Balance

I find it difficult not to build extensive transitive-property-filled matricies in my head to grade strength of opponent and compare us to our rival (our rival is Ohio State btw, we have just one) and the rest of the teams in the top 10 (Sparty is not in the top 10). I do this even though I am very aware that it is meaningless and stupid. Every game is built on its own emotions and motivations, oftentimes not understood by those outside that locker room. Every game is is unique, filled with injuries, matchups and strategies that don't necessarily apply to last week or next week.  Not sure if Wisconsin is more Georgia State tightrope or MSU domination...or if everybody would have had Furman driving for a game tying touchdown in the 4th quarter.  

One-dimensional offensive attacks rarely work.  In these days of parity, 90% (this is a made up number) of college football games feature defenses have the ability to force you to do that which you are the least proficient at.  So the ability to be a running team that can also pass, or a passing team that can also run, is huge. It's called balance. And it doesn't necessarily mean passing and rushing yards come out equal in a game. It means that you can identify and prey on the defensive weaknesses. Run all day one day. Pass all day the next. Repeat through January.

On Saturday, Michigan was freely able to do both pass and run the ball. Penn State was able to do neither. Of our opponents in 2016, Penn State was either the worst, or they saw our best.  Hawaii could at least play the jet lag card. My fear of Franklin being a good coach that could find some weakness in the Wolverines and exploit it was all for naut. Outclassed. Out-manned. Out-coached. They'll have that Paterno statue back up in State College soon. They have nothing else. 

I keep trying to decide if we are good. The data set is too small and the teams we have played maybe just suck. As much as closing the deal during next week's hot date with a top-10 Wisconsin team would do wonders for our perception nationally, the Badgers beat a floundering and now coachless LSU team and a shitty Michigan Agricultural College team. I'm left with no comparison data for the only two teams I think are any good: Ohio State and Alabama. See, I'm thinking too much again. We're back to last week's conundrum. We're supposed to shut up an enjoy this.

So...

I'm not really sure if we've seen this before.  This is not the blueprint of Bo or Lloyd, or the confusion of Rich Rod and Brady, this is what building a program looks like in 2016.  The rotations, the competitions, the silent swagger.  This is beautiful.  The loyalty is less and the expectation is more.  Pick any coach from the Michigan tree prior to Harbaugh, and Deveon Smith would be an every down back.  You can't put a value on what we've got out of that position by having that role split.  Not that it matters, but you can't put a value on the fun we've had as fans getting to watch it either.

And speaking of balance, have you ever seen week to week footwork improvement out of a Michigan quarterback like you have out of Wilton?  He went from Navarre to Tate-lite in 4-weeks.  That statuesque bastard was side-stepping rushers and even ran for a first down with a juke for good measure on Saturday.

More fun...

Michigan has a HUGE game this Saturday vs. #8 Wisconsin. It's EXCITING! The Wolverines have not beaten a top-10 opponent in the Big House since 2008 (also Wisconsin - Rich Rod and Tate basically made out at the end). It's the last of the 5-home games to start the season before taking Jabril and Rashan back to their home state to tap Rutger's ass.

Other good things in no particular order: Taco is back. Sparty got housed.  Lewis is back. Rashan is going to be a dominant force by the time we get to Indy. Iowa seems to suck. Harbaugh could bring in Les Miles as an advisor to finally force the Miles - Moeller fight we've been waiting 25 years for.

That's all.  Go Blue!

Pictures from the Wild Game Tailgate

Game page is available here, or by following the year link at the top of the page.  See you Saturday!  Go Blue!

Stop Arguing with Yourself and Enjoy the Ride: Michigan 45-Colorado 28

If this post seems like an internal point-counterpoint, that's because I have two voices in my head:  One that booked hotels at all final four venues, and one that is protecting me from inevitable disappointment.

PHOTO: Barron / MGoBlog

PHOTO: Barron / MGoBlog

Our fair Wolverines, who are always "just focused on improving," seemed to take a step back each week of the non-conference portion of the schedule as the competition got tougher and tougher.  As the first quarter of the regular season comes to an end and we gear up for Big Ten play, the "eye-test" isn't making us all warm and fuzzy about being led to the promised land by our former quarterback turned head coach messiah.  But that's because we're fickle assholes that think anything less than perfection is the end of the world.  Man, I'll be damned if I'm going to sit here and bitch about winning the first three games of the season by a combined score of 159-45.  You'd be hard pressed to find a team that wouldn't switch places with us.

PHOTO: Barron / MGoBlog

PHOTO: Barron / MGoBlog

HOWEVA... It seems we're currently susceptible to the big play.  A combination of a lack of Jourdan Lewis and the fellas adjusting to the Don Brown aggressive-style defense has burned us a few times this year, and needs improvement. 

HOWEVA #2... The line isn't pushing like we would like it to.  Granted, I'm not sure it ever could after the expectation of holes bigger than Scott Frost's mom's mouth were set in the Hawaii game.   But when Wilton got his bell rung, we needed to be able to run the ball until he got his shit together, and we couldn't.

AND YET...  Colorado scored one touchdown after the first quarter, one of their touchdowns were defensive, and they only had one sustained drive all day (10 plays, 67 yards).  Michigan survived a wobbly Speight that went 3 of 12 for a stint, and still managed to Jabril the shit out of them for a 17-point victory, outscoring them 38-7 in the final three quarters.

PHOTO: Barron / MGoBlog

PHOTO: Barron / MGoBlog

AND YET #2...  Michigan averaged 4.1 yards per rush.  Sure, they did it with some jet sweeps, and with Ty Isaac finding his way out to the edge, but it's still 4.1 yards per carry.  And we held the Buffs to 1.9 YPC.

AND YET #3... Doc Lessner told me special teams wins ballgames.  Ours is so good that it shanked two field goals and still would win the best unit award for the day.  By mid-season, teams are not just going to kick punts out of bounds (when they're not blocked), they're going to kick the ball off out-of-bounds.

So we move in to the Big Ten, scoffing at arguably the most successful pre-conference results we've ever had.  We host Penn State on Saturday, who last week honored a man in their pre-game that provided safe harbor to a pedophile for the better part of 40-years.  It will be a new and (according to Vegas) slightly tougher challenge than the last, continuing the perfect step-by-step schedule put together by the ultimate schedule architect...Dave Brandon.  I got $100 that says if Michigan wins any type of championship this year, he orders himself a ring.

The Tailgate, The Tailgate, The Tailgate:  Wild Game

The rain kept the bulk of the crowd away until mid-day, but the handful of us that were there filled our bellies with Duck Confit Hash and bacon for breakfast .  It ramped up in a hurry towards the end as buffalo burgers, buffalo wings, and wild game jerkies filled the tables.

Next week is a 90's theme tailgate:  Music provided by the famous 90's DJ's: 4th Dimension DJ and Video.  Wear your 90's Wolverines gear.  Food is TBD (is there 90's food?)