10/11/2010 – Michigan 17, Michigan State 34 – 5-1, 1-1 Big Ten
This just popped into my head in the same way a chorus of angels singing hosannas delivered calculus to Newton: they were probably Juggalos.
There were two of them, and they were walking south down the train tracks just east of the stadium as Michigan State bled the final minutes off the clock. I was in the midst of a stream of mostly Michigan folk who'd had enough—my breaking point was the running into the kicker penalty—moving east with the intent of hitting State Street and parts beyond after following the pathway between the field hockey stadium and football's practice field.
I don't remember much in the way of Juggalo-identifying characteristics except the hats. They were those oversized baseball caps with an enormous, off-center Old English D surrounded by graphic frippery I'm pretty sure designers call "grunge." They were carefully placed on the head, maybe 15 degrees from straight. This has been scientifically determined to be the angle that communicates maximum defiance.
The hats, man. These were the hat equivalent of chrome skulls, because apparently the best way to destroy your credit rating is to buy a bunch of chrome skulls. Maybe this is an urban legend but it's too good not to be true: men in a tall building somewhere have determined that credit card purchases of chrome skulls are inevitably followed by default, and will cease lending money to people who make them. If defiant hat angles left a paper trail these guys wouldn't have been able to get a loan in Zimbabwe.
The rest of it was just a way of confirming the hats. These were guys who had thought to themselves "wait, how do fuckin' magnets work?" They may have been blazed out of their minds at the time but no one can tell the difference any more. The reader will be utterly unsurprised to find out that as these guys approached the intersection with the Michigan fans one of them shouted "who's the little brother now?"
You. Still you. Always you.
Someone in front of me who was either a really pissed off 6'5" guy with a beard or the living manifestation of my id got into it with them. I get why. I mean, you're an adult with a family and a dishwasher. You've never thrown a rock at Tila Tequila. And these guys—who almost certainly didn't even go to the game because they couldn't afford it given the hats, the time and the direction they're walking*—start talking shit to you.
After the path to State Street intersects the tracks it jogs right to give the football field room. So there is this stream of slowly-moving Michigan fans including me and id guy separated from the Juggalos by just a few feet and a fence. For what was probably only a minute but seemed like forever, then, I'm listening to the back and forth between these guys. It's the usual—id guy is repeatedly asked where he went to school until he defiantly points in the direction of campus and says "here," then says his major is "FINANCIAL MATHEMATICS!!!" when pressed.
That was Saturday: financial mathematicians screaming at Juggalos, and the Juggalos winning. The State meathead directly behind me literally said "bitch! fuck you!" whenever MSU tackled Denard Robinson for less than five yards. On Friday, Tim came back to his apartment to find a trail of blood leading to a passed-out State meathead who'd broken in. The same guys who clumsily spray-painted a bedsheet in 2008 to declare their glorious victory over the worst Michigan team in 50 years reprised their genius. As I walked home every glassy-eyed Stiffler that passed me upped the amplitude of my anger/depression cocktail. Jesus, they were everywhere. They came to Ann Arbor cocky and stupid and left cocky and stupid. Enduring it was brutal. In their eyes, that was probably the point.
That's why Mike Hart's comment cut to the quick so much that three years later it's still the first, last, and only thing on the Juggalo mind. If coaching doesn't work out, Hart should start a consulting agency that visits bitter people on their deathbeds and devises things to say that just stick, nagging, sitting on your shoulder and telling you that's really not okay.
As for the current Michigan program, they took a grim step back against Stiffler U and are now poised on the edge of the same cliff no one knew they were falling from until the Illinois game last year. It is really hard to step back and say "it's just one game" after that travesty at Michigan Stadium, both inside and out, but long experience has taught me that gritting your teeth and just getting on with it is better than screaming the name of your major to the world at large.
*(The tracks are mostly fenced and anyone walking down them at that point is coming from well north of the stadium.)
This guy. I'm about to double this guy's yearly traffic but oh well—this is exactly what I am talking about in blog post form:
And FUCK ROBINSON because it was more than him, Michigan State BEAT THE SHIT out of Michigan across the board, offense, defense, special teams, YOU NAME IT. WE BEAT THE YELLOW BELLY ASS UP AND DOWN THE FIELD.
I feel bad for the MSU fans I know, all fine people who don't own SHAGGY 2 DOPE jerseys, and the guys at The Only Colors but Christ, man. Normal-ish MSU fans were outnumbered ten to one.
Forgotten kindness. I meant to mention this in the aftermath of the Notre Dame game but it slipped my mind until the events of the weekend made me wish I was on the road in South Bend instead of at home against Michigan State: ND fans really are the nicest in the country. There are always Those Guys. In South Bend we had one in the row in front of us a few seats over who kept looking back at us and doing the usual dumbass fan taunting routine. The ND fans around us made fun of him for it. ND spawns the kind of pathology that makes ND Nation the most unintentionally entertaining message board on the internet but the vast majority of the fanbase are just nice people sad about their team.
With Weis gone, I'm not rooting against them in an active way until they're threatening for BCS bowls.
Also something I've forgotten to mention a lot. Drum major David Hines, Jr., probably has the best pregame back bend I've ever seen, and since I remember when the drum majors went from taking off the hat only for big games to doing it all the time, that's probably an all-time record.
This was always going to happen. People complaining about the defense, and there are many: WTF, are you surprised? Are you? Did you sit down at the beginning of the season and look over the post-Woolfolk secondary depth chart and think to yourself "boy, this looks like an average unit we've got right here?" This was already always going to happen last year, when the Decimated Defense Diaries and a simple count of available upperclassmen would have revealed that there was a giant gaping dropoff from the legitimate first-stringers Michigan had at maybe 8 or 9 positions to the second string. Then Donovan Warren, Justin Turner, and Troy Woolfolk departed Michigan's thinnest position. This was entirely predictable:
Plugging the enormous hole at safety would be great, but even if you make the reasonable assumption that Gordon/Kovacs/Robinson is going to be way better than Williams/Kovacs, the massive downgrade at corner means you're probably just treading water. Treading horrible, polluted, razor-blade-filled, despair-laden water.
The defense is off from hopeful expectations in that post but the reason is obvious. The depth chart is what it is.
The doom. I never thought Denard Robinson's problem throwing the ball would be a refusal to take off and run after the timer in the head expires. On all three interceptions he should have just run after he sat in the pocket for two or three beats. The second one was just death—pump-fake, hesitation, slant on the goal line? Guh. I think we all expected Denard would have some issues throwing the ball but three huge mistakes in one game is fatal unless you're going up against a team making those mistakes back at you. Michigan gained 263 yards in a half and had ten points from it.
FWIW, Touch The Banner suggests Denard's first two interceptions were just poor throws against man coverage. I haven't had the benefit of replay yet.
The frustration. The game's killer sequence occurred when Jordan Kovacs tackled an MSU TE three yards short on third and ten only for MSU to catch a break on a false start. On the ensuing third and fifteen Michigan couldn't tackle Keshawn Martin after he caught like a five-yard hitch and they converted. The ensuing touchdown drive was the distance that put Michigan in desperation mode. That's a ferret-puncher right there. Makes you want to go find a ferret, and punch it.
Also you can add many drops, a hopeless MSU pass getting deflected to a receiver, and another missed field goal.
Punt? I know you're down seventeen and it looks grim but a comeback isn't totally out of the realm of possibility… until you punt with like seven minutes on the clock. Apparently Rodriguez owned up to that as a mistake afterwards.
Long runs. I'm going to have a lot of fun figuring out the basic off-tackle runs that Michigan State hit for touchdowns. I'm just hoping Ezeh was not involved so that someone else can come in for the tsking. I do know that on the second one the right side of the line was Patterson and JB Fitzgerald at DE, which got run directly at and did about as well as you would expect. That one's probably on the DL at least somewhat. I'm sure Cam is at fault, too, because I said I like him and he would be important and that he was really good at filling on run plays. This is how the world works.
Cam also had an opportunity to undercut a receiver and intercept a long pass that he did not take; I believe that drive was the one on which MSU ended up in third and thirty-two, so it didn't end up mattering much.
The usual Vincent Smith complaining and counter-complaining and etc. You probably don't want Smith ever getting another third and one carry whether you're on Team Smith or Team Whoever Else. I couldn't believe Michigan 1) went with another inside zone to a back who almost never gets one yard after contact, let alone yards, and 2) didn't get it. Hopkins may have fumbling problems but at some point Michigan's fail on third and one is just as damaging.
Also, the difference between Smith and Shaw was painfully apparent and relevant on a run during one of Michigan's early drives when he broke into the open field with nothing between him and the endzone and got tackled by a linebacker coming from the inside. Shaw probably scores there; Michigan got a field goal on that drive IIRC.
Silver lining. Hey, Penn State looks winnable!
At this point, there are no 2-loss teams that I'm comfortable putting in the ballot over Michigan, hesitant though I may be to rank the Wolverines. Oregon State and Florida are probably the closest ones.
There are only a few points in the poll where I'm not comfortable with ordering, though I'm starting to value an undefeated record a bit more than a strong(ish) 1-loss resume as the season goes on.
If there are any mistakes, teams I could insert into the poll, or points you'd like to make, do so in the comments.
My financial consultant generally is pretty good about predicting markets, knowing when to buy, when to hold, etc., so I invited him to join Misopogal and I as we hopped from tailgate to tailgate in our quest to procure tickets for Michigan vs. Michigan State.
On the way up, my consultant and I had agreed on a plan: We would spend pre-game trying to run into people we know, asking if they had singles with them. If not, we would wait until just after kickoff, when sellers were cursing their greed and desperate to pocket something before heading in. We had another ride lined up just in case not everyone got a ticket, our pockets were full of $10s and $5s, and we were ready – just in case – to bail for my consultant's 62-inch HDTV, where the DVR was running. I trusted this plan; my consultant has a degree in economics from Michigan State University, which I hear is a pretty good school.
At 1:30 p.m. my consultant started getting jittery. He wasn't accepting beers. He was muttering. At 2:00 p.m. he made a call: "We're not going to find tickets," and started toward the car.
I had dreamt of a Great Denardening, the exorcising of rebuilding demons against a pesky in-state rival, a victory to mark the nadir of the Dantonio era and give the local papers the loss they need to expose the program that put Glenn Winston back on the field.
Instead, I found myself in a lightless basement in front of a Matt Millen broadcast, muttering about "execution" in a room full of eight people educated by Mike Valenti, and my financial consultant - my little brother - calmly denying that holding ever occurs at Michigan State because Dantonio coaches them so well.
Whatever tickets actually cost outside the stadium at 3:35 p.m. yesterday, I would have paid it to be there instead of surrounded by people bent on extracting every juicy drop of Schadenfreude.* Sigh. Perhaps in two years…
Where We Went So Wrong
Though not so on purpose, there were an awful lot of bad prognosticators out there, as MGoDiarists spent most of the week predicting scores for the Michigan State game. Most thought it would be Michigan by 3 or 4 with scores in the 30s, suggesting we probably thought MSU was a slightly better Indiana. See:
|Week #5 National Rankings, Fremeau Efficiency Index, and Sagarin Predictor for MSU||Enjoy Life||Sagarin, FEI, etc.||M, 30-22|
|Over/Under: Michigan State at Michigan||jamiemac||betting savvy||MSU to cover 5|
|Michigan St Preview: Now with more charts!||The Mathlete||PAN||M, 35-32|
|Anxiety Time Machine||Meeechigan Dan||"Résumé"||M Wins|
|Tempo-Free Defense Points Per Posession Update: Includes Offense PPP as well||bigmc6000||Pts.-per-Poss.||M, 38-35|
|Our Defense Their Offense - tipping point!||mistersuits||Normalized PPG||M, 42-38|
|Denard/UM Offense Effect: Factored out of Opponents Past||myrtlebeachmaizenblue||Rush/Pass Stats||"Run all over Sparty"|
|Scouting the MSU Offense (vs. WIS)||AAL||Scoutin' v Wis.||MSU is predictable|
|Say What? Defensive Optimism||Meeechigan Dan||Score/Possession||Sparty won't score 40|
|Fear and Paranoia in Ann Arbor||Ryano||Fear, Paranoia and Desperation||F/P was 6/10 ftr.|
|Preview: Michigan State 2010||Brian||tingly bits||35-30|
He Picture-Paged My Life
There's little more I can add to BlueSeoul's epic picture-pages journey through the Indiana game, since Brian has used shots from it on virtually every front-page post this week. If you haven't read the whole thing yet, do so, because it's the one with lots of this:
On this play Roh is in a more traditional stack look.
But he doesn't see Doss coming in motion.
And because he doesn't go with Doss, it makes for an easy blocking assignment for the bubble screen.
Blueseoul has already won the Internet for this post, but he may now add Diarist of the Week honors. Also: now accepting ideas for Diarist of the Week trophies, preferably not something you probably picked up at Forwards in West Branch.
Our resident logoist (and sometime interviewer) Six Zero offered a new shirt design this week, honoring Phil Brabbs' fight against Multiple Myeloma (and his fight against Washington). How cool is it? LaMarr Woodley was seen in the stands yesterday with one of these bad boys on.
MGoCoach steve sharik also made pretty pictures for us this week. These break down the zone read "midline" play, which should have been useful against Michigan State (I thought I saw it twice, one on the dropped TD by Rountree, but I'm notoriously bad at picking this stuff out so don't trust me.).
Some 4-3 teams like to put their 3-technique away from the back. If they do this, then the Mike is the backside B-gap defender.
If the defense puts the 3-technique to the back, then the 3-tech is the backside B-gap defender.
We also have some bad news in the picture department. monuMental's awesome (e.g. the now-I-can't-show-you Denard Action Figure) weekly backgrounds have had to cease because U-M and the Heisman Trust have lawyers on retainer with too little to do (that's just my opinion, not the blog's). This ends your weekly scheduled wallpaper for the foreseeable future. If, dear diary, your daddy was one of those stacks of legal papers used to shut down all things that don't make money, then I totally apologize, and please put (non-harmful) soap in his coffee.
Great Moments in Statistication
Meanwhile, Communist Football won a great victory for the proletariat over the evil capitalist empire, by ripping various offensive records from hoarding private databases, and sharing them in one common, Denard-celebrating central repository. Read it now before the numbers get updated with MSU stats and everything (note: not everything) goes to shit.
Rushing Yards by a QB, Single-Season
Denard currently has 905 rushing yards in 5 games. This projects to 2,172 over a 12-game schedule (yes, I am aware that stiffer competition is ahead). He has already destroyed the previous Michigan record for QB rushing yards in a season: 674 by Steve Smith in 1981.
And if you think Smith's 674 yards are shabby, at 56.2 yards per game—back in the days before Communist Football—keep in mind that Comrade Pryor, the second-most-heralded dual-threat QB in the country today, has rushed for 373 yards, or 74.6 yards per game. Denard is at 181.0 yards per game.
The Big Ten record is 1,270 by Antwaan Randle El of Indiana in 2000; the NCAA FBS record is 1,494 by Beau Morgan of Air Force in 1996. Both of these records are easily within reach. Denard only has to average 84.2 rushing yards a game over the rest of the regular season to break the NCAA FBS record.
The Mathlete was at it again with his PAN, trying to soothe our fears about this year being like last year (gee, why should I have such fears?). The Mathlete says that Michigan's offense is a lot better this year than it was last year. How much? I make chart, in PAN:
Based on the sets of numbers, Michigan initially has been 7 to 11 points-per-game better than year’s offensive unit. This represents a very high level of play.
The Mathlete won't go there, so I will: if Michigan's 2010 offense replaced last year's kind-of-capable offense, here's our 2009 season with 9 points more offense per game:
Ed (Miso): Woo 8-4! Thanks comments section for the catch.
This exercise is fruitless, but The Mathlete's really is not.
Laveranues did some analysis on something we brought up during the Indiana liveblog: when should Michigan try onside kicking? Answer: never? I get the feeling like this would be a great thing. Brian mentioned on the main page that he thinks there's 0% chance of this happening since the kickers have enough trouble just kicking field goals, but I'm with Laveranues: let's have one guy who practices nothing but perfectly placed onside kicks, and then do this 1/2 of the time.
If you're a chart fan, though, try out mistersuits's It means everything to them diary. We all agree that his "why" is baseless – Brian called him out too and you can see my response in the article - but the "what" is really interesting stuff about Michigan opponents and their tendency to go for it against us on 4th down.
After break, no more good Diary stuff, but you can read my bid for TWIS
A new commit for Michigan means we're hitting the front page. Action since last rankings:
3-14-09 Michigan gains commitment from Antonio Kinard.
10-4-10 Indiana gains commitment from Cody Latimer.
10-6-10 Wisconsin gains commitment from Denzel Doe.
10-8-10 Michigan gains commitment from Demetrius Hart. Iowa gains commitment from Melvin Spears.
10-9-10 Wisconsin gain commitment from Tyler Marz.
If you see any errors in the individual tables, please let me know. I'm tempted to move Indiana down a bit, but their averages per commit are about even with (or only very slightly behind) the teams nipping at their heels, and they have more commits.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||ESPN Avg|
Rivals rankings are on the "RR" scale, which is on a scale from about 5 to about 6.1. Unrated prospects are given a 5.1 rating, on par with the worst of any Big Ten commit last year. Scout is on the 5-star system (unranked players earn star), and ESPN uses grades out of 100 (unranked is 40 or 45).
|#1 Ohio State - 17 Commits|
No change for the Buckeyes.
|#2 Notre Dame - 20 Commits|
|George Atkinson III||S||CA||5.8||4||79|
With their higher commit numbers, Notre Dame is actually pretty close to passing Ohio State, though a deflated ranking on Scout (which hasn't rated kickers) keeps them well behind on the average at that site.
|#3 Nebraska - 13 Commits|
No change for Nebraska.
|#4 Michigan State - 16 Commits|
Nothing new for MSU.
|#5 Michigan - 11 Commits|
Yay! Michigan picks up Dee Hart finally. The MSU loss might slow down anything else from happening soon, though. I've also added Antonio Kinard, as U Recruit reports he'll join the team this winter.
|#6 Indiana - 22 Commits|
Rivals is far higher on the Hoosiers' new commit Cody Latimer than are the other two services.
|#7 Iowa - 15 Commits|
|#8 Northwestern - 13 Commits|
No change for Northwestern.
|#9 Minnesota - 15 Commits|
No changes for the LOLphers.
|#10 Wisconsin - 13 Commits|
Two new pickups for the Badgers, though neither is highly-rated.
|#11 Penn State - 4 Commits|
They have to get some commits sooner or later, right?
|#12 Illinois - 16 Commits|
Nothing new. The sites still aren't in agreement over whether Hayden Daniels is committed.
|#13 Purdue - 7 Commits|
No change for Purdue.
Tae Odoms may have a broken foot. "I don't know what's up with Mike" Martin. James Rogers cramped severely. [I saw Rogers leaving the stadium, and he seemed to be walking fine, for what it's worth].
"I don't look at margin of defeat. I'm just disapointed we didn't play better. Our guys played hard, but we didn't play well." Too many mistakes to win against a good team. A little off in both the pass and run game on offense. Dropped passes, missed protections. "I don't want to say it wasn't our best effort, but it certainly wasn't our best technique-wise and the things we needed to do."
Need to make big plays to counter the opponents' big plays "None of those things occurred today." Can't diagnose what went wrong on the big plays until watching film. "We didn't tackle well." Maybe accountable to going after the ball a bit too much.
Ineffectiveness in the red zone made a difference. Denard needs to "live for another play" or take off and run instead of making bad passes which can turn into turnovers.
Denard not as sharp as he has been. He's still young, but he's competitive and going through the film they'll see what happened. "This is just his sixth game. I'm told everybody all along that he's a first-year starter." Denard wasbhesitant at times, but there weren't a lot of creases. "We had some more things planned."
Guys were close to making some plays, but didn't close the gap on defense.
On MSU containing Denard: "They just played well, got off blocks. And we didn't play as well I don't think."
Low kick led to the blocked field goal - there wasn't penetration up front that caused it.
Punting with 6 minutes left was the wrong decision. RR was trying to get the players' attention and change the call. He wouldn't punt it again in the same situation.
Iowa has had an open week to get ready, and Michigan has a big game against them next week.
Mood in the locker room was what you'd expect from losing the game.
MSU had a couple blitzes, stunts. That wasn't the main issue on offense though, Michigan just made a couple bad reads. "We made bad mistakes, and we've gotta capitalize on a few things." Made bad reads, bad plays, some mistakes.
MSU didn't try to take Denard specifically out of the offense: "Not really. We've got weapons everywhere. I'm not the only weapon on offense." Denard hesitated a lot, which prevented him making the long runs. "Just bad reads, bad reads."
Rivalry games are always exciting, maybe Denard played a little too excited. Got too excited on the bad throw to Hemingway.
MSU is fast - "they're a Big Ten team." MSU more physical? "It's just like the rest of those games." Dirty play at all? "It's Michigan State vs. Michigan. That's all I've got to say."
Greg Jones wasn't the reason Denard made mistakes today. "I didn't pay attention to one player. I paid attention to everybody."
Team wasn't worried when they went down 2 scores. With a high-powered offense, they should be able to come back from that. Knew they could come back, just needed to keep playing hard and keep focused.
No one person is to blame for the poor performance, time to move on. "Refocus and get back in there. It's mid-season now. Time to crank it back up."
"Yeaaah, I just lost focus" on the first drop. Got into the endzone and realized he didn't have the ball (jokingly).
"I felt like it was a lot of mistakes in the redzone." Have to score when you get down there, and not doing so hurt the team.
Denard "he was keeping poised all through the game." Not getting frustrated by throwing interceptions, and was pumping the team up.
MSU always plays physical, just like everyone else in the Big Ten will against Michigan. MSU isn't necessarily the best defense M has played, there were a lot of mistakes on the Michigan side that helped them.
"This is a tough loss, you know. We just have to go in there Monday and learn from our mistakes and prepare for Iowa."
Ryan Van Bergen
MSU better than other teams played? "They have some better players at some positions than teams we've seen." They took care of the ball, moved it with the run, and smart passes. "They executed better than we did."
A couple miscommunications on gap responsibility led to the long runs. "We weren't in the right one twice. Same play." Will figure that out. "I thought we were prepared for it. Unfortunately they just gashed us on a couple plays."
"I think they got called for an illegal chop on Mike. I think he'll be fine." He wants to get it evaluated before risking further injury.
"If I'm going to be a leader on the defense, I have to set an example. Obviously we didn't win today, I didn't play well enough." Everybody has to push, we haven't seen Michigan play as well as they can yet.
Cousins' bootleg wasn't that effective - the defense against that was improved. "It was kind of easy getting back there to him."