Most of the preseason predictions had Michigan finishing the regular season with an 8-4 record, +/- 2 games. The first half of this game showed why many thought Michigan could finish with 9 or 10 wins. The second half showed why some thought 6 or 7 wins was a possibility. The final verdict from Saturday's game: need more data, check back next week.
A quick personal note before resuming our regularly scheduled boxscorology. I will be flying back to Michigan this week for the first time since my dad passed away two years ago. My cousin is getting married Friday night. Thank goodness she had the good sense to schedule the wedding on a Friday. As much as I would like to hang around and see the M-BYU game Saturday, I'll be flying back home Saturday. The DVR will be set, but the diary might be delayed.
Burst of Impetus
* Do I have to pick something? OK, how about this. One play after UNLV's QB phased out of the BTN universe for a 16 yard game, Channing Stribling picked him off and returned the ball 30 yards. This was an early message delivered to UNLV - your coach might think that college ball is not much different than high school football, but this is the Big House and you are playing Michigan.
The Two Jakes
* I thought I was going to have to rename this section The One Jake. Rudock finally threw a ball to Butt in the second half. Jake B. ended up with two catches for 14 yards. If they are saving him for BYU and the bigger B1G games, I understand.
* In the now weekly battle between Jake Rudock and ST3-defined efficient QB play, Rudock was 14 for 22 (64%, check,) with only one interception (check,) but he only averaged 5.6 yards per attempt. Ugh.
Root Tree Runners
* I don't recall who was in the booth with Chuck Long. Whoever it was, he was just awful, and while I'm mentioning Chuck, can someone poke him and see if he's still alive? I'm not asking him to overreact to a one yard gain by Sione Houma like his partner did - OMG!!! A FULLBACK RAN THE BALL FOR A YARD!!!; I just want him to put a little thought into his comments and pretend like he's watching the game. For example, it makes no sense to say that it's difficult to schedule teams because of travel costs while we scheduled four western schools. He should also know that the games were scheduled well before Harbaugh agreed to coach Michigan. Harbaugh didn't schedule 4 west coast teams to improve west coast recruiting. At least he corrected his partner about root trees. Yes, trees have roots, but wide receivers run routes.
* After back-to-back games having 9 root tree runners catch passes, eight players caught passes against UNLV. In Jake Rudock's defense, he has to develop chemistry with 4 different tailbacks, 2 fullbacks, a team full of H backs and tight ends and numerous wide receivers. I think the timing was off on one of his throws to Drake Johnson probably for this reason, leading to an incomplete pass.
* A week after stating his case for being the lead back, Utah-De'Veon returned. He carried 13 times for 33 yards with a long of 6. Be patient De'Veon, follow your blockers.
* Ty Isaac showed why he may be the feature back when Big 10 play starts as he gained 114 yards on 8 carries. Yes, 76 yards came on one run, but that still leaves him with 38 yards on his other 7 carries.
* 10 players ran the ball. Only 2 of them had long runs greater than 9 yards. Yes, there were two long runs, but the rest of the game was standard - thump, thump, thump - jackhammer style pounding.
Tacos and Peppers
* UNLV was held to 92 yards net rushing thanks to 37 yards of TFLs for the Michigan defense. 8 defenders contributed to the 9 TFLs.
* Channing Stribling only had 1 tackle assist, but he intercepted a ball and returned it 30 yards, he downed a punt at the three, and he had a BrUp.
* Jourdan Lewis made his case for an all-conference selection with three tackles and 4 BrUps. 4 BrUps is about 4 times as many BrUps as I'm used to seeing.
* Four of Blake O'Neill's 5 punts were downed inside the 20.
* Peppers returned one punt for 24 yards and one kickoff for 31 yards.
* Michigan only gained two more first downs than UNLV, 17-15. That, and Jake's 5.6 YPA are the cause of any lingering malaise after this game.
* UNLV's leading tacklers were Peni Vea and Tau (points finger at Ace) Lotulelei.
* Michigan scored 14 points off of UNLV's 2 turnovers compared to UNLV's 0 points. It feels good to be on the right side of the TO story for a change.
WHAT ARE THOSE?
* The WHAT ARE THOSE? award goes to the BTN cameramen. Those people running around on the field in stylishly matching outfits are football players. It's generally a good idea to keep your electronic moving picture taking box pointed at those players, especially the one that has the ball in his hands. But don't get too close lest the rest feel left out.