Today was a tremendous reminder that as RR has put it so many times....Michigan is a work in progress. The athletic deficiencies of defense and lack of overall team depth were on full display today.
First the oline......simply put, they will be average until Molk returns. Its not just the bad snaps, but overall the line just isn't as good without Molk in the middle. MSU was able to get pressure with just the front 4 on most occasions. Thats a losing proposition for every offense. Indiana did it last week, MSU this week and for certain Iowa will be able to do it next week. I think the offense continues its ragged play until Molk returns.
Right now UM has 3 guys on the oline playing out of position, the depth isn't there yet where we can sustain any injuries and not lose quality of play.
Linbackers.........there's nothing else to say here, but this is probably the poorest group of LB's I've ever seen at UM going back about 30 years. They never make a play when they need to, and there just isn't much in the pipeline. It might take 2 or 3 years to improve here. (I qualify this by saying Stevie Brown has been excellent)
Safeties.....another position of need, MSU threw to the slot receiver covered by the safety almost every time. We have a walk-on as the backup and a converted corner playing safety. Look for every opponent to continue to exploit this.
These were the 3 areas that hurt UM the most today.
With all that said, jimminy christmas we still almost pulled it out. This game was one of those days when the offense could just never get on the field to establish anything. Play calling is about establishing a look, movement, and tendencies and then breaking them latter in the game. Michigan could never give MSU any looks until the 4th when they finally had the MSU defense on its heals scrambling.
Tremendous credit has to go to this team for its determination........with 8 minutes left they were dead in the water looking at a potential humiliating, dominating loss. Instead they pulled up their belts and went to work and nearly pulled off what would have been an epic win.
Credit the D for coming up with a big stop when they needed it in the 4th (let alone keeping MSU out of the endzone in the third, that was huge). They gave us a chance today.
UM has too many holes throughout its lineup for the rest of this season to be anything but bumpy and maybe a little more infuriating. But we need patience, this will take a little bit of time to get right, but the evidence is clear they are on the right path.
UM can win every game remaining on its schedule, they also could lose about 5 or 6 of them if they play like they did today. Michigan will handle the road trip to Iowa better next week.
This is a work in progress, be patient.