You're Kind of a Dick, Pete

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A third of the way through the season was enough.  A semi-regular scheduled B1G cupcake showed signs of life under a new regime, and presented a unique opportunity to play in a somewhat big time game on the road.  It was time to show something.  And that statement applied to several facets of the game.  Wilton needed to show he could handle some pressure and make some throws, the line needed to show it could hold off the pass rush and/or make a couple of holes to assist in establishing a run game, and the coaching staff needed to show they had the ability to call plays that recognize our weaknesses.  So here we are all giddy to finally show the world that we are not the team that left Cincinnati and Air Force with varying degrees of second-half hope, and that we were ready to roll with the patented scripted first drive on the road in a hostile (in a Disney kind of way) environment and we....

4 plays, 11 yards PUNT,  3 plays, 7-yards PUNT, 3-plays, -6 yards LOSE YOUR QUARTERBACK and PUNT

Dick

Dick

Uninspiring, frustrating, and absolutely familiar.  I couldn't help but think to myself (when I wasn't wondering if I'd make it through the sweat lodge of an afternoon we endured) that I'd already been to this game 3 times.  It's uncomfortable.  No matter what you think is on the horizon in the form of adjustments, you have to wonder why we don't have a gameplan that is serviceable for the first half kickoff.

So John O'Korn strolls in on his big white horse and as we cross over into the 2nd quarter he leads one of those Michigan drives of yesteryear.  13 plays, 6+ minutes of eye test butter.  Dude is seeing the field better.  He's making throws on the run.  He's side stepping the rush like Wilton used to, and using the tight end like Griese used to...while Pep and Drevno called plays like DeBord used to!  Wait, scratch that last one.  The "gotta be Wilton's fault" portion of fanbase starts breaking their arms patting themselves on the back, not even paying attention as Purdue goes the length of the field in less than two minutes to tie it up.

The word of mouth version of the historical record of this game will contend that John O'Korn was a marvel of efficiency and went on to, from this point, lead Michigan on a 21-3 run to finish the game, saving the offense and righting the Michigan Football ship.  Which, kinda.

HOWEVA...

The first half for Michigan ended with INTERCEPTION, PUNT, PUNT.  The second half started with PUNT, FUMBLE.  For those 5 possessions, Michigan's offense looked as middling as ever.  And to be fair to his predecessor, it should be noted that O'Korn had bad passes (wide open Grant Perry), mis-reads, and took sacks.

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Purdue had the lead in this game until 2:42 remaining in the 3rd quarter.  That's two full quarters of shiny new savior quarterback with just 1 touchdown to show for it.  And that's against a defense that, while having at the helm the coordinator most likely to scare you into pooping your pants, will firmly reside at the lower rung of defenses we will face this season.  What I'm saying is, offensively, things are not great, things are not fixed, and if you think Dickbag McGoo is bringing Little Brother in here in two weeks to lay down under the lights, you've got another thing coming.  That asshat will throw the Iowa game to get the extra prep in for us.  He's got nothing to lose.

OK, OK, allow me to join the Michigan optimist set for a set for just a moment.  The 4th quarter did get those warm fuzzies percolating.  Three consecutive touchdown drives that checked all the boxes (running, passing, clock ticking) put a pretty bow on a game that was 100% won by a defense that decided not to allow yards in the 2nd half.  The defense has gasoline and a flamethrower, but there's no question O'Korn was a spark.  We seemed to respond better to his play, and had better execution of what seemed to be a simpler offense geared for the backup.  WE FOUND THE TIGHT ENDS.  Evans's hole hitting timing was on a couple times.  And don't forget about the extra fuel provided by what could only be classified as "Purdue is a bunch of dicks." 

Dick #2

Dick #2

Dick #3

Dick #3

Mid-week mouthiness, multiple ejections for dangerous hits, and apparently making Boilers in no way qualifies you for making Air Conditioners, as the visitor locker room was so steamy the boys spent halftime on the team bus.  That's some middle-school facility shit fellas.  What are you doing with your share of the bowl game money that you get even though you haven't been to one in 5 years?  Is it drum care?  How much drum does a college football team need?

In the end Saturday became an on-paper triumph.  Michigan covers the 10.5 point spread to appease the poll and power rankings geeks, and has a bye week to work on the O'Korn offensive packages in what Coach is calling "improvement week" before hosting Sparty in a UTL affair.  

Time to prepare your livers folks.  Go Blue!

Game page with pics, etc, is here.

Pictures From the West Lafayette Tailgate and the Boilermaker's Return to Earth

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Forced Air

Upchurch/MGoBlog

Upchurch/MGoBlog

In the pre-season, you predicted greatness despite the fact that no team in the history of college football that returned so few starters has ever finished that season in the top 25.  And who could blame you?  I mean, no team that returned so few starters has ever had a Harbaugh, amiright?  After polishing off the Gators in Dallas you bought in to the fact that we are skipping the normal order of program building operations and moving right to the reload and win championships stage.  This is year three fergodsakes.  But then...

Upchurch/MGoBlog

Upchurch/MGoBlog

Two games perfect for building/rebuilding instead became battles into the 4th quarter.  While the defense dominated, the offense decided that the 20-yard line is as far as they were willing to go.  Speight is taking the brunt of the criticism, but it's a much bigger problem than just him.  The O-Line isn't quite gelling, particularly that right side.  Play-calling has had the occasional hint of DeBord.  And while there have been some missed throws, there's been a nearly equal number of drops and tips.  Perhaps most importantly, there has been no flair, no excitement.  In fact, the most emotion we've seen when Michigan has the ball has been arms flailing in frustration.  Outside of the slowly building historic consistency of Quinn Nordin and DPJ's punt return, scoring has been difficult and boring to watch. 

But we're good, right?  

Upchurch / MGoBlog

Upchurch / MGoBlog

This is where we try to sell ourselves on the purposely vanilla gameplan (we're hiding stuff, guys!) or on the yet unrecognized strength of the cupcakes (that Cincy/Air Force defense is going to wreak havoc in their respective non-Power 5 conferences!), but that doesn't negate or excuse the fact that Michigan has twice been just an asshair (albeit a thick one) away from a program debilitating setback.  

Without improvement this path will certainly lead to defeat, and perhaps sooner than we once imagined.  Purdue has decided to play football, and Sparty is already looking to tie their win total from last year (which was 3.  They had 3 total wins last year.  Seriously, 3.).  So the plan to get by Florida and let everyone grow up for 7 weeks before the white out in Happy Valley isn't going to work out.  Last year, Speight was a young guy being helped by a veteran receiving core of Butt, Darboh, and Chesson.  This year, Speight is a young guy throwing to younger guys.  Speight and the fresh crop of receivers need to get on the same page now.  Michigan needs to improve now.  Michigan needs to open up the playbook now.  

Somewhere between "Michigan sucks" and "Michigan fans suck" I think there is a happy medium to be found.  They need more time.  We need more patience.  And that's an alright place to be when you're 3-0.