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Overall, you couldn't have drawn up a much better game for Senior Day. Michigan pulled away late in the first half and never looked back.
Offensively, I thought the coaching staff did an outstanding job of identifying and then exploiting Iowa's weaknesses. Throughout the week, I'd been discussing Iowa's struggles with rushing the passer and their below average play at safety. The Wolverines made both position groups look terrible today, and kept after it until the game was out of reach. Michigan ran the ball enough to keep Iowa honest, but clearly realized they could throw all day on the Hawkeyes, and Gardner had a huge day.
This may qualify as nitpicking, but I think it's worth saying. I wasn't a big fan of of all the new looks Michigan showed early in the game on offense. In general, I think you want to establish your primary game plan early in the game, and then throw in some twists and turns as the game develops. It ended up working, but I did think it was overly risky to start the game off like that, as if it hadn't worked, Michigan may have had trouble establishing rhythm and confidence on offense.
Defensively, I thought Iowa was able to make the Wolverines pay for their lack of a passrush for much of the game. Jake Ryan is by far Michigan's biggest threat off the edge, and I'd like to see that look more often in passing situations. I honestly thought Michigan's best defense today was the Wolverine offense. The Wolverines moved the ball at will on Iowa and scored touchdown after touchdown. That kept Michigan's defense fresh, it kept Iowa's offense off the field, and it forced Iowa's offense to begin pressing to keep up.
The biggest play of the game, IMO, was when Iowa had scored to tie it at 7, and Michigan had the ball 3rd and 17 out of field goal range. Iowa's offense was in a rhythm at that point, so if the defense could have forced a punt, you never know where the game might have gone from there. Instead, Roy Roundtree was wide open behind the defense for a touchdown.
That set the trend for the rest of the day, as Michigan also converted on money down three more times in key situations - twice on 4th and 1 for touchdowns, and once on 3rd and 10 at the end of the half for a touchdown. Whenever there was the potential for a momentum swing in Iowa's favor, Michigan made the play, and Iowa didn't.
A little more nitpicking here, but I also wasn't a big fan of Hoke playing so many defensive starters late in the game. The game was out of reach, so it didn't make sense to expose those guys to a possible injury in garbage time.
Moving forward, whether or not the Legends Division crown is still up for grabs by the time the ball is kicked off, next week's game is enormous. We'll dissect the matchup much more throughout the week, but it should be a great game.
Very pumped to see Denard and Devin on the field so much against OSU - their defense will not be able to handle it.
I think having Devin instead of Denard really really helps the defense. With Gardner, our offense stays on the field and drives for a long time. With Denard, we are such a quick strike offense that our defense never really gets time to rest.
Well that is necessarily accurate there Ducks. I just checked our drive summaries for last years Neb, and Ohio games and this years NW and Iowa games. Our scoring drives are very similar for all 4 of those games.
I chose the Ohio and Neb games from last year because those were the games where our offense was playing well.
Quick question Todd. What do you mean by all the looks Michigan was showing early? Do you mean Denard and Devin both taking snaps at QB?
Yes, and handing it off to Denard and having him run an option, the triple reverse, etc. Just seemed like Michigan threw a ton of new stuff in in the first quarter, and against a better defense, that could have backfired. Sometimes I think teams at all levels get carried away with various tricks up their sleeves rather than just taking advantage of mismatches and executing.
I see your point especially about the option, triple reverse, etc... I did like Denard and Devin both getting snaps at QB though. Our run game is horrible without Denard taking snaps in the shotgun and believe that we really need that to be part of our offense if we are going to be truly balanced.
Agree with you on the starters thing, luckily none of them got hurt in the 4th quarter.
Good point - Denard is really Michigan's main threat in the running game right now. He took some fairly decent hits today, which was a bit worrisome coming off an injury. But you've got to trust the coaching staff not to push it too far with him at this point, so hopefully he's not any further away from being able to throw the ball now than he was entering the game.
Yeah, I totally understand the desire to finish the game off on a high note, but when you've still got so much to play for, as Michigan does, I thought that was an unnecessary risk.
Agree, just Borges getting cute again
No kidding. Some of the shots he took today made me cringe and hold my breathe. Thankfully he seemed to get through it ok.
Honestly I think that had a lot to do with it being Senior Day. Wanted to get Denard involved early any way they could.
Feel like every game it takes Mattison and the defense a few drives to get into a flow and then the defense start shutting them down.
That's not necessarily a bad thing. If anything, it shows that Mattison and our defense makes good/great adjustments.
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