10. November 2006 · Comments Off on M Downs Northern Illinois, D Struggles · Categories: Archive 2005, Non Conference, Notre Dame

Long run, sustained drives bring memories of 2004
Michigan took down a solid Northern Illinois team on Saturday but questions remain on the defensive side. Whether is was coach Bo Schembechler at halftime or talk radio after the game, the word on the street is that the defense does not appear to have the solved the problems that plagued last year’s end of season.

On the bright side, the offense looked great, converting when it needed to. You had the feeling Michigan could have ran every play. Freshman Kevin Grady looked good in his Wolverine debut. His acceleration through the holes, and awareness on the field was impressive. Mike Hart still looks strong and M is obviously looking to use him more as a receiver. Surprise punter Ross Ryan looked pretty good; we’ll see where that goes this season.

But the missed tackles, assignments, and in some cases, just getting beat by the man across the line (Gabe Watson!), won’t fly this week against Notre Dame.

I heard Coach Carr’s press conference immediately following the game. He seemed oblivious to the defensive struggles – telling the press that they shouldn’t expect to keep teams’ offenses completely down anymore. He drastically changed his tune on the weekly Monday call, which they actually held this Monday (Labor Day). Check out some of the quotes:

“Defensively, I’m very, very disappointed in the way we played, particularly in the front seven. I don’t think we played well at all up there.”

“We’re just not where we need to be. We need to play harder. We need to play more physical. That is our intent. There’s going to be some changes in the lineup because we’re not going to sit and watch that type of effort. We need to play harder, we need to play tougher.”

Notre Dame crushed Pitt on Saturday night and its offense looked great. Could we be looking at a shootout on Saturday? In the meantime, Michigan moved up to #3 in the nation after Tennessee dropped. This certainly doesn’t feel like a #3 in the country- the pollsters must consider the offense a big enough weapon to carry this team.

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