Kremer's Korner

The easy conclusion to draw from Michigan's victory over Utah is that Michigan's performance was like that of the glass of water left on the dinner table. Half-empty. The greater challenge is to find the positives in the Wolverines' win over a solid team from the Mountain West.

Given time to pause and reflect on Michigan's 10-7 victory over Utah, most will view the Wolverines' performance like they would a glass of water left on the table at the end of dinner -- half-empty.

Despite racking up 22 first downs and 361 yards, the Michigan offense produced one touchdown Saturday in the Big House. Quarterback John Navarre again displayed questionable accuracy passing the ball, time and again missing open receivers. His sidearm delivery resulted in several other balls being batted down at the line of scrimmage.

Running back Chris Perry was needlessly careless with the ball on the goal line. Perry fumbled after diving into the pile and stretching to reach the end zone. He did not cover up. Utah swatted the ball out of his hands and walked away with a touchback.

Placekicker Philip Brabbs missed 2 of 3 field goals. Twice, he hooked balls worse than even a high-handicapper at Oakland Hills.

Michigan's young receivers -- Braylon Edwards, Tyrece Butler, et. al., -- continued to treat Navarre's throws like a cold they were trying not to catch. Too many balls were dropped.

On the defensive side, Michigan's secondary again was victimized for a big play, by an average quarterback, no less. This is a disturbing trend that dates back to the Wolverines' loss to Ohio State and Craig Krenzel of a year ago.

So much energy will be spent in the analysis of all that went wrong. There will be so much cause for concern, so much heartache in the `M' camp.

The greater challenge is to look at the Wolverines and that same glass of water as if it were half-full.

After all, Michigan won the football game, no small accomplishment in this day and age of college football, where parity reigns. That's more than the folks at Illinois can say after watching in dismay as San Jose State escaped with a 38-35 victory on a last-play field goal. The Illini renew their rivalry with the Wolverines on Saturday in the Big Ten opener at Memorial Stadium in Champaign.

In the last two weeks, Illinois has resolved its quarterback controversy. Jon Beutjer is now coach Ron Turner's guy. Michigan never had a controversy, only Navarre.

He completed 19 of 36 for 186 yards and one touchdown against the Utes. For the first time all season, he did not throw an interception. Once, Navarre actually tucked the ball under his arm and darted for a first down. Well, not darted. Lumbered is a better description of how he runs.

The play was an example of how he is learning understand the game and his role in the Michigan offense. He will not be asked to be a game-breaker, only a play-maker.

Michigan's defense allowed nine first downs and 13 yards rushing. End Dan Rumishek and tackle Norman Heuer continue to clog the middle and control the line of scrimmage. Safety Julius Curry intercepted two passes, including one to stop Utah's last drive.

Marlin Jackson's coverage set up the second Curry interception. Jackson earlier was burned on Utah's 29-yard scoring play. Television replays, however, showed he was picked on the play, a throw from Lance Rice to Travis LaTendresse.

Perry bounced back from his disastrous fumble to finish with 95 yards on 21 carries. Edwards had nine catches for 109 yards, including Michigan's only touchdown. And the Wolverines had an 11-minute edge in time of possession (35:52 to 24:08), due in no small part to the work of their offensive line.

Clearly, this is a Michigan team with great potential. Clearly, this is a Michigan team that has not hit its stride, that has not established an offensive identity. Clearly, this is a Michigan team that is going to keep fans glued to their seats.

Three of their first four games have gone down to the wire, the final possession, in fact That Michigan is 3-1 heading into the conference portion of its schedule is a reflection of its overall strength. The Wolverines might not rank No. 1 in anybody's book, but they can play with college football's big boys, as they have displayed against Washington and Notre Dame.

Time will tell if they belong in that elite group at the top of the Bowl Championship Series pack. In the eyes of many, Penn State has emerged as the Big Ten favorite.

OK, the Nittany Lioins were impressive in their rout of Nebraska. OK, the Nittany Lions' offense, a copy of the old high-octane Northwestern express, is explosive. But they nearly stubbed their toe in an underwhelming victory over Central Florida, remember?

Ohio State? The Buckeyes were lucky to dodge an upset bid in Cincinnati. Krenzel is Krenzel. One more hit on Maurice Clarett's injured knee and the Columbus crowd could turn ugly.

Don't count Michigan out yet. There is much football to be played, much to be gleaned from that glass of water sitting on the dinner table. Take a drink. Half-empty? Half-full? As trite as it might sound, the call is yours to make.

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