There exist a ton of "Michigan football talking points" out in your office and the media and the blogosphere. They can be comfortably grouped into the following:
Denard Robinson arm punts, like, a lot. More than we thought before.
The O-line cannot run block.
The D-line cannot penetrate like last year.
The UM gameplan is asking Denard to be someone he isn't, namely a drop back passer.
But the most important question forced on us by the Notre Dame game was this: Are the Michigan Wolverines a mediocre football team? Where are six more wins going to come from?
The EXPECTATIONS put on this Michigan team were centered around some very basic concepts: Veteran quarterback, veteran linebackers and veteran secondary, plus more than a touch of Michigan Aura and Hype. And those expectations culminated in the horrendously misleading #8 preseason ranking...which no one on OTE believed to be a realistic ranking. But hey, 8-4 didn't sound like such an improbable task.
Fast forward to now, fast forward to the lack of offensive playmakers, fast forward to the realization that Al Borges will feel more comfortable with his 2013 quarterback than his 2012 quarterback, fast forward to the idea that games against Minnesota, Purdue, and Northwestern are virtual tossups...And that eight win mark looks a little more difficult than before.
And yet I still believe UM will get to eight wins. Some factors -
We saw glimpses of offensive cohesiveness against Notre Dame in the second half, with the passing game humming along late and the run game getting 5 yards a pop. The ND field was wet and rendered cutbacks incapable; cutbacks are a huge piece of Michigan's attack and will be possible on the Big House surface.
We saw the defense slow the Irish on third and short and limit Everett Golson to a few completions for the entire game. We saw key members of the defense still healthy. We saw key members of the defense in the offensive backfield of ND.
We see Indiana and Iowa on the schedule. Good to see y'all. On that same note, we see a mediocre B1G.
We see MSU at home, a matchup that previously looked to be Spartan dominated and now, with the Spartans underwhelming, looks to generally be an even matchup.
Let's not toss the Wolverines to the wolves yet, although they've given us plenty of reasons to do so. The lack of clear frontrunners and Michigan's decent (and improving) defense are all mitigating factors that will assist the Fighting Hoke's toward that eight win goal.
And we at OTE couldn't have been that wrong about the 2012 Wolverines, right? Right?