I can't recall ever becoming more optimistic about a football team after a loss. That changed after Michigan lost to Washington 23-18.
Michigan came into the 2001 season with many question marks. How does the offense regroup after losing six starters to the NFL and a seventh to professional baseball? Could Michigan's defense go from mediocre to outstanding in a single year? These questions were emphasized even more after Michigan's win 31-13 win over Miami (Ohio).
This doesn't make sense.
Yeah it does, when you consider the facts.
The offense may have been limited with one hand tied behind their back, but the offensive line wasn't winning many battles at the line of scrimage. They were stopped on a fourth and one, and had trouble on goal line situations. Running backs BJ Askew and Chris Perry found themselves grounded until the fourth quarter. John Navarre was neither horribile nor exceptionable. The defense missed tackles, but made plays when they had to. They got three picks off a redshirt freshman quarterback.
These glaring questions and unsettling circumstances seemed to disappear in the Washington loss. Although the game was closely played, the Wolverines had the edge both offensively and defensively. The line created holes, the backs made the most of their opportunities, Navarre ran two effective 2-minute drills, and the defense swarmed to the ball, especially on the option, a previous weakness. The Wolverine defense held the Huskies without an offensive touchdown for the first time in nearly ten years.
My newfound optimism may not be shared by everyone. I've talked to many Maize & Blue fans who expected Michigan to be 11-1 or 10-2, but the calls I take on talk radio weren't calling for the heads of the coach and the coordinators. Many seemed as pleased as I was about the one-week turnaround, and are expecting better things ahead.
I am too.