I didn’t watch some of the 4th quarter of the Michigan game, but I still wanted to register a few thoughts on the game.
1. New Denard is the same as Old Denard
Michigan QB Denard Robinson showed a lot of the same problems as last season. The two most concerning, back-foot throws and suspect decision making. While it is worth noting that he likely won’t face another defense this good this season, and he was without starting RB Fitzgerald Toussaint, Denard hasn’t made the leap as a passer most people thought/expected he would. Is these two things that made me throw out the bold prediction that Robinson wouldn’t be Michigan’s starting QB this year. If this wasn’t first game jitters, any sort of Heisman talk is likely overkill at this point.
2. Blake Countess’ injury
Countess went down in the first quarter, but the worst news came Monday when it was confirmed that he will miss the entire season. Some, like Brian at mgoblog, thought true sophomore Countess was on his was to becoming the next great Michigan cornerback, along with the likes of Charles Woodson, Marlin Jackson and Leon Hall. Not only has the chance for him to take that leap been delayed, but a knee injury could hamper those lofty goals. Michigan has been incredibly thin at CB for years now and this will be a big blow.
3. Denard runs were few and far between
Every Michigan fan I know on Twitter was screaming for them to call some designed Denard runs. He only had a couple in the first half. The assumption would be that Alabama was prepared to shut down Denard’s running attack and make Michigan beat them any other way. The announcers pointed out some of this in the Alabama scheme, but it still made no sense why Michigan didn’t give it a go, especially when they were down a few scores. It’s going to be a long season if Michigan doesn’t plan to utilize Robinson’s best skills.
4. Taylor Lewan’s draft stock might have slipped a bit
LT Lewan recorded several penalties in this one, and looked far from the first round pick many people projected. When mgoblog breaks it down we will know more, but I suspect he will not grade out very well.
5. Alabama is a great team
No sane Michigan fan thought they would win this game. After Toussaint was suspended, I don’t think any sane Michigan fan thought they would cover the double digit point spread. The first quarter steamrolling that took place was probably unexpected though. Michigan never had a drive longer than 6 (!) plays, and both of their touchdowns were long bombs.
6. Outlook vs. Air Force
Although Alabama ran all over them, much of that was a product of Bama’s ridiculous offensive line. It seems unlikely Air Force will run all over them with the same success, but again until we see the mgoblog breakdown, it’s too early to say. Toussaint will be back and you have to hope they go back to more Denard runs. Air Force is no slouch though, and I don’t expect a blowout in any regard, but a win is still likely.
7. Outlook for 2012 season
Although things didn’t go as planned, as I said already no one was expecting Michigan to win this one. Wisconsin narrowly escaped FCS school Northern Iowa in Madison, Nebraska lost Rex Burkhead for who knows how long, Michigan St. didn’t dominate Boise St., Iowa and Northwestern needed 4th quarter magic to survive. Bottom line, the Big Ten is still wide open. And no Fitz Toussaint plus the returning National Champs on a neutral field isn’t exactly enough to cause panic, at least yet.