This weeks game against UMass ended up with a nice “W” in the Win column, but really didn’t tell us too much about the team. A lot of guys spent some time on the field, and later in the year, that experience could pay off. A lot of guys found the endzone, which is also a good thing. But in the long run, how much do you really learn about your team when you face an inferior opponent.
Obviously, you can find out if you play down to your level of competition or not. In the long run, I don’t think we fell into this kind of trap. I felt like we exploited the weaknesses of UMass on both sides of the ball, but I don’t think we were stellar in doing so. I never felt like I was the kind of fan who would find himself using coach speak, but I found I had a critical eye to our mistakes, but found little joy in all of the points that we actually scored. It actually makes it hard for me to write about this one, a 50 point victory that really felt like it proved nothing about our team.
Let’s break this down on each side of the ball. First on the offensive side of the ball. We racked up 585 yards of total offense. At one point late in the game we actually had 595, but then backed up 10 yards before the end of the game. 291 yards passing, 294 yards rushing. This seems like a nice balanced attack. 43 rushing attempts, 25 passing attempts. Yards per rush 6.8, Yards per completion 11.6. Those are really nice numbers. 3 Passing touchdowns, 6 rushing touchdowns. Only Vincent Smith had more than one Touchdown on the day. All in all these seem like great numbers.
I went back over the game log and the numbers still seem good. 9 drives for Touchdowns, 1 lost fumble, 1 pass intercepted, and 3 punts. Yards came easily and in bunches. In fact, we only had 1 drive of over 4 minutes and only 3 drives of over 3 minutes. I think all of these can instill confidence, but we have to be careful that it isn’t false confidence headed into a much tougher game against a much tougher opponent.
On the defensive side of the ball, our tackling was still a little suspect at times and Michael Cox did manage to rush for 76 yards on 18 carries good enough for a 4.2 yard average against us. Probably the most notable stat seems to be that UMass managed to beat their average yards per game in both the rushing and passing segments against us. Having a team that is ranked near the bottom of offensive yards/game categories improve their averages against you, doesn’t really bode well for the next few weeks.
On special teams we were once again solid. Isn’t it great not to have to worry about our special teams play? I did wonder what kind of experimenting we were doing after a while with the kickoffs and trying to land them short. I say boot it into the endzone every time and be happy with them starting on the 25 yard line. A lot less to worry about that way. We didn’t get the Kickoff return I predicted by Northcutt, but as he matures and really starts to pick his lane and run, I think we’ll get one. We might have managed to get one against UMass if there had been more than 4 kickoffs, one of which went out of bounds and wasn’t returnable.
Hopefully this gave our Offensive and Defensive lines enough time to gel together, because they are in for quite a test based on the game between MSU and ND.
So on the overall, I’d call this game mostly a non-event and a nice “W” to pad the record, but not much more. It was good to see Michigan cover a big spread, but I wonder if there aren’t some high school teams out there that couldn’t give UMass a serious run for their money.
It’s time to see what we are made of. Notre Dame will be a test. They are far from being an Alabama, but we are going to have to see improvements this week to have a solid game on both sides of the ball. All of that said, the magic called Denard could pull this game out for us, even if we don’t play well, but I believe this will be the true test that will tell us whether we can expect a 6-6 or worse record, or a 8-4 or better record. A loss here and I think it may be tough for us to be a ranked team the rest of the year. That’s how pivotal I think this game is.
Now for a few pictures from section 9. Let me know if you enjoy these and they are worth posting or not. Just leave a comment. I also took a new header background picture that will take the place of the current header after this post.
P.S. Looking for some professional blogging on Michigan football? Check out http://www.thebighousereport.com where my twitter friend Joshua Henschke gives the more professional opinions!