I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
A note: The "TA" category now includes times when Henne attempts to scramble because he can't find a man. Also I've linked to IBFC's highlights on the appropriate plays; IBFC is awesome.
|1||10||M20||Pass||Hart||16||Screen. Kraus and Lentz both get open field blocks and Massaquoi does a very good job downfield. (CA)|
|1||10||M36||Run||Hart||0||Jammed up inside; Kraus does not control his man.|
|2||10||M36||Pass||Hart||7||Screen. Kraus's attempt to chop Connor does not go very well or this could be a very big gain. (CA)|
|3||3||M43||Pass||Breaston||Inc||Misses Breaston on a little flat route that was wide open. (IN)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 7 min 1st Q. Big time missed opportunity on this drive; that's a simple throw that Henne has to make.|
|1||10||M28||Scramble||Henne||2||An actual rolled pocket. Henne can't find anyone to throw to and takes off. (TA)|
|2||8||M30||Run||Hart||3||Thompson's attempt to block Connor fails and he sticks Hart in the hole.|
|3||5||M33||Pass||Avant||Inc||Avant gets separated from the ball by the PSU DB, but this was a good throw. (CA)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 4 Min 1st Q. Good play from the PSU DB and the first of many instances where Henne can't find anyone open.|
|1||10||M26||Pass||Ecker||4||Henne checks down to Ecker. I don't understand why the throw doesn't go to Manningham. Avant's route is designed to get him free. (CA... close to BR)|
|2||6||M30||Run||Hart||4||POA is crammed up so Hart has to cut to the backside where Connor? Poz? Someone's waiting. Hart manages to drive for a couple extra.|
|3||2||M34||Run||Hart||6||Draw... credit where it's due: Henige/Kraus/Lentz do a great job getting engaged and allowing Hart to pick his hole.|
|1||10||M40||Penalty||Lentz||-10||Holding on Lentz, who got wasted, dude. Ref unfairly blames Kraus.|
|1||20||M30||Run||Grady||3||They come out with Grady and Hart I nthe backfield and run a little trap that doesn't work at all because it relies on single blocking the DTs effectively, which we don't do.|
|2||17||M33||Pass||No one||Sack, -2||Lentz gets killed again.|
|3||19||M31||Pass||Ecker||Inc||They run something that looks a lot like the screen they've already run twice to Hart but is actually a UW-like TE screen, which is all screwed up. The pass hits Henige. Henne needs to hold this a bit longer. (IN)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 13 min 2nd Q. Lentz is beaten twice by the PSU DT to end the drive.|
|1||10||M29||Pass||Avant||4||Long handoff. (CA)|
|2||6||M33||Run||Bass||23||Sweep with Bass taking the snap. OMG fast. Of note is Hart chopping a LB downfield, springing Bass for another 15. I love that little bastard. IBFC video.|
|1||10||O44||Pass||Avant||21||Play action; the offensive line and Hart do a beautiful job picking up the blitz. Avant is wide open downfield. Henne hits him between the numbers(DO)|
|1||10||O23||Run||Hart||2||MSU-ish counter draw to Hart. Lentz gets pushed down to the ground and when he gets back up Hart's running up his back and the rhythm of the play is disrupted.|
|2||8||O21||Run||Bass||3||QB draw. Don't really like this call since it seems obvious after doing it just a few plays ago, but if Bass had cut behind Lentz he had a lane.|
|3||5||O18||Pass||Breaston||Inc||Plenty of time but there's a little bit of a pocket collapse and Henne just tosses it away. Neither Ecker nor Breaston is open, don't know about downfield. (TA)|
|Drive Notes: Made FG(35), 3-0, 4 min 2nd Q. Right down State Street, says Nessler.|
|1||10||M39||Pass||Avant||Inc||Long handoff that's batted by the DE. Why doesn't Steno chop? (BA)|
|2||10||M39||Pass||Avant||9||Horrible spot that's a yard short of where he actually caught the ball. Oh yes: an out, throw's a little high(CA)|
|3||1||M48||Run||Hart||2||Up the gut.|
|1||10||50||Pass||Avant||4||Shotgun. Avant's hammered by two guys the instant he catches this. (CA)|
|2||6||O46||Run||Hart||12||Draw aided by a driving, crushing block from Ecker.It's amazing how there's always huge holes between the tackles and the guards on these runs. Interior OL also does a good job on this one.|
|1||5||O29||Pass||Hart||12||Henne checks down onto Hart's flare.A PSU LB comes up and Hart hits the circle button and spins free in totally awesome fashion. (CA)|
|1||10||O17||Pass||Hart||Inc||Screen attempted. The PSU blitzer is totally unblocked and Henne has to throw it faster than he wants to. (IN... maybe a bit harsh)|
|2||10||O17||Pass||Breaston||Inc||Ton of time here. Henne throws it away even though Breaston's sitting there wide open.(BR)|
|3||10||O17||Pass||No one||Sack, -9||Hali owns Riley and Henne has zero time to throw.|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG(42), 3-0, EOH. Hali has been very quiet so far.The drive stalls because of a Henne mistake and a the OL issue... same story we've seen before so many times this year. Everyone does okay but then there's a couple of breakdowns from different people and we're staring at a FG attempt.|
|1||10||M29||Run||Hart||7||Really nice job by Kraus and Henige to crush the left side of the line and open up a nice crease for Hart.|
|1||10||M41||Pass||Breaston||Inc||Henne fires this into a somewhat covered Breaston. If he had thrown it a little behind Breaston it wou ld have been a completion. As it is the safety breaks it up. (IN)|
|2||10||M41||Run||Hart||5||Off the right side. Decently blocked but only would have gone for a couple except for Hart's three-yard post-contact mole burrow.|
|3||5||M46||Run||Hart||18||PSU brings a run blitz and slants their DL across the Michigan line. Hart finds a cutback lane behind a beaten Riley as Ecker holds off Connor and Kraus kills Poz downfield. Great read by Hart. IBFC video.|
|1||10||O36||Run||Grady||14||Lentz pulls around and murders the LB at the point of attack. What in the hell is going on here?|
|1||10||O22||Run||Grady||0||This one does not work so well as they slant again and get penetration.|
|2||10||O22||Pass||Avant||Inc||Dear Chad, the corner of the endzone is not in the band.(IN)|
|3||10||O22||Pass||Ecker||20||Dear Chad, this one was sweet. Fits it right in the hole in the zone. Perfectly timed. (DO)|
|Drive Notes: TD, 10-0, 11 min 3rd Q.What in the hell was this drive? Where have you been all my life, grinding run game?|
|1||10||M17||Pass||Breaston||-2||Long handoff; the CB is on top of Breaston immediately on the throw. Maybe if we could send him deep this would work better. (CA)|
|2||12||M15||Run||Hart||8||Words cannot describe this tackle breaking, grinding, driving run. You can see the PSU DB who has him wrapped up going "DOES NOT COMPUTE. DIV BY ZERO! DIV BY ZERO!" as he fails to bring down the magic midget. Watch it at IBFC; it's worth it.|
|3||4||M23||Pass||Massaquoi||4||Horrible throw makes what should have been a sure first down into something very close that we get only because of a bad spot. Amazing Mass catches this given the cast. (IN)|
|1||10||M27||Run||Hart||5||Draw up the middle; more good yards running straight at these guys.|
|2||5||M32||Run||Hart||2||Spins away from a tackle and breaks two more before getting swarmed. Blocking was pretty bad on this one. Almost all of this rushing is coming with 6/7 in the box in our 3 WR set.|
|3||3||M34||Scramble||2||Drops back and panics for no reason. If he sits in the pocket he's got another two or three seconds and Thompson is breaking open. (BR).|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-0, 3 min 3rd Q. It's really hard for us to string together drives when Henne makes this many execution errors, so you get what we've been getting all year: stop/start. A couple first downs, maybe we get into the redzone, and then we peter out.|
|1||10||M18||Run||Hart||0||Hali gets free and sticks Hart. This seems like it was slow to develop; Hali got driven back but not engaged and popped back into the intended hole.|
|2||10||M18||Pass||Grady||Inc||Screen is batted down. Riley doesn't really control his man. (BA)|
|3||10||M18||Pass||Avant||10||Slant to Avant which is only really nine yards but we get a fortunate spot and a first down. (CA)|
|1||10||M28||Run||Hart||3||A pulling Lentz has two guys to block because this is a 3 WR set and PSU has seven in the box. You could check off I guess.|
|2||7||M31||Pass||No one||Sack, -2||Play action; Riley does get beat here again by a spin move and thus the sack. Nessler says that Henne had a guy open but didn't find him; I believe him. (BR)|
|3||9||M29||Pass||Manningham||Inc||All day because PSU rushes three. Henne can't find anyone and checks down yet again, this time inaccurately. You have to find someone. Lloyd looks pissed. (BR)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-3, 13 min 4th Q. Just repeat what I said for the last drive. Our personell is well suited to a driving, methodical offense with Ecker, Avant, and Hart but our OL and QB are too inconsistent to make it work.|
|1||10||M28||Scramble||Henne||5||The Zemitas fumble return. This looks legit to me. (TA)|
|Drive Notes: PSU Touchdown + 2 PT conversion, 10-18 11 min 4th Q. Well of course we're in shock, Nessler. What did you expect?|
|1||10||M45||Run||Hart||10||Excellent cutting by Hart here on yet another draw.Interior offensive line clears out a big hole.|
|1||10||O45||Run||Hart||1||Uh, yeah, the OL fires right past the DL here. Two guys just whiff blocks.|
|2||9||O44||Pass||Breaston||10||A successful out just over Phillips' outstretched hand. (DO)|
|1||10||O34||Run||Grady||1||The same little trap thing they ran before to the same effect. I'm not sure who this is supposed to fool since we have nothing we run off that formation other than that.|
|2||9||O33||Pass||Manningham||33||The New Math! The New Math! Unbelievable play from Manningham. IBFC video. Sweet. (DO)|
|1||G||O3||Run||Hart||3||2PT conversion is just a plow up the gut against a three man line. IBFC video.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown + 2, 18-18, 9 min 4th Q. Shot of kid in stands pointing to number one jersey, that's damn right.|
|1||10||M42||Run||Hart||4||Run right into an eight man line here, Hart squeaks out a few yards but fumbles at the end of the play.|
|2||6||M46||Run||Hart||3||I can't see this play because Michigan is at the line, snapping the ball right as the replay is showing Hart's fumble... obviously they intentionally did this to prevent a review, and saved the possession.|
|3||3||M49||Pass||Avant||7||Slant once again; Zemitas doesn't seem interested in covering this particular route.(CA)|
|1||10||O44||Pass||Hart||5||Screen that Hart has no business making any yards on, but he makes two guys miss and creates five from nothing.(CA)|
|2||5||O39||Run||Grady||6||Grady finally shows that bowling ball stuff, meeting Poz at the LOS and plowing him seven yards backwards. IBFC video.|
|1||10||O33||Pass||Avant||Inc||Play action. Henne throws away the deep out because Avant is covered. (TA)|
|2||10||O33||Pass||Tabb||3||Long handoff. This looks like it should be good at the snap but the PSU CBs don't fear the speed nearly as much as MSU, so they read and come up to tackle nicely.(CA)|
|3||7||O30||Pass||Avant||Inc||Avant's blanketed by King and I think Henne's just getting rid of this one. Another example of his allergy to throwing to Avant in the endzone. (TA)|
|Drive Notes: Made FG(47), 21-18, 4 min 4th Q. Jesus, Rivas. That tied a career high and he had like 10 extra yards on it. Michigan clearly has to show that it can go deep more frequently. This whole game we try it twice, on this most recent play and the Manningham bomb. We have to try to get Breaston and Tabb open if only to give them something to think about.|
|1||10||O40||Run||Hart||2||Another run into an eight man front. This whole sequence of playcalls will get discussed below. The OL does an okay job but there aren't any creases with eight guys there. OMG! OMG! PATERNO GETS TWO SECONDS ADDED! CHEETERZ!|
|2||7||O38||Pass||Avant||3||Long handoff. If you're going to throw this I don't think it should be to Avant. It should be Breaston or TNM.(CA)|
|3||5||O35||Run||Hart||1||No fewer than nine in the box at the moment.|
|Drive Notes: 15 yard pooch punt (YAY!!!), 21-18, 3 min 4th Q. See below for discussion.|
|1||10||M47||Pass||Avant||17||Almost pulled him out of bounds but it's good enough.(CA)|
|1||10||O36||Pass||Tabb||4||Why are we throwing routes like this with 30-something seconds left in the game?(CA)|
|2||6||O32||Pass||Ecker||5||Little out route. Still dislike the playcalling.(CA)|
|3||1||O27||Run||Hart||10||Draw to Hart against like five guys in the box. The right thing to do against the D presented with a TO; it was a guaranteed first down and you don't want to throw an incomplete here, then be faced with even less time on the clock and be forced to get a yard. Get OOB quicker, Hart.|
|1||10||O16||Pass||Breaston||Inc||Thrown to a covered breaston at the LOS. Throwing this route at this point in the game is inexcusable. (BR)|
|2||10||O16||Pass||Manningham||6||This one's better since Manningham's right at the sidelines and just gets OOB immediately for something of a gain. (CA)|
|3||4||O10||Pass||Breaston||Inc||Tyrone Butterfield anyone? This is another inexcusable route and throw combination with six seconds left in the game. It's endzone or nothing here. If this isn't dropped it's game over man.(BR)|
|4||4||O10||Pass||Manningham||10||Touchdown. Breaston's drag route gets the safety to step the wrong way and it's over. You do not fuck with The New Math. And of course... IBFC video. (DO)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 27-25, EOG. I watched the final play like 20 times. The little "10 sec rewind" button on my DVR is teh sweet.|
So what does Mr. Rational Analysis think?
He's a little pissed off.
Let's discuss the playcalling after the Hall interception: it was largely inexcusable. To Carr's credit, he seems to realize that he erred after watching what unfolded after his reversion (and yes, it was a reversion) to 1997 Carr.
However, I don't think he correctly diagnoses what he did wrong. Play by play:
- First and Ten: Somewhat questionable given the obviously stacked line Michigan was playing against but not too bad. Forces them to use their first timeout and gives the best and most consistent player on offense an opportunity to make some yards. The time situation is such that you need to rip a couple TOs away
- Second and Eight. I question the player and the play. Try to get someone moving before the snap and throw them something akin to the slip screen we used a couple times against Wisconsin with Manningham or Breaston; the block provided by the other WR provides a much greater screwup potential for the D. As it was the DB just had to form up on Avant and wait.
- Third and Five. Just the wrong thing to do. Stripping the last TO here is not nearly as useful as taking a shot at a killer first down that would drive the clock down under a minute and put UM very close to strangling the game. PSU dared Michigan to throw, as they had to (allowing a three yard run here is devastating), but Michigan backed down.
- Fourth and Disaster.Carr's comments reveal that he thinks he should have been more aggressive on the previous plays but does not mention anything about the huge error here on fourth down when Carr punted. Michigan had a fourth and four with just under three minutes to go in the game against a team that had expended its timeouts. A first down essentially ends the game given that Michigan would have three plays to run about 40 to 45 seconds off the clock plus a full 25 seconds after the first down. In total that's going to wind the clock to about 20 seconds before a second fourth down, estimating conservatively. Michigan traded the ability to end the game for fifteen yards of field position, which is a complete disaster. The probability of making that fourth down is probably around 40%; the decision isn't even close.
In this situation there is some utility to getting a first down immediately but there is a huge advantage in one once Penn State has expended a timeout or two, so the first two plays, which set Michigan up for a medium-length conversion, were good ones. The third and fourth down calls were not. Michigan would be very close to ending the game if they convert on third down and would for all intents and purposes have ended with a fourth down conversion. The run into a nine man front on third and five was a terrible decision; the punt on fourth down was worse.
Was that you screaming about how Henne should be sent to the gulag after the fumble?
Proved you wrong, huh?
I'm sad to say not really. Even on the final, game-winning drive he made two giant mental errors on throws to Breaston that would have almost certainly meant a loss if caught. Check the chart:
|Team||Dead on||Catchable||Inaccurate||Bad Read||Throwaways||Batted|
Given the preponderance of screens and long handoffs (12 in total, 1 IN, one BA), Henne had a really bad day. On downfield throws he was acceptable or better on 14 of them and had 16 instances where he either missed, threw the ball away because no one was open, or messed up his read. Penn State is a good defense but when Michigan dropped back to pass the ball didn't even get in a place where it could possibly be caught more than 50% of the time, and several of the instances in which it did were little checkdowns.
The last drive was a microcosm of his day. The two throws to Breaston were the work of someone who does not understand the situation he finds himself in. If either of those is caught, we almost certainly lose. The checkdown to Manningham was a good decision that got us six critical yards and didn't run much time off the clock since Manningham just fell out of bounds. And then the final play was perfectly timed, read, and thrown.
Hell, the last drive was a microcosm of his season. Occasional brilliance, occasional meh, and a large number of questionable decisions/throws. If he had missed Avant in the corner of the endzone it would have been an exact replication. I know Carr said that anyone criticising Henne doesn't know what he's talking about, but hell, he punted on that fourth and four. He's not one to talk. Is Henne's inability to find open receivers downfield and excessive reliance on his checkdown routes a product of Carr's huge aversion to turnovers, as commenters have suggested? There's no way to know without being at practice, watching Carr tatoo "I WILL NOT THROW INTERCEPTIONS" onto his chi points or whatever. I think Michigan would very much like him to throw downfield to open receivers and has called a large number of plays that have emphasized this idea; I also think that when Henne is called to "exploit the middle of the field" he has more often than not made bad decisions. On the coaches? Maybe, but given their track record and how Henne's progress or lack thereof significantly departs from said track record I think the guy responsible is wearing #7.
Have anything nice to say, Mr. Grouchy?
I love Mike Hart sooooo much. He has a nickname after that driving, wonderful run: "DOES NOT COMPUTE." Mario Manningham is also super dreamy.
Special credit should also be offered to the offensive line, especially Steno, Henige, and Kraus. Lentz and Riley both suffered stretches where they got beat and thus killed Michigan drives but the left side of the line was very, very solid all day. Ecker also did a good job blocking on several of Hart's better runs.
Avant is Avant.
And, since I don't have a special teams section, you have to credit Breaston's returns. He put together a second strong game and if Henne had been more accurate on a couple passes would have put together a very nice combined yardage total. The return to midfield on the final drive was just as important as either of The New Math's touchdowns and he's looking OMG open on his routes now. It seems like that rumored hamstring injury was indeed legit and negative, and it seems like he's either almost totally or just totally healthy at this point. He's re-emerging into a weapon.
OMG REFEREES OMG!!!
How did you get in here?
All right: Michigan did benefit from two fortunate spots, but it also got screwed on one. Since Michigan got the first down when screwed and punted soon after on the fortunate ones the game was not unduly affected by either.
I have no idea whether the Avant catch was actually a catch or not. His toe clearly impacts the turf first in-bounds and is followed quite quickly by the heel out of bounds. I haven't seen anything conclusive either way from the rulebook. If Avant had been facing the other direction and his toe had clearly been in there's no controversy, so I'm inclined to think it's good.
The reason the Hart fumble was not reviewed was because Michigan rushed to the line after said play and snapped it before anyone had a chance to look at it. Credit Carr for saving the possession there; you can't blame the referees.
What does it mean for Iowa?
I feel much better about Michigan's ability to run against the Hawkeyes after watching the PSU game and Iowa's game against IU. Michigan did a decent to good job against an intimidating front four and a very good set of linebackers while Iowa struggled to pressure IU's Blake Powers all day. Michigan's weakness on the right side of the line may not affect them much against the Hawkeyes--I wouldn't expect three dead drives because of it. Michigan's ability to get Ecker and Kraus out on linebackers is also heartening; we'll have to block Hodge and Greenway to get the draw game going and we should be able to do so.
As far as passing, I think we're stuck with this version of Henne for the rest of the year, but things should get better at Kinnick. Iowa has two starting DBs down with ankle sprains who are questionable for Saturday. Even if they return they probably won't be 100%. Henne should have an easier time of finding open receivers than he did against Penn State, especially if Manningham (who was hardly used until late) is a bigger part of the passing game and Breaston can finally get some balls thrown to him. Michigan must throw deep more to open up the long handoff/screen game that they'll have to use to move the sticks. I expect a more consistent performance against an Iowa defense that doesn't seem nearly as intimidating without Roth and Babineaux, but not a great one.
Hurray, that's the poll hurray. If you're interested, you can see all the individual ballots here.
The poll came down on the AP side of the great ND debate, leaving them at #9 instead of dropping them to #12 like the coaches did. SMQB loves him some Irish so much that they of the two home losses check in at #4(!). It doesn't appear anyone budged on the Texas/USC issue, which is somewhat surprising. I had figured Texas would get a few more firsts. We did get two voters dropping the Trojans all the way to #3 after the Bush Push: EDSBS leads the charge followed by actionBERG.
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.
Deviation continues to plummet; Texas Tech continues to hover at the top of it, though this is probably the Red Raiders' last week on top of this metric, since next week they play Texas and thus finally get to demonstrate their competence--or lack thereof. Most voters have them #9 despite a shaky resume.
Our top five teams are becoming very clear, as you can see.
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 Warren St. John for a second time... and the reason is very clear: Louisiana State plummets out of his ballot this week, replaced by Louisiana Tech(!). Bold indeed, but probably a typo. (How can you type "Tech" when you mean "State"? Insert Blair/Miller cheap shot at New York Times here.)
In light of something that appears to be an honest mistake we'll have dual winners this week and bestow Mr. Bold upon Michigan blogger Rob in Madtown as well. Rob's one of a few voters pulling the lever for the Terps (#19), but other than that his ballot's just slightly different in a lot of ways: extra love for LSU (#5), ND (#6), BC(#9), and Oregon(#12) but little for FSU(#14) or Texas Tech(#20). He's also got Northwestern in the poll, one spot ahead of the Badgers.
Mr. Numb Existence is Texas blogger PoliBlog. Of note is that the numbers here, just like the numbers in the deviation, are coming down as the polls turn to less speculation as each week passes.
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 goes the WV Law Dog, who's got the Mountaineers at #14. Given the state of the Big East WVU is going to have to blow out the rest of said conference to get anything more than Texas Tech treatment from me.
The Straight Bangin' Award goes to Wisconsin blogger Bruce Ciskie, who interestingly enough didn't rank the Badgers last week and only has them at #23 this week, five slots behind Minnesota! The Badgers just, like, beat Minnesota. Flukily, sure, but beat 'em just the same.
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.
Comments welcomed, as always.
Something I will defend to the death is my omission of Cal. Wins over I-AA Sac State, awful awful NMSU, UW, Arizona, and Illinois, losses to the only two half competent teams they've played. They trailed Illinois in the fourth. I hated putting them and their no-QB having, no-defense having asses in at all, and now I don't have to. Like Texas Tech with two losses.
Also Texas Tech and Auburn get no love because of the level of competition they've defeated. Sorry, TT, I don't think Nebraska is any good.
|1||Southern Cal||Their margin over the rest of the field is now very thin, but a margin it is.|
|2||Texas||Texas Tech appears to be the last serious hurdle... but who knows how serious they are anyway?|
|3||Georgia||As discussed earlier, VT and UGA are very similar teams. Georgia's played better competition.|
|4||Virginia Tech||Um... yeah. Schedule is about to ramp up.|
|5||UCLA||Giant jump based on everyone else eating it, but they didn't exactly cover themselves in glory either. Past this point... it's a mess.|
|6||Alabama||A last second field goal to beat Ole Miss? Er... that Florida win doesn't look so hot any more, does it.|
|7||Florida State||Yeah, they lost. So did basically everyone else.|
|8||Miami||Functional DNP vs. Temple.|
|9||Penn State||Loss of Williams will hurt very badly.|
|10||LSU||Arizona State close call keeps looking worse. Florida win doesn't really impress much given the offense's failing to exist. Not going anywhere.|
|11||Boston College||Thrilling last second victory! What a game!|
|13||Oregon||I dunno. I think they're pretty decent, but I'm really uncomfortable with them here.|
|14||Ohio State||Won via gift. (Ok, ok, you gifted them five fumbles as well.)|
|15||Wisconsin||Won via gift.|
|16||Michigan State||Maybe you do hate winning.|
|17||Minnesota||You hate winning too.|
|18||Auburn||Why is this team behind the Big Ten clusterintercourse? Wins over WKU, Ball State, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Miss State. Loss to the one non awful team they played.|
|19||Texas Tech||Opportunity to prove it Saturday.|
|20||Florida||Not to go all Sports Guy, but how do you think Orson felt watching Urban cry in the postgame? That's never, ever a good sign. It's like having a quarterback named "Joey."|
|22||Georgia Tech||Functional DNP vs. Duke before Miami showdown.|
|23||Fresno State||Last best hope against USC?|
|24||West Virginia||Um... I guess?|
Dropped Out: Cal(#15, ITYS),Louisville(#21), Colorado (#24)
Games I Saw: Michigan-PSU, UVA-FSU (half), MSU-OSU(half), Minnesota-Purdue(bits of the first half); Iowa-IU (yes, I taped it... help me); LSU-UF.
Help Requested: Anything you've got. This is a disaster.
Update: Dropped Michigan for UVA at #25, dropped Iowa for WVU at #24.
3-2 over BC, 9-2 over Merrimack. Michigan stands 4-0-0 on the year.
- ETA on "Hobey Baker" chants for Johnson: 2 weeks, and he'll deserve each and every one of them. Incredible player who can literally do it all. He crushes opposing forwards. He skates with them. He dekes them out of their jocks. He can shoot hard an on target from anywhere with little provocation. He makes all the right passes.
- Cogliano scored his first points of the year with 2-2-4 against Merrimack but his best play was a straight nasty bit of stickhandling that got him past two Warriors and garnered a hooking call. I was disappointed with him in the first few games but he's beginning to assert himself.
- We are going to have trouble scoring on a consistent basis. We've got Hensick and Cogliano, Porter and Kolarik, and Hunwick and Johnson, but there's very little after them. Ebbet and Kal will score periodically but they're not to be relied upon. I miss Tambellini badly.
- David Rohlfs got skated around on almost every shift against BC. He's going to have to be protected against skilled teams. Ditto Tim Cook, who many say is improved but... uh, yeah. I don't see it.
- Only two goals against BC sounds good but both were very soft and made me think uncomfortably about that guy from last year who liked punching people. Ruden was his usual self: solid positionally and completely unable to control rebounds.
There's a distinct possibility that the CCHA doesn't blow this year. A lot of teams have opened up with very strong results:
- Michigan is 4-0 with a win over BC.
- MSU is 2-0 and beat North Dakota.
- Alaska-Fairbanks took 3 points from Minnesota in Minnesota.
- UNO is 2-0 with a win over UNH.
- Lake State took 3 points from ECAC contender Colgate.
- OSU split with Colorado College.
Northern Michigan's split against St. Cloud--a team likely headed for the WCHA basement--hurts, as does BG's loss to Merrimack and WMU's loss to Robert Morris (enjoy your lovely parting gifts, Jim Culhane), but other than that no CCHA teams lost games they were supposed to win. Several teams outperformed expectations, which will really help out in the pairwise towards the end of the year.
Games to keep an eye on this weekend:
- ND is going into the lion's den (OMG CATHOLICISM!) with a road weekend against DU and CC. A split here would be a tremendous result for the CCHA. Wouldn't get your hopes up, though, Jeff Jackson or no.
- Northern has a home and home with and improved but still bad Michigan Tech team. If NMU is going to be one of the CCHA's better teams (and they probably should be) dropping more points to WCHA bottom feeders will not help matters.
- Fairbanks travels to Alaska-Anchorage for a pair. If UAF can take 3 or even 4 points from a meh UAA team in their second consecutive weekend on the road they'll announce themselves as a CCHA contender and greatly help the PWR comparisons. Michigan also takes on UAF next weekend for a pair at Yost. They could come in smokin'. [UPDATE: I'm mistaken on the location of the UAF series. It's at Fairbanks, making the weekend look even more daunting. Thx to reader Puckhead.]
- A two part cheer directed at BC freshman Brett Motherwell: "I did your..." "Moooootherwell."
- Students screaming "dance" in the first period against Merrimack whilst up 6-0 and again up 7-0.
- A treasured "Goalie Goalie Sieve Sieve Sieve" against the Warriors.
- "If you're not good at hockey, go to Merrimack /
If you're not good at hockey, go to Merrimack /
If you're not good at hockey and you know you really suck, go to Merrimack"
The Next Weekend
One game against Michigan State at Yost. State's gotten out of the gate well and this one will be a typical MSU-UM game in which the Wolverines badly outplay and outshoot the Spartans but can't put it away due to Angry Michigan Safety Hating God. I have doubts about Sauer's preparedness but none about Vicari's. Call it 3-2, MSU.
Michigan Monday Catfight Part III! Er... no, not really. Here it is. I was going to disagree with him about his main thesis, which is this:
This looks like a completely different team from week-to-week, half-to-half and sometimes even play-to-play.
But upon watching about 2/3rds of the game I have to say that this:
The offensive line is so porous that it looks like even mediocre opponents are holding a Tupperware party in the backfield, then the line turns into a cohesive unit against a solid defense.
is both true and utterly mystifying. Michigan still had its issues but if you were to scale the problems they had against Minnesota to the talent level on the PSU line you would get total disaster, which didn't happen. Tamba Hali did nothing all day save for one admittedly badass sack. Lentz had a couple instances of really poor pass protection, but other than that they did a very good job against a very tough defense. Who knows why? [OMG HOLDING!!! -PSU ed. I'll get to you and your crazy ass in a second.]
Iowa has also been smote by Angry Michigan Safety Hating God. Iowa's "possession" (read: white) receiver Ed Hinkel has a broken arm and is out for the year. Defensive backs Antwaan Allen and Charles Godfrey also missed the Indiana game, both with sprained ankles. Both are questionable against Michigan.
Right. Yeah... uh... well... you PSU guys are crazy. Like the guy who gets caught outside in a nuclear holocaust crazy:
Our biggest rival is, and has been since we entered the Big Ten, the referees. Their colors are white and black. Their mascot is a zebra. And they are unbeatable. No amount of talent on the field or coaching on the sideline can stop them.
This continues for a long, long time, if you're interested. PSU fans have gone beyond the standard "the refs are dumber than seahorses" fan bitching and gone into a place where logic does not exist. If the referees were actually out to get PSU, why the tetchy PI call on Hall at the end of the game? Why rule the Henne fumble a fumble when it was so close? Why make an incorrect call in PSU's favor that is overturned by review? The sense, it no make. Not to mention that the refereeing conspiracy is pretty crappy when all your efforts only get the favored team a single shot from the ten with one second left. We need to pay these guys more next year... and include the ND game in the package.
You can check the fan comments on the next post to confirm that this isn't the delusion of one man, but rather an entire fanbase. It's uniquely paranoid. All fanbases have a litany of terrible calls that went against them. Only Penn State thinks that the referees are out to get them.
I almost felt badly for the deranged visitors who flooded Ann Arbor until I walked into Michigan Stadium and immediately got told that Michigan sucks by some cocky students. Cocky! Sure, Michigan was 3-3 and PSU 6-0, but it's amazing what a last second win over Mighty Northwestern and a squeaker in the annual PSU-OSU Worst Game Ever Played will do for your confidence. Ann Arbor was overrun with these guys who had forgotten eight years of total futility. Make it nine. I hope you had a safe trip home.
Also: your band plays nothing but that "hey" song and that song they play at NHL playoff games in Canada. You also have a four word fight song: "We are Penn State."
Yes, yes you are.
He could go to the hizzle shizzle. Odd article in the NYT about ESPN-speak drifting into sports writing, but I think the major problem is with incredibly annoying sportstalk radio phrases drifting into the common discourse. I'm not sure if everyone knows this, but two incredibly annoying phrases in specific, "drinking the Kool-Aid" and "thrown under the bus," are banned here. Any attempt to use them in a non-ironic fashion will result in your post being edited with [I AM A JIM ROME-LEVEL TOOL] replacing the offending phrase.
(Roundtable #10 is up at ATL. Check it out.
1. What would it take for you to vote someone other than USC #1 in the poll? If you already are, what would it take for USC to regain the top spot on your ballot?
USC's hold on #1 in my ballot is getting precarious given their struggles against Arizona State, Arizona, and Notre Dame, but there doesn't appear to be a challenger that has looked as impressive against a comparable schedule--sorry, Texas, but the Big Twelve is way down this year. Ohio State is a good win but USC's got a match with the ND win and the second tier (Oregon, ASU versus OK, CU) is advantage USC.
Virginia Tech is 6-0 but has had three functional byes against Duke, Ohio, and Marshall. Best win to date is over Georgia Tech. They struggled against a mediocre NC State team. USC's resume easily bests them. I think I'm actually going to drop them behind...
Georgia, who have only had one functional bye against ULM and has a win at UT, which roughly corresponds to USC's ND win. They nuked Boise but struggled against that other USC. Every other win has been fairly comfortable, though not a blowout. Still, UGA has a complete defense, a very good ground game, and an intermittently spectacular passing attack.
What about Alabama? They've only played one good team, Florida, and didn't exactly blow the doors off Southern Miss, Ole Miss, or Arkansas.
2. Which of the undefeateds is most likely to remain so? Who is least likely?
Most: Texas. They've got a game against Texas Tech and then the soft nubbins of the Big Twelve (Baylor, OK State, Kansas) before a game against A&M and then the championship game against whichever short bus-riding team makes it out of the North.
Least: Texas Tech is fraud city, baby.
3. If you were running the BCS system, would you let the computer rankings factor in margin of victory? Why or why not?
Um. Sort of. There is not enough information to get effective computer rankings without extra data, but pure margin of victory is often distorted by meaningless touchdowns. Why is the final score the only relevant piece of data when play by play is available? Computer rankings should be allowed to use any piece of relevant data. Margin of victory is a useful piece of information. Excluding it is stupid, especially when you cap it at 21, as the BCS used to.