Sunday, September 7, 2008


Finally! The first victory of Michigan's 2008 season and first under new coach Rich Rodriguez came yesterday afternoon at the expense of the Miami (OH) Redhawks, 16-6. The Wolverines started out fast and scored 10 points in the first quarter before cooling down and holding off Miami the rest of the way. Although a win is a win, I wasn't exactly in awe of Michigan's performance yesterday. True, they did execute the offense slightly better than last week and the defense played much better over an entire game but there were many lapses in downfield coverage and were it not for a few dropped passes and a good play by Michigan safety Brandon Harrison, Miami might have won this game handily. When you're a two-touchdown favorite, the other team should never even sniff a chance at victory. So, clearly, there is still plenty of work left to do before the team's first road game at Notre Dame next weekend.

Things I liked about yesterday's game:
  • Steven Threet's legs. I was amazed at how mobile he was in comparison to what I had been told about him. Everyone had said that he could not move around or out of the pocket but yesterday he was running all over Miami's defense. As a 6'6" quarterback, Threet shouldn't be able to do things like that. It was incredible to watch.
  • Sam McGuffie. This true freshman is the real deal folks. He may, in fact, be the fastest white guy I've ever seen in college football since Tim Dwight. He ran around Miami defenders so easily it looked like they were standing still. I think McGuffie easily would have eclipsed the 100-yard plateau if the play calling was more creative.
  • Michigan's Defensive Line. They got to Miami's quarterback occasionally and stuffed the run for most of the game. They weren't as good as they were in the second half of the Utah game but they were much better than they were in the first half of the Utah game. Overall, a solid performance.
  • The big plays. Michigan almost never runs plays that end up going for 30, 40, or 50 yards. Yesterday they had a few pass plays and running plays that utilized the speed of their skill players and went for huge chunks of yardage. Those were exciting to watch and I expect more to come as the season moves along.
Things I didn't like about yesterday's game:
  • Steven Threet's arm. His passes were off target and often overthrown. As good as Threet was running the ball, he was just as bad throwing it. And at the end of the day, I will always take a quarterback who can throw the ball effectively over one that can run the ball effectively.
  • The continuous quarterback circle. I did not like Rich Rodriguez's decision to switch back and forth, seemingly without reason, between quarterbacks Steven Threet and Nick Sheridan. In the Utah game, it made sense to make the switch during the game because Sheridan wasn't getting the job done. But yesterday, Rodriguez replaced Threet with Sheridan when Michigan was up 10-3 at the end of the first half even though Threet was running the offense fairly well. Then, Rodriguez started the second half with Threet instead of Sheridan and later switched the two again. I understand that neither or these quarterbacks are very good and they both need to gain some experience but I think it hurts the rest of the team when no one knows who their quarterback is going to be on any given possession.
  • Michigan's Defensive Secondary. I was disappointed in the amount of plays where Miami receivers were completely open and would have scored if their quarterback had better accuracy. Donovan Warren and Morgan Trent had some big hits but sometimes left too much space in their coverage and allowed Miami players to get a couple extra yards and key first downs. Stevie Brown was a disappointment at safety for much of the game and definitely needs to improve before next week.
  • On/off switch of the offense. The first drive of the game was amazing. Right down the field for a convincing touchdown. After that, the offense must have flipped the switch to "off" because they couldn't move the ball at all. A lack of creativity in play calling and execution on third downs allowed Miami to slowly crawl back into a game they had no business competing in. The final touchdown of the game was another great drive down the field to put the game out of reach but I don't understand why they can't succeed like that more often. The botched extra point at the end was also worrisome but hopefully a fluke occurrence.
Well, like I said before, a win is a win. And they needed to beat Miami (OH) yesterday. If they had lost that game, I might have lost all faith in humanity. Thankfully, they won and can hopefully use their first victory to build some confidence, move forward and continue to improve. It wasn't pretty, but it will do. Luckily, Notre Dame looked positively awful yesterday in their close victory over San Diego State so I'm hoping they will nurture that ineptitude and bring it to next week's game against Michigan. I'll be back sometime before Saturday to preview the first rivalry game of the year and the first road test for Michigan but until then, take care and I hope everyone had a good weekend.

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