Monday, September 05, 2011

Get Back

[Author's note: This column was written under the influence of muscle relaxers and pain killers.  While some authors are inspired to greatness by altered states, I am not.  This is the best it's going to get for this week.  Sorry.]

This column is going to be about fits and starts.  It was going to be a letter to my seven month old son on the occasion of his first Michigan game, then It was going to be a commentary about the weather and the particularly odd nature of yesterday's game, but in the end, I'm going to be selfish.  This column is entirely about my back.

Saturday morning, I bent over to get something off a bottom shelf and all of the sudden my back, the wonky back that it is, spasmed in such a way as to put me into a pain in the back which I had never experienced before.  As the morning wound on to noon, I wasn't sure if I was going to need to call my Michigan football partner in crime and beg off.  In retrospect, I probably should have done so.  Between the walk, the standing around, and the sitting on a bleacher bench for several hours, I probably would have been much better off watching the game at home while chilling on a heating pad.  I certainly would have been drier.

But there I was, making the walk from the Thompson Street structure, slowly but surely, looking like a wounded penguin and sucking it up as I went, because, dammit, a new football season was upon us, and you only get 12 of these a year, 13 if you're lucky, and now, I guess, 14 if you're really lucky.  So there I was, probably making a really poor choice because my heart overruled my head, or in this case, my back.

So, yeah, there I was, sitting there watching, and well, it was fun.  It was interesting to see the defense and kickoff coverage struggle a little (the defense definitely looked better in the second half, though.)  It was really interesting to see Denard running like a "hey, you know how the whole spring and summer we told you that Denard wouldn't be running so much?  Yeah, we lied."  But just as much, it was nice to see the little things work, a three headed monster at running back, quick passes, just it just felt right, even as I was not standing up mostly because it hurt to do so.

Now, not everything was perfect in the Big House.  In spite of the new scoreboards and sound system, somehow the Michigan Stadium staff got it in their heads that Pop Evil was a good idea (there was far less canned music though, so that's a win).  The aspect ratio on Western Michigan's logo was wrong.  The Slippery Rock logo was color negative.  No one knows what "Keep it in the blue" means, even if Desmond can sell anything.  It rained sideways.  If there ever is an emergency in Michigan Stadium, the evacuation process will be nightmarish.  As we see these things, we must remember that this season, this era, is a work in progress.

But Brady Hoke did something no other Michigan coach has done, he won a game in less than three quarters.  He didn't allow anyone to get too high on this, he didn't let anyone make this more than it was, he just went right on doing what coaches do, focus on areas to improve, and move on to next week's opponent.

Next week, Notre Dame comes in to play "Under the Lights".  We'll have throwback legacy* uniforms, we will have a tribute to Desmond, we'll have a spectacle and a show unlike anything Michigan Stadium has seen.  But we will also have a game to watch, a wounded Notre Dame that comes in with a quarterback controversy and a week of questions and speculation.  The experts say you make the biggest improvement between week 1 and week 2.  I certainly hope so.  Well, my back certainly does.

*--Edited 10:47 AM to correct the terminology.  Thanks MGoShoe.

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