Michigan Football: Now with Defibrillators!
Another Saturday, another hypertension inducing Michigan football game. Yet again, Denard Robinson picked up this year's Michigan team, put it on his tiny shoulders, and sprinted down the field with it for the game's final score. It was just another hum-drum, record setting day for the electric sophomore. Robinson ended the game with 217 yards and two touchdowns on just 19 carries, and throwing for 277 yards and 3 TDs while passing 10-16 on the day. In doing so, Robinson became the only player in college football history to run for two hundred yards and pass for 200 yards in the same season. Naturally the accolades have flowed. When you account for 494 yards in a single game, people take notice.
But it wouldn't be much of a stretch to suggest that his opposite on Saturday was every bit as good as Robinson was. Indiana's Ben Chappell incinerated the Michigan defense. As the game wore on it was apparent that Michigan's pass defense had as good a chance against Chappell's arm as a wheat field does standing up against a thresher. Chappell threw for 480 yards against Michigan, going 45-64 with 3 TD passes. That's even more mind boggling than the Denard Robinson Show. How does any defense, especially a Big Ten defense, give up those kinds of passing numbers? To put Chappell's day in perspective, his 480 passing yards surpassed the 436 yards by Northwestern's Sandy Schwab on Oct. 23, 1982.
Sadly, the record setting trend of opposing offenses is starting to overshadow the amazing accomplishments of the defense. Indiana ran a staggering 98 plays on Saturday. 98! They more than doubled Michigan's offensive opportunities and controlled the ball for 41:47 of a 60 minute game. Over the course of the game Indiana was forced to punt just four times, was 11 for 19 on third down conversions, and 2 for 4 on fourth down conversions.
It's enough to send you to your cardiologist or make you pull your out hair. Maybe both.
As usual, Michigan's point a minute offense piled up yardage and points. As usual, Denard Robinson got popped real good and ended up sitting out a series. As usual, Michigan's offense did something dumb that cost them points. As usual, Michigan pulled out a last minute/second win against a team they probably should've buried.
But maybe that's not the case anymore. As everyone's well aware, things on defense are not getting better. As Joey of Straight Bangin' has already pointed out:
The 2008 defense was ranked ninth in the Big Ten, surrendering 366.9 yards and 28.9 points per game. The 2009 defense was ranked ninth again, but it was even worse: it gave each opponent an average of 393.3 yards and 27.5 points. This year, the trend has continued--more yards, fewer points. Michigan is currently eleventhin the Big Ten's total defense ranking, surrendering 433.6 yards and 25.4 points each week.
Michigan presently ranks 102 out of 120 teams in total defense. Even more staggering, they rank DEAD LAST in passing defense. 120 out of 120 teams in Division One Football. Michigan isn't just dead last, they're dead last by almost ten yards a game, giving up 307.8 yards a game through the air. This is just inexcusable.
There have been a string of jokes about the LSU fan base being the most incredulous, unhappy 5-0 team in the country. Believe me, after Saturday, Michigan fans are not that far behind them. How can they not be. Their defense is not just the worst in the Big Ten, it's one of the worst nationally. Ranking behind schools like 1-4 Minnesota, 1-4 Duke, and tied with 1-4 Rice. This isn't good, and it's not conducive to a continued successful season.
Going into the year, every Michigan fan knew that the defense would be an issue. We knew that it would be difficult to get pressure on the quarterback with just 3 men rushing the passer. We knew our linebackers and corners probably weren't going to be all-world. But even with that knowledge the on-field results from this defense have been impossible to accept.
But then again we really don't have a choice. This edition of the Michigan Football team will have its fanbase on the verge of cardiac arrest the rest of the season. And occasionally, this defense is going to cost Michigan games it should win.
Five games into the season we're all reaching for the coreg. It ain't going to get easier. So keep the paddles juiced up and the EMT's on the speed dial. It's going to be an interesting season.