Justice Hayes First
“Test fast, fail fast, adjust fast.”
A refreshing, low-stress Saturday was had by all Michigan fans yesterday as the Wolverines actually covered a 45 point spread(!) against a woefully overmatched UMass squad. It was perfect timing for a functional bye week and Michigan made the most of it, getting all potential reserves a good bit of action.
Learn from yesterday...
Maybe not much can be taken away from such a beat-down, but I'd rather have the question marks for this team linger than have their problems confirmed. Several trends continued however:
- Denard will throw the "d'oh!" pick. It is frustrating to see it, but this isn't going away. It is great consolation to see 67% completions with 12.1 YPA, but "UMass" and all that. Michigan really needs next Saturday to be an outlier here.
- The Devins create a bit of a problem for the opposing defense. Maybe this isn't really a trend yet, but both Devins looked great on their respective TD catches, with Gardner's displaying the athleticism we have heard so much about.
- Toussaint is shifty and will burn you in space. After a slow start to the game, 2011 Fitz showed up and made several defenders look silly. Again, "UMass" and all that, but Michigan will need Toussaint to build on this performance.
- Michigan's Defense is "Bend But Don't Break". UMass couldn't bend it much, but they did have two 60ish yard drives in the first half and another that went for 11 plays in the third quarter. The middle looked soft again, allowing Cox to make some strong runs.
Live for Today…
- The Devins - These two have completely changed the outlook for the Michigan passing attack. Now up to 5 combined TDs, I'd put the over/under for these two at 20.
- Roy Roundtree - Breaks through finally with his first TD of 2012. Kudos also to Fitz Toussaint for his first of the year and to Vincent Smith for punching two in from inside the 10.
- Taylor Lewan - Swam 5 yards through bodies to recover a fumble on the goal line for his first career TD. I can't imagine how that play must have looked from his point of view. Congrats also to Justice Hayes for his first career TD.
- Denard - 3 TDs through the air and one long one with his feet. 106 yards rushing keeps him on pace to top Pat White. I love that he doesn't tie his shoes but cringe every time an announcer has to point out how well he cuts in his socks. "D'oh" picks will continue, and must be accepted by fans, but hopefully a lesson was learned about when to reach out at the goal line.
- Will Hagerup - This guy is back and better than ever. I must have re-watched the 70-yard-in-the-air blast off the facemask of befuddled UMass return man 7 times minimum. Punts like that could be game-changers going forward.
Hope for Tomorrow
It is difficult to see considering the teams Michigan has faced, but I think progress is being made across the board and this team will be ready for the BIG slate. The passing offense is now dangerous with the Devins providing big targets and Gallon, Dileo, and Roundtree supporting. Fitz showed that he still has moves. The defense is getting better I think, if for no other reason than I have blind faith in Hoke/Mattison. Hagerup is booming punts again. Norfleet is a threat on offense now too, and possibly the double-secret weapon going forward.
The Alabama drubbing might just prove to be the best thing for this Michigan team, in that it clearly displayed their deficiencies and allowed for meaningful adjustments ASAP. Besides, after Arkansas was taken behind the woodshed we can't really be too down about the loss.
Notre Dame will bring their "A" game to ND Stadium next week. Win or lose, Michigan coahes will have some great film to work off of to prepare for the BIG season.
Seriously though, I am ready for Denard to tear their hearts out again.
Onward Warrior Poets!
Till then, stay safe everyone.