I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
10/8/2005 - Minnesota 23-20 Michigan - 3-3, 1-2 Big Ten.
It's no secret that people largely define themselves in relation to external things. They are an occupation, a set of friends, and perhaps for some of the more marginally sane, fans of a particular team. So when we find out that something we defined ourselves in relation to is not what we thought it was, we react adversely because we're forced to reassess who we actually are. This often results in awkwardness or anger even if the revelation in question has no direct impact on your life.
Given the place I live and the people I hang out with, meeting gay guys is a fact of life, and it's unalarming, but if a friend I'd had for years had all of a sudden taken his Gay spinach and gone Gay Popeye on me, I would find myself momentarily rudderless, because my definition of myself would require serious reevaulation. My best friend is gay? Am I gay? Even if I'm not gay, am I somehow more effeminate? Why is this guy gay? How could I not know? What am I, stupid? Usually we get over these things, but it takes some readjusting. There's a period of suck.
It is for this reason that I find the fact that my football team is gay--fifth grade gay, the gay that combined with "-wad" forms a noun, the gay that is the ultimate generic pejorative for preteen boys--to be disorienting. (Just to be clear: not just a little gay, totally gay--gayer than Kit's Hello Kitty trapper keeper.) My team has never been gay before. It's shown occasional flashes of gayness, sure, but whenever I've doubted it, the team has always done something totally rad like waste that dumb kid from Ohio in bloody knuckles.
But now there can be no doubt: the team is gay. Wicked gay. Totally wicked gay. With extra gay. And gay sprinkles. The denial phase is over. We've got serious wad action taking place. This isn't the time to do any serious thinking--it's awkward, it's angering, there's a tendency to disown it or, I dunno, duct tape it to the flagpole and piss on it. Not that I did that to anyone in fifth grade. Sober.
This is the place for Michigan specific venting/celebrating/non-sequiturs. Remember: Minnesota will score 3,017 points; don't get your hopes up.
|1||10||O20||Pass||2||We drop eight and Stanton starts rolling all over the place before finding a last outlet one yard downfield. Harris comes up when Stanton starts rolling around. Coverage +1.|
|2||8||O22||Run||3||Stanton takes a rare snap from under center and they run up the gut. Harris(+1) sheds and tackles.|
|3||5||O25||Pass||18||Stanton rolls out and fires nicely along the sideline. Harris again has contain responsibility. Mason(-1) gets beaten easily.|
|1||10||O43||Pass||Inc||Another three man rush and Stanton misses his man coming across the zone. Trent(+1) had good coverage.|
|2||10||O43||Pass||Sack, -13||Stanton attempts to roll left but Woodley(+3) just crushes his man into the backfield and forces him to scramble back to his right where Biggs(+1) and Massey(+1) clean up the mess. +5 for one play? 13 yard sack against a team that's never sacked, you're damn right.|
|3||23||O30||Pass||20||Three man rush again. Stanton has a ton of time but can't find a guy deep enough for the first.|
|Drive Notes: 0-0 13 min 1st Q. Good enough. Woodley huge, huge, huge play to stop the drive. Get used to the three man rush on third and long, except most of them won't go as well as this one.|
|1||10||O20||Run||3||This is a win with six in the box. I believe it's Burgess(+1) who stands up to the lead block very well and forces Ringer back into the D.|
|2||7||O23||Pass||Inc||Stanton underthrows a ball badly and Mason(+1) almost picks it off. Danielson thinks it's a busted route... and then points out that Stanton ate Branch(+1). Thanks, Danielson!|
|3||7||O23||Pass||Inc||Stanton again can't find anyone due to the zone coverage (we're rushing four) and takes off on a magical mystery tour. Biggs gets flagrantly clipped right in front of the referee but there's no call, and then after Stanton finds an open receiver downfield who drops it they try to throw a flag for a late hit that gets picked up. Given what's going to happen later, the incomptence of this crew stands out.|
|Drive Notes: 7-0, 11 min 1st Q. Harris is definitely taksed with spying.|
|1||10||O20||Pass||5||Screen to Ringer. Woodley(+1) comes back a makes a nice tackle from behind.|
|2||5||O25||Run||2||Harris(+1) again with the shed and stick. He is obviously our best linebacker.|
|3||3||O27||Pass||13||A play fake on third and three and Stanton just has decades to throw.|
|1||10||O40||Run||-2||A sweep to the short side. Woodley(+1) gets out, forcing the RB to cut it back and Branch(+1) is there to crush smash destroy.|
|2||12||O38||Pass||Inc||Flanker screen is dropped. Would have worked, too.|
|3||12||O38||Pass||32||The pocket rolls a bit and again Stanton has forever to throw. It's worth noting that Branch is flagrantly held on this play. Christ, I'm getting angry just watching it. There's no excuse for not throwing that flag.|
|1||10||M30||Run||12||They run a pitch sweep the the short side and neither Hall nor Graham can get off their blocks. Fistfuls of jersey everywhere.|
|1||10||M18||Run||11||Direct snap to Jerramy Scott with Stanton lined up as a WR. It's Graham(-1) who shoots up into the wrong hole.|
|1||G||M7||Run||3||Nice play by Branch to get Caulcrick at the line of scrimmage, though he falls forward because there's no LB to fill the hole.|
|Drive Notes: 14-7, 3 min 1st. Seriously, that hold on the 32 yard completion is comical. The pitch sweep is questionable. Bam bam bam down the field with the run game after the bogus conversion. What was the last play Graham made? He's been a disappointment so far.|
|1||10||O35||Run||22||Massive hole courtesy of Massey(-3), though the play is well designed. Massey gets shoved out immediately and opens up a vast hole that neither linebacker can cover since they're eating blockers.|
|1||10||M43||Pass||16||They fake the damn counter draw, and there's a huge hole in the zone. Coverage -1.|
|1||10||M27||Pass||Int||The reviewed Barringer(+1) interception. Unbelievable that the guy in the box forced Lloyd to take a timeout to review this. Jim Augustine is NOT an outstanding replay official, Brent. Woodley(+1) forced Scott to bring the ball down instead of throwing it immediately.|
|Drive Notes: 14-7, End of First. It is a really good offense. One player on your defense blows the tiniest little thing and bam, it's 15-20 yards.|
|1||10||O22||Run||13||Argh! Contain. Jamar Adams(-2) is the nickel back here and doesn't even bother Ringer.|
|1||10||O35||Run||2||Toss sweep. Harris(+1) gets out on it and keeps it contained. Branch is again there for the tackle.|
|2||8||O37||Run||12||Massey(-2) gets crushed again, leaving a gaping hole that allows Caulcrick to easily avoid the linebacker who's attempting to fill the hole with a blocker in his face.|
|1||10||O49||Run||-2||Stanton pops the snap up into the air, busting the play.|
|2||12||O47||Pass||1||WR screen. Woods(+1) diagnoses the play well and the play develops slowly enough for him to get there.|
|3||11||O48||Pass||13||Zone blitz, we bring both corners and end up rushing 4. Barringer can't react quickly enough to prevent the completion.|
|1||10||M39||Pass||Inc||Play action rollout that Woods is about as on top of it as you can be. Jamar Adams(+1) knocks the ball loose from the receiver.|
|2||10||M39||Pass||Inc||A seam route over the middle that Barringer(+1) attacks and almost intercepts.|
|3||15||M44||Pass||32||Five wide, we rush three and Stanton finds an open Scott. Jesus, man, I know it's been working okay, but it's third and fifteen. This is a clear example of our fear of Stanton's legs overwhelming logical judgement.|
|1||10||M12||Run||6||Caulcrick is a load. Engelmon can't stop him before he plows for an extra 4 YAC.|
|2||4||M6||Run||3||Caulcrick again. Engelmon cuts him this time.|
|3||1||M3||Penalty||2||Defensive holding on Mason(-1).|
|Drive Notes: 21-14, 6 min 2nd Another killer third and long conversion for MSU ends up in a touchdown. Infuriating to watch a three man rush on third and fifteen.|
|1||10||O33||Run||6||Woods(+1) spins off his blocker and forces the play back inside. MSU is fortunate that Harris beat his man as well because the missed block turns into a perfect one with the cutback and Ringer schoots up into hole.|
|2||4||O39||Pass||61||Reed's screen touchdown. Another example of the slightest screwup equalling big yards and, in this case, six. The blitz and the fake roll to the other side of the field sucks away everyone except the two guys on the recievers. Harrison(-3) makes a huge mistake. He gets blocked by Trannon, but when he releases to block the other guy, he follows him(!), instead of switching off on to Reed and keeping that to no gain.|
|Drive Notes: Freshman mistake == touchdown. 21-21 3 min 2nd Q.|
|2||6||M13||Penalty||-10||Holding drawn by Woodley(+1)|
|2||16||M23||Pass||Scramble, 6||Stanton takes off and the coverage converges all right. Graham makes the tackle.|
|3||10||M17||Pass||8||Jailbreak screen that seems like it might get the first down but Barringer(+1) comes up to make the stop.|
|Drive Notes: FG. 24-24, 11 min 3rd Q. Can we get Lamarr Woodley a syndicated show that comes on right after Xena called DriveKiller?|
|1||10||O32||Pass||14||Rolling pocket and a wide open reciever in front of Hall.|
|2||6||50||Pass||Sack, -4||Fumble! Another sprintout, this one into a blitz from Burgess(+1), who forces him back inside, where Woods(+2) makes the sack and strip which Harris(+1) recovers. Hands down the play of the game.|
|Drive Notes: 24-24, 8 min 3 Q. We do nothing on offense here but given the yards the MSU offense has been snapping off in chunks, this play is absolutely huge.|
|1||10||O4||Run||1||Line holds up well, and Harris(+1) picks off the blocker, allowing Engelmon(+1) to come up and fill the hole at the LOS. Burgess(+1) correctly stays outside and wraps around the outside of the DE to assist on the tackle after Ringer commits to the inside hole. Contain. Yip.|
|2||9||O5||Run||4||Sweep that Burgess just barely cuts the corner off on, but Ringer manages to squeeze past him and get upfield a little bit.|
|3||5||O9||Pass||19||Absolutely no pass rush and Stanton has all day to find a receiver.|
|1||10||O28||Run||8||Accursed counter draw. Burgess(+1) fills the intended hole unblocked so Teague has to cut it upfield, which he can because Massey's(-1) getting throttled again.|
|2||2||O36||Pass||12||Flanker screen to Trannon. That's just hard to stop.|
|1||10||O48||Run||-4||Tim Jamison(+2) blows by the tackle and crushes Ringer with authorita.|
|2||14||O44||Pass||8||Another screen. There's no one close to him until Barringer comes up and makes a solid tackle.|
|1||10||M42||Run||1||Fortunate tackle by Harris, because the outside linebackers blitz and if he gets past Harris Ringer is going to gain 10 or so.|
|2||9||M41||Pass||8||Dropped eight again and Stanton finds his man.|
|3||1||M32||Run||5||Option. Michigan has no one to take the pitchman.|
|1||10||M27||Run||5||Harrison fails to wrap up after about 3 yards. Good job by Will Johnson(+1) on the line and how can David Harris be facing the exact opposite way he wants to be without it being holding? This I ask.|
|2||5||M22||Pass||10||Triple stack screen which is not well executed but still goes for a ton of yards. This drive is teeth grinding.|
|1||10||M12||Run||3||Graham fills nicely and Woodley comes off his block to tackle.|
|2||7||M9||Run||3||Stanton keeper. Woodley with yet another tackle despite the play going up the gut.|
|3||4||M6||Run||0||The much-discussed run on third and four. MSU is just outnumbered.|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG, 24-24, 13 min 4th Q. This drive shows all the scary death magic inherent in the MSU offense. There's more three man rush that Stanton's figured out and another play where Massey failing to hold opens up a huge hole against the spread.|
|1||10||O20||Pass||-2||Another rolling pocket, but there's no one open (Danielson credits Hall(+1) for the coverage), and Pierre Woods is there to force him out.|
|2||12||O18||Pass||-6||The Ringer screen that Gabe Watson finished with authorita. Credit to Harris(+2) and Massey(+1) for identifiying the screen immediately and showing up right when the ball gets there.|
|3||18||O12||Pass||Inc||Unbelievable, another freaking third and forever and we rush three again. Mason(-1) is in good coverage but does not really prevent the catch, which is fortunately dropped after a pushoff.|
|Drive Notes: 31-24, 9 min 4th Q.|
|1||10||O20||Run||20||Three man line with Woods as one of the DEs; he gets double teamed and crushed.|
|1||10||O40||Penalty||Illegal substituation on Massey(-1)|
|1||5||O45||Pass||-5||Wacky hook and ladder screen. Nice job by Mason(+1) to not overpursue here and make the big time TFL.|
|2||10||O40||Penalty||-5||Illegal formation calls back a 20 yard pass reception which upon review is even dumber to cite as a reason this game was lost by the Spartans: they had 7 seconds left on the clock. There is exactly zero chance they run a FG team out after another play so their options are 57 yard FG try (fat chance) or a rushed Hail Mary. This is No Big Deal.|
|2||15||O35||Pass||whatever||Meaningless dumpoff to Teague.|
|Drive Notes: 31-31, EORegulation.|
|1||10||M25||Run||4||The line holds up pretty well but there's no penetration. Harris takes on the blocker and Burgess makes the tackle.|
|2||6||M21||Pass||Inc||Superb coverage by Hall(+2) and a near interception that he can't quite come up with.|
|3||6||M21||Pass||Inc||Stanton has forever to throw but can't find anyone open and hurls it directly into the hands of Morgan Trent, who drops it.|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG. 31-31, 1/2 OT. Uh, yeah... you suck.|
So how did we do?
Um... okay I guess. Here's the chart...
|Woodley||7||-||7||Consistently fierce. Penetrates, reacts, pursues, and tackles.|
|4||-||4||Forced the Stanton fumble and saw extensive time with Biggs out. Playing well.|
|Watson||-||-||-||Not the offense he's suited to defending. MSU avoided him when they ran at all costs, though.|
|Jamison||2||-||-||One impressive TFL in limited time.|
|Branch||2||-||2||Came down from his stratospheric UW performance but was still pretty good. Probably had a much tougher time against the Spartan line.|
|Burgess||4||-||-||Pretty good day; would like to see him shed more blocks. Often goes down without enough of a fight.|
|Harris||6||-||-||Playing very, very well. Entrusted with spying Stanton all day; shows the faith they have in him.|
|Graham||-||1||-1||Didn't play a ton.|
|Barringer||3||-||3||Made his presence felt for the first time. Hold onto those ints.|
|Harrison||-||3||3||One huge mistake on the screen touchdown. Hopefully he learns from it.|
I thought you said to lay off Massey.
Uh, yeah, I did, but there's no denying that when MSU had success up the middle it was because Massey was getting hurled to the side like Jennifer Aniston when Angelina came calling (OH SNAP!!!). He he had a couple nice plays in pursuit but the word "liability" is getting close to legitimate when it is applied to Massey re: run defense. He's too tall to hold at the point of attack consistently. When someone gets underneath his pads, he's done. When was the last time he penetrated into the backfield? I can't remember an instance this year.
I think he'll do all right against Minnesota because their line relies much less on the brute force Massey is ill-equipped to deal with, but big, tough interior linemen will continue to crumple him the rest of the year.
Aren't you concerned about 455 yards?
Yes, but I think if a few obvious penalties are called we greatly reduce that number. I swear that on the long third down conversion I kvetched about above that Branch was in a figure-four. I also believe that MSU has the best offense we'll see all year by a long shot. They have a very good offensive line, a trio of running backs who are all pretty decent, and Stanton, who is fantastic. Their wide receivers are distictly mediocre, but they're incredibly hard to stop with the rolling pockets and the run game from nowhere and the vast diversity of the screens, draws, counters, and option plays they run. We shan't see their ability to run and pass again.
So next year...
Hope their defense remains as bad. Senior Stanton winless against Michigan is going to be pissed off.
This game tells us what about Minnesota?
Nothing. You couldn't have two philosophies more diametrically opposed.
Well then indeed.
You're skimping on the analysis here.
It's Friday at 5:45. I've got a hockey game to go to. Screw you.
That's not very professional.
"The power of marketing, mercifully, is not unlimited. Stephen A. Smith's Quite Frankly, which premiered in August with as much fanfare as ESPN could muster, came into a 6:30 p.m. ET time slot where a hodgepodge of stuff had averaged 0.3% of TV households. Not exactly big shoes to fill. And yet humble hodgepodges don't always get the credit they deserve: Smith's show is averaging 0.2%."
I do miss Trick Shot Magic, now that I think about it.
You are also breaking my heart. Deadspin is also all over this ESPN thing, pointing out this Business Week article that will probably have the staunchest capitalists wondering about maybe applying that communism thing to certain sections of the economy having to do with large people running fast. I mean, if you had asked me to choose the most depressing sentence in the English language, this would have been a strong contender:
All around it, companies are imitating ESPN's cool and edgy packaging of sports.
As Dr. Z says, "Broadcasters should remember the play's the thing."
Breakin' the law! I claim fair use on this snippet from Joe Schad's weblog ($):
HARRIS POLLING: Traditional powers Notre Dame, Penn State and Alabama are all back in the polls. The bad news? This week, one Harris Poll voter wrote in the same team twice. Another didn't vote at all. Baffling BCS commissioners now is the revelation that the company monitoring the poll can add points for teams they believe were inappropriately left off ballots. Penn State coach Joe Paterno said this week: "We lost the last good Pole with the Pope." Funny.
Emphasis mine. They don't have a web entry form? The freaking BlogPoll is more sophisticated than the Harris Poll? I'm speechless.
Cato June, NFL Star is definitely the most surreal thing going for Michigan fans at the moment. June was the first guy to don #2 after Woodson (hallowed be his name) but spent large portions of his career standing over an opponent someone else had tackled after he whiffed, looking fierce. A severe knee injury as a sophomore may have had something to do with it, but Cato June turned into the canonical Clueless But Good At Lookin' Durned Fierce safety by the time he graduated, so when someone says this...
"Bill comes back and says, 'Boy, I saw a strong safety at Michigan. He really looks like a heckuva player, and I like him. He might not be fast enough to play safety, but I think he could be a weak-side linebacker,' " [Colts HC Tony] Dungy recalled.
...you look around for the Candid Camera people. "Did I just read that in the newspaper? This is verified voracity? Is this a put on?" Yes. Yes. No. Good on yer, Cato, and congratulations, but I swear I'm hallucinating whenever I see you in a Colts uniform. No offense intended.
Some clarification on the pass designations, which now accompany every throw:
- DO: Dead On; reserved for downfield throws that are perfectly placed and are either fit into a tough place or require a lot of leading and provide a good opportunity to run after the catch. Generally should be reserved for fairly badass plays. (Note this is a major change. Expect far fewer DOs than I've been charting previously.)
- CA: Catchable; Standard downfield completions that are a little off--behind or tall or in front--that still don't pose a huge difficulty to the receiver or bombs that are reasonably well thrown even if slighly off. All successful screen and very short throws max out at this level.
- IN: Inaccurate; balls that are misthrown and give the receiver little or no chance of catching without a spectacular play or massive adjustment. Some completions are "inaccurate" if the catch made involves some eye-popping. Completed screens that are delayed by a poorly thrown ball and therefore stopped also go here.
- TA: Throwaways; balls that are not intended to be caught.
- BR: Bad Reads; Balls that are thrown into coverage or thrown away when there are open recievers.
- BA: Batted; Balls batted at the line or inaccurate because the quarterback was hit while throwing.
|1||10||M2||Run||Hart||1||Eight in the box and we choose to run anyway. Thompson gets no block.|
|2||9||M3||Pass||Tabb||8||Nicely designed play attacks one area of the zone and Henne diagnoses the right guy to throw to (primary read, it appears, since the other routes head straight into the local zone cover guys and force them to react). This happens all day. It's the same stop route Edwards used to run all the time. (CA) New designation == Tabbroute.|
|3||1||M11||Run||Hart||45||They've brought a safety down for eight in the box again. Thompson gets juuust enough of the LB filling the hole between Kraus and Lentz and the safety coming up takes a Shazor angle, misses a weak arm tackle and it's races time. This is a hole, by the way, that Grady/Martin just don't fit through. Hart has to leap through the tiny crack in the line.|
|1||10||O44||Pass||Manningham||18||Long handoff. MSU corner couldn't have played this worse. (CA)|
|1||10||O26||Run||Hart||1||Hart is forced to cut back here as MSU's DE gets penetration. Eight in the box.|
|2||9||O25||Pass||Ecker||9||Ecker sits in the hole in the zone and Henne finds him quickly. (CA)|
|1||10||O16||Pass||Avant||Inc||Sailed well over Avant's head. He was open. Bad Henne! (IN)|
|2||10||O16||Pass||Avant||5||Good diagnosis of the blitz and Henne finds his hot read, but the throw pulls Avant out of bounds else he can get another 3-4 (CA)|
|3||5||O11||Run||Bass||9||QB Draw. How does this work? In any case, a great seal block by Hart gets the first down. GREAT.|
|1||G||O2||Pass||Avant||2||Perfect fade for the touchdown. (DO)|
|Drive Notes: 7-0, 9 min 1st. Upon viewing you get a glimpse of how good Hart is. The 45 yard run is probably 2 with someone who isn't him and the critical third down conversion was due to Hart darting up and sealing the hell out of the MSU linebacker who would have filled the hole otherwise. Henne's sharp on this drive too, save for the one overthrown ball that's shades of UW.|
|1||10||M48||Run||Hart||9||Sweep gets the corner here as Michigan overloads one side of the line and they outnumber at the point of attack.|
|2||1||O43||Pass||Manningham||43||Sweet Jesus, Manningham has to slow up because the throw is a little behind him and he's still open by like three yards. Danielson points out the free safety bite. Quit doin' my job! (CA)|
|Drive Notes: 14-0, 7 min 1st. Yes, if you're wondering, I am detecting a certain buoyancy not found in previous editions of UFR. The touchdown here is a thing of beauty, with the safeties biting hard on the play action (how do you bite on second and one play action?) and Manningham rolling his hips a little bit like he's running a flag then cutting to the post instantaneously and breaking Jaren Hayes. You got served, Hayes!|
|1||10||M30||Pass||Manningham||3||Long handoff played better by Watson this time. Dangerous of him to be so aggressive, though... if Manningham breaks the tackle to the outside he runs a long way. (CA)|
|2||7||M33||Run||Hart||2||Toss sweep. Either the pulling guard Lentz is late or there's an extra guy in the box.|
|3||5||M35||Pass||Massaquoi||Inc||Maybe he gets the first down if he catches this, but he's got that cast on his hand. I seriously question playing a guy who can't catch. (CA)|
|Drive Notes: 14-0 M, early 1st Q. Two good plays by the MSU D and then a drop by the cast-wearing Mass.|
|1||10||M13||Pass||Avant||25||Avant's as wide open as can be. Ball is a little overthrown and Avant makes a nice catch. (CA)|
|1||10||M36||Pass||Hart||Inc||Screen that MSU reads well and Henne's forced to throw it over a defensive lineman. Better that was incomplete; would have been a loss if caught. (TA)|
|2||10||M36||Pass||Ecker||29||A seam route between two defenders that is timed and thrown perfectly. Could not have been done better; an NFL throw. (DO)|
|1||10||O35||Run||Hart||1||Massey the Younger is in at TE and gets killed by the DE. The play's blown up and Hart does well to not lose 3.|
|2||9||O34||Pass||Avant||14||Nice throw but the coverage here is EMU level. The CB had bailed out almost before the play began. (DO)|
|1||10||O20||Run||Hart||0||Like two guys are totally unblocked. Again Hart does well not to lose 3 or 4 yards.|
|2||10||O20||Run||Hart||8||Draw. Ecker gets a nice seal block and Hart gets three while being tackled by like three guys.|
|3||2||O12||Run||Hart||1||Again Hart is trying to deal with an unblocked guy right a the point of attack.|
|4||1||O11||Penalty||RTK||5||This call is also a joke, especially called as roughing. A cheap call. Officials == tards.|
|1||G||O5||Pass||Avant||Inc||Avant runs the fade as Henne throws the slant. Who's right? Avant. The DB was clearly taking inside position. (BR)|
|3||G||O5||Pass||Thompson||5||Uh, yeah... you might want to cover that guy. (CA)|
|Drive Notes: 21-7, 10 min 2nd Q. Danielson's been harping on Michigan running too much and I'm with him. Just look at this drive. Throwing is stealing candy and they're stacking 8 in the box and the runs go 1 0 8 1 0.< /td>|
|1||10||M20||Run||Grady||0||Both guards fail to block their men and there's nothing for Grady.|
|2||10||M20||Pass||Massaquoi||7||Stop route in the zone. The Carl Tabb route. (CA)|
|Drive Notes: 21-7 4 min 2nd Q. It's like a little piece of me dies whenever Avant drops a pass. I think I need therapy.|
|1||10||M28||Pass||Tabb||8||Carl Tabb runs the Tabbroute. There's much better coverage this time but Henne slides it in there. (DO)|
|2||2||M36||Run||Hart||4||I believe this is a zone-stretch type play that we'll see to great effect in the fourth quarter. Michigan makes a note of this.|
|1||10||M40||Pass||Avant||18||So easy, says Danielson, and I agree. Out route again taking advantage of the MSU Cornerback Terrors. Avant makes some yards afterwards (CA)|
|1||10||O42||Pass||Hart||6||Hart runs a little flat route that Watson reads well and comes off the single WR on that side to make a good tackle, else Hart had a ton of room. (CA)|
|2||4||O36||Pass||Massaquoi||5||Almost dropped again. I know he's a fifth year senior, but come on--he can't catch with that cast. (CA)|
|1||10||O31||Pass||Avant||7||Long handoff. (CA)|
|2||3||O24||Run||Hart||-4||Herron makes a really nice play, slicing up into the backfield, but the big issue here is Ecker getting shoved back at the LOS, opening up the slicing-avenue.|
|3||7||O28||Pass||Avant||6||CA. Same Tabbroute but just a tiny bit short.|
|4||1||O22||Run||Hart||10||Little man keeps running, making eight of these yards after he should have been tackled.|
|1||10||O12||Run||Hart||4||I don't like this playcall very much, because if you're going to run it here you have to have a second play called in the huddle so you don't waste a down here. The clock spike was planned by the offensive staff and is throwing away a down; it's a horrible call.|
|3||6||O8||Pass||Tabb||4||Why even throw this? It's short of the sticks and if Tabb doesn't manage to squeak out of bounds they probably don't even get a FG attempt. (CA)|
|Drive Notes: 24-21, Halftime. The clock management on this drive is very bad.|
|1||10||M20||Pass||No one||Sack, -4||I don't understand why Henne pulls this down, since he had his guy on a stop route. (BR)|
|2||14||M16||Run||Hart||2||Again the interior of the offensive line simply fails to properly block the defensive tackles.|
|3||12||M18||Pass||Dunno||Int||A terrible read against fairly vanilla zone coverage. (BR)|
|Drive Notes: 24-21, 13 min 3rd Q. No excuse for the interception.|
|1||10||M20||Run||Hart||6||Finally an effective run between the tackles.Good block by Kraus.|
|2||4||M26||Run||Hart||1||Nowhere to run again.|
|3||3||M27||Pass||Manningham||2||A flanker screen that Manningham screws up. If he just runs it straight upfield, he gets the first down. (CA)|
|Drive Notes:24-24, 9 min 3rd Q. Again you've got the offense operating on the edge of annihilation here early in the second half; again these appear to be execution issues.|
|1||10||O46||Pass||Avant||5||Long handoff. (CA)|
|2||5||O41||Pass||Avant||Inc||A deep ball to Avant, wonder of wonders. Very nicely placed by Henne, who puts it where Avant, who's running step for step with the DB, has a chance but the DB does not. (CA)|
|3||5||O41||Pass||Hart||0||Unfortunately, McKinney stunts right into the screen. (CA)|
|Drive Notes: 24-24, late 3rd Q. MSU called rock to our scissors on the screen.|
|1||10||M20||Run||Hart||64||Strange aligment here for MSU. They have a huge gap between the DE and DT on the right side of the formation. This is a draw action and Thompson finds that gaping hole to seal the linebacker as the overloaded side of the line blocks off the Spartan defenders--there was no reaction to the TE going in motion here. This play was going for 20 before the ball was even snapped. I mean, seriously, there's no one within two yards of Riley.|
|1||10||O16||Run||Grady||5||(Note to this point that Hart has 109 yards on the two long runs and 49(!!!) on all his others.) Grady makes 3-4 after contact here.|
|2||5||O11||Run||Hart||7||More draw action right at the gaping hole between the DT and the DE. Hart gets three with like three guys on him.|
|1||G||O2||Pass||Penalty||1||Pass interference on Ecker in the back of the endzone. Incomplete only because Ecker bobbles it (and shouldn't have this been reviewed) but he has an excuse. (CA)|
|1||G||O1||Run||Hart||1||How the damn hell does he get this in there? Does he levitate into the endzone? Neither Paul nor Riley gets anything approximating a block but Hart does it yet again. YOU ROOLZ.|
|Drive Notes: 31-24, 11 min 4 Q. Amazing that we run this into the endzone given the fact that our run blocking is basically nonexistent unless State lines up with ridiculous gaps between their DL.|
|1||10||M46||Run||Hart||2||Could have gone for more but Hart trips up making his cut. There was actually a hole (draw action again).|
|3||1||O44||Run||Hart||3||They go on a quick count for this play and it catches the Spartans off guard.|
|1||10||O41||Pass||Hart||Inc||Henne throws this in the dirt as the screen is diagnosed and well covered. (TA)|
|2||10||O41||Pass||Tabb||5||Again a litte route against the zone. Tabb sits down. (CA)|
|3||5||O36||Pass||Avant||11||Long handoff to Avant. How do you allow this on third and five? It is the mystery. (CA)|
|1||10||O25||Run||Hart||0||Riley gets shoved three yards into the backfield and Hart runs up his back.|
|2||10||O25||Pass||No one||Inc||Henne can't find anyone and Henne tosses it off into the sideline. (TA)|
|3||10||O25||Pass||Hart||Inc||Unless you really think that the worst call since Hitler decided to attack Russia should have stood, in which case get off my blog, Sparty. (BA)|
|Drive Notes: 31-31, 7 min 4th Q. We just can't run the ball. Hart's yards are almost entirely due to one Shazoresque screw up and then a really strange presnap alignment. We can't line up and block anyone.|
|1||10||M40||Run||Hart||4||Draw; Thompson falls and only gets a small piece of his man, preventing the play from going further.|
|2||6||M44||Run||Hart||8||The previously mentioned zone stretch cutback. MSU aggresively overpursuees and the backside is wide open. Hart IDs and cuts.|
|1||10||O48||Run||Hart||7||Draw; Hart picks his hole outside and cuts up smartly to get all he can.|
|2||3||O41||Run||Hart||2||Ecker cannot block the DE, who holds the corner and makes the play on a sweep.|
|3||1||O39||Run||Grady||1||Grady is like an inch short.|
|1||10||O36||Run||Hart||5||Lentz gets a weak block and his man makes the tackle. At this point there are holes opening up but Michigan can't get that last block.|
|2||5||O31||Run||Hart||4||McKinney grabs Hart's shirt and manages to drag him down. Well blocked.|
|3||1||O27||Run||Hart||0||Again an unblocked guy at the point of attack, and he's joined by another player.|
|4||1||O27||Run||Hart||9||They do actually get the POA knocked back this time. Looks like the unsuccessful 4th and goal versus Wisconsin except the pulling guard gets to the hole.|
|1||10||O18||Run||Hart||2||All jammed up and Hart does not immediately identify the correct hole to pick. Again he runs into the back of Riley.|
|3||7||O15||Run||Hart||5||Burrows his way upfield.|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG, 31-31, 1 min 4th Q. The line finally starts getting it together on this drive, though there are points where execution is still lacking. Coming to the conclusion that Ecker is just not much of a blocker (hell of a receiver, though). Riley has gotten pushed back several times but he is playing out of position with injured thumbs.|
|1||10||O25||Pass||Avant||6||Long handoff. (CA)|
|Drive Notes: 34-31, EOG. Taste the sting of defeat! Lord knows I'm used to it.|
THE OFFENSE IS BACK BABY!
Unfortunately, I have to break this out: not so fast, my friend. Nearly 500 yards and 34 (should have been 40) points is something to get excited about, certainly, but there are a lot of parallels between this game and the Eastern game, save for the fact that the opposing offense was sweet instead of nonexistent. Henne's accuracy radically improved but we ran that long handoff play a lot. It was something that we relied on to keep our drives chugging down the field and it's something that the OSUs and PSUs of the world will take away.
More concerning is the run blocking, which was awful. Yes, awful. It was possibly the worst run blocking coupled with a 200 yard day from the accused team's running back in the history of NCAA football. Hart's first 45 yard scamper saw him literally hop through a nearly nonexistent hole and was aided by SirDarean Adams (I think) pulling a Shazor on his attack angle and badly missing. The 64 yard run was a really strange draw that MSU was completely incapable of defending from the start. There was no one within two yards of the RT when the play started and all Riley had to do to leave the massive hole open was casually step to his right and wall off the Spartan DE. While Michigan did well to take advantage of the situation, rest assured that said situation will not repeat itself against Ohio State. If we are being wholly honest with ourselves (and we are), Michigan State gave us those 109 yards almost in full.
All right, yes, you're looking for good news: Hart really is that damn good, a complete back who gives like 300% effort on every play and has the incredible ability to make three yards he shouldn't on almost rush. I had forgotten what an amazing player he is in his absence. If we can get halfway competent blocking, look out.
The second piece of good news is the Hennechart:
|Team||Dead on||Catchable||Inaccurate||Bad Read||Throwaways||Batted|
I meant to bring the "DO" numbers down but not that much--I'll have to work on it. Obviously the big 25 and the leetle 1 jump out at you. That is at least partially due to the incompetence of the Spartan DBs, since a lot of those CAs are little stop routes against the zone or long handoffs, but when you try to pass 37 times and get four execution errors from your quarterback, you are in the business, as they say.
Michigan only went deep twice and neither throw was perfect, but one was a 45 yard touchdown and the other was placed so that Avant had a chance but no one else did. The 15 yard outs and little zone stops were all thrown accurately. There were a couple instances of miscommunication on option routes, but, man... 36 throws. One inaccurate. That's night and day.
So what does it mean in the larger scheme of things?
I don't think we're going to be able to run against teams that can deal with our OL effectively and have the linebackers to back it up. This appears to be PSU and OSU. Hart doesn't have the pure speed to beat guys like Connor or Hawk and the UM running game is sadly dependent on him making guys miss. Tom, you were right: the offensive line was way overrated in the offseason. Mea culpa. (Though I wonder if we'd be saying the same thing with Jake Long at RT. We'll never know.)
However, the pieces for an effective passing game complemented by a finesse running game are certainly in place. When Manningham figures out what the hell he's supposed to be doing on a regular basis he is going to be #1 in spirit if not in jersey; he's spec-QEDMFer-tacular, like a Steve Breaston born to be a wide receiver. The route he ran on his touchdown was thing of subtle beauty, all Scarlett Johansson curves from him and all my grandmother's busted hip from Jaren Hayes. Avant's shown that he is mortal when it comes to dropping the occasional ball but he's also shown that he's not merely a possession option with a number of nice episodes of YAC and an awful lot of being open (being hit has oftentimes been another matter). He is very, very good. The Chad Henne panic should also be subsiding somewhat.
In my opinion, they k ey to this offense is going to be establishing Manningham as a guy you have to bracket with a safety. The combination of Hart, Michigan's run blocking issues, and their draw-adeptness means that the running game will suffer extensively with eight in the box but will be somewhere between adequate and great if the opposing safeties have to play off. Note that Hart's huge game against Purdue last year was against a very good run defense coupled with an awful pass D that could not afford to put their corners in one-on-one coverage with Edwards, et al.
So you're telling me...
We can conclusively say at this point that the preseason expectations for the offense (propagated by me, yes, but not just me) were excessively optimistic. We have a good pass-blocking line but not a great one. Our run blocking is good only in a finesse sense, which is to say that it is not good. Breaston has been invisible but largely replaced by Manningham. Henne's accuracy has been erratic, though it's trending to the good.
So what does this mean for the Gophers?
Probably not much, despite the fact that I've been relentlessly negative considering we just racked up 500 yards. The Gopher D is about as bad as the MSU D, especially without Brandon Owens and his backup. They're going to have a tough time stopping Michigan's offense--I mean, they gave up 44 points to a team that completed about a third of its passes. They'll have a tough time stopping anyone.
Watch out for Penn State, though. They have the cornerbacks and (evidently given 48 for Maroney) the run defense to put a serious damper on our offensive forays and, even though I still hold to my belief that Michael Robinson is a better ninja space admiral than quarterback, the game is going to be a tight, ugly one.
You know you've arrived when you get profiled in Slate. Thus the inescapable conclusion is that Bill Simmons has done arrived. Like many Slate articles, this particular column explains something new that you always thought you thought:
Simmons' columns are highly partisan and, in the best sense of the word, unprofessional. They scrape up against the ethic of newspaper sports columnists, who love nothing more than talking about their professionalism. ... Despite the unruly passions all around him, the columnist maintains heroic objectivity. If he roots for anything, he says, it is for hard-luck cases, big comebacksâ€”in other words, "a good story."
Sports fans tend to view this neutrality as highly bogus and slightly implausible. As Simmons writes in an e-mail, "That reality created a void where fans couldn't really identify with many of the visible columnists writing about sportsâ€”we had nothing in common with them." ... Simmons' writing is distinguished not by its Olympian distance from sports but by its almost tender intimacy.
Anyone doubting the voracity of this particular piece need only stop by a couple threads on SportsJournalists.com for confirmation that borders on self-parody. Check "Fanboys in the press box, or who's a real Sports Journalist?" for a heaping helping of objectivity crowing:
As for covering my alma mater, I cover State U. basketball after graduating from there a lot of years ago. It has never been a problem - I wasn't a fanboy when I covered them for the school paper back then, so I'm not now. Have I enjoyed a couple of their big successes in recent years? Sure, but you would never know that from watching me react or reading my copy.
Mainly, I've lost my ability to cheer, unless it is a sport I don't cover. Soccer, yes. Anything else? I'm just an observer, even when I'm watching on TV.
and then you've got your spiteful desire to bite the hand that feeds:
Those people to whom you explain that you don't get to root for anybody, that your job isn't to support the home team ... what's their response? Do they just stare at you blankly, not getting it? Are they that far away from us? Or do they learn?
I find it strange that these guys are surprised when they learn that the rest of society thinks it's strange that they work 80 hours a week for peanuts to cover games that they don't care about, and that the real reason they're in it is to "get the story"--generally about some parapalegic Green Beret punt returner who huggles kittens (NTTAWWT)--when the real story has just unfolded on the field for all to see. The idea that the story of sports comes from canned, generic post- or pre-game quotes or treacly human interest profiles that only the mainstream journalism torchbearers can offer to the public is delusional. Simmons success defies that delusion and drives the ink-stained freakin' nuts.
The reason Simmons is so popular is that he writes the real story about what happened on the field, the one that has nothing to do with the phony quotes that Rasheed Wallace encapsulated perfectly when he answered every question with "Both teams played hard," the one that has everything to do with--here's Rasheed again--"The GAME! THE GAME!"And hell yes he annoys the crap out of me sometimes, but you could take all the World Series columns produced by your ivory tower objective types and have Anubis weigh them for genuine, compelling emotion against one feathery Simmons piece and the latter would win.
My life is filled with cynicism. It's a part of whom I am. It's also tiring, hollow, and ultimately a great way to fritter away a lifetime being angry at useless things. I've had my fill of it; I don't need it from sports. So you can take your jaded neutrality and stuff it. I'm with Bill.
(Wow. That was not supposed to be that, er, long and, well... that. Carry on.)
Duuude. Iowa got OMG punk'd. The following is a picture of the Kinnick turf:
Yes, in fact, it is too goddamn long. Check the Michigan Blogs section of the sidebar for some new additions and see if any pique your interest. Special commendation to Ron Bellamy's Underachieving All Stars for getting one despite having an irritatingly long name that spills over onto a second line and disrupts the delicate feng shui I've established. But, yeah...
It's hard to watch either of Mike Hart's 40+ yard runs without picturing an 8 year old running from the cops after stealing something
... what am I supposed to do? Thumbs up, keep it keepin' on and such.
Safeties... good? Toledo Blade story on Willis Barringer.