Yesterday was a real mixed bag in terms of performance for Michigan; on both sides of the ball. Still, a win is a win and it sets up a massive game against MSU next week, with the winners taking control of the Legends division.
On offense, Michigan couldn't get their running backs into the game, and Northwestern really keyed in on Denard's running in order to force him to pass. This worked for them as Denard went on to throw a few terrible balls that were picked off and returned for good yardage. Denard still made some nice throws in the first half, but in the second half things really seemed to flow.
In the 2nd half UM often found themselves in 2nd and medium situations, and this allowed Borges great variety in his play calling. The screen passes seemed pretty effective today, and have done all year come to think of it. If I have one complaint about Borges in the game, it's that we didn't see a real read option play for Denard, even though the team has had success with it this year.
On defense, UM looked shaky in the first half, especially against the triple option run by Colter. NW did a really good job of getting their speed players in 1 on 1 situations out in space, where they made Michigan's tackling look below average. Pass coverage seemed pretty good overall, there weren't any blown coverages; but Persa was throwing the ball well which is how they amassed so many yards.
In the second half UM did a much better job of getting to the football, and even got some pressure on Dan Persa with a couple of sacks - (was the Kovacs blitz counted as a sack?). The interception was questionable to say the least, but at least we can say UM made the most of the opportunities given to them.
The MSU game will be a tough one to call, because they also have a good passer, and a much better defense than NW, but if Michigan can play to their potential for four (or even just three) quarters, they could easily come out of East Lansing 7-0.