Sunday, October 19, 2008

Strange Days Indeed

It was a bit strange settling in for my first Michigan game of the season on television this year. It was equally strange to watch this game and pretty much know that Michigan was not going to win the game. Not even not going to win, but had no chance to win. Yes, I realize that every team has "a chance", but Michigan's seemed so small and insignificant as so not to get excited about it.

One of my friends who has been through seasons like this before, all you can really look for are signs of improvement and hope for the future. It may be a bit disappointing, but really, that's where we are in this year, what can we build upon going forward?

So, consider me pleasantly surprised, well, really, down right shocked first a quick three and out for Penn State and then at Michigan's execution on their first drive of the game, their longest of the season. Brandon Minor was running well, getting hard yards, including a really terrific pick up on fourth and one where he was blown up behind the line, rolled off the hit, and got the first down. When Michigan went up 7-0 early on a Minor touchdown and Lopata extra point, I was pleasantly surprised, but refused to get too excited. It was good, but would it hold up?

So when Michigan recovered a fumble on the next drive, I thought they needed a touchdown to really establish themselves as a threat in the game, especially with a shorter than not field. But Michigan only got as close as the Penn State 13 before McGuffie took a loss of two (which became even more maddening when the Nittany Lions took an illegal substitution penalty to make it 4th and 1 instead of a first down. But you know, it happens.) Now Michigan's up 10-0 after just a little more than 11 minutes of this game. Confusion reigns. I'm happy, but wary

Sure enough, it took just two plays for Michigan to get back to Michigan 2008, giving up a long touchdown run to Evan Royster to make it 10-7. It seems liked the portend, that Michigan playing over its head was just going to keep them close.

I now wonder if Michigan does well on opening and early drives this year (Illinois and Penn State) because they are, if not scripting plays, coming in with bread and butter plays that have been practiced all week and it accounts for what the opponent would have seen on film. Another Minor touchdown early in the second quarter and Michigan was back up by 10. It would also be the last time Michigan put points on the board during the game.

I don't want to recap most of the rest, because, well, it's kind of painful. It was almost the reverse of your usual college football blowout, the better team gets way out early and the downtrodden puts some points on the board to make it look respectable. The safety was just an absolute killer, and while I shouldn't hate on Nick Sheridan, it's very clear that it's not when you have two quarterbacks, you have none, it's when you have one injured quarterback and Nick Sheridan, you have none. But, you know, it's also where Michigan is.

I knew this could always happen, because I knew it had happened to so many other teams. So I can't say that nobody told me there would be days like these, because they clearly had. If I claim otherwise, it was probably because I was not listening. But we had to know, and now we must look at what we are, and hope that what is happening can build for the future.

So now we're 2-5 and looking at Michigan State this week at home. I don't know what to expect, in part because this team doesn't play consistently enough to hazard a guess. For as much as Michigan looked better early, they did not look good late. For as much as Brandon Minor looked good early, without the threat of Threet, Michigan looked helpless in the second half. For as much as Michigan has looked terrible, Michigan State did not exactly look good against Ohio State. For as much as I should be hyped for what is my favorite moveable feast of the college football season, Ohio State/Penn State next Saturday night almost is more intriguing to me.

Strange Days Indeed.

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