I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
I'm a sucker for hockey coverage, so with it is with great glee that I point out this NHL.com article on Michigan and its freshmen, though it opens up with this:
In the spring of 1992, Ann Arbor, Michigan and the college basketball world were captivated by five sensational freshmen who brought the University of Michigan basketball team to within seconds of a national title.
Come on, man! Michigan won a national title in 1998 with a similar horde of freshmen... in hockey. No need to throw that Fab Five junk in our face when you've got a much better analogue available--one that ended happily, I might add.
Yes, this is what I meant. The UFR:D yesterday was strident--perhaps a bit too strident, but it's a blog, I don't have an editor--and I expended a lot of words searching for the exact reason why Michigan's passive defense got my dander up. I have found the words:
[The coaches] seemed content with the game being decided by whatever mistakes the opposition made, no matter if Michigan caused them or not.
That's the Underachieving All Stars again filling the pith in where mine fails me. Much speculation about Michigan's tendency towards annoying 9-3 equilibrium has been posted, but I'll add mine to the pile: the reliance upon opponent's mistakes fails a few times a year when Michigan comes up against a team that is on or is just really efficient. Passive play with superior talent is an easy ticket to a bucketful of wins and a small, potent selection of painful losses.
The posts of RBUAS are problematic only in that they are infrequent. Go, partake.
Daniel Horton had a tough year last year in every way you can short of having you mom kidnapped by Space Elvises. Nathan Fenno continues his strong work for the Ann Arbor News with a long story on the star-crossed point guard.
(People asked for a comparison point for Henne's performance last week, so I decided to chart Tate... probably not the best comparison point, as you'll see, but a point of data for both the QB comparison and the defense.)
|1||10||O15||Pass||10||Tate rolls out; Woods(+1) does a great job of getting out on him on the boot but he manages to find an open receiver downfield at the last second. (DO)|
|1||10||O25||Run||1||Off tackle at Burgess(+1), who keeps contain. He and Harris(+1) close off the hole.|
|2||9||O26||Run||6||Massey(-1) gets blown back off the snap; Burgess holds back and makes the tackle downfield.|
|3||3||O32||Pass||25||Michigan stunts Crable(+1) around and gets immediate pressure, but Burgess(-2) ends up two steps behind Chandler, who catches and runs downfield. (DO)|
|1||10||M43||Run||8||Young cuts it back as Watson(+1) clogs the intended POA. This is a prime example of Graham(-2) overrunning a play and being completely unprepared for a cutback. Woods misses a tackle but I think he did well just to slow him up a bit... to no avail because there's no LB.|
|2||2||M35||Run||13||Lloyd specifically called this out as an instance of someone turning the running back outside... someone is Graham(-1). Engelmon(-1) also misses a tackle.|
|1||10||M22||Run||4||I'm not going to give him a minus on this one but Graham gets blocked in the hole, closes it off well, but doesn't shed at all.|
|2||6||M18||Scramble||4||Good coverage down field on this waggle; Tate decides to get what he can after being chased by Van Alstyne; Burgess comes up and cuts of his path as he goes OOB.|
|3||2||M14||Pass||15||I don't think this is really Burgess's fault. He's in a short zone on this ridiculous coverage. We're on the 14 yard line on third and two, playing a three-deep zone. Grigsby just runs a little out after the DB gets run off; Brandt makes a good point that Burgess had to deal with Young coming out of the backfield. He can't cover two guys. This is a (-2) for Herrmann; we were screwed at the snap. (CA)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-7, 9 min 1st Q. Not a fun drive. I'm getting progressively more frustrated with the ridiculous, obvious zone we end up in too frequently. On the touchdown Burgess was over the slot receiver like we've seen so many times before. The combo route with the outside guy driving off the cornerback and the slot going ot the corner was easy as pie. Also: straws are piling up on the Graham camel.|
|1||10||M15||Run||12||Thompson is already in the game at this point. Er... unfortunately he misses a tackle(-1) and Harris(-1) blitzes and overruns the play; once past the two linebackers Young has a lot of room. Still, Thompson made the correct read and put himself in position to make a play on the ball.|
|1||10||M27||Run||17||The same play from the first drive that gained a ton of yards when the WLB turned it outside. The exact same thing happens on this play. This time it's Thompson(-1).|
|1||10||M44||Pass||Inc||Tate tries to go downfield but Woods(+1) is on him before he can let the play develop. Tate throws it but this is more of a throwaway. (TA)|
|2||10||M44||Penalty||-10||Jamar Adams is blocked in the back, allowing Sims to break outside. This is legitimate and stupid, since Adams(-1) had given up the outside already. Hall does little better.|
|2||20||M34||Run||9||Pat Massey(-1) gets shoved out of the hole and then driven into the ground. Burgess(-1) also takes an angle too far inside. Thompson makes a valiant effort to run it down from the backside but just can't make the tackle.|
|3||11||M43||Pass||7||A little dumpoff to Young. We fake a fourth rusher (Crable) and then drop him into a really short zone on third and ten, which I hate since he's useless there given down and distance. The coverage is good. (CA)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-7, 4 min 4th Q. The punt is the controversial kick catch interference. I don't think there's actually any contact, but Breaston's vector was clearly altered by the gunner overrunning the play. Oh yes, Penn State fans, let me taste your yummy tears. On the drive itself, more ugly run defense; Thompson played this drive and didn't really do much.|
|1||10||O20||Pass||13||Another play where Tate scrambles around and finds an open man downfield, in between two converging defenders. Branch gets a pass rush but badly overruns Tate, opening up the lane. (DO)|
|1||10||O33||Pass||11||Hall starts this play seven yards off the wide receiver and his first two steps are backwards. Solomon runs a three yard stop and has a ton of room. (CA)|
|1||10||O44||Run||4||Massey(-1) again gets moved out instantly by a single block. Watson, doubled, gets pushed back a bit but manages to come off and make the tackle. Graham(-1) is buried by FB Bush; this has happened multiple times where Graham comes up and ends up crushed face-first into the ground by the Iowa FB.|
|2||6||O48||Penalty||-10||They sweep Young out the the right. Yanda gets called for a hold, and if he didn't get called the guy blocking Burgess was going to get called. Hold drawn by Branch(+1).|
|2||16||O38||Pass||6||A counter screen to Chandler. Mason(+1) forms up and stiffs Chandler impressively. Harris(+1) had previously sliced up between a couple blockers, stripping Chandler's escort. (CA)|
|3||10||O44||Pass||17||Actually really good coverage by Jamar Adams(+1), who gets a hand on Chandler as the ball gets there but can't strip it away. An excellent throw and catch by Iowa; nothing you can do about this, especially since Michigan was getting a fierce pass rush. (DO)|
|1||10||M39||Pass||9||Same thing as the Solomon pass earlier, where a giant, pansy cushion results in easy yardage for Iowa. (CA)|
|2||1||M30||Pass||Sack, -3||Jamison(+2) laughs at Young's foolish attempt to block him and does a sack/strip job on Tate. Note for opponents: don't block Jamison with a tailback.|
|3||4||M33||Pass||10||The design of this play seems ridiculous. Iowa is in a 3 WR 1 TE shotgun set with apparent man coverage that features David Harris vacating his place in the center of the zone to chase Grigsby, a slot WR, downfield while Mason sits defending a flat route; in between the two is a ton of space for Chandler. This is dumb. (CA)|
|1||10||M23||Run||5||I dunno. There's a cutback crease as Watson hops to the left where the play is supposed to go. We've got six in the box here against their 3 WR set, something wev'e gotten consistently gashed on all yeare.|
|2||5||M18||12||Short post in between Mason and Harrison... I'm baffled at the combination of passive CB play coupled with two deep zone. Another great show of timing between Tate and Solomon. (DO)|
|1||G||M6||Run||2||Credit to the DL. Will Johnson(+1) holds up against two guys here, forcing the play outside, where Trent cleans up.|
|2||G||M4||Pass||4||Touchdown. Another combo route against our zone; Chandler runs a fly right up the center of the field that the coverage bites on, opening up a little angle route for Grigsby. (CA)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-14, 8 min 2nd Q. Sweet mercy. Tate was brilliant on this drive when he had to be, and the Iowa routes are ripping our zones to shreds. I don't get the combination of two-deep coverage and CBs playing 7-10 yards off like they're Jaren Hayes. We essentially have them 20 of these yards by playing way off.|
|1||15||O17||Run||10||Trent(-1) is blitzing from the short side and runs right by Young. We had scissors and they had rock on this play, which has happened and awful lot so far.|
|2||5||O27||Pass||9||Chandler again. There's no way we can stop this given the defense we keep using, as Iowa knows exactly what zones we're using, exactly where the holes are, and exactly the routes to run to bust them open. You can count on one hand the number of times in this half we've had good coverage. (CA)|
|1||10||O36||Pass||Sack, -10||Technically an intentional grounding penalty, but functionally a sack that should be credited to Woods(+2), who got out on the waggle much faster than Tate expected and forced the penalty. Good coverage by Mason(+1) on the short option.|
|2||20||O26||Pass||Inc||Tate goes deep. Good coverage by Hall(+1). (IN)|
|3||20||O26||Pass||Sack, 0||First indication of some sort of adjustment here. Crable(+1) jams the TE's route and then comes on the delayed blitz we've seen before, forcing Tate up into the pocket where Woods(+1) finishes the job.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-14, 4 min 2nd Q. Iowa fans started booing on the deep pass and didn't stop for three plays.|
|1||10||M49||Pass||Inc||Hall(+1) with great coverage on the deep route, which I guess is expected when you play off 10 yards every snap. Woods(+1) hits Tate as he throws. (IN)|
|2||10||M49||Pass||8||Three man rush w/ delayed blitz from Crable. Tate hits Young, who schools Mason(-1) and Hall(-1). (CA)|
|3||2||M41||Pass||Inc||Straight drop by Melloy well downfield. Fortunate to escape a first and ten from the 20 or so... he was wide damn open. (DO)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-14, 2 min 2nd Q. Dodged a bullet.|
|1||10||50||Pass||Sack, -10||Woods(+2) with another sack, though this one is somewhat on Tate, who held the ball a little long. Woods did a very nice job slipping past the stunt pickup. (TA)|
|2||20||O40||Pass||Inc||Three man rush + late Crable again. Crable(+1) bats the pass down as he's coming. (BA)|
|3||20||O40||Run||10||A we give up run.|
|Drive Notes: EOH, 7-14. Woods has stopped two drives; we got lucky on a third; the rest is methodical Tate and me gritting my teeth re: Herrmann.|
|1||10||O30||Run||3||John Thompson(+1) again does a tantalizing slash-and-whiff job, forcing Young back into the teeth of the defense.|
|2||7||O33||Pass||4||Exploiting the soft coverage. Hall(+1) holds the YAC down as much as humanly possible. (CA)|
|3||3||O37||Pass||Int||A total gift, as Tate throws it right to a wide open Solomon. The ball goes through his hands and Harrison picks it off. (CA)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 7-14, 14 min 3rd Q. A huge Iowa gaffe. Please bring this up the next time someone tries to tell you that Iowa doesn't beat itself. Not because I have anything against Iowa, I just have something against people who regurgitate conventional wisdom and want a cookie. No cookie for you.|
|1||10||O27||Run||-2||Hello John Thompson(+2)! Thompson reads the hole and shoots up through it quickly, beating a block along the way, as he's done before. This time he makes the tackle, for a loss even.|
|2||12||O25||Pass||16||Solomon in a seam of the zone downfield. Burgess(-1) and Adams(-1) simply don't break on the ball even though Tate stares down Solomon the whole way. (CA)|
|1||10||O41||Run||-1||Nobody's blocked here. Jamison(+1), as he's done a few times this year, teleports past his guy before he even knows he's gone. Thompson(+1) again reads and fills, making the tackle.|
|2||10||O40||Pass||21||Tate throws a beautiful fade right on the sideline. Harrison is a split second too late, but I don't know if this is really anyone's fault when Tate throws this so well. (DO)|
|1||10||M39||Run||4||Thompson on the tackle again, though it was barely.|
|2||6||M35||Run||5||This one's up the gut against a DT tandem of Taylor(-1) and Johnson(-1), who both get single blocked easily, allowing the center to seal off Harris and cut back for good yardage.|
|3||1||M30||Run||1||Barely makes this as Michigan has players in the backfield.|
|1||10||M29||Run||-1||Again Jamison isn't blocked at the line at all, and two guys, a pulling guard and the fullback, end up blocking him in the backfield, leaving Thompson to sit unmolested at the LOS and make an easy tackle. More of an Iowa bust than anything.|
|2||11||M30||Run||6||Shotgun draw to Young. Adams(-1) is coming on a blitz and should have a tackle for two but misses. Harris and Burgess are both fighting blockers and do well to hold this to six.|
|3||5||M24||Pass||Inc||Tate is pissed at the WR for not running the comeback route properly. (Uh... I don't have a category for this.)|
|Drive Notes: Blocked FG(41), 10-14, 4 min 3rd Q. Harris(+1) gets the block. We've shored up against the run... sort of. Three passes to three open receivers; save for miscommunication this would be fist and goal.|
|1||10||O28||Run||9||The backside of the zone stretch has been open all day and is again. Adams(-1) comes up and cuts outside for some reason, l eaving a gaping hole for Young to spring up through.|
|2||1||O37||Run||3||Good job by Harris to fight off a blocker; Iowa isn't doubling anyone along the line and our LBs are fighting off blockers every time.|
|1||10||O40||Pass||Inc||Young is open underneath and drops what would end up as six or seven yards. (CA)|
|2||10||O40||Pass||4||Counter screen to Chandler #2. Thompson(-1) overpusues and gets cut behind... Chandler is like a 8 foot tall TE, man, that's embarassing. (CA)|
|3||6||O44||Pass||4||Looks like a screen for a half second as Jamison(+1) and someone I can't ID get free after the intial fake and force Tate to dump it off to Young, who gets smoked by Mason(+2), thus preventing the first down. Mason hates Buddhism. (CA)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-14, 14 min 4th Q.|
|1||10||M27||Penalty||-10||Holding on a screen. Apparently drawn by Branch(+1) as he's driving towards Tate encumbered by an Iowa lineman and then falls. Probably a bad call but no conclusive replay is shown.|
|1||20||M37||Run||2||Fabulous job by Branch(+2) to hop outside the tackler to force Young inside and then to leap back inside the blocker and make the tackle.|
|2||18||M35||Run||9||We've been hopping inside their TE/tackle and pressuring the QB with regularity; here Iowa burns us on it by allowing the DE to do so at the snap, leaving Burgess in a no win situation with way too much ground to try and cover. Branch(-1) vacates.|
|3||9||M26||Pass||Sack, -7||This also looks like a screen, though it is not. Branch(+2) owns a guard and gets in almost untouched. Burgess(+1) comes from a linebacker spot as a fourth rusher and stunts around a couple of confused Hawkeyes to finish the play.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-14, 11 min 4th Q. Yes, Kirk Ferentz just punted from his 33 yard line. I love the guy and think he's a fabulous coach but I'm souring on his in game decisions after witnessing his Carrization in this game combined with the botched time management against LSU and the decision to take a safety in the 6-4 game against PSU last year.|
|1||10||O20||Pass||18||Okay, I'm really sick of watching Burgess(-1) chase TEs downfield as both he and Harris bite hard on the waggle. (CA)|
|1||10||O38||Pass||7||They throw the slip screen to Chandler; it works. Burgess just looks really slow every time I see him, like he's running in molasses. (CA)|
|2||3||O45||Pass||4||Long handoff to Solomon. Argh... giant... cushions... crushing... soul. (CA)|
|1||10||O49||Pass||Inc||Abortive waggle because Grigsby thinks he's blocking a run play. Where was the guy in the flat? (Again... WR screwup)|
|2||10||O49||Pass||Inc||Chandler drops a pass, actually deflecting it right to Harris(-1), who drops an easy one. (CA)|
|3||10||O49||Pass||Sack, -4||Tate fumbles the shotgun snap.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 17-14, 7 min 4th Q. Fenstermaker's punts are averaging something like 25 yards. Again Iowa stubs its toe two or three times and forces itself to punt.|
|1||10||O12||Pass||12||Waggle and Tate finds an open Solomon. (DO)|
|1||10||O24||Pass||12||Yay zone! Chandler in between Trent and Burgess. (CA)|
|1||10||O36||Run||5||Major hole between Branch and a really, really blocked Harris(-1)|
|2||5||O41||Run||8||Iowa runs right at a LB lined up at DT, which, uh, sort of works. They're at the 50 with 2 minutes and three Tos left... not a definite passing down.|
|1||10||O49||Pass||30||Yay zone! When the closest guy to a slot WR downfield is your middle linebacker, you screwed up. I don't think this is a catch, actually... but I also don't think it should have been overturned. (DO)|
|1||10||M21||Run||6||Young bounces outside as Michigan has five in the box, three down, and Jamar Adams(-1) coming on a blitz; he reads run and lets it escape outside.|
|2||4||M15||Run||1||Watson(+1) pushes his guy into the backfield and makes a very nice tackle.|
|3||3||M14||Pass||2||Credit to Adams(+1) here for making the form tackle and preventing the first down, but mostly to Crable(+1) for shedding his blocker and preventing young from bouncing it outside. (Not charted.)|
|Drive Notes: FG(32) EO Regulation. Yay zone!|
|1||10||M25||Pass||Inc||Waggle yet again; Woods(+1) leaps and blocks the pass. (BA)|
|2||10||M25||Run||1||Thompson sheds a blocker(+1) and sticks Young in the hole. Watson is also coming.|
|3||9||M24||Pass||10||Via holding penalty on Crable(-1)... useless, useless penalty. Adams unfairly blamed. Solomon should have caught this ball. (CA)|
|1||10||M14||Run||1||The center can't get out to block Thompson in time and he simply fills the hole (created by Massey moonwalking five yards backwards, natch).|
|2||9||M13||Pass||3||Stop route they've used to good effect already. This time Hall(+1) manages to come up in time and makes a just good enough tackle. (CA)|
|2||6||M10||Pass||Inc||Tate's throw to Solomon lays him out along the sidelines. Tough catch... open if more accurate. (IN... harsh)|
|Drive Notes: FG(27), 20-17, OT.|
So how does Tate stack up?
Sweet Jesus. Keep in mind that two plays where the receivers clearly screwed up didn't get charted, nor did a couple of occurrences of heavy, immediate pass rush. I've included the post-charting-revamp Henne stats for comparison. Here you go:
|Team||Dead on||Catchable||Inaccurate||Bad Read||Throwaways||Batted|
Great galloping gravy! Remember the breakdown of positive/negative downfield plays I did for the PSU game? Henne had 14 positive to 16 negative. Take away two TE screens, two dumpoffs to Young on third and long, and four Solomon stop routes (to play this conservatively) and Tate had 23 positive to 7 negative, and that's being super harsh on the "Inaccurate" category, which holds two bombs and the third down comeback route in OT that glanced off Solomon's fingertips.
It's not fair to hold Henne to that standard--it probably isn't fair to hold Tate to that standard, that was one of the finest quarterbacked games I've seen, like, ever--but that's kind of mindboggling. Seriously, I think Tate made a total of three bad plays (holding the ball too long on one sack, fumbling a snap, and letting Woods bat a ball down on the waggle easily). That says a lot about Tate and a lot about how far away from him Henne has been this year.
Doesn't that say something else, too?
Yes, yes it does. This was a wretched defensive performance. Reviewing the tape I kept thinking to myself "how did we win this game?" A large part of Tate's success was due to Michigan never using man coverage. We played so far off their receivers that the only time we actually covered them is when they went deep. Seriously. I count three instances of tight coverage this entire game: the two deep balls and the Chandler catch that Adams got a hand on. Maybe the fade down the sideline against Harrison. For those scoring at home, Tate threw 34 passes by my count (some were erased by penalty). Coverage was nonexistent.
What stops we did get were either due to good fortune (drops, gifted interceptions, penalties) or a good pass rush and a sack off a stunt. Drive by drive:
- An incomplete bomb and a stupid block in the back puts Iowa in 2nd and 20, we hold.
- Great play by Woods to force a intentional grounding call puts Iowa in 2nd and 20.
- Iowa drop.
- Woods sack on first down and Crable bat put Iowa in 3rd and 20.
- Gift interception; should have been first down.
- WR runs wrong route.
- Mason thumps Young two yards short.
- Sack from great pass rush, again Iowa in first and 20 after penalty.
- Series goes WR screwup, drop, fumbled snap.
- FG. Legit stop but only after giving up 70 yards quickly.
- FG. Route is open but glances off Solomon's hands.
You have three instances of Iowa putting themselves behind the eight ball with penalties, five Iowa execution screwups, and exactly two instances of Michigan actually stopping the Hawkeyes without aid of a penalty. This is the essence of bend-but-don't-break: sit back until your opponents screw up, if they screw up. Michigan blitzed two times (I don't count the delaying LB tactic as a blitz as the LB is the fourth rusher). Two! Even blitz-hating TMQ would find that excessive. You can count the instances of man coverage on one hand . Not coincidentally, you can count the instances of covered receivers on the other hand.
We had the good fortune to get a number of drive-killing Iowa mistakes and thus managed to hold them to 17 points, but Michigan's defensive strategy in this game loses it 8 out of 10 times. We relied on Iowa drops and penalties and failed stunt pickups to win this game, which is crazy considering that Iowa was the least penalized team in the league coming in and is generally regarded as one of the best coached teams in college football. A series of flukes conspired against them in this game, otherwise they put up 30+.
This was probably the worst defensive performance in a very long time. It was worse than Michigan State. It was worse than Michigan State last year. It was worse than Ohio State or Texas last year. We stopped nothing. But for Woods playing phoenix and Branch getting instant pass rush, there's nothing redeeming from this game.
The worst part about all of this is that the players didn't seem to play particularly badly outside of Graham and Massey, but they were consistently put in no-win situations. We got a number of great plays from Woods and Branch and even John Thompson, but if someone wasn't making a great play, Iowa was getting a giant chunk of yardage. What kind of defense is that?
Yes, this seems viciously harsh for a game in which Iowa scored 17 points in regulation, but ask yourself: when Iowa got the ball back with two minutes to go, what did you think our chances of stopping them were?
Did anything good happen?
Well, the best thing I can say is that we were absent Woodley, who's obviously our best defensive player, and Branch should be able to move inside soon if Woods is allowed to play and Biggs returns. I'm sure Pat Massey is a great guy but he should be a roleplayer on this defense. Will he be? No, the evidence of such has been there since about game two. Nothing's changed, and so nothing will change.
John Thompson made a good debut as a first-string linebacker but it wasn't as good as it appeared watching it live. Thompson missed a few tackles, overran a play or two, and was in for a lot more productive rushes against than it initially seemed. However, he clearly has a knack for showing up around the ball and with some more experience should start making those plays he barely missed against Iowa. He also seems like kind of a yappy, trash-talking guy, and we need one of those.
Grant Mason's hit was also kind of awesome; remind me to write derogatory zen koans about Henne.
What about the...
|Woodley||-||-||-||You will be healthy for Northwestern!|
|Woods||9||-||9||Goddamn, son. Good to know we've buried you on the bench all year.|
|Jamison||4||-||4||Kid can rush the passer.|
|Branch||5||1||4||Didn't do much except for a series of great plays interspersed with a bad one on one second half drive.|
|Burgess||2||5||-3||Still chasing Chandler.|
|Harris||3||3||0||Worst game since he became a starter. Still did okay.|
|Graham||-||4||-4||Job in serious jeopardy.|
|Thompson||4||4||0||Not as good as it appeared but still superior to Graham.|
|Crable||4||1||3||Effective rushing the passer.|
|Hall||4||1||3||Seems generous for the corners when Tate goes nuts but I've made my position on the defense clear.|
|Engelmon||-||1||-||Didn't play much.|
Yes, apparently generous but in line with what I thought happened: Woods saved the game for us, the linebackers were a disaster (-7 in total on a scale that tends towards +, since I'm not counting passing-down-only Crable as a LB), and the secondary was sold out by the obvious, repetitive coverages they were assigned.
We kept calling scissors and were shocked (shocked!) when Iowa kept going "rock, rock, rock."
What does it all mean for Northwestern?
Woo haa! It could go one of two ways: Woodley, a revamped Woods, and Branch on the interior annihilate the Northwestern DL on a regular enough basis to keep the Wildcats relatively down. Or they don't and it's track meet time.
This Sutton kid is a lot like Mike Hart, a pint-sized pack of pterror. Dude came straight from an Ohio middle school to become the 5th-leading rusher in the country. He cracked 100 yards against Penn State's formidable defense. He broke out Rex-Kwon-Do against Wisconsin, gashing them for 244 yards. He was "held" to 89 yards against Purdue... on 13 carries! I quiver in fear. He has that feint-inside bounce-outside thing that Calhoun, Walker, Wolfe... well, damn near everyone has burned us with. He also catches the ball out of the backfield--21 receptions for over 10 yards a pop--just like Calhoun did. Much will depend upon how real John Thompson is, because we need someone other than Harris who can take the correct angle.
It's time to face facts, though: we're two-thirds of the way through the season and we have the 76th ranked rushing defense in the country. This is no fluke. Set aside the EMU nothingness. Every team that we've played has gashed us. If you consider the MSU tailbacks a single person, we haven't held a single opponent running back under 100 yards all year. Why is this? Massey, no doubt, plus Watson's eminently disappointing year. Throw in safeties 12 yards off the LOS on almost every play, and outside linebackers who have been really bad and you have a noxious cocktail that is not going to get any more palatable against Northwestern's fireworks display. Expect Sutton to get his 100. Hope he doesn't get his 200.
Brett Bazanez will do the exact same thing Tate did. He'll roll out a ton and find his receivers smoothly in the context of his offense. If we don't change the way we play defense we're going to die by a thousand papercuts.
The numbers, I no like. They, how you say, ass. Straight Bangin' filched a message board post about the efficacy of Lloydball that's interesting, though perhaps not as stark as it's framed. The upshot:
- In the last five years, Michigan has held a 10 point or less lead at the start of the fourth quarter sixteen times. It won seven of those games; in three of the victories Michigan lost the lead before winning the game.
- Over the same time span, Michigan's entered the fourth quarter trailing "narrowly" seven times and won six.
Now, I'm somewhat suspicious of the methodology here that uses a specific cutoff for the leading stat and then a vague "narrowly" for the trailing stat and only covers five years instead of Carr's entire career, but I think there may be something in the numbers. Michigan fans throw around the idea of the Michigan "scoring offense" that emerges when Michigan really needs it (trailing in the fourth) but hibernates when it doesn't (leading). The games referenced show a striking lack of said scoring offense when Michigan leads.
Carr's late game strategy may have made sense at one time when Michigan gave up 300 yards a game, pounded people on the ground, and didn't have a real knack for giving up game-winning touchdown drives, but those days are gone. Michigan now has a tetchy, finesse run game ill suited to attacking eight man fronts and a defense that's eminently mediocre. It's ironic to hear him talking about "keeping the ball away from their offense"--impossible to do in any meaningful fashion-- when Carr fails to take advantage of the one time in a football game in which you can actually play keepaway: right at the end.
The college football blogging capital of the world appears to be Georgia. I realize Georgia is not, in fact, a city. Roll with it. Anyway, you've got ATL/Athens-based Sexy Results, EDSBS (Orson faction), and Eagle In Atlanta plus an absolute flood of Dawg bloggers: Paul Westerdawg, Kyle King, I'm A Realist, NKOTB The Drizzle, and needs-more-pub-and-possibly-vicodin Gunslingers. I mention it because Gunslingers' most recent media Hulk-smash job pushed a lot of my buttons when it fisked the always-intolerable "Sports Reporters." This little passage, well...
Ryan: With all due respect to our friends in Blacksburg and Tuscaloosa... We don't want you. OK. [Lupica tries to interrupt] Don't take this personally. We don't want you.The rest of us in America want SC and Texas. We want those 2 programs, we want... That's the only Rose Bowl we want.
Lupica: How can you possibly say that?
Ryan: Because THAT'S THE TRUTH. The generic college football sportsfan wants that battle of the titans and nothing else. We don't want VT, we don't want Alabama. We want Texas and SC, Michael that's the truth.
... made me want to find Ryan's crab-cake eating mouth and, I dunno, wire it shut. And then staple it some. Not for effect, just so I can hear his pained moans chitter through the wires. The idea of Bob Ryan, whose last conscious thought about college football was no dobut "that Flutie kid has potential," attempting to capture the college football zeitgeist from somewhere in New England is simultaneously maddening and hilarious, especially since college football is the place where the love of the 'dog is most celebrated. No one outside of USC fans--all six of them--and media members looking for "the story" want to see USC in the Rose Bowl. Everyone wants to see some goalposts taken on vacation.
In any case, Gunslingers spins this and other media flagrancies into a narrative about the evils of narrative re: sports that's well worth reading.
Oh, you kidder, you. Is Glen Mason really going to bolt Minnesota? Has the UMinn adminstration totally forgotten what the football team was like before his arrival? Fanblogs details the weird state of Gopher State U.
I was going to say something about the Fisher DeBerry thing, but someone already said it for me. So: I cosign SMQ's take on the matter, word for word. Word!
Totally OT section: BC&RS has Joey Harrington trapped in her basement. Microsoft tells you how to interpret this blog's totally 1337 sp33k. (HT: This Community High kid... Arbor Blogs aggregator, I swear I'm not stalking high school kids on the Internets.) EDSBS throws the UGA logo on pale ale... er, and Jesus (not Stanton, the other Jesus). The Sooner Farkers have some fun with a Michigan cheerleader.
|1||10||M15||Pass||Manningham||15||Dude we took the ball. Manningham's out is wide open. (CA)|
|1||10||M30||Run||Hart||6||Henige pulls around and gets a good block, as does Thompson.|
|2||4||M36||Pass||Breaston||10||Slip screen to Breaston. Mass and Avant block it well; Breaston looks about as healthy as possible. (CA)|
|1||10||M46||Run||Hart||5||Hart injury. On this play he cuts outside and slices up, but he should have gone straight upfield.|
|2||5||O49||Run||Grady||2||Takes a draw and slips after a few steps. This probably would have worked for something close to a first down without the slip.|
|3||3||O47||Pass||Massaquoi||Inc||A really, really bad throw. Massaquoi is open and stationary; Henne misses him badly. (IN)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 12 min 1st Q. Second straight game Michigan's initial drive has ended with a third and three with an open receiver that Henne just misses.|
|1||10||M19||Run||Hart||2||Hart again cuts out side because there's absolutely nothing where the play is supposed to go. You can clearly see he doesn't have his usual explosion.|
|2||8||M21||Pass/Penalty||Breaston||Inc / 5||Uh, yeah, another terribly thrown ball (IN). The call is ridiculous as well; ball is uncatchable; guy is on time.|
|1||10||M26||Run||Hart||1||He ain't right. Another cut outside, would have been 5 with a good ankle.|
|2||9||M27||Pass||Avant||15||Slant to Avant in some softish zone coverage. The interior WR's route opens up the space for Avant, and a very good throw opens up some YAC. (DO)|
|1||10||M42||Pass||Breaston||Inc||Breaston is open on an out ten yards downfield, Henne plain misses him. (IN)|
|2||10||M42||Pass||No one||Sack, -4||Self sack. Ugh.|
|3||14||M38||Pass||Tabb||12||Henne has all day to throw; no one seems open from the TV replay. He hits Tabb in stride but it's short of the first down. (CA)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-7, 7 min 1st Q. The first bad call with the weak PI call, though Michigan doesn't capitalize. Henne is alternating NFL-caliber throws with total flakeouts.|
|1||10||M32||Run||Martin||3||Yes, this a fumble, and no, Max Martin shouldn't be playing.|
|2||7||M35||Run||Grady||4||Grinding forward a little bit.|
|3||3||M39||Run||Grady||7||Grady makes a Hart-like cut outside and then moves up into the hole quickly.|
|1||10||M46||Scramble||Henne||3||Play action; Henne has a ton of time but can't find anyone and runs straight upfield. (TA)|
|2||7||M49||Run||Grady||9||A pitch play that Grady makes a good, hard cut against the grain on when Iowa overcommits outside.|
|1||10||O42||Pass||Hart||9||A checkdown to Hart that I can live with, I mean, 9 yards. (CA)|
|2||1||O33||Run||Hart||2||Nothing resembling a hole; the OL does a nice job of driving the Iowa DL a couple yards down the field and picking up the first.|
|1||10||O31||Pass||Avant||24||More play action; Avant cuts on an in route and is wide open; Henne hits him downfield between the numbers (DO).|
|1||G||O7||Run||Grady||2||Just a ton of guys in the box... not too surprising on first and goal, but there's no crease.|
|2||G||O5||Pass||Avant||5||Touchdown. Beautifully floated over the zone coverage on a clever little fade route to the center of the endzone. Excellent play all around. (DO)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-7, 14 min 2nd Q. Good running from Grady on this drive, though his hole-picking abilities are limited later on. I just don't think we have an OL good enough to take advantage of his abilities. Henne makes two great throws on the drive.|
|1||10||M20||Pass/Penalty||Breaston||2||Henne checks down to Breaston; Antwaan Allen is all over the route and gets called for PI. The replay is unhelpful in detemining legit-ness.|
|1||10||M22||Run||Bass||3||QB sweep highly remiscent of the Randall Cunningham Super Tecmo Bowl money play that we've run a few time with Bass. This was going to work for a lot, except Avant's feet trip Bass up. Why does this work? It is the mystery.|
|2||7||M25||Pass/Penalty||Dutch||15||Uh... yeah. This call is ridiculous on two levels: 1) Johnson had jumped the route perfectly and was making a play on the ball. 2) Instead of a spot foul they mark off a full 15 yards. Ugly all around. I bet famous PSU internet nutcases MarshCreek and Beast of da East sit in a dark room, watching this play over and over again, touching themselves in an impure manner.|
|1||10||M40||Run||Grady||7||Grady's offset and we pull a guard over to the right side. Grady finds a cutback lane and heads upfield nicely. Credit to Kraus and Lentz, who drive the DTs back a long way.|
|2||3||M47||Run||Grady||4||Another good job by the interior OL. Grady clearly makes a wrong cut, going to a jammed up right instead of an open left.|
|1||10||O49||Pass||Avant||Inc||Greenway's zone drop deflects the pass on an in route very similar to the one Avant caught on Michigan's earlier touchdown drive. (BA)|
|2||10||O49||Run||Grady||4||Not much here. Grady's power gets two or three as he just burrows behind the linemen.|
|3||6||O45||Pass/Penalty||Avant||-5||Depressing that this gets called back, as Henne nails Avant well downfield right in stride. The penalty is illegal motion on Avant, who took a tiny step forward before the snap. (DO)|
|3||11||50||Pass||No one||Inc||Iowa rushes three; Henne immediately panics and throws it into the third row despite not having anyone within five yards of him. (BR).|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-14, 5 min 2nd Q. Brandt is yammering on about how the last play was smart. I am yammering on about how Brandt is dumb. Before it Henne had been having a sustained period of good play. From this point on, Iowa rushes three and waits for Hennepanic on critical third downs all day.|
|2||9||M33||Pass||Avant||11||Avant gets free from Hodge in man coverage--Hodge is good, but that's a mismatch. Henne hits him right in stride, allowing some YAC. (DO)|
|1||10||M44||Pass||Manningham||Int||The Manningham route controversy. Okay. He ran a bad route. Why did Henne throw it to his bad, covered route? Why didn't he check off to Avant, wide open on a deep corner route? Why didn't he just lob it downfield when Manningham was about to break open? That safety is not invisible, and by the time Henne throws it's clear Manningham's not breaking his route off. (BR)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 7-14, 3 min 2nd Q. Partial exoneration to Henne here, but not total.|
|1||10||M17||Run||Grady||7||Draw against a six man front with three wide. Grady cuts it outside where the hole is after a nice block from Massaquoi.|
|2||3||M24||Run||Grady||1||Stenavich can't control his man and lets him disengage, screwing up this play which was otherwise well blocked. Grady actually plows into Stenavich.|
|3||2||M25||Run||Grady||1||Check with me into a run aginst a six man front, reasonable. Unfortunately, our OL just get its ass kicked. Long misses his block on Hodge, though he doesn't have an angle for it... Grady may have picked the wrong hole.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-14, 1 min 2nd Q. Okay, Brandt has to go screw himself, since he just started talking about how Henne was so good at the end of the PSU game at managing the clock. He's intolerable. I don't have a problem with the playcalling here. Michigan should be able to get two yards against six guys in the box--I think this third down is on Grady, as the blocking scheme makes no sense given the direction he takes.|
|1||10||O42||Run||Grady||5||Grady runs off guard behind Henige and runs right up his back. He pushes the pile for a bit.|
|2||5||O37||Run||Grady||3||Ugh. Hart pops this baby outside and picks up 10 or 15, since the linebackers all draw up and get blocked and the corner on the slot also gets plugged. Grady just kind of plows into Long from behind. This run really disturbed me--Underwood flashback.|
|3||2||O34||Run||Grady||-1||This is supposed to be a stretch to the far side of the field but it's blown up because exactly one Iowa player gets blocked. Total failure.|
|4||3||O35||Pass||Ecker||13||Waggle that everyone bites on hard, thus Ecker is open. Henne its him between the numbers on the run. (DO)|
|1||10||O22||Run||Grady||5||Pitch short side. Grady shows his good side by fighting through a tackle fiercely for an extra couple at the end.|
|2||5||O17||Pass||Avant||13||Thrown by Bass (thus not charted). Avant's wide open and any throw that doesn't take him off his feet is a touchdown. A beautiful catch by Avant.|
|1||G||O4||Run||Grady||0||Have we passed on first down and goal yet? This is just ugly. No one gets blocked.|
|2||G||O4||Pass||Avant||Inc||Fade to Avant is just off his fingertips. (CA, even though he didn't.)|
|3||G||O4||Run||Henne||-3||Just because the quarterback draw always works against us does not mean it always works.|
|Drive Notes: FG(26) 10-14, 8 min 3rd Q. There's an obvious dropoff from Hart to Grady, and another straw on the camel back here that eventually leads to Jackson's entrance.|
|1||10||M24||Pass||Ecker||5||Christ. This is a completion that Henne throws rolling out, across his body that had INT written all over it. Arm strength to the rescue. (CA? DO? BR? Freakin' insane? We'll go with CA.)|
|2||5||M29||Run||Grady||2||Draw looks very open before Hodge manages to slip through a crease and attack Grady from the side as he passes. Nice play from him; wonder if maybe Hart avoids him.|
|3||3||M31||Scramble||Henne||0||All day to throw again, another three man rush that turns into a TWO man rush when DT Kroul just sort of stops running. Henne just decides to run up into him. (BR)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-14, 2 min 3rd Q. Another instance of Henne panicking in the face of lots of dudes in a zone.|
|1||10||M27||Run||Bass||0||The "fumble." Funny how no one mentions this play in their conspiracy theories.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 10-14, 14 min 3rd Q. If you do not know the rules, you should not be an official.|
|1||10||M12||Run||Jackson||19||Huge run from Jackson, who manages to pop out of the pile four yards downfield. Great job by everyone to maintain their blocks, Ecker especially.|
|1||10||M31||Run||Jackson||2||Jackson's delayed by a linebacker who falls at his feet, allowing Merrick to come up make the stop near the LOS.|
|2||8||M33||Pass||Grady||-3||A screen that's going nowhere. Grady turns around and is instantly popped.|
|3||11||M30||Pass||Avant||18||They try the same rush three trick and Henne finally waits for his guys downfield, hitting Avant with a bullet on a deep in route. (DO)|
|1||10||M48||Pass||Breaston||52||Yeehaw! Breaston feints inside of Tabb's excellent block and then pops outside of it, delaying the safety just enough with the move so that he can only dive at Breaston's legs as he streaks by. (CA)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 17-14, 9 min 3rd Q. Someone get Tabb a cookie STAT. It's still a mystery to me why he doesn't play more. He should have all the routes down by now, apparently has good hands, and we know he's fast... he's the safety on the kickoff team.|
|1||10||M32||Run||Jackson||3||Dive up the middle.|
|2||7||M35||Pass||Thompson||Inc||He's open in the flat; Henne throws it hard and off target, forcing him to dive. (IN)|
|3||7||M35||Pass/Penalty||No one||5||Henne's sacked but is incidentally facemasked. Henige exits the field with an injury; Alex Mitchell is the replacement. Good news for next year?|
|3||2||M40||Run||Jackson||7||A nice play by Jackson to read the no-hole in the middle and slide outside for the first. Totally disturbing how our OL can't get anything here against a six man front.|
|1||10||M47||Run||Jackson||1||Eight guys in the box; this is no check with me, either. Just nothing from the OL at all.|
|2||9||M48||Run||Jackson||4||Pitch outside that's reasonably well blocked.|
|3||5||O48||Run||Jackson||2||This is, in fact, a check with me; Henne goes with the run play and it goes behind Mitchell and Steno, both of whom get stood up at the line.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 17-14, 3 min 4th Q. I really dislike the first down play call. And the second down play call given it's 2nd and 9. Henne's check with me on third down was reasonble; we single block those guys and Jackson acquires the first with ease. We just totally failed to get it done against Iowa's undersized line. Story of the year.|
|1||10||O25||Run||Jackson||2||Long doesn't block anyone and anyone makes the tackle.|
|2||8||O23||Pass||Avant||18||Goddamn, Jason. That's an unbelievable catch of a terribly thrown ball, now that I see that the Iowa defender was not in position to pick that off if it was thrown accurately. (IN)|
|1||G||O5||Run||Jackson||4||Just sort of falls four yards forward somehow. Michigan manages to create a tiny crease that Jackson squirts through.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 23-20, EOG. Praise the lawd!|
I thought I had security deal with you. All right, here's the scoop:
- Michigan fumbled around its 30 in the first half, and it was wrongly called down and then not reviewed. Michigan did not fumble around its 30 in the second half, it was correctly called down (and whistled) and then incorrectly overturned by review. This is essentially a wash.
As many Michigan fans have commented or emailed, there is a specific portion of the rulebook that makes it very clear that actual contact is not necessary for kick catch interference to be called:
VI. On a scrimmage kick beyond the neutral zone, a Team A player stands in or runs through an area close to a Team B player who is in position to catch the ball and is deemed to have impeded the Team B player. RULING: Interference with the opportunity to catch a kick. Penaltyâ€”15 yards from the spot of the foul, which is where the Team B player was positioned to catch the kick.
Given this passage this passage also in the rulebook: "When in question, it is an interference foul," I think it's clear that the correct call was made on the Breaston muff.
- Michigan was the beneficiary of two awful pass interference calls and one that was iffy. Especially egregious was the Dutch/Allen play where Allen jumped the route and was clearly making a play on the ball but was flagged, especially because instead of a six or seven yard penalty the referees incorrectly assessed a full fifteen yards.
Assuming that you're not a complete nutcase, the end result is horrible officiating all around that ended up slightly benefiting Michigan. More concerning than wild-ass conspiracy theories is the overall state of Big Ten officiating, which is dismal. In the Ohio State-Indiana game actually featured a mulligan on a kick return that the referees couldn't figure out:
IU's Austin Starr popped a short kickoff in the air, and Ohio State linebacker Mike D'Andrea called for a fair catch at the Buckeyes' 30. He fumbled the ball and Indiana linebacker Josh Powers recovered for the Hoosiers.
But one of the officials apparently blew what was later described as an inadvertent whistle when D'Andrea was attempting to make the catch.
Instead of giving either team the ball, the officials huddled and opted to replay the kickoff. In golf terms, it was a mulligan.
(HT: Buckeye Commentary)
Multiple Michigan games have featured replay officials who simply don't know the rule book. This probably has something to do with the fact that the officials are actually insurance salesmen or taco vendors or vacuum repairdudes who moonlight as referees. How much would it actually cost to get some professional referees? I'm completely baffled by major college football's reliance on part-timers when a relative drop in the revenue bucket would mean that referees would know the rules of the game.
How did Henne play?
I'm torn. On the one hand he rifled a fair quantity of balls directly into the hands of Michigan wide receivers. On the other, he rifled a few critical third downs into the crowd without an Iowa player within three yards of him.
This is what the chart says:
|Team||Dead on||Catchable||Inaccurate||Bad Read||Throwaways||Batted|
(I didn't chart two of the PI plays.)
Henne threw much less than he did against Penn State but ended up with more very nice passes than he's had since I shifted the numbers to something more sane. However, he also threw five inaccurate balls and had the three bad reads, one of which was the Manningham interception. If you buy the idea that said interception was all on Manningham then it looks like a pretty good day, but I don't.
Strangely enough, Henne seemed to be inaccurate on a lot of short stop routes that should be easy for any quarterback (and certainly were for Tate). Also, we didn't go deep all day unless you count the Manningham interception--probably because Iowa was content to sit back and let their linebackers make plays against whoever was Not Mike Hart at the moment.
Still, this was probably his best performance of the year considering the level of competition. Those seven DOs were all nice throws that were either far downfield or that led receivers for big chunks of YAC.
Why can't we run?
God, I don't know. The constant theme of this year's running game has been terrible run blocking. Hart's been able to magic his way into a productive year when he's been on the field but the severe dropoff to his backups is more than evident.
Will Jake Long's return help?
To some extent, though I th ink it's more important for pass coverage. If Long is healthy and in-form he should make the right side of the line a more credible area to run, no offense intended to Riley. It won't fix our problems at guard. Neither Lentz or Henige has really shown any ability to crease a line and drive someone out of the hole. We've been facing a lot of Pat Masseys this year, but when was the last time you saw anyone crush an opposing Massey to the ground and a running back flit through the vast hole opened?
I don't think this will be much of a problem against Northwestern or Indiana, but I would be shocked if we averaged anything more than two yards a carry against OSU.
[INCOHERENT SCREAMING ABOUT MANNINGHAM]
Look, I know he's nicknamed and everything, but he's got a long way to go if he doesn't know to break that route off into a wide open area of the field. It has to bother you that at this point in the year he still lines up wrong on a consistent basis. He is just a freshman, he's probably dinged up, and he's having issues picking up the whole offense. You're probably going to see him come in less often than you'd like, but that doesn't mean anyone's holding him back. He's just young.
Why does running Antonio Bass from the QB spot always seem to work?
I have no idea. Against Iowa the first iteration would have gone for a big gain save for an unfortunate trip. They did defense the second one well, but so far it's hitting at a 75% rate. It doesn't make a lick of sense to me.
What does it mean for Northwestern?
Given that the Wildcats are dead freakin' last in DI defense, I would certainly hope that we can get into a 54-51 type game, no matter how much Lloyd wants to avoid a shootout. As you'll see tomorrow, I don't think we win anything but a shootout. It's either blowout or shootout.
So. We need Mike Hart back. We need Long and the rest of the OL to give Henne time to throw, and we need Henne to keep mistakes to a reasonable minimum, because this should be an up-and-down game. Northwestern's defense is not going to make a lot of plays. What will kill drives will probably be Michigan's own mistakes, and we'll only be able to afford a limited number of them. Therefore Grady and his wrong cuts and Martin and his ball repulsion skills should take a hefty back seat to Run DNC against the Wildcats. The offensive gameplan should revolve heavily around Avant's ultra-reliability and WR screens to our fast bastards against the small Northwestern secondary.
We're going to try to run, which isn't a totally dumb idea given Northwestern's 188 YPG yielded and tendency to yield huge chunks against, er, everybody. If we can, we'll have a good shot. If Hart can't go or we decide to uselessly hurl ourselves into stacked fronts, we be toast.
Roundtable X + 1! At IBFC! Yow!
1. The Envy Poll (as seen on rsfc)
Name the five teams, other than yours, whose accomplishments you respect / envy the most. Use whatever criteria you feel is appropriate (wins, titles, consistency, academic integrity, competitive integrity, NCAA violations, general thuggery, mascot intimidation factor ...).
I wince when Michigan welcomes various MAC teams to Michigan Stadium, the PA announcer offers whatever sacrificial lamb we've imported a warm welcome, and in response the crowd viciously boos. I am despondent when I'm standing up during a timeout and someone asks me to sit down. I've honestly considered bitching out old ladies who say things like "we'll leave after the band plays." But I really like it when we're told that we're the largest crowd watching a football game anywhere in America. And I love the Michigan wave, which has to be the most gloriously complicated wave anywhere on the planet.
I guess what I'm going for is a sense of fervent community fandom that isn't coupled with total unbearability. Michigan is middling in this respect, and that's unfortunate. So the following teams are a combination of respectful-yet-dangerously-insane fan passion, historic and current success, and a general impression of how fun being a fan of a said team would be. Teams like USC and Miami with their fairweather fans come nowhere near this list despite their success. Teams like West Virginia and Ohio State that accompany their passion with violence and bags of urine are also off the list. I also try to shy away from teams with vast NCAA troubles where I can and skew heavily towards tradition. In no particular order:
- Alabama: The archetype, save for the distasteful NCAA sanctions.
- Iowa: Historically quite successful under Fry and now under Ferentz. Fans are maniacal and classy. Sorry about those pass interference calls.
- Texas A&M: Yes, practicing your cheers does have great appeal to me. The 12th Man embodies the spirit of the crowd.
- Florida: has been as whistle-clean as SEC programs get; I am developing an EDSBS-level Spurrier mancrush; I wore jean-shorts as a child; the Swamp has a rep for a reason.
- LSU: Howling maelstrom.
With regard to Question #1, what is the most damaging criticism of your program that you will admit is a legitimate criticism? That is, what negative trait does the most damage to the overall respect level of your program (in your eyes, or to others, interpret as you will).
That you-always-lose-Rose-Bowls thing drives me absolutely mad because it's true. Our record there is dismal and has ruined many an otherwise standout year. Even more maddening was that stretch during the 90s were the Pac 10 was awful, awful, awful and we were busy pissing away games to Illinois and Northwestern and such, watching Wisconsin draw Stanford or whatever. I'll take a cheapie at this point.
3. Unrelated Discussion Question
Who do you think is the best player in the history of your program? Tell us a little about him (especially if he's not a household name). Feel free to pick someone from 50 years ago that none of us has seen play.
Well, you've got your Woodson. He's a cornerback; he won the Heisman. There is no other answer. Except Anthony Carter, who singlehandedly changed the way Michigan thought about football. Sort of.
But wait! What of Tom Harmon? Harmon, who you can see above, won the Heisman, cured polio, and once played all eleven positions on the same play. Not to mention that his genetic code eventually produced
Angie Harmon Kelly Harmon (whoops) down the line. And then you've got the whole bomber/WWII thing:
Not satisfied with destroying the midwest, Harmon's next target was an entire continent:
Early in 1943, Harmon parachuted when his plane went down in a tropical storm in South America. He lived through one of the great man-against-nature survival stories. In a vast, virtually unexplored rain forest, armed with a machete and a compass, he headed east to the Atlantic coast on what was to be the greatest "run" of his career. Four days and fifty nightmare miles later, he stumbled into a clearning in Dutch Guina. "I had nothing to eat and little to drink even with all that rain," Harmon said. "I was afraid bad water would sicken me. If my strength went, I would die."
Did this deter him? Not so much. He was so scared of this experience that he immediately did it again:
Later that year, Harmon bailed out again. In a battle with Japanese Zeros over Chungking, China, his P-38 fighter took a fatal hit. But Harmon made it back, thanks to the Chinese underground. "If you didn't have religion before the war, you did then" Harmon wrote in his book "Pilots Also Pray." For his war efforts "Ole 98" received the Silver Star and Purple Heart.
So maybe he's not a great pilot, but he could kill you with his bare teeth, and he died in 1990. Don't eff with Tom Harmon.
BIG TEN = PWN3D
OHIO STATE = PWN3D
VAST, VIRTUALLY UNEXPLORED JUNGLE = PWN3D
CHINA = PWN3D
HITLER = PWN3D
Hurray, that's the poll hurray. If you're interested, you can see all the individual ballots here.
Zounds! It appears that the big winner of the Texas-Texas Tech game was... Virginia Tech? Damn skippy, it was. For the first time this year they've picked up a first place vote, and they've actually got three from Golden Tornado, Cheap Seats, and The Bemusement Park. The latter two have USC at (gasp!) #3! RD's ballot actually had Texas #1 last week but after watching UT demolish his Red Raiders he dropped them(?). All told, Texas's big win over the good-on-paper Red Raiders netted them one whole extra first place vote.
And that's all the intrigue we get in the top ten, as not a single team moved even a spot. Further down, though, Northwestern debuts at #20, marking the first time in BlogPoll history that a team with the nation's worst defense is in the poll. Which of course means Michigan will score like 27 against them.
Now on to the extracurriculars. First up are the teams which spur the most and least disagreement between voters as measured by standard deviation. Note that the standard deviation charts halt at #25 when looking for the lowest, otherwise teams that everyone agreed were terrible (say, Eastern Michigan) would all be at the top.
Ballot math: First up are "Mr. Bold" and "Mr. Numb Existence." The former goes to the voter with the ballot most divergent from the poll at large. The number you see is the average difference between a person's opinion of a team and the poll's opinion.
Mr. Bold is justly RD Baker from Cheap Seats. RD, of course, has the Hokies #1 and USC #3. His ballot is relatively normal for a while (PSU is sort of high at #8 relative to the poll) and then gets funky: Auburn #11, moving up a slot after losing to LSU; WVU #12; ND #16; OSU #17; UTEP #20 (UTEP got exactly two other votes, both #25).
Yes, I did finish second here, probably largely because I think LSU, Texas Tech, and Auburn are stinky cheese, plus I have Penn State and Ohio State real high and Notre Dame low (relatively: #12).
Mr. Numb Existence is Texas blogger PoliBlog; as per usual the winner of this category's ballot does not stand out as wacky.
Next we have the Coulter/Krugman Award and the Straight Bangin' Award, which are again different sides of the same coin. The CKA and SBA go to the blogs with the highest and lowest bias rating, respectively. Bias rating is calculated by subtracting the blogger's vote for his own team from the poll-wide average. A high number indicates you are shameless homer. A low number indicates that you suffer from an abusive relationship with your football team.
The CK Award belongs to the WV Law Dog for placing WVU at #13, though he's followed in hot pursuit by various other bloggers committing acts of misdemeanor homerism. It seems likely he'll keep the award for a while since most others are highly skeptical of the Big East and WVU should cruise for a good long while.
The Straight Bangin' Award goes to RD again (busy week, eh?) for totally omitting Texas Tech from his ballot. (Last week: #9, like a lot of voters) I think we've seen this phenomenon before where a dispiriting loss causes bloggers of that team to show up on the SB list the week following; remember when 4/5 were Michigan bloggers? Uh, yeah.
Swing is essentially the total change in each ballot from last week to this week (obviously voters who didn't submit a ballot last week are not included). A high number means you are easily distracted by shiny things. A low number means that you're damn sure you're right no matter what reality says.
Swing doesn't work. Apologies; I find myself fairly busy during the season. When I can find time to fix it I will.