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Published: Thursday, 10/14/2010

End Zone: Michigan

We've reached the midway point of the season, so in accordance I had planned to use this space today to issue midterm grades to the Michigan football team. I could've just slapped a few letter grades on the page, maybe made a bad joke about the Wolverines' attendance score suffering because of that no-show in the second half Saturday against Michigan State, and then carried on with my day.

But I didn't because I didn't have the heart to issue the defense a failing grade. Just curious, but does The Blade's food critic handle a bad restaurant experience similarly, by ignoring his stomach ache as he awards a couple of stars?

Last year I wrote that my biggest concern of the defense wasn't necessarily the number of points it allowed, but that it wasn't any better, collectively or individually, in November than it was in September. So far, that theme's been rehashed, as the defense, following a mostly rough nonconference schedule, has allowed a grotesque 1,104 yards over its first two Big Ten games. Their offensive teammates, which have earned, let's say, an A-minus, totaled just 951 yards in that span.

It's unsettling to think UM's defense might actually be worse than its offense is good. And it's unreasonable to expect this unit, as youthful as it is and as much as it has struggled, to become a force by the end of the year. But even an average grade will be considered acceptable.

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