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Commentary: What to make of these Michigan Wolverines?

John Kayser Feature WriterAt this point it is obvious our young Michigan Wolverines team is working through some growing pains. The four-overtime cardiac-clutch of the game this past Saturday was both appeasing and infuriating.

While it seems the defense made some strides, the offense still looked to struggle. The offensive live was the most disappointing position group as has been the case most of the year.

The line made it virtually impossible to get a run game going, again. I’m not sure what to think of this situation. I would like to chalk it up to a young interior and lack of big time football playing experience. Whether that statement is accurate or not time will tell.

The offense lives and dies with the production or lack thereof by Devin Gardner. Gardner both amazes and captivates with making something out of seemingly nothing. Two plays after making everyone scream in joy he throws an interception that makes one think, “what was he thinking right there?”

I’m not sure what to think about him either at this point as he is the pure definition of hit or miss. Michigan can’t win without him. But it can be tough to win with him this year as well.

If the line could just get going consistently and blow people off the ball then Michigan could get a running game going that would take some pressure off Devin. The lack of the dominate run game though does not make it okay for Gardner to throw some of the passes he has thus far, just to be clear.

But it’s difficult not to put all the pressure on the quarterback being efficient and giving the defense something to defend when our running backs get about 2.7 yard per carry on a good play. Once the line play improves, the run game production will follow.

Yet it could even be the play calling too no? If the defense knows you are going to run and you run a play right at the defense…Is it really the fault of the offensive line then? It is possible the Fitz Toussaint is a really dominate running back but is also being put into bad spots to begin his runs from.

Regardless, if the line plays better and blocks well and knocks folks around, then the running game and passing game should excel. If the passing game gets rolling, it will then be up to Devin Gardner to ensure no possession ends prematurely with a turnover. And that has been a major challenge thus far.

The defense on the other hand has been better than I thought it would be.

Although, most thought this unit would have much better production by now from the defensive line. The defense has undoubtedly been the strength of Team 134 thus far in 2013. There has been some aches as well though, such as playing too cushy on pass protection.

Considering Greg Mattison’s men have been an elite pass coverage team the past two years the breakdowns this year are puzzling. Especially with some play-making talent out there on the field like the redshirt sophomore DB Blake Countess who has four interceptions so far. But this is a new year and the currently 64th best pass defense is a far cry from the 5th and 16th best pass defense in 2012 and 2011 respectively.

I would like to see Mattison bring in more of those crazy blitz packages we seen last year and the year before. Yet, I’d like to see them mix them in with the current layout to create confusion and pressure.

Above all facts are facts and one major fact is Michigan right now is a young and growing team. The best thing we as fans can do is not kill their spirits further. Keep hope because even if this season doesn’t end in a Big Ten Championship, it sets a great foundation for team 135. Brady Hoke has proven to be an excellent recruiter and each class so far has been better than the last. When his first draft class of kids are seniors, then let’s talk.

So don’t panic now Michigan faithful. This young team will grow into a monster right before your eyes, one game at a time, with growing pains and setbacks included.

Go Blue!

John Kayser

  • Adam

    I love the banner “HOKEAMANIAC”, what a joke. It should be “Lloyd Carr 2″ because that’s all Hoke is. Hoke’s style of coaching is why the BigTen is being left in the dust by the other major conferences. I hate Ohio State, but I have to admit they may win 5-8 of the next 10 BigTen championships. Urban Meyer understands what it will require to compete with the SEC and he’s taking the steps to do that. Urban’s not competing with the Big Ten teams, he gearing his teams to be on par with the SEC elites. If he succeeds, and I think he will, his biggest concern is going to be whether his team seen enough competition in the BigTen to be ready for the competition they will see in the playoff system.


    We’ve seen the line struggle through the first six games and the competition only gets tougher from here on! At some point Hoke and Borgess need to adapt offensive game plan to what they can do well. That was my biggest complaint with Penn State game, NO ADJUSTMENT! They say all the right things about Gardner, but their actions show otherwise as far as trust. No more evident than late in last game, 8 guys in box and run the ball right at them 3 straight times!

  • Bigpoppablue2013

    Yeah I gotta agree with both of these guys. The team makes little to no adjustments when needed and it seems they play down to the competition getting them just far enough ahead to make it nerve wracking, not fun. The Wolverines need to step it up and keep pace with OSU. I hate the buttguys but they do what it takes to get the job done and they do it well. Step it up and make the changes needed to get our Blue going top speed. - May the Hoke be with you! © January 11th, 2011
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