They can be wonderful when they’re met, especially from a fan’s perspective. The feeling of vindication that you get when you can point back to preseason predictions and gloat about your team or your player is one of those great moments that you need to cherish because most often they don’t always pan out.
There isn’t much that needs to be said about Michigan’s G Men. Both Devin and Jeremy are living up to the billing that was shown at the end of last season. Any shortcomings can easily be ignored, well sometimes not so easy, in the light of their brilliance. It’s the rest of Team 134 that needs to have its expectations scaled back, or at a minimum looked at with some more skepticism.
The sample size is small, but after Saturday’s game I think we’ve got enough footage to point out a couple areas of concern about this year going forward.
- The Offensive Line is a work in progress. I have faith that this line and the lines to come will be dominant but right now there is zero push outside of the two tackles. Kyle Kalis came in as a 5-star, road grading, angry Offensive Guard. I think he’ll get there, but right now he’s the best of the worst on a line that’s still trying to identify who it is. Experience is like having a 12thman on the field and right now that final player has yet to show up to school.
- The Defensive line is a question mark. There was so much hype with Frank Clark that has yet to pan out when he isn’t blocked. It was supposed to be the best run defense we’ve seen since ’06, but Chisholm (Akron) and Atkinson III (Notre Dame) both had their moments and who knows how Tipton would have done if he hadn’t broken his ankle in the season opener. I’m not closing up shop on them but when I start to think of a (potential) line of Hand, Mone, Pipkins, and McDowell I get a little more giddy than I do when I watch the current lineup.
- Young Talent. Just because you come into a school with four or five stars attached to your name doesn’t mean you’re going to dominate the world of college football day one. For every Sammy Watkins and Laquan Treadwell, there are plenty of Josh Garnetts, Brionte Dunn, Dorial Green-Beckham, plus many more who need time to learn playbooks, get in college game shape, and adjust to playing at a talent level much higher than they found on Friday nights. I think that Michigan’s cadre of talent is going to be really good down the road but what’s shown so far, especially against the Zips, is that they’re not there yet. Jourdan Lewis is fast, but got burned. Derrick Green is missing a step that hopefully an off season will fix. Even the LBs showed that better understanding is going to help them, specifically in the passing game. In the end it’s not just raw talent, it’s utilizing that talent appropriately and that only comes with time and coaching. They’ll get there, but the question is it going to be this year?
- Winning Mentality. This is probably the biggest area that I expect more. It’s a mindset that both the individual and the team can buy into, not a tangible skill set or talent level proven on paper and film. Saturday’s game showed that the boys in Maize and Blue don’t have that ruthless nature to turn on the killing machine at a whim just yet.
In the end, I think that the coaching staff combined with the talent already on campus and that coming in is going to provide a squad that’s going to rival some of the teams of yesterday and will be able to compete on par with the big boys. It just may not happen as fast as I, and I’m sure a lot of other fans, want it to.