Okay, I know it was just Appalachian State, but if we’re going to beat up on a cupcake team, I like that it was them if for no other reason than the symbolism. We all know what happened in 2007. And you know what, it still hurts, because Michigan football hasn’t been the same since. Saturday’s win doesn’t erase what happened n 2007, but it was nice to see the team do what they should have done then.
Now on to the actual game. The team looked really good. For all the concern about the offensive line, they were solid, at least in pass protection. Run blocking still needs some work, but the linemen got better as the game went on, and Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith were able to find some holes and break some big runs. The line should be even better against Notre Dame, as Graham Glasgow will be back at center for the Maize and Blue.
I love the way Green and Smith run the football. They’re tough backs, can break tackles, able to find holes in the defense, and even though they may not have blazing speed, Smith especially showed the ability to kick it into another gear in the open field.
How good was Devin Funchess? After last year, I expected him to be one of the better receivers in college football this year, but even I didn’t think he’d look this good. Michigan’s receivers need some work, and Gardner needs to work on getting some more guys involved, but I’m not worried about the receivers as long as Gardner has number 1 to throw to. Funchess is going to be a match-up nightmare for opposing teams this season.
Now, on to Michigan’s quarterbacks. I really believe in Shane Morris. I think he can be the next great Michigan quarterback. I liked what I saw from him is the bowl game last year, considering it was his first career start, and he was a true freshman. Having said all that, I wasn’t impressed with what I saw from him on Saturday. His decision making and accuracy still needs improvement. But, after seeing how much Devin Gardner has improved in those areas, I’m totally confident that new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier will help Morris improve and realize his potential. And it’s not like Morris is short on time to do so, as he’s only a sophomore.
As far as Gardner goes, I realize it was just Appalachian State, but Gardner looked 300% better than he did last year. His accuracy was a lot better, with the exception of his lone incompletion, where he missed Funchess, and, with the exception of one play where he held on to the ball too long, he was making better decisions and not forcing things. If this is the Gardner that shows up every week, this is going to be a very good Michigan football team.
On the other side of the football, the secondary still needs some work. Jabrill Peppers is not going to be the superstar corner some were expecting him to be this year, but it’s worth noting that those expectations were always a reach, as Peppers is a true freshman. While I don’t think he’ll be a superstar right away, he can still make an impact on this team, and I really think he’ll do that. From what I saw Saturday, I see no reason that superstar potential can’t be realized later in his career at Michigan, though.
The defensive line looks to have improved immensely from a season ago, and they are incredibly deep. At linebacker, we knew Jake Ryan and Desmond Morgan were going to be good, but I really liked the play on Joe Bolden on Saturday as well.
I see no reason why this team can’t go into South Bend and win, and if I was a gambling man, my money would be on Michigan to do so. Really, I think this game is going to be won up front. Funchess is going to be a gigantic problem for Notre Dame, and if the offensive line can give Gardner time to get the ball to him and open up holes for Green and Smith (and I think we’ll see more from Drake Johnson, too), then it’s going to be a very long day for the
Academic Frauds Irish.
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