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Stadium and Main: Michigan 27, Illinois 17: Random thoughts, as usual

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Michigan 27, Illinois 17: Random thoughts, as usual

The Man kept me down last week, which was disappointing on many levels, but mainly disappointing because I went to the Purdue game and had some extra random thoughts. But that’s old news. About Illinois:

- On our 3rd-and-goal from the 8 yard line on our first scoring drive (which ended with a FG to make it 7-3), Jeremy Ciulla moved early, but a false start wasn’t called. Just another criticism on a night where he looked completely lost at times. The right side of the line was sub-par, and the center-quarterback exchange continues to be a mess. Steve Schilling had his worst game of his career. Illinois was one of the nation’s best in terms of sacks entering the game, so I’m hoping that they were just “on” and we were just “off.” Otherwise, we might get a wake up call against Michigan State, who has had strong DL play.

- Max Pollock was at LB on the weak side for a 3rd-and-1 to open the 2nd quarter. Word? Jonas Mouton was playing a few downs at what appeared to be MLB in the 2nd quarter, as well.

- The whole Mallett/Carr “argument” is being way overblown. My thoughts: (1) Mallett, as I’ve said before, continues to show very good pocket presence for a freshman, (2) he was holding the ball in his throwing hand, waving it back and forth as he moved; he was lucky it didn’t get stripped (I’m pretty sure this was Carr’s main beef), (3) do people really think that players don’t get seriously chewed out from time to time (in games, practice, film room)? This wasn’t the first time for Ryan and it won’t be the last, and (4) despite ABC showing Mallett appearing upset after the incident (with his helmet still on on the sideline), Mallett was celebrating like a madman after the Arrington-to-Manningham TD and could also be seen actively engaged in the game during other sideline shots. He will be fine, his relationship with Lloyd will be fine, and he’ll be a great QB for Michigan. On a side note, the play-calling while Mallett was in the game was giving me bad flashbacks to the Northwestern game.

- Were we lucky to win? I’m inclined to say “no.” Entering the 4th quarter, we had turned the ball over 3 times, and Illinois hadn’t turned it over yet. In the 4th quarter, yes, we got a complete gift on the muffed punt, but there were plenty of plays that didn’t go our way at crucial points in the game. How about the tipped-ball interception at our 40-yard line when we were down 7-0 and we looked like a bunch of deer in the headlights? How about a handful of fumbled snaps, resulting in one turnover near the red zone and a few wasted downs? Illinois played undisciplined football, but we weren’t exactly mistake-free. We didn’t commit many penalties, but we didn’t bring our “A” game by any stretch of the imagination.

- Speaking of the muffed punt, there was definitely a whistle blown before the play ended. I am 83% sure that it came from the referee who was standing behind the punter (and who eventually made the call that it was Michigan’s ball). After the play, you can clearly see the punt returner motioning that he heard a whistle. During the play (which is the reason for my 83%), you can clearly see the ref put his whistle in his mouth way early – like he is anticipating the play being over ASAP.

- John Ferrara got absolutely frozen on an option read where Juice Williams picked up a big gain. That was painful to watch. Herbstreit called him out on it, adding insult to injury. I don’t mind playing these young guys (like Ferrara and Renaldo Sagesse), but what’s the deal with playing them so early and so often lately? Are the DL starters really that out of shape? Are these guys impressing in practice?

- Just a reminder: If you’re gonna give Lloyd credit for 6 wins in a row (which I will), you can’t let him slide on the first 2 games of the season. Instead of all of this stuff about how this is “Lloyd’s best coaching job,” wouldn’t it have been nice to have actually beaten Appalachian State?... or maybe come within a dozen of Oregon? I understand that people are impressed that Lloyd was able to keep the team motivated and fairly well-prepared after those debacles. Avoiding those debacles would have been the preferred route, obviously. As is often the case, Brian put it nicely:
“Of course I am hung up on the first two games of the year. I would remind you that we went from national championship contenders to national laughingstocks in two quick weeks in the senior years of Jake Long, Chad Henne, and Mike Hart largely because the team was woefully ill-prepared to stop a I-AA team that could not throw. The horrendous coaching breakdowns that led to the parade of mistakes do continue to color my opinion of the team and the year and will do so until the sun expands and consumes the earth. Given Carr's well-established track record it would be silly to do otherwise.”
- Our kick return blocking was horrendous. Just terrible. But Lloyd’s teams are always fundamentally sound, right? We certainly don’t need a Special Teams coach… nope!

- Zoltan’s acting skills are top notch. There wasn’t much contact on the roughing the punter penalty, but he sold it like Ric Flair in his prime. Woooooo!

- After Manningham’s first TD reception, Carson Butler got into it with #44 from Illinois. #44 pushed Butler when Carson came over to celebrate the TD. Then Butler threw an open-handed left to the dude’s face. It was not a punch, since there was no closed fist, but it sure looked like one until I slow-mo’d it. This all took place right in front of a ref, who must have seen it. #44 turned to him for a penalty, but to no avail. The Illinois player wasn’t innocent, but Butler needs to keep his cool. That was dumb, dumb, dumb, and the type of “retaliation” penalty that is usually called.


Blogger Shooting said...

Pollock was on the field in a 4-4 set.

1:53 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Thanks, shooting. I was just surprised to see him out there on a 3rd & 1, especially so early in the game. But considering some of our LB play from others this year, maybe I shouldn't have been.

7:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know voters probably won't remember this, but you should.

Michigan has been a second-half team all year (Northwestern, Minnesota, Illinois come to mind). Who played the entire second half against Oregon, who is the best team we've played this year?

Ryan Mallett.

That's not to say that Michigan would have won the game, but the 32-point differential doesn't necessarily tell the story.

10:55 AM  

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