Michigan vs Northwestern: The Near Heart Attack

To be honest, this game gave me visions of the Appalachian State game.  Not the way it was played, but just the way it ended.  A totally improbable throw and catch to set up a field goal, and I was just terrified it would be blocked.  I had faith that Gibbons could make it from that close, it was basically a chip shot.  But I was afraid that in all of the excitement of them getting into field goal range that someone would miss a blocking assignment.

Fortunately that was not the case, and we got to see a stellar performance in overtime by Devin Gardner, Roy Roundtree and Kenny Demens.  All three of whom had utterly fantastic games.  I mean, this was easily one of the best games I’d ever seen Roy Roundtree play and he has the stats to back it up.  That catch he made is surely going to be one that is on Michigan highlight reels for years to come.  He may not have the production of a #1 wide receiver, but he sure as hell makes a ton of clutch catches.  Kenny Demens meanwhile asserted his dominance with some gorgeous wrap up tackles, particularly the one on 4th down in overtime.

A few GIFs of the clutch plays of the game are over at DieHardSport.com.

That brings us to Gardner; I mean what is left to say about the guy?  He’s clearly asserted himself as the best quarterback on the roster.  Everyone here knows I love Denard and his playmaking ability that is second to none, but Gardner, just wow.  This was the quarterback I watched roll all over Pioneer when he was at Inkster, only to be let down by his less talented teammates.  He has phenomenal pocket awareness, especially when you consider this is only his second start at quarterback in three years.  He has good mechanics and superb accuracy.  There were a few throws that he he made that were simply stunning.  He’s quick enough to be elusive and buy himself time when the pocket breaks down, and he’s clearly very comfortable under center.  When I watch him, I literally say to myself, this is like watching Vince Young, except he’s a bit slower and actually possesses the ability to throw the football.  It’s glorious.

If he doesn’t get a medical redshirt because Rich Rodriguez played him too much as a true freshman, instead of playing Tate Forcier as the backup, I may snap.  We NEED him to be our quarterback for two years.  It is an utter necessity.

That encompasses everything I was talking about.  He moves up in the pocket and avoids the pressure, while keeping his eyes downfield, he gets a little bit off balance and still throws the ball in an utterly perfect spot where only Devin Funchess can go up and get it. Perfect.

Also at 6:03 of the video below, is one of the most perfect throws I’ve seen by a Michigan quarterback in the last 5 years.

Instead of recapping the stat lines, I’m just gonna throw them in right here:

Jeremy Gallon has quietly been our best receiver this year.  It’s really too bad he’s not 6’2″ or he would utterly dominate every single team that we played against.  The only thing I don’t really understand about the play calling is the inconsistent use of Drew Dileo.  And I don’t mean the number of balls thrown to him, because that entirely depends on if he gets open or not.  There are just times were I see Jeremy Jackson and Joe Reynolds on the field more than him.  That’s not a knock on Jackson or Reynolds, Dileo is just a far better receiver.  Sure he may seriously lack in the size department, but he has far fewer drops than the other two.

The run game was much better this week.  I’m not so overly concerned with Fitzgerald Toussaint breaking big runs, at this point I just want to see production.  Enough production to have the defense think about the run game as a possible threat.  The offensive line needs to improve in their blocking.  Particularly Elliot Mealer, who had another not-so-great game this weekend, and I thought Michael Schofield got burned a couple of times pretty badly.  It’s a good thing the coaching staff has put a ton of emphasis on recruiting offensive lineman, because it is becoming more and more evident that we need them…badly.

Defensively wasn’t great.  This is the second time that Michigan has gotten utterly gashed by a team running the option, the first time was obviously against Air Force.  Giving up 248 yards rushing is not good and I’m ure Greg Mattison will let them know.

I thought that Will Campbell had his best game in a Michigan uniform.  He was in the backfield a lot and forced QB Kain Colter out of the pocket and into a lot of uncomfortable situations.  I also felt that Craig Roh had another consistently solid game, and while Jake Ryan was kept off the stat sheet, you could tell that the offense was aware of where he was lined up on the football field.

It looked as thought Desmond Morgan got hurt because James Ross started to play a lot, but whatever the case was, Ross looked really good.  He got on the field and made some plays and played well in crunch time.  From what I’ve seen, I can already tell that Ross is going to be a big time player for Michigan at linebacker.  The future of this team is damn bright.  Seriously.  Give them some more time and this is going to be the start of an absolute powerhouse.

I thought J.T. Floyd got burned a couple times and Jordan Kovacs didn’t have his best game, but these things are always more excusable with a win.  Hopefully being switched to #11 didn’t curse Kovacs or something, because he is really a key cog on the defensive side of the ball.  Keep in mind, Kovacs still had a good game, it was just a backslide from what I’ve become accustomed too.

I’m not sure how to fix it, but they definitely need to work more on defending the option. Quite honestly if I was Urban Meyer, I would be doing nothing but watching film on Michigan from the Air Force and Northwestern games, looking for ways to utilize Braxton Miller’s legs to gash the defense.  It could pose a serious problem against the Buckeyes, so hopefully they get it fixed.  Too often guys were going straight at the quarterback, leaving the pitch man wide open on the outside to gay massive yardage.  It’s better to watch the pitch man and force the quarterback inside to the middle of the field for a minimal game, then let them get the outside edge where there are few defenders.

That being said, Michigan has to get past Iowa before they can worry about Ohio State.  This senior day will be particularly sad because it will be Denard Robinson’s last game in the Big House, and I truly don’t think he will play.  I think they are trying to save him for Ohio State, but I could be wrong.  It’s really a shame that Denard will come so close to the rushing record and fall short.  He needs to average like 110 yards a game, the last three games (including the bowl game) if he is to have a shot.  I really hope that he is healthy enough to play this weekend, because it seems unfair that his career in Ann Arbor  will end because of an injury.  Considering how much he has done for this program I must say that I think he deserves far better than what happened the past few games.

Short Recruiting Update:  Michigan has four spots from what I understand, and could have five, if CB Gareon Conley decides to take visits elsewhere.  The key names to know: 5-star DB Leon McQuay III, 5-star RB Derrick Green, and 5-star WR Laquon Treadwell.  Michigan is said to be the leader for McQuay, but has ground to make up with the other two.

Treadwell, the number 1 receiver in the country, has continued to delay visits until his High School season is done, and no one really knows what his deal is other than he changes his mind all the time.  I wouldn’t hold my breath here.

Green, like Treadwell is the number 1 player for his position in the country, is going to be another tough guy to get.  Michigan might be the beneficiary of Auburn’s Head Coach Gene Chizik getting fired, because Green is supposedly highly interested in them.  It’s going to be tough to get him to come up North, but hopefully the fact that he would immediately get playing time will be a positive for him.

If all things went according to plan, we would lock up these three players and then get an offensive lineman.  Quite honestly it won’t be hard for Michigan to add an offensive lineman to replace David Dawson, since there are reports of multiple four-star offensive lineman being interested in coming to Michigan.  Now what are the backup plans if we don’t get any of these players?  To be honest, I’m not really sure.  That’s something that I think the coaches will play close to the vest.  But I would be willing to bet that Michigan will go for an offensive lineman, a wide receiver and a runningback.

Videos via: Mgoblog

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