Michigan Couldn’t Have Looked Better

By Bart Doan  |   Thursday, September 10, 2009  |  Comments( 0 )

Michigan Wolverines
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Halfway through the Michigan-Western Michigan game, I got a text message from my poor brother, forced into a job where they don't realize that Saturday's in the fall should be treated as holidays with regard to labor laws. He asked "how do they look?" From Tate Forcier to Obi Ezeh and Rich Rodriguez to Greg Robinson, you couldn't have realistically dreamed they'd look any better.

The final score was 31-7, but the game was over by the middle of the second quarter. Michigan was different. They were everything they weren't last year. Robinson's hybrid 4-2-5 to 3-4 defense drove standout WMU quarterback Tim Hiller to fits. Players were flying to the ball, unlike last year where they looked completely confused on where exactly they were supposed to be and what exactly they were supposed to be doing when they got there.

Part of playing fast is more than just about how quickly one can run the 40 yard dash. Some of the same Michigan players who were stuck in mud last year looked like they shaved an entire second off their time just by knowing the system and knowing where to be. Understanding your role makes a player so much faster and confident in where he's hauling tail to the nearest football. On top of that, they hit this year and hit hard. Donovan Warren in particular looked like he had about 9 months worth of pent up frustration that was just itching to come out.

Then there was the offense. Last year, Michigan's offense in game one looked like something out of an instructional video section where they point out what you're not supposed to do. This year, once a wide receiver afterthought Junior Hemingway dove into the end zone from 30 yards out on the first collegiate drive of Tate Forcier's life, there was a sense of shock and awe about the 110,000 strong in the stands. All game, guys who seemingly didn't exist last year came popping out of the woodwork once Forcier started tossing the ball around. Hemingway went from barely touching the ball last year to looking like Braylon Edwards. Kevin Koger had a one handed catch that brought the entire crowd to its feet. The list could go on and on.

The knock on a Rich Rodriguez coached team by many other coaches is that his offense is totally dependent on the quarterback play. There is something to that theory. In the third, with Michigan on the move again, last year's opening game starter Nick Sheridan came in and threw one pass. It was intercepted in the end zone. By that time, however, Michigan was well on its way to their first opening day win in three years. Seven Michigan players caught balls, with Hemingway going over 100 yards. Backup quarterback Denard Robinson wowed everyone by recovering from a broken play to scamper 43 yards in what seemed like two seconds for a touchdown.
Yes, the tide is turning in Ann Arbor. Improvment was expected and it is just a win over Western Michigan. In past years, this would not be cause for celebration. But these aren't normal times on the Michigan campus. There is a different feeling around the program this year. Practice might not make perfect, no matter how much of it allegedly happens, but for one week, it does make the Wolverines unbeaten.
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About Bart Doan

Bart has been with Realfootball365.com for about six months and thoroughly enjoys writing for the site. He has been featured for his writings on college football in The Sporting News, The Indianapolis Star, Sports Illustrated, and on CBS Sportsline.com. When he's not drowning himself in the...
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