Northwestern Wrap-Up

Jordan Kovacs prepares to behead Dan Persa in the 4th quarter. Photo credit: Melanie Maxwell AnnArbor.com
First things first. Highlights.


Brady Hoke post-game.


Denard on the BTN broadcast following the game.

Trusted links from sites we like.
Post-game wraps and commentary from Hoover Street Rag, MVictors, The Wolverine Blog, Big House Blog, BWS.

My Northwestern thoughts. 
Before we get into Denard's 3 INTs, lack of defense, and other things in the first half, let me just say that this game had all the markings of a trap game. Had Michigan not adjusted well at halftime and came out as flat in the second half as they did in the first, we'd be sitting here today talking about...

1) How great Northwestern game planed for this game. A true mark of great coaching.

2) How tough Evanston (at night) can be for Michigan, who seems to be the only visiting school that spur NU fans to actually show up at Ryan Field and cheer.

3) How well Northwestern's defense essentially shut down the most prolific player in the conference.

4) How well Northwestern's offense moved the ball against us, and how poised and confident Dan Persa ran the offense.

After 30 minutes of play, that was the direction things were headed.

But something happened in that Michigan locker room at halftime. We came out, got the ball first in the second half, marched down the field and scored. To illustrate my point, here's the drive charts for both teams:
QuarterMichiganNorthwestern
1TouchdownPunt
1INTTouchdown
1INTTouchdown
2PuntPunt
2TouchdownDowns
2INTTouchdown
2-FG
3TouchdownPunt
3TouchdownINT
3Touchdown-
4Missed FGFumble
4TouchdownDowns
4-End of Game
It's cliche to use the term "tale of two halves", but that's pretty accurately describes this game. Halftime adjustments by both offense and defensive coaches were both unexpected, and truly delightful to see. People wondering what the difference between last year's 5-0 and this year's 5-0 were? Coaching. Hands down. Nowhere was that more apparent than our defensive pressure in the second half. NU QB Dan Persa is a great passer. He's smart, experienced and has a great arm. We saw it in the first half. We didn't see it in the second. Give all the credit to Greg Mattison and his staff.

Last year GERG would have just resorted to stuffed animals. This year we have coaches who are able to, ya know, coach their way out of a loss.

Now, Denard. He looked awful in the first half. No question. His 3 INTs were maybe 3 of the worst he's ever thrown. One of which was throw so far away from a Michigan receiver, hard to believe it was just a bad pass. But I won't put the blame on the WRs in this one, because there were some throws in which the receivers adjusted well to the ball and made some great catches...I'm looking at you Junior Hemingway.

But in the second half, he was a different QB (and the WRs and OL looked much more relaxed). He started hitting some passes, which opened up the his running game. Once he had NU's defense on their heals, he really started to look more comfortable. And never looked back. And how great is it to see Devin Gardner come in and keep the offense clicking without a hiccup? His bootleg scramble for a touchdown was a beautiful playcall by Al Borges. No word yet on Denard's left hand, which took him out of the game for a few plays, but he seems fine.

For more Denard commentary, the MZone looks at Dr. First Half and Mr. Second.

Stat of the game: 14 of 17 on 3rd down conversions. More of this. Please and thank you.

Over-ranked?
Updated poll released yesterday with Michigan ranked #10 in the coaches poll, and #11 in the AP and Harris Poll. The Coaches/Harris poll are the only human elements used in the BCS equation. My question to you is, are we over-ranked?

I posted this question to our Facebook and Twitter followers last night, and the consensus was that we are, but this week's game against Sparty can justify our high ranking. I tend to agree. It's not Michigan's fault we're ranked where we are. We started the season unranked, and beat all of the teams on our schedule so far. Look at the scores. We beat the over-matched teams on our schedule in dominating fashion. We've come from behind against better opponents. I don't think we're fluke, but maybe not quite the #10 team in the nation.

State Week
A lot to get to this week as we get ready for a trip to East Lansing. I'll be there to cover the game, so expect full-force coverage this week.

You know it's a big game coming when The Art The Art The Art drops a wallpaper bomb like this. Click link for other wallpaper sizes and a "how it was made" video.
Click image to embigify to a widescreen wallpaper version.

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