Sunday, September 11, 2011

Notre Dame Post Game: Minute to Win It

David Guralnick/The Detroit News

I'm not sure I have the proper words to explain what happened last night.   I thought the final score would be about right, I just didn't expect Michigan to score all of it's points in the 4th quarter.  

The Tale of Two Halves

I thought Big Al called a terrible first half.  Not even trying to run the ball with the running backs and not doing anything to fool the ND defense with some creative run calls or screens.   The ND defense said to Denard and company "beat us through the air" and Michigan replied, "sorry we can't."

The loss of Troy Woolfolk was huge.  Side note:  Can we get a mobile bubble unit for this kid?  A padded bubble?  Since it seems Brady Hoke went to the Lloyd Carr school of misleading injury information, It looks to me that Troy had a sprained ankle, broken hand or fingers and now a cut or broken nose.  The Michigan coaches need to figure out how to keep him healthy because he maybe  is the most important guy on defense.

What was the deal with man coverage on Michael Floyd?  To go back to my earlier question; It was like the Michigan defense asked ND to beat them with Michael Floyd and Brian Kelly responded, sure!  No offense to JT Floyd or Courtney Avery but they can't cover Michael Floyd 1 on 1 under any circumstances.   The only person that had an outside chance would have been a healthy TWolf and he clearly wasn't. 

The first half of the game went to Notre Dame and without some big changes on both sides of the ball, it looked like it could be a blowout at half time. 

Watch Me Do Me

Nobody is going to confuse Denard's passing game with Andrew Luck's but after hating the play calls in the first half it seemed Al, thought to himself; "we need this kid to make plays even if ND won't let us."   In the 3rd quarter, Denard started to get "creative" and it helped with field position but it really wasn't giving Michigan any points.    The game was clearly on his shoulders to win or lose.   He fought hard but still wasn't sharp throwing the ball and wasn't getting any help from his wide receivers either.

On the other side of the ball, I kept wondering, "how the hell are we still in this game?".  It felt like Michigan was down 41-7 when it really was only 24-7.  The Michigan defense played well in spurts and the ND turnovers were the only reason, Michigan had a shot at the end of the game.   It seemed every time, Michigan blitzed ND had the answer with a short pass right at the guy that was blitzing.  Even when Mike Martin dropped into coverage (really?) they ran up the middle.  That formation on the last drive where it looked like Michigan was bringing everyone, which was a clear attempt to fool Tommy Rees failed and should have been the difference in the game.   When Michigan shows a blitz from Kovacs or a linebacker too early, they sometimes have to check back out of it.   Rees ate them up every time. 

In the 4th quarter the football gods were shinning on the Wolverines for keeping this game close.  The jump balls mostly went Michigan's way and even fumbles were bouncing to Denard for touchdowns.   The bottom line is, if ND CB's played the ball in the air better or didn't blow a coverage on Gallon on the last drive, the end result would have been different.  But who cares, I will take this exciting victory!

Denard played like he could through the air and on the ground.  He won the game for Michigan and the defense did enough to keep the Wolverines in shouting distance.

Cheers and Jeers

  • The Big House at Night a Michigan's fan delight
  • 2nd half Denard
  • Big Will showing some emotion and actually getting some meaningful snaps
  • Jake Ryan and Brandin Hawthorne had some nice plays
  • The 9-11 tribute
  • ESPN for starting the game on ESPN news due to the other game running long
  • The Michigan offensive line that keeps having good games
  • JR Hemingway's effort that kept Michigan close in the first half and most of the second.
  • 4th quarter execution on both sides of the ball
  • Al Borges play calls and Denard's execution in the first half
  • Michigan's D showing the blitz packages way too early
  • Single coverage on Floyd
  • Use of the running backs - (Hopkins carrying the ball scares me.  Give him some confidence carries against EMU not ND!)
  • Dropping Mike Martin into coverage, let him do what he does!
  • Paging Craig Roh
  • Some WR drops

Today feels very similar to where we were last year.  2-0 with another last second win against ND.  Denard is all over the media and Michigan is headed for another good start.  It's the good middle and finish we are looking for as well.  I will take any win against a rival on national TV with a last second touchdown but let's not fool ourselves that this team could even play with the Wisconsin's of the world right now.

It's clear, Michigan has work to do on both sides of ball.  Being more consistent on offense because everyone is going to try to take away Denard's run game and finding the right defensive personnel.  I think this defense could be average but we need to find the right guys.   I didn't see much of Brandon Herron in the game and saw Jared Van Slyke a number of times.  The Michigan defense line needs to find a way to get pressure on the QB without blitzing on every down.

The Michigan coaches have plenty to work on and hopefully Eastern will give them a chance to work on few things next week.   Either way, I will take another great win over ND and it sure was fun watching the 4th quarter.   I think Hoke said, games like this is where legends are born.  On Saturday night the Legend of Denard Robinson wasn't born it just continued to grow. 

I'm betting many Michigan fans around the globe didn't get much sleep last night!   Go Blue!


Voice of Reason said...

My gut told me that ND was pointing to this game since the end of last year. I believe they felt that they would walk over USF with no problem because after all, who is USF, and placed their focus on preparing for Michigan. I think that is the reason why they stumbled so much against USF and played so well against Michigan.

That and the fact that Skip Holtz was pointing for the ND game because of their former connection to ND. In other words, Brian Kelly was looking in the wrong direction since the spring. They should have been preparing for USF instead of preparing for Michigan during that time.

doctor_kaz said...

I agree with your take on Borges's play-calling in the first half, but I would even extend that to the second half too. We did try to beat ND through the air, but they were downfield passes that Denard has lots of trouble completing. I liked the spread because when you put four WRs on the field, the defense has no choice but to loosen up the run defense. You can also loosen up a defense with downfield passing, but Denard is not good at it.