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Tuesday After Doom: A Michigan Wolverines reflection

Michigan's Denard Robinson leaves field after INT vs. Notre Dame

Michigan’s Denard Robinson leaves field after INT vs. Notre Dame Saturday night in South Bend, Indiana. The Notre Dame players celebrate behind him. (Image courtesy of John T. Greilick / The Detroit News)

 

Alvin TheodoreA rivalry 125 years old. The two teams with the best winning percentage in college football. Prime time under the lights. Can’t beat that. It was a fine evening for college football that is for sure.

Notre Dame was supposed to be unbeatable. Michigan was supposed to be not as good actually because of this and that. Either way much was on the line for both teams looking to make a statement.

What followed, at least for the a Wolverines, was one of the worst first-halves of offensive football witnessed by the human eye.

Denard Robinson was not sharp with his passes early even though his offensive line provided him some outstanding protection and plenty of time to sit back in the pocket and survey the field before throwing. Which he did, for a while.

The Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson was, well even worse throwing an interception on his first pass which was picked off by Michigan cornerback Raymon Taylor.

Luckily for the Irish, the Wolverines were unable to capitalize on the miscue and after beginning the subsequent drive first-and-goal inside the Notre Dame 10-yard line (a 10-yard personal foul penalty was added on after the play), Michigan moved backwards 15 yards in three plays and Brendan Gibbons then missed on a 46-yard field goal attempt.

If the Wolverines felt the inability to capitalize on that takeaway was frustrating, the remainder of the game would only get worse.

Six turnovers later and the clock showing 0:00, the game ended and the Michigan Wolverines found themselves on the losing end of a dreadfully painful 13-6 defeat at the hands of Brian Kelly’s now 11th ranked, 4-0 undefeated Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

For longtime Michigan supporters and die-hard followers, the game against the Irish was difficult, if not impossible, to watch and for many reasons.

The defense played a pretty sound game and Greg Mattison’s group had some intense focus on it heading into the match-up. The offensive line was also under scrutiny and many wondered if it was good enough to protect against a more physical defensive front. Overall, they did pretty well. Special teams didn’t allow any major gaffes to the Irish and freshman running back Dennis Norfleet managed a 29-yard average on his three kick-off returns for Michigan.

Unfortunately, the quarterback of the Wolverines was not up for the challenge Saturday night and on his 22nd birthday, led the Wolverines to defeat. And for the second time in four games on national television, Michigan showed the world that they are not quite exactly back to elite level.

But I suppose Michigan supporters should look on the bright side…The expectation level should now be adjusted more towards reality than what it was prior to Saturday night’s game in South Bend.

Going 11-2 last season in Brady Hoke’s first year, beating Ohio State for the first time since 2003, beating Notre Dame at home “Under the Lights’ with one of the most spectacular comebacks ever witnessed in Ann Arbor and winning a BCS bowl game over Virginia Tech to close the year had the fans expectation level quite high.

Overall what the loss to the Irish proved is that building a championship team is a process and takes time. Hoke has literally had only one full class of recruits and did what he did last year with a group of kids that finished 2010 with the 110th ranked defense and a 7-6 record. Hoke has proven he is the man. And he has proven that not just from his time at Michigan. He built two other programs up from obscurity to respectability (Ball State and San Diego State) prior to taking the job in Ann Arbor in 2011.  The man just needs time.

But with that said, I know right now that I will find it difficult for myself to find a reason as to why the Wolverines will not come away with a ‘W’ when they face any of the teams remaining on the MICHIGAN schedule. Sure Northwestern is undefeated right now. Sure Minnesota is undefeated right now. Sure playing Purdue in West Lafayette next week to open the Big Ten schedule will be tough. And Michigan needs to end the four game losing streak to MSU at home on October 20th. And then there’s Nebraska and Ohio State to close the year. Pretty tough!

Yet, nothing that I witnessed Saturday night has proven to me that “The Team” can’t get it done in the weeks ahead.

Granted, a few things need to change and can not be repeated going forward, but overall, realistically, this season is young. And which team really will the Wolverines play now in the Big Ten that will be that much better?

It took me three days to get to this point. And by Maize or by Blue, this is how I feel now.

I said before the season started that the record this year was not going to matter and I believed that to be true. It has just been so, somewhat, painful to watch this team lose the way they did to the teams they lost to.

But like Brady Hoke said, “You’ve got to move forward.”

And we do!

All we can do now is just let things play out and hope that we don’t see anything like what was witnessed September 1st or Saturday night.

I mean, there’s no way right?

Hail Yeah! Go Blue!!

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Hokeamaniac.com - May the Hoke be with you! © January 11th, 2011
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