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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

About Last Night: Recap Brady Hoke's Former Team

"I'm sorry I left for my dream job in the middle of the night, but I am pointing so it's OKAY!"

The Big House... How you've changed and how you've managed to stay the same, I hadn't been back to A2 for football since, EMU 2009.  During the first half, I was trying to pinpoint why Seven Nation Army became the new ballad of Michigan football. Why wasn't "The Victors" ringing through the air on repeat, what has happened here? It wasn't until San Diego State's 2nd drive of the 3rd quarter that I realized how much the Big House was still the same... "Hey, down in front..."

Michigan had just recovered a San Diego State fumble, the stadium had gone into a commercial break and Pop Evil's atrocious Michigan song was playing. There was no action to be seen on the field. My eyes curled slowly around to peep over my shoulder, trying to mask my disdain, to see two elderly gentleman who glared at me as if I was stepping on their oxygen tank. Pondering what at all they could possibly want to see going down the field, I obliged their request and briefly smiled. This, was the Big House I remembered...

Two years of 4-0 starts that ended abruptly in league play have brought skepticism upon this 2011 team... For all of the things that are different, there are many things the same.

The highway to success this season, same as last, will be paved by Denard Robinson's legs. That's the same. The difference? Michigan's defense has showed itself this year to be, dare I say, reliable? A not great but supposedly good SDSU offense was held for the most part in check.

Denard's legs. That will be the key. His passing has continually been inconsistent and shotty the whole season. The 300 yd passing performance against ND is definitely the exception and will never be the norm this season, unless drastic improvement has happens. But, man, oh man, do those legs move. Chalk another point up to Al Borges. He has shown adaptability once again. Was that speed option we saw? Yes, yes it was. If Borges can find a way to keep the running game interesting for opposing defense while Robinson, finds whatever it is he's looking for in the passing game than I really like our chances heading into, B1G play.

The RB situation isn't resolved yet. I still like what Fitz brings to the table as an every down back, But, just like it has taken me a while to come around on Jordan Kovacs being undeniable, one can not simply deny Vincent Smith. The kid plays bigger than he is and is also able to squeeze through holes that no other back could squeeze through. With Denard's legs opening up plays for both backs I am quite okay with having 2 viable options.

The offensive line is really hard to talk about as well, Denard... He runs they look good. They didn't really allow much pressure getting to Robinson and MANball is becoming less and less a part of the offense so that's good.

Any and all WR performances can be extrapolated strictly from the ND game. If they've shown anything this past week it's that, they block and stay engaged in the offense even when the ball isn't coming there way. That's a good thing because from the looks of it all we are going to need them doing as much of that as possible this season.

SDSU came into this game averaging 38 ppg and 428 yds a game. Michigan held the Aztecs to just 7 points and jsut 368 yds of offense. The surprisingly good thing about this feat is that the D was able to hold SDSU when many of their possessions started in or near Michigan territory. The D was also able to continue their streak of timely turnovers, forcing 3, all from inside Michigan territory. Michigan defenses of the past 3 seasons would not be able to do such things, considering SDSU has an NFL prospect QB and one of the nations top rushers this is a well recognized feat. Can the defense continue to causing these timely turnovers consistently into league play? No... it won't happen. Yes this is a bummer but there are other things to hang your hat on.

CB depth!? We has it? I won't go that far, but it's better than I can ever recall it being. As soon as Floyd followed Woolfolk to the sideline, I was waiting for the ball to drop and for Ryan Lnidley to have his way with  the secondary. Highly recruited freshman Blake Countess came in and seemingly picked up right where the defense left off.

There are you are D-line, there you are. In my season previews I said, Michigan's best unit on the field defensively would be the D-line. 4 games into the season, I finally look kinda smart for say that. Mike Martin, was blasting into the backfield causing pressure on Lindley all afternoon. If it wasn't Martin, it seemed like it was VanBergen, if it wasn't VanBergen it was definitely Roh, who inched closer to my 12 sack prediction with another one. If William Campbell can continue to improve which, from my opinion is happening, this unit should be able to keep building momentum into B1G play and be a stronghold for the defense this season.

Special Teams:
Any kicker can miss a 40 yarder on any given Saturday. It just sucks that it happened to be Michigan's kicker, again not relieving any stress out of that position. One more miss and I'll be screaming for a switch to Wile or student body tryouts part 2. Jeremy Gallon is the best punt-return option we've had in quite some time and he's proved it. Now obviously with all special teams my emotions are week to week with them. Right now we've got a good thing going lets keep it that way.

Good Feeling To Take Home With You:
Through non-conference play the team is 4-0. I don't care how they got here or what the last 2 seasons say, I'd rather be here with this team than have any losses in our record. There's something about this team that I'm vibing with. The defense isn't perfect, but they are better and every guy is saying the right thing and it just feels like their minds and approach this year are in a better state than the previous undefeated starts. Every starter on this team has seen and undefeated start and they've all seen how badly they've gone. That experience I believe carries this team through this season and the B1G collapse that has plagued this team previous years won't happen again this go-round.

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