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Post-ND reactions

Ryan Mallett looked better than Jimmy Clausen. He made more little mistakes, but also didn't throw into coverage consistently, like Clausen did, and completed a variety of passes.

The only truly downfield pass I recall Clausen completing was the 14-yard slant in the first half, which was really a 5 yard pass with 9 YAC. Almost all of Clausen's yardage came from swing or screen passes. Oh, and he completed a hopeless bomb to Stevie Brown. Mallett, on the other hand, made a variety of throws, both downfield and short. Obviously, a big part of his success was the talent around him compared to Clausen, but he did apear to be the better passer in the game. That said, a little bird told me that Henne will probably be able to go next week. Said bird also told me that Henne's sitting against Notre Dame was more to ensure he'd be healthier to play PSU than because he would have been physically unable to perform against the Irish.

A big part of Michigan's success in this game was based on being able to get to the quarterback, which really hadn't happened in games 1 & 2. While this improvement is encouraging, it was based on multiple factors:

  1. Clausen was poised when throwing screens, not so poised when getting crushed before he had a chance to pass it.
  2. Notre Dame's offensive line is terrible.
  3. Brandon Graham was healthy enough to play the whole game.
  4. Notre Dame runs a pro-style offense.
Factors 1 & 2 won't apply against Penn State. Morelli is a senior, and will be able to make better decisions than Clausen (in theory). It will be interesting to see if the memory (or lack thereof) of the Michigan game last year will haunt him. Penn State also returns 4 offensive linemen, all except left tackle Levi Brown. Notre Dame has yielded many more sacks than PSU through 3 games (9, 6, and 8 for a grand total of 23, compared to PSU's 2, 2, and 1 for a total of 5). Of course, caliber of defense must be taken into account as well, as Michigan is likely to get to the quarterback much better than Buffalo, Notre Dame, or FIU.

The positive factors are 3 & 4. Graham will hopefully stay healthy enough for the rest of the season to be a factor in every remaining game. This will allow Shawn Crable play linebacker, which he can, instead of defensive end, which he cannot. Other players coming back from injury this week included Jonas Mouton, who only played on special teams, though he'll hopefully be able to slot in at WLB before the year is through.

The rest of the defense played better as well. This included good games from Chris Graham (which is probably not a reliable indicator of future performance, because he isn't very good), and Brandent Englemon, who solidified his starting position over Stevie Brown. Brown will improve at the position over the course of the year, and will hopefully be ready for starting action next season. Morgan Trent again had a very good game, showing that he is capable of the improvement that now-allegedly-departed Johnny Sears so failed to show.

This week, I was not in the stadium (worked out in the concourse for ESPN: more on that later), but I have heard from multiple sources, including commenters, that the atmosphere in the stadium was much better. The maize out looked pretty good in the student section on TV (but then, they always do).

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“Post-ND reactions”