Wednesday, October 19, 2011
I AM CALM
Posted by Jeff
After my second viewing yesterday, I am officially lower-case calm. Yes, there's plenty to complain about--the dirty play, Borges' playcalling, the lack of run defense against a grab bag offensive line--but the simple truth is Michigan got outplayed and outcoached on the road by a, I hate to say it, better team. That it happened against an in-state rival makes it difficult to swallow, perhaps even unacceptable to some. But take a step back and realize that this Michigan team has shown itself different from years past; it can and will compete with a chance to win all of the remaining 5 games of the season, Nebraska included. Take another step back and Michigan sits at 6-1 (2-1) going into their bye when majority of preseason predictions had us at 5-2 and worst-cases at 4-3. This is not an excuse for the game. But it is the truth for the season.
It's amazing how differently teams look through different lens and light: under the glistening sun on a beautiful fall day in Ann Arbor against Minnesota or swept up in a trash cyclone in East Lansing against Michigan State. Likewise, as Brian has already pointed out, so can the perception of Borges' playcalling. While I am less harsh on Borges in terms of lizard brain, I do believe he freaked out to some degree. 30-yard routes and playactions without an established run game spells trouble for any offense, much more on one led by a running quarterback. But in some ways, Borges did the opposite of reverting back to his West Coast offense; he stayed static in his insistence on using creativity to outscheme opponents. And in doing so, he outschemed himself. The point of adding packages with 5 or 6 different plays running out of the same set is so when 1 play gets stuffed, the defense reacts the same way when they see the formation again. Then, you pull the string. But if the defense doesn't defend it properly on the first go, run it again! I get the sense Borges somehow adjusted into the hands of Sparty's defense for the sake of change. At some point, if you add too many wrinkles, you lose sight of the base offense you are supposed to be operating out of. What is Michigan's base offensive set? Denard in shot with twin WRs and twin TEs? If you have to ask yourself that, you probably don't have one.
I'm starting to babble incoherently. Back to my main point: the loss is disappointing--there's no way around that--especially given some of the external circumstances. The Gholston replays and subsequent silence out of East Lansing--Dantonio actually listed Gholston as a started against Wisconsin--speak for itself. Hoke, his staff and the players are doing the right thing by taking the high road and not commenting about the game's obvious dirty play. But remove those subjective factors and Michigan lost to a decent team. It has a bye to rest up physically--Denard looks to be at his mid-season breaking point of random injuries popping up that will hamper him for the rest of the year--and refocus on how to finish this season strong. The weather conditions will worse. They road tests will be tougher. Michigan will be challenged again and as I've said before, it's how they respond that will prove why they are a different team.
They will. Stay calm. I am.