This team is trying to kill me
I'm serious. I have high blood pressure, which is always a good sign in one's mid-20s. And I pine for the days when a couple of Michigan's Big 10 games per year were decided midway through the 2nd half. Not counting two games against MAC competition, every game this year has required me to slowly decompress from a place where lots of goony little hormones, either rage- or ecstasy-affiliated, were playing go-kart in my head. (No, I take that back. I wasn't that screwed up after the Minnesota game. I guess things looked so bleak that I said fuck it, dude, let's go bowling. Then a couple of days later I revisited the issue in my mind and had a delayed-reaction rant.)
So yesterday's game was another exercise in befuddlement, rendering me not quite fit to have normal conversations for a few hours. Although in this case, it was just overpowering relief than frenzied celebration, as Iowa isn't really a major rival and they turn out not to be even that good this year, so beating them isn't the huge achivement that beating Penn State was. No matter, I'm immensely gratified to see Michigan pull out a win that required so much guts. To win without Mike Hart and Lamarr Woodley is incredible enough. To win on the road in a notoriously tough building, snapping a four-year-long home win streak (now bookended by Michigan, natch), missing the aforementioned studs but also both safeties, one linebacker, Leo Henige (on the game's last couple of drives), Mario Cashmere Manningham, and most of Chad Henne's brain (feh), is a prime example of Balls That Clank. The shortfall of which has been my main disappointment with the team most of the year, so that's pretty kewl.
Still, though, you have to feel some concern. I'm really happy for Jerome Jackson that he got some meaningful action (he looked and sounded as bewildered afterwards, pace above pic, as I felt). But you have to cringe for the new, even-less-hope-of-return-than-before exile Max Martin is in for, now that he fumbled on his only chance. In case you didn't know, the coaches' enmity for him is apparently due to fumbling in practice. I don't know, could it be that saying "Up yours, I don't care how many things you do right, you will ROT on that bench if you ever fumble again" can actually, y'know, not be the psychologically soundest way to prevent fumbles? So now Jerome Jackson will get the carries until Mike Hart is healthy. I like JJ, but Martin is younger and more talented and will probably transfer at this rate given the evidence that the coaches hate him, and obviously Michigan desperately needs to preserve its depth given its incredible tendency to incur injuries.
Which is my next major concern -- HOW does this keep happening?!?! On one hand, it's nice, cause we got to find out that John Thompson is actually pretty good and Pierre Woods is still alive, but at what point does Michigan reevaluate how insanely out-of-the-norm its injury level is most years? A healthy and properly managed D-line would involve Gabe and Branch at the tackles, subbing in Massey only on obvious passing downs; Woodley at rush end, Biggs at the other DE; and Pierre Woods, Tim Jamison, and Jeremy Van Alstyne subbing in for both the ends and for Prescott (Bipolar) Burgess. Shawn Crable would hardly ever need to see the field. That depth is completely demolished now, and we are one more injury from complete devastation.
That's the case at a lot of position groups, actually. Okay, I've completely freaked myself out, I'm gonna move on.
A side effect of this being strapped for bench numbers is that it makes the coaching staff even more bunker-mentality and likely to try to eke out wins like this. Apparently Michigan is just pleased as punch to go to overtime under any circumstances, because it's had success in OT so far. I don't know how else to explain failure to use any timeouts as Iowa's drive turned conservative and content to play for field position and run clock. If Michigan calls two timeouts, they get the ball with 50 seconds left and need only a field goal. That's IF Breaston doesn't break a return. Needless to say, this is the same task they faced against PSU, except they only have to move the ball half as far.
Ah, the familiar scent of bitching the day after a win. Kind of fun, really; I get at least one more week to fantasize about who needs to lose for Michigan to win the Big 10 (which is incredibly screwed up...just that fast, Michigan has gone from left-for-dead to having a better record than the Spartans). If you got linked to this post somewhere, I didn't forget to mention one very important individual, I just felt he deserved his own post. Click on the whole-blog page.