Michigan Football: Coach’s Corner — Air Force vs. Michigan — What Happened and What it Means

Posted at 5:00am — 9/10/2012

Michigan Football: Coach’s Corner — Air Force vs. Michigan — What Happened and What it Means

The One Pony Show Returns.

Air Force threw about everything in the option book at Michigan on Saturday, with considerable success. The dive play was enough of a nuisance throughout the game to keep the Michigan defense honest inside. The waggle reverse action bootleg continually found open receivers as Michigan flowed to the action side. But it was the sprint double option that Michigan for the most part could not defend. At times one was left wondering where art thou contain end, outside linebacker, and play-side safety. There were times defensive ends and linebackers looked like bowling pins. There were other times the pursuit was just too slow getting to the alley.

Michigan never trailed but for fingernail biters there was plenty of anxiety. The Air Force as is its intended mode of operation chewed up not only defensive linemen but also the clock. As predicted, points were aplenty on this near perfect football day. The combo of Cody Getz and quarterback Connor Dietz racked up big yardage. Getz is averaging over 8 yards a carry for the year. This duo will almost certainly, barring injury, pile up some big numbers this year.

The Air Force attack used motion, cut blocks, and quickness to the edge to outflank the Wolverine defense. Dietz throws a nice ball and ran an offense that produced few errors.

September 8, 2012; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson (16) runs the ball during the second half against the Air Force Falcons at Michigan Stadium. Michigan won 31-25. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

On defense Air Force was not quite as successful. Coach Al Borges correctly inferred that the Falcons were personally mismatched by Wolverine quarterback Denard Robinson’s athletic ability. In a game reminiscent of the 2010 era, Denard returned to the status of the one pony show as he was in one way or another the Michigan offense. He did a magnificent job of setting up his long runs with patience and perfect timing. Then with a little second level blocking, after letting the play develop, off he went to the endzone.

Michigan’s inside game to Fitz Touissant was almost non-existent. The 2012 vintage of Michigan receivers contributed enough big plays to call the day a success through the air. The two Devin’s demonstrated very good athleticism and their size should present challenges to opposition throughout the year. Get the ball to these guys and good things can happen. Jeremy Jackson again showed an ability to serve as a short yardage possession receiver.

The concerns for Michigan fall into the what does this mean category. The interior offensive line did not get push on the inside game and the defense only demonstrated moderate athleticism. Plenty of newcomers got playing time as Michigan is clearly trying to upgrade speed and athleticism on the defensive side of the ball. It has to be very disconcerting to the defensive staff how easily Michigan got beat on the edge, giving up first downs on long yardage situations and not achieving stops on 3rd down.

Look for players to continue rotating on defense and look for Coach Borges to keep trying to get mileage out of the passing game. Air Force did not fear the passing game and few other opponents will this year. But a price was paid for loading up and pressing by the opposition, and enough value was gained to make the effort worthwhile.

September 8, 2012; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines linebacker Jake Ryan (47) receives congratulations from safety Jordan Kovacs (32) after he makes a stop on fourth down against the Air Force Falcons at Michigan Stadium. Michigan won 31-25. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

There is much that needs improvement by the Big Ten opener. But this was the situation last year as similar conversations ensued about linebacker quality, line performance, using Denard too much, and how Michigan would have to struggle and fight to put games in the W column.

Michigan came back nicely from a sound beat down and was in the position of needing to quickly prepare for Air Force’s effective offense. The defense held when the chips were all-in and a much-needed W went into the win column.

There are concerns and a coach’s work is never done. This year the coaches will need to get the veterans improved and the newcomers ready. This is twice the work of last year, metaphorically speaking. On now to the University of Massachusetts located in Amherst in the western part of Massachusetts, near the beautiful Berkshire area.

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Written by GBMWolverine Staff

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Topics: Air Force, Football, Michigan Wolverines, Military

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