While USC was busy losing to Georgia Tech last night in the Hundai Sun Bowl, Michigan started off their New Year's against South Carolina in the Outback Bowl. The prize? Bloomin' Onion for a South Carolina victory; Coconut Shrimp for a Michigan victory.
Well, enjoy your Bloomin' Onion.
As predicted, Michigan's offense sputtered and struggled to find a running game while using Denard Robinson, Vincent Smith, and Justice Hayes all as running backs. Not surprisingly, Denard was the most productive--fitting for his final game as a Michigan Wolverine.
The Michigan defense? They hung in there, but a traditional mustachioed truism of any team is that you have to play 60 minutes, and you have to finish when you have the lead. The last drive of the game, Michigan was in awesome position to make tackles and sacks that would have sealed the game. I don't know, maybe South Carolina's quarterbacks are just made of wet soap or something.
Seriously, that Jibreel Black quasi-sack had me going hoarse.
It was not a good day for TV remotes.
Players of the game? For Michigan? Jeremy Gallon did okay (more like better than okay), hauling in a couple of key catches, some of which were touchdowns. On defense? Jake Ryan, obviously. Craig Roh had a nice penetration play in there too.
It must be really frustrating if you're Al Borges. You've got a dynamic player in Denard whose injury has taken away nearly half of his game use. He throws one feeble pass and we're all reminded that the stinger on his elbow back in November was no stinger at all.
Then you've got Devin Gardner. Dude started at wide receiver at the beginning of this season, and now he's doing anything he can to lead this Michigan team. To say that 2012 has not gone as expected would be a massive understatement.
Some people might disagree with the following statement because I know offensive playcalling has been a hot button issue for Michigan fans that was only accentuated by the Ohio State loss: I actually liked the offensive playcalling. Routes were clean, receivers were open, they just didn't make all the catches they were supposed to. (And seriously, if anyone responds with the bizarre "What game were you watching?", today is not the day. I am too hoarse.)
I keep wondering what Michigan's going to be like when Borges doesn't have to use players essentially designed for another system. What happens when he has a pair of 6'3" WRs, Manningham and Arrington-style, to go after those deep balls? What happens when we have a Montee Ball-type guy at tail back?
I was telling everyone this while watching the game: Michigan will not be good this year or next year or any other year unless they have a running game. We are not going to be a Leachy Air Raid or a Sonny Dykes spread. And for those of you saying "We had a running game; his name was Denard," you're going to have find another song to sing. Denard is officially gone. We love you, Denard. Thanks for everything.
Whether it's Derrick Green (I'm still not 100% certain he commits to us) or Deveon Smith (I like that guy, but damn you Rivals and your low ranking), Michigan needs someone who can be a legitimate threat in the backfield on every down. And we can argue Rodriguezball vs. Schembechlerball all night. That won't make a difference. Norfleet or Rawls, I just want a guy that gets it done.
On the plus side, turns out Brendan Gibbons' buzzing his hair had zero effect on his kicking game. So, woo!
Agree? Disagree? Leave your comments below.