At 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.