Sunday, October 12, 2008

Wolverines Blogging: I Drank A Lot Yesterday

The moment summed it up perfectly. Not just the game, but the entire season. Michigan was playing from behind - again. Down a few points thanks to some early struggles. But, now, this drive, this moment, they'd pulled it together and were marching down the field. Playing it safe, playing within themselves, but picking up first downs and building their confidence. Then, it happened. The quarterback threw a beautiful strike, right down the middle of the field. The receiver caught the ball in stride and broke for the endzone, eating up the distance, one step, then another. And, then, right as he was about to cross the goal line, the defenders converged on him, sandwiching him in a last, desperate attempt to prevent the score. The ball popped out. About sixteen players dove on it as it lay in the endzone. And then everyone spent the next four minutes trying to figure out what the hell had happened.

From the mundane to the sublime to the ridiculous, I can't think of a better way to describe this wretched season.

When a team can walk out of the Big House and say they just beat you worse than Appalachian State, you know it's bad.

And, yes, the loss to Toledo is even worse than the loss to Appalachian State. The ? might have been I-AA but at least they were the champions, the defending titlists, of I-AA. Toledo, on the other hand, came into the day, out of the MAC, a 1-4 team.

Michigan had never lost to a MAC team before. Ever. Not once in the history of the program.

I hope there's a picture of Schembechler somewhere in his Hall, some shrine that the players and coaches can turn to and ask the question, what would Bo do?

Because the answer is Bo would kick your ass up and down the hallway for losing to a goddamn MAC team.

This wasn't just a loss. This was a heartbreaking loss at the last second as a chipshot field goal went wide. This was a loss after the other team basically gave the game away. Ceding excellent field position and giving up boneheaded penalties all day long - that the Wolverines couldn't capitalize on.

This was a loss in which the Wolverines got dominated. By Toledo. In Ann Arbor. By Toledo.

I don't mean to keep harping on it because, after beating my team, I take my hat off to the ?. They're the better squad and they deserved to win.

But Michigan does not lose to a team like Toledo. They're too talented, even in this, a rebuilding year. They're too good, even when they're not.

But, now, the Wolverines are 2-4. They've got games left against Penn State. Against Michigan State. Against Ohio State. Even Minnesota looks like they'll chew this team up and spit them out right abou tnow. UofM can't even beat the weak teams on their schedule, what are they going to do when the big dogs come to town? They're not going to even get to 6-6. They're not going to get to a bowl game. And, at this point, you have to wonder what effect their horrid play is having on recruiting.

A down year can be survived but this season is putting tarnish on the halo. And it doesn't take much for an elite program to drop off the map if they can no longer get the talent they need to renew themselves. How many high school players are looking at this team and going, "That's Michigan? No way I'm signing up for that much sucking."

Maybe it'll all get better. Maybe they'll pull off an upset or two down the line. Maybe they'll rally and these early struggles will all seem like a bad dream. Maybe they'll be better next year and this one will soon be forgotten.

But maybe not.

And the way things are going, there's just no way to tell.

Ah well, at least the Red Wings won last night.

No comments: