Sunday, September 04, 2005

Michigan 33, Northern Illinois 17

This isn't a recap of the game action, but a summary of my thoughts on the way the game played out for Michigan.

OFFENSE

QB - so much for Chad Henne struggling without Braylon Edwards to bail him out. 20/31 for 227 yards, 2 TDs and 0 INTs is a pretty good debut to his sophomore campaign. Contrast that to 14/24 for 142 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT in his debut against Miami (OH) last year. He missed on a few throws and was behind guys a few times, but he looked immeasurably more comfortable in the pocket than he did last year. He also went through his progressions very quickly. Much better pocket presence as well and he wasn't afraid to move around. Matt Gutierrez also got a little much needed PT.

RB - Mike Hart was just his normal amazing self. 27 carries, 117 yards, 4 catches, 49 yards, and 2 TDs. Kevin Grady looked excellent in his Michigan debut, except for that bad fumble. Gotta wrap it up or he'll be riding pine behind Hart and Max Martin. Overall though, Grady showed some phenomenal talent. I'll say he's already one of the most talented backs in the Big Ten. His size and strength are obvious, but he looked to have very good vision and cutting ability on 2 of his longer runs.

WR - Jason Avant is Jason Avant. The man can can anything. Best hands I've ever seen on a Michigan receiver, and how about that onside recovery? Steve Breaston was MIA for most of the game which is a little disappointing, but that might have had more to do with Avant catching everything. And if Avant does keep catching everything, you know Henne will really look his way. He could have monster numbers this year (think 75+ catches 1000+ yards). Didn't get to see much of the younger guys like Arrington, Manningham, Bass, and Dutch. Arrington looked to sprain his ankle and got carted off. Hopefully he isn't out too long.

OL - Not terribly impressed here. The running game did get 4.3 yards per carry, but there just were not consistently big holes to run through which I expect against NIU. I'd give them a C overall. Not the best performance and they need to step up against Notre Dame.


DEFENSE (let me preface this by saying we ran the most boring scheme all day long. I'm assuming it was to avoid giving Notre Dame anything to plan for, but man it was bad. Base 4/3 D with 1 LB split wide on the slot receiver. We only had 6 guys in the box the whole game and I don't remember if we blitzed even once.)

DL - not impressed. Woodley had a nice play to get a sack, force a fumble, and recover the fumble but that's about it. Massey tipped a ball that was picked by Leon Hall. They got pushed around by the NIU OL all day. Also didn't get much pressure at all on the QB. Just a bad day.

LB - Chris Graham played pretty well, coming up with 9 tackles. But all in all, another bad performance. Too many missed tackles and bad angles.

DB - ugly day for the DBs. They were poor in run support and didn't really stick to closely in coverage. Just not good.


SPECIAL TEAMS

Well, getting an XP blocked is disturbingly familiar. Missing badly on a longer FG try was not what I expected, though, considering how consistent on FGs Rivas was last year. The return game never got much of a chance since our D couldn't make them punt.


All in all, not a pretty game. The offense could pretty much do what they wanted, but played it fairly close to the vest. The defense was the most bland I've ever seen and that HAS to be solely because Notre Dame is coming up. I mean even when Hermann has bad games, the D usually does some funky things like zone blitzes and CB blitzes and putting 8 or 9 guys up on the LOS. Absolutely none of that yesterday which was a little weird. That said, the D stunk.

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