Saturday, November 04, 2006

Michigan Survives a close one

The game shouldn't have been close. This is starting to sound like a familiar tune. In a game where Michigan put 507 yards of offense against one of lower ranked teams in the nation, the score shouldn't have been close..but it was. A few key plays allowed Ball State to stay in this game.

Early on, a Ball State punt took a Cardinals bounce over Breaston's head, and put Michigan in poor field position near their goal line. Mike Hart, who never fumbles, did. The fumble ended up into the end zone, giving Ball State two points, and good field position. On Michigan's ensuing drive, Ball State safety Erik Keys sat on Breaston's route, and picked it off for a touchdown, giving Ball State the early 9-7 lead.

From there, Michigan seemed to take control of the game, and sailed out 31-12 lead in the fourth quarter. Hart came out of the lineup and the team relaxed. From that point on, Michigan's offense managed but a field goal. Defensively, Michigan's secondary got burned three times for big gains, allowing Ball State into the red zone with a few minutes to play, and a chance to tie it with a two point conversion.

The defense stood its ground when it mattered the most. After stopping the Cardinals on three straight plays, they were called for roughing the passer, and had to face another first and goal. The defense didn't give them anything, and came away with the ball, and the game.

Positives to take away from the game:
  • Michigan's rushing defense was again dominant, although Ball State did manage to work their way into positive yardage, with 47 yards on the ground, an d 2.1 yards on the ground
  • Michigan's ground attack obliterated the opposition for 352 yards rushing on 7.7 yards per carry. Hart led the way with 154 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries, while Brandon Minor picked up 108 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
  • Steve Breaston responded to critics and proved his worth with a huge effort, leading the way with 7 receptions, 133 kickoff return yards, 50 receiving yards, 22 punt return yards, and 11 rushing yards, good for a total of 216 all purpose yards. This was Breaston's biggest game of the season.
  • Although Manningham did not have any balls thrown his way today, he ran his routes, looked quick, and consistently drew double coverage, which spread out the defense, and gave room for the rest of the offense to operate. Manningham looked pretty close to 100% to me - his wheels were definitely there. I think Carr just wanted to give him some game action to slowly work himself back into the game, while avoiding an injury any possibility of re-injury.
Overall, the last few games have been tighter than they should've been, but the important thing is that the Wolverines have walked away with the victory each time. I don't really know what to expect from Indiana on the road next week. They've knocked off Iowa and Michigan State, so they should be a fairly competitive team, but I don't understand how Minnesota managed to put up 63 points against them. I'll have to check out the highlights later.