Saturday, September 22, 2018

Perfect Blue Buildings

Devin can hear you, he's just trying to make a larger point.

"You got an attitude of everything I ever wanted
I got an attitude of need."

--"Perfect Blue Buildings", Counting Crows, August and Everything After, 1993.

Admit it, when Adrian Martinez found Stanley Morgan, Jr. for 32 yards on a third and nine play on the opening drive, you thought "Here we go again."  I thought it, the crowd at Michigan Stadium clearly seemed to feel it, the warnings about how the 18 point spread was too generous, how Martinez was better than we suspected. and that this would be a dogfight.  The panic lasted all of two seconds when Martinez's next pass was tipped and once more, Josh Mettelus came down with it and six plays later, the rout was on.

It was a moment where the promise of the off-season started to actually look like it wasn't just lies told to comfort a nervous fan base.  The offense produced more than 44 points for the third straight game.  The defense looked like they had taken offense at the doubters and put on a show, four sacks, 14 tackles for loss, and feeling much cleaner on the penalty front, well, almost (looks at Khaleke Hudson).  Nebraska would maybe get one decent play on a drive, trying to get something going and the defense appeared to take it as an affront to propriety and snuffed it out.  It was only when the second and third string got some reps that Nebraska would actually do anything with the ball.  It's the rare 46 point victory that was not as close as it would seem and Nebraska is 0-3 for the first time since 1945.

As miserable as last week was at the Big House to watch, this game was a delight, proving two things, football weather remains undefeated and routs are fun when you're not on the receiving end of said rout.  I've sat in football weather at Michigan Stadium for the receiving end of a rout and it wasn't fun, but it wasn't miserable.  This was just fun.  Even the silly things that made no sense: the drum major doinking the mace toss for the second times in three weeks or the refs and Carl both making weird misspeaks on penalties and yardage, were more on the funny side than bad omens.  The fullback getting three touchdowns, well, thats's just Harbaugh reminding you that fullbacks matter.  Dylan McCaffery looking like his brother while running out a broken play ultimately called back on a penalty, well, that's just a glimpse into the future.  Ambry Thomas taking a muffed punt back for a score, only to have it called back because you can't advance a muffed punt, well, that's just an obscure rule that you didn't know about until just now.  Meanwhile, Will Hart is out there AVERAGING nearly 60 yards a punt for the day.  I mean, come on, that's just a thing of beauty.

Of all the moments of today's game that will stand out to me is Donovan Peoples-Jones punt return for a touchdown.  There are several reasons, not the least of which is the notion that so many people have groused that DPJ only ever fair catches and it makes no sense why he is back there.  Today was the answer.  Oh, sure, it was the critical score that made it 46-0, but still, picking your way through 60 yards of traffic, with a full reverse of field across from the east to west sideline including a spin move that should not have worked, and yet, did, well, it was just excellent.  It's even more so when you do it on a day when Charles Woodson is in the house to get his College Football Hall of Fame plaque.

All in all, as miserable as the day was last week, today was its diametrical opposite.  It's nice to feel good at the Big House.

I couldn't find a photo, but dang it was nice to see the broad smile on Coach Carr's face when he handed Charles his plaque.  Also, Coach Carr still sporting the quarter-zip, the outerwear of champions. 

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