Monday, October 4, 2010

Another One for the Win Column

The legend grows.
A friend of mine got married Saturday, which put me in the uncomfortable position of leaving the house to watch the game.  After the early wedding ceremony I drove to four different bars within the immediate vicinity of the reception in hopes of finding one that had the game.  Two of the bars were permanently closed, and a third had two TV's and no ESPNU.  Needless to say I was getting very annoyed that the city of Wixom   and its inability to support a decent sports bar   might cost me a chance to watch the game.  I switched on the radio as I drove to the fourth bar and caught the tail end of Indiana's first touchdown drive.  As I pulled in to the parking lot a commercial came on just after the extra point.  I was barely inside the door before Denard Robinson broke free for his first touchdown.  That quick strike touchdown set the tone for the whole day.

This is what we as fans have signed up for this season.  A dynamic offense and a shell of a defense.  Point after point after point.  Games going down to the wire.  After the last two seasons I'll take a win any way I can get it.  I have accepted the fact that every game this year is going to go something like the Indiana game on Saturday, with long drives for opposing teams, exciting scores for Michigan, and everything in doubt until the final whistle.  That doesn't mean I'm excited about it.  My heart can only take so much stress.

Mike Martin continues his one man show.
After the games, I find myself going through massive mood swings the rest of the weekend.  A product, no doubt, of everything that happens in those three and a half hours on a Saturday.  Sometimes I curse the defense for failing to do anything of value on the field.  Sometimes I get upset at the offense for going three and out or turning the ball over.  The hours after the game are spent worrying what the last game means going forward.  Does giving up 480 pass yards to Indiana mean anything this weekend against MSU?  What about next weekend when the Wolverines take on Iowa?  Ohio State at the end of the season?  Can Michigan win games where they are doubled up on time of possession?  Can the offense keep making other teams look absolutely stupid?

The fact is, this team is 5-0, and outside of that we don't know anything moving forward that we haven't really known all along.  This offense is capable of great things, and this defense is capable of just enough to win games.  That doesn't feel like a good enough explanation on Sunday morning when I am nursing a hangover and reading post game recaps, but in the end it is all we have.  That and 5-0.


I have yet to watch the whole game.  I spent the first half pacing around a sports bar in Walled Lake and probably scaring the couples and families around me that were only somewhat interested in the happenings of the day.  For the second half I sat in my car outside the reception hall listening to the radio feed and sucking down whiskey & coke while texting updates to friends unable to ignore their adult responsibilities that afternoon.  This being the case I will keep my comments on the game brief.  More to come after I watch the game on DVR.
  • The offense continues to score almost at will.  Something has to be said about the level of defense these past few weeks, but at the same time this level of execution is promising for the future.  Sometimes you're just on, and I don't see this offense falling off like last year.
  • Even being on fire isn't always enough.  The fumble late in the first quarter was an early turning point that kept Indiana close.  If Michigan scores there they probably go into halftime up one touchdown, maybe two and the game is never close.
  • The defense, however, is still exactly what we thought it was.  After spending most of the weekend quivering at what MSU would be able to do on offense, I have leveled off slightly.  The bad is that the defense bled yards up and down the field to Indiana, gave up a 99 yard touchdown drive, and allowed touchdowns with under two minutes to go in the end of each half.  Ben Chappell carved the back eight to pieces and Tandon Doss did whatever he wanted out there.
  • On the other hand, the defense played the kind of game that allowed the Wolverines to win.  Against a very good passing team they only allowed one quick scoring drive (5 plays).  The other touchdowns came off drives of 10, 11, 13, and 13 plays.  As much as it hurts me to watch a team march down the field, this plays into our defensive strategy of bend and don't break.  What could have been the 5th long touchdown drive (9 plays, 54 yards) ended in an interception at the goal line.  Furthermore, four other drives of 5+ plays and 20+ yards ended with no scores.  This defense isn't going to stop people, but Saturday they slowed a dynamic Indiana pass defense enough to pull out a victory at the end.
  • Special teams seemed to play average in limited opportunities, but I am still concerned that this unit will cost the Wolverines a game.  Hopefully it isn't next week against a very dangerous Keshawn Martin.
  • Is anyone willing to bet against Denard Robinson with the ball in his hands at the end of a game?  The offense stalled in the 4th quarter, but absolutely came through when needed.
  • This team is 5-0, and has the most exciting player in the nation taking snaps.  Enjoy every second of it.
Another week, another wide receiver steps up to have a huge game on offense.
More content coming this week after I can watch more of the game myself.  Also, I hope to bring back my weekly Big Ten roundup now that we are into the conference season.

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