Saturday, November 14, 2009

UW-Michigan halftime thoughts

The only reason this game is close is because of our self-inflicted wounds: Scott Tolzien's interception and his fumble Michigan returned for a fumble. Then again, they ran into our punter and had a field goal blocked, so neither team has played a spotless half.

What bothers me is something Big Ten Network analyst Chris Martin said at one point: Michigan is playing with a greater sense of urgency than we are. He was right. Michigan is fired up, we are methodical. They need to win to become bowl eligible, and they aren't going to get that win against Ohio State. We need this win to keep hopes of a 10-win regular season alive, but we're not playing like it.

-Tolzien is carving up Michigan's pass defense when he has time to throw. Their pass coverage is truly putrid, Nick Toon and Garrett Graham have been wide open a lot. Michigan does have a decent pass rush, and Brandon Graham is as good as advertised. We need to double-team him, or chip him with a tight end or back at least, because Tolzien will make plays if Graham doesn't get to him.

-We also haven't done much in the run game yet, need to pound John Clay more. From my living room, Clay was absolutely not in the end zone on that touchdown, and I'm really surprised the refs didn't overturn that call. The end-around to Lance Kendricks worked nicely again.

-Conversely, Garrett Graham was called for holding on an end-around to David Gilreath. Without having stats in front of me, I'm pretty sure Graham has been called for holding more than any of our linemen this year.

-Toon is really coming on, isn't he? Can't wait to see what he and Tolzien can do together next year.

-Huge play by J.J. Watt on the blocked field goal. It's interesting that Michigan took a delay of game penalty to try and get its kicker a better angle for the kick, but we declined it. Not sure whether or not that played into the result of that kick, but it's worth taking a look at.

-Our run defense has been solid so far. Jeff Stehle probably just played his best half of football as a Badger, in his last home game. O'Brien Schofield has had a decent game thus far as well.

Problem is, when we don't pressure Tate Forcier quickly, he's carving us up. His receivers are wide open more often than not, and he's finding them. That kid's a good player, the word is he's been in decline lately but he hasn't shown it today.

My buddy Jim Polzin just noted on Twitter that Michigan has been outscored 75-12 in the second half of its last three games. That's encouraging, but Indiana had a recent history of second half collapses and outplayed us then in our game last week. Have to go out and make it happen, not just sit around waiting for them to implode.

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