Illinois: the Good, the Bad, the Ugly and the Immensely Gratifying

Submitted by Eye of the Tiger on November 12th, 2011 at 7:04 PM

 

The Good

1. The defense.  Though they slipped a bit by the end of the 3rd quarter, and though we're not quite Alabama yet, this was still one of the better performances by a Michigan defense in years.  It felt...right.  Like order has been restored to the universe.  Mattison even had the front 7 pulling some NFL-style disguised coverages...and doing it right too! 

2. Fitz’s first half.  Another stellar half game for one of our tailbacks…unfortunately it didn’t last.  It was still good enough to power those first two touchdowns, and then he got his mojo back at the end.  Good stuff, though I wish he hadn't been stopped for all those losses in-between.  

3. JT Floyd’s MASSIVE interception and Gardner’s HUGE touchdown pass.  I’ve been down on Gardner for several weeks, but that was a game-saving throw…set up by Floyd’s monster grab.  Hope his injury isn’t serious. 

 

The Bad

1. Our offense from midway through the second quarter on.  They went from F1 racecar to Trabant in a hurry.  The lack of adjustments to defensive adjustments by good Big 10 defenses is now a trend, and one that goes back to 2009.  It's not as bad as it was then, but it may be worse than it was in 2010.  We're lucky that we have a defense to count on now, but this feels correctable, and the inability to do so is frustrating.  It's what stands between us and really taking it to the next level.  

2. Going backwards on offense.  We did this much too often today.  

2. More stupid turnovers.  Self-explanatory. 

 

The Ugly

1. Injuries.  Denard’s apparent injury being the worst.  He might be in a second-year starter’s slump (think Henne 2005), but he’s still Denard.  We need him.  Ditto van Bergen and Floyd.  All the best to all three.  

2. Leaving too many points on the field. Twice denied in the red zone, we should have put this one away, but instead allowed Illinois to hang around.  Having started the season uber-efficient in the red zone, we seem to have regressed lately.  This is another frustrating phenomenon from the RR era that looked dead and buried, only to return in all its ugliness.      

 

The Immensely Gratifying

1. We finally know, for sure, that we are better than we were last year.  Though the offense hasn't been as good as we've hoped, the defense has been better than we could have dreamed.  So it’s time to admit this to ourselves: we are better.  We. Are. Better.  Sure, we are still, as of this moment, only one game better, but we have reached 8 wins for the first time since 2007.  Time to break out the cheap bubbly (the good stuff can wait until after we beat Ohio).  

 

Comments

JClay

November 12th, 2011 at 7:14 PM ^

We win one of the next two, and this season is officially a huge success. We win both... heck, we'll probably give Hoke a knee jerk ND-esque extension.

justingoblue

November 12th, 2011 at 10:25 PM ^

I honestly hadn't thought one bit about the coaches contracts, but it's really interesting to think of. I don't think we should give Hoke an extension yet, but I do think a BCS bowl could earn Mattison a "Michigan DC for life" contract like Dantonio and Izzo have at MSU. We could make a big show of it and promise him an AD position when he retires.

Given some concern about his age, I think it might provide a good oppertunity for everyone to show that he's on board, and he'll be on board even after he's done coaching.

Paly33

November 12th, 2011 at 7:14 PM ^

Really impressed with the defensive performance. Best game we've seen from that unit in a long time. Gang tackling on almost every play.
<br>
<br>Really liking the way D Morgan is playing as a freshman. Him and Countess have come up big for us this year.

BlueTimesTwo

November 12th, 2011 at 9:51 PM ^

There was also that play where Ryan just killed Scheelhaase after he pitched the ball on the option.  With the young guys we have now and the quality recruits that we have lined up, this defense has some great days ahead, even with the losses on the D-line next year.

True Blue Grit

November 13th, 2011 at 10:00 AM ^

of the game.  Morgan made a textbook driving tackle of the Illinois RB that will make the film room highlights.  It supports my belief Morgan will be a star linebacker for this team in the future.  And with the guys we have coming in next year, our defensive future looks bright. 

Cope

November 12th, 2011 at 10:16 PM ^

These are similar offensive problems to last year and no one would've even considered firing RR for our offense. I'm proud of the job Borges is doing. Notice the adjustments giving Denard easy, short throws that led to his 6/6 start and our jump to a quick 14-0 lead.

go16blue

November 12th, 2011 at 7:47 PM ^

It must be some recurring hand soreness or something, right? I don't see what else could hold him out of some parts of games, only to have him be fine afterwards. Someone talk me out of this, but I cant help a creeping feeling that he's just not a tough guy. He takes a lot of time off for extremely minor injuries.

TorontoBlue

November 12th, 2011 at 7:23 PM ^

after starting with 5 str8 home games, this team has now played 4 out of the last 5 on the road, going 3-2 for the middle stretch of the season.  now we're back home for two HUGE home games to end the season.  everybody up & out of their seats every play supporting these guys who were mighty impressive today in Champaign.

GO BLUE!

Geaux_Blue

November 12th, 2011 at 7:23 PM ^

it was frustrating to see Hoke go into Manball mode aggressively yet not take the points on that 4th and 1. That game would have been WAY more in hand, especially after the missed fg, with those 3 points.