I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
Don't think, steal: Jon Chait provides a theory that rings sadly true which is reproduced here and thus rescued from Internet Oblivion:
The Law of Conservation of Michigan Football
Any improvement or decline in any unit will be met by an equal and opposite reaction by another unit. This has been true since 1997. We had a fabulous defense, pretty weak offense. In 1998, the offense started getting more explosive, but the defense began declining. This trend continued trhough 1999 and 2000, by which point the offense was great and the defense awful.
By 2001, our defense suddenly became very good, but the offense collapsed. In 2002, the offense got better but the defense got worse.
2003 is in some ways the exception but in other ways the apotheosis of the rule. The offense and defense were both very good, but the special teams became a giant, inescapable black hole of suckitude.
In recent years the trend has accelerated, and happened within seasons themselves. We started out with a strong defense and a pitiful offense. The offense slowly got better, and the defense slowly worse, so by the end of the year it was just the opposite.
It was only natural that our offense blew against ND while our defense was near-dominant. It is the Law of Conservation of Michigan Football.
A corrollary to the Law of Conservation of Michigan Football is that we will go 9-3 every year.
Blogospheric content re: Kitten Redemption 2005 (HT: IBFC) can be found many places. IBFC has a dose of video (including the "fumble" video I stole) and some general thoughts. Offtackle weighs in as well. Joey says he still doesn't exactly think Carr's ready to join Flipmode Squad (sorry, all rap references are stuck in 1997) just yet. He makes a good point in his "random stuff" section:
- Long-lost Carr family member John Borton asserts that UM is 5-0 if Mike Hart is healthy all season. Thoughts? I would imagine that Hart could have been the difference in both games, but UM shouldn't need to lean on that excuse. Michigan has the personnel to beat ND and Wisconsin without Hart; it just doesn't have the coaching (or, at least right now, the quarterback?).
Seriously. Hart may have had some incremental effect but let's be serious: the problems in those games were only tangentially connected to the running game. Hart doesn't fumble against Wisconsin or Notre Dame, sure, and he probably picks up an extra blitzer or two, but no one's going to run to the recordbook with an eraser to correct the "error." Michigan had the opportunity to win those games anyway but did not.
Also, SMQB is back and kicking with his weekend wrapup worth your time, though I think he's slightly harsh in his assessment of both teams. To wit: he says Michigan State "blew" their first two plays in overtime, making the HP-ish mistake of crediting every non-succesful offensive play to poor execution instead of a good defensive play. Points taken on the missed field goals and the ugly MSU third down in OT, but the ugliness was mostly contained in some questionable playcalls, three missed chipshot fieldgoals, and officiating best described as "indescribable." There were a total of six penalties in the game, and nearly 900 yards of well-executed offense. Let's not miss the forest for the trees. (FTR: I still think SMQB is a top-tier CFB blog. Hugz.)
So this blog thing and Michigan's 2-2 start have given me strange rooting interests. Generally I root for whatever aids Michigan in their (perenially futile) bid to recover from the road opener loss and force their way back into the national championship game and against specific teams I find distasteful (ND, OSU (obvious), Miami(Michael Irvin), Nebraska ('97), Tennessee(waah Peyton)). Now I tend to root for teams I didn't have a previous opinon about based on how much I like their respective bloggers. Therefore I am a quasi-fan of Florida (EDSBS), Alabama (WSJ), and Georgia (Kyle King, Paul Westerdawg), which poses problems when the two meet. This happened last weekend when 'Bama Rammer Jammered the hell out of the Gators. Alas, Orson! Hurrah, Warren! I sympathize/celebrate.
Speaking of Kyle, he's offered up an interesting candidate for the next Michigan head coach: former Georgia DC and current Jacksonville Jaguars linebackers coach Brian Van Gorder, who has roots in the area, an impressive resume as the Bulldog DC, and extensive recruiting contacts in Florida and Georgia. It's an interesting name but I don't think he'll be a serious candidate since he's never been a head coach and is currently just a position coach, and since Michigan specializes in finishing second for southern recruits I don't know how much his contacts will help. The culture of southern football is such that only rarely do big names escape the south--more focus on Florida may be wasted effort.
FireJohnLynch.com. I suppose I should address this. And then this publicity-yielding Carty article. My stance: John Lynch, the proprietor of FireLloydCarr.us, is a loon and should be fired from whatever his current job is, as he is liable to shoot his coworkers should they fail at any task.
If you can find 25 teams to put in your poll, this is where they go.
Review is wonderful, but it exacerbates the frustration that comes with blown calls, especially blown calls that are reviewed. Michigan was driving against Michigan State up 31-24 and in makeable-but-not-automatic field goal range when Chad Henne dropped back to pass on third down and was hit when throwing. This is the relevant section of the NCAA rule book:
When a Team A player is holding the ball to pass it forward toward the neutral zone, any intentional forward movement of his arm starts the forward pass. If a Team B player contacts the passer or ball after forward movement begins and the ball leaves the passer's hand, a forward pass is ruled regardless of where the ball strikes the ground or a player (A.R. 2-19-2-I).
This is the play:
Henne's hand was clearly going forward and the contact comes after the hand moves forward. By the rulebook, it is an incomplete forward pass. Whether or not he intended to tuck the ball again--unlikely since you can see a wide open Mike Hart at the edge of the frame--is irrelevant since it's impossible to tell once contact occurs. The review official does not know the rulebook and turned a fairly comfortable Michigan lead into a tie game. He's not just more incompetent than your average official, he's more incompetent than your average fan and thus has no business being employed by the Big Ten for purposes of video review.
Sorry, but this stuff drives me nuts, and that call wasn't even close.
Er... first order of business is to note that because I'm an idiot, I forgot to tape the MSU game, so "Upon Further Review" is tenous at the moment. I hope to either A) get a DVD from someone in the AA/Ypsi area or B) relocate it to SB or IBFC this week. If you can provide A, please email me ASAP. When arrangements are made, you'll know.
- I don't mean to harsh the buzz, but the only thing that stopped Michigan State was Michigan State. Their occasional deadly screwups cost them them the game.
- That said, we frequently got very good coverage from the secondary which forced Stanton to scramble around fruitlessly and either take a sack, throw the ball away, or scramble for a couple yards (instead of 15). It was either that or someone mindbogglingly wide open.
- We did do a good job containing Stanton's running but it was at the expense of several other things, I think. David Harris was spying most of the game--he came up whenever Stanton escaped contain, whether it was via a designed rollout or not.
- The defensive line was almost totally neutralized by Michigan State's offensive line, though some of their passivity seems like it was intentional. Much like what we saw in the OSU game, Michigan tends to respond to mobile quarterbacks by making sure they don't get any running lanes at the expense of getting to them quickly, though the fact that we actually sacked Stanton a couple times puts us way, way ahead of the curve. It's possible that the MSU OL is one of the best in the country.
- If there was going to be a game where our safeties fell apart, it was probably going to be this one, but the only play that got past them wasn't really their fault (the flanker screen with a blitz called). I'll say it: "blah blah blah lose Ernest Shazor == worse" has been definitively proven to be false. Shazor's excessive aggression increased the variance of the D immensely and is not missed.
- Tim Jamison played only sparingly but the first down he played was more than impressive. He came in, blew his man three or four yards off the ball, and then made a 4-yard TFL. He made a similar play against EMU. Concerns about him holding up against the run may be overblown.
- Welcome to 2005, Mr. Henne. One awful decision on the interception and a little bit of inaccuracy but nothing like that which we saw against Wisconsin. Instead, we get 60+ completion percentage and three touchdowns. I remember thinking at halftime that I thought Henne would make one mistake too many and that would result in our loss, and thinking that I was a total jerkface for thinking that after the interception. But he did not.
- Welcome to 2005, Mr. Hart. We missed you OMG SOOOO BAD.
- Can someone get the #1 jersey to Manningham stat? It's clear that he has no idea where to line up half the time but that will fix itself with experience. It is also clear that not putting #1 on him is thoroughly dumb.
- Despite Hart's 218 yards, our running game sucks. Other than the 113 yards on the two long carries, Hart picked up 105 yards on 34 carries. That's just over 3.0 yards a carry. That's also terrible. I've advocated the idea of "line yards" in the past and hold to that philosophy now: the yards that Hart made due to his awesome and the incompetence of the MSU LBs and safeties don't impact the fact that our offensive line was almost completely stymied by their defensive line. This happened against Wisconsin as well.
- Yeah, but that last drive in regulation was pretty badass, no?
- The playcalling at the end of the first half was inexcusable. First the timeout before fourth down when the clock should have been allowed to wind. Then the run on first down with no timeouts followed by a spike with 19 seconds left on the clock when Michigan had more than enough time to throw into the endzone twice. Awful disorganization at its finest.
- Conversely, the final drive of regulation was masterful. It's a shame Rivas missed the field goal because otherwise that grinding, fourth-and-one-happy "we're tougher than you" drive would have gone down in Michigan lore. Twice Carr was faced with fourth and one and twice he made the correct decision to pound it into the line. The second time he--perhaps wiser for his experience in the Rose Bowl--passed up a makeable field goal. In the end, he had bled the clock from almost 7 minutes to 50 seconds, forced Michigan State to use all its timeouts, and had set his kicker up with a 27 yard field goal that would have likely won the game.
- The utter incompetence of the review guy in this game forced Carr to use a timeout to get the first half Barringer interception-fumble correctly called, but it was wisely spent. If that call doesn't get overturned Michigan loses.
- Speaking of the utter incompetence of the review guy, the Henne "fumble" was an outrageously bad call made even more outrageously bad by the fact that the incompetent review guy let it stand. Henne's hand had been moving forward for decades before the ball came out. If Michigan had lost the game, it would have taken its place next to the Desmond trip and the Clockgate game in the pantheon of worst calls in Michigan history.
- Note the difference between the review guy versus Wisconsin, who made three reviews very quickly and got each call right, and this review guy versus Michigan State, who took forever to get one obviously wrong call reversed and then took forever to let one obviously wrong call stand.
Thoughts, trackbacks, and recriminations about this weekend's games go a heah.
Also, please welcome Oregon State blogger Jason Prothero to the poll. I've extended an invite to a WSU blog as well but haven't heard back. We'll fill in our Pac-10 holes yet.
All right. Given the fact that people are using any available post to leave comments after heartbreaking losses over the weekend, we'll institute an open thread thing.
Please play relatively nice; I'm going to be disappointed if I return home and the thing looks like a Rivals message board. Criticism is fine but let's try for some reasoned in there, too. I'm attending the game and then the White Stripes concert so I will be not around. Fe fi fo fum.
OMG WE WIN UPDATE
I, for one, welcome our new adorable kitten overlords.
Hail to the kittens adorable
Hail to the conq'ring cuteness
Hail, Hail, to kittens, the lords of MGoBlog.