“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”
Learn from yesterday...
So that happened. I had promised myself before the game that I wasn't going to get all emotionally invested in the outcome. I could feel the disappointment coming all week. Iowa was coming off of a loss that made them look much worse than they really are and Michigan was traveling to their house. Michigan was coming off of a "validating" win over an overmatched Purdue squad, were already assured of a bowl invite, and had equaled last year's win total already. There was no question which team had the most to play for and the game was sure to reflect that. No surprise: it did.
I was actually impressed that Michigan picked themselves up and made just enough plays to give themselves a chance to win in the end. All things being equal, this game should have hinged on a 2pt conversion attempt and possible overtime. Of course at Kinnick all things are seldom equal, and the refs took matters in to their own hands in this one. The pass interference non-calls were bad enough, (I especially liked the one that led to Denard's interception and the last play of the game, oh - and the one that they called and then picked up the flag) but the gutless decision to rob Hemingway of his TD with 7 seconds left was just obscene. The league should force retirement on the guy in the booth at the least.
So I ended up invested emotionally despite my intent not to be, because this team deserves it. They came out flat, without focus, dropped passes, missed reads, and generally played as poorly as the circumstances would predict - and stood up when they had to and made plays. They made big 3rd and 4th down stops on defense. The offense woke up and drove down the field in the 4th quarter. They gave themselves a chance. And when the refs took the game away in the end, I raged at the unfairness of it all, but I was not surprised.
Live for Today…
Several players/coaches should take particular pride in their accomplishments yesterday:
The Defense - Stood tall after looking like they would be getting gashed early. Gave up only 302 yards to Iowa in the end and kept Michigan in the game. Individual players were victimized at times but as a unit the defense played very well.
Kelvin Grady - Made two clutch grabs towards the end of the game to keep Michigan driving. Really all of the receivers deserve note, even Hemingway who made the potentially game-tying catch in circus-style only to have it ripped away by terrible officiating.
Denard Robinson - Finally had the light go on in the 4th quarter after playing somewhat slow through the first three. Took command of the game with this arm and his legs in crunch time. Interception wasn't his fault IMHO as it looked to me like his receiver was being tackled before the ball got there. Trying to do to much and leaving the ball on the turf was frustrating, but Denard wouldn't be special if he wasn't trying to do too much.
Kenny Demens - Seemed to always be in on the tackles in the middle which bore out in the box score (11 tackles). Stood up to Coker on 3rd and short, giving Michigan new life.
Greg Mattison - We have a defense and it makes a world of difference. Mattison is earning his big paycheck.
Hope for Tomorrow
I saw nothing yesterday that diminishes my hope for 9 wins this season and a New Year Day bowl game. Yes, the division crown is out of reach, but that may prove to be good for Michigan's mindset going forward. It certainly takes some of the pressure off, hopefully allowing this team to play loose and take 2/3 down the stretch (or better).
This team isn't a world beater. After watching Alabama-LSU last night the difference is night-and-day. What is equally true is that no team upcoming on our schedule is really better than us either. Illinois has less talent and is Coached by the Zooker. Nebraska just lost to JNW at home and has to come to our house. Ohio looks worse than any time I can remember and is coming to our place as well. This team, and this group of seniors, is hungry. Hungry for success, for a better record than last year, for a win over Ohio, for R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
I think they will make us proud.
Go Blue and stay safe.