I did a quick watch of the Air Force vs. Michigan film after getting home from the game and here are my observations and a few comments:
1.) This was Wilton Speight's best game this season. He has shown improvement in each of the games he's played so far. He was 14/23 and by my count, there was 2 drops, 5 overthrows (which I'll talk about in a second) and then two other ones where there isn't much to talk about. The 2 drops were crucial, one by Black and one by Crawford. Both were great throws on 3rd down where the receiver got two hands on it that could've extended a drive and instead they were drops. If those two are caught Michigan could've scored more points and at least, Speight's completion percentage would've been 70% instead of 60%. As for the overthrows, this sounds pitiful, but the misses were much, much closer than in the past. 3 of the 5 misses were barely, barely off the mark. He's so close to everything clicking. Of the other two, both were footwork. One he had no chance to move his feet, about to be hit and forced to throw off his back foot. The other was just sloppy footwork.
2.) Defense is still elite. Air Force is a bizarre team to play, plain and simple. The triple option is hard to cover but UM did a handsome job. One long QB run was it. Air Force runs it 27 of 29 plays and then runs a slant, Kinnell bites just a bit and the receiver is gone. If you want to think about it one way, they gave up 2 plays for 100 yards and 57 plays for 132 yards. Overall, 232 yards allowed and 13 points, not too shabby. They end non conference play having given up 3 points to Florida (deducting the pick sixes), 14 to Cincy, and 13 to Air Force, meaning 10 ppg. This is a top 5 defense in the country, folks.
3.) Special teams are really good. Not so sure about our punter so far, but the punt and kick coverage units are stellar, Quin Nordin is one bad man, and DPJ is a freak of nature. DPJ is just as good as Peppers in terms of picking up those key invisible yards on punts, the 10 and 15 yard returns that hugely impact field position. He's a weapon and we need to see more of him on offense
4.) OLine was mostly alright. Air Force blitzed a lot and they struggled at times to pick it up. Still having problems with pull plays and stunts, but it's a work in progress. At the very least it's not a sieve. Onwenu, Ulizio, Kugler all first time starters, of course.
Conclusion: This team reminds me a lot of 2013 Michigan State. Throughout the early part of the season, the situation was similar. An offense that dealt with major problems (albeit far worse ones than Michigan has, seriously), but a defense that was among the best in the nation, and a really good special teams unit. Even through the sluggish games in September, you just knew that if the offense figured it out, the team would be really tough to beat. Well, in late October, the offense figured it out, and the team wouldn't lose again, including a B1G title and a Rose Bowl win. Same thing here with Michigan. Special teams and a dominant defense is going to let this team win a lot of these early season games against lesser teams. And let me get this straight: if this offense can, at any time, put it together, then this team will be very, very hard to beat, by anyone.
And honestly, I think this offense is close. WR's are still struggling to get open, but we've rushed for over 190 yards in every game this season. This is not an offense like Florida or early 2013 MSU, where they just can't move the ball. This team can move the ball. Unfortunately, it's just in spurts and it freezes when we get in the Red Zone. But the thing to remember is that this team. Is. Still. Young. We're three weeks into the season. If it's after the Indiana game and Michigan still can't finish drives, then we should sound the alarm. But let's give them 3 more weeks + a bye to smooth things out. We don't have to click in September, but we do have to click in late October. So let's just wait and see, take the positives out of this and hopefully, it all comes together next week against Purdue.
Oh, and one last note about Speight: he is the right guy for this team. His experience is very valuable and as a I always say, everyone criticizes him (and rightly so) for the throws he misses, but no one gives him credit for the ones he makes. Like to Black and Eubanks against Florida. Like to Crawford last week. Like the one to Black on the sideline this week, or the one that Crawford dropped even as Speight dodged two dudes and fired a bullet down the field. You have to take him through the good times and the bad times. As this site has noted, he's basically John Navarre. And if that means we'll end the season beating OSU, winning the B1G, and going to the Rose Bowl, then that's alright with me. We've seen who John O'Korn is, against Florida this year and Indiana last year. He's terrible. The last thing this team needs is a full on QB controversy. Instead, let's ride Speight, as it's the only way he can right the ship. Speight's working with a new set of dudes and he deserves a chance to keep grinding and trying to find consistency.
A win's a win, 3-0, and on to Purdue