[Bumped, says what we're all thinking - MnB Dave]
Just a few quick observations on the Indiana game, from offense to defense.
Offensively, we've been waiting for the kind of output from RichRod's spread he had at West Virginia, and through the first week of Big Ten football, it's pretty clear that this has arrived, and then some. Denard was electric again on Saturday, but what I also liked was the depth of his offensive repertoire. ESPN showed some kind of ridiculous graph that showed all the tools in his arsenal - shockingly, his options are to pass it, run it, option it, or hand it off. This dreadfully shallow analysis aside, I really liked the way he's setting up his passes with his own run fakes - starting early in the first quarter on a long drive and continuing throughout the game with some nice, pinpoint passes. By my count, there were two or three long passes where the receiver was open or would have been open on his long bombs, but I'm confident that his misfires will decrease as the season wears on.
For players not named Denard, it was nice to see Vinny Smith averaging just shy of nine yards per carry. Though he had a long one, inflating his numbers a bit, that kind of home run speed was lacking earlier in the season, and he filled in well for Michael Shaw. Also nice to see that defenses can't completely sell out to stop Denard. Roundtree turned in another admirable performance, turning only five catches into 126 yards and a score. As I mentioned in SHH, Hemingway also came through in the clutch, providing Denard with a deep threat lacking with Stonum's noticeably quiet day.
Defensively, I'm not going to recap what you all saw and every pundit in America is saying, but Chappell threw for 480 yards. The statements right now from most experts are "Denard will be in New York, but the defense won't get him to Pasadena". At this point in the season, I tend to agree, but since the offense hasn't really been stopped yet, I'm still positive about the outcome of the season. Sure, it's easy to say when M is 5-0, but GERG has always operated a "bend but don't break" system hinging on the linebackers, so as long as Mouton and Ezeh have at least fairly decent games, we should be just fine. That said, the defense broke a few times on Saturday. The 19-yard touchdown on a 4th and 5 was inexcuseable. A championship team makes that stop. On the flip side, Mike Martin killed a few drives a la BG a year ago. Why did GERG only rush three so often? This has befuddled me throughout the season. It is absolutely essential with a young secondary to ease their load by making the QB throw in a hurry. I'm not advocating leaving the corners on an island, but let's at least see some disguised coverage and more five-six man pressues, especially against bigger/running formations. When there's a running back in the backfield, you rush at least four every time, otherwise even a porous O-line has a huge advantage and can create opportunities.
Looking forward to MSU. A game M should have won last year returns to Ann Arbor in a pretty much must-win game for Rodriguez's crew. Here's hoping for big things and stable knees.
One win till bowl elgibility.