“It's lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself.”
I turned off the TV after Bellamy's first career pass attempt/interception and made my way quietly upstairs to bed. The rest of the family (wife, 5yo son, 1yo daughter) had long since decided that a good night's sleep was a better option than watching Michigan get smeared across the turf in Texas. I didn't feel any bitter emotions really, mostly concern for the collective knees of Taylor Lewan, Blake Countess, and Brandon Moore. I guess the Rich Rod years knocked all of the conceited sense of entitlement out of me for real.
When I woke up this morning the results of last night's game weren't the first thing on my mind either - something that truly surprised me. A loss like that used to leave me sick to my stomach for several days at least. My first recollection of the game was of rewinding and replaying the seeming destruction of Lewan's right knee, and of my concern for both what it might mean for his career and for Michigan's season. The degree to which Michigan had been curb-stomped really didn't register. There is a lot of football yet to be played after all, and Michigan will not face another team of that caliber.
Learn from yesterday...
Losing the game was, I'm sure, totally expected by most Michigan fans. Losing in that fashion was humbling though, and served to show us how far Michigan must improve to get back among the elite teams in the country. The hard truth is that if these two teams met 100 times, Michigan no doubt loses 95 of them (maybe a bit better with a healthy Countess). It isn't just that Alabama has superior talent though, the matchup of their strengths vs Michigan's weaknesses could hardly have been worse. Overall, Michigan probably has a better showing against most any team in the Top 10.
Michigan never folded though. The defense kept at it despite being completely out-manned along the front, and made some impressive plays even late in the game. Vincent (Devin) Smith kept running hard against steep odds, finally tip-toeing down the sideline for at least one impressive run for a first down. And Denard... he was tougher than we could have ever hoped for. He sacrificed his body after a bad pick* and played the next series with Herbie trying to convince us that something was seriously wrong with his shoulder. He did obvious bad things to his lower back trying in vain to stretch for a first down, then came back on the field again. Denard is going to really hurt this morning, but no one can question his toughness.
*Is it legal BTW for a defensive back to throw a receiver out of bounds like that?
Live for Today…
Even though the game was a brutal beat-down, there are some moments to celebrate:
Campbell - The big guy looked decent, even quick on his sack. He will look even better against the rest of the schedule.
Gallon - The little guy had a big game, going for over 100 yards receiving and would have had more had Tacopants not been mirroring his routes.
Gardner - More than at any point before, I think we saw his athleticism in this game. Cleaner routes would have opened him up for several more receptions; the tools are clearly there.
Norfleet - This guy will be special on kick returns. Seemed to almost always on the verge of breaking it with his speed.
Denard - Again, the dude never quit. He only completed 11 of 26 passes, but looked more fundamentally sound than last year IMO. It made me sad to see him not smiling.
Hope for Tomorrow
Michigan was overmatched, period. They went and played the best and were shown where they stand. This game does not erase the faith I have in this staff and this team though. Brady Hoke never lost his cool despite the embarrassing results of the game. He will have this team back up and playing well next week, guaranteed. At least the Air Force squad should look tiny in comparison, and
if Countess is being out it shouldn't be as big of a problem against the triple-option.
And even if the injuries prove serious, Michigan can still win the BIG Championship. Don't give up on these guys because they aren't going to give up on themselves.
Update: The loss of Countess for the season is a big blow, but at least Michigan has capable backups. Avery looked bad against Bama, but so did just about everybody else. We have seen Avery look capable in the past at least, and maybe he and T.Rich can push one another. Luckily the BIG is not exactly deep at receiver this year.
Hoping for a full recovery for Blake and a very deep and experienced CB position in 2013.