. This is the type of defense that he can do it against. Baxter's impact will be interesting to see here as Utah has a heck of a kicking game.
First game for both teams. Both teams should be a lot better later in the year and a lot of open questions for both teams. Utah is a fun venue to play at, night game, both teams are going to be hyped, probably a messy first half. Two very good coaches, Utah has our # of late This is a good coin flip game that should go down to the wire in relatively low scoring fashion.
Generally I am happy with my views. If we played Utah in game 5, and at home I'd feel like we could run the ball a bit more, and Rudock would not play like Devin Gardner's ghost. Utah would be better too but I think UM would have more upside because of the new staff from top to bottom and lack of coaching in prior years that Utah players were getting.
Utah was indeed well coached, and did the small things right. They didnt drop INTs as many teams do. They play better as a group than the individual parts may show - it's a team full of 3 stars that competes like hell.
Utah's punting was solid but field goal kicker ("best in the nation") derped. So I was wrong on half of that but so was the entire nation.
I said a steady QB with a good RB is the type of offense UM's defense should do well against. I said it would be a good not great performance by the D. That generally held up. The upside surprise was Wilson was a better runner than anticipated - the previews said he could run but he didn't show it much last year. This year he did and he was a focus esp early as a runner.
I said I didn't expect fireworks early from UM's run offense - uhh, yeah that was on. But it was even worse than I thought. I said Rudock needed to carry the offense. He did indeed need to as the run offense was lost at sea. And until the last minute drive we had a grand total of 10 pts. Not good. Opportunities were there (Utah's pass D had holes) - they were not taken advantage of by Rudock.
Here were my advantages v disadvantages
UM rush off v Utah rush def - Adv: Utah. Michigan is meh running until proven otherwise. I don't expect miracles in game 1 - hopefully by game 6-7 that running game is working well. As for Utah if you have a spread option they can be run on - if you don't, it is difficult.
UM pass off v Utah pass def - Adv: Even. The wildcard here is Utah pass rush and UM pass protect. While I expect Utah to be well coached, the loss of both starting corners and 1 of this year's presumed starters SHOULD be an advantage to UM. Especially if the OL can give Rudock time. Can UM's OL figure out Utah's stunts? Will Dimick be able to star without Orchard taking so much attention?
Utah rush off v UM rush def - Adv: Even. Strength on strength. Very good RB vs in theory very good run defense. How UM's newbie starting ends contain and play the run will be key.
Utah pass off v UM pass def - Adv: UM. Senior QB who is efficient but not someone who is going to strife you all day with 1 proven possession receiver. I'd expect a lot of passes to Booker out of the backfield.
I said Michigan has a meh running game until proven otherwise. Unfortunately it was worse than meh. I said the pass off would be a wash with Utah's pass D. Well with 3 INT Utah's D won that battle despite Butt being what he thought he was and Darboh (save for a drop) playing well and looking dangerous. Secondary receiving was suspect as Chesson was open a bit but didn't do much and Perry running a few bad routes. But it should not have been that bad, that was a very not 2014 like Rudock who showed up. 8 less throwns and 2 less INTs and it would have been a very Rudock 2014 game. But when you can't run you have to throw more - an issue that will hurt all year until improved.
I opined Utah's rush off vs UM's rush def was even - I'd call that close to correct. We contained Booker well but flailed at the mobile QB as has been a UM tradition for 25 years. I gave UM's pass D an advantage over Utah's pass off - it was probably even. Wilson was better through the air than I thought esp in the 1st half but they did not strife us and the pass D was sufficient. Main issue was the linebackers in space more than the secondary players - at least in that game. Seeing Peppers whipped around by a freshman was troubling - the hope is that improves over time as he cannot just be a run destroyer or "pass to the flat" destroyer.
All in all it was as expected at the 40,000 foot view. A team UM matched up with well and with their low octane offense a team UM could play close to. But UM's passing offense made bad turnovers and the run offense was worse than expected. On the other side of the ball the rush D was it's usual good self while there were some holes in the pass D but nothing that should have led to a loss. Both teams had issues with field goal kicking - both punters were good.
Looking ahead, and basing games on WHEN they are played and WHERE this was my general view on degree of difficulty for each opponent coming into the year. And now my adjusted views (that will be adjusted again!) after week 2.
|11||Oregon State||Oregon State|
- Minn (+2) - I moved Minn up only partly on their performance but as much about other teams performances ahead of them (and injuries). I am still not a believer in that offense and Mitch Leidner had a very Mitch Leidnery day but the defensive performance was impressive. Usually 450 yards given up is not impressive but this is vs TCU. Did Minn find a running back to replace Cobb in Rodney Smith (16 car, 88 yds) or is this just like Wisconsin where you can plug and play any running back (sigh). We'll see in the coming weeks. Minn, much like Utah, matches up well for UM to beat with a run based offense, that will keep it close... but Wilson >> Leidner. If @Minn does indeed prove to be UM's 4th toughest opponent I expect a good W-L record.
- Utah (+1) - By default. Utah looks like what Utah always is. Solid, tough, well coached, and not explosive on offense.
- OSU - they have yet to play. I don't care what the result is, with that coaching staff they will be revving on all cyilnders by November. UM's linebackers - if they don't make large strides - are going to be strifed by the speed of OSU's skill players and UM's offense is going to struggle to score anywhere near the amount of points necessary to make this interesting if the run game is this impotent. (Come back to us Drake Johnson)
- MSU - If not for awful special teams that game would have started 27-0. WMU has some very good skill players at QB, WR, and RB. The RB was completely nullified - as usual when MSU plays. The QB was under constant duress from MSU's front 7, and played great respective to that duress. WMU basically ran Notre Dame's 2013 game plan - bomb away, and forget running. Also Baylor's 2014 game plan. There was some damage done in the second half but by then one can assume MSU mentally relaxed and was thinking of Ducks. MSU's strengths do not align well with UM's. Rudock might need to throw 70x that game.
- BYU - If PSU had not been such a joke I'd probably have moved BYU down 1 slot due to the injury to all everything Taysom Hill. It is huge and it removes the zombie apocalypse that is UM football - a top end mobile QB - from the equation. BYU was what we thought they were - until the injury. Scarily explosive on offense, good in rush defense, putrid in pass defense. This is still a problem game for UM in terms of matchups IF their new QB continues to look decent. We can't run well and BYU has a good rush defense. So we need to throw. Our back 7 is not the fastest and BYU can strife you through the air. We do get an advantage in rush D vs their rush O, as Hill was their top rusher. BYU also lost a key nose tackle which (in theory) helps Ben Braden look competent in a few weeks? BYU plays Boise State and UCLA the next 2 weeks so let's watch how their new QB plays - while he is a "freshman" he was the 3rd overall QB in 2012 and was on a 2 year mission and looked like he had a cannon.
- Northwestern - Why you no move up Northwestern after beating Stanford impressively at home? Hey man have you ever tried to beat Northwestern in that raucous Ryan field?? No seriously - let's see what Stanford is before we get giddy. Kevin Hogan (remember that guy) looked worse than Jake Rudock with his 4.4 yards per attempt. Talk about check down football. Northwestern's rush defense was quite good and combined with Hogan sucking - well there you have it. Northwestern is breaking in a new QB and he was... well Big 10ish. 50% completion rate and 4.4 yards per attempt. Sad. But his first game. Justin Jackson was what Justin Jackson is - very very good. But UM has a good rush defense so matches up well with Northwestern.
- @Maryland, Rutgers, @Indiana, Oregon State - no reason to break these 4 out. They all played teams you might see in the NCAA basketball tournament as a mid major once every 4-5 years. Nothing much could be taken from these performances. The one comment I will make is the top thing I stressed in the Maryland preview was DO NOT KICK TO WILL LIKELY!!! What did Richmond do? Kick to him. Often. He set a Big 10 record with 233 punt return yards (29.1 ave, with 1 TD). Dear John Baxter, DO NOT KICK TO WILL LIKELY!!!!!!!!!!!!! The other surprise in this game was Caleb Rowe did not win the job at QB; Perry Hill did. And Hill was not that impressive despite the opponent.
- PSU (-3) - Coming into the year all PSU's OL had to do was make a UM 2013 to 2014 leap from putrid to meh. That was not achieved in week 1. PSU is the opposite of UM's current line - they can run block decently but can't pass block at all. Hackenberg thus played awful as he looked like David Carr circa Houston Texans. Shockingly bad - Andre Ware with the Detroit Lions bad. While the Owls have a very good defense for a non P5 this was still a joke. And the normally stout PSU defense looked like they threw in the towel in frustratin in the closing quarter. The only saving grace for PSU is the next 5 games on their schedule which is full of tomato cans. If they had a few real teams on there this season could have been over by week 4. Again, we cannot read too much into week 1 and with the baby seals approaching on the schedule PSU's offense should improve but it's going to be really difficult to tell what PSU is until late October when they play a team sort of in their range like Maryland.
My fear for UM in 2015 is explosive offenses. While the defense should be solid it still looks like a defense better equipped to deal with run based offenses than dynamic QBs, especially with our LB core. Coming into the year the only teams I thought would have those offeses are OSU, MSU, and BYU. PSU was a maybe IF the OL advanced. That looks less likely after week 1. And BYU just got a little less scary even if the new QB is good - he is still a drop back guy which is easier to prepare for then Hurricane Hill. Indiana is a friggin wildcard from week to week in terms of offense but their HS defense negates that fear factor a degree.
All other offenses don't have much potential to blow the doors off anyone so UM can play the slug it out style it will be stuck with in 2015 and not worry about a team going ahead of them by 2+ TDs which might be a death knell unless we find a run game at some point. Maryland was the one team I actually expected their QB to potentially be dangerous and cause UM problems but he didn't even win the job in week 1 but might win it back in week 2. The rest of these QBs look incredibly meager.
My view is Oregon State is the worst or 2nd worst Pac 12 team and is being served on a silver platter to UM. They are going through an offensive transition that mimicks UM 2008 - going from pro style to spread concepts without spread players. Their hastily put together class has a freshman QB dual threat they are going to throw out to UM. It should be similar to what happened when Indiana tried that last year. And Indiana and Oregon State's defenses probably won't be too dissimilar. Oregon State stood head to head with a 2-10 FCS level team in week 1 thru the 3rd quarter before pulling ahead. If UM does not show a competent offense in this one I'd be worried about a lot more M00N games the rest of the year. I expect our defense to maul the Beavers and hold them to mid teens.
How was your off-season? I could say mine was good, but that's just a qualitative assessment. Here in boxscore land, we rely on numbers to tell a story. Every summer, my company gives out pedometers and encourages its employees to track their steps. At the end of the step-tracking, the health assessments begin. The insurance companies use the health assessments to set the coverage rates they charge my company. I'm sure those two items aren't related at all. I cranked out over 850K steps during the 8 week step-tracking period. I felt so good about that, I kept the pedometer on for another two weeks and went over 1 million steps in 10 weeks. What does all that mean? I don't know, but they are nice round numbers.
Besides the step tracking, my new year's resolution was to do 10,000 push-ups this year. I'm on pace, having done ~7,000 so far. With all that walking (hey, when you get older, any sort of movement is good,) and the push-ups, I was hoping my health assessment would be improved over last year. I went to get my numbers Friday morning and found out that my blood pressure is still a little high. The numbers are in the "pre-hypertension" range. My glucose reading was still just a little above normal, so I fall in the "pre-diabetic" range. Finally, my BMI is no better than last year, so I'm still pre-obese.
Like me, the University of Michigan football team has spent the past 8 months trying to improve. They brought in a new coach with a track record of success. They trained like never before, eschewing film study to spend all 4 daily allotted hours on the practice field. They entered a submarine (metaphorical, I suppose, but with Harbaugh who can say for sure) and focused exclusively on football during fall practice. So have they improved? I submit that the numbers will show that the quarterbacking is pre-efficient, the running game is pre-effective, and the defense is pre-dominating.
The Two Jakes
* Jake Rudock was everything I was hoping he would be, except for the three interceptions. He threw X+1 yard passes on third and X. He completed 27 of 43 passes for a 62.8 completion percentage. I'm thrilled to see a number there north of 60%. He passed for 279 yards, good for 6.5 yards per attempt.
* I would define an efficient quarterback as one who completes 60+% of his passes for 7+ YPA, with 0-1 INTs/game. Jake was close to meeting those numbers, except fo the three interception. After one game against a pretty good defense, it says here that he is a pre-efficient passer. All he needs to do is get more comfortable throwing to Grant Perry and hit on a couple long balls at normal elevation under reasonable conditions. I think the ball sailed on him on the long throws due to the elevation, much like baseballs at Coors Field.
* Jake Butt in 2015 >>> Jake Butt in 2014. He appeared fully healthy and a near lock for the Mackey Award. Butt tallied 93 yards on 8 catches, including a ridiculous catch for a TD with 2 Ute defenders draped all over him.
Amazing Amara Darbaugh
* As good as Butt was, Darboh led the receiving corps with 8 catches for 101 yards and a TD. He's realizing how nice it is to have another receiver actually block for you on a bubble screen.
* Nine receivers caught passes from Rudock. He did have his two favorites in Darboh and Butt, but he also distributed 11 completions among 7 other receivers. That will make it hard for opposing defenses to prepare for Michigan. There'll be no more just shutting down Gallon or Funchess. Several guys can hurt you on this offense. I expect to see more contributions from the new guys, Perry, Bunting, and Isaac, as they get more familiar with the offense. I expect to see fewer contributions from A.J. Williams. He just showed no ability to separate from defenders.
* Since Brian inexplicably didn't use "Jackhammer" for his best performer award, I'm going to use it for the running backs. I think jackhammer is a fitting description for these guys because in practice, a jackhammer doesn't really go anywhere. It bangs and bangs and bangs at the concrete until the concrete finally breaks. I expect what you'll see this year is Harbaugh giving Smith, Isaac (and the occasional carry to Kerridge) carry after carry where they bang out 3 yards per, until the fourth quarter when the defense breaks and the Michigan running game starts cranking out 7 yards per carry. The net effect will be around 4.5 ypc, but we'll be able to win games in the fourth quarter by controlling the clock and limiting the opposition's chances. Older fans like myself will smile knowingly as the Harbaughfense cranks out 7 minute drives in the late stages of close games, hopefully finishing with 7 points while salting away another victory.
* De'Veon Smith got the majority of the carries and yards (17 for 47, 2.8 ypc.)
* Derrick Green only gained 1 yard on 2 carries. I was waiting for him to enter the game as a change of pace back. The pace changed alright, it just got slower.
Tacos and Peppers
* Bolden and Morgan led the way with 13 and 10 tackles, respectively.
* Ojemudia and Taco each had a sack that cost Utah 3 yards, a mini-sack if you will.
* Wormley led the way with 3 TFLs. Michigan had 9 TFLs total for 21 yards. By comparison, Sack Lake City Utah had no sacks and only 3 TFLs for 3 yards. We've come a long way on the O-Line.
ST3's STSTs (these are my Special Teams Specific Thoughts)
* Many have complained about our less than special teams the past few seasons. During these discussions, you'll often see someone say, special teams are 1/3 of the game. I did a quick check of the last few games last season and found out that ~1/6 of the plays run during a game are special teams plays. In this game, Michigan ran 72 plays and Utah had 70 total offensive plays. There were 26 assorted punts, kickoffs, PATs, and field goal tries. 26/168=0.155. Once again, roughly 1/6 of the total plays were special teams plays.
* Of course, at altitude, it can be argued that the kickoffs were merely ceremonial as only 1 of the 9 kickoffs total was returned.
* Brian's game recap stated, "You have read this column before." Well, I have seen this boxscore before as well. In an otherwise evenly matched game, turnovers swung the game to our opponents.
* First downs were even at 20-20, but Michigan only gained 3 first downs by rushing. I hope that's the low point for the season. It better be.
* Total offense yards was slightly in Michigan's favor, 355-337, with Michigan cranking out 4.9 yards per play to Utah's 4.8.
* Although it didn't seem like it, Michigan was actually better on 3rd down, converting 6 of 16 to Utah's 3 of 13.
* Neither team had a QBH. Try telling that to Jake Rudock.
* All Hail the Return of Hexadecimal Numbers. With the loss of Legends Jerseys and the re-retiring of retired numbers, we've got a numbers crunch. James Ross III is listed as #1F and Mason Cole is 5C.
* With all the talk of white pants, one thing was overlooked. The first initials of the Glasgows and the Coles were removed. I don't expect Mason to be confused with Brian, and the Glasgows play on opposite sides of the line so that should be OK.
There's a Cat on the Field
* Lineswoman Catherine Conti, to be precise. This was the first time a woman reffed a Pac-12 game. I don't recall if a Michigan game has had a female ref before. Maybe WD can help me out.
* Refs weren't noticed often, which is a good thing.
No real closing thoughts today, except to say that as far as beginnings go, this was a fine one but for the final score.
Backfield and TE's
I thought the pick six was egregious, he should have never even looked at that side of the field to begin with. The right side of the field had Chesson running wide open on an out route and the LB covering Isaac had 10+ yards of cushion on a 3rd & 3. The other two INT's were probably on Perry. He didn't get sacked, but he did get hit about 7 times on dropbacks (5 were in the 2nd half) plus the personal foul on the sidelines. He targeted AJ Williams on two key 3rd downs... needs to stop doing that. He should have checked the 4th down run Smith got stuffed on to the weak side. I don't know if Harbaugh allows this but we would have converted a weak side run if Kalis, Mags and Williams handle thier blocks. We were outnumbered to the strong side. Also I think he should scramble to pass not to run, as he is the opposite of fast. He played a lot better than I thought live, he was accurate on every ball but the long ones. He went 27/43 and the 16 incompletions break down as:
- 3 INT (one his fault)
- 3 deep throws
- 4 drops (Smith, Perry, Darboh)
- 2 Williams targets
- 1 throw high and behind Butt on which he got hit because Isaac didn't block a blitzer
- 1 failed throwback screen
- 1 PBU intended for Butt
- 1 throw away.
I count only half of those 16 being his fault not including the throw away. He was dead accurate on damn near every single pass he threw. There are only 5 passes I would deem inaccurate or uncatchable out of the 43 he attempted. That is outstanding. Even with the pick six, if Grant Perry runs his route correctly I think that we win this game. To me at least, that bodes very well for the future. On the other hand he did have a paltry 6.5 YPA which is in the CJ Brown/Joel Stave territory. That number has to go up and if he can start hitting the long balls it will. This was a off day for Rudock that looked worse than it actually was so hold off on the "PUT IN SHANE!" chants for now.
Still slow. He missed some cutbacks lanes but also found some cutback lanes. The line didn't get much movement so everything was congested and he had a tough go of it. He should probably follow Kerridge, Poggi and Kalis a bit more on lead blocks. Also had a bad drop. With Drake Johnson still out he and Isaac are the best backs on the roster and as long as he keeps churning out YAC and doesn't fumble he should continue to start unless Isaac breaks out.
I thought he should have got more touches. He looked pretty decent on the touches he did get. He missed a linebacker blitz even though he was staring right at him and got Rudock blown up. This might be why he was stuck ont the sidelines. I think Rudock should throw to him more often if he is split out.
Typical great game from him. He hit people and they went backwards.
They rarely ran his way so all he had were kick out blocks which he still missed about 30% of the time. He did have a nice catch that was behind him and away from his body. Maybe he can get move involved in the passing game but I doubt it. We don't really have another inline TE to play over him so he will probably continue to get snaps.
He didn't make a lot of obvious mistakes. He pretty muched looked like Kerridge Lite out there. He did whiff on a block mid 2nd Q.
This might be the 2012 line right now as far as overall performance. Pretty good in pass protection and not so much in the run game. After the past 2 years that's definitely progress. There were substanstially fewer missed assignments but we were unable to move Utah's DL off the ball. We couldn't consistently get to the second level and we had trouble sustaining blocks on the 1st level. On the bright side though, there were only TWO enforced penalties the whole night. I didn't even see any obvious holding calls the refs may have missed. Overall we got called for a false start (M. Cole) and a snap infraction (Glasgow). The OL got better as the night went on, I'mm very interested to see where we are at by midseason.
He had a lousy start to the game, could not make a block in space to save his life. He got a lot better as the game went on. He got beat a couple times in pass protection but mostly held up. He caused the 1 throw away Rudock had. In the run game he was inconsistent. He is good at sealing and in the 2nd half he got pretty good at blocking guys in open space but when it comes to moving people he still has a ways to go.
He was wildly inconsistent. He stilll doesn't bend very well and still leans on guys making him susceptible to swim moves and getting his blocks shed. He also plays high which allows the DT to get under him and push him backward. He got blown up on several run plays. A few times that meant making Kalis go around him and delaying the pull which allowed LB's to stop runs closer to the LOS. On the QB sneak where Rudock slipped, ith was because Braden had a DT in his chest pushing him 3 yards back, which caused Braden's right foot to take out Rudock's left, thus ending the play. His pass pro was spotty at best, he needs to anchor down and move laterally to keep guys in front of him or at least fire out at them a bit. He can't just take a lazy pass set, give a guy a punch and expect that to do the job. He can pull though which is comforting. He was called for a illegal lineman downfield penalty but it was declined.
He was our best looking OL as per usual. I saw him pull a few times from the center spot and he looked good doing so. He actually got some movement on their DT's which was impressive given the rest of the OL.
Like Cole he started out with his head in his rear end but picked it up as the game went along. He needs to get more consistent on identifying who he should block when he pulls on power, ideally it should be the MIKE LB and usually it is but he should hit the first guy to cross his face. Too often he lets a guy run right past him and blow up the play and proceed to block no one. He got overpowered a few times but also got a few pancakes.
He was second only to Glasgow in production. I don't think I saw him miss one block and his pass protection was superb. Like the rest of the OL, he didn't get much movement but his guy wasn't making the tackle either.
The WR as a whole played a hell of a lot better than I thought they would. Utah is replacing some pretty good corners from last year but they have put more than a few in the league since Wittingham got the job so its not like he just got lucky with the crop he had last year. Hopefully Utah has a good pass defense and this can be signs of what is to come this season. Obiviously I can't full evaluate the WR because 70% of the time they are off camera but from what I could tell they were more than adequate.
He played better than I expected. He ran some good routes and played pretty physical. He had a couple catches where he bodied out the DB for the ball. He did have two drops but he is without question our best wide out.
I thought he should have been targeted more as he was open frequently from what I could tell from the camera angle. He got open deep twice on an out and up and a seam route, if we can start hitting those it will take this offense to the HNL (Hole Nubba Lebel) and help open up holes in the run game.
He cut his out route short causing an INT and I believe he ran a corner route too shallow which also cause an INT. They were both freshman mistakes that unfortunately resulted in turnovers. He did have two huge blocks to spring Darboh on quick screens. Also was instrumental on the last drive. If he can finish his routes we have a pretty good slot reciever. Did have one drop though.
Not targeted. Too skinny. Needs 15-20 lbs ASAP. In desperate need of spinach.
He caught one screen pass and subsequently got blown up. Thus ended Cole's role in the offense.
If They Could Say It is my attempt to give the real answers people would give if it wouldn't cause a media sh;tstorm. Typically, I'll have the Head Coach and Coordinators answer questions, and may also include other coaches, players, or personnel.
How did you feel about the team's performance tonight?
I hate losing. We should have won this game. We're far from perfect, but we had our opportunities, and we blew it.
What opportunities did you miss?
Did you watch? It's real obvious. We missed wide open TD passes. We can't do that. We dropped a couple easy catches. We threw a pick-6 in a key moment. We missed a couple of holes in the running game. We didn't even keep our onside kick in play.
Talk about the interception for a TD.
Just a bad, bad read. The play is a fade-out combo where the outside receivers run fades and the slots run quick outs. Butt runs a hitch. Grant Perry was the least open of the five options. Now, the thing that will take some time, is that we should have recognized pre-snap that Ty Isaac had a 15-yard cushion and just thrown a screen to him. But that takes time and practice...we're not there yet.
What were the good things?
There were actually a lot of good things. In the second half, even with some obvious short yardage runs that we blew, we improved our yard per carry by 1.5. The receivers were getting some separation and we were hitting some passes. Jake Butt was always open and had an amazing game. Peppers annihilated a few plays. And, while his screw-ups probably cost us the game, Rudock made several plays that also kept us in it.
How did you feel about the run-blocking?
How do you feel when some one punches you in the groin? It sucked. The first half was terrible. We played soft and tentative. Came out in the second half and played better, but we have a long way to go.
What about the fourth-and-short play?
Lots of people are piling on Kalis for missing a block on his pull, but Braden's execution was just as bad or worse. He allowed himself to give up almost two yards and gave an easy angle for the pursuit. Actually, he was our worst lineman today, and probably our worst offensive player.
Are there any plays you'd call differently?
First, Jim calls the plays. Here's the thing: we had more than our fair share of chances to make big plays, and we blew it. Two wide open TDs, a few running lanes that could have been huge gains, and a few dropped passes that could have changed things. We could easily have had over 400 yards and 30 points in this game. Have to make those plays to be a great team.
What were the positives you saw?
Jake Butt is probably the best TE in the nation. That TD catch is one of the best plays I've ever seen. I mean, the defender has his had on the ball, Jake is at the peak of his jump, and he still manages to pull it in, no question. That's even a catch by the weird NFL standards. And the pass pro. If we can protect that well all season, we'll be in good shape and we'll hit some of those bombs.
What does the OL have to do to improve?
Simple: not play softer than a pair of Twin City socks. We had the right mentality in the second half. We'll get better, or you'll see new guys on the field.
What happened on the Utah TD drives?
What happened? We had a couple bad series. Missed some reads, played out of our gaps, and let their QB walk into the endzone. But you know what? College kids are often going to have a couple bad series in a game. We'll get better. This was our first action with live bullets in our defense.
Who looked good?
The DL was pretty strong. There was no space for one of the best RBs in the country to run between the tackles. Wormley and Henry really did their jobs.
Who didn't look as good?
Brian obviously jinxed the LBs. Morgan didn't have his best day, and Bolden couldn't make tackles even though he was in the right spots. Ross might see more PT, especially against spread teams. Stribling was meh. Peppers woke up in the second half.
Welcome back!! Let's Go Blue!!! A trough (think of it as a stretched out area of low pressure) over the Pacific Northwest has Utah receiving quite the southerly wind flow! Breezy SW winds had Salt Lake City starting today in the 70s, and highs this afternoon are around 90. The wind, and warmth, will stay with us through the game. A cold front arrives later Saturday, which will drop the temps, but may also cause strong storms - something to keep an eye on if you traveled.
If you're in Salt Lake City...
It's been a hot one out there today! Temps hit the mid 80s by lunch, and have been up near 90 ever since. Winds are up there at 15-25mph, gusting in the mid 30s, so hopefully you tied down that tent! Winds that speed make it hard to use an umbrella, cause white horses on the water, trees sway, and you can hear it whistling. Everyone loves those frosty brews, but try and get a water or two before heading in there so you're not struggling in the heat!
Feelin hot, hot, hot!! Plenty of sun for the start of the game - there will be a few clouds, so enjoy the shade breaks! There is the slight chance for rain - yesterday one or two storms managed to cross Wasatch Front - so it's a very isolated chance but it's there into the evening. 86 degrees for the kickoff, and winds will remain up there. Looking at them out of the SW around 20-25mph.
It's not going to cool down a whole lot this evening - only down to 83 degrees for the halftime show. Winds will remain up in the low 20s out of the SSW with partly cloudy skies. It may be a great time for a cold drink!
Ice cream to celebrate the win anyone? 79 degrees leaving the game, and don't expect them to go down much further from there if you're planning to be out late! SSW winds will stay up around 20mph, so at least there will be a breeze - a warm breeze is better than nothing right? :D If you're staying out into the late night, temps will only drop to the low 70s. Friday will be very windy, with southerly winds at 20-30mph, gusting to the mid 40s (your car can veer on the road), but filled with sunshine and highs in the upper 80s. Saturday winds will be just as high, but temps top out in the low 80s. Again, if you traveled, there's the possibility of strong storms Saturday.
If you're in Ann Arbor...
We've had some good storms this afternoon and evening, and we'll have some more pass through into the later evening hours. Rain chances will stick with us until the end of the game, so if you're headed out to watch it, keep the umbrella with you. 70 degrees if you're headed out for the start, and dropping just a couple degrees if you're staying to see the end. We're looking at some patchy fog tonight, and with all the rain we've seen there may be ponding on the roads - so take it easy out there. If you're traveling home tomorrow, Friday will have a little sun, scattered showers and storms, light winds, and highs in the low 80s.
Christina Burkhart is a meteorologist for ABC in Flint, MI. She grew up in Ann Arbor and associates Saturdays with Michigan football. Go Blue!!
On this momentous day, it just feels right. Everything. Anything. I'm sitting here eating crackers and cheese, and it feels right. It's no different than the usual lunch I eat at work, except today the cheese is creamier. The crackers are crisp and delicious. If I had milk, I'd drink it, and it too would be delicious.
This graphic probably wasn't needed, and serves no real purpose. We all know its game day. We've all known this day was coming for a long time, but it feels different. Almost surreal. For whatever reason, it feels right.
For the last few years, I've felt distanced from Michigan Football. Not for lack of trying, but probably for my own health. After a while, it just wasn't fun anymore. There was too much pain, frustration, and disappointment. I honestly haven't felt this excited for a season kickoff in almost 10 years. It feels right. We're back. We may not win tonight, and we may not be ready to compete at the highest level yet - but we're back. And it just feels right.
In my attempt to harken back to the days where I was genuinely over-the-moon excited about football season, and to capture the surreal feeling I have – and probably will continue to have until 8:30pm tonight - this graphic happened. The sun is out, and it’s shining a weird tint of Maize on us. We have our guy. He's old school and new school all at the same time, and I love it. He’s a little weird, and I love it. Maybe this graphic doesn't say that to you, but it's my way of saying it for you.
On this momentous day, I just felt like I had to contribute something of my own to this community I love so much. Thank you all so much for everything. We're back. Go Blue!
Original Photo Credit: Bryan Fuller