I don't entirely know what to make of this game. On the one hand, the offense broke out of its slump (facing a terrible defense) and scored 34 points while running for something like 35000 yards. On the other hand, they spotted Ball State a 9-7 lead. Ball State! Why were we running a stretch play to the right side of the offensive line in our own endzone? On Michigan Replay, it looked like Brian Thompson's block was ineffective and doomed Mike Hart. Then, on the next drive, Henne threw a pick-6 where two Ball State DBs had a better shot at the ball than Henne's intended target. On the whole, though, Henne looked halfway decent, but his receivers were afflicted with dropsy, especially on third down. From what I remember, Butler, Breaston, and Arrington all missed well-thrown third-down conversions. By the way: We still scored 34 points.
"O! The fell dropsy!"
On defense, it's nearly as confusing. The full first-team defense gave up only 3 points all day on one 47-yard field goal. When it was 31-12 in the third quarter Lloyd sent in an entirely second-string defense. Quickly enough, Johnny Sears was torched and it was 31-19. Then, with some of the starters re-inserted in the defense, Charles Stewart didn't have great coverage and failed to tackle immediately after the catch, leading to a short run into the endzone. On the next drive, the first string was back in, but Ball State still had them back on their heels. They bent all the way down to the 2 before driving them backward. A truly stupid facemask penalty on a third-down sack gave Ball State at least seven downs in a row within the ten, but the defense held firm, allowing Michigan to all but run out the clock on their next possession.
So. If we don't do some remarkably stupid things, this game would've ended 34-6 (assuming they would've taken the field goal on 4th and 7), or maybe 34-13 at the worst. The players are saying the right things about this being a wake-up call, and how you can't take anyone lightly. Let's hope they believe what they're saying. Indiana's the most important game on the schedule right now.
Finally, to anyone who had a ticket, but didn't show up on Saturday: Why? How many opportunities will you have to see a 9-0 Michigan team? Before Saturday, it was only the third time in my lifetime we've been 9-0-0. Now it's only the second time I've been alive to see a 10-0 squad, so we'll be road-tripping down to Bloomington next Saturday.
Focus on the Bands:
Missed their pregame. Halftime was average. They played an oddly-arranged Beatles medley. Usually, "Something" will be somewhere in the middle of your show if you're going to play it, not as the "rousing" finale. At least it looked like they practiced a few times. Does anyone remember if they used flip-folders? I forgot to check.
Pregame looked good, although I missed everything before the trio to "The Victors" (When I scheduled my dental appointment, this was still the bye week). Halftime was excellent. After three weeks of halftime shows that were more about the band than the audience, the pendulum swung way back to pandering to the crowd with a show of TV themes and formations that made pictures. It was a fun show.
Song played (Formation used):
- Mission: Impossible (Starting in M:I formation. Marching in 5/4 time must be rough)
- Knight Rider (KITT, with moving wheels)
- The A-Team (A-TEAM spelled out)
- I Dream of Jeanie (Genie bottle)
- Gilligan's Island (Minnow + rock --> Minnow run aground)
- Star Trek: The Next Generation (Starfleet insignia, conducted by Patrick Stewart)
- The Victors (Also conducted by Stewart)
Other folks have already noted Mr. Stewart's appearance with the band, so I'll let them cover the details. I have to say, though, Patrick Stewart is a much more talented conductor than Verne Troyer. The band followed his lead and he picked a consistent pace. Mini-Me was allowed to conduct "Let's Go Blue" at one game in 2000, I think. We ignored his flailing and played the correct tempo.