Observations on the win over Northwestern, 10-9
Michigan gained 4 red zones, and converted two for 10 points. Northwestern could only manage 9 points in 4 red zones, all in the second half. Michigan scored 7 points off 3 Wildcat turnovers while Northwestern failed to convert any points from 3 Wolverine miscues.
The Wolverine offense is as bad as any I've seen over the past 50 seasons as they were mimicing the "Bad News Bears." Devin Gardner was 11 of 24 for 105 yards and 2 interceptions plus a fumble givaway. Yes, his cadence results in a snap that hits Funchess as he went in motion. Amara Darboh hauled in 4 catches for 41 yards, Jake Butt caught 3 for 35 yards, and Devin Funchess caught 2 passes for 23 yards. Funchess looked really bad all day long with several drops. Gardner consistently threw behind receivers, and consistently displayed hesitation, indecision, and poor play with at least two or three "almost interceptions" on the day. DeVeon Smith carried 18 times for 121 yards and a TD with some tough runs while not playing at 100%. To start the second half, we fumble at our 21, "dodge a bullet" with a missed field goal, and go with two "3 & outs" when fortune comes our way with Tony Jones fumble on a punt return that was recovered by Jehu Chesson at the Wildcat 21. After scoring our only TD, Gardner throws and interception, and Drake Johnson fumbles. Johnson carried 10 times for 30 yards, but when he fumbled, Joe Kerridge got the recovery. The Wolverine offense gained 251 net yards, 13 first downs in 60 plays while being forced into 7 punts and 3 turnovers by the Wildcat defense; Michigan was one of 13 in 3rd and 4th down conversions. Each team had three "3 and outs." We haven't seen a Wolverine offense perform so poorly since sometime in the 1960s.
Our Defense held the Wildcats to 264 net yards, 18 first downs in 84 plays with 10 of 22 in 3rd and 4th down conversions. Northwestern held a 4 minute time of possession advantage which resulted in 25 more offensive plays. Jake Ryan led the defense with 11 tackles, a pass brek up and an interception. Frank Clark had 8 tackles including 2 sacks, 2 tipped passes plus his push on the two point conversion forced Siemian to slip and fall ending the Wildcats game winning conversion attempt. Joe Bolden and Ramon Taylor also had 7 tackles each. Mario Ojemudia had 2 sacks, Willie Henry and Brennan Beyer also had sacks as the defense forced 9 Northwestern sacks on the day. Matt Godin got an interception off a tipped pass by Clark. Trevor Siemian was 32 of 49 for 268 yards in the air with 2 interceptions and a TD. Kyle Prater had 7 catches for 81 yards, Tony Jones grabbed 7 for 59 yards and a TD, Dan Vitale had 6 catches for 41 yards, and Cameron Dickerson nailed 4 for 40 yards. Our entire backfield looked bad on coverage except for Jordan Lewis. Although Seimian was hurried and sacked by our defense with constant pressure, our backs managed to allow 32 completions with a better than 65% completion percentage. Still, the defense came up big all game long bailing out our offense time and time again to "eke out" a victory. It was the first road win of the season, and will likely be the only road win during this 2014 campaign.
Matt Wile hit one of two field goal attempts including what proved to be the game winner. Dennis Norfleet didn't make the trip so Amara Darboh returned a punt for 9 yards. Delonte Hollowell had a nice punt coverage downed at the 1 in the 4th quarter. Northwestern's poor special teams play contributed to their defeat with a fumbled punt that led to our only touchdown, and a missed field goal.
We are 5-5, but a much worse football team than the 1984 Wolverines who finished with a bowl loss to BYU to cap a 6-7 season. We look much more like the 1965 or 1967 Wolverine squads who were both 4-6. While Northwestern fans must be exasperated with Pat Fitzgerald's poor coaching calls with going twice for 4th downs at the 40 yard line, the two point conversion rather than overtime, etc. We really need to release this staff after November, and move to a new future for this football program. When one observes the top teams in the Big Ten and across the country, we are simply not developing players like other coaching staffs are. We have not developed a championship culture with this staff over their four seasons. Everybody likes Brady Hoke, but whether we like him or not, the football program is not developing players, a championship culture, and we are simply a mediocre, second-tier football program rather than one that exemplifies excellence.
Box Score and Player Participation Highlights Post Game Press Conference
Observations on the first half with Northwestern
Press Conference for Northwestern on November 3 Brady Hoke on November 5