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Football Season Starts Boo
Sunday, 2008 August 31 - 3:04 pm
Michigan 23, Utah 25

This game was not as close as the score indicated. Utah utterly dominated Michigan, and if not for a couple of turnovers and a flood of timely Utah penalties, Michigan would probably have lost by three touchdowns.

The good: Michigan's defense came alive in the second half. The defensive line was fast and aggressive, and Obi Ezeh looks like he could be a dominant linebacker.

The bad: Michigan's defense was porous in the first half, giving up way too many passing yards.

The ugly: Michigan's offense was ridiculously inept. Say what you want about Lloyd Carr and his conservative play-calling, but no Carr-coached team would have ended up with just 25 yards rushing against an undersized Utah defense. Egg? Laid.

Several things need to change quickly:
  • The offense needs to learn more of the playbook. It was clear that the gameplan for the offense was limited, and without a wider variety of looks in the running game, it will be far too easy for defenses to read what we're doing.
  • The patchwork offensive line needs to get it together. Yes, the line is young and riddled by injuries, but the poor run-blocking was just painful to watch.
  • The quarterback, whether it be Sheridan or Threet, needs to develop into a legitimate running threat. Threet looked to be the better quarterback out there; with Sheridan, I counted three "chuck it somewhere off my back foot because I don't know what I'm doing" throws. But Sheridan is reportedly the better running quarterback, so I don't know. Maybe Carlos Brown needs to take more snaps.
Surprisingly, as ugly as the game looked, Michigan had a chance. A costly fumble in the third quarter stopped a promising drive. Michigan missed a two-point conversion which would have tied the game.

So how should we look at Rodriguez's debut game? Personally, I'm a little scared. Losing to a competent Utah team isn't the end of the world, but if the offense doesn't improve in a hurry, this will be a long season.

N.C. State 0, South Carolina 34

What can you say about this one? 138 yards of offense. Four turnovers. Freshman starting quarterback Russell Wilson carted off the field with a concussion. As bad as Michigan looked, N.C. State looked even worse.

Football season. Bah.

Other News

East Carolina upset Virginia Tech 27-22, returning a blocked punt for a touchdown with under two minutes remaining.

Bowling Green upset Pitt, 27-17, putting a damper on Pitt's dreams of an improved season.

Alabama beat Clemson 34-10. Clemson is supposed to be the ACC front-runner this year.

LSU avoided the upset bug, beating Appalachian State 41-13.

Missouri beat Illinois in a shootout, 52-42.

USC stomped Virginia 52-7.

Permalink  3 Comment   Bookmark and Share
Posted by Ken in: sports

Comments

Comment #1 from Jon (olafandyjon)
2008 Aug 31 - 3:20 pm : #
Argh.

I mean, I'm not jumping off a building because this is the first game in what is a transition year. But yesterday crushed any optimism I had of it being a glorious transition year.

Now, it's cliche, but true, that the biggest improvement in a team is between its first and second games. And Game 2 is against Miami of Ohio. But the youth of the offense has a lot of work to do before it makes that leap. Maybe Coach Rod needs to get Justin Feagin on the super fast track to starting. Or, like you said, Carlos Brown.

How about that wild play when the ball was snapped and the O-line didn't move? I mean, it's not like the O-line could do much more anyway.

I would submit, however, that a Lloyd Carr coached team with this lack of talent and experience would not have faired much better.

Another bright spot: I truly believe that the 4th quarter rally was a result of the conditioning program by Super Barwis. That will certainly pay off in the future once we can put this whole puzzle together.
Comment #2 from Ken (realkato)
2008 Aug 31 - 3:44 pm : #
They did that stationary-O-line thing twice. I've seen that on other teams; it's designed to fool the D-line into not rushing the passer.

I still believe a Carr-coached team would have run the ball better. Running the ball was such a point of emphasis for Carr. And also, Carr's zone-stretch play puts the decision-making into the hands of the running back, where we have depth and talent. By contrast, the spread-option play puts the decision-making into the hands of the quarterback, where we have precious little talent or experience.

One other piece of good news: highly-ranked high school QB prospect Tate Forcier committed to Michigan today. He attended the Utah game... and probably saw that there was a good chance he'd be able to start at QB right away.
Comment #3 from Jon (olafandyjon)
2008 Sep 11 - 10:25 am : #
Yeah, I obviously check your blog out on a timely basis...

That's a very good point about the zone blocking scheme. It's why Michael Hart became such a stud. I was thinking that even Lloyd couldn't get this collection of linemen to block any better, which is true, but you're right in that McGuffie and Shaw would be free to pick their spot.

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