Sunday, September 16, 2012

Final thoughts from Week 3

No matter if it was a 50-point win or a 17-point loss, both Michigan and Michigan State seemed disappointed when Saturday concluded.
Here are some closing thoughts from the weekend.

Notre Dame 20, MSU 3
I was quite surprised that Notre Dame won so convincingly. I thought it would be close, because I didn’t think the MSU offense would be able to dominate, but I didn’t see the defense allowing 20 points.
Don’t get me wrong, the defense still played well enough to win, allowing only 300 total yards, but they didn’t apply pressure to the quarterback and allowed a few big runs.
But the defense wasn’t the issue. The issue was the offense, and it was everyone on the offense.
We all knew that there were concerns about quarterback Andrew Maxwell and the inexperienced receivers heading into the season.
What I expected is that the offensive line would make up for some of those issues. However, on Saturday, the line was the big problem. They failed to open up running lanes and protect Maxwell. Then, when the Spartans had to become a passing team, Maxwell wasn’t comfortable.
The receivers dropped some passes and Maxwell seemed rattled, but this team needs the line to be stronger. I know that the Spartans were without Fonoti, but this is an issue that has been consistent this year.
Le’Veon Bell has been getting plenty of carries and has 357 yards rushing, but his ypc is just 4.4. Bell has to do most of the work to get his yardage.
The Spartans appear to be a team that is going to go as far as their offensive line can take them.

Michigan 63, UMass 13
Michigan looked good for the most part, but that was expected in this game.
Still, the mood after the game was disappointment from coach Brady Hoke.
I think Hoke saw what most of us saw. He saw that Michigan wasn’t overpowering UMass on the front lines. The Minutemen had a season-high rushing total against the Wolverines and Michigan didn’t have much success running the ball up the middle.
Denard Robinson was solid rushing the ball again, but some of his rushes came on scrambles and others came from getting outside the tackles.
Fitz Toussaint had 85 yards rushing, but on 15 carries. Against a team like UMass, you would like to see that average (5.7 ypc) a little higher.
What is also standing out is that Michigan is really lacking in playmakers outside of Robinson. Not just on offense, but defense too. I wrote a column about it in today’s Oakland Press
The Wolverines aren’t getting a lot of pressure on the quarterback from their defensive line and the back seven aren’t creating turnovers. The Wolverines still don’t have an interception this season through three games.
Next week should paint the real picture of what “Team 133” is going to be. I think the Wolverines have the speed to deal with Notre Dame’s defense, but the line is going to have to play much better.
It may take another shootout to win, but a win at Notre Dame right now would be the biggest win any team in the state would have this season.

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