This team is different. 2011 is different. We're 7-1, and a legit conference/division contender heading into November. We heard from the players the last two weeks that this team was different. They were not going to let the MSU loss deter them. They were right.
They dismantled a Purdue team that just shutdown Illinois and their dangerous signal-caller Nathan Scheelhaase a week ago. Michigan played sound, fundamental football. They blocked well. Tackled well. Ran, passed and kicked well. Once Michigan answered Purdue's opening drive touchdown with one of their own, and then forced Purdue into 3-straight three and outs, was there any doubt about this game?
This is not 2010.
Relevant links from sites we trust
MVictors' Dr. Sap decals for Purdue. And also from Greg, a nice breakdown of the B1G tiebreaker scenarios...which are a little more complex than one would think. Big House Blog does a post-game analysis. MGoBlog brings us Purdue video of all varieties.
There was a lot to like in this game. We ran the ball effectively with our running backs. Our defense played outstanding minus Jordan Kovacs who's out with a leg injury. Denard, for the most part, made the plays he was asked to make. A couple poor passes, one which was intercepted, and another which was under thrown off Denard's back foot which Gallon made another good adjustment to. But other than that, we were clicking on Saturday.
Any breakdown of this game would not be complete without commending the defense. They stepped up big time in this game. Up front, Mike Martin was a beast! He, Heininger, Roh, Big Will Campbell, all had nice games. I like Desmond Morgan getting the start over Brandin Hawthorne. It shows that Greg Mattison and his staff are seeing young guys continue to step up in practice to challenge starters for their spots well into the season.
How great is Jake Ryan playing? For a red-shirt freshman, maybe one of the best in a long time.
It was nice to hear from Hoke after the game commend Troy Woolfolk. Called him one of the best players on this team, even though he's been playing hurt. He stepped in for the injured Kovacs at safety, making the transition from corner very nicely. He, Gordon, Countess, JT, Avery all played very well.
But the player of the game, no question, was Fitzgerald Toussaint.
Michigan needed to have a breakout game from one of it's backs. And thankfully it was this game. Going into the final stretch of the season, we need a feature back who can be dependable. Fitz showed tremendous speed and agility on Saturday. Much of his success can be attributed to the offensive line, who also played well. I don't know the extent of Lewan's injury...if you could even call it that. Hoke was nondescript when asked about it in the post-game presser. But when Lewan came back into the game after badly limping off the field in the previous series, I can bet that was a huge lift to this offense.
I've said it a few times and I'll say it again – I just don't like seeing so much of Devin in the game. I get why they do it...to throw off the defense, run some misdirection, but I just don't think we need it so much. After Devin's very poor throw which was intercepted, Al Borges went back to the ground game (which greatly benefited Fitz). Don't get me wrong, I think Devin has great ability, but he lacks the ability to just be dropped into the game and perform immediately.
Going forward, we have 4 more tests that will be much tougher than this one. But from a confidence standpoint, mission accomplished. We washed the taste of Michigan State out of our mouths and got back to winning. Iowa on the road will be a much tougher test entirely...regardless of the fact that they just lost to Minnesota.
Michigan is right where they need to be going into the last month of the season. And when was the last time we've been able to say that?
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