Gameday Musings: Week 1

Michigan dominated its season opener against the Western Michigan Broncos in Ann Arbor. The win, though, had more significance then a typical season opening win. It signaled the beginning of a new era in Ann Arbor. It signaled an era where the Michigan community has unified behind Rich Rodriguez.

When the Wolverines downed the Western Michigan Broncos on Saturday afternoon at Michigan Stadium, it signaled the start of a new era of Michigan football. No longer can the nation tell us that this is a fan base divided. All the people that made it to Ann Arbor last weekend know that Rich Rodriguez is now "our" coach.

Is the expection now raised to an immediate Big 10 Championship? Of course not. It is what it is. It's a win against Western Michigan. From Denard Robinson's 44-yard touchdown run to the AC/DC music blaring out of the audio system, though, it has became abundently clear this is no longer your grand daddys Wolverines.

"It's unbelievable. I can't thank the fans enough for how they supported this football team," Rodriguez said. "They always have. Thousands and thousands of fans lined up for the Victor's Walk. It sent chills down all of our young men's spines. They were in the game from the very start. We have a tremendous fans support, and we felt it all week."

The passion is back in Michigan football.

"We've been together since camp started. I saw a big change ever since spring ball to when camp actually started. It just shows. We're so close. You can just see the bonding between the teammates and everything. Like I said, I'm happy to be a part of this family," Tate Forcier said.

"Just letting him know we're 'All In,'" linebacker Obi Ezeh said on the teams effort in the win over WMU. "We've got his back."

Improving to 2-0 with a win over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish next weekend, though, won't be as easy. Notre Dame, a team who has also recently experienced the sting that comes with a proud program suffering through a painful 3-9 season, is coming off a 35-0 route of Nevada. Notre Dame will provide Michigan a much stiffer test on both sides of the ball.

"Obviously they got a quarterback who can kind of play a little bit, a great offensive minded quarterback. They got some offensive threats. Obviously most of my attention has been towards Western Michigan, watched a couple of games from last year, but our coaches are going to get in and get a good game plan for us and we'll be ready to go come Saturday."

One place Michigan can improve in, and probably must in order to knock off Notre Dame, is along the offensive line. Despite the gaudy offensive numbers against Western Michigan, it was few and far in between that gaping holes allowed a U-M tailback to run towards daylight. A handful of holding calls, one that called back a Nick Sheridan run down to the 1-yardline, and at least one false start didn't help either.

"I think we executed pretty well, but even in the first half there were a couple of drives we could have cleaned up. That third quarter was a little strange because they were only two or three drives the entire quarter and we had a touchdown called back because of a hold. We have to be in a rhythm offensively. We had a couple of holding penalties that got us out of a rhythm. We have to be able to come in and get better," Rodriguez said.

Junior Hemingway's emergence as a deep threat should help ease pressure off the offensive line as teams will now have to honor the long ball, and a pair of qb's, albeit inexperienced ones, that can turn a potential sack into a second-and-six stands to help the team immensly through 2009 as well.

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