I have to say that was one of the more confusing games emotionally that I have witnessed as a Michigan fan. By half time I was inconsolable but in the fourth quarter I came out of my funk better than in the past. It helped to be watching with a Nebraska fan, who coached me in dealing with my consitantly dominant alma matter turning into a huge pile of fail. Thanks Luke.
Looking Back - Some thoughts looking back on the game after sleeping on it:
Obviously the offense looked scary-bad for most of the game. I don't see this turning around very quickly. Bullets:
- Sheridan's throws over 10 yards looked like punts IMHO. Only one pick in the 1st half was very lucky indeed. He is far too slow to make use of his legs and can't throw so I can't fathom how he beat out Threet to start.
- Threet was a much better option at QB as displayed by the long TD throw. He may be slower but his arm allows us to keep defenses honest. Too much excitement let to overthrows I think. Hope he starts going forward.
- The offensive line started out bad but did improve I thought. This had a lot to do with the "Barwis Effect" (more on this later).
- The running backs looked tenative and the gameplan for going outside on most runs was the wrong one in hindsight I think. McGuffie did look more confident than the rest and seemed to have a toughness that I admired.
- If Mathews is hurt seriously that is a HUGE blow. The other receivers will do well I think but we need that consistant guy with experience right now.
- This offense needs a hero to step up. I think it will be McGuffie at this point.
- Why so many long passes in the first half? Sheridan was awful and yet we persisted in throwing up lame duck jump balls until it finally bit us in the arse. That pick at the end of the 1st half cost us the W and I put the blame squarely on RR. I was praying for a Lloyd-like run,run,run,punt and a one-score deficit at the half. We were really only in the game because of luck and good fortune, but regardless we have the W without that pick. A pretty bad coaching gaff IMO.
The defense looked really bad for a while too, but really stepped it up as the game went on. We were simply playing a very good offense with a great QB. Their gameplan was solid but we still had a chance. Bullets:
- We do not have enough guys that are great in coverage to handle 4 receivers in the spread. From what I saw it wasn't Trent/Warren getting torched most of the time, but they couldn't cover two guys each.
- Our linebackers didn't seem to make plays and were very bad in space. Having them cover receivers was futile as BJ picked us apart in the first half. Ezeh had the pick and seemed to be in on a lot of plays. Watching Evans slow up and throw his hands in the air as Asiata trucked around him on a swing pass was painful.
- The DL did well but only after the "Barwis Effect" (more on this still later) came into play late in the game did they really dominate. Our contain of BJ was solid all game though I thought.
- Bottom line is that this defense will get much better going forward and will look very good against 2 receiver sets and against lesser QBs (which is probabaly all we will face, BJ is awesome).
Hats Off Awards:
- MIKE BARWIS - The "Barwis Effect" is finally something tangible and we saw it in the fourth quarter. Our superior conditioning finally had our OL protecting better, our DL getting pressure and sacks, and our team on the comeback trail. I waited all game telling my Nebraska fan buddy that it was coming. I am glad that it did.
- Shaw, McGuffie, Hemingway, Threet, and Sheridan (+ Lopata) - Watching Wolverines get their first TDs is always special. Hats off to you guys. Nice catch Junior. Nice 50 yard boot K.C.
- Brian Johnson - This guy is almost definately the best QB we will face this year. He looked like a future pro and shredded us. If we had him at QB, like, wow.
- Sakoda - This guy beat us by himself almost. Any one of his 4 FGs would have lost it for his team had he missed. His 53 yarder was a killer. His punts at the end of the game sealed the deal.
- DC Shafer and the Michigan D - Make no mistake, they made plenty of mistakes. I really think this was a great offense they were facing however. Without the pick leading to a touchdown at the end of the half, they did enough to win. Six sacks is a solid number and 3 points allowed in the second half gave me hope for the future. Speaking of that...
Michigan should win next week easily as MiaOH got killed by Vanderbilt of all teams. It should be a good game to work out some kinks on offense and get some swagger back. I think this loss may be a good thing for the future of this team as it highlighted glaring problems on both offense and defense and the players will remain hungry. We need Threet to calm down and lead this team better at QB because Sheridan doesn't seem to have it. Threet's arm could give us the downfield passing game we need to help our running game. I liked McGuffie's effort and toughness and think he will be the star we need if anyone will. We should look much improved for ND in two weeks and our defense will line up better against them than they did against Utah. All is not lost, but we do suck.