Sunday, September 17, 2017

Some Days Are Better Than Others

Kicking it old school. (Photo AP/Tony Ding)
They won.  So, I mean, right there, after the last decade, that should be a good feeling.  Michigan swept through its non-conference schedule for a second consecutive year and heads into Big Ten play relatively healthy (we hope, waiting to hear on a couple of injuries) and with its young defense rounding nicely into the aggressive, attacking form we know a Don Brown squad would take.

But, eight trips to the red zone with but one touchdown, Wilton Speight having not completed a pass inside the red zone this season, it's a cause for concern.  All of the people who would know are throwing around the word "correctable", but I'm a little concerned that three games into the season, these correctable issues are seemingly no closer to being solved than when they first cropped up in Dallas.

So I don't know.  Expectations are a weird thing.  We feel like Michigan should have won by more, and I suppose if the two Ty Isaac touchdowns were actually touchdowns, we might feel differently about a 38-13 win (all other things being equal, of course.)  But instead, Quinn Nordin was like a Rockette during the Christmas season, kicking it on call for a Michigan record-tying five field goals in a game.  I suppose there is a positive in knowing that Nordin is exceedingly solid as a college kicker, but settling for three so often is going to cost Michigan down the line.  We know it, the players know it, and assuredly, the coaches know it.  So how do you fix it?  That I do not know.

There are two realities here that I cannot deny.  First, Speight has to be the best option at quarterback at present, or else he wouldn't be playing.  Harbaugh's track record indicates the truth of this statement.  It does not mean Speight is the best quarterback on the roster, simply that he is the best option at the moment.  To that end, you have to find a way to make him better and quick.  Part of that may be the protection on the O-Line, but he's got to be better.  But he knows that.  Everybody in the program knows that.  But as Mr. Rogers taught us so many years ago, wishing does not make it so.

So a date with a...resurgent? Purdue program in the Brutalist shrine that is Ross-Ade Stadium awaits.  Michigan's defense has been as strong as anything, they'll need to be again.  But let's hope that Nordin kicks more PATs than field goals next weekend.  Or else it could be a long day in the wilds of West Lafayette.

Additional Notes:

  • There was a time that Matt Millen was considered to be a top-tier color analyst for football, correct?  Have we all just gotten better at knowing what a good analyst sounds like, or was he never really that good?  Today was just brutal to watch on BTN, even trying to put my Lions' fan hat off to the side for Millen.
  • We should probably stop scheduling service academies and their Franken-Hydra offenses...except that Army comes in for Week 2 in 2019.  Fine, but after that, OK?
  • This is sort of a lousy column, but today was sort of a lousy game, so I think we're even.

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