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Varsity Blue

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Big Ten Bloggers Roundtable Week 2

You wonderful hosts can be found at Black Heart, Gold Pants.

1. Week 1's in the books. What surprised you about your team? Are you optimistic? Disappointed? (NOTE: Purdue does not apply here, so these fans must talk about Wake Forest instead)

I am disappointed with the result of the Michigan game, but encouraged by how it came about. The defense was crap in the first half, but stellar in the second. Some might blame it on weaker playcalling by Utah (which I disagree they even did to a certain extent, and I also think the reason they did it is because the UM D became dominant), but I think it's because the players woke up and realized there was a football game in front of them.

The offense was scary, but I think now that Steven Threet (who will likely start next week) and Nick Sheridan have some in-game experience, they will be more settled in the future, and more able to make plays without seeming like overwhelmed children. There is also the fact that Utah's defense was the best Michigan will see for the first 3 weeks at least, and maybe they'll be able to get something going against Miami and build some momentum.

The special teams were stellar throughout, save one shanked punt by Space Emperor Zoltan Mesko. A blocked kick and a blocked punt are encouraging, and hopefully there are a few more cards up the sleeve to be played.

Michigan lost close to a very good team, despite playing about as poorly as they could. As the offense gains experience, and the defense buckles down, they should improve over the course of the year.
2. Beanie Wells' foot is definitely the top story in the conference. What's #2?

Probably the utter shittiness of Michigan's offense. They weren't exactly world-beaters last year, but the performance on Saturday was downright pathetic. If they look equally listless against Miami, that could spell trouble.

Another story might be the early start to the tanking by Michigan State that is as inevitable as death and taxes.
3. Admit it: you loathe DickFraudROFL (né Rich Rodriguez), but when Michigan scored that last touchdown, you were rooting for them to make the 2-pt. conversion.

Of course, being a Michigan blogger, I don't hate Rich Rod, and was obviously cheering for Michigan to beat Utah. I knew they didn't deserve to win, but a win ill-gotten is a 1 in the W column either way.
4. Is this weekend's slate of games actually less interesting than last week's?

On the national scene, definitely. In the conference, it is less apparent, but still the case. You go from three compelling games (Mich-Utah, MSU-Cal, Ill-Mizzou) and replace it with pretty much just one (PSU-OS, though the Beavers' loss to Stnaford drops them a bit, and maybe a second if you count the Northwestern revenge factor against Duke). Of course, the less interesting week is the one where I'll actually be able to sit in front of the TV and watch. Go figure.
5. Don't you hate pants?

I don't have strong feelings either way (though in my undergrad days, I did write a paper on my preference to pants over tuna), but don't ask this question to the guys at Rocky Top Talk.

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“Big Ten Bloggers Roundtable Week 2”

  1. Blogger susieandrew Says:

    I compared some numbers from the Utah game to Notre Dame's 2007 opener against GT. The overall numbers offensively are eerily similar, mostly due to 1) new QB(s) and 2) crappy OL. Although ND ended the day with -8 rushing yards, they lost 70 on sacks. Add those back in and UM and ND were about even.

    Of course, this was ND's season opener, but they saw no improvement through game 3 (@Michigan). This scares me. ND's crappy line was a sieve against a blitz-happy GT defense helmed by Tenuta. I just know that Tenuta is licking his chops and telling Corwin Brown to blitz every down against UM.

    Consider me officially worried about the season. I'm more pessimistic now than I was after the Horror.

  2. Blogger Tim Says:

    A few key differences between the two games (not that your point isn;t valid to a certain degree):

    1. Michigan's O-line is playing a=in a new system. Notre Dame's OL was in their third year in the same system, and just have a crappy coach. All reports from people who have attended practices have said that was their worst performance since spring, likely due to first-year jitters. This also runs counter to your "ND showed no improvement over the first 3 games" statement: They had been in a system 3 years (and even more in a similar system, considering Willingham was a pro-style guy as well), whereas Michigan's learning curve should be much better for week-to-week improvement. Plus the OL coach is not terrible like ND's.

    2. If you add in sack yards, UM and ND had equal rushing yardage. However, Michigan had the same opportunity to be sacked that Notre Dame did in 2007, and didn't give up nearly the poor performance. You have to compare apples to apple (yardage with sacks) and oranges to oranges (yardage without sacks).

    ND 07 With sacks: -8 yds. Without: 61 yards.
    Mich 08 With sacks: 36. Without: 43.

    Keep in mind that one of the main problems with ND's offense last year was that they gave up a ton of sacks. Michigan doesn't appear to be susceptible to that so far this year.

    3. Also, Tenuta is the LB coach, not the defensive coordinator. In addition, I think if they want to find things out about Michigan, they will watch Michigan film, not Notre Dame film from last year. Plus, they don't have half the defensive talent that they probably should.

    4. Last but not least, Notre Dame's offense was pitiful last year, but their defense was pretty bad, too. Michigan's defense should be able to keep them in some games on its own.

  3. Blogger susieandrew Says:

    Agree with your comments. Also had considered that ND was just poorly coached at OL, and glad (well, not GLAD, but you know what I mean) to hear that this was their worst performance since spring.

    Re: Tenuta, I figure that since he's also "Assistant Head Coach" (whatever that means), he must have some sort of influence in the defensive playcalling, despite the fact that Brown is the DC. I may be mistaken, but Utah didn't seem particularly blitz-happy. Please correct me if I'm wrong. Also, I'm not suggesting that Tenuta would bust out ND 2007 film, but that a similar principle may apply - his GT defense had great success blitzing against a poor OL and backfield blockers. Michigan's OL performed poorly, and lacks depth to boot, and there were some young kids in that backfield who could stand to improve in protection.