As many of you know, the Ozone, an OSU fan website, has an article every Monday during the season about Michigan. This is one of those "know your enemy" things. I hadn't been over to their site since December, but wandered over this morning. Lo and behold, they have a long article on Michigan.
Being that content is sparse right now, I went ahead and linked to the article. Tony Gerdeman opines that while Michigan has improved, they aren't in the National Title discussion . . . just yet. Here is the key premise why:
Can they run the ball and can they stop the run against a skilled team that loves to run the ball?
On the offensive side of the ball, Gerdeman says this:
A year ago Michigan averaged over 5 yards per carry in a game against a P5 opponent just once – 5.04 yards against Indiana, who allowed 5.23 yards per carry to everyone else last season. They averaged 4.89 yards per carry against Florida. Over a season that would’ve ranked 33rd in the nation a year ago. It’s fine, but not, ‘Hey, wow, look at this!’ The offensive line is better and 5-star running back Kareem Walker will help, but can they take that 4.2 yards per carry average from last year and add at least another yard to it? Of the last eight national champions, five of them averaged over 5.5 yards per carry.
On the defensive side, the article points out:
The Wolverines finished No. 16 in the nation in run defense last year, allowing just 122.23 yards rushing per game. Against teams ranked in the top 30 in rushing, however, they allowed 338 yards per game on the ground. Sure, that was just two opponents – Indiana and Ohio State, but they also happened to be the two teams on Michigan’s schedule that could actually run the ball.
Lastly, he really wonders about the back 7 defensively, outside of Peppers and Lewis. And boils our season down to the 3 tough away games: MSU, Iowa, and OSU.
My speculation has centered on the QB. But reading this, I have to admit, it raises questions for me. First, how will the OL and RB corps do in improving the running game? Can Drevno bring Michigan to the level Stanford was at on the ground, or are we still another year or two off? Second, how will the LB group and the secondary outside of Lewis perform? I'm very confident in the DL. Less so for anyone else not named Peppers or Lewis.
Anyway, it is something else to read for those of you who are bored and looking for more on Michigan football. Oh, and I apologize for putting up two threads in a row on the board.
In a move that was more expected than some of the other announcements, OSU safety Vonn Bell has declared his intent to enter this year's NFL draft. This makes him the 9th early entry to the draft from OSU so far.
So, now that the regular season is over, do you wish OSU had beat MSU, or that things stay just as they happened?
For me personally, OSU is the real rival and enemy. Their schadenfreude at losing in Columbus, and not having a shot at the NC, and having Meyer's string of conference victories broken, is sweet enough. It is hard choosing between OSU and MSU. How could you want either team to win? But for me, not living in Michigan, not dealing with Sparty regularly, and not wanting OSU to even have the opportunity at another NC, trumps hatred for Sparty. Maybe it is personal, because I have in-laws who are OSU fans.
Nonetheless, I think that the Spartans are likely to be beaten sometime in the next month. And I believe that with Harbaugh's recruiting acumen, we will right the ship in terms of MSU quickly. OSU will be a harder nut to crack, and at this point, I am happy for anyone to beat them.
p.s. Some think that if OSU had beaten MSU, Michigan might have snuck up and beat OSU. I personally think that is delusional, and that OSU would have been prepared for Michigan regardless of the outcome the week prior.
Living in Ohio as I do (thank you for your sympathy) and working frequently at Ohio State University Hospitals (thank you for your sympathy), I perhaps have a glimpse into the psychology of OSU fans that some of you do not (which is good for your intestinal health). I can tell you from the 183 texts I received cussing me out for costing OSU a victory (this was the first time I openly rooted for OSU in my life), that these troglodytes are trying to rally. Having purged themselves with calls for OSU staff to be fired (not excluding Urban Meyer, seriously), they believe there is one silver lining in this cloud: the team will be motivated more than ever to beat TTUN.
There is a thread in 11 Warriors entitled:
WITHOUT THIS LOSS, TOSU WOULD OF HAVE A HARDER TIME BEATING TTUN
I call hogwash. I admit to having this thought flash through my head, but I think this is a prevalent myth in the minds of nervous fans, and rarely true.
Yeah i'm beyond disappointed about this loss like all of you guys are but, I think this loss should really light a fire under everyone's asses. We've been talking about how this team has lacked motivation and hasn't had a chip on their shoulder for the entire season. Now we got adversity and doubters who last year was the main fuel for our run. Yesterday our guys seemingly had nothing to play for and played not to lose. Against TTUN, are guys will be angry and very much doubted going into AA.
Occassionally, teams will rise up for a fired Earle Bruce or tragic Jerry Kill, but I think that people conflate such "motivating" events with the reality that those teams were good enough to play the game they did without the motivation. It didn't help us with Bo in 2006 (I was at that game), it didn't help VT yesterday win one for Beamer.
Ultimately, it comes down to match-ups, X and Os, talent and execution. This isn't some brilliant observation, I admit; I only make it because OSU, unlike what is said in the fool's post above, WAS motivated to win yesterday and had EVERYTHING to play for, but they had structural problems that prevented them from winning: average receivers, a QB that needs them to be open, a defense with SOME vulnerabilities, and a team that played absolutely no one during the season, which created a false paradigm that they were above having to give all the effort. This was confirmed in the post-game immature Elliott and Jones meltdowns. Michigan has as good a D line and a better secondary that MSU. The same structural challenges will confront OSU no matter how much more they want to win (which, is that even possible?). Our inferior LB may present an opporunity for them, yes. But will OSU motivate their way to inflicting the bad defeats seen in the RR era? No.
And jinxes aren't real, either.