Week Two: Season of Curiosity

Submitted by NCWolverine on September 9th, 2008 at 11:17 PM

Week Two: Miami (OH) 6, UM 16.

The Good:  The Offensive playcalling.  The Defensive Line continued to be impressive.  The LB play was much improved, but can still get better.  The first and second year players (FR, rFR, SO), from a talent/potential standpoint (LBs Ezeh and Mouton, DT Martin, DE RVB, KR BooBoo, RBs McGuffie and Shaw, WR Odoms and Hemingway).  Barwis - The team, especially the D gets stronger as the game goes on.  Best players: DL (young guys too), "Sam I am", and Shaw (before he got hurt).

The Bad: The offense
struggled after starting the game looking sharp.  The QBs still can't seem to complete a pass thrown further than 10 yards downfield (I know why Mario and Adrian left, and feel bad for the current WRs - this year only).  The secondary was not sharp.  They were bailed out of several long pass plays because of dropped passes by the Miami WRs.  Special Teams started off good with a 47 yd FG, but then missed a 41 yd FG and an extra point.  In addition, a holding penalty negated a 40-something yard KO return by BooBoo.  Why does it seem like UM is playing against the best punters in the Country every week?

Summary:  If Week One's Offense could best be summed up as "recruiting next years QB", then this week's Offense started off like it was preparing for "Ludicrous Speed" and ended like it too... Week Two's O got several more big plays and two long TD drives (Improvement).  I expect the O to get better each week as the young players get more experienced and the game 'slows down' for them.  The Defense continues to meet expectations, although the D needs to stiffen against the middle running game and the secondary needs to catch up to the DL.  After two weeks (yes it is too early for this, but I couldn't resist): Coach Shafer (here, here, here, and here) said he wants his D to stop the run; get to the QB (knock him out) and then get to the backup; force turnovers; and score if possible.  Measurables (National Rankings): UM is 4th in Rush YPG (41.5), 2nd in Rush YPA (1.1), 1st in Sacks (9), 1st in Sack Yardage (-69), and tied for 38th in Turnovers Gained (4)... so I'd say we are on track.

Looking to
Week Three:
  In week two, ND confirmed that they are pretty much the same team as last year.  That is great for UM, unfortunately UM is still learning who they are.  Each week gets UM's O a little more experience and I expect another improvement this week.  If the OL can keep it together, the run game should get even better, and if the QBs can hit a WR downfield (I think they will), then the O could really start to become effective.  I think the O makes this step against ND.  I really expect the best D performance of the season this week.  Coach Shafer played against ND late last year, and is familiar with what ND will try and do.  The UM DL can't wait to see the ND OL again (and add more sacks to the resume).  Hopefully, the secondary will make a few of the catches that they have just barely missed in the first two weeks.  ST will have another chance for a big day with returns.  Prediction: UM 24, ND 10.



September 10th, 2008 at 12:38 AM ^

I had not realized that our defense was actually putting up those numbers. They will most likely level off after we start playing Big Ten teams, but right now this is great. Once we can defend against those underneth passes, which i'm sure IRS will have his guys working on. What I really want to see is how we handle a team like Purdue. If we have not fixed our issue underneath they will tear us a new one. But lets hope we can keep up the sacks and run defense!

Six Zero

September 10th, 2008 at 7:42 AM ^

Great entry, and definitely told me something I didn't know-- I know stats are just stats but you'd never think our defense is going down on paper like that. I think they continue with it this week and wreak havoc on beer-pong-playing pretty boy.

Tribute to Bo my ass...


September 10th, 2008 at 12:11 PM ^

As ageneral rule, a team's D being on the field longer almost always tends to WORSEN their stats. The fact that our D has done this while being on the field 10-12 minutes longer than our offense is probably the most encouraging thing to see, not a negative at all.


September 10th, 2008 at 12:37 PM ^

I believe this is a flawed view. Last year's team would have lost this game (5 losses at home last year) and we should expect improvement from them in their second game. If we expect U-M to be much improved next year why not ND? I would conclude ND is a year ahead of our program offensively (probably 2 years on the O-line) and we can expect them to have decent success at home Saturday. It will be up to U-M defense to keep Jimmah from making enough plays for them to win, else U-M gets rolled.


September 11th, 2008 at 3:20 AM ^

The other stat that is important on the defense is pass defense
efficiency. Not pass defense. Teams that give up a lot of passing
yards, still win a significant number of games. But give up big plays,
high completion percentage, and lots of TDs and you are in trouble.
These factors are better measured with PDE. We are currently 67th. Too
many big pass plays.