I've wanted to start a blog for some time now, and being an avid sports fan, figured why not here?
First, I wear my allegiances on my sleeve, or at least, at the top of this blog. I am a huge Michigan fan. I grew up watching the Niners during Montana's glory years. I would call myself among the 'hapless' fans who follow the Cubs. The Raptors? I simply like them for being the closest NBA team to where I live. And though I am Canadian, I am not a fan of hockey.
But on to more important matters - Michigan - over which much has been written over the past year.
Michigan's win over Notre Dame was big for the program. It proved Rich Rodriguez could coach a team to win a big game with his system. Yet I am still apprehensive for the rest of the season. While many are ready to say the Wolverines are a New Year's Day bowl bound team, I see troubling pieces of the puzzle that have to be worked out.
First, the pass defence continues to bleed yards from many wounds. Frankly, I think Clausen played extremely well. I wonder if some of the play calling at the end of the game did not give the Irish a chance to run down the clock. I can see the heroic desire to "win it big or go home", but their run game was performing well enough to take more time off and make a comeback virtually impossible. A more clean game by the Irish could also have ensured Michigan has not chance.
It also took great play from a freshman quarterback to put Michigan over the top. Forcier has shown he can compete in a big game and be productive. He may need to keep doing as much if the defence continues to give up big yardage through the air. There is a lot of room for improvement. I now hear that Rodriguez will be rotating more defenders into the secondary to build depth - not bad idea on a team sorely hurting in this area.
Second, the Wolverines still have to play Michigan State, Penn State and Ohio State. Regardless of MSU's current record, and their failure to beat Central Michigan last week, this game will be a hard fought affair. Victory cannot be thought of as a certainty - often rivalry game are anything but. Just look at Michigan's win this past weekend where everyone was fairly confident Notre Dame would win. Penn State looks to be the class of the Big Ten, and honestly, I hope they continue their success (but will of course cheer fanatically should Michigan win). Ohio State will rebound and be in contention by the end of the season. I am not ready to write off Pryor - he could come of age at any moment and be the kind of quarterback everyone has predicted. If and when that occurs, the rest of the Big Ten are in trouble.
Third, keeping healthy. Clearly, Forcier needs to keep scrambling. His ability to keep out of trouble and avoid the big hit will be key. A big hit here or there could put him out of action. Denard Robinson certainly has talent, but is not nearly as polished as Forcier at QB, and all Michigan fans know Sheridan is not the answer (though he is a key leader on the sideline). Brandon Minor is another key player. In a big game, his ability to hammer out yards on tough defence will help relieve pressure off of Forcier.
And of course, keeping key members in the secondard healthy will help develop this area of the defence as the season progresses.
I fervently hope I am wrong. I'd love to see Michigan be undefeated, or at least be a one-loss team, going into their game against Ohio State. Having both programs competing at their highest level is good for both schools, the Big Ten and college football. Seeing Michigan on New Year's Day still feels to be more of a dream than reality, but it is certainly no longer a fantasy.