Saturday, September 22, 2007

Michigan Defeats Penn State -- Yawn

Sometimes there are football games with two evenly matched teams that go back and forth throughout the entire game, neither team willing to give an inch, and at the end, you say "Wow, neither team deserved to lose that game."

This afternoon's Michigan-Penn State game was not one of those games. In many ways it was the exact opposite, with Michigan winning 14-9 only because it seemed as if Penn State wanted to win just a little bit less than Michigan did. It was a pretty mindless game overall, with both offenses sputtering along, with Lloyd Carr and Joe Paterno fighting it out to determine whom was going to call a more conservative offense game. Turns out, some teams like to run the ball for no gain even more than the Wolverines.

Not to say there weren't some positives for Michigan. The defense, especially in the first half, put a lot of pressure on Penn State's offense. They weren't able to get to the quarterback nearly as much in the second half, but the early pressure was good. Mike Hart continued to look like a one-man machine and set the all-time Michigan record for 100-yard-plus rushing games. And Ryan Mallett, while missing some throws, and at times looking like a true freshman (which, in his defense, he is) looked poised and shows flashes of the quarterback we'll see in the next three seasons.

At times though, you just wish Lloyd Carr would open up the playbook and let Mallett loose. Michigan lost the Notre Dame game three seasons ago, Chad Henne's first, because Henne was a true freshman and Carr pulled back the reigns and didn't let him truly test the Notre Dame defense. Today felt like it was going to be one of those games. Michigan kept running the ball, often for no gain, on first and second down, instead of letting Mallett throw early. Either Carr has confidence in his quarterback or he doesn't. And if he doesn't, then he shouldn't be playing. But, of course Mallett should be out there, as he's shown leading the Wolverines to victory the last two games. So, let him play is all.

So, Michigan is now 2-2, 1-0 in the Big Ten, and have some easy games ahead. Looks like a big battle is brewing against Michigan State in a few weeks time. We'll see if Michigan can continue to salvage this season yet.

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