“That’s a great back, Curt Perry … What’s his name? … Whatever,” said Oregon defensive lineman Devan Long in jubilation after Saturday’s game.

Mira Levitan

Did he mean any disrespect? No, he just stated the fact that Michigan has lost its name. After a 31-27 loss to the Ducks, no one in the country really knows what to think of this team.

Who are the Wolverines now? Are they still destined for a national title, with this just a minor setback? Are they a team destined to desire a college football playoff when the Bowl Championship Series doesn’t invite them into the title game with one loss – even if they look like the most impressive team in the nation, as Southern Cal. did last year in its snub from the big game? Or are they destined to end up in Central Florida or – gasp! – San Antonio as one of the most overrated teams in Michigan history?

“What’s his name?”

His name was Chris Perry – media-anointed heir to the throne that is Heisman. Now, he’s just your above-average running back, and even that title is debatable after Notre Dame lost to Michigan State. He gets what the offensive line gives him and blocks as well as any back Michigan has, sometimes taking out two blitzing defenders at the same time with one shoulder charge. But now he’s no longer the game-breaking back that everyone expected him to be, for the average ones can take the yardage that is given to them. The great ones make their own yardage happen.

“What’s his name?”

His name was Tim Massaquoi, slated to be the next Jerame Tuman, Jay Riemersma or Bennie Joppru in Michigan’s recent streak of producing quality tight ends. And while Massaquoi has gotten the blocking schematics of the position down pat, it is the process of becoming a threat John Navarre recognizes that has Massaquoi in a class below the above names. The fact that his only reception came on the second-to-last play of Michigan’s final drive is not good enough to meet the standards that Michigan has now set for the position. Whether it’s becoming more vocal in the huddle, or just catching the balls that hit him in the numbers, Massaquoi needs to gain Navarre’s confidence the same way Braylon Edwards, Jason Avant and Steve Breaston have.

“What’s his name?”

His name was Marlin Jackson – Preseason Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. I’ll be honest, Jackson has done nothing wrong this season, and it’s hard to call out someone who can make quarterbacks throw to another side of the field because of his presence. But as was seen with his blocked field goal on Saturday, Jackson can make plays with the best of them. Now he must make more, which he is totally capable of. In fact, had it not been for an overthrown ball early in the fourth quarter, Jackson could have had an interception. He had baited Oregon’s Jason Fife into throwing deep to Samie Parker. Jackson got into his stride to cut off the streak into the endzone, only to see the ball sail out of bounds. Obviously, Jackson can’t be blamed for any of that … but yet it shows he’s that close to making game-breaking plays, and he needs to make them if Michigan is to at least make a challenge for the Sugar Bowl down the road.

“What’s his name?”

Their names were Steve Breaston, Jason Avant and Braylon Edwards. Now they are the best receiving triplet that Michigan has seen, with Avant and Breaston looking to become the next great duo since David Terrell and Marquise Walker. Clutch only begins to describe their performance on Saturday. Dropped balls aside, each one made catches that they had no business making and, in some cases, bailed out Navarre on a misthrown ball.

“What’s his name?”

Their name was Michigan’s all-everything offensive line. Now it’s gut-check time. Minus-three yards rushing. More than enough said.

“What’s his name?”

His name was Kyle O’Neill, a student and writer who believes that Michigan can still win a national title. Some of his reasoning is that of blind faith and the rest is from the fact that he can still see Avant running crisper routes in spring practice than any wideout he has ever seen. Or that he can still watch Michigan’s offensive guards break off double-teams, get to a blitzing linebacker and open a hole for Perry. Or that Michigan’s front seven is going to be even more vicious after losing a game where it did little wrong. Now I am like you, still optimistic, but seeing the pains of years past creeping over the Wolverines’ shoulder.

What’s in a name? Well, until they prove otherwise, Michigan’s is Curt … or, whatever.

– Kyle O’Neill can be reached at kylero@umich.edu.






Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *