(Before It's News)
|Photo: Patrick Barron
In the week leading up to today’s game between Michigan and Maryland, the predominant storyline circulating around the college football world was the return of DJ Durkin to the Big House to face off for the first time against his former boss, one Mr. Jim Harbaugh. But Michigan quickly reminded the college football world that there really isn’t much need for sidebars and subplots when it comes to their season. They are the storyline. Week in and week out, they continue to prove themselves to be one of the elite teams in the country.
Much had been made in the first half of the season of the strength and dominance of the Michigan defense. ‘Was it the best in the nation?’ ‘How do they stack up against Alabama’s defense?’ All of the attention was backed up by undeniable statistics; all of the accolades were certainly warranted, but as the college football media obsessed over the defense, the offense was consistently improving and quietly becoming one of the most dangerous attacks in the nation.
Today was a notable game in the careers of both Jake Butt and Wilton Speight, the former setting the all-time receiving mark in yardage for a tight end at Michigan, and his quarterback setting an all-time record for first half passing yards with 292. When asked about Speight’s performance, Harbaugh stated very matter of factly, “That’s the best half of football that I’ve ever seen a Michigan quarterback play.” Adding, “I don’t know how you play better than Wilton did.”
The run game was again an effort by committee, with De’Veon Smith having the standout performance (19 carries for 114 yards and 3 TDs). The O-line played outstanding; opening up holes for rushers and providing more than ample time for Speight to complete check downs and find open receivers. The entire offense was operating with the precision of a Swiss watch. This unit has so many weapons that I don’t know how opposing teams prepare to face them. It’s pretty much become a ‘choose your poison’ proposition for defenses. I never thought for one second going into this season that I’d say this, but Michigan’s offense is just as good, if not better than its defense…
The past two Saturdays have been a little bit of a reality check for the Wolverine defense. They’re still putting up extremely impressive numbers, but they haven’t just shut offenses down like the were in the first seven games of the season (excluding the first quarter of the Colorado game). They allowed Maryland to put up the most passing yards of any offense all season today, and they had trouble establishing the edge against their read option, rushing attack. The secondary has been lights out on the deep ball all season, and today was no exception, but they’re going to have to get better with helping linebackers out on the edge. This will be a very valuable week in the film room for the defense going forward. It will basically act as a blue print for what needs to be cleaned up before November 26th. Not to get too far ahead of myself, but Maryland’s offense was essentially the JV version of what they’re running down in Columbus.
If it seems like I’m being knit picky about the team’s performance, it’s because I am. That’s what sports writers do! But I’d imagine at this point in the season that as Harbaugh kicks his feet up for at least enough time to dig into his celebratory, Saturday bowl of ice cream ritual, he knows that the dessert he’s really looking forward to will be waiting for him in the film room Sunday morning.