It was everything you didn't want it to be, except a loss. When you travel to Evanston, which is the most disconnected campus in all the land, the last thing you need is to be thinking about is if your team is going to win, especially in the 4th quarter. 'Twas another lackluster first half of Michigan football that included a two quarterback system, the "don't finish a tackle" defense, and a bend don't break strategy in combination with the "donut" coverage package. "Pissed off" doesn't quite do it justice. A more blue than purple group of onlookers were less than enthusiastic to welcome back the Wolverines of week one and week two....and that's exactly what it looked like.
The second half was a slightly different story. Freshman Ryan Mallet went back to the headset and clipboard that we all (or most) hope he will don for the remainder of the Big Ten campaign. The defense, in absence of actual coverage or stopping big plays, decided to let Northwestern implode. A collective thank you to Northwestern as bad passes, dropped passes, and turnovers on their last four possessions did exactly what we needed it to do...hand us this game on a silver platter. Though it seemed as we were trying to reject their offer of a free road opening victory, behind Henne we took just enough advantage of the miscues of the Wildcats to win. Actually, let's call it "not losing" this week.
Aside from the disappointment in the flat performance, we'll take the road victory (obviously). The three remaining away games will be very serious tests, so perhaps it was good to get the rust out in Evanston.
There is still a glaring problem though...placekicking. Jason Gingell, heretofore known only as "Ginger," is 3 of 9 on field goals this season. I'm done asking why we don't have a kicker. I've been asking that question for the better part of my adult life. Northwestern's kicker...better than ours. App State's kicker...better than ours. When we get to the 30 yard line, we should know that we are getting at least 3 points. That should never be a question for a football program like Michigan. Instead, we have a guy that is 1 of 3 on 20-29 yard kicks. Unacceptable. I don't care if this guy is routinely draining 60 yarders in practice...which I am certain he's not...we need to try somebody else. Or perhaps we can go the Duke route and have open goddamn tryouts. Ya...were about as good as Duke.
Michigan 28, Northwestern 16...Duke 20, Northwestern 14. Hmmmmm.
Hurry Up and Tailgate
Our theme-less tailgate went off without a hitch. Mini-burgers, sausage and cheese chowder, and cheesy potatoes were quickly shoved down our throats in the 3-hour tailgate before the 11am (local) kickoff. Brats and a re-hash of leftover mini-burgers made an appearance in the postgame. Good stuff. We are certainly in mid-season form and ready for the battle of Washtenaw County.