“Opportunity does not knock, it presents itself when you beat down the door.”
It's a good thing that Brian and others had done the analysis for this game so thoroughly beforehand, because without a script that game would have been much harder to watch. It certainly was never comfortable as Michigan literally traded scores with AFA, never putting a comfortable margin between them. Not that there were no opportunities to do so, Michigan just missed them, or the real and palpable "grit" of Air Force slammed the door shut in their faces.
So when the Blue Screen of Death popped up and was followed by "Bonus Coverage" of a game being televised mere channels on the dial away, I did feel a quite natural urge to choke the bitch that was all perky and uncaring in an ESPN studio. Thankfully the Michigan defense finished the matter and we could hold our heads a little higher than last week.
Learn from yesterday...
This game really was a crash course in missed opportunities; lucky for us not all of them were missed by Michigan. Air Force drove inside the Michigan 20 on both of their first two possessions but came up with only three points. The Michigan defense bent but didn't break and gave the offense a chance to put some points on the board.
Michigan missed chances to get off the field, giving up frustrating first downs on third and medium-to-long time and again. Brady Hoke missed a great chance at points to end the first half with some terrible clock management, ending up with a TO in his pocket. With Michigan up 14-3, Vincent Smith missed a chance to extend Michigan's drive and possibly their lead by tipping an accurate third-down pass from Denard up for an easy interception; Air Force would score a TD and keep it close for the rest of the game.
Other things we learned...
Denard looks like he is indeed much improved as a passer. His throws were mostly accurate lasers and his ball placement looked very good.
The Devins create a bit of a problem for the opposing defense and are a wonderfully athletic duo to have. Hopefully they will be a mismatch in our favor the rest of the year.
Toussaint does not look ready for prime-time. In fact, he looked slow and indecisive.
Troy Calhoun seems to have a problem down under. I can't recall ever seeing anyone grab their junk so much on national television.
Live for Today…
Michigan needed all of this:
Funchess - Looked the part of the athletic freak mismatch, hauling in 4 passes for 106 yards and his first Michigan TD (congrats). We may have a very special talent here.
Gardner - Was much improved in his routes it appeared, reeled in another TD and generally looked like a receiver.
Norfleet - Didn't bust one but you can feel it coming. Ran one back to the 36 but must have ran 72 yards to get there.
Denard - Gets his 20 carries when he is about as big as anyone on the opposing defense; made the most of them. 200+ yards rushing and passing. Should have had no INTs too. Please stay healthy.
Troy Calhoun's Crabs - Proved just distracting enough to let Michigan escape his clutches. Hard to clutch anything when one hand is so constantly occupied.
Hope for Tomorrow
Michigan needed this win and got it, not much else can be said. I think they would be ready for any other hypothetical triple-option offense they might face... too bad their aren't any (not really, please let's not face that again). The rest of the schedule is still somewhat of a mystery: Notre Dame and Purdue couldn't figure out how to let the other team win, Nebraska went out west and got handled when it mattered, Michigan State played a directional school, Illinois got clobbered, Iowa (lol)....
The BIG championship is still right there for the taking. Hopefully Hoke, Mattison and Co. can stiffen up this defense and work out some kinks next week. I am ready for a shut out.
(Note: With Ace providing an immediate game summary I don't know that I will do these every week anymore. Don't want to be a "snowflake" or whatever.)