The opening weekend for our local college football teams went by with a couple of lackluster performances, but wins nonetheless. Michigan began the Brady Hoke era by adjusting to Western Michigan’s no-huddle, pass happy offense by producing two defensive touchdowns (a feat they haven’t done since 2006). Does this mean the D is back to playing the Michigan way? No, but it means that they can make plays on defense.
Offensively, it was pretty apparent that the playbook was wafer thin, so as not to reveal too much to the very combustible Brian Kelly and Notre Dame. The success Michigan has this season will be determined by how much they will have to rely on Denard Robinson.
The Spartans had some real trouble getting their defense off the field in a boring first half against Youngstown State, but made second half adjustments that limited them to less than a hundred yards. MSU needs to tighten up their tackling in a hurry if they want to give the ball back to the offense.
Max Bullough will lead the D, but he has to make that first hit closer to the line of scrimmage to really resonate the idea of Gang Green. Kirk Cousins might be the best quarterback in the Big Ten and his best support comes from the running game.
Michigan State shouldn’t have too much of a problem with yards on the ground and that should set up the passing attack nicely. Again, nobody wants to reveal too much too soon in the season, so the playbook was limited to a lot of B.J. Cunningham…which was great for him as he’s poised to become MSU’s all time receptions leader with his next grab.
My preseason predictions for both schools had UM going 8-4 and MSU with a 10-2 mark, but after watching the first weekend, I’m left a little underwhelmed by both schools. This is why the constant reminder that the first impressions shouldn’t run so deep, given the opposition and a playbook that resembled all the imagination of Tecmo Bowl.
Both teams have a lot to work on with Michigan having more of a sense of urgency this week preparing for Notre Dame. I suppose if you’re Michigan State, this is the only upside to scheduling a couple of cream puffs to start the season. You still have some time to work out your kinks before the meaty month of October.