My first reaction to this game was "Holy Jumpin' Jehosefat! We suck donkey balls!" By the end of the game though, I couldn't shake the feeling that we had just dominated the Irish and yet had our asses handed to us. Sure enough, a quick look at the box score revealed 388 yards of offense for us, 260 for ND. The numbers further showed us owning them in passing and rushing yardage. Our offense had indeed clicked finally though it was hard to see it through the smokescreen of killer turnovers. Even our defense didn't play half-bad statistically but trying to overcome the mistakes this young team was making, and the places on the field that they were made, was nothing less than impossible.
Looking Back - Some thoughts looking back on the game after sleeping on it:
Evidence of our offense clicking:
- McGuffie runs for 131 yards and becomes our solid first string back. Dude was on fire and proved a great receiving target as well. He also managed to not get hurt on a tackle that would have snapped the hamstrings off a mere mortal.
- Threet completed 16/23 passes for 175 yards and a TD. His passes were on target and well timed. This guy is our starter.
- Then again, Sheridan did complete all five of the balls he threw. Just sayin'. ;~)
- We had 5 drives of 7 plays or more, 4 of them for 58 yards or longer.
- Our receivers looked very good and the throws were spread amongst them very well.
Evidence that our offense is young:
- We had 7 fumbles and lost 4 of them.
- We had 6 turnovers total. (Someone tell Sheridan we have the Winged Helmets!)
- Threet fumbled all over. Of course I put the blame for the backwards pass mostly on Minor.
Evidence that our defense wasn't as bad as they seemed:
- We held ND to 260 yards of offense.
- Jimmah(!) was only 10/21 for 147 yards, 2 TDs, and 2 INTs.
- We held ND to 113 yards rushing on 34 attempts. 3.3 yards per.
- If you told me the three statistics bullets above and that we would lose, I would have called you a big fat (Weisian even) liar.
Of course there were bad plays...
- Trent was burned crispy despite providing pretty good coverage on the second and third touchdowns. His PI on the first ND posession was killer as well.
- Stevie Brown looked lost in coverage a lot once again.
- Pick a play. See any real pass rush? No? Explain this to me.
And oh so many goats in this one. Not going to pick on the freshmen:
- Brandon Minor, catch the damn ball! The first turnover of the game was the killer kind we can't afford.
- Kevin Grady, hold on to the damn ball! The turnovers in the red zone were extra killer and no me gusta.
- Two turnovers in the redzone. Two inside our own 15. Another returned directly for a touchdown. C'mon, seriously?
- Cue up the Yakety Sax.
Hats Off Awards:
- McGuffie!!! - 178 total yards and brilliant moves displayed throughout. Welcome to Michigan Fans' hearts.
- Rich Rod - I have to hand it to him. This offense is making great strides. At this point I don't think we can blame him for the turnovers.
- Zoltan!!! - Looked much more like the heir to the Space Throne with a wizard performance befitting his name: 4 punts with 52+ yard average (the fake-fake punt was very nice) and of course picking up the first on the real fake punt was awesome.
- Our Receivers - These guys looked great all game. I was praticularly impressed with Stonum and of course Mathews was solid. We were robbed on that TD catch, his wrist clearly hit the ground under the ball.
- Camera man who kept his camera trained on Fat Charlie during his "I've fallen, and I can't get up!" moment. Knees weren't made for that kind of strain, that's for sure. The rest of the game he looked like Golum meets Jabba the Hut on those crutches. Gotta give the big guy props for seeing it from the sideline though.
Michigan is coming around folks. I figured a lopsided loss like this one would make me despair as to us getting 6+ wins. But honestly the Big 11 looks rather shoddy across the board (except for Penn State, but until they prove otherwise, we pwn Penn State) and there are plenty of wins left to be had if we can play like yesterday minus the turnovers. Congratulations to Wisky for going out west and winning a tough game that I didn't think they would. They will probably beat us next week, but it is far from a sure thing IMO.