good luck with that
I am thinking it's gonna be tremendous.
As I like to do after most Michigan games, the following are my observations, made for the purpose of prompting discussion on the various topics. Discuss . . .
1. The Molk injury killed our offense. Obviously, the snap issues during our first possession were a problem and Molk, being the leader that he is, found a way to play through it. The fact that he was able to play most of the game was really impressive. It was obvious, though, from the outset that whatever his foot injury was, it REALLY impacted his play, and his ability to move laterally. Much of our difficulty running the ball was attributable to pressure coming up the middle. Note: This is NOT offered as a criticism of Molk, who played through enough pain that many NFL players would have simply sat out.
2. Our running game. I think that the Molk injury, discussed above, was the biggest factor. Almost any running back, with the exception of the most elite (think Barry Sanders, D. McFadden or Peterson) will only have success if their line is giving them holes to run through. Clearly Fitz is not in that elite categoty AT THIS STAGE IN HIS CAREER. That said, there were several plays where his quick lateral cuts and his short bursts allowed him to gain 2-3 yards, rather than losing a yard. I still have a ton of faith in Fitz, especially with another offseason of weight training and practice. I see him having another 1000+ yard season.
3. Denard. It is odd to say this but Denard was a non-factor. Aside from 1-2 runs, his legs were largely taken out of the game by VT bottling him up (see point #1). AS for his throwing, again, he didn't necessarily play that poorly poorly (although we did see a return to his bad habits of locking in on a receiver, regardless of coverage, his back foot throws, his lofted jump balls and his overall poor decision making), but he also didn't play that well. Oddly, Denard was just a guy today. (silver lining: If he put up something like 32-35, 425 yds, 4 TD, 1 INT, 120 russhing yards, 1 rush TD, the OMG-Denard-is-going-pro hype might have built to a point where he would have considered it. PLainly, Denard still has a lot of work to do).
4. Our defense. I am split on my view of our defense. Negative: We continue to struggle against taller wide receivers. We also tackled poorly and allowed a mobile, but slow and lumbering, QB to gash us for a bunch of yards on the ground. Also, 3rd and 20?!?!?! We gave up way too many 3rd and longs. On the positive side, hot damn, our red zone defense is just great, as is our overall scoring D.
5. Coaching. Brady Hoke really is an aggressive coach. He loves to fake the FG, and does so at the right times. Also, on the last play of the first half, my wife said that we should kick the FG and I pretty much told her that she knows nothing about football (although she probably knows more than all but the most avid fans). Damn you Coach Hoke for making me look like a moron by kicking the FG 2 seconds later, but bless you for making the right call, as those points were critical.
Overall, we did not play well, but we found a way to win. I do not like so many fans saying that "VaTech gave us the game by fumbling, missing FGs, throwing picks, etc." VaTech didn't do those things in isolation - they did those things largely as a result of our defense and special teams. Also, we gifted VaTech a few picks, as well. So, while we didn;t play our best, this was a great win for Michigan, that should carry us to a top 10 pre-season ranking.
Will Hagerup's first punt went for 26 yards, second for 24. He finished the season with a paltry 36 yard average, down a full seven yards from last year.
After that Matt Wile came in and averaged 44 yards in 3 punts. His season average (accumulated during Hagerup's four-game suspension plus this game) was 41 yards per punt. Our emergency backup punter was better than our returning starter.
So what's wrong with Hagerup? Mechanics? Injury? Or has something gotten into his head?
First off, I really like Al as our OC and hope he stays a while. He seems to be an open minded guy that looks outside the program for input and I only hope he watches VT's offense a bit more than our own when he reviews film. I felt like we were playing Northwestern, actually with good athletes, and it was death by slot receiver. Maybe Coale is simply the real deal, however, I have to think that we have enough talent (and bodies) to get a similar contribution from that position. Coale had 8 catches for 117, but it felt like 18, the guy was everywhere. While I may be a bit biased since I like more incorporation of a slot receiver into the game plan since those guys can be so good in space, it just seems that we have to have some untapped production on this team. Maybe we will see more next year as the rest of the playbook is implemented.
Did anyone else notice VT was just giving us the bubble screen? I think they scouted us on MGOBLOG and said we'll just leave the guys unguarded because Borges is defiant in not doing it. I think that was a big contributor to the running game being stuffed. It seemed like several times we went trips they defended us with 1 guy out there.
I'm sure the blogosphere will have plenty of picture pages, but it seemed like VT had 15 guys out there. While I was frustrated about the bubbles, I do want to give Borges props for setting up 3 td's that were done in by horrid execution/luck/cheating.
Pop Pass to Hemmingway- Looked like a for sure six but Denard made a marginal throw that was batted down.
Screen to Smith- Denard with a bad pass. That replay showing 3 Mich OL standing by themselves was depressing.
JR Stop and Go- A great call as they were jumping our short routes. How it's not interference is a mystery to me. He gave a Brad Marsh shove and knee trip as Hemingway was going by.
Is it me, or was that one of the strangest football games ever played? I know this may not be an informative thread at all but I think it is worth discussing in all the mystifying awesomeness that is an OT-BCS win.
Everything was normal, but just a little bit off. Every kick return seemed like it took an extra second or two to develop. Every handoff for both teams looked awkward, every pass -"it's complete, but wait, did that hit the ground? Is that a catch? Hard to tell."
Hitch step in every kick, short punts - "wait, how did it roll that way," every down "is this second or third down?" Every insant replay providing impossibly close calls but all bearing huge on the direction of the game. (Including the OT touchdown. I know I know, the one angle showing the nose of the football perhaps touching the ground, but indisputable? Hey, we had one coming our way from the Iowa game so might as well been that one.)
Really really odd football game. How good is Michigan? How good is Virginia Tech? Who was the better team? What was our strength? What is their weakness? There was four quarters to decide all or any of these questions and I am not sure that there is any relevant evidence to answer any of the questions.
Don't get me wrong, I am all "HELL YEAH!!" and "GO BLUE, HAH HAH, SUGAR BOWL FOOLS!!," but I thought it may be worth discussing how weird that football game was right from opening kick.