The Good, Bad, and the Ugly (in reverse)

The first game of Big Ten play certainly kicked off with extraordinary surprise. The Wolverines were just flat out bad in the first half only to turn it around completely in the second against Wisconsin. Steven Threet and the offense were responsible for five turnovers and it appeared to be Notre Dame all over again, but… thankfully the defense held their own and kept the team in the game.

I must admit that I was swearing at the television as every pass play seemed to have been for negative yardage. I also thought that Rodriguez should've alternated RB's a few times because McGuffie was being picked up in the zone blocking scheme almost every time. The deep ball was pretty much ineffective, too. Every play when Threet attempted a long pass was either overthrown or intercepted and I put the blame on both the QB and WR's for that. The WR's seemed confused in the first half as some of them ran the wrong routes.

I'm not going to put too much emphasis on how inept the offense was in the first half because adjustments were eventually made in the next half, but the turnovers were unacceptable and simply cannot continue. This is not the Pac 10 where if you turn the ball over multiple times… you are still in the game. The Big Ten actually has something called a defense! So, the offense is still using training wheels as of right now and I can only hope that the mistakes start to decrease against Illinois and the upcoming games. There has been offensive progression here and there, but I would like to see a complete game.

The Offense:

Threet made some stupid decisions in the first half, but the important factor was that he wasn't rattled and he didn't lose his confidence. He managed to finally throw his first interceptions of his college career against the Badgers and he sucked it up and played through it. Even Brady and Griese had their share of stinkers during their career, however, it was how they persevered and improved through times of adversity that made them better QB's and essentially better leaders. Threet appears to have the intangibles for being a good leader and he is also smart, so once the whole offense is on the same page… his ability will flourish.

Yes, he has wheels. Granted, not the fastest wheels, but he's not afraid to go the distance when he is given the opportunity.

The running game improved as the game went further along (like most of the offense) and I am glad that Rodriguez eventually turned to players such as Minor and Grady to add a spark. McGuffie was snuffed out in the first half by a good Wisconsin defense, but the second half included more of a traditional running game by just handing off from the middle. The zone/ spread scheme was not working at first, so… kudos to Rodriguez and the players for making the right adjustments and executing them properly.

The offensive line gave Threet a great deal of pass protection, but the passing game was seriously contained for the most part. As I stated earlier, bad decisions and route errors accounted for a mediocre first half. The second half wasn't much better, but it was adequate. I am assuming that Carson Butler's days as a starter are numbered because freshman TE Kevin Koger is looking like the real deal. Rodriguez was contemplating on redshirting the kid, but Butler's thuggish meltdown in Southbend must have contributed to the coach's change of heart. I want to see more out of the TE position. Odoms and Stonum are still learning out there apparently. Matthews was good despite his turnover on a kickoff return. He managed to catch the ball whenever it was thrown to him.

You know… I wish this offense could put a complete game together so I wouldn't have to speak in terms of halves. It's quite frustrating!

Overall grade: C+

The Defense:

This unit deserves a lot of credit for the victory over the Badgers as they were able to leave the halftime deficit at only 19 points. It very well could've been much worse and by worse I am referring to Oregon last season…. Yikes! They did what they had to do and I'm sure they were aware of how demoralizing a 1-3 start would've been. Thanks to great leadership and conditioning the defense pulled through to the very end.

The defensive line was scary to put it mildly. They contained RB PJ Hill and were able to sack the QB five times. Considering the fact that the Badgers have a pretty damn good offensive line… much credit is due. Jamison and Johnson applied pressure as did Taylor. Taylor was also the vocal leader out there, but Graham was a BAD! BAD! MAN! Graham possibly had his best game as a Wolverine and was awarded the honor of Big Ten defensive player of the week.

Please excuse the MC Hammer reference, but…"Obi don't hurt em!"

The LB's are coming into form as there appears to be a solid crew out there with Mouton, Ezeh, and Thompson. Thompson, the lone senior, caught a critical game changing interception in the second half that gave the Wolverines the lead for good. He also busted up his chin during the game. In the post game presser he wasn't sure when or how it happened, he was just pumped and thrilled about the huge victory.

The secondary also played well. Warren and Trent let a few big plays go, but not until the final minutes. I must admit that the much maligned safety Stevie Brown showed improvement. He wasn't burned or victimized by any big plays. He actually laid on some serious hits in the open field. He's known for being a hard hitter, just as long as he doesn't over pursue.

Overall grade: B+

Special Teams:

K.C. Lopata never kicked anything other than a PAT. Zoltan was Zoltan (again). order to avoid redundancy… Rodriguez still needs to find a competent return game. It's getting to the point where it's just bad comedy… seriously.

It was the biggest comeback in Michigan Stadium history and quite possibly what this team needed to make this season a success. Go Blue! Beat Illinois!


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