"Northwestern fans can be both heartened and disheartened by the loss to Minnesota just like how nineteenth-century resurrectionists were heartened when they pried a heart from a freshly-buried corpse and then disheartened it when they sold it to a disreputable anatomist."
It's Michigan versus Minnesota week, at Minnesota, which means one thing. A University of Michigan quarterback is going to have a career day. In 2008, Nick Sheridan was 18 of 30 for 203 yards and a 127.8 QB rating. In 2006, Chad Henne was 17 of 24 for 284 yards, 3 TDs, and a QB rating of 211.5. That may not have been his best performance, but I don't ever remember seeing a QB rating greater than 200. In 2003, John Navarre was 33 for 47 for 353 yards and 2 TDs. During my college years, we put up these scoring numbers at Minnesota: 49, 52, 58, and 44 ('89, '91, '93, '96.) I guess what I'm saying is, we shouldn't have been surprised by what transpired yesterday, but after that first quarter, I'm betting that I'm not the only one that was shocked by the next three quarters. After 9 consecutive TD-less quarters, we scored 5 in the next 3.
Burst of Impetus
* We stopped Minnesota early on a 4th and 1, but promptly turned the ball over on an INT, so net impetus = 0.
* Michigan started the 2nd quarter trailing Minnesota 7-0, with the ball at our own 9 yard line, due to less than special special teams. Rawls got the ball for 4 of the next 5 plays, and we pushed the ball out to our 34. However, the drive was about to stall as we faced 3rd and 17 from the Minnesota 45. Gardner was chased out of the pocket, did some Gardner things, and found Dileo WIDE open in the end zone. Boom, 7-7. The team collectively took a deep breath, regained their confidence, and controlled the impetus for the rest of the game.
* Minnesota had a chance to get right back in the game in the 3rd quarter, but decided to run a fake FG on 4th and 16. It would have been a great call on 4th and 1 or 2, or even 5, but 4th and 16?
* 22 Michigan defenders recorded a defensive stat, lead by linebackers Kenny Demens and Jake Ryan with 10 and 9 tackles, respectively.
* Our one sack was from a patented Jordan Kovacs heat-seaking-missile style blitz that also forced a fumble. Unfortunately, that was the only pressure on Minnesota's QB, as Michigan registered 0 QHs.
* Michigan recorded 7 TFLs, led by Ryan with 3. He returned to super-human status this week.
* Floyd had 2 pass breakups and Morgan had 1.
* Minnesota was held to only 275 yards total offense. However, they managed to eek out 21 first downs from those meager yards.
Ermahgerd Dehrvern ERMAHGERDNER
* Gardner threw an early INT, but then settled down. That's what experience will do for you.
* He finished 12 of 18 for 234 yards and two TDs passing.
* Gardner also ran 10 times for 21 yards and a TD, but subtracting sacks he was 7 for 44, for a healthy 6.3 YPC. He also showed an ability, time and again, to make the first tackler miss.
* For anyone who thinks height is overrated in a QB, the Devin/Denard case study should be exhibit A. I got the sense that Devin's height allowed him to see open receivers better, particularly on the bomb to Dileo.
Bunches of Funchess
* Michigan receivers had long catches of 47, 45, 47, and 22 yards. It was that kind of day.
* Jeremy Gallon caught four balls for 72 yards and a TD. Chris Martin of the B1G Network continuously criticized Gallon for being inconsistent this season. Has anyone in the MGoUniverse felt like that? Where did that comment even come from? I wouldn't make a big deal of it, if he only said it once, but he must've come back to that three more times during the telecast. Did someone tell Martin that Gallon was a pre-season All-American, or something? I just don't get it. I'll take Jeremy Gallon on my team any day.
And Justice for Rawls
* Is Thomas Rawls our new #1 running back? Except for Toussaint's last run, I'd have to say yes. Rawls had three more carries than Fitz, and they were about even in yards until Fitz' last run. Granted, I'm just a casual fan watching from home, but I see Rawls break tackles, move the pile, and fall forward for extra yards. I see Fitz getting brought down by the first defender he faces.
* Fitz, Rawls, and Gardner all ran for TDs.
Norf and Souf
* Ugh, where do we begin. Our net yards per kickoff was 33.8. Their net was 43.7. Our net punt was 29.3 yards. Their net was 41.3. So every time we had an exchange of punts or kickoffs, they gained the equivalent of a first down.
* Even Norfleet comes in for a little blame this week, as he brought one kickoff out of the endzone that he should have downed. We had a penalty on the play and started the drive at our 9. When you are starting a new QB in the 9th week of the season and he's been practicing at WR all year, I want to give him every chance for success. Starting from the 25 instead of the 9 could have been a big advantage. However, it didn't matter this week as we had scoring drives of 91, 90, 86, 79, and 50 yards.
* Jerry Kill did not appear to agree with a pass interference penalty against his gophers. I hope the lip readers at home weren't easily offended. I tend to think that shoving a WR with both hands in the chest, and then grabbing an arm to prevent the receiver from reaching for the ball is pass interference, but maybe that's just me. The refs may have felt bad for Jerry, because they appeared to give the gophers three make up call PI penalties on a drive later in the game.
* Memo to the B1G Network: No more Chris Martin, please. And by the way, a 45 yard TD pass does not count as a Red zone score. You actually have to be in the red zone for that to occur.
* Minnesota had some great names, lead by Martez Shabazz and their kicker, J. Wettstein. Sorry Minnesota, no little brown jug for you, but at least you have a wet stein. Lincoln Plsek caught a pass, now he just needs to buy a vowel. And Cam Botticelli made three tackles. Somewhere, Elaine Benis is asking why I'm writing about her shoes. (I know that's a stretch, but I had to continue the sitcom theme we've been exploring this year.)
* How about a little game theory from ItBS. Why did Minnesota spike the ball with 16 seconds and two timeouts left in the first half? They proceeded to throw two incomplete passes and miss a 55 yard FG with 2 timeouts still in their pocket. Also, I'd normally agree with Kill going for it on 4th and 1 early from our 40, but under the circumstances, I think you punt the ball and keep the pressure on Gardner.
Outside the Boxscore
* I spent a lot of time last year discussing our myriad uniform combinations - throwbacks, shoulder stripes, pink accents, helmet numbers, etc. Fortunately, I haven't had to go there this year. But I did notice something on the base of the Minnesota players' helmets. It says "Ski-U-Mah." Being the inquisitive sort, I started looking into the origin of this. It dates way back to the old tongue of the Sioux nation. Apparently, Ski-U-Mah is Sioux for "Man without jug."