Saturday, September 02, 2023

Waiting on a Friend

Welcome back, Blake.  (Patrick Barron)

"Watching girls go passing by
It ain't the latest thing
I'm just standing in a doorway
I'm just trying to make some sense
Out of these girls passing by
The tales they tell of men
I'm not waiting on a lady
I'm just waiting on a friend."

"Waiting on a Friend" by The Rolling Stones, from their 1981 album Tattoo You

The first game of a season is odd in that it feels, at the moment, in the moment, like a harbinger of things to come.  But, it is only in retrospect if you seek to connect the dot. So, in that framework, there are two ways of looking at this game.

Option A: Michigan hit on all cylinders, powered by JJ McCarthy, who looked absolutely blistering in the passing game, going 26/30, making several tough throws on rollouts, and repeatedly finding the newly christened #1 Roman Wilson for three touchdowns.  ECU sold out to stop the Michigan run game, but even still, Corum and Edwards got several solid runs.  Michigan held a 30-point lead for the majority of the second half and had a 99%+ win expectancy from the moment the MMB left the field in the second half.  1-0 to start the year, on to UNLV.

Option B: Michigan looked fine but clearly left points on the field by refusing to abandon the run game when ECU kept loading up the box.  Everything felt like the team was just going through the motions, almost acting like it was a pre-season exhibition game, and it amplified the fact that Michigan's offensive and defensive playcallers were not the usual coaches in those roles.  The team acted like they missed Harbaugh more than they wanted to win for him.  They cannot keep playing like this if they expect to win more demanding games in Big Ten play.

Option B is the default for Michigan fans because we're always worried about the future instead of being in the moment, which I get. After all, the expectations for this team are as high as they have been since 2007 (which is probably playing into this level of terror; it's a training scar.)  But Option A is the fairer version of this because it's closer to the reality of most of this game.

But mostly, this game feels like an unknowable enigma because of what was missing.  The fact that Harbaugh wasn't on the sideline definitely felt like it was impacting the players, even if they didn't want it to be a thing, and they certainly got the job done, but I just wonder if they had to get this out of the way so they could prove to themselves it wouldn't be a big deal.

Beyond that, and the saddest field goal in recorded history, I will not remember much about this game as the season progresses. It may not be the shape of things to come, but rather, a thing that happened along the journey.

Tales from The Spreadsheet
  • Win 0990 
  • 30-3 is a Scorigami (so I guess we can thank ECU for that small favor)
  • 109,480 is the 140th-largest crowd Michigan has played in front of.

  • Michigan moves to 1-0 all-time against East Carolina.
  • Michigan wins its first game against a new opponent since beating Middle Tennessee State in 2019.
  • Michigan moves to 5-0 all-time on September 2.

  • Michigan moves to 8-1 when scoring exactly 30 points
  • Michigan moves to 48-3-3 all-time when allowing precisely 3 points.
  • Michigan has won 17 games all-time by precisely 27 points.

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