Michigan vs. Michigan State: Relief

This game was ugly for both teams on offense.  I mean, both teams have pretty good defenses, but both were pretty bad on offense.  Sure, I’m concerned that Michigan was kept out of the end zone.  But, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter.  A win is a win, and since the only thing that Michigan has left to play for is a Big Ten Championship, ranking and margin of victory mean nothing to me.  As the late Al Davis said, “Just Win Baby.”

I would like to see better play calling in the future, obviously, but the way the defense has been playing I don’t have a whole lot to complain about, because they have more than exceeded expectations and made up for the offense.  Jake Ryan has been an absolute freak, again.  I mean honestly, the dude is Clay Matthews 2.0, he’s even got the flow down.  The defensive schemes were fantastic, and outside of one drive, the defense kept Michigan State very bottled up and in particular Le’Veon Bell, which was absolutely crucial to the team’s success.  In short, Greg Mattison is a genius.

I wasn’t a huge fan of J.T. Floyd’s play at corner, but like I said, it was good enough where I don’t have anything real to complain about.  I also really liked Kenny Demens, the way he and Desmond Morgan have played the past two weeks, I think Joe Bolden and James Ross’s playing time will dwindle a bit.  Yes, Bolden and Ross have played well, but it’s good for them to be able to learn  and to have the upperclassmen be able to be leaders.

Another guy on defense that turned in a quietly solid day was Craig Roh.  He’s always very reliable when tackling, and has done a good job getting a steady pass rush.  I’m still waiting to see more out of Will Campbell, but I think that ship has sailed at this point.  As long as he is a passable starter I think we’re just going to have to live with that as being the best we’re going to get.

I’m just as surprised as you that there is a highlight video from this football game on YouTube.

Positives from the offense? Denard played pretty decently considering Michigan State’s plan was just to bottle him up, which they did a pretty damn good job of.  I thought Denard showed very good pocket presence and awareness, particularly on the the throw that set up Brendan Gibbons game winning field goal.  Fitzgerald Toussaint, even though he only put up 52 yards was able to average 5.2 yards per carry, so the run game turned out to be pretty effective, considering they never scored a touchdown.  Also, Taylor Lewan at left tackle, purely a fantastic job; he dominated Will Gholston all day and kept Denard from getting knocked around.

The heroes of the day were obviously Gibbons and Drew Dileo.  Dileo had 4 receptions for 92 yards, including the biggest catch of the day to set up the game winning field goal.  And Gibbons obviously made 3 field goals, one of them being absolutely clutch…gotta love those brunette girls.

Obviously the offense had it’s short comings, and Michigan State exposed how to contain Denard and to shut down the offense.

Now, Al Borges said he was more conservative on his play calls because he wanted to limit turnovers, so it will be interesting to see if this the attitude that he has going forward and in particular, tonight against Nebraska.  He’s going to have to open up the playbook if he wants to keep defenses away from Denard and if he wants to get back into the end zone.  This is no time to be conservative right now.

Playing against Nebraska at night on the road is going to be a tough game, much tougher than many anticipate and I don’t expect them to blow out the Cornhuskers.  Nebraska has been very productive at home and if Taylor Martinez shows up and plays well, Michigan could be in a boat load of trouble.  I think that Michigan will win a close game, their defense has been playing so well since the Alabama game and I think they will keep the momentum going from finally beating Michigan State.

It was a great way and time to get number 900….now it’s time to get 901 and keep the Big Ten Championship dreams alive.

Photo Credit

 

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