Michigan Football: Northwestern at Michigan — What Happened and What it Means
How About That?
Mel Allen, the late broadcaster of extreme note, had a catch saying: “How about that?” He used this phrase when describing an event that was exciting, improbable, and memorable. The ending of the regulation and overtime were certainly exciting, memorable only to Michigan fans, and demonstrated that comebacks that are highly improbable are still possible.
Northwestern brought a very high powered offense featuring two very talented quarterbacks, Cain Colter and Trevor Siemian, and a productive running back, Venric Mark. The wide receivers are solid and played a part in Northwestern’s success. This is a good team that will give a team fits in a bowl game with time to prepare. The Wildcats followed a pattern of giving up tough games late. As the only private university in the Big Ten Northwestern can be very proud of the level of competition achieved in recent years.
No one has shut down Northwestern completely, and the Michigan staff had no illusions that a shutout was in the works Saturday. Northwestern presents problems because of speed to the edge and versatility. Cut off one head and a few others can cause problems. In the preview it was noted Northwestern ran good posts and flags; that happened throughout the game. The biggest concern was Michigan sustaining heavy damage on the edge with the option ran out of the spread gun, and for most of the game that happened as well.
Northwestern is known for jumping out in front early, and for the first time in a while Michigan gave up a first possession score. The inside read yielded big results and a super nice catch on a sideline flag kept the drive going. From that point on Northwestern made it look surprisingly easy on the journey to the endzone. The passing game later yielded a superb back shoulder catch for a touchdown.
Michigan countered off and on all game with key scrambles by Devin Gardner and key catches by Gallon and Roundtree. Roundtree continued this trend all game, ending with the game turning catch on the 53-yard tipped post play.Northwestern found gold on the quick option to the edge after Michigan did a better job on the inside game. After taking some hits, the option was not used as much in the fourth quarter. Coulter remained a sore spot for the Wolverines as he eluded several tackles for key first downs.
In this delicate game of give and take both teams made mistakes. Fitz Toussaint finally broke a run and fumbled near the goal line. Devin Gardner threw a misread interception that put the Wolverines in dire straits with little time remaining. Beyer is awarded a big penalty that was undisciplined. The defense had space and contain issues, but credit must be given to some really good skill players from Northwestern. Coulter fumbled under pressure helping the Michigan cause. But perhaps the most costly boo-boo was the rugby style punt that allowed Gallon, through correct positioning, to gain extra precious yards, although a surface look yielded a still near death experience for Michigan as only 18 seconds remained.
But Michigan also had strengths and successes. Roundtree had an absolutely magnificent game. Devin Gardner did a fantastic job on third down, maybe a stat lost in the game drama. Gallon again did his share and contributed in small ways that yielded important results. Drew Dileo again saved the bacon with a great spot of a low snap on the tying field goal. By the way, take a look at the game again and watch Mealer: not bad and his scrap resulted in some very nice damage control on key plays.
Things went right and things went wrong and the victory was improbable, but it will stay in the victory column. There were some good routes today. Many players had small defeats but big victories. A player who fits that description is Kenny Demons, a guy who put a resounding stamp on the final chapter and verse of Saturday’s game.
Going forward, what does this mean? Michigan is playing every game now to enhance its bowl status. Iowa becomes another chance to climb to a New Year’s Day game. The chance of Michigan playing for the Big title is super slim as Nebraska pulled out another win against Penn State.There will of course be the now weekly quarterback question based on Denard Robinson’s health status and Devin Gardner’s progress. Who plays is a coaching decision, nothing more.
As we warned, this campaign was to be a roller coaster ride, with no easy wins. The ride is not over and Michigan cannot overlook any opponent. Iowa enters on Senior Day next week for what should be a well remembered and emotional pregame ceremony.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff
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