well that's just, like, your opinion, man
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Game Of The Week:
OH OL Jack Miller and OH CB/S Greg Brown
Last Week: Miller's St. John's Jesuit defeated Brown's Fremont Ross 45-35. I was there, so enjoy some MGoBlog original video. You're watching #55 in blue (mostly early in the video) and #3 in white (mostly later in the video):
My apologies for less-than stellar filming at times, as I wasn't sure how to deal with filming guys on opposite teams. I managed to get most of the key plays, aside from a 35-yard reception from Brown.
I've seen Miller in person before, and my scouting report hasn't changed. On defense, he's a strong rusher off the edge. Ross used double- and even triple-teams in an attempt to slow him down, and usually ran their plays away from him. On offense, he's a vicious blocker who never seems satisfied unless his man is pancaked. His quickness in pass-blocking isn't the greatest, but Ross didn't have anyone who could make him pay for that (and he won't have to deal with it as much playing on the interior of the line in college). He could have an impact on either side of the ball in college, but he looks like a future David Molk(!), nasty streak and all.
Brown, on the other hand, wasn't nearly as impressive. He's a bit stocky, and played exclusively outside linebacker on defense for Fremont Ross. Even at a position closer to the ball, he rarely seemed to be in on any plays, despite having a chance on some of them. As a linebacker, he only covered tight ends from the slot in pass coverage, and did an adequate job staying with a guy half a foot taller than him. On offense, Brown was only in on every second or third play, partially because he was bringing in the plays from the coaching staff, but it seemed to me that it was also because he was expendable on a lot of offensive plays. His speed wasn't that impressive, and he was thoroughly outplayed on both sides of the ball by Cheatham Norrils of St. John's (#3 in blue), who scored three defensive touchdowns, including one on a pick-6 that went through Brown's hands. Brown did manage to get deep once or twice, but only came down with one of them, because Norrils was all over him. Brown also ran one play out of the Wildcat, and got decent yardage, but didn't blow anyone away with his athleticism.
There are also a few local media recaps of the game. I unofficially have Miller down for 2 tackles, 3 assists, 1 tackle for loss, 2 QB hurries, and one holding penalty drawn. Brown had a 43-yard kickoff return, 4 receptions for 61 yards, 1 rush for 9 yards, a tackle, and a pass breakup.
This week: Ross's season is over with a 9-2 record. Miller and his 10-1 St. John's Titans will face Medina (upset winners over Canton McKinley) next week in Round 2 of the State Playoffs.
FL QB Kevin Sousa
Last week: Lake Nona was crushed by Winter Haven 0-42. Sousa's coach tells Tom that Kevin finished 9/14 passing for 128 yards, in addition to 5 rushes for 29 yards.
|Kevin Sousa 2010|
|Oak Ridge||L 0-48||6||13||46.15||34||2.62||0||1||7||31||4.43||0|
|Lake Wales||L 6-42||14||21||66.67||199||9.48||0||1||13||64||4.92||1|
|Winter Haven||L 0-42||9||14||64.29||128||9.14||0||0||5||29||5.80||0|
This week: Lake Nona visits East River on Friday at 7:30 in their season finale.
FL RB Demetrius Hart
Last Week: Hart entered the game 2 touchdowns shy of the all-time conference record. Game preview. Dr Phillips pasted Freedom 56-13. The Panthers clinched their district with the win, and set the Division's scoring record for a single season in the process:
The Panthers have scored 476 points, surpassing the Class 6A record of 473 held by Miami Northwestern. The Panthers (9-0, 5-0 in 6A-6) are within reach of the state regular-season record, of 526 points set by Jacksonville Trinity Christian in 1999.
DP needs "just" 50 points (3 below their season average) against West Orange to set the record. Dee rushed 23 times for 229 yards and three touchdowns, and notched a pair of receptions for 26 yards. Stats and image come from the Dr. Phillips Athletics website. Video:
|Demetrius Hart 2010|
|Cypress Creek||W 52-0||14||168||4||12.00||1||7||0||7.00||3||24||0||8.00|
|Oak Ridge||W 56-28||21||126||3||6.00||4||37||1||9.25||1||5||0||5.00|
This week: Dr. Phillips hosts West Orange on Friday at 7:30.
FL OL Tony Posada
Last week: Plant pasted Chamberlain 42-7, clinching the 5A-5 District championship.
Next week: Plant closes the regular season at Robinson on Friday.
OH DE Chris Rock
This week: DeSales's season ends at 5-6 with a loss in the first round of the State Playoffs.
MI DE/LB Brennen Beyer
“We were ready,” Plymouth senior linebacker/tight end Brennen Beyer said. “We came out and we played physical, we played our butts off, it was great. And the fans are great ... we have a crazy student section. Our fans are great, they helped us pull this out.”
Beyer (five solo tackles on defense; three receptions for 34 yards on offense) said Plymouth’s second-ever playoff win (the Wildcats defeated Saline on Oct. 30) was “so much sweeter” than the first one.
PlymouthCantonSports.com has more detail on Beyer's day, a forced fumble (pictured at right).
This week: The 9-2 Wildcats will travel to Detroit Catholic Central on Saturday at 1.
TX LB Kellen Jones
Kellen was a beast. Had about 14 tackles by my count. 4 or 5 where he absolutely stuffed the A gap and stood up the tailback for no gain. He has great instincts and dropped into coverage and covered the flats really well. Almost blocked 2 field goals straight up. Took great angles and read the guards really well.
Jones tells Tom he notched 13 tackles (10 solo!), to go along with 3 QB hurries and 2 tackles for loss.
|Kellen Jones 2010|
|Trinity Christian||W 33-7||11||5||1||0|
|Worthing||W 20-12||DNP - ankle|
|St. Thomas||W 28-10||11||3||1||0|
|Houston Christian||W 37-13||9||3||1||0|
|Houston Christian||W 49-7||8||1||1||1*|
|St. Thomas||W 33-28||13||2||0||0|
* Blocked punt.
This week: 9-1 St. Pius hosts San Antonio Antonian on Saturday.
MI CB Delonte Hollowell
Last week: Cass Tech beat Dearborn Fordson 32-13. No mention of Hollowel.
Next Week: The 11-0 Technicians host Macomb Dakota in the Regional Finals of the State Playoffs on Saturday at 1.
MI WR Shawn Conway
Seaholm's season is over, with a 4-5 record. Conway finished the year with about 22 catches for 375 yards, and 11 kick/punt returns for 393 yards. Seaholm's coach resigned following the final game.
MI OL Jake Fisher
Traverse City West's season is over, with a 6-4 record and a loss in the first round of the State Playoffs.
Happy to get to a bowl game, but the job isn't done. Every win from here on out is to improve bowl standing. "I think that's added motivation for us... We love our teammates, and our seniors mean a lot to us." Glad to send the seniors out with a bowl game.
Doesn't care where the bowl game is "as long as it's warm."
Hopefully the team can get wins in all three remaining games.
Denard is harder to understand in the huddle than Tate. You have to go by the signals, because otherwise you won't hear the right play.
"After those turnovers, we picked each other up, we didn't hang our heads." Molk was saying that they had a full 60 minutes to play - maybe not counting on the extra time. Have to keep spirits up after mistakes, because you can't go back and change that.
"When Roy first got here, he was an outside receiver with us." That summer, he put in the work to get bigger in offseason workouts. "He's still working hard, he was in the weight room today working extremely hard."
"I didn't know [about setting a record] until after the game when Dave [Ablauf, UM Associate Athletic Director] pulled me aside and said I had broke the single-game record." It amazed him that he had done so much. "In high school I had one, it was a playoff game that went into overtime and we won that. I think I had 15 catches for 2-something... It ain't nothing like playing here and breaking the record."
When he talked to his cousin yesterday, it sunk in that he had outdone a bunch of Michigan's historic wideouts.
Both quarterbacks are leaders of the offense, it doesn't matter which one is in. "I don't know man, we exploisove everywhere, we got threats everywhere at every position. If we play like we can play, I don't think nobody can stop us." Denard was still involved in the game despite injury. "He just told us that we gotta keep going." Even though he wasn't in, he wanted to give encouragement.
"I try to play everybody like it's my last." No special feelings for Purdue. "I think every time we play throughtout our season gonna talk smack to throw you off." The fast tempo offense doesn't give them a lot of chances to say anything. Committed to Purdue as a junior. Told RR "I don't think I'm going to West Virginia." Once he came to Ann Arbor, it opened Roy's eyes. "I think I made the right choice."
Came in weighing 152 pounds, now 178. In his first year on scout team "I'm like 'Man, they just killin' me.'" In the offseason, he hit the weights, made it his "best friend." Wants to get up to 185-190 "I'll get there man." Really embraced the offseason to get faster. "I'm willing to get faster."
"I just try to block out everything" once he's at study table or practice, he manages to get focused.
"Man, Junior is a great football player, man." Receivers just want to be the best once they hit the field.
On the #1 jersey: "I mean hey, I still gotta work for it... When it's time, it's time. Oh yeah, I want it."
Sense of relief after the last play. "It was exciting, and my heart topped a couple times, but we pulled it off." Good feeling to win in overtime. "It's a lot more emotions involved, and there's more at stake because you're invested so much already." Crossed his mind what it would have been like to be on the losing end. "Of course it's not something that would be pleasant."
Good emotional boost to win. Need to carry that forward into the coming weeks. It's good to clinch a bowl game, but they need to continue winning to earn spots in a better bowl. Everybody showed lots of emotion after the game because of the circumstances, not necessarily because it clinched a bowl.
Offense wants to continue clicking, and minimize the times when they aren't quite on the same page.
"Running on the field, I wasn't even sure Denard was out yet." Didn't notice until the huddle, when Tate gave the play. Easier to understand because Denard talks really fast.
Will Campbell "Big guy, he's a strong guy." He's making progress, learning the ropes on the offensive side of the ball. "He could be somebody that could help us down the road."
"We were aware that the investigations had wrapped up, and we didn't fully understand everything that was going on, but we were confident in our coaches... When things turned out in our favor, we were jut glad to hear it."
Ryan Van Bergen
Everybody excited for the sixth win "A lot of pressure off a lot of guys' shoulders." They're confident after a win, and are motivated going into next week. Ryan feels pressure lifted from his shoulders to be a team leader that got the team back to a bowl game.
On the final 2-point conversion, Michigan was running the same defense against the same offensive play that Illinois used to convert for 2 in the first quarter. They executed better and were able to get the win.
Defense played 100 plays, and they were exhausted "I literally had no more gas left in the tank." Were glad to end the game.
Defense can't be excited about giving up 65 points, but they played well off turnovers and from bad field position. "There's some things we definitely could have cleaned up, but I would say as a leader of the defense, we made some tremoundous strides last week."
Only two Big Ten wins is not acceptable to them, they need to keep going. More excited to play Purdue than he has been to play in a long time. Defense finally has a bit of swagger and attitude.
Purdue has good size on OL, but so has the rest of the Big Ten so far. "just excited about an opportunity, moreso to prove ourselves."
Defensive line improved with Roh on it. More pressure off the edges forced at least three holding calls. Didn't register many sacks, but were able to pressure Scheelhasse. "I really like when Mike [Martin]'s in the game." It opens up 1-on-1s because teams have to worry about handling him inside.
"It's early to speculate about the future" but the young guys that are getting experience now will be great in the future. "Next year, or two years from now, these freshmen, all of them are going to be veterans."
Forcing more TOs. "Disguising our coverages a little bit... getting around the football a little bit more." Now that they're making solid tackles, they need to get at the ball.
3rd downs: "We were highly motivated on third down. We talked about it all week. Something we were embarrassed about against Penn State." 3rd downs were the reason they didn't beat the Nittany Lions.
Ndamukong Suh's missed extra point: "I know I would have made that. There's no way I would have missed an extra point." Kicked in high school - long of 46. "If I got called upon, I would make an extra point for this team, for sure."
Notes from Rich Rodriguez's Monday meeting with the press.
Denard was suffering symptoms similar to a concussion, so they held him out Saturday. Trainers came to Rich and said Denard should be held out. He was tested yesterday and should be fine. Will be full-go this week. Might have been the helmet-to-helmet, not positive. Denard's arm "felt a whole lot better" against Illinois, the knee isn't 100%, but it's good. "I'm hoping he'll be feeling as good as he's felt in weeks this weekend."
Teric Jones has a torn ACL and is out for the rest of the season.
Mike Martin is better, Mouton is limited with a chest muscle issue. He might be held out of full-contact tomorrow. Not sure if Mouton will be available this weekend. "I'll know more tomorrow." He was able to play through it for part of the game, so it may not be that serious.
Will know today if Fitz Toussaint will be available this weekend.
Perry Dorrestein could have played against Illinois if they needed him. He's a lot better now than he was the past couple weeks.
JT Floyd had his surgery. Troy Woolfolk is out of his walking boot, working out upper body only. Mike Jones is good after his surgery. Tae Odoms "is fine after his surgery." Not sure if any of those guys will be able to go in spring practice, but they're doing well.
"I think Craig [Roh] - that move putting him at end is probably gonna stick." That's his better position, and he's more physically suited for it than he was last year with more bulk. "Playing him at end, especially at open-side end is better for him." JB Fitzgerald played pretty well in the same spot. "Obi's got some experience, Kevin Leach played a bit too." Mark Moundros should be in line for more playing time.
Illinois and Team
They rotate through the backs by feel. Vincent Smith is the most well-rounded, Michael Shaw has good burst, and Stephen Hopkins is the big guy. If a fourth guy steps up, they'd like to roll 4 backs in and out.
Roy Roundtree is a good athlete with great ball skills, and he's getting bigger. He has a good feel for getting open. "Roy's got kind of a natural feel for that." They saw that when he was in high school. #1 jersey - "I'm not touching no number things... Nobody's asking for it - it might be because they don't want to deal with all the drama either, I don't know." Roy likes #12, even if it's not a top seller in the stores.
Mark Huyge has done well in place of Perry. "We wouldn't hesitate at all to put Michael Schofield in there either. Michael Schofield can play too. He's just a redshirt freshman, but he's ready to play." Ricky Barnum and Rocko Khoury are also good young players on the OL.
Been good most of the year with not turning the ball over outside of a couple games, but they're disappointed in their inability to gain turnovers. "We're not quite creating turnovers, and we talked about that a lot with the defensive staff." Are they not in position to make plays, or not causing confusion for the opponent? There's no simple answer, but they're addressing it. Through the turnovers, the team managed to bounce back.
"The things that our guys kept doing was they kept competing." Didn't matter if they were down, up, after a turnover, etc. Young guys kept their poise, even though many of them should be redshirting in a perfect world. "There's a lot of growing lessons happening." There was no one particular thing that led to turnover problems. There was a great play by Illinois, poor ball security for Gallon, Tate coming off the bench cold, a couple missed reads. "It wasn't all just one thing."
In light of some of the inexperience the defense puts on the field (which really doesn't happen anywhere else), they competed well. Forced a few 3 and outs, 5 or 6 stops. The offense put the D in a couple bad spots with turnovers, and they responded well.
"Illinois is one of the most athletic teams in the league, and we frankly have to get more athletic." That comes through development - size too. Have to address it in recruiting as well. "Recruiting is going well, and our strength staff I think is the best in the country."
Not sure why the wheel routes were open - not same RB, not same coverage. "To be open is one thing, to be that wide open is another thing." A couple guys just made mistakes in coverage. "I would expect we'll probably see a play similar to that in every game going forward (laughs), so we'll be working on it quite a bit."
"I thought we tackled OK. we didn't tackle great." Didn't get off blocks well, especially on the perimeter on options. Part of that is Illinois's ability.
Not worried about offensive swagger "but our defense needed some." A defensive play won the game at the end, which will hopefully give them confidence going forward.
On the final 2-point conversion, Illinois was running a rub route, Michigan was bringing 7 rushers. "They got us rubbed off pretty good, but the pressure got to him first."
If you had veteran corners, you can blitz more. Michigan doesn't have that, so they have to be careful and pick their moments. "Nobody wants to sit there and die a slow death." Working a lot on mixing up defensive looks so opponent won't know coverage pre-snap.
"I'm the hardest one on our defensive coaches, because I think there's a certain standard we should be playing at." Playing this many freshmen and young guys is probably unprecedented. "It was a perfect storm of injuries and misfortune that got us here."
Quinton Washington played goal line and short yardage D. "I think that move may stay." Not sure how long it will take until he's ready to play in base defense. "Hopefully he'll get a little closer this week with that."
Kenny Demens - "He was really pretty consistent in the game Saturday. This was one of his better games." He was in the right spot and made some big tackles. He's not really experienced, but this is his first extended playing time.
Ray Vinopal is a young guy, so will make some mistakes. He was well-coached in high school, and is a smart football player. "We make all of our own judgments on our guys. These recruiting sites really do a pretty good job for the most part rating them, but we don't ever make our judgments based on what a recruiting site rates them."
Courtney Avery - "They got the one touchdown on him, and he wasn't that far out of position." He was nervous, but didn't show it. "I think he'll be able to grow from that, and I'm really excited about him." Getting quality experience will add depth when Troy and JT return too.
Worry about opponents' athleticism for kickoff coverage. "We had been pretty solid all year covering kicks, but we let a couple get out of there Saturday."
When there's not dropoff between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd teams, you'll be a good football team because you can handle injuries. "We're there at some positions this year, but most positions we're not." QB, RB, and OL to a degree. "Nowhere on defense are we there."
Winning an exciting game is maybe even more important than getting the 6th win from an emotion level in the post-game celebration. "The guys have been through a lot, they have been. That's why I've been so proud of the focus that they've kept." Even when they've faced adversity, they know that have to move past it. "If it helps them have a little enthusiasm and a little pep in their step, that's good" to get confidence, etc. after a win. Even if some people didn't play well, they'll be more confident after a win and that's positive going forward.
Hasn't had a conversation with Danny Hope about what happened last year. Have only briefly spoken during the conference meetings.
Motivation won't be an issue, especially with Purdue getting wins in the past two meetings. Purdue has had some QB injuries, fast skill guys, two good defensive ends. "I want our guys to feel good for a couple days" but that doesn't mean they'll overlook Purdue.
They match up in certain spots with Purdue, particularly at QB and WR, but Purdue is athletic up front on the OL. "Defensively, we have some athleticism, but not enough. Not enough speed yet."
Not yet sure which quarterbacks Purdue will have back this week - if Rob Henry will be available.
On getting to a bowl - "No question it was a sense of relief, not only for the staff and the players, but particularly for the seniors." They earned the chance to extend their college career for one more game, and they'll get another month as members of the team.
Important if you have a lot of young players to get those 15 bowl practices. "We have a lot of young players that they're going to have to develop and they'll have to get ready to help us, especially on defense." Early enrollees can't participate in bowl practices. RR thinks that's a good policy.
Not necessarily more injuries (across the country) now, just more public. Guys are getting bigger and faster, so maybe there are more injuries. FieldTurf has probably saved 25% of knee injuries vs. Astroturf.
Injury report - want it to be fair to the kids by being accurate from the source. Families know first, but don't want to have incorrect reports published.
Won all three times he's been in a triple OT game. Couldn't imagine how tough it would be to lose one. "We have a hard time sleeping anyway as coaches. I can imagine how many plays you'd replay in your head over at night... there's so many plays that can make a difference in the game, and if you win them, you think about them and move on." If they won a 10-7 overtime game, it would be a shock (to only score that much), but they'll take any win they can.
Wins help the players stay confident for the future, prevent spiraling. "Even though it might not have been a really good game for them individually, it was a good game for Michigan." The guys get to enjoy that moment.
Assistant coaches tell Coach Rod about negative recruiting stories they hear on the road. "I think we have enough positives here that we can accentuate the positive."
Has never had a non-kicker/punter have to attempt an extra point. Thought Suh's kick was going to be good, and he just barely missed it.
This past weekend's thriller had a few visitors, including instate prospects DeAnthony Arnett and Desmond Morgan. The game wasn't just exciting for the fans but the recruits as well. Reactions and other recruiting news:
6'1", 225 lbs.
This was Morgan's second time attending a Michigan game this season. This one was a little bit different for him since he now has a scholarship offer from Michigan.
I enjoyed every part of the game, it was really exciting. Last time I was there I thought how cool it would be to be noticed by them, or get a chance to play for them. This time I thought that could be me next year, and I have a chance to play on that field. I appreciated that feeling.
Desmond was escorted to the game by his dad, who is also a big Michigan fan. They got to experience some firsts together, and started thinking more seriously about the recruiting scene.
We met Coach Rodriguez and Frey, and that was the first time we've met both of them in person. We got a chance to walk around the locker room, and anytime you get a chance to walk through that tunnel it's pretty special. My dad liked it a lot.
As I reported previously, Morgan wants to take his time with his recruitment. He is a Michigan fan, but doesn't want to rush into anything, but this visit was a step in the right direction for Michigan.
I talked to the coaches about making an official visit. We're going to try to get that set up this week. They mentioned the Big Chill hockey game (Dec. 10th), so that's a possible date. I really had a lot of my questions answered already. The main thing was spending time with the coaches and getting to know them better. I wanted to feel welcomed there, and I really did feel that.
Desmond should have his official set up by this week. He also plans on visiting Northwestern this weekend for the Iowa game. Things are looking good for Michigan, though.
5'10", 185 lbs.
Fort Myers, Florida
Dallas Crawford has been high on Michigan for some time now. I wanted to get some perspective on him from his current head coach on where Michigan stands with both Dallas and his teammate Sammy. Coach Redhead:
Dallas has Michigan as his number one school because of his two visits there and the atmosphere. Sammy still has Michigan in close second to Clemson. It's a little harder for me to get a read on him, but Michigan is close. They're in the hunt for both of them. I don't think it should matter, but I think it might matter how both teams finish for Sammy. [ed: ie, coach doesn't think it should be relevant but it could be anyway.]
Redhead has had some good prospects come through the schools he has coached at, but he has some strong feelings about both Crawford and Watkins.
Dallas is a solid character kid, and one that I never have to worry about. He has some of the best instincts I've ever coached, and that includes the big name kids. Dallas has that football IQ. He knows where to be and when to be there, and he's always in the right spot. Same thing with Sammy. They both just do what they're asked of them.
For any head coach, it's important to be able to trust the coaches recruiting their athletes, and it seems as if Michigan has earned that trust from Coach Redhead.
Greg Frey recruits down here, and I've known him since he was at Florida State. I know he's going to take care of our kids. When we know they're good people and they care about the kids, and not just wins and losses, it makes it easier on us. That's the good thing about the Michigan coaches, they all care about these kids.
Both Dallas and Sammy are focused taking their team deep into the playoffs. They will be scheduling an official visit to Michigan in the near future. Sammy will most likely take an official to Clemson as well.
6'0", 170 lbs.
DeAnthony Arnett was at the Michigan game this past weekend and has put Michigan back on his list. I caught up with his brother Ralph, who let me know about the visit a little while ago, about Arnett's plans for this week.
The visit was nice. We picked the perfect game to come to. We talked with all the coaches, and Coach Singletary. They never stopped recruiting DeAnthony, and he told them that he wanted to see them play before he came for a visit. They had their receivers go off, and it was a great atmosphere.
The visit on the field was great, but what they were shown off the field was possibly just as important.
As far as the visit, it was outstanding. DeAnthony got one on one time with the academic advisors. They stress time management on the kids, and a lot of schools don't talk about that. It can get overwhelming, and they said they don't let the freshman fall behind, and they pay close attention to them. That was great.
Arnett has already been out to USC, Cal, and Tennessee. He obviously has had plenty of exposure to both Michigan and Michigan State. His brother let me know what the plans are from here.
DeAnthony will be announcing his decision this Wednesday at 9 AM at Saginaw High. He will be calling the coaches on Tuesday to tell them what he's decided to do. We'll go over his notes and see what he wants to do from there.
The family has kept everything close to the vest, but Michigan does have a chance. We'll all know Wednesday.
Also, here's film from four of DeAnthony's games this year.
- Four star Maryland defensive back Blake Countess was offered this past week. Look for Michigan to shoot up his list, potentially as his favorite. This could be a big pickup for Michigan if it works out.
- DC running back Malcolm Crockett is still on his official visit. I will hopefully have an update with him once he's back home.
- The Demetrius Hart scare has been resolved, and ended up just having to do with his high school, and early enrollment problems.
- Rich Rodriguez said at his press conference today that Craig Roh will most likely stay on the defensive line. Probably mostly due to this.
11/6/2010 – Michigan 67, Illinois 65 (3OT) – 6-3, 2-3 Big Ten
At the risk of convincing everyone that the first impossibly apropos moppet was fiction, let me tell you about this impossibly apropos moppet a few rows in front of me.
He was about ten. He was wearing a number seven jersey and when he took his hat off for the national anthem his hair was staticky. Before the game he was hopping up in down in an attempt to burn off nervous energy, and when Michigan ran out to touch the banner his mind was blown. He exclaimed "this is so AWESOME" as only a ten-year-old boy can. The words forced themselves out in self defense—if they hadn't the pressure would have given him an aneurysm. I know what that excitement is like. I remember getting a Nintendo.
I can't imagine what his mind is like four fighter jets, three overtimes, 132 points, and one last-play win later. He's probably sitting at his desk right now, mouth slightly ajar and drooling, involuntarily twitching out the words "so" and "awesome" as the rest of the class learns to count to 15 in Spanish. Plans to put him on ritalin have been temporarily shelved. His father has been asked "what did you do to the boy?"
The father can only shrug and say "talk to Ron Zook, Rich Rodriguez, and Greg Robinson."
What can you say about a game like that? You can say it was entirely appropriate for Special K to play the Bed Intruder song. Yes. Michigan and Illinois just went Rasputin on that barn. They burned it, then they napalmed it, then they nuked it, then they shot up the radioactive wasteland for the hell of it, then they poisoned a flat expanse of glass with holes in it, then they dug it up and threw it into the river for it to drown. And then it was halftime.
While the kid was getting the football equivalent of heroin in his eyeballs it seemed like the rest of the stadium was strangely muted once it became clear that touchdowns were more like baskets than goals. Any individual event was far less important in a game that would last until mid-day Sunday.
I was with them. I still remember thinking "that's 30% of the points we need to win" after Michigan's first touchdown in the 2006 Ohio State game. I was raised on three yards and a cloud of dust, and while I could not be more grateful that Michigan's offense now has run plays beyond "zone left" and "zone right," this style of football is all frisson. It piles up and up and up. It's amazing, but when you're not ten your mind only has so much to give before it gets complacent. Things don't build up, they just happen. So when Roy Roundtree scores on the first play of the game you're happy but you're also wondering how they're going to blow it.
The answer was "in all ways possible with a special emphasis on running back wheel routes." But they kept setting things right until Jonas Mouton leapt over a cut block and Craig Roh stunted inside and Nathan Scheelhaase finally had nowhere to go but down. My reaction to this was very strange. After feeling dampened most of the day I cracked and hugged my fiancée—making her annual pilgrimage—long and hard and relieved. So relieved.
This team isn't good at all but I love it. If Craig Roh gets to class early he runs up and down steps in his spare time. Roy Roundtree does a Donald Duck impression and wakes up hungry. Tate Forcier's gone from sulking on the bench and "out" to leaping around like a madman after leading a comeback win over Illinois and coming somewhat close to the same against Iowa. And then there's Denard, and the most put-upon man on the planet, and I just want them to succeed because it will make them happy.
A lot of sports fandom does degenerate into rooting for you in that sad Nick Hornby way. While I'm not anywhere near sports Buddhism, more and more prominent among the millions of reasons I want Michigan to win is because of how it will validate all this crap they have to put up with.
Even if that goes with the territory at Michigan, what's gone on the last three years long ago crossed the line from disappointed and upset to nastily personal, on everyone's part.
Almost everyone, anyway. After the game we're walking up the bleachers and the kid's right in front of us, trying to show his father his hand. His father seems to acknowledge the hand, but not enough for the kid's taste. "I'm never washing this hand again," he says. "Denard gave me a high five." He wears an Adidas wristband like the players. He doesn't care about anything other than Michigan won and I touched Denard and this is awesome. I think about White Noise, a Don DeLillo book I don't actually like that much* about the paralyzing fear of death driving middle aged academics literally insane, and how the only moments of respite in the book are thanks to the presence of an infant named Wayne or Warren or something.
So Saturday was awesome, and this is my favorite bad team ever, and goddammit I'm going to their nondescript bowl.
*(The moment in American literature when ironically capitalizing marketing messages to assert that the background radiation of advertising has become our national discourse has mercifully passed—David Foster Wallace got away with it a few times but only just, and not always.)
Non-Bullets, Amazingly Long
Head injuries. Michigan's bombing Illinois with Denard and pulls him because of a headache and some concussion-like symptoms in a game that is almost make or break for Rich Rodriguez's career. And he could even see:
"Certainly for his safety, you're not going to put him back out there," Rodriguez said. "I'm not a doctor, so I can't tell you where he is, but he had a smile on his face and he was talking, but obviously, you're going to be precautionary.
"Anytime you get hit there and you've got some headaches, you're going to watch that."
Is there anyone who's been unfairly demonized more than him? "Win at all costs." Right.
(HT: the Wolverine Blog.)
Skill position contributions. My takeaway from the offense other than "duuurrrr" was that's what it looks like when the skill position players are adding yards of their own. Vincent Smith made a lot of great glide cuts on the zone stretch, spun through a couple tackles, and had his best day as a runner at Michigan. Junior Hemingway's sideline rain dance created another touchdown from 15-20 yards, and Roy Roundtree was finding epic YAC. That's something we've been missing most of the year save for Stonum's screen touchdown against UMass, which is UMass and was not the #15 defense in the country entering the game.
Stretching it. Speaking of the stretch: it came back. Michigan had gone almost exclusively to an inside run game earlier in the year, and that worked well enough, but I think part of the issue with getting Denard some zone keepers has been that move away. The stretch makes it tough on the backside defensive end because if he's going to tackle the tailback on a cutback he has to flow down the line hard. On all the inside zone stuff Michigan's been running he can hang out and do whatever and still have a decent chance of making a play. That's why Michigan has been blocking the backside guy all year and probably why I'm always a little frustrated by Denard never keeping the ball.
They brought it back for Illinois and I'm pretty sure what I'll see in the UFR is an ass-kicking day from David Molk. On Michigan's last touchdown they went to the stretch on second and goal from the five. Corey Liuget, who is an all-conference type of player, shot into the backfield; Molk walled him off and eventually sent him to the ground. There wasn't a hint of a hold on the play, but a frustrated Liuget did the flag motion thing to the referee and just stood there exasperated as Michigan celebrated a touchdown that came on a gaping hole from the five because Liuget had just gotten owned.
The stretch also seemed to revitalize Vincent Smith, who had the opportunity to make darting cuts past traffic and find the creases as they developed. I'll be interested to see how it holds up on film.
End of half game theory stuff. Reverse on the kickoff was a beautiful playcall because in that situation if you get hammered for a loss you can probably just run the clock out. A perfect time for that call and one that got Michigan in scoring position with a minute on the clock. That's a win.
In retrospect, the decision to kick was not so much. I didn't think about this at the time so I'm not blaming anyone else for not thinking about it either, but with Michigan's defense and 42 seconds (IIRC) on the clock the argument for going for it is a lot stronger than it would be with 12, because if you get it you're robbing Illinois of the opportunity to get that last possession in. Even if you don't get it, most coaches will just head to the locker room if they get the ball on their own 15.
Defensive moves. While the defense remained horrendous, it wasn't nearly as horrendous as it was against Penn State (and Matt McGloin did just bomb Northwestern for 35 points despite Robert Bolden playing the first two series, so that performance was only 90% completely awful). PSU had 41 points on nine real drives; Illinois had 45 in regulation on 16, many of which started in advantageous field position after Michigan turnovers and one Hagerup punt from his endzone.
Moving Craig Roh back to defensive end seemed to pay immediate dues, but Michigan kept flipping between three and four man lines with the fourth guy on the line either Obi Ezeh or JB Fitzgerald. Illinois ran right at that and had good success—that was the setup on the first and twenty option that went the distance, though I'm pretty sure the culpable party there was Mouton. Anyway, Cam Gordon looked a lot better in his second game at spur and you can tell the difference in tackling technique between him and Ray Vinopal—Vinopal uses his arms. Sweet.
Gordon looks like a much better fit as his current position. He was surprisingly adept at blitzing—he'd get the edge on the Illinios tackle and come around to flush Scheelhaase a few times.
Demens, yo. Another thing that will have to wait for the tape but: I'm pretty sure Kenny Demens had a great game unless he blew a lot of coverage (which is possible). The number of runs that were heading outside the tackles for what looked like big gains until they were suddenly cut down by Demens after he cut through a block seemed like it was around a half dozen.
Not a controversy but not a clear cut thing either. I was thinking this myself but Adam Jacobi already wrote it and blockquoting is easy:
Forcier is clearly not Denard, but the fact remains that Forcier is good enough that he should be spelling Robinson periodically throughout Michigan's game regardless of Robinson's health. Michigan has two starting-quality quarterbacks, and as Robinson's accumulation of minor injuries demonstrates, they clearly need to use them! It's just up to Rich Rodriguez to use both on his own terms, rather than waiting for Robinson to get knocked out of the game first.
The frequency of Denard Robinson dings has seen Forcier enter most games this year, with extended relief appearances in the fourth quarter of the Iowa and Illinois games. When Forcier comes in Michigan generally punts quickly (or Forcier yakety saxes an unforced fumble). Forcier gets his feet under him a bit later and things are fine. It may be time to put Forcier in on the regular, say two or three drives a game. This would reduce wear on Robinson, have Forcier ready to play each week, throw defenses a curveball, and lessen the chances a desperately-needed Forcier lights out for somewhere else after the season. The offense doesn't seem quite as good when Tate's in there but the difference isn't vast and the benefits are tangible.
Special K, I hate you. The level of odiousness from Special K was exceeded by a factor of 100 on Saturday when he played "Let the Bodies Hit the Floor" and "Down with the Sickness." We've gone from minor league hockey to WWE. Thanks, Special K. This is the no-BS one thing that makes me think the Brandon era will be something other than a success: he hasn't taken this guy and put him in stocks on the diag.
Some photos from an Illinois guy. AnnArbor.com has an extensive collection as well.. Purdue blogger guarantees victory over Michigan. The Hoover Street Rag riffs on A Better Son/Daughter. Doc Sat's take:
If for some reason you were kidnapped by maniac who forced you at gunpoint to make sense of Michigan's roller-coaster season in 12 words or less, you'd probably settle for something like this: The offense is unstoppable. The defense is horrible. Denard Robinson got hurt.
If you hadn't seen a single one of the Wolverines' first eight games, that would pretty much bring you up to speed coming into today, except for one minor detail: Against a string of respectable competition over the last month, you could also add "Wolverines lose."
And a random video of the Michigan drumline:
There's another one on the tubes as well.
An finally, Maize n Brew headline:
Hallelujah!!!! Holy S@#%
MGoBlog Ballot - Week 11
|3||TCU Horned Frogs||1|
|4||Boise St. Broncos||-1|
|9||Michigan St. Spartans||3|
|10||Ohio St. Buckeyes||3|
|11||Alabama Crimson Tide||-5|
|12||Oklahoma St. Cowboys||5|
|19||Mississippi St. Bulldogs||1|
|20||Virginia Tech Hokies||5|
|21||South Carolina Gamecocks||-3|
|23||Nevada Wolf Pack||1|
|24||Texas A&M Aggies||--|
|25||Central Florida Knights||--|
|Dropouts: N.C. State Wolfpack, Florida St. Seminoles, Baylor Bears|
SB Nation BlogPoll College Football Top 25 Rankings »
- At the top, Auburn has a few more impressive pelts on their wall, but Oregon has been winning their games more convincingly. The two are essentially tied at the top.
- The big win over Utah bumps TCU ahead of Boise, despite the Broncos' similarly convincing win over Hawaii. Utah is a much better victim.
- LSU and Stanford are essentially tied. Just like at the top of the poll, the SEC team has less convincing wins over a slightly better schedule.
- From 8 to about 19, there are arguments for reordering the teams. I'm certainly open to hearing them in the comments. I sort of want to move Alabama down, so if you can provide good reasoning for that, let me know.
- I was struggling to find teams for the end of the poll (like usual). Texas A&M has only one "good" win, that being over Oklahoma, but their three losses are to my current #12, #16, and #18 teams, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt for now.
The resume chart lives here, if you're interested in the raw data. Comment away.