Random Thoughts: on Michigan

daCoach had to watch Saturday's loss in a motel without a computer, but still has a few postgame notes about the play of Northwestern in what had been labeled the game of the year for the Wildcats. One of Coach Roy's Rules is "It all starts on the offensive line," and the O-Line starts with the Center. He's not trying to make anyone the "Goat," but the refs sure flagged the porblem inside.

I'm almost a little glad that I missed our Game Chat this week,
I did get to watch, but my computer was in one state and I was in another...but lest we digress....

1. Frosh Center Joel Belding had 3 of those holding calls.

WNUR said that one of their big matchups was Belding against the Michigan Nose Tackle Gabe Watson and inside of the Michigan line. 

If Belding had to hold to keep the rush off Baz in the second half, you can easily figure out that its no wonder Brett Basanez was only 10 of 22.

Coach Walker talks a lot about "self inflicted wounds," but in this case maybe Belding was maybe a little over matched?

2. I'm also reading a lot of whining about play calling and not running the football.

If your center is being called for holding, that usually means that the other team is really rushing hard up the middle. NU's main running play, like it or not, is that play behind the guards, off the back of the center through the 1 or 2 hole - the defense's A gap.

If your center is busy just trying to keep the tackle out of the backfield, that tackle [and our center] is filling the A gap, making anything over either guard hard to run.

In time our center play will be better and that run up the middle will return, but right now teams are ganging up inside and its hurting all of our running backs.

3. Once again Tim McGarigle had 21 tackles in a game.

I'm always nervous when one of my kids has all the tackles in a game. I'm not deriding McG's effort, but it suggests that the other players are being taken out of the action. At least he is our middle linebacker - the guy you expect to have a lot of tackles.

By the way, the sure kiss of death is when your free safety leads your team in tackles. It means that the running backs are getting thru the line of scrimmage.

4. Back to the offense.

The Daily reports that Zach Strief had to have a meeting last Wednesday night to get the O-Line back to its level of play earlier in the season. One of my cardinal rules, one I tell my kids over and over, is that you play like you practice, and the suggestion in the story is that our guys were not practicing well this week.

Another indication that things were not going well up front was that Vince Clarke got the start at left tackle over Dylan Thiry. Yes, Vince has more experience, but Thiry had been playing very well over on the left, at least until last week.

when there's a change, you usually you find out that someone got injured the week before, but Thiry came in after Clarke got hurt in the first quarter and finished the game.

Might that have just been a wake up call for Dylan?

And this game just might be a wake up call for the Wildcats - there are 3 tough games ahead with Iowa - who wants to do to us what Michigan just did, Ohio State - who still remembers last year, and Illinois - who needs a win to end their season on a high note.

The other media guys talk about "key games."

This Saturday, Senior Day, is the key to the 2005 season, at least in this coach's humble opinion.
-- da Coach

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