A Ray of Light

Andrew GoodeCorrespondent INovember 9, 2008

With Saturday’s defeat of Minnesota, Michigan retained the Little Brown Jug and completed a perfect 12-0 run at arguably the worst stadium in college football, the HHH Metrodome. 

The Wolverines played their most consistent, best all-around game of the year and showed several signs of progress.

Not only was Nick Sheridan not terrible, he turned in maybe the best performance of a UM QB all season.  Stats: 18/30 (60 percent), 203 yards, one TD, eight carries for 33 yards, and no turnovers.

He seemed like a totally different player from the one we’ve seen so far this year.  Playing on the road, he executed the offense well, made good decisions, and did not make any major mistakes.  

Despite the ungodly amount of injuries to the running backs—Minor and McGuffie got hurt during the game—the running game is really coming together.  Michael Shaw came off the bench to lead the team with 71 yards (8.9-yard average).

In the last four games, excluding MSU (84 yards), UM has rushed for 202 yards (PSU), 177 (Purdue), and 232 (Minnesota).  It looks as though the offensive line is finally starting to gel, and we’re finally getting a look at why Rodriguez’s offense was at or near the top of the nation in rushing the last several years. 

Another integral part of the RichRod offense, the bubble screen, is also finally starting to work better.  Early in the year, it seemed that every bubble screen fell victim to either a poor throw or poor blocking and wound up as an incompletion or loss.

Martavious Odoms’ catch and long run at the beginning of the Miami (OH) game showed the potential of the bubble screen, and Sheridan and his receivers executed the play over and over against Minnesota.

This really goes without saying, but the defense played its best game of the year.  They limited the Gophers to only 188 total yards, with the beleaguered pass defense allowing just 105. 

A nice adjustment was the use of Brandon Harrison as a nickel back and part-time linebacker in the place of John Thompson.  This gave UM more speed defending the edges and allowed Harrison to play in a spot where he made great contributions last season and the year before. 

Also of note: With a sack on Saturday, Brandon Graham now has nine for the season and is tied for eighth place in the NCAA.