I watched the University of Michigan football game against Southern Cal yesterday as Michigan showed again why they are not championship material. UofM stayed with USC in the first half ending it in a 3 to 3 tie. In the 2nd half, Michigan fell apart as I thought they would.
Chad Henne was sacked 5 times that I know of. I turned the game off with 6 min to go, tired of the incompetence. I was frustrated because I didn't see any attempt by the coaching staff to call plays that would defend against the constant blitzing of the USC defensive line. One of the techniques used in football to stop the blitz is to use short timing patterns where the QB drops back only three steps and throws a quick out or slant to a reciever for a short gainer. I didn't see a single play like that used by Michigan. Chad Henne was dropping back 7 and 8 steps at a time and by the time he got to the 7th one a defender was tackling him. Most defensive lineman can run faster forward than a QB can run backwards. (Mike's law of football bodies in motion.)
There was a time when I would watch all Michigan games on TV. That hasn't been the case in several years. I realized then that the Big 10 Conference just didn't have the skill and talent level of such conferences as the ACC, SEC, PAC 10 and the Big 12. The Big 10 generally plays a conservative kind of football relying heavily on the run with some passing. They are simply not used to going up against teams that feature a prolific passing game and are not proficient at defending against it.
After the Michigan game I was treated to a really good game between Boise State, a newcomer to college prime time football and heavily favored powerhouse Oklahoma University. Boise State tied the game with 7 seconds left and then won it on a two-point conversion in overtime 43 to 42. Now that was a good football game. I wondered why Michigan couldn't play like that and then it occured to me: Michigan isn't coached to play like that. And that explains why Michigan has now lost 4 straight bowl games.
Big 10 teams like Michigan and Ohio State and a few others are good teams but seem unable to raise their game to the championship level and keep it there. You'd think that task would be easier in the Big Ten where conservative football rules. Well, I think this discovery has already been made by one Big Ten team--Ohio State. They seem to have added a more prolific passing game to their already good running game. And as further evidence, when was the last time Lloyd Carr beat a Jim Tressel team? It's been awhile.
There is one other thing. I think the Big Ten should push its season forward by three weeks. (Or is that back?) It is a fact of athletic life that a month and half layoff from competition makes it hard for any athlete to stay sharp. A body can stay fit with practice but it's the mental game that suffers in an extended layoff.
Next year I will watch a few Michigan games and probably watch them in whatever bowl they happen to be in, and hope.
( Yes this will hurt coach Carr's reputation. I can just hear the wise cracks now: "Why do they serve Lloyd Carr his oatmeal on a plate? Because if they put it in a bowl he'll lose it.")