Shea or Bust

Squirrels! Squirrels everywhere!

Photo: Tyler Carlton
It's been a day and a half and I still don't really know how to digest this football game.

So, here's a photo of a squirrel. 

Squirrel is a weird word. You never remember that there's two r's. 

I mean on one hand Michigan came out looking great, and took care of business versus a very, very bad Illinois team. But on the other hand, up 28-0 and seemingly in total control, Michigan took their foot off the gas at halftime, at least mentally, and Illinois – the recipient of some typical Michigan errors, suddenly found new life, and also found themselves back in this game.

I don't really know how distill it down any more than that. In the final evaluation, we all know Michigan is a far superior team than Illinois is, and a 42-25 win or a 42-0 win doesn't really change that too much...they're both still who they are. Even while the score was 28-25, and Michigan fans were busy pulling their hair out, it was still a stretch to think the Illini could truly pull off the upset.

In the end, after a 4th and 2 conversion that kept Michigan's drive alive that ultimately resulted in a DPJ touchdown catch from Shea Patterson, all was right in the world, and Michigan was able to pull away to a comfortable win.

The $64,000 question though will Michigan perform against better opposition, i.e. Penn State, Notre Dame and Ohio State? And the answer is...I have no idea. I really don't. At halftime yesterday, I felt 100% more confident about the rest of the schedule than I do right now. With this Michigan team, right now, I think there's about a 25% chance we beat Penn State, a 40% chance we beat Notre Dame, and about a 5% chance we beat Ohio State.

We saw flashes of brilliance from this Michigan team yesterday. We saw a running game that absolutely gashed Illinois early thanks to some misdirection that Illinois was biting on every time. We saw an offensive line block well. Shea Patterson looked comfortable and competent in the pocket and on the run. The defense was doing their usual thing. All was going great...until it wasn't.

I dunno man. This team is just like this sometimes. Things are good, and then they're not. Maybe that's coaching? Maybe it's just a new offensive scheme that's just not working? Maybe it's the quarterback? Look, I was right there with everyone else Saturday when I tweeted out #TeamMcCaffrey. This offense is just so damn frustrating to watch sometimes. And if they're truly "hitting their stride" as Jim Harbaugh said after the Iowa game, then you just have to trust that he's seeing something in practice that's just not manifesting itself in least not for 4 quarters.

If Dylan McCaffrey or Joe Milton were ready for primetime, you'd be seeing them on the field by now. But this offense is built around Shea Patterson and his abilities (and inabilities). He's got his faults, just like any QB does, and he's going to have his good moments and bad moments...

...but obviously, it's Shea or bust from here on out.

You have to give Shea Patterson some credit.

With the score 28-25, when Illinois was rolling and suddenly Michigan was not, Shea Patterson did a thing. Michigan fans everywhere, myself included, had that feeling that Shea just wasn't going to be able to get it done. He looked lost, flat. His pocket presence was terrible. He was having trouble protecting the football again. He wasn't alone of course, the whole team needed a kick in the ass. Nothing was going right. But then, when we all knew that Michigan desperately needed a spark from the QB spot, Shea flipped a switch somewhere and turned the game around.

For a brief part of this game, you saw what I believe the coaches are seeing in practice from Shea Patterson. He's turned it around in the 4th quarter yesterday. I don't know how he did it, but you could sense it. I don't know if you get that from a cold McCaffrey or Milton.

I go back and forth on switching QB's when things are going bad. On one hand, a new QB can be a spark an offense desperately needs. But on the other hand, you're throwing a new guy into a bad situation which probably isn't really prepared for. I don't want the coaches to break McCaffrey or Milton before their time is right. It's one thing if Shea gets hurt...but it's another when you're putting a QB with no real experience in a bad spot.

Pretty much the whole 3rd quarter.

Look, I don't want to really go back through it all beat by beat. You saw it, I saw it, we all saw it. It was bad. It was confusingly and frustratingly bad. But it was Illinois...and Michigan won. So let's never speak of it again, shall we?

This is more of an oddity for the whole season, but man, the fumbles are out of control. Michigan has 17 fumbles on the year, 9 of which have been lost. Shea has 6 fumbles (4 lost), running backs have 5 fumbles (4 lost), 4 fumbles on punt returns (1 lost) and 1 fumble that wasn't lost by Jon Runyan and 1 by Dylan McCaffrey.

I can't explain it. But it's a thing. And it will kill Michigan in the second half of the season if it doesn't stop. How do you stop it? Voodoo? I dunno? Sounds reasonable.

Hoover Street Rag:
We've reached the halfway point of the journey and Michigan is 5-1. The real tests begin in earnest next week with a White Out in Happy Valley. I think the tempering of expectations has been such that Michigan fans are fully in "not in the face" territory, but strange things do happen in college football. We'll just have to see what happens.
MGoBlog (Photo by Patrick Barron):
Offense: Offensive Line
Look, Michigan was absolutely killing it on the ground in the 1Q. I didn't go back and look, but I think something like Michigan's first 7 or 8 plays were all runs and went for over 100 yards. All due respect to Zach Charbonnet and Hassan Haskins, they played very well, but the offensive line gave those guys the room to run and they cashed in.

Defense: Cam McGrone
Cam accounted for 11 total tackles, 2 tackles for loss and also forced a late fumble that led to 7 Michigan points late in the game when points were a little hard to come by. 

Special Teams: Jordan Glasgow
It's a pretty simple unwritten rule we have around here...block a punt, get a special teams game ball. And especially when you're a Glasgow and everyone is sad because you're the last of 3 Glasgow's to play at an extremely high level for Michigan...well, you get extra consideration for that as well.

More MBN Illinois coverage: PreviewSTAT-OGame Photos

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