The anger and pain has finally begun to subside somewhat after last week’s mistake-fest game in Happy Valley, where we watched many of the fears and play of the previous 3 games finally come to end in a loss. Fans hoped and wondered if the ship could be righted and head in the right direction. I think now at the midway point of the season, we know what team 134 is. Will it continue to improve? Probably. Will it get to where fans hope it will, with a downhill rushing attack, play action passing, and the days of the pro style 5 and 7 step drops? More than likely the answer is no. Sadly the inexperienced middle of the offensive line, depth decimated from many reasons including a lack of focus on it in the previous regime, will ultimately be the biggest road block in the progression back to that style of football. When you score 6 points in 4 overtimes against a defense that is porous at best, the realization sinks in.
On the defensive side, lack of a consistent pass rush has been discouraging. They show flashes and it’s entirely possible that as Jake Ryan gets back to being an every down player that it may get the added boost it needs to handle the much more difficult last half of the season. With trips to MSU and Iowa, and home tests with Nebraska and Ohio left, and frankly Indiana and Illinois are no gimmes with the inconsistent play, getting to 8-9 wins is no certainty. That said, improvement along the offensive line and ball protection can turn things around to a certain degree.
I’m expect to see a flat first quarter, one where Indiana takes a lead with its explosive offense, and the hangover from Penn State is still there. Michigan will be ready to play and after adjustments, slows them down. The Hoosiers will score 30+ in my opinion, as Kevin Wilson has done a great job recruiting, but it’s much tougher to pull top notch defensive players to Indiana. Michigan will fight back and will run the ball better than in weeks past. Don’t get too excited if and when they do. It’s got much stiffer tests ahead, and all will not be "fixed". A long ways to go, more improvement will be needed, and the bye week before MSU will be important to heal up for 60 minutes of unnecessary roughness.
Michigan 44, Indiana 34