It was painful exercise for me, stacking Michigan up against the rest of the league this week. Once again the Wolverines take the biggest drop in the Index, mercifully spared from the cellar. There was a shift at the top, with Penn State and Ohio State barely jumping the Hawkeyes:
Coach Lew the Blue (as in sad) Wolverine: Football is 1/3 confidence, 1/3 execution and 1/3 determination. A slip in any factor throws the whole thing out of balance, and then you’re hanging by a thread. Michigan had all 3 in spades the first two games of the season, but then the execution seemed to start slipping during the first half of the Eastern game, and then Penn State seemed to sap all that was left of the team’s confidence. Against Illinois, failure in all three aspects reigned: dropped passes and fumbles are a symptom of lack of confidence; missed reads and blown assignments show failure to execute; and the inability to punch it in from 1st and goal at the 1 and the horrible attempt at tackling on Illinois’ last TD = lack of determination.
This was an easier pill to swallow last year when it could conveniently be chalked up to the coaching change and new system, but it’s totally unexpected at this point of season 2. So how does Michigan fix things? It starts with confidence and that starts at the top. It’s too bad the media blew its access because it’d be interesting to see the mood of the coaches during practice. I think we’ll see some offensive simplification against Purdue to get guys making plays again, and hopefully it will build from there. I’ll be looking for this team to pull together and play hard every down from here on out, much like they did after the dismal start to the 2007 season.
Biggie the Spartan (who’s team got screwed even worse than Indiana on Saturday): I hate my life….Pizza! Pizza!
Gilliam the Badger: Bucky came out of the bye week with redemption in mind in all three aspects of the game, and blanked 37-0 a Purdue team that beat Ohio State two weeks earlier. The tone was set with an 11 play touchdown drive on the opening series, all of which were runs. John Clay finished with 123, for his fourth 100 yarder of the season. QB Scott Tolzien had his fewest attempts of the season; a combination of the shutout and what this Badger fan hopes might be an indication of an offensive drift back to Barry-ball. It’s a simple formula…lean all that meat on the O-line on your guys for four quarters, and beat you into the ground by the end of the game.
Scotty the Buckeye: Looks like Michigan and Michigan State are fighting over who gets to "visit" Detroit for the Motor City Bowl (or whatever they call it now), I hate to say this because it is always a easy excuse when you lose, but the Spartans got screwed by the refs/replay crew on consecutive plays late in the 4th quarter, I guess blame the Spartans for being in that situation, but you always wonder "what if" when you feel like you got shafted.
Buckeye notes –> Not much to take out of beating New Mexico State, the gauntlet begins for them this Saturday in Happy Valley, virtually a elimination game for the Rose Bowl. I expect another defensive battle as we had last year in Columbus, early prediction…. Penn State- 20, Ohio State- 13