Denard. It's pretty safe to say now that Denard is a very, very, very important key to this offense. Actually, he's all of it. They're saying he should be back next week. I have to think that with an injury such as this, it just takes time. We'll find out more today at Hoke's presser. If Denard can't go at Minnesota, suddenly Michigan's hopes of a B1G title bid are in serious jeopardy.
Also...put an elbow pad on that boy's arm!
Backups. I think everyone was at least cautiously optimistic when Bellomy came into the game. He's been in the program for a while now, knows the offense probably better than any QB other than Denard. And we saw him perform admittedly well in the spring game. But Bellomy reacted to the game like a dear in the headlights. On the TV broadcast, Bellomy looked very rattled and scared when they cut to a close-up shot of him between plays. His performance reflected that.
I chose not to panic, because as we've seen so many times when Denard goes out of a game, he's usually back 1 or 2 drives later right back where he left off.
At the point where Bellomy clearly wasn't going to cut it, I have to wonder what exactly was the decision to not go to Gardner. I get that he probably hasn't practiced as much at QB as he has WR...and he still might not be 100% since his injury against Notre Dame. But, how much worse could it have been? Devin is a pretty athletic guy, and he certainly would have been a more imposing run threat that would have thwarted the Nebraska pass rush that killed Bellomy.
Defense. They stepped up, as expected. Michigan's defense, much like the Tigers' starting pitching, had no run support in this one. Even so, until the end when things started to unravel, this was very much a close game, even though it never really felt like it.
But, like last week, for one drive, Michigan's defense looked lost. Nebraska sped up their play-calling and suddenly their receivers were open all over the field. It was a strange bunch of plays were Nebraska receivers found gaping holes in Michigan's zone coverage, and Martinez had no problem hitting them.
Play calling. This is a tough one. On one hand, it's not entirely Borges' fault the Michigan offense sputtered, but I do have to question some of the decisions. Nebraska essentially shut down the read-option on almost every occasion. Denard made some plays early in the game which kept Nebraska's linebackers honest, but almost any time the ball was given to Fitz, it resulted in a 2-3 yard loss. Some of that is on the O-line.
It only happened once or twice, but when Michigan lined up under-center with Fitz and a fullback in the I-formation, running Fitz between the tackles...that play was there. I do believe we could have ground and pound our way to a win against Nebraska. They dared us to run the read-option and we did, and while it did work at times, it ultimately put Denard out of the game.
And, why oh why were we running that same read-option with Bellomy in there while Nebraska was sending the house? Who's that going to fool? Who's the read for Bellomy on those plays?
Was that an INT? The replay flag should have been thrown by Hoke. If the long pass to Treezy could get overturned, than certainly another look at Bellomy's INT pass to Smith should have been looked at a few more times. The replays I've seen since have all looked pretty inconclusive, but I'm not sure how a football can bounce straight up into the air without the ground being involved in one way, shape or form.
BONUS TAKE: Where's Dileo? He was the hero of the win over Michigan State two weeks ago. But he was nowhere to be found on Saturday. Ideas? Anyone???