Michigan football is back, baby!
[Anxiety, elation, stress, pain, intoxication, relief, surprise, excitement, and depression have entered the chat.]
Besides relearning how to mask the smell of beer on a Sunday morning at church, we learned a ton about this rejuvenated offense in Michigan’s 49-24 victory over Minnesota.
2020 has had so many bad twists it feels like it was written by M. Night Shyamalan, but all of the starts and stops of the season did not deter this youthful Michigan Wolverines team.
This would have been an ideal season to have a syllabus week style home opener. You know, a game to go through the motions and to allow this team a chance to work out any kinks without fear of defeat; like Appalachian State (KIDDING).
(Editor’s note: Too soon, Andy. Still too soon.)
Last season, Michigan beat Middle Tennessee State 40-21 in an ugly game devoid of any offensive fluidity as the Wolverines searched for an identity under first-year offensive coordinator Josh Gattis.
The team that showed up to play the Blue Raiders last year to begin the season would have lost to this Minnesota team on Saturday.
Minnesota is the equivalent of having an exam on the first day of class. The Golden Gophers are an experienced, well-coached team, with home-field advantage for what it’s worth this year.
The phrase “built different” has been overused and bastardized by Gen Zers on social media, but this offense is built differently than anything we have seen during Jim Harbaugh’s tenure.
All of the usual “playing a ranked team on the road” hiccups were avoided. There was never any panic after the disastrous start; there were no elongated periods of stagnation; there were no dumb turnovers.
While credit belongs to plenty, it begins with quarterback Joe Milton.
Milton finished the day 15-of-22, for 225 yards, with one touchdown through the air and one rushing score. Those numbers may not be jaw-dropping, but Milton’s leadership and command of the game were thunderous.
This offense has a confidence and effortless feel to it. Anytime Minnesota would strike, Milton and company had an answer.
The Wolverines were physical at the line of scrimmage. The offensive line, which welcomed four new starters, paved the way for 253 rushing yards, while only allowing one sack and two tackles for- oss. Ed Warriner is deserves a raise.
Gattis’ “Speed in Space” concept has finally come to fruition. Nine different players recorded a reception, seven different players recorded a carry, and no player carried the ball more than eight times (Milton).
True freshmen Roman Wilson, AJ Henning, and Blake Corum even had an impact in this game. Hell, the first play of the season went to Corum. Just like we all predicted, right?
This spreading of the wealth is great for obvious reasons, but in a condensed season with no bye week, sharing the burden of production is key to keeping players healthy into December.
This offense is physical, explosive, diverse, and confident. 35 points are the most for a Michigan team in the first half against a ranked opponent in the AP era. This unwavering offensive confidence is something we have only seen in spurts against inferior opponents under Harbaugh.
Are there things to clean up as a team? Absolutely. The run defense needs to stiffen up; Vincent Gray needs to keep his eyes out of the backfield; Ben Mason has to stop blocking people five yards out of bounds; a field goal kicker must be located and added to the roster.
But football is back! We were almost deprived of:
- Captain America, Chris Evans, being taken out of the ice and scoring a touchdown in his first game back.
- Defensive tackle Donovan Jeter overcoming multiple injuries and having his perseverance pay off in the form of a touchdown.
- Michael Barrett’s scorched Earth, eviscerating hit on Tanner Morgan.
More importantly, these players were almost deprived of these performances. The Wolverines fought to play this season and on Saturday they proved their fight was worth it.
The Wolverines began the season with an exam and aced it. Blue pants Harbaugh is undefeated, that’s all I’m saying.
Now it’s Hate Week.