I had a lot to drink on Thursday night, and as is the case nowadays whenever that happens I have difficulty sleeping. I fall asleep fine, but wake up super early (3:30 AM in this case) without being able to fall back asleep. So what did I do? Watched the 2008 Capital One Bowl, of course, where Lloyd Carr went out in style by beating Urban Meyer and Heisman winner Tim Tebow.
So much has changed in the time since this game. I can’t help but note some of these:
- Rich Rodriguez would assume coaching duties the next day after the game. He was interviewed during the game and I remember myself and my friends thinking it was the start of a bright, new era in Michigan football. How wrong we were.
- Greg Mattison pacing the sidelines on the Florida bench like the aggressive man-bear he is. To think that only a few short years later, he would be turning one of the worst defenses in the nation into one of the best here at Michigan. It’s amazing how paths cross and people you thought about in passing from the past become prominent in the future.
- A young Cam Newton on the sidelines as the potential heir to Tim Tebow. Amazing how a player can go from a complete unknown to ridiculous super-stardom in the span of a single season. As good as he was at Auburn, he would have been even more scary in Meyer’s offense.
- Justin Boren aka Benedict Arnold v2.0 lining up on our offensive line next to Jake Long. Boren probably isn’t even fit to shine Long’s shoes, much less be in the same locker room. I wonder if he would have amounted to anything (other then getting fat) had he stayed at Michigan.
- Speaking of Michigan’s offense, it amazes me the sheer amount of offensive weapons we had on that team. A very physical line anchored by Long and Kraus. Mike Hart at runningback, Chad Henne at quarterback. Two exceptional receivers in Manningham and Arrington (who made some insane catches this game) to go along with a very decent third option in Matthews. So unfortunate that this offense was plagued by injuries throughout the season.
- With the proliferation of dual-threat quarterbacks, I had forgotten how valuable and how insanely good a truly great pocket passer is. Henne played the best game of career with both his arm and his overall poise and command of the offense, seemingly checking into better plays every chance he had. I love Denard as much as anyone, but I don’t think we’ll ever see a dual-threat quarterback make the same throws or manage the game the same way as the Hennes and Lucks of the world. Dual-threat quarterbacks simply have a different skillset and are probably developed/coached in a different way. I don’t think Tebow or Vince Young, probably the two best dual-threat quarterbacks in recent history, could have ever made some of the throws Henne made in this game.
Watch and enjoy the game; it was the end of an era for Michigan football, the end of the old school pounding offenses and conservative philosophies. I think this is for the better, as Michigan adjusts more to the modern game. Hoke has already demonstrated a more aggressive, game theory approach and I think his offensive and defensive schemes are much less vanilla. Time will tell if his era will be as dominant as the one established by Schembechler and ended in style by Carr.