It's a Start

I think most Michigan faithful were very pleased just to be able to experience something other than a loss on Saturday. For me, it was a experience that I can only describe as shocking. Not only did I pick Minnesota to win, with Sheridan playing, I didn't even think it would be close. Much to my dismay, not only did Sheridan not look bad...he looked good. Good enough for me to want him to start next week just so I can be reassured that this game was a fluke.

I do have to say that I think this game was a product of two factors. First of all, Minnesota was expecting to win. They were way overconfident and were not expecting Michigan to be able to pass as well as they did. And the other factor is Michigan, for maybe the first time all year, controlled the line of scrimmage. And not just for 1 half.

Last week I said Michigan needed to do 3 things in order to win. The first was no bad turnovers. While we did put the ball on the turf once, it only ended up costing us 3 points. And we actually got a pick by Morgan Trent to offset the turnover ratio. The second thing we did right was time of possession. Coming into the game Michigan and Minnesota were ranked last and first respectfully in the B10 in this category. In this game however, Michigan kept the ball for just over 34 minutes, and Minnesota just a bleak 25:47. Normally, those stats are opposite in past Michigan games.

But the biggest key to victory was controlling the line of scrimmage...both offensively and defensively. Michigan outgained 'sota 435 to 188. A dominating performance, in any season. We were able to run the ball for over 200 yards, while holding the Gophers to just 83 yards.

But maybe the most surprising performance of the day was the defense. Gone was the 3-3-5 scheme from last week. Shafer went back to a 4-3 scheme to defend this spread attack, and it worked perfectly. Our DBs were constantly making it hard for Weber to find a receiver. And when it came time to run the ball, our D line was able to make penetration into the backfield to throw off Weber's ability to get into open space, or get his RBs room to move.

One player who's performance might be overlooked in this shocking win is that of Michigan kicker K.C. Lopata. He made kicks from 34, 44, 26, 48 and 23. When Michigan offense ran out of steam in the redzone or in shallow Gopher territory, he was able to give Michigan some much needed points, and keep Minnesota from gaining any field position...especially early in the game.

And how sexy was that last drive of the game were we bled over 5 minutes off the clock and put the game away with a Mark Moundros TD dive...that was a thing of beauty!

Reaction from my fellow Michigan bloggers has been interesting...

mgoblog just needed anything to celebrate this year. Maize n' Brew doesn't want you to rain on his parade. MVictors promised himself he wasn't going to cry. Michigan Sports Center was proven dead wrong by Nick Sheridan. And finally, Varsity Blue is feeling good again.

I'll take those reactions and second them. I too am blown away by Nick Sheridan. Never in a million years did I think I would ever type that. And while we're still 3-7 with no bowl possible, it still feels good to win again. There is still a ton of work to do, but if we can build on this with an inspired win this week against a wounded Northwestern team, I think we can go into Columbus and sneak a win away from the Buckeye's. That's not just hot air, I really believe that.

1 comment

  1. Anonymous4:13 AM

    I second that emotion. I must be drinking the same Kool-Aid you are.

    Go Blue!