I've made it a habit to check out the box score of UofM's games to see if my eyes agree with the numbers. It took me awhile to find this, but the box score for yesterday's game can be found here:
Obviously, the main story told from the box score is a missing 4th quarter. What I also found interesting was the score of the 2nd quarter, UofM 20, WMU 3. I'm paying more attention to the 2nd quarter this year as a result of last year. This next fact has been little discussed on this board or elsewhere, but I find it fascinating. Last year, UofM outscored it's opposition on a cumulative basis in every quarter but the 2nd. Scroll about 2/3 down this link:
to see the cumulative score by quarters:
UM 122 ... 83 ... 95 ... 104
OPP 64 ... 194 ... 92 ... 88
We were outscored by a whopping 194-83 in the 2nd quarters of games last year. I think it was a reflection of the inexperience of the team and inability of the coaching staff (particularly the defensive side) to adjust during the game. As soon as we made a mistake in the first half, things started going south and it took them until at least after halftime to snap out of it. How much of this was mental? How much was due to the program being under a microscope in RR's 3rd, make-or-break-it year? I guess we'll never know. Growing up, when we had a tough first half, I was also told by my dad to wait for the third quarter because Bo was a master of the mid-game adjustment. And he was usually right. Well, last year, we dug too big a hole in the 2nd quarter for the half-time adjustments to matter.
One good aspect of MANBALL (or scoring more slowly if you will) may be that the defensive staff has a chance to make adjustments while our offense is taking 8:33 off the clock. After WMU's first drive of 7:11, their next longest drive was only 4:32. Clearly, something changed, and for the better.
Other highlights from the box score:
* ONLY 1 PENALTY !!! That is shockingly low for a first game. Congrats to Hoke and company. Perhaps, again, this is just a symptom of the players being a little more experienced.
* 21 players for UofM made at least one tackle, solo or assisted. So, yeah, we were rotating players in pretty frequently. We have DEPTH!!! Maybe. (In contrast, WMU only had 12 guys make tackles.)
* Net yards per kickoff was 49.3 for WMU, and only 34.5 for us. There were 9 kickoffs total, so we gave up ~67 yards of field position just on the kickoffs. That has to improve next week.
* We won the turnover battle 3-0. A combination of more experienced skill-position players and more blitzing on defense. Let's hope that holds up. Regress to the mean, please, please, please, ...
Normally, I look at first downs to see how the teams did on a consistent basis. This basically throws out the big plays and looks at the teams across the rest of the 60 minutes (or in this case, 42 minutes.) We were tied 17-17 in first downs, but I think you throw that out this week because of the 2 defensive scores giving them extra possessions. Instead, just look at the yards per play. We were at 7.4, they were at 5.0. Last year we gave up an average of 6.1 yards per play. So our defense was better than last year statistically, but it's hard to say too much until we see how WMU does in their other games.
Anything else stick out to the MGoBoard?