When Michigan takes the field at the Big House against Western Michigan, they’ll look to heal their wounds from the debacle against Notre Dame last week. It doesn’t take the most trained football mind to see what those wounds are — some of them fresh, some of them gashed open again from last year:
Can the offensive line actually block?
Will Michigan’s safeties keep giving up passes up the middle, and will the linebackers stop over pursuing?
Is Harbaugh’s offense doing enough to keep opposing defenses on their toes?
I know what you’re thinking. “This doesn’t say anything about the Broncos? What’s the real matchup to watch? Did I click on the wrong article?”
No, you didn’t. For a team as talented and with as high of expectations as Michigan had less than a week ago, a game against a team that allowed 31 points in the first 20 minutes to Syracuse should be a cakewalk.
Last year, Michigan sleepwalked their way into close contests with Cincinnati and Air Force before pulling away late. Those were teams that, in past years, Michigan would’ve put 50 points on. Against superior foes like Michigan State and Penn State, Michigan went down early and never recovered.
Western Michigan is a chance for Michigan to start off its home slate on the right foot. If the Wolverines start the game with some Shea Patterson bombs to Donovan Peoples-Jones and a few sacks by Rashan Gary and company, it won’t only quiet the fans for a little bit, but it will also give Michigan some sorely needed momentum. Starting off slow on the other hand, makes the boos grow louder, and reinforces that mental barrier in the minds of players and coaches alike.
In the games leading up to the conference schedule, the Wolverines’ biggest matchup is the one vs. themselves, and specifically which foot they decide to land on. Over the course of a season, a slow quarter against Western Michigan might not seem like much, but at the end of the day, it behooves Michigan to come out with no fear, no reservations from last week, and let loose.
Who knows what’ll happen after that? Maybe this game will be another part of a dreary 8-5 season. Maybe a Saturday trashing is the catalyst to revive an offense that’s been dormant since the days of Denard Robinson. One thing’s for sure — they have nothing to lose by letting loose, and taking the biggest possible step on the right foot.