Observations on a HUGE Michigan
victory over Illinois, 45-20
1-The 2nd quarter play calling by
Carr and Parrish was simply awesome. The trick play from Walker
to Gonzalez and the throw from Cross to Walker were two of the
2-Navarre is really maturing as
our leader! He looks smooth and fluid, and is learning when to
take a sack as well as how to maneuver in the pocket.
He was 13 of 26 for 172 yards and 1 TD with no pick, and he took
sevaral sacks. We had 75 plays for 405 yards, 21 first downs and
6 touchdowns. We dominated time of possession even though we were
behind by three minutes at half, we came out on top by four and
a half minutes. We only had 137 yards rushing, but we did well
when we needed rushing yards. We were 6 of 16 in 3rd down conversions
after going 3 & out our first 4 possessions.
3-Our receivers are really looking
stellar! Walker had 6 catches for 108 yards and 1 TD; looks like
a 1st team All-Big Ten player. It was great to see Bellamy get
involved with his first TD catch of the year. Bell is extremely
dangerous, and looked awesome again on the reverse. Askew is so
dangerous on the screens. Our tight end position if very productive,
four tight ends caught six passes. We have a lot of weapons here,
and we still need to get Edwards, Massaquoi, Combs and Butler
more involved. Possibly, in some blow-out, we can.
4-Who needs Chris Perry? Askew had
80 yards on 19 carries with 2 rushing TDs. Cross added 50 yards.
Yes, we do need Perry, but it was nice to see how productive we
could be without his services. Underwood did fumble when we were
ahead by 25, but he is looking to be another solid backup.
5-Probably the biggest reason why
we won was our defense, they were simply awesome. Illinois is
an excellent offensive team, and we held them to 6 of 20 on 3rd
down conversions and zero for one 4th down conversion. The biggest
statistic was 27 rushes for 25 yards. Kittner was 20 of 39 for
244 yards, but no TD passes. They ran 73 plays for 300 yards,
and had only 12 first downs. Rocky Harvey had only 14 yards, and
he ran for the winning touchdown in 1999 when we were beat 36-29.
The clincher was when June forced a Kittner fumble with us ahead
31-13, but when we responded with a field goal after we held them
to a field goal at 28-13, it was also huge. Foote and Hobson are
definitely Big Ten 1st teamers. Even Todd Howard looked good today;
he only was beaten once or twice. The 48 yard pass that led to
their first field goal was ugly, but we held. Overall, our pass
rush and pass coverage was more than adequate especially when
you can hold a good offensive team like Illinois with a pro quarterback
like Kittner to 13 points. Markus Curry and Marlin Jackson did
a nice job at the corners along with LeSueur and Howard. It was
also great to see Brandon Williams get a pick near the end of
the game. Our reserves were looking good on both sides of the
6-Our special teams looked great.
Epstein had his best game punting with 8 punts for 40.4 yard average.
He nailed all extra point and his one field goal attempt. Curry
is an exceptional punt returner, a north-south runner, 7 returns
for 79 yards. Even Todd Howard looked good on a kickoff return.
We didn't allow much in kick coverage either, 7 kickoffs for 109
yards and 7 punt returns for 25 yards. It looks like Jackson has
replaced Drake on kickoffs.
7-We couldn't have been more ready
for this game. We got a slow start offensively like Washington,
but we really played well after the 1st four possessions. Illinois
was ready, too, but we simply outplayed them. We also executed
our game plan much better than they did. We only had 5 penalties
and none that were costly. We still have 3 critical Big Ten games
left, and all in November: Michigan State, Wisconsin and Ohio
State. We can win the Big Ten title, but we will need someone
to help us, possibly Illinois. Somebody must beat Northwestern
for us to win the title. If we can pull off a 10-1 record with
the title, we might make the top ten and a possible BCS game.
State will be really tough in East Lansing!!!