Sunday, September 14, 2014

Is there a Michigan Defense on the Horizon?

Every year about this time, I write a bit about Michigan Football.  It is usually around the time of the Notre Dame game.  If we win, the article is full of joy, excitement, and great hope for the rest of the season.  If we lose, the excitement is certainly not about the hope for the rest of the season.  When we lose 31-0 and are shut out for the first time in 365 games, which is an NCAA record, everyone is talking about coaching and Athletic Director changes.

The Notre Dame game was on September 6th.  I am writing this on September 14.

I just saw a Facebook post that said, “Charles Woodson after The Oakland Raiders' 30-14 loss to the Houston Texans: ‘We suck. I am embarrassed.’"  This is how many Michigan fans are feeling these days:  embarrassed or worse.  People are giving up hope on Brady Hoke.  They want to replace senior, mediocre with occasional flashes of brilliance, quarterback Devin Gardner with sophomore Shane Morris.  It is not clear if Morris is any better but the general feeling is that he probably is not any worse and he is the future.  

More and more, the fan base is calling for the head of Dave Brandon the Athletic Director who has raised prices and lost interest of the fan base.  Tickets for off games, and this season with Dame, Michigan State, and Ohio State are all away games the schedule of rivalry games is week, are plentiful.  The Detroit News reported that for the September 13 game against Miami of Ohio, “tickets are plentiful on As of Wednesday, there was a limit of 99 tickets for the game. An attempt to purchase that number was successful, with end zone seats available in Section 15 over eight rows.”  Rumors are that Brandon had to give out a few thousand free tickets to keep the another streak going:  252 games in a row with crowds of more than 100,000.  The Big House is a silly name for the stadium when there are empty seats.  There are 3,600 tickets available for the Utah game on September 20.  This is uncomfortable territory for Michigan

Michigan is 2-1.  The offense looks ugly with 7 turnovers in their first three games.  They racked up a lot of yards in their two wins against weak opponents.  The Wolverines had 560 and 490 in these two wins.  Against Notre Dame, Michigan outperformed the Irish in this regard by 289 to 280.  Here is a bright spot, and why I am not ready to completely throw in the towel on this team, our defense seems to have quietly gotten better.  I say this with a large dose of cautious optimism especially after all Michigan has been through the past decade.  

Where is this cautious optimism coming from?  Look at the numbers, Appalachian State was held to 153 yards rushing, 127 yards passing, for a total of 280 yards.  Notre Dame was held to the same 280 yards.  The only had 54 of rushing and 226 yards passing.  Miami of Ohio was held to just 33 yards of rushing and 165 yards of passing for 198 total yards.  Is it just me or are these numbers somewhat impressive?

Of course, time will tell.  They play Utah on September 20 and that will be a good next test.   In their first two games, the Utes were over 500 yards in each game with a good balance between run and pass.

I am not for getting rid of Hoke... just yet.  I do not want to see Michigan on the coaching change merry-go-round that stifled Notre Dame and Michigan State for so many years.  David Brandon?  He has not endeared himself to the fan base and, as Michigan has a new President, he has a new boss.  He could go.

For me, the glass is half full and I hope that Michigan is on the edge of having one of those stone wall shut ‘em down defenses that I so loved.

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