Just a couple of quick Saturday observations:
I have just returned from the Michigan-Vanderbilt game and my first impression of this years Michigan squad is.............eh.
Quarterback: Henne looked a little bit flat and wasn't very accurate in his throws. I think he played slightly better then his final stats indicated as the receiving corps was plagued by a case of the dropsies. Henne also looked a little tentative at times, electing to pull the ball down and scramble more then any other time I can remember over the past 2 + seasons. I think Henne will be as good as his receivers such as the spectacular Braylon Edwards during his freshman season and the always solid Jason Avant last year. We'll see what kind of rapport he develops with Manningham/Breaston.
Running back: I think the difference between a 7-5 and 10-2 season last year was the helath of Mike Hart. When he's 100% he's arguably the best running bak in the nation and today was another example of that with 148 yards. I love his elusiveness and ability to shuck would be tacklers. On the other hand there is Kevin Grady. I've never been a big Grady fan, he did have a good touchdown run early, but after that was unproductive including a bad fumble in the Vandy redzone. He has to much David Underwood in him for me to like. He seems indecisive and slow to the hit the hole. I think his final season line will be 121 carries 264 yards 6 lost fumbles,(I'm exagerating but I just don't like him).
Receivers: To many drops today, especially from Breaston who may end up being a glorified kick returner. Manningham had a nice touchdown catch late in the game and hopefully becomes a consistent go-to-guy.
Defense: The defense was spectacular today getting 6 quarterback sacks and being in the Commodores backfield all game. Lamar Woodley had 3 sacks and seems to finally be fulfilling his vast potential after four years. The defensive line also did an excellent job of containing the quarterback when he tried to pull it down and run, a problem that has plagued Michigan since, seemingly, the days of Red Grange.
Special Teams: I'm thrilled that the punters name is Zoltan. All punters should have unique names like that to make them a little more relevant/memorable. Rivas, entering his 7th season as the Wolverines kicker had 1 kicked blocked but also nailed a 48 yard field goal so he's already in maddeningly inconsistent mid-season form.
Michigan fans: I was impressed with them this year as it only took until the 9:00 minute mark before openly bitching about the coaching, an unusual amount of restraint from the biggest Chicken Little fans in sports.
Finally on a sad note two of my favorite athletes in the Detroit are left me today. Everyone knows about Charles Rogers who was officially released by the Lions this afternoon. But equally painful and less newsworthy was the Tigers decision to trade Nook Logan to the Washington Nationals. Anyone who has read this site since the beginning knows of my affection for Nook. I was hoping he would beat out Granderson for the starting centerfield spot this spring, even though Granderson was the better player. I always thought he could be a poor mans Otis Nixon minus the crack addiction. A #9 hitter who would bat .255 with 95 steals and some spectacular defense. My favorite moment of a rather forgettable 2005 Tigers season was when Nook Logan robbed two homeruns in the same game against the Baltimore Orioles and sprinted off the field laughing. He was the one guy that seemed to always have fun on a morose petulant team last season. Here's hoping he has success in Washington.