A few years ago, there was a viral video called Super Mario: Impossible Levels. In it, you watch and listen to someone swear and stumble through completely insane levels that defy all of the physics of the Super Mario world. What you soon come to realize is that this guy is actually one hell of a Mario player who's slowly unraveling as he dies repeatedly trying to complete the most mundane jumps. Small successes are resounding victories.
The picture above comes from level 1-2. After having successfully solved the labyrinth of moving platforms and revolving fire staffs, he jumped a little too recklessly and was killed by an unassuming Goomba who would have otherwise sheepishly walked off a cliff. Needless to say, he lost his mind. "Goomba, a Goomba killed me?" He then went on a suicide spree and spends the next 5 minutes never making it back to the fated evil mushrooms. "That's an interesting way to die. I did not know you could die like that".
I assume that Michigan coaches feel the same way about Saturday's game against Purdue where, ultimately, a missed extra point put Michigan a point behind what was otherwise a stalemate. There were a lot of other things that went wrong, but trying to win a football game with the talent and defense that Michigan currently has, and you're missing extra points, well, it's an uphill battle.
This is another game that is going to be put on the shoulders of Rodriguez who was grilled in the post-game. But what more could he have done? I disagreed with his 4th down play calling but little else. Going for it on 4th and 10 from the 20 was a poor decision. And trying a field goal on 4th and 5 from the 30 is a coin flip. I didn't like his choice. But aside from that, he called a good game, scored 36 points (with a missed extra point), racked up 427 yards, and looked prepared against a Purdue team that clearly couldn't stop them offensively. But when you're starting a freshman walk on at safety, a true freshmen at DE, and have 1.5 legitimate D-1 CBs, it's difficult to beat anyone.
It does feel like the season is over though, doesn't it? Wisconsin and Ohio State are both games that are only borderline winnable. And with the current performance of the defense, there's little-to-no way Michigan heads to a bowl this season. This will ultimately be heaped on Rodriguez, and that's a shame. When you're playing with a talent deficiency to the likes of Purdue, a bowl game is probably a pipe dream. But that's not to say that this season isn't starting to look like a massive disappointment.
Wisconsin is the only win from the 2008 season that Michigan faces again, and maybe Rodriguez has their number. Then again, it was a confluence of luck that Michigan pulled out the win last year and Camp Randall is not a welcoming place to play. And then Michigan heads up against an Ohio State team that just trounced Penn State and is looking to take home another Big Ten Title if they can beat a Stanzi-less Iowa team next week--this is a certainty. Michigan will have the fortune of playing the Buckeyes after they've come off stretches against Penn State and Iowa who they likely have to dedicate their entire preparation time to.
Michigan can win, but it looks groom. We should've known
- How many times does Jordan Kovacs have to cost this team a horrible, back-breaking 70-yard touchdown before he's pulled? I haven't seen the replay, but from what I saw, the touchdown that Purdue scored after their fake kickoff was wholly on Kovacs who got beat on a straight fly route down the sideline. How bad is Vlad Emilien? Having already blown his redshirt, why hasn't he seen the field? I don't know if this is Robinson's doing or Rodriguez's insistence on a walk on program, but either way, Kovacs needs to be benched--Cissoko needed all of three games to see the pine; why does Kovacs get more leeway? In the same way that I never want to see Nick Sheridan under center for the Maize and Blue again, I never want to see Kovacs on the field again.
- Forcier looked good again but our offensive line is completely decimated. That is a bad offensive line without Molk. And Moosman's snaps were uniformly bad the entire day. Not that he snapped many over Forcier's head or into his feet, but they were all over the place.
- Turnovers: Two interceptions vs. a fumble to give a short field and the fake kickoff (that I'm considering a turnover). My estimation was mostly correct: The teams were even in the turnover column and played the game to a tie save for a missed extra point. Disappointing.
- Now we know why we haven't seen the speed option much this year.