I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
Cato June twitch central: Here you go, kids. We've got a candidate for understatement of the year:
Because of his body art and trash-talking on-field demeanor, June may not appear to be a humble, hard-working professional.
Good for you in any case, Cato. Those prone to seizures induced by unexpected images should look away:
ERROR! MALFORMED DATA.
Can anyone read this and tell me if it's good? Scoop Jackson wrote a huge long column on the Fab Five that I swear I tried to read. I couldn't do it, man. I'm pretty sure he expends many, many words talking about how goddamn black they were. (On further review... yep.)
These things [Cartman] seriously piss me off you guys [/Cartman]. Indeed they changed a lot of things. Notably, they changed the Michigan basketball program into a disaster zone. That only gets passing mention here because the downside of the OMG ATTITUDE(!) that is the Fab Five's true legacy hardly ever gets mentioned. With the baggy shorts came a lot of baggage you see reflected in people like Terrell Owens today, but try mentioning that as a negative side effect of the "urbanization"--and what a tidy euphemism that is--of sports and see how many different Jesse Jackson organizations sue you.
Also: I failed to "report" this when this "happened" but I'm a "loose cannon blogger" so you'll have to deal. Brent Petway is academically ineligible for the fall semester.
Diabolically friendly! Uh, yeah. SI On Campus decided to grace the Halloween post with a link for the better part of a day and traffic doubled-ish. If you're wondering, yes, this does somewhat dampen my enthusiasm for telling, say, Stuart Mandel to, say, "eat a dick." Er... again, that is. Definitely not a third time. Probably.
Delphi speaks. Bo:
"I don't know whether they can put it together or not; I really don't. ... They don't have a real good offensive line, their back is playing on one leg. The quarterback hasn't looked as good as they thought he would, and they lost a great receiver before the season, and now their safeties are out.
"Well, I don't know."
"They had so many injuries early, and they got off to a bad start and they didn't look good and they got beat by Notre Dame. ... They should never have lost to Notre Dame. My God, they had the ball down there and they should have won."
|1||10||M27||Run||Hart||1||Draw. Stenavich's man sheds and tackles.|
|2||9||M28||Pass||Avant||Inc||Tipped at the line. (BA)|
|3||9||M28||Pass||Avant||13||Tipped again; ominously, Riley just barely gets enough on the DE to push him past Henne. (BA)|
|1||10||M41||Pass||Avant||16||Nice slant to Avant. (DO)|
|1||10||O41||Run||Hart||3||Lentz pulls onto a linebacker, who stands him up at the LOS. Not so good.|
|2||7||O38||Run||Hart||20||Draw. Bass gets just enough of the LB/S to push him just past Hart and he moves through the hole.|
|1||10||O18||Run||Hart||3||This play isn't on the tape. Thanks ABC.|
|2||7||O15||Run||Hart||8||Draw once again. We're in a 3 WR set and they have six in the box. The blockers do well.|
|1||G||O8||Run||Hart||3||Hart has to cut back since the planned route of attack is totally stuffed.|
|2||G||O5||Pass||Avant||Inc||Henne overthrows Avant on a slant by six feet. (IN)|
|3||G||O5||Pass||Ecker||Inc||I'm going to be charitable and say that this was just thrown away since there was no one open. It's either that or another ridiculously overthrown ball. (TA)|
|Drive Notes: FG, 3-0, 10 min 1st Q. The runs that work are all draws. We are a finesse running team. Henne had Avant open but just rocketed it well above his head. Four points left on the board.|
|1||10||M39||Run||Hart||8||An off tackle here were Lentz gets a very good seal block and lets Hart dart up for a big chunk of yardage.|
|2||2||M47||Run||Hart||6||Draw. Hart jinks his way through a minefield of guys holding their blocks.|
|1||10||O47||Pass||Manningham||Pen / 15||Manningham is tackled by his man.|
|1||10||O32||Run||Manningham||-5||A reverse that doesn't work. Avant misses his block on the safety, otherwise I think Manningham gets the corner here.|
|2||15||O37||Pass||Avant||6||I think this is a checkdown. (CA)|
|3||9||O31||Pass||No one||Sack / -8||Riley gets destroyed by this Steve Davis kid, a freshman. At this point the elderly gentleman in front of me, who I do not know, turns to me and says "Is that Riley? Pathetic." I've got no response.|
|Drive Notes: 3-0, 3 min 1st Q. Davis is going to kill like three additional drives by owning whatever RT we throw out there.|
|1||10||M27||Pass||Ecker||Inc||Nice seam route to Ecker 23 yards downfield. Ecker drops it. (DO)|
|2||10||M27||Pass||Avant||14||Simple out to Avant which is somewhat overthrown. (CA).|
|1||10||M41||Run||Hart||1||Henige's block is to fall down in the general direction of the Minnesota defender, who disrupts the entire play.|
|2||9||M42||Pass||Dunno||Inc||The offensive line decides not to block the blitzer, who crushes henne as he attempts to throw. (BA)|
|3||9||M42||Pass||Tabb||7||Henne has all day here but can only dump it down to Carl Tabb, who is well short of the first down. (BR).|
|Drive Notes: 3-3, 11 min 2nd Q. Total busts on first and second down by the OL put Michigan in third and long.|
|1||10||M35||Run||Hart||5||This is indeed a fumble and it is recovered by Minnesota. After video review, the player was ruled down? What? The Gophers got screwed here.|
|2||5||M40||Run||Hart||1||Jesus. Davis just decides that Mike Kolodziej is an annoying fly and gets rid of him, then tackles hart.|
|3||4||M39||Pass||No one||Sack / -3||Henige is forced to hold Montomgery, who gets the sack anyway. Henne is tentative and not throwing the ball on time. I refuse to believe that the toasterrific Minnesota secondary is covering Avant and Manningham.|
|Drive Notes: 3-3 8 min 2nd Q. Another big play by Davis and then Henige can't block Montgomery. The OL is killing us.|
|1||10||M26||Pass||Manningham||11||Out to Manningham. (CA)|
|1||10||M37||Pass||Breaston||18 + 15||Roughing the passer after the completion to Breaston, who turns his man completely around on his post-out. (DO).|
|1||10||O30||Pass||Avant||Inc||Tipped by the LB in the zone. He's staring down Avant and thus he's surrounded by like four guys. (BR)|
|2||10||O30||Pass||Massaquoi||Inc||Sure, throw to the guy with one hand. (CA)|
|3||10||O30||Pass||Avant||Inc||Avant's open in the end zone and Henne plain misses him. (IN).|
|Drive Notes: FG. 6-3 6 min 2nd Q. I really dislike these downfield throws on third down. It would be one thing if Henne was having a good year and nailing guys who came open 20 yards downfield, but that's not happening.|
|1||10||O23||Run||Hart||0||This Steve Davis kid can play. He stands up Ecker and then nimbly avoids Thompson's block and makes the tackle for no gain.|
|2||10||O23||Pass||Breaston||18||Breaston's wide open as Avant and Manningham clear it out for him. (CA)|
|1||G||O5||Pass||Avant||Inc||This fade is badly overthrown. (IN)|
|2||G||O5||Run||Hart||4||Good blocking by Lentz and Thompson makes a crease that Hart can exploit. Big play.|
|3||G||O1||Run||Hart||0||This is the exact same play that failed on 4th and 1 versus Wisconsin. Again the pulling guard Lentz doesn't block anyone.|
|4||G||O1||Run||Hart||1||He makes it but isn't easy. No pull here just an F-U iso play.|
|Drive Notes: TD, 13-3 3 min 2nd Q. Thompson has asserted himself as the starting FB and is doing a pretty good job. He's not Dudley but he's not a disaster.|
|1||10||M31||Pass||Massaquoi||Inc||I think he's throwing it away here since Mass is triple covered, but he doesn't even bother with his other reads. (TA)|
|2||10||M31||Pass||Massaquoi||Inc||A freaking bullet over the middle that's high and incomplete, though he has to throw it like so given the coverage. Why are we throwing to Mass here? (marginally CA)|
|Drive Notes: TD, 13-10, 36 sec 2nd Q. Not exactly go go gadget two minute drill.|
|1||10||M47||Run||Hart||4||Another draw; these all seem to open up big holes between the tackles and guards, probably because the DEs are screaming upfield.|
|2||6||O49||Pass||Ecker||Inc||Dropped by Ecker. You TEs are killing me. (DO)|
|3||6||O49||Pass||Breaston||9||Finally ahead of his guy on the crossing route by a yard or two. Henne leads him just right. (DO)|
|1||10||O40||Pass||Avant||10||Wide open on the out, but this throw is not exactly on the money. (CA)|
|1||10||O30||Run||Hart||8||Stenavich seals the DE when he slants inside on the snap, opening up the weak side.|
|2||2||O22||Pass||Avant||Inc||Play action. Henne steps up and fires it towards the corner of the endzone for Avant and misses him. (IN)|
|3||2||O22||Run||Hart||-3||Riley screws up his block, fouling this up and disrupting Thompson's blocking route. As a result the LB shoots up into the gap unmolested and makes a TFL.|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG, 20-20, 4 min 3rd Q. Rivas isn't even close. The RT position has killed two drives so far and there's a third one coming up. I again dislike the call on second and two here, and I swear I said that in the stadium.|
|1||10||M17||Run||Hart||6||Lentz pulls onto the linebacker well enough to crack open a hole that Hart squirts through.|
|2||4||M23||Run||Hart||-2||We're running into an eight man front and tip the direction of the run with the FB shuffle. Minnesota flows to the ball and overwhelms the blocking immediately.|
|3||6||M21||Pass||No one||Sack / -9||Davis blows past Kolodziej for the sack very quickly. Griese starts talking about Henne holding the ball too long but he'd hardly finished his drop. No replay to see about the coverage.|
|Drive Notes: 20-20, EO 3rd Q. Davis is killing us; refusing to adapt to the defense presented to us is not helping either.|
|1||10||M26||Pass||Manningham||7||Pretty obvious screen with Ecker going in motion to the top of the formation, but it works. (CA)|
|2||3||M33||Run||Hart||9||Pure draw here and Hart sheds a DT's arm tackle.|
|1||10||M42||Run||Hart||7||Great block by Thompson crushes the defensive end and springs Hart for a nice gain.|
|2||3||M49||Run||Hart||2||Initially stopped a the LOS by the eighth guy in the box but somehow Hart falls into a third and less than a yard.|
|3||1||O49||Run||Hart||4||Hart cuts right inside of Henige's pull block for the first down.|
|1||10||O45||Pass||Thompson||10||Play action; Manningham was probably open as has been mentioned but it's hard to complain about a first down. (CA)|
|1||10||O35||Run||Hart||16||Draw right up the middle. Another good block from the fullback blows the hole open; think it's still Thompson.|
|1||10||O19||Run||Hart||-2||Attempted sweep right is pretty well fouled up and Hart trips. This was going nowhere anyway.|
|2||12||O21||Pass||Manningham||Inc||Henne is really late with this throw and by the time he finds Manningham he's covered. Probably a checkdown. Henne had to throw it away from the DB. (IN)|
|3||12||O21||Pass||Manningham||4||A slip screen that never really has a chance.|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG, 20-20, 9 min 4th Q. What can you say? Rivas has become hennebriated.|
|1||10||M28||Run||Hart||0||Draw; Hart has an avenue but slips on his cut.|
|2||10||M28||Pass||Avant||12||Ton of time and Henne has Avant on the comeback. (CA)|
|1||10||M40||Penalty||15||Michigan goes deep to Avant and picks up a PI. Dunno, think that's a weak call.|
|1||10||O45||Run||Hart||0||Run up the gut does nothing. Massaquoi has no one to block on the outside so there's an unblocked guy up the middle and he sticks Hart.|
|2||10||O45||Pass||No one||Scramble / 2||Either no one open or Henne just can't read the defense.|
|3||8||O43||Pass||No one||Inc||Throws this away after bailing way, way to early. It's a three man rush and he rolls out, freeing a rusher to pressure him. (BR).|
|Drive Notes: 20-20, 3 min 4th Q. We never get the ball back.|
Who in the hell is Steve Davis?
Well, he's a defensive end from Missouri, a true freshman, and foremost among the reasons Minnesota won. People are just starting to write articles about him, but you heard it here first: this guy is good. Four separate times he snuffed out UM drives largely or entirely on his own, generally by exploding past whichever RT was starring in the role of Courtney Morgan at that particular moment. Twice he sacked Henne; once he blew up a third and two run play.
Would Jake Long have done better? No doubt. But Davis still deserves copious credit. No defensive end to date, including ND's Victor Abiamiri, had been able to take advantage of our questionable situation at RT to such an extent.
So our offensive problems were on the shoulders of Riley and Kolodziej?
That was certainly a large part of why we bogged down but not all of it. There were several instances of missed blocks by the two guards and Stenavich did not get much push on the non-draw running plays (plays that we largely abandoned). The offensive line held its ground and kept players engaged on many of Hart's successful runs, but that's about all you can say for them.
Henne didn't have a great game. It wasn't as bad as the Wisconsin performance but it wasn't very efficient, either:
|Team||Dead on||Catchable||Inaccurate||Bad Read||Throwaways||Batted|
I tried to have the stats reflect something I suspect was the case from attending the game but can't confirm because of the way football is broadcast: Henne seemed to throw late or sit in the pocket unable to find an open receiver too often against a weak Minnesota secondary. A couple of these were counted as bad reads.
Four of Henne's five inaccurate passes were thrown towards an open Avant in the endzo ne. Michigan scored on one of those drives, got a field goal on another, and crapped out on the other two. Two of the throws were relatively deep downfield (20-30 yards), the other two were a fade launched into the crowd and a badly overthrown slant.
No picks but there were instances where Henne was hesitant to throw and did not go through his progressions. Four passes were dropped; Henne was also sacked three times.
So what's the problem?
Uh... everything? If we had one unit playing really well we could overcome the plays the others waste but it seems that every unit is the source of consistent error. Henne overthrows his receivers; the offensive line can't block very well; the tight ends and receivers drop passes; the running backs fumble; the wide receivers don't get open enough. No one unit is completely inept, but neither is any particularly reliable (other than units named "Mike Hart"). You know it's bad when even Jason Avant has been the source of a couple third-down drops.
Is there any hope?
I doubt the offensive line gets any more reliable sans Jake Long and Henne's got the yips real bad. He has reacted poorly to pressure. That said, we have outgained most opponents so far and are just a few plays here and there away from repeating that robotically effective NIU performance. I don't think it's time to send for the coroner just yet.
What does it mean for Penn State?
Ugh. The idea of Tamba Hali going up against Riley/Kolodziej is extremely unappealing, especially with Connor and Posluszny backing him up and flowing right into the holes our draw-heavy run game uses. We absolutely cannot afford to spurn the few scoring chances we earn against the Lions, as they are going to shut down our offense for most of the day unless we suddenly right the ship--possible but only distantly so. It'll come down to Henne's poise and accuracy. If he finds a man open downfield he has to hit him: that's how we won the MSU game and that's how we lost, well, the rest of them.
First, if you care about that last play in the Minnesota game I suggest you check the comments on yesterday's voracity. There's a lot of intelligent discussion (much of it disagreeing with me) about the play and exactly what the problems were. I still hold to my belief that the call was a major coaching mistake above all, but you can read both sides and decide for yourself.
I have to be faster because people keep "stealing" my obvious column ideas. Offtackle beats me to the halfway point punch with six reasons Michigan has done poorly. I agree that QB play and the Long injury have been major problems but I think the problem on defense hasn't so much been tackling as extremely poor play by the outside linebackers, who have all too frequently tried to run around blocks instead of taking them on and have let running backs escape contain with disturbing frequency. And who knows what's going on with Breaston? Crap crap crap crap great game. Is it injury or is he just not as good as we thought? Probably some of both.
The Athletic Department, in the hunt for funding for new stadium renovations, has floated the idea of building a new level of indoor luxury seating, a proposal that while potentially lucrative, risks irreparably altering the face of the Big House as we've come to know it. Athletic Director Bill Martin, in weighing different alternatives to offset construction costs, should consider the stadium's structural and commercial integrity as nothing less than sacrosanct.
(Someone hit the author with "Elements of Style" before he writes again.) I'm all for removing the head of the first AD who approves that advertising in Michigan Stadium and placing it on a pike on Stadium as a warning to others who would be so foolhardy, but I don't get this. If people want to pay an insane amount of money to sit very far away from the game, we should encourage them. Luxury boxes will help shift the burden of funding Michigan Athletics towards the people with enough disposable income to purchase a small island and away from people like, well, me. They'll also get some of the ancient, silent people who actively detract from the atmosphere of the stadium into a quarantined place where they can no longer ask me to sit on third and five in the fourth quarter. How is getting rid of several thousand of these people going to hurt anything? The idea that Michigan Stadium--where the new PSLs have made seats between the twenties approximately twice as expensive as endzone seats, where the only way to get said seats is to donate a metric buttload of money to the athletic department--is somehow an egalitarian place where Downriver Bob in his Red Wings pleather jacket and Grosse Point Bunny in her mink stoal commune as one with the football team found therein is, uh, interesting. Bring on the rich old people bilking-machines, I say! Huzzah!
My only concern with the proposed renovations is they put a fairly hard cap on the ultimate seating capacity of the stadium--personally I would add a dozen or so rows to the top of the stadium before sealing the sides off with relatively immobile luxury/press boxes. I'm talking Maracana here. Screw this "largest crowd watching a football game in America" stuff. I want "largest crowd watching anything in the Solar System."
The BCS could be only one of its annual train wrecks away from going directly to some sort of a playoff system.
At least that's the view of BCS coordinator and Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg.
"If the majority of the folks agreed to take a look at something like that, it could possibly happen," Weiberg said. "It's hard to predict what would trigger our presidents changing their minds about the structure.
"But, if we have another year with three major teams unbeaten and one left out of the championship game or some additional situation, that could cause folks to at least think about it."
In hindsight this extra-bowl-a-week-after thing does look mighty convenient. The idea of a college football playoff has been beaten to death, reanimated, and then beaten to death again in this space, so I'll skip it this time. But: yay.
Hurray, that's the poll hurray. If you're interested, you can see all the individual ballots here.
It's old school time in the BlogPoll with Penn State and UCLA joining Alabama in (or very near) the top ten. Penn State gained almost as many poll slots as they did yards this weekend, but they are 6-0 for the first time since Joe Paterno was creepily alive instead of creepily undead. We have a definite top 6 this week--there's a cliff after 'Bama--as well as a definite top 12--another cliff after Florida.
The Nittany Lions should be on full... ugh... upset alert in Ann Arbor this weekend (even though the bookies have installed Michigan as three point favorites) since Big Ten whackamole has gotten everyone except them so far. Will that help Michigan block Tamba Hali? Probably not.
Meanwhile, at the bottom of the poll people are so desperate for teams that Indiana and Baylor are getting votes--okay, they have nice records but whenever you're scouring the nation for the 25 best teams and either of those come up, you know you've found yourself in a year when college football has been a mess.
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.
As expected, the deviation is coming down as the games get played. OSU and UT, both teams with good defense, no offense, and two losses, top the charts this week, followed closely by weekly cipher Texas Tech, who managed to beat a probably not very good Nebraska team by the flukiest play of the year to date when a sealing interception was fumbled on the return. Tech has three creampuff wins, an okay win versus KU, and then the fluke against Nebraska... a lot of ground there to disagree on.
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 Texas Tech-affiliated blog Cheap Seats. Nothing really jumps out as strange until you get to Louisville at #12 but then you get some major disagreement with the poll at large: Miami slumming at #15, behind two-loss UT at #14, Iowa #19, Maryland #22, UTEP #24, etc.
Mr. Numb Existence is the Enlightened Spartan, who you should all fear as he's managed to bend reality to his will this year--save for one afternoon in Spartan Stadium. He apparently expects MSU to lose this weekend versus OSU, having the Bucks just a single space in front of the Spartans.
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 to Fresno State blogger MDG, who has the unranked-at-large Bulldogs at #18. Personally, I left Fresno State off my ballot without really considering their body of work, which is worthy of consideration. They nuked a decent Toledo team and dropped a very close one to #20 Oregon. I think there's a case for the Bulldogs if they continue to win before their matchup with (gasp) USC.
The Straight Bangin' Award has a truly SB-worthy margin this week from Tennessee blogger I Know College Football, who dropped the punchless Vols from his ballot entirely (natch). The Michigan bloggers commiserate.
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.
|1||Southern Cal||Wavering a little bit here but Texas' marquee win over OSU is losing luster by the week.|
|2||Texas||I am required by law to include the words "monkey" and "back" and "off" in this section of the poll. So: BACK OFF, MONKEY!|
|3||Virginia Tech||What should have been a functional DNP against Marshall was close for a half, but given that their offense has always been bad I don't think it's particularly surprising or troubling.|
|4||Georgia||Okay. I'm a believer. Watching UGA throttle the Vols was impressive. There are a large number of giant angry defensive linemen in the SEC this year and Georgia appears to be playing 13 of them at once.|
|6||Florida State||Again a supposed functional DNP goes somewhat awry.|
|7||Miami||Functional DNP vs. Duke.|
|10||Florida||Another wobbly day at the office for Leak.|
|11||Penn State||The offense is a tiny increment better and the defense is just as good, so Penn State is squeaking out wins instead of losses this year.|
|12||UCLA||Largely unsure of exactly what to do with these teams.|
|13||LSU||Functional DNP vs. Vandy. Sorry Vandy, but you lost to MTSU: functional DNP you are once more.|
|14||Boston College||Beat UVA soundly.|
|15||Cal||Shoulda won. Did not.|
|16||Ohio State||Ohio State was the one team I pegged exactly: despite Troy Smith's heroics against Michigan he's a far below average DI QB, and he's wasting Holmes, Ginn, and a spectacular defense all by himself.|
|17||Minnesota||I want chicken, I want liver, meow mix meow mix please deliver.|
|19||Wisconsin||51 points to Northwestern. 42 points to BGSU. Michigan scores 20. Ugh.|
|20||Texas Tech||Fluky win over a flukily undefeated team.|
|21||Louisville||Crushed a not-awful UNC team.|
|22||Oregon||Er... now is the time on BlogPoll when we grab whoever's left.|
|23||Tennessee||Utterly dominated by Georgia.|
|24||Colorado||Put the nail in the A&M coffin; only loss to #7 Miami.|
|25||Georgia Tech||It's either them or some mid-major, and they have three wins over not bad teams, including Auburn, and one shoulda-won against NCSU. It's unfortunate that the Golden Tornado/DJL detente had harsh reality intervene.|
Dropped Out: Arizona State (#11, "a third loss will be met with harsh reassessment"), Michigan (#24)
Games I Saw: Michigan-Minnesota; PSU-OSU; UT-UGA; last bit of GT-NCSU
Help Requested: What should I do with Cal and UCLA? Any better suggestions for the tail end of the poll?
Update: Commenters make cases for UCLA and PSU so they rise a bit at the expense of LSU and BC.
Cathartic or something. IBFC has a clip of the deadly third down. You can see what happened for yourself. Vijay breaks it down very well, so I won't go into tremendous detail. Run over there and read it for yourself, then come back...
doGsinairB: OMG U R soooo dumb MannMann1997
MannMann1997: LOL thn why am i defnsive cooordinator n u r not
doGsinairB: UR such a homo. man+man = homo.
Okay. If you want to assign blame (and you do), #1 is Jim Herrmann, who lined up his players in a fundamentally flawed, excessively aggressive alignment, #2 is Prescott Burgess, who lost contain two seconds after the ball was snapped, and #3 is Chris Graham, who shot up into an interior hole and thus left the outside open. The sad part is that Alan Branch makes a great play but just can't make it outside to tackle. You can't blame Mason, who correctly forced the runner inside of himself, but it was all for naught.
What to do about Herrmann? The guy sits back on every third and long, rushing three, when Minnesota wants to convert them and then when Minnesota is clearly playing for overtime he calls a fundamentally unsound blitz that pulls any sort of safety help away from the run to the short side that the defensive alignment obviously invites. Michigan set up in a 3-3 nickel with Burgess--an undersized SAM--lined up as the strongside DE, taking on a tight end who outweighs him by 50 pounds, and Michigan's best linebacker (Harris) and defensive linemen (Woodley, Watson) lined up on the weak side of the formation, ready to attack the run to the wide side which never comes.
What an absolutely arrogant call! Michigan lines up as if to say "don't run here," thinking they've outsmarted the Gopher offense, and then calls a blitz from that side of the formation, abandoning the last, disaster-preventing line of defense on the short side of the field, as if there was no possibility that the Gophers might recognize the blatant overload and attack the defense's weak point. If there was ever a time to send in a base nickel formation and drop seven, this was it--who blitzes on third and ten when you know a run is coming? The point is to get the stop, and the probabilities of doing so are greatly increased when you don't blitz. There was no advantage to blitzing; we saw the disadvantage unfold in front of our eyes. This is a clear instance of brain-dead coaching, combined with two bad plays from the linebackers, costing us a game.
Yeah, Jim Herrmann coaches the linebackers, too.
"After watching it, we had some guys kind of loafing,'' cornerback Leon Hall said Monday, two days after Minnesota's 23-20 win.
"The guys that were loafing, they know,'' Hall later added. "I'm sure they're down on themselves about it."
That's a really strange statement. Graham made a bad decision. Everyone else was out of position because of the playcall except Burgess, who I think screwed up, but I don't think there's any indication of loafing. Were it so simple.
I highly recommend the Big Ten basketball season preview being assembled by Hawkeye Hoops. He's got Minnesota up and more are on the way. You will be notified when Michigan shows.
Tempting... I'm trying to not uselessly bash media people--bad for the image, dontchaknow--but when Deadspin posts something like this in its ongoing series "Why Your Hometown Columnist Sucks," it's like walking out of an AA meeting and into Oktoberfest. Must... not... write... DrewSharpequivalent SPOCK! So dead on:
It's not so much that American newspaper editors want to employ mean-spirited sports columnists such as Bill Conlin; we're pretty sure it's the law. How else would one explain it? Every large paper seems to have its resident sports bastard.
And the reasons why are mystifying. They get ratings, I guess--anyone reading RJYH's passages about 'Bama public enemy #1 Paul Finebaum knows that well--but they also engender a deep distaste. Though St. John manages to humanize Finebaum by following him around on a 'Bama football Saturday when the threat of violence against him is palpable, I found little sympathy in my heart for a man who's consciously chosen to piss off a state full of people in exchange for money and notoriety, who's built an entire career out of gleeful, cynical schadenfreude. It would be different if people like Sharp or Conlin or Finebaum gave a damn about the teams they berate--there's something endearing about watching Joey short-circuit like Johnny Five--but they don't.