Sunday, September 13, 2009



That was pretty cool.

I'm not sure we absolutely needed to win yesterday to make the statement that our program is back on the national scene, but it sure did help. Win or loose, the way we played was enough to raise some eyebrows and make some heads nod around the country. We looked comfortable on offense, and, save for a few mistakes, our secondary was pretty decent against arguably the second best offense we will face this year. All in-all, it was a huge win for confidence alone.

But all of that is moot compared to what actually happened on the field yesterday.

There was a point late in yesterday's game that I said to myself, "We are for sure good enough to win this game, but I'm not sure we are mature enough to make it happen."

I stand majorly corrected.

This team had multiple chances to mentally fold this game and give up a win that was ours for the taking. But they didn't. Untimely interceptions, a few blown leads, missed open receivers, and dropped touchdown passes were all overcome. The short memory, focus, and drive of this team is something that we did not see all of last year. How many close games like this did we lose in 2008 due to general inexperience and confusion? It would appear that that is becoming a thing of the past.

I was proud to see our team perform like they did yesterday, and it was a timely win for a program that is trying hard to make a statement. All in all, a very impressive win. It's clear that we need to make some adjustments and still have a lot of things to learn. But we are doing some serious growing up, and we are doing it mighty fast.

In other news...

It would appear that Tate Forcier has a pretty firm grasp on the starting QB job for at least the next few weeks. TF exceeded all expectations yesterday, looking like a seasoned veteran for the entire game save for a few mistakes. In my account, TF made no major errors, and as a fan, I feel much more comfortable with him at the helm. Even the late interception he threw didn't prove to be costly, due to his short memory and ability to let it roll right off of his back and get out there and keep firing. Also, let's not forget how badly he broke that guy's ankles on his TD run. This is not to say that Denard Robinson won't get some snaps in the coming weeks (especially as we play some scrubby teams), but I think his playing time will be limited and mostly in specialty packages as long as TF continues to play like he did this week.

Thoughts? Comments? Disagreements? Bring it on...


GregGoBlue said...

Charlie Weis after the game on Forcier: "For a freshman, I thought he managed the game very well,"


NHWolverine said...

Tate definitely showed some poise that I was incredibly proud of Saturday, but I can't say that I can agree with this statement:

"In my account, TF made no major errors"

He did throw that interception on the missed route by Matthews. I'm a reasonable man so I would have still been extremely excited with what I saw if he threw 3 of these, but the timing was awful and it could have cost us the game against a better team - PSU, OSU, Bowl, etc.

In all I think Lloyd would have summed up TF's performance as follows:

"He was tremendous."

Sancho said...

I see where you might consider this a major error...

But in my opinion, as a freshman, playing in the biggest game he has ever played in, he was bound to make some kind of mistake like that. The thing about it is, I can't classify the INT as a major error because of the fact that he is so young and also because of the fact that it is not entirely his fault.

Couldn't you argue that Mathews was at fault for this (which he certainly made up for later)? For all we know, he ran the wrong route rather than Tate making a bad pass.

Tomato, tomahto...but either way, we have a special kid on our hands.

GregGoBlue said...

That interception was a bad read by Mathews, as he admitted after the game. Had Mathews read the coverage correctly, Tate would have made the perfect throw.

MK said...

Greg is right about the throw, Mathews did admit to reading the coverage incorrectly and going the wrong way.

As for the game it's certainly a major thrill for the the players, coaches and fans that wanted this so badly but weren't sure it was going to happen (especially when M punted with 3 minutes left).

Surprisingly no one has mentioned Brandon Minor. HE IS A DIFFERENCE MAKER. It almost seems like the line blocks better for him...while that is silly to insinuate, it's clear he makes excellent reads and bulldozes through holes. It looks like he's at full speed the moment he gets the ball. He is our running game. Carlos Brown just doesn't have it - although I do like him catching the ball out of the backfield. M needs Minor to stay healthy and keep the pressure off Tate Forcier/Denard Robinson.

Unless something unexpected happens, we've almost certainly seen the last of Nick Sheridan. Maybe that goes without saying, but I choose to say it.

Other offensive notes

In an earlier post I stated that there is/should be a special relationship developing between TF and tight end Kevin Koger. We saw it on one TD and a two point conversion. What a weapon to have in the middle of the field.

It seemed to me Tate gained some early confidence because of a few circus catchings by Greg Mathews and Brown during M's first offensive series. Mathews leapt over an ND player to snatch a bomb that was poorly thrown and Brown adjusted to pass that was thrown behind him, managing to tip it a few times before finally hauling it in. TF often says he makes the throws and trusts the playmakers to make plays, but he barely made the the throws on the those early plays in particular. Who knows what might have happened if those two receptions weren't completed? I thought they were very big, TF became increasingly more accurate as the game went on.

Frankly M's defensive effort was shaky at best. ND rolled up nearly 500 yards of total offense and appeared to only stall out when they couldn't come up with plays - not when M stopped them. Observers of that game are kidding themselves if they think M's defense played well.

Now in fairness to M's defense, ND is a nasty offensive team. Clausen seems to beyond legit as do receivers Golden Tate and Michael Floyd. It did appear ND stopped throwing to Donovan Warren's side after he broke up a deep pass in the 2nd quarter that would've been a TD had it been caught. Cissoko simply got picked on all day - and rightly so because he couldn't stop Floyd or Tate.

Up front it felt like Roh was overmatched, Martin and Van Bergen were neutralized and Graham was mostly neutralized/held a lot. I think ND had at least 3 holding penalties and in my biased opinion could have had several more against Graham. Still, it's ridiculous that Michigan couldn't get any pressure on Clausen. M only got to Clausen on linebacker or safety blitzes and late hits. Unfortunately Clausen is good enough to rid of the ball. After Mike Williams got hurt, it seemed like Greg Robinson abandoned the safety blitz. Perhaps he didn't feel like he could afford to bring a safety with Cissoko getting abused so badly.

As for the linebackers, it's hard to think of a big play they made. Clearly ND is a juggernaut on offense and Michigan was just a little better...

Which brings me to special teams. M does not win this game without Darryl Stonum's kickoff return for a TD. It energized the crowd and was THE difference in this game. If you happen to re-watch it, check out Martavious Odoms' big block that sprang Stonum.

After saying all that, considering the confidence/national exposure a win like this brings, deficiencies be damned!! It sure was fun.

Let's spend the next two weeks improving and piling up some wins.

By the way, anyone a little scared we've cracked the Top 25?

GregGoBlue said...

Michael, so wonderful to get your thoughts! Keep 'em coming.

Yes, the defense was exposed as an obvious weakness of M's. But, as you alluded to, ND has one heck of an offense! Their o-line made our D-line look tiny, or, as RR playfully puts it "they could eat peanuts off our helmets". I guess that's some kind of country saying for "gee whiz, they were big!" They protected Clausen extremely well the entire game. Speaking of Clausen, he is absolutely deadly with the deep ball.

I actually thought Boubacar played a pretty decent game (though I realize I'm in the minority when I say that). I think Michael Floyd will make anybody look ridiculous, and his getting hurt turned the momentum in our favor (Shaq Evans, nation's #1 WR recruit last year, dropping a key ball in his absence!). It's so hard to defend a team with 2 home run threats at WR, and G. Robinson had a lot of confidence by often putting our DBs on an island and blitzing the hell out of Clausen. When we didn't blitz, though, Clausen picked us apart with ease. So I think for being isolated time and time and time again, Boubacar actually played fairly well against one of the nation's best wide receivers.

Now, I think major Kudos are in order to Stevie Brown. Nice job, stevie. Well played. I also think that it will be a happy day when we get a stud middle linebacker recruit to replace Obi Ezeh, who is playing at a B- fairly consistently. And where, oh where was RVB? Outmatched, is where. Also, no Mike Martin, barely any Roh. DEFENSE? WHERE ART THOU?!?