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Monday, October 31, 2011

MZone Autopsy: Dissecting the Purdue Game

Folks, this is going to be a lot more enjoyable than our first "autopsy" feature when we were forced to cut open the corpse found buried in plastic bags outside Spartan Stadium.  


1.  During the previous three seasons, last weekend's Purdue game is one U-M would have probably lost.  One of those dreaded "second half of the season" games that revealed Michigan to be imploding rather than improving.

But not this time.  Not this year.

Michigan stomped on an inferior opponent the way it should have, both defensively and offensively.  It was -  dare I say - like old times.  In talking to my former MZone cohort Benny yesterday, he mentioned that we still don't know how good Michigan is because we haven't beaten any good teams (ND falls into a "maybe" depending on which weekend we're talking about).  And while I agreed with him, I said the biggest difference is that, while we may indeed not be great team, Michigan is playing football at a level now that has the Wolverines beating the teams they're supposed to.  The teams Michigan used to routinely pound, with every game not being a coin flip.

Yes, I'm so damn scarred by the previous three seasons that, after Purdue's initial drive, I felt a flash of deja vu all over again.  But Michigan stayed the course and eventually put Purdue away, pretty much by halftime and certainly before the 3rd quarter was over.

How refreshing.

While we probably won't go 4-0 to end the season, I can honestly say I wouldn't be surprised if we did.  And, unlike years past (okay, three of them), I would be very surprised if we went 0-4.

2.  So that's what a running game looks like.  Boy, was it beautiful to see a Michigan player not named Denard tear up the opposition's defense on the ground.  RB Fitz Toussaint's 170 yard day (59 of it coming on a beautiful TD run in the third quarter) is the sort of output that U-M fans used to be used to.  If the Wolverines can make this a regular thing - and do it against high quality teams - look out.  It will take a hell of a load off of Denard.  Put it this way, if the Maize and Blue can establish this sort of ground game on a weekly basis, it's going to be fun to watch folks notice other good things which will happen as a result.  Like, "Wow, I didn't know Denard was such a good passer!"  Funny how that works.

3.  For the first time this season, injuries are a concern for the Wolverines.  Up until this point, Michigan has been beyond blessed in the health department.  Not anymore.  Safety Jordon Kovacs missed the game and is probably out for Iowa with a knee injury.  Left guard Ricky Barnum re-injured his ankle and had to leave the game.  And left tackle Taylor Lewan had to miss part of the game with what could be a knee injury.  With Michigan's lack of depth and four tough closing games, it's not good.  But as Coach Hoke said about the injuries, "That's football."

4.  The "Rocket Man" entrance of the game ball was cool as hell.

About the only negative was that this was the loudest thing inside The Big House on Saturday.  I'm actually mildly surprised nobody yelled "down in front" at the guy as he flew past.

5.  Shame on the students.  Where the hell were you?!  You can see it in the "Rocket Man" video above as well as many of the YouTube vids posted: the students simply didn't show up.  No, I'm not talking "late arriving," I mean the student section NEVER FILLED UP (the pink cancer "M" students were trying to form had holes in it the entire game).  Not gonna put up much about this now because I think this deserves its own post.  But there is no excuse and it's just sad. 

6. I think Michigan won twice yesterday: By beating Purdue and hearing about Sparty losing to Nebraska.

7. A safety?! You remember what those are, don't you?  Can you believe it had been EIGHT YEARS since U-M's defense last recorded one (vs. Houston in 2003).  I don't want to say U-M fans are shocked to see such things after Gerg and the last three years, but check out the fan video of the safety below.  There was less pandemonium by the dude working the camera in CLOVERFIELD when he was being chased by the giant monster.

8. Man, I really enjoy beating Danny Hope. Especially since we probably don't have that many more years to do it.


DrCatie said...

You are correct when you say it felt like 2 wins on Saturday after hearing/watching Nebraska putting away Sparty. SWEET!

Students......are you sure they weren't just all crowded down in front? That is what they do, they are suppose to be sitting up at the top, but if you look at the front of the student section, they are all crowded down in front. After my 3rd year of season student tickets, which got me about level with the band, I knew that my 4th year was going to be "down there" I already had enough room to stand with ONE foot on the bleacher seat. (I even have a photo of my one foot on the bleacher). I knew I couldn't get closer, thus I haven't bought my season tickets for 2 years now. I likely only have one more year that I can get them, I may have to get them and ask the AD to give consideration to my "non traditional" student status and seat me outside of the student section. I wasn't at the game, so I didn't see the student section. I DID notice that the camera would pan around the stadium and NOT show the student section, I was trying to see the Pink M. That must be WHY they didn't pan the student section during the game......if it really was that bare.

Unlike MOST other schools, who give their students FREE tickets, our students must pay for them (which I think is a good thing). It does cost a student to validate the ticket if they want to sell it......I don't get it, you really would think that they would show up or at least make money off their ticket! Sorry.....I should have saved this for your special post on the student section......

It was great to see us look like a team I used to know and it was good to see that we have other players who can make things happen, even though I love Denard and love to watch him on broken plays especially! HAIL!

Dennis said...

Congrats on your win and the way you handily did it. I think you are looking at 9-3 at worst for regular season.

Not sure how Iowa will be after losing the way they did to Minnesota? And you do have to play them at home, but Denard is the kind of QB that gives them headaches.

At Illinois, looks pretty winnable, depending on injuries and what the wind is like that day. Will be interesting to see if Toussaint can run against Illinois like he did last weekend. We proved you don't need to pass there.

You get Nebraska at home. They are beatable if your QB stays healthy and your defense remembers how to tackle. But I think this is your best chance for a loss. But if your fans show up and make noise, you are at home...

You get us at home. I hope our offense only gets better over the next few weeks. An intersting comparison is this week when we get Purdue. Will be intresting to see how we handle Purdue which is also a game we should win. You can sometimes glean something about how you do against common opponents. At this point I think we would beat you, which I didn't think a few weeks ago, but in no way am I certain.

Dennis said...

Bah, I'm rushing things. We get Purdue next week. Indiana is at our house this weekend.

Ramona said...

That Rocket man thing doesn't look safe to me.

Mikoyan said...

I was out enjoying the north country, so I wasn't at the game. I tried to listen to parts of it but radio is spotty. I'm glad that Michigan got a safety though.

Hugh Jaenuss said...

It took me until after I graduated to really appreciate the importance of going to a football game. Knowing what I know now, there's no way in hell I'd skip a game to do other stuff like studying. Life is all about priorities, kids haven't reached that stage in their lives yet to figure out what's really important, i.e., Michigan football.