Thursday, September 03, 2009

Opener Against WMU Recipe For Disaster for Rich Rod And U-M

I understand Michigan has often played terrific teams to open football seasons in the past, but this is the most ominous-appearing opener in recent memory for the Wolverines.
Not because Western Michigan is a great football team. It’s because the Broncos are a good football team by Mid-American Conference standards - and are a state rival Michigan is expected to dominate based on tradition alone.
These days, that makes WMU a recipe for disaster for U-M.
It’s the ultimate - "nothing to lose but everything to gain" game for Western. It’s the quintessential "only something to lose" game for Michigan.
Western was 9-4 last year, and did beat Illinois in a game that drew a shockingly small crowd to Ford Field. Broncos’ quarterback Tim Hiller threw for more than 3,700 yards and 36 touchdowns last season. He is very good.
But it’s also true, WMU is not returning its best offensive player other than Hiller, wide receiver Jamarko Simmons, nor its best defensive player, safety Louis Delmas, now with the Lions.
In these games, on the road against BCS teams to open seasons, Western usually scores some points, but its defense gets scorched. They allowed 47 points at Nebraska last season, and 62 to Rich Rodriguez’s West Virginia squad in 2007. They also lost at Indiana in 2006 and Virginia in 2005.
Now those are openers. Western did win at Virginia in 2006, and play Florida State and Iowa tough in late season games in 2006 and 2007.
Clearly, the Broncos aren’t a cream puff to add to a BCS school’s schedule for a 12th game.
It’s not good for Michigan that every day seems to bring more clouds hanging over Rodriguez. The Wolverines’ best running back, Brandon Minor, reportedly is banged up. They will be playing freshmen quarterbacks. Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson are both very talented, but freshman do tend to drop the ball - literally.
The sharks will be hovering and smelling Rodriguez’s blood Saturday. It will be difficult to envision him surviving a loss in this game - and it doesn’t appear to be an easy one for Wolverines to win.
Question is: Can he bring his team together and have it develop a bunker mentality that comes with such an "us against the world" scenario? Or are Rodriguez’s players smelling the blood, too, and viewing it "his problem" not "our problem?"

Random Thoughts

- At this stage of his rookie season, Justin Verlander was 15-7 with a 3.27 ERA. He was 23 years old. When he was 20 years, the same age as Tigers rookie Rick Porcello, Verlander was 7-6 with a 2.40 ERA for Old Dominion University. It was his sophomore year.

- The Tigers can’t be that bad a team. Verlander (Cy Young), Jim Leyland (Manager of the Year). Miguel Cabrera (MVP) and Porcello (Rookie of the Year) have all moved into legitimate contention for postseason awards. The best chance to win one in my opinion: Leyland.



Blogger Fred Brill said...

The Tigers have matched their season division lead high of 5 games from June 5th. This time ahead of Minnesota.

And still I feel uneasy about the pennant race.

7:49 PM 

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