For the second week in a row Michigan was heavily favored. For the second week in a row Michigan barely escaped with a win. For the second week in a row Michigan fielded a team that was not the team that manhandled Notre Dame. For the second week in a row Michigan won but dropped in the polls. For the second week in a row Devin Gardner had too many turnovers and lacked confidence. For a second week in a row the Wolverine nation walked away with mixed emotions—yes we won and 4–0 is better than 2-2 but this feels like 2-2. So the question is, “What the HAIL is going on with the Michigan Wolverines?”
One of the things is that sports prognosticators are forgetting they’re predicting college football; they are relying too much on numbers and statistics, and not enough on the nature of the game. The one thing that distinguishes college football is that on any given Saturday any thing can happen because you’re dealing with amateurs not pros. Case in point, Michigan versus Akron: Often lesser teams defeat better opponents after the latter has experienced a big emotional win. Looking at Akron’s stats and comparing them to Michigan on paper is just naive.
Bowden is a good coach. Tressel is in bed with Akron. You can bet those two sat down and looked at the tapes and saw where the problems were and knew where to attack. That in tandem with the anti-high of going from Notre Dame under the lights to a “donut game” with Akron at noon was almost a prescription for disaster. And disaster almost happened to Michigan, but they found a way to avoid it and win—barely—but they won end of story.
There is a column for wins and a column for losses—there are no columns for decisive and narrow victories.
Connecticut was another example of the media hype being Michigan’s enemy. Akron exposed problems that lay hidden beneath the hype of the Notre Dame Michigan game. Also, Connecticut is not as bad as their record suggests; and they were fired up for the game. It meant much more to them emotionally than it did to us.
They had sold out that tiny stadium of theirs for the first time. And they had had enough of our strong New England alumni-ship and fan base’s smack talk. They came and gave it their all. They believed they could win. Perception is everything in the human brain—and the human brain run the body. Also, it was also our first road game. Playing on the road is difficult even if it is in a toy stadium against an inferior opponent—especially for a young team, and our team is the youngest in the NCAA. So this was a tougher game than it appeared to be on paper. So all of that is a part of it.
However, that is only a part of it, and it is not the important part of it per se. The larger concern for the Wolverine Nation was Michigan’s mistakes. They did not almost beat us. We almost beat ourselves. Fourteen of their 21 points were a result of mental errors: one by the offense (Gardner’s fumble) and the botched punt by the return team. That’s a problem; that’s a big problem—but a correctable problem.
Devin Gardner’s waning accuracy and confidence is a huge concern. How do you coach confidence into a quarterback? More importantly, how does a QB lead the team when he is not throwing well? These are all things that need to be addressed. The smart money is on Brady Hoke and Al Borges knowing how to address these issues correctly—and it showed in the fourth quarter.
Another concern was our O-line, a lot of missed assignments, some silly penalties—again foibles of youth. The youth of our team is a problem—case in point—Drew Dileo returns a punt to the ten-yard line. It’s called backed because some kid on the return team committed an infraction behind the ball. So instead of being on the 10 we had to go back to across mid-field. You can bet this kid, or any of his teammates will make that mistake again. So the take home message is team 134 has to grow up.
Speaking of growing up. Many so-called Michigan fans need to grow up and realize that the purpose of Michigan football is not to provide them with an ego sport. Michigan football is about winning with integrity and getting better each week. It is not about giving fans social media bragging rites. It’s the most storied program in college football—it’s not a penis enlargement plan.
So if a Michigan win isn’t good enough for you—here’s what you do: 1) Enroll or re-enroll and walk on the team and make it better, or 2) convince Dave Brandon that you are better suited to coach than Brady Hoke or his staff, or 3) Show some respect to my alma mater and either say something positive or don’t say anything at all. HAIL!
Click Here and LIKE the “Billi Club” on Facebook: The home of GREAT Michigan Graphics.