Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Exorcising the demons

When I looked back on last year's blog entries on the Michigan season, I completely forgot, somehow, that I was actually EXCITED for the Michigan/Ohio State game last year.  Because I had a five stage plan that was going to complete the Michigan comeback, and beating tOSU was phase 4.

So the question is why, and the answer is simple, it's how the Michigan/Ohio State game ended.

(For those of you wondering why I would go back and rehash this now, it's the principle of not forgetting where this season came from.
And really, as amusing as this is now, it was the coup de grace, not the main reason.  Oh, and I may forget key parts or specific incidences, but that's largely because on the way into the game last year, I tripped on the sidewalk in front of the Natatorium and gave my right knee a massive bruise.)

With 7:49 left in the fourth quarter, Michigan's Garrett Rivas kicked a 19-yard field goal to put Michigan up 21-12.  Now, let's stop right there...A 19 yard field goal means that the 11 play, 69 yard drive which was built off a tOSU missed field goal was stopped at the 2 yard line.  A touchdown and extra point makes that a 25-12 score...

One minute and nine seconds later, Ohio State whipped up the field, using just five plays to go 67 yards, culminating with a Santonio Holmes touchdown.  An extra point makes it 21-19.  Now, here's the thing.

Michigan took the ball back and Steve Breaston took the ball back all the way to the Michigan 48.  All Michigan needs to do is drive the ball to the tOSU 25 and let Rivas have a crack at a field goal that will put you up 24-19, forcing tOSU to drive the length of the field with less than three minutes left.  But no, Michigan chose to punt, putting tOSU back in their own 12 and letting Troy Smith go to work.

Here's the difference, and this is as plain as it could be:
Mike Hart:    9 rushes for 15 yards, a long of 4 yards.

With Mike Hart to kill the clock, Michigan can win that game.  It's that simple.  But...

Starting on their own 12 with 4:18 left, Troy Smith used 12 plays to go 88 yards for the go-ahead score which would have tried to make it 27-21, but instead made it 25-21.

That was it, that was the ballgame.  Michigan fell to 7-4, a trip to the Alamo Bowl, and the beginning of the rebirth.

It's a different year, it's a different team, it's a different feeling.

Am I saying Michigan will win because they have a healthy Mike Hart?  No, but it certainly doesn't hurt their chances.  The simple thing that people must remember is that half of defense is offense, and last year, that is a big part of where Michigan failed.


Another Shade of Grey said...

Can't wait to watch the game this week. Mostly to see how it will effect the polls. I need the Razorbacks to move up a spot or two. :)

Craig Barker said...

You know, Arkansas has certainly flown under the radar this year, relative to what they have done. I guess people just sort of buried them after the opener against USC and now are like "Wait, didn't you die or something?"

Houston Nutt, like Lloyd Carr, took himself off the hot seat by changing some coordinators. Not a bad way to work.