Well, a 42-13 win against MInnesota is exactly what the doctor ordered. We've heard a lot of "X played well" and "Y sucked" so we figured we'd start a very scientific way to measure the performances of certain Michigan players/units/whatever. And what better way to compare it than to the best and worst of Jay-Z? Thanks to the lads over at Cartilage Free Captain for the inspiration.
5 Stars: Public Service Announcement
PSA is a triumphant reaffirmation of Jay's place at the top of the heap. Like he says, "got the hottest chick in the game wearing my chain"
Devin Funchess. The move outside for Funchess looked so completely obvious that you almost have to wonder why it wasn't done sooner. The big tight end looked downright uncoverable on the way to a career high seven catches for 151 yards and a touchdown. While he might not be able to get as much separation against a better secondary, his upside as a pass catcher is undeniable, and Michigan's receiving options are starting to look like a strength for the team. -Zach
Michigan's third down offense was spectacular, going 10-13. That's how you win games against the Minnesotas of the world. You possess the ball and do a good job converting when you need to. Some of this is also the lack of penalties and negative yardage plays (both good things in their own right) but when you're converting third downs it means you're not digging yourself into a hole on first or second down with a sack, negative play, or penalty. This means Michigan's starting to move downhill, even if the run game isn't there yet. -Shash
4 Stars: Girls, Girls Girls
Definitely a contender but a little short of true greatness.
Devin Gardner's all-around performance. There's something about Minnesota that just goes well with DG, and I'm okay with that. I really liked seeing him get back to the basics, and not passing for an entire quarter seemed to get his mind right, as he finished with only four incompletions in 17 attempts and, more importantly, no turnovers. The only reason this wasn't a five is because the accuracy worries me a little bit - a couple balls thrown behind receivers are at worst, probably interceptions against a better secondary, and at best, they kill the potential for yards after catch. -Shash
Fitz Toussaint Didn't go over 100 yards on the day, but for just 17 rushes he put up 78 yards and 4.6 yards/carry. While it wasn't a dominant performance by any means, Michigan's still developing blocking along the front still missed a few assignments that kept Toussaint from big plays. That didn't matter as Fitz continually picked up yards, had one of his best days getting up field behind his blocking, and only went down for a single play behind the line of scrimmage. This is an improvement from previous games this year when Fitz looked hesitant and struggled to take what his blocking set up. - Zach
3 Stars: On To the Next One
Occasionally feisty but generally runs at a lower level.
The switch to Graham Glasgow on the interior line. Didn't notice any major issues, but Michigan's running game still struggled to get meaningful yards - one of the reasons being the line just isn't opening up the holes they need to, particularly on the interior. Toussaint and Green are both powerful backs, so once they hit the second level they can fall forward and gain a few more yards. But 27 carries for 101 yards between the two of them just ain't gonna cut it. I don't entirely blame Fitz and Green - their road graders up front need to be pushing into the linebackers more consistently.
On the more positive side here, Gardner seemed very comfortable in the pocket and was very rarely under pressure from an actually-ok Minnesota D-line, including their all-conference end. So that's a plus. -Shash
The secondary. I know Minnesota's not a passing team, but these guys did their jobs today, limiting the passing offense under 150 yards, and, more importantly, stifling the big plays - Minnesota's long pass or run was 18 yards. Another important sign for an improving defense. Mobile QB's tend to gash every once in a while - I was expecting a deep pass or two coming from a secondary breakdown, but that didn't happen. And Countess's interception to seal the game was fantastic. He's quickly becoming a ballhawk, which is exactly what Michigan needs. Overall though, Minnesota sucks at passing, and the fact that they were that successful on third down keeps this in On To The Next One territory. -Shash
2 Stars: Run This Town
Overshadowed by the talent around it.
Michigan's third-down defense. Especially on that first drive, they were gashed by the Minnesota QB on the ground even though everyone in the stadium knew he'd be running a lot during the game. What irritates me the most about giving up those plays is simple: if you know it's coming and can't stop it, what are you going to do against Martinez/Colter/Miller when you don't know what's coming? Granted, Martinez can't throw, but still. I find it hard to believe Mattison missed this. Hopefully this'll get coached out of them. -Shash
Michigan's student section was still a good chunk empty during the first quarter, and ESPN caught it a couple times. What gives? It's a 3:30 game during Homecoming. Especially when we've hear all the bitching about noon start times, it doesn't seem like a 3:30 start in a rivalry game did any better. By now it's obvious that many students just pay to show up slightly late for the marquee home games and ignore the rest. If Michigan wants a truly imposing home-field advantage, then the students need to get more fired up. Right now a stadium of 115k seems a lot smaller. Not uncoincidentally, M's been starting slow at home... -Shash
1 Star: Show Me What You Got
Hell of a bad way to come back from "retirement."
That One Minnesota TD Drive. Minnesota was able to convert five third downs including two third-and-ones en route to a 16 play, 75 yard drive that took up 9:44 of the first quarter but felt like it started somewhere before the adoption of the Gregorian calendar. Michigan made Minnesota earn its lone touchdown of the day, and the Wolverines would have much more luck the rest of the game at getting Minnesota off the field, but ugh, that one drive. No more of that. -Zach
No stars: Justify My Thug
Ughh. Madonna? Beesh. So bad I can't find a decent YouTube video of it.
No Michigan players or plays were this bad.