Saturday, September 07, 2019

Taste of Danger

Once again, a quick whistle nearly caused a Michigan disaster.  (The other fumbles didn't help.)
David Guralnick, Detroit News
I am not saying any of us is a prophet, but someone in the Michigan fan base saw the Army/Oklahoma game as it played out last year on that one guy's Periscope stream and immediately asked the question "Wait, why did we schedule in 2019 Army again?"  Especially since Army was supposed to be playing Northwestern today.  Keeping in mind that Army had won 12 games in four years prior to 2015 when this game was announced, it wasn't an overly terrible idea, it's just that Jeff Monken hadn't had time to go full wizard on his team.  But never schedule a service academy.  We're done with this.  Or at least, we should be.

There was an odd familiarity to this game, it felt like a bad copy of last week's game, too many fumbles, too many opponent points off those turnovers, and some bad luck.  The Metellus fumble recovery, clearly seen on replay that his knee was not down, that saw the ball immediately go back to Army because Christian Turner had some, difficulty, in pass protection, and Shea Patterson got blindsided and strip-sacked and everything felt awful, even in a tie ball game, the third lost fumble felt exactly like the kind of thing that you point to as to a reason a ranked team was upset at home.

Army West Point is very good at what they do.  They know what they want to do, and they executed the hell out of it.  They understand math, they understand that if they limit the number of possessions and make the most of when they do have the ball, they can win a lot of football games.  It's one of those things that you tip your cap to and nod at in the affirmative until they are playing your team.  Then you hate it.  As Ace said on Twitter:

I have said in the past, the difference between "survives an upset bid" and "is upset" is a chasm visible from space.  But it doesn't make it feel a whole lot better at the moment.  It will feel better down the line when that ends up +1 is in the win column (956 total, evening the all-time series leaving just USC (4-6) and Cornell (6-12) with winning records against Michigan), but right now, everything feels off.  We're stuck with troubling trendlines, confusion about the offensive identity, and concerns about both lines when the smallest lines in FBS were giving them everything they could handle.  Two weeks into the season in which Michigan is 2-0 and the fanbase is in full-on finger-pointing as the first open date approaches.  Things will, hopefully, get better.  But at least today was not a loss, and when that's the best thing* you can say about it, well, let's just move on and burn the footage.

(*-Oh, Zach Charbonnet looks like the real deal, that was nice.)

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