After every game of the 2005 season, The Michigan Daily’s football writers will take you for a ride in Lloyd’s car. The gauges all refer to different variables that will fluctuate from week to week, depending on how the team and fans perform.
Defensive Intensity is a measure of – you guessed it – how well the Wolverines manage to stop their opponents.
The Carr-o-meter is a rough gauge of head coach Lloyd Carr’s opinion of his team’s play, as judged from his postgame comments.
The Hypemeter provides our opinion of how well the fans supported the Wildcats compared to the Michigan fans in Evanston. Volume, consistency and awareness are all considered.
Rush Yards is a straightforward measure of Michigan’s ground yardage total in each game. Since an effective running game is crucial to postseason success – especially for this year’s squad, which is loaded at running back – this statistic figures to be a consistently important indicator.
It has been a running theme for the defense all season. It plays extremely well for part of the game but also manages to give up chunks of yards and points. This time, though, despite giving up over 400 yards, the Wolverines’ defense played its best game of the year. The Wildcats’ two touchdowns came on long passing plays, and one of them was blown coverage by the Michigan secondary. After giving up 17 points in the first half, the Wolverines shut out Northwestern in the second half, forcing five punts and getting two turnovers on downs. Great job, defense.
It would be an understatement to say that Lloyd Carr was pleased with the defensive effort on Saturday. Carr sang the unit’s praises throughout his post-game comments. The coach also seemed especially satisfied with Michigan’s special teams, calling special attention to Ross Ryan’s kickoffs for touchbacks and Garrett Rivas’s solid placekicking performance. But Carr made sure his defense remained in the limelight, calling attention to the fact that Northwestern’s high-powered offensive attack was shut down in the second half.
Granted, Northwestern isn’t known for its raucous fans, but that was pathetic. Yeah, the stadium sucks, and the students probably have a lot of studying to do, but it was a night game against Michigan. The fans at this institution of higher learning definitely didn’t come to play this weekend. Wolverine fans get a bad rap for their lack of noise and enthusiasm, but compared to those purple sad sacks, we’re like SEC fans. At the end of the game, it looked like a miniature home game for the Wolverines; the stands had emptied and Michigan fans were the last ones left.
For the second week in a row, Jerome Jackson and Kevin Grady shouldered the rushing load in place of the injured Mike Hart. But this week’s running attack was far more potent than last week’s version against Iowa. Jackson topped the 100-yard mark, and Grady looked more mobile with his cuts. The Wolverines’ 58 rushing attempts controlled the clock, giving Michigan possession for more than 38 minutes. Receivers Antonio Bass, Mario Manningham and Steve Breaston also registered a few carries to make a contribution. Overall, a rock-solid ground game.