The Wolverines exorcised a demon on Saturday in West Lafayette. You know, the one that normally has Denard Robinson’s head spinning like Linda Blair’s in the 1973 horror classic (minus the pea soup puke of course). That’s right. We’re talking road games against a decent opponent.
It has been no secret that away from Ann Arbor in the Brady Hoke Era Michigan has struggled against quality competition. They may have hushed some of the critics with their 44-13 suplexing of the Purdue Boilermakers. The offense was kept simple and was efficient, the defense was aggressive and opportunistic, and the team didn’t kill themselves with bad penalties or ill-timed turnovers. It was maybe the perfect road game.
First and foremost, it appears Al Borges FINALLY swallowed his pride and had a game plan that put Denard and the offense in the best position to succeed. Robinson was not asked to sling it all over the yard (only 16 attempts), the routes were those of the high-percentage, short to intermediate variety, his legs were utilized (24 carries for 235 yards), and drives were not stalled with goofy gadget plays or formations. The result was 37 points (the defense added a score), 409 total yards, roughly 13 minutes time of possession advantage, and only one turnover when the game was, for all intents and purposes, over. And this was done against one of the better defensive lines in the B1G.
It is clear that when the offense is kept simple and Denard is allowed to be himself, especially on the road, Team 133 will score points. This was a masterful day in the booth for Borges. I would imagine he now sees the blueprint for this team to succeed offensively and I would expect to see a similar attack moving forward.
How about that defense eh?
If Greg Mattison has shown one thing so far in his tenure at Michigan it is that his defense will improve as the season progresses. This year they have gone from a perceived weakness to a strength. They are one of the best pass defenses in the league and nation, they are starting to create turnovers, the young players are becoming difference-makers (see the monster also known as Jake Ryan), they are aggressive, and they seem to be developing a swagger.
On Saturday they faced a Purdue team that was averaging around 500 yards per game and could score in bunches. Michigan held them to 213 yards (157 passing and 56 rushing) and 13 points. The Wolverines also forced the Boilermakers’ offense to cough up the ball three times, held them to one 3rd down conversion, and recorded two sacks. They completely shut down the high-powered Purdue offense. If this is a sign of the things to come, Mattison’s boys will give Michigan a chance to win every game they play from here on out.
Also, Michigan played a clean game. They only had one turnover (AND IT WAS NOT AN INTERCEPTION…YAY!!) and they only had one penalty all afternoon (false start). They kept their cool in an important road game, remained poised, and played physical within the rules. That same cleanliness will be needed when they take the field in Lincoln and Columbus, but for now, bravo boys. Bravo.
All in all, Team 133 played the closest thing to a perfect road game as possible. They imposed their will on offense, kept it simple, managed the clock, played shut-down defense, and didn’t shoot themselves in the foot. They walked into Purdue’s house and punched them square in the teeth. This also may have been the best game they have played this season regardless of venue. If “Big Blue” can stick with this basic formula for the remainder of the season they can very well win every game whether it be at the “Big House,” “The Shoe,” or the moon. Maybe, just maybe, they can make a stop in Indianapolis before they conquer space travel.