By Bryan MacKenzie
For today's game, we must be specific in how we discuss the opponent. The members of the U.S. Air Force, and the cadets that attend the Air Force Academy, are fine people who have chosen to dedicate a portion of their lives to the service of their country. We applaud them for that, and we welcome them and their supporters to Ann Arbor gladly and with open arms.
No, I don't care if they sound alike, you can't line up an A-10 as an A-back
Now, from a purely football standpoint? I never want to see these devoted self-sacrificing bastards again.
For the third time in three weeks, Michigan will face a radically different type of offense. But at least the work the defense put in for the first two games will have value beyond those games. Florida's offense (and yes, I know we're stretching the word "offense" beyond all reasonable interpretation, but stick with me) was predicated on taking big shots down the field on the outside, which Michigan will see again in Happy Valley in a few weeks. Cincinnati used a quick-passing offense and inside zone read-option run game, which should be helpful for several opponents, including Ohio State.
And now we get Air Force's triple option. The triple option requires a great deal of preparation, and that preparation is basically time lit on fire with respect to the rest of the season. No one else in the Big Ten runs a triple option (unless you count Rutgers' "fumble/interception/fall over" as a triple option). What's worse, there isn't really any extra credit for winning a tricky game against an average but sui generis opponent. It's basically like taking Advanced Sanskrit as a college elective; it may be difficult, but it affects your GPA the same as any other class, and you'll never use it again.
In other word, thanks Dave.
We tried to warn you, G.
The good news is that Michigan's defense passed the first two tests (such as they were) with flying colors, and are currently outscoring opposing offenses 21-17. If they can stay gap-disciplined, they have the kind of fast, athletic defense that can hold down an attack like this. And on the other side of the ball, this is the kind of matchup that will force Air Force to throw all of their undersized defenders at the line of scrimmage to stop the run, and pray that Speight can't beat them with his arm. And on a warm, sunny afternoon in Michigan Stadium against ten new defensive starters, I'll take that bet.
Still, defending option football is like hitting a knuckleball. It's theoretically the same exercise, but you can't really know what you're up against until you see it done live by someone who is an expert at the craft. Air Force scores a couple of times in the first half, but Michigan eventually sits on them.
Michigan 31, Air Force 17
By Nick RoUMel
“God has a very big heart, but there is one sin he will not forgive…” Thus begins one of my favorite quotes from “Zorba the Greek.”
How author Nikos Kazantzakis finishes that quote is politically incorrect in today’s world. How I will finish that quote today is …. SCHEDULING A WEDDING ON A FOOTBALL SATURDAY!
How could you, my cousin Ernie? Allowing your lovely daughter Madie to have a wedding during Michigan football season? Just because you live in Pittsburgh, and have no connection to the University of Michigan whatsoever, is no excuse. Your actions are very inconsiderate towards your favorite cousin Niko, who will have to miss today’s game to resentfully share your bliss. You’d better have an open bar, with a TV tuned to Big Ten Network.
Worse are the actual Michigan fans, who should know better. My friend Joe, who married a fellow UM law grad, did so during last year’s Indiana game. Worse are their friends, also both UM law grads, who are having their day of bliss during this year’s Michigan State contest. I would attend dressed as Sparty just to spite them.
Yes, Sparty does events.
My friend Lauren texted last night, “My friend got married during the penn state game last year like WTF”
The worst was when my friends Pam and Kevin decided to have a Hawai’ian-themed indoor party during Michigan basketball’s 1989 NCAA championship run. Pam would not allow us to turn on the television during the semifinal against Illinois, so we huddled furtively around “Punt Classic’s” tiny portable TV until Pam finally relented during the game’s final minutes.
Today’s game, however, may be one of those that a Michigan fan will be glad to miss. Reading analysis, and watching Air Force highlights, has my head spinning. Perhaps the scariest quote is this one from defensive tackle Maurice Hurst, who actually told MLive that he has “a little familiarity” with the triple option offense because he’d “played with it sometimes in NCAA Football (the video game).”
The only actual Michigan player who has non-video experience with the triple option is safety Josh Metellus, who played against it in high school. His advice, as the “biggest key” in defending? "Just not falling asleep," Metellus told MLive.
Woe to us. Shades of 2012 - but with an even shadier ending. I won’t be at the Big House for this one, but at least I’ll have an open bar to console me:
AIR FORCE 28, MICHIGAN 24