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Postgame thoughts: NU Edition

First Half Defense
The defense didn't have a great first half, but if you take out the two big plays (the pass where just about everyone thought Rasheed Ward was down except Ward himself, and the 49-yard Conteh touchdown run), the defense was stout, though not excellent.

64 of NU's 212 first half passing yards came on that play, about 55 of them after the "tackle." Take those yards away, and Michigan held NU to 157 first-half passing yards. This is respectable but not great. It's got to be expected given Michigan's shitty secondary.

The rushing touchdown, if removed from the first-half stats, takes NU's yardage down from 15 rushes for 97 yards to 14 rushes for 48 yards. This would be much better.

However, it must be remembered that these big plays did indeed happen (the rushing touchdown with backup linebackers in, I believe). Improved execution in the following weeks should fix these problems.

Second Half Defense
The defense was much better in the second half, mostly bending without break, but also forcing 4 C.J. Bacher turnovers in a row. The main difference appeared to be increased intensity. The two fumbles were forced by pressure, as was the Ezeh interception (with the caveat that it was tipped). The Trent pick was either a bad read, bad throw, or combination of the two.

Michigan has discovered that to win games, the defense must pressure the quarterback. In future weeks (notably against the spread offense of Purdue), this will hopefully happen from opening gun to final whistle, rather than coming and going over the course of the game.

First Half Offense
The first drive with Henne was good. It certainly showed that this is indeed his offense. Mallett was 5 for 11, missing a couple open guys, and not responding to pressure as consistently well as he did in the first couple games. He will improve in the future.

Troubling in the first half was Michigan's insistence on running into stacked fronts on first and second downs. Michigan has 15 carries for 37 yards in half 1. Michigan ran on 8 out of their 12 first-and-tens for 28 yards. This counts only conventional runs, not backwards screens or reverses.

Second Half Offense
The play selection improved in the second half. Michigan ran (conventional runs) on 8 of 16 first and tens, though they went for only 16 yards. Half as opposed to two-thirds of running plays on first and ten, though the production decreased.

Henne was more accurate than was Mallett, and Michigan was able to move the ball through the air, and Mike Hart did break a big run on a second down to boost the Wolverines. Before compiling these stats (which may not be accurate, check the facts if you'd like), I expected that the rushing was more successful in the second half because Northwestern tired down. However, it seems that this is not the case, and it may be more creative playcalling that benefited Michigan.

Special Teams
The return units were unspectacular, but also didn't hurt Michigan. Coverage teams were still not great. Lots of Northwestern drives started with good field position. However, the biggest Achilles Heel of special teams is the terrible play of Jason Gingell. He was 0/2 on the day, missing 26 and 39 yarders. This puts his season total at 3/9 (two were blocked in the App. State game, only one was his fault). This week's depth chart lists K.C. Lopata and Bryan Wright as "OR"s along with Gingell, meaning that a starter will be established in practice over the course of the week. Lopata was mentioned in Carr's Monday press conference, Wright was not. Expect Lopata to be given a try in the Eastern Michigan game.

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“Postgame thoughts: NU Edition”