Sunday, November 05, 2017

Electrical Storm

Jug security is at a premium.  Always (Two hands good, unlike Winovich.  Man...) (AP Photo/Tony Ding)
It wasn't perfect football weather at noon on Saturday, November 4, but it was darn close.  It was cool, crisp, and a bit cloudy, but it was looking like when the game should have been played, especially when Michigan State/Penn State went into a lengthy lightning delay in East Lansing.  I was pondering all of this as I sat in the concourse of the Crisler Center, next to the Mr. and Miss Basketball trophies for the state of Michigan, whether I would be completely soaked during the Battle for the Little Brown Jug, or just moderately wet.

It turned out that while there was a subtle mist that lingered over Michigan Stadium for most of Saturday night, it was not a particularly annoying weather game.  It wasn't cold, per se, it wasn't raining, just damp, and once I cleared off my seat with a tried and true method of water removal on a Michigan Stadium bench;* it was just a game at night, later than we thought, but in the end, a regular old-fashioned B1G game.

*-(the keys are dabbing rather than pushing the water off and getting the front and back lips of the bench to not get the runoff catches)
There were plenty of things to be annoyed about, between the officiating and some pass protection issues that led to Peters taking a couple of nasty looking sacks, but for the most part, this was a night of run, run, and run some more.  Karan Higdon was finding holes, hitting holes, and flying out of those holes where they lead, going for huge runs and getting the Michigan Stadium crowd on its feet.  Chris Evans followed Higdon's example and arguably had one of the best "break some tackles and stay in bounds" runs I have seen in a while.  It was almost spoiling, by the end of the game, one was nearly disappointed in a five or six yard run because you knew it could have been more with one more cut (even if that wasn't true.)

But moreover, the defense was just its usual crushing, attacking self.  Khaleke Hudson spent so much time in the Minnesota backfield, he was getting Amazon Prime packages delivered to him there by the fourth quarter.  (He also made my choice of my #7 jersey as the extra layer between quarter-zip and raincoat feel like an excellent choice.)  Much like the offense, it was almost a disappointment any time Michigan did not get into the Minnesota backfield to wreak havoc.

Yes, all of the usual caveats apply, Minnesota's a program in year 0.5 of a rebuild (and I do suspect they will be good at some point in the near future, but I like PJ Fleck, so that could just be projection) and Michigan's strengths matched up nicely to Minnesota's weaknesses.  We still need to see more out of the passing game if we're going to have any real shot in the last two games of the year.  But securing the Jug for the next three years, setting it up for a sweet long-term lease in Schembechler Hall is always a good feeling.  Another step forward in the Peters era next week, the first road start in Maryland looms (Maryland may be on its fourth quarterback of the year, so we kind of understand where they are coming from.)  But for one night at Michigan Stadium, a winning season was secured, reminding us that most of the time, the magic of Michigan Stadium comes from what happens on the field, not when it happens.

Side notes:
  • I love The Killers, so I am simultaneously pleased and confused as to how the Mr. Brightside singalong became a Michigan Stadium "thing".  (I know the link is from the MSU game, but it was the same basic bear.)
  • For goodness sakes Chase Winovich, TWO HANDS!
  • Cell signal inside Crisler was spotty, thankfully the eruptive cheers from the crowd watching Ohio State/Iowa were quite instructive.
  • I don't fault PJ Fleck for going for the field goal after the long drive against the backups, and I do credit him for not calling his three TOs on the Malzone "drive" when he was down 23 points.  I suspect this may be in part because he knows Harbaugh has a long memory and would remember something like that.
  • The jazz-based halftime was solid, I did enjoy that I now know that someone is likely majoring in jazz vocals at Michigan.  This means, on some level, she's majoring in scatting, whereas someone in the biology department is, on some level, majoring in scat.  I feel like these two people should meet.
  • My six year old son made it through the whole game in his rain gear that made him look like he had to go from The Big House to work his shift on a crab boat.  A solid investment.

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