Nov 16, 2013; Evanston, IL, USA; Michigan Wolverines offensive linesman Kyle Bosch (65) and his teammates celebrate their overtime win against the Northwestern Wildcats at Ryan Field. The Michigan Wolverines defeated the Northwestern Wildcats 27-19 in triple overtime. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan Football: Michigan at Northwestern -- What Happened and What It Means

Posted at 11:30am — 11/17/2013

Michigan Football: Michigan at Northwestern — What Happened and What It Means

Michigan Wins in Trips Overtime
Guts and Heart Overcome Deficiencies

I was impressed by the no give in attitude and some hard play. Northwestern may be the best 0-6 team in Big Ten history.

Some may say that Michigan did not play hard. Those who would are wrong, the Michigan players played hard. Those who say it was just Northwestern are wrong. Northwestern came off of two weeks preparation, injuries, and a bunch of tough luck well prepared and healthier than in most weeks past. Both teams fought good defensive efforts, rain, and wind, to play a truly exciting game with class sportsmanship.

Those who say Michigan has deficiencies are correct. And to a large degree, the deficiencies remain the same. Devon Gardner was beat up, but his health had nothing to do with again not even moving his head a single degree on most pass plays, instead working the Western Union route. Devin again ran backwards and sideways to take some critical losses. He was sealed on the edge a few times, and that shortcoming is not his, a little blocking and some obvious play calling tendencies hurt on the quest to conquer the edge. Northwestern lives and dies by jumping routes, especially short routes. With predictability, and to the chagrin of Glen Mason, who will never forget Michigan for the great 4th quarter comeback years ago, Devin threw several balls right to the Northwestern defensive backs. But every single one, that is correct Mr. Mason, every one, was dropped. Still, it is absolutely scary to see another Michigan quarterback show defensive dyslexia.

The Michigan defense had great difficultly tackling in space, both on the option variations, and the quarterback cut up the B and C gaps. Some bad angles, especially one how not to highlight displayed by Thomas Gordon, and several failures to get off blocks and tackle by the linebackers make the point.

The defensive line certainly did not help by allowing Northwestern good gains on the ground on first down and on key plays.

Nov 16, 2013; Evanston, IL, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Brady Hoke coaches from the sidelines against the Northwestern Wildcats during the first half at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The decision by Coach Hoke to forego the sure three pointer late in the game was his decision, unless a certain offensive tackle talked Hoke out of the field goal. The field goal team bailed out their head coach with one second to go on a play that may live in fond Michigan memory.

The interior of the line is and will remain pretty much as is; the game plan for opposing defenses is firm and clear from her on in to next year.

But no one quit and Michigan held good poise.

Fittingly, and likely to the grimace of Mason, the game ended on an interception.

The defense overall played well, even including the deficiencies. It is not easy to defend Northwestern. Both quarterbacks are very good in space, can throw above average, and manage the game. The running backs of Northwestern seemed to disappear as the game went on, as Mattison appeared to throw some monkey wrenches into the defensive scheme. What did work for Northwestern, again stated, was quarterbacks attacking the edge, as did Nebraska did last week.

Willie Henry may have been taken out on a few plays by good blocking but he continues to look like a guy with a bright future. Clark was more up than down, Black played well, like a senior who wanted to win a game, and the backs, sans missed tackles, played better.

Where have you gone Fitz DiMaggio? I assume we will find out more, but regardless of what we hear, tryouts probably occurred Saturday in Evanston. Green appeared to have better hole hitting ability and power, and Green at least can get two or three or an average blocked play.

Nov 16, 2013; Evanston, IL, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback Devin Gardner (98) runs for a two point conversion in the third overtime against the Northwestern Wildcats at Ryan Field. The Michigan Wolverines defeated the Northwestern Wildcats 27-19 in triple overtime. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

One thing about Devin Gardner is he will not fold his tent at the end of a game when the result is on the line. Gallon drops a laser and then does it again, but Gallon will not quit. His block to get Gardner into the endzone on the two point conversion was spectacular and showed the guts of a team that just has not got everything quite right this year.

What this means is Michigan goes on the road next week against an Iowa team that is 6-4 and is clearly a better team than last year, especially the defensive front. Interestingly, a second straight opponent gets to play Michigan at home after a two-week get prepared bye week. Again, the Big Ten schedule makers just look ridiculous. Michigan is playing the same on the road as at home regarding deficiencies and overall play. Iowa is a strange place to play; maybe more due to a fundamental team doing its thing at home than any other factor.

Michigan moves from the pizza bowl to the near pizza bowl. A win at Iowa advances Michigan to a higher tier bowl, albeit maybe against a tough SEC opponent. Texas may be a destination if UM loses the next two games.

As I mentioned months ago, nothing will come easy for this team, and the Wolverines must scratch and claw for every win.

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Written by GBMWolverine Staff

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