Photo Credit: AnnArbor.com
Part of the fun of being gone for a few days is playing catch-up the week after a big win. I know it's been 4 days since Michigan's amazing game against Notre Dame, but it just wouldn't be complete without a semi-decent look back at the game that was.
Hey...and btw...we're ranked! #25 in the AP poll and almost ranked (#26) in the coaches poll! We're also #22 in ESPN.com's power rankings and #22 in the ESPNU fan poll.
What I liked:
Holy Touchdown Jesus I liked almost everything. Our aggressiveness, our resilience, our ability to make a play when it counted the most, the maturity of our young players. Watching the recording of the game and already knowing the outcome did not keep me from being tense. Like I said, while the actual game was being played, I was busy sending on my best friends into holy matrimony...and of course getting score updated from the grooms brother on his cell phone. Every time I would get an update and the score would be different, I couldn't help but think this game must be one of the most epic in the series so far. And after watching, I was right.
Super-amazing-freshman, Tate Forcier, looked like a small and mobile Chad Henne. He's the perfect balance between what we're used to in a mature signal caller, and the ability that we've been asking for since watching guys like Donovan McNabb, Vince Young, Troy Smith, Juice Williams and Dennis Dixon scramble around us like our defense is etched in stone. He moves like he's been playing this game...this actual Notre Dame game, for the past 4 years. He did things on Saturday that no one can teach you. No coach can teach you to duck under a 250-pound linebacker in the middle of the air like he's just hanging there waiting for you to make him look like a fool for jumping so high.
I'd like to say that Denard Robinson still has a poke at maybe playing QB this year, but I have my doubts. If Forcier can stay out of the way of blitzing LBs and free safeties, and not get his head blown off, he might not be allowed to leave the field until he hangs a 3 TD lead on the opponent going into the 4th quarter.
Brandon Minor is a beast and no single defensive player will be able to bring him down by themselves. He ran with a purpose on Saturday. Every time he broke through the line, he took off like we have never seen him do before. He found a second gear over the summer, and he unleashed it...finally, last weekend.
Our receivers played well. They caught the passes they were supposed to. They blocked well down field. With Stonum dinged up during the game, and Junior Hemingway out, our depth at the WR position paid dividends. The line also played extraordinary well against a good and experienced Notre Dame from 7.
Defensively, we had some trouble against a very good and experienced offense from Notre Dame. After watching the game, its clear to me that Michigan might have just faced their toughest offensive opponent this year. We all hate him, but Jimmy Clausen is a very competent passer with a host of talented receivers to throw to. Also, Armondo Allen Jr. is every bit as explosive as a guy like Brandon Minor or maybe even Beanie Wells.
We're small up front, and we're thin almost everywhere. We were severely overmatched on the line of scrimmage. But still, ND was hit with multiple holding calls all day. Our smaller size and speed was almost an asset as the game wore on...just as it did against Western.
Donovan Warren & Stevie Brown played particularly well.
What I Didn't Like:
Well, without getting nit-picky...the only thing that stood out to me was the ability for ND to get big plays, especially through the air. I had a feeling that they would try and establish a strong running game, but the all of the penalties, and of course Weis's affinity for the pass...ND put the ball in the air quite a bit. Clausen went 25/42 for 336 yards and 3 touchdowns. A little better than I thought he'd do.
On offense, we also had some penalties. But nothing that got us into too much trouble. When Denard Robinson came into the game, it was obvious to the entire stadium that he would just take off running. Now, this might not be such a bad thing, the kids got skills, but the predictability of it really eliminates the positives.
The game was a huge success for a team made up of almost all freshman and sophomores. Michigan surprised us all with a great win in week 1, but what they were able to do last weekend was nothing short of stunning. I was thinking in the pre-season that a big week 1 victory would maybe propel Michigan to a huge upset of ND...and turns out I surprised even myself by being right. Whatever Rodriguez and his staff are doing to convince these young men that they have what it takes to beat any opponent...it's working. This Michigan team believes in itself...and the fans believe in them.
And that's something we haven't been able to say with any confidence since 2006.
Photo credit: AnnArbor.com