Saturday, October 06, 2018

Raining in Baltimore

Good things happen when you can actually start a game, Mr. Hudson. (Paul Sancya/AP)
"And I get no answers
And I don't get no change
It's raining in Baltimore, baby
But everything else is the same."

--"Raining in Baltimore", Counting Crows, August and Everything After, 1993

Another game, another slow start. Another game, another strong finish.  The major differences today were that the Big Ten seemed to have maybe looked at a copy of the chart that said Michigan wasn't having any holding calls on its defense, and that Shea Patterson's outstanding characteristic is his elusiveness, not his speed.  There's a major difference there.  Patterson isn't Denard Robinson, he's not a run-first quarterback, but if he can elude and evade oncoming defenders, extend plays and while his decision making isn't always perfect (I'm trying to decide how much the interception was his fault since it did hit the receiver's hands and pop into the air.  Simultaneously, his TD pass to Ronnie Bell was probably not a great decision until it was.  The margins on some of these things are very thin.)  Whereas Michigan's defense showed its fangs in the second half last week, it faltered slightly, giving up fourth quarter drives of 75 and 78 yards, but perhaps the injuries being suffered in the D-Line both before during the game were finally shone through and caused some consternation.  But it was the 9 play, 81-yard drive and the 46-yard pick six between them that made this a cover of a 17.5 point spread and not a nailbiter that it could have been.

Karan Higdon ran for over a hundred yards again today, the fourth straight game where a Michigan player ran for over 100 yards, the first time that has happened since 2010.  There are those who bemoan Michigan's slow, deliberate offensive style, but it felt, to me, today that Michigan does blend a deliberate style with some big-play ability (some of which was called back, like the 40-yard strike to DPJ early in the third called back on a specious holding call on Tru Wilson) that I think might be frustrating to others.  The defense is so solid, so strong, that people desire an offense to match it.  I understand that feeling, but I also feel, I don't know, the offense is fine.  Perhaps it needs a better, faster, start would help people feel like the offense is something that can click on all cylinders, but again, we're asking for evidence of things unseen.

For a game delayed by rain for an hour, the end result was what the stats, the sharps, and the analysts had been telling us the whole week.  Now comes the stretch, the defining stretch, the one that has been looming since the schedule makers first presented it to us all those years ago.  Home to the Badgers, then a road test against the Spartans and then Penn State at home coming off a bye.  BPONE tells you that Michigan comes out of this with at least one loss, maybe two, but maybe, just maybe, Michigan has it figured out, gets healthy enough, and makes some noise.  It certainly would be nice to ponder.  But for now under the lights against the Badgers next week should be some real data on what this Michigan team actually is.  We'll finally get some answers, the question is, will we like them?

One additional note: Given our outrage over the Shane Morris incident, I have some minor concerns about how quickly Donovan Peoples-Jones was back out there after his mouthguard went flying on the targeting hit.  I presume that the concussion protocol was followed, but I would like to know what the minimum essential time it takes to run the concussion protocol is so I am not feeling like we're playing fast and loose with it to get our players back out there.

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