Two consecutive as we get the hang of being in town and not having fiascoes. This one is ANGRY even after my incoherent rant about that awful Audi commercial* hit the cutting room floor, mostly because Tim has a screaming rage issue with BTN color guy Chris Martin. I just mute the TV, myself.
We talk about the Purdue game, discuss how old I am for remembering Justin Fargas, and then bring in Jamiemac of Just Cover to discuss the weekend's Big Ten slate. Charges of inappropriate music fandom were leveled at Tim in response to his smug ignorance of anything that happened before 2005, but I'd like to make a correction: I accused him of liking queefcore when I meant crunkcore. A thousand apologies to the worst bands in the history of the universe.
*(You know, the one that starts off like lame Adbusters snark with various luxury car owners acting like consumer zombies about their preferred brand only to be shown the true light of justice and progress: Audis. I want it to die.)
The usual links:
Sponsorship note! This is going to be ironic given the crabbing a bit later about excessively corporate bits, but we've landed a sponsorship from a new book titled "For Michigan Fans Only" that will run over about the next two weeks. Check it out, see if you're interested, buy a copy or three, and discharge any lingering guilt you may have about not supporting the site.
Podcasting. I put in an appearance on The Michigan Man podcast to talk about the Purdue game, and talked some more new media stuff with Dan Levy of Press Coverage. And yes, we taped a podcast this week that should be up today or tomorrow. It is the angriest podcast.
Defense: we had it. Wolverine Historian's tribute to the mauling '85 defense:
Football with defense now seems like a bizarre anomaly that requires changes to your gameplanning.
Footie V. Congratulations to the men's soccer team, which won its first Big Ten title in 11 years of existence by stomping Penn State 4-1. MGoBlue has video highlights. Soony Saad's goal was a bit of a gift but Meram's two were sweet, and he would have had a hat trick but for a Penn State player pulling a Suarez. The BTN mics picked up the defender incredulously exclaiming "are you KIDDING ME, sir" after the guy had bashed away a certain goal with his forearm—even Rasheed Wallace thinks that's a stretch. BTW, Saad is now the nation's leading scorer with 18 goals.
The NCAA soccer tournament is a 48-team affair where 16 teams are seeded and receive byes; Michigan is the #10 seed and will play the winner of South Florida-Central Florida on Sunday at 2. The game is in Ann Arbor, so pack the place out. If they advance the third round will be at South Carolina or at home if SC is upset by the Coastal Carolina/Duke winner.
From national award winner thing to person at South Carolina. Your unbreakable faith in David Brandon's pimp hand has been further strengthened by the departure of compliance head Judy Van Horn for a job at South Carolina that seems identical to the one she's departing.
Van Horn only appears in the infamous CARA documents occasionally, mostly to gently spar with Draper. Whatever her offenses were they weren't public, and I plead not enough data if you're asking whether or not she should have been gently shown the door. I will say that I am enjoying the public announcements that Person Has Acquired Job You Don't Care About because they remind me of that scene in The Wire where deposed mayor Royce whispers sweet nothings to Clay Davis about staying in line or getting nothing. Don't go against the family.
Horrified Kafkaesque potato-man interlude.
In other Brandon. The Crain's Detroit Business article on Brandon has been kicked around on the message board already but a couple opinion type objects follow on from this:
As part of dealing with the infractions, Brandon plans to operate the athletics program much like he did the corporations he ran for more than two decades, Ann Arbor-based Domino's Pizza Inc. and Livonia-based coupon marketer Valassis Communications Inc.
That includes creating a business plan and bolstering the image. The athletic department is conducting a national search for its first chief marketing officer, and Brandon is looking at where money should be spent on promotion.
"The first thing you need to do is resource properly against the areas that are very important. This is a department that's been under-resourced in terms of marketing muscle and expertise," he said, noting that just three people worked on marketing for UM athletics. The new CMO will add more staff.
"(We will) craft the message a little better in the media in terms of who we are, what's going on here and why it ought to be attractive to people," he said.
I guess that's fine and after the NCAA business it seems like a thorough reshaping of the athletic department is in order, but I'm a bit leery of the direction things have gone so far on the marketing front. I'm not buying a Big Chill shirt because it's got an Arby's logo on it. I'm extremely disappointed that David Brandon's pimp hand has so far spared Special K and his awful, generic gameday music.
The whole point of college athletics these days is a lack of the generic corporate moneygrab that makes professional games sterile experiences—have you been to a Wings game in the last ten years? Part of marketing the program is being actually different. Eroding the wall between Michigan's fusty, old-timey feel and your average AHL game brings a short-term Pavlovian response but hurts the development of long-term obsessives that allow Michigan to avoid two for one Subway promotions even when they're not doing that well.
This is a statement I don't like:
"My job as the quote-unquote CEO of Michigan athletics is to make sure that (the profit and loss statement) is healthy, that we're doing a good job of growing our revenues, that we're managing our costs," he said. "It operates very much like every business I've ever been associated with from the standpoint of what we do and what we need to do to be successful."
His job as the quote unquote CEO of Michigan athletics has zero to do with money. Money is a vehicle via which to graduate students and acquire wins, and in some cases I think the athletic department is sliding too much towards money. I thought the same thing under Martin, FWIW.
Hockey bits. A fuller exploration of what's going on with the hockey team will have to wait until football's over but, man, it's looking like a slightly less nerve-wracking version of last year. Michigan has avoided the ugly .500 start and is sitting at 6-3-3, but they're a last-second goal against Ferris State from splitting every weekend they've had this year save a sweep of Bowling Green. Michigan lost to a terrible version of BG last year so this is some progress. It's a far cry from the rampage they went on at the end of last season.
Making things a bit worse was how the Notre Dame series went down. Michigan was run out of the building Friday in a depressing game where they were outshot badly. This never happens. On Saturday they got down and then got a flood of freaky goals:
Michigan Hockey Net chalked the win up to puck luck and it's hard to disagree when Michigan's last three were some variety of bizarre. Langlais's invisible hockey player job is possibly the weirdest goal I've ever seen.
A lot of people have been muttering about a repeat of last year and it's not hard to see the similarities. Michigan does not have a lot of skill in the forward corps and has to rely on bombs and deflections too much. Only Hagelin brings a consistent look-at-that-guy presence on every shift. The goaltending is okay but not great, and the team seems to lack a shut down defenseman in the mold of a Mitera or a Komisarek.
At least they haven't lost to an awful team yet, and it looks like their schedule has been tough out of the gate—ND and Alaska are 1st and 4th in the league right now and Ferris is okay; even BG is 5-7 overall. UNH is 5-1-3. That Mercyhurst tie is going to rankle all year, though.
Cheese it! The cops! Penn State fans are still convinced that an epic refereeing conspiracy exists to prop up Michigan, and after watching this I'm convinced:
/commits seppuku because of the dishonor
Etc.: The Mathlete has us 50-50 to get to an eighth win before the bowl. Quite a coinflip coming up. Mets Maize on the Purdue game. John Clay might miss the Michigan game, but it won't matter since Wisconsin has two other fine backs.
For live updates of the games I'm attending, follow me on Twitter @varsityblue. If you can help out finding articles on any of the commits, @reply me on Twitter or e-mail me, and I'll try to include your contribution.
New Commit FL CB Dallas Crawford
A new commit means a rundown of his season to date.
Game 1. South Fort Myers pasted Estero 49-7. Crawford excelled on both sides of the ball for SFM:
Crawford led the Wolfpack by completing 6 of 7 passes for 156 yards with two TDs, and rushing three times for 30 yards with two more scores. He even picked off a pass for good measure.
Their stats credit Crawford with 3 rushing TDs, so I've given him the benefit of the doubt. Click through to the article for more photos.
Game 2. South Fort Myers rolled over Cypress Lake 39-0.
Crawford attempted just 10 passes and, as usual, his accuracy level was high with nine completions for 118 yards.
The article also includes video (relevant portion begins around 1:25):
Game 3. SFM beat Bishop Verot 35-3:
South’s explosive offense was present in the form of 23-, 67-, 60- and 25-yard passing touchdowns from quarterback Dallas Crawford. The senior also ran for a 3-yarder to break a scoreless tie early in the second quarter and finished with 311 total yards...
He had an impressive 5-yard touchdown to tight end Luke Smith negated by a rare rule when his helmet was knocked off (instant dead play) while escaping what seemed like a sure sack. Then another pass was dropped inside the 5-yard line...
Vikings starting quarterback Jake Kistel was knocked out of the game just three plays into the third quarter after back-to-back crushing blows from linebacker Anthony DeBonis and Crawford, who also plays free safety.
Crawford also had a 22-yard interception return for a touchdown that was negated by a roughing the passer penalty.
You never want a kid to get hurt, but I'm still glad to hear Crawford's a certified big hitter. Photo gallery can be found here.
Game 4. The Wolfpack rolled Gulf Coast 49-7 (video in link).
“We settled down,” South quarterback Dallas Crawford said. “We came in a little too amped, trying to make big plays instead of taking what the defense was giving us.”
South (4-0) did much of its damage – especially on the host Sharks' spirits on homecoming – in the final five minutes of the first half. The Wolfpack put together a five-minute drive capped by Crawford's 2-yard dive to take a 14-7 lead with 5:14 left to play...
Always willing to capitalize on his opponent's mistakes, Crawford dropped a 51-yard touchdown pass in Tyrell Blanks' arms on the final play of the first half...
GC snagged Crawford's only interception thrown this season. He made up for it by pulling in one of his own on the defensive side of the ball (pictured above). Photo Gallery. Thanks to @ryanhaase for helping me find this article.
Game 5. Crawford stole the show as South shut out North Fort Myers 34-0.
After being crowned at halftime, South Fort Myers senior Dallas Crawford promptly returned an interception 28 yards for a touchdown as the host Wolfpack pulled away from stubborn North Fort Myers 34-0 in a Class 3A-District 11 game. Crawford finished with two interceptions on defense and threw two touchdown passes...
“Coach Redhead takes a lot of time breaking down film every week,” Crawford said. “He comes to practice on Monday and let’s us know what to expect. We execute what he tells us during the week.”
Game 6. South doubles up Baker 40-20.
The ability of the elusive Crawford (13-of-24 passing, 260 yards) to fire strong, accurate throws on the run gave the Bulldogs a headache all night...
Crawford snagged one of four interceptions by Wolfpack defensive backs and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown in the Wolfpack’s 20-point second quarter.
In addition to the defensive touchdown, Dallas threw for 2.
Game 7. South Fort Myers pasted Fort Myers 43-10.
Representatives from Clemson and Michigan watched from the South sideline as Wolfpack stars Dallas Crawford and Sammy Watkins turned their games up another notch...
Crawford hurdled for one touchdown and dived for another, both from 5 yards. He also hit tight end Luke Smith on a 3-yard touchdown pass. Crawford missed his first two passes, but then completed nine straight and finished 10-of-13 for 144 yards.
Game 8. The Wolfpack beat Riverdale 39-3.
Less than a minute into the game, senior quarterback Dallas Crawford found Sammy Watkins on a slant that turned into a 75-yard dash to the end zone.
Crawford rushed for 88 yards and completed 8 of 10 passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns. The other scoring toss to Watkins came on a similar play to Crawford across the middle for a 20-yard TD in the second quarter.
Dallas also notched a rushing touchdown, which the recap fails to mention. Photo Gallery.
Senior Dallas Crawford threw two long touchdown passes, ran for one score and added an interception in his final high school regular-season game.
The Wolfpack had a bye last weekend, and will kick off the state playoffs on Friday.
|Dallas Crawford 2010|
|Cypress Lake||W 39-0||9||10||90.00||118||11.80||1||0||6||24||4.00||2|
|Bishop Verot||W 35-3||18||23||78.26||299||13.00||4||0||9||12||1.33||1|
|Gulf Coast||W 49-7||12||16||75.00||277||17.31||3||1||11||34||3.09||1|
|North Fort Myers||W 34-0||7||13||53.85||88||6.77||2||0||5||38||7.60||0||2||1|
|Fort Myers||W 43-10||10||13||76.92||144||11.08||1||0||12||38||3.17||2|
This week: As mentioned above, South Fort Myers kicks off their playoff campaign on Friday. They'll host Barron Collier at 7:30
FL QB Kevin Sousa
Last week: Lake Nona fell to East River 14-28.
Kevin's coach tells Tom that Sousa went 16/28 passing for 209 yards, a score and three picks. He also carried 25 times for 58 yards.
|Kevin Sousa 2010|
|Oak Ridge||L 0-48||6||13||46.15||34||2.62||0||1||7||31||4.43||0|
|Lake Wales||L 6-42||14||21||66.67||199||9.48||0||1||13||64||4.92||1|
|Winter Haven||L 0-42||9||14||64.29||128||9.14||0||0||5||29||5.80||0|
|East River||L 14-28||16||28||57.14||209||7.46||1||3||25||58||2.32||1|
This week: Lake Nona's season has ended with a 1-9 record. Sousa finished with just under 2,000 yards passing, and more than 800 yards rushing.
FL RB Demetrius Hart
Dee Hart, a Michigan recruit, ran for three first-half touchdowns, the last one from 34 yards that capped a seven-play 68-yard drive to give DP a 21-0 halftime lead. Hart added two more scores in the third quarter to finish with five TDs, 120 yards rushing and 212 all-purpose yards.
Hart was predictably named the Player of the Game. As always, the Sentinel provides highlights:
Official stats below come from the Dr. Phillips website.
|Demetrius Hart 2010|
|Cypress Creek||W 52-0||14||168||4||12.00||1||7||0||7.00||3||24||0||8.00|
|Oak Ridge||W 56-28||21||126||3||6.00||4||37||1||9.25||1||5||0||5.00|
|West Orange||W 49-6||11||121||4||11.00||4||24||0||6.00||2||69||1||34.50|
This week: 10-0 Dr. Phillips hosts Olympia in round 1 of the State Playoffs on Friday at 7:30.
FL OL Tony Posada
Next week: Plant hosts Plant City in Round 1 of the State Playoffs on Friday.
OH OL Jack Miller
Last Week: St. John's Jesuit beat Medina 24-6:
Normally the more physical team, the Bees ran into an offensive line with the likes of Troy Favorite, Nick Brunner, Nate Pearson, Miles Ashleman and Jack Miller, who average 6-3 and 263 pounds.
The Titans managed to ride that line for 198 rushing yards in the game. Miller talked to the Toledo Blade about the big win:
“When you get in the playoffs, you're going to give up big plays, but it's about the ability to keep fighting and not give up,” said Titan senior two-way lineman Jack Miller. “That's what we did tonight.”
This week: 11-1 St. John's will play crosstown rival Whitmer in Round 3 of the State Playoffs at Bowling Green's Doyt Perry Stadium on Saturday at 7.
MI DE/LB Brennen Beyer
Penalties kept that march going, including one called on senior Brennen Beyer for horse-collaring Birney on a sack attempt at the CC 35. Had Beyer completed the sack without an infraction, the Shamrocks likely would have been forced to punt. Later on, that gave Beyer extra motivation to regain the lead. “We needed to bounce back from that,” Beyer said. “If our defense held us for the rest of the game we were pretty confident our offense would score. That’s what we planned and that’s what we did, it worked out well.”
It didn’t hurt knowing Brindza was waiting to do his thing. “It gives you so much reassurance,” Beyer added. “When I was lining up for the (winning) field goal I was really confident it was going to go in. He’s the best kicker in the state and one of the best in the nation, it helps a lot.”
Standard sad faces about Brindza's Notre Dame commitment go here: :( :( :(. The linked article has video, but there are no Beyer sightings, and it was edited by someone who's not very good at editing, so be careful. Article 2:
"This feels great; even better than last week," said defensive end/receiver Brennen Beyer. "We played tough, hit hard and stopped the run. We came ready to play today."
That's when a jolting sack by Fox knocked the ball loose from Birney. Beyer nearly scooped the ball up at the CC 35, but it rolled out of bounds before he could gain possession.
This week: The 10-2 Wildcats face Rockford on Saturday at Lansing Everett at 1pm.
TX LB Kellen Jones
Last week: Pregame fluff:
Senior Kellen Jones, the middle linebacker, has lived up to the hype as a member of Dave Campbell Texas Football's preseason Super Team. Jones has committed verbally to Michigan.
He had another monster game and played like a beast, had 6 tackles. Not much got past the first level of defenders, so a lower quantity of tackles, but great quality. Two TFL. Also had two fumble recoveries, almost took one for six. Nearly blocked two punts, missed one by inches. Bottom line: dude makes plays. Also played on offense in short yardage situation.
Kellen's coach tells Tom that he officially came in for 5 tackles, 2 for loss with a sack. He also recovered 2 fumbles, as mentioned above.
|Kellen Jones 2010|
|Trinity Christian||W 33-7||11||5||1||0|
|Worthing||W 20-12||DNP - ankle|
|St. Thomas||W 28-10||11||3||1||0|
|Houston Christian||W 37-13||9||3||1||0|
|Houston Christian||W 49-7||8||1||1||1Punt|
|St. Thomas||W 33-28||13||2||0||0|
* Blocked punt. The table has gone all to hell with Kellen racking up various types of stats at this point, so I'll expand fumbles forced and recovered, and punt blocks into their own columns for next week.
This week: St. Pius hosts Dallas Bishop Lynch on Saturday.
MI CB Delonte Hollowell
Last week: Cass Tech defeated Macomb Dakota 31-19 in the Regional Finals of the State Playoffs.
Next Week: The 12-0 Technicians play Lake Orion Saturday at 1pm at Troy Athens High School.
MI WR Shawn Conway
Seaholm's season is over, with a 4-5 record. Conway finished the year with about 22 catches for 375 yards, and 11 kick/punt returns for 393 yards. Seaholm's coach resigned following the final game.
MI OL Jake Fisher
Traverse City West's season is over, with a 6-4 record and a loss in the first round of the State Playoffs.
OH DE Chris Rock
DeSales's season ended at 5-6 with a loss in the first round of the State Playoffs.
OH CB/S Greg Brown
Fremont Ross's season is over, with a 9-2 record and a loss in the first round of the State Playoffs.
On the fumble return, "I was thinking 'scoop and score' like you talk in little league." Patterson was encouraging him during the runback. Was exciting to be able to score.
It's a learning experience to be in his first year on the field. Helping the team was the goal all along, and he's glad to be able to do that.
Position change is good for him because it's good for the team "I'm a football player and I want to play, nothing to it but that." Everything is coming at him faster at the new position, and the field is a bit more compacted. Being physical is his biggest strength. It's not confusing to switch positions for the third time. He's just a football player and loves being on the field.
Wisconsin: "They have some pretty good backs, the o-line is big. We'll see how it looks this week." When they put up 83 on Indiana, his only thought was "that's a good team." "They put up 83 against Indiana, not against us."
The defense's attitude has changed. "'I don't care attitude' - in a positive way" has been the defense's calling card for the last two weeks, and they'll continue with it. If the opponent gets a big play, they have to move on and not care.
Found out he was going to start within minutes of the beginning of the game. Was excited to get his first start. "It's was kinda hard to relax, but you know." There have been points where he wondered if he'd ever get the opportunity to start. Was motivated to prove himself. Filling in for Mike Martin "It's a lot of pressure." Need to step up when he goes down, even though it might be tough to fill his shoes.
Going through the coaching transition: "I feel like it's an experience that's really prepared me for my future and for life." They aren't that different, but this staff is a lot more intense.
When Cam Gordon was returning the fumble for a TD,"I just kept trying to tell him 'keep going, keep going.'"
Team will be focused to prepare for Wisconsin. "Wisconsin always has a big offensive line, and they always have a good offensive line." You respect them, but the goal is to prove you can compete with them. "You also come in with the mindset that this is going to be a very physical game."
Wisconsin scoring 83 against Indiana has motivated the M defense to make sure they don't have a bad performance themselves.
On the defense: "I really feel like the swagger is getting there. Every game we play is a stepping stone." The defense is developing, and they learned this weekend what they can do if they play up to their potential.
"To go out there and to win these next to games is very motivating." Trying to show what they can do, and improve bowl status.
"If the team ever needed me anywhere, I would do it. That was my whole mindset." He's going to get his degree, and to play football and get playing time is just an extra benefit to that.
Since the Illinois game, the defense has been more loose, and they're translating it to the field. "It's a good way to go into the game. Our swagger and everything about our defense got a lot better, and it's perfect to go into the Wisconsin game."
Not worried about Wisconsin's 83 points against Indiana "I guarantee you they're not going to score 83 points on us." Wisconsin is a powerful team, but Indiana backed down a bit at the end, and Michigan won't do that, they'll fight to the finish.
Will miss running through the tunnel after doing it the last time this weekend.
"I hope they throw the ball my way a little more, I haven't seen much action lately." Wants the chance to build up some stats. You just had two interceptions: "Yeah, FINALLY."
"I've seen Courtney grow a lot even when JT was there." He'll be a great player in the future and has stepped up. Vinopal has stepped up in a tough position. Talbott and Christian have also done a really good job as true freshmen.
"We need this Ohio State win bigger than anything. That's something we've been waiting on, and our focus will be on that really soon. We've gotta take on Wisconsin first."
Main difference between Carr and Rodriguez eras is a major step up in the conditioning.
Lots of memories about touching the banner, etc., excited to have one more time to do that. Wants the seniors to leave with a win.
The change in coaching staffs has made for an unexpectedly interesting experience. "Hopefully this is the year that Michigan turns the tide." Ohio State "That's the big one obviously, and they've got us however many 6 or 7 years in a row." Winning in Columbus would set the program up for years to come.
Ryan Kerrigan is a great player. "We weren't running the ball very well, and got into third and long." That allowed Kerrigan to get after the QBs a bit more.
"The energy has been there the last two weeks" for the defense. Even though they struggled a bit, they want to prove themselves again at the end of the season.
Wisconsin is always tough against the run. Michigan is coming off a poor rushing performance against Purdue, so they'll need to be back on their game to have success.
There are keys to victory for every week, and ball security is on the list every week. "You can't win games with turnovers. The last two we were lucky to come out of there with a win."
It's always important to take care of the ball, especially against a grinding team like Wisconsin.
It's impressive that Wisconsin could put up 83 points. "I didn't really think much of it. Obviously Wisconsin's a great team, but it didn't make me scared or anything."
Important to send the seniors out with a win in their final home game. Glad they were able to get to a bowl game for those guys. "We all wanna win, for them it might be a little more important."
Denard responds well, even after he makes mistakes.
"We're not content with anything." Want to win the last two games. "We're gonna go and and we're gonna fight in those two games."
Tries to stay ready for the occasion when he gets the ball on the reverse, but isn't begging for it to get called.
Different receivers prefer different routes, but it's their job to work them all in practice. "If you're in that position, and they happen to call the play and you've gotta run that route, you're gonna run that route."
Notes from Rich Rodriguez's Monday meeting with the press.
Shaw - "We'll see what he can do, and test in the next couple days, and see if he can go Saturday. Hopefully he'll be able to play..."
Martin and Mouton "We're hopeful that both can play." They'll be evaluated tomorrow and Wednesday.
"Perry would have been the starter, but Perry is still not 100%." He'll be the starter if healthy. "I'm hoping this week he'll be all the way back."
He has sent in some plays to the conference office each week, but this week he's going to follow up with them a bit more. "After this game there were more questions, I guess."
Personnel & Purdue
You try to project positions for guys when you recruit them, but some continue to grow when they get weight training, and they go through a progression. A couple more guys might move in bowl or spring practices - corner to safety, safety to OLB, etc. Probably would have moved more guys earlier if the team had stayed healthy.
Craig Roh will stay at DE. He's around 250, he'll continue growing and get up to 265. "I think putting his hand down makes him a lot more comfortable and that makes us better... Craig was a defensive end in high school, but he was athletic enough that we thought he could play some linebacker - and we still do."
Cam Gordon will stay at box safety. "He's a physical guy, he's a bigger guy." Not as much room to cover closer to the line of scrimmage. "We know that he's going to keep getting better, but the thing I like about him is he's a guy that loves playing football."
Denard can scramble to extend the play, but whether you choose to run or throw, it needs to be a good decision. He just had some bad moments in the last game. "I don't think he's hit a lull, he just had some bad moments in the last game... He was having a tough day, but in the last drive, he was the difference." QBs pooch punting: "Prior to this game, they were really pretty good at it."
Vincent Smith - "He's probably been the most consistent back we've had" not just running, but blocking and catching, too. "It has been almost a year since he tore his knee" and is looking faster. Each week he's getting speed, strength, and confidence back.
Michael Cox - "He's been a little bit banged up, but really it's been the other guys" that have kept him off the field. Toussaint can provide "a little spark" as he continues to get healthy.
Patterson and Sagesse played well. Talbott, Ash, and Wilkins are doing a nice job in practice. They'll be helped by the extra 15 practices with a bowl game.
Ezeh - "He was solid, he was OK. I thought Obi made some good plays close to the line of scrimmage." Fitzgerald was decent as well, as was Moundros filling in for Jonas Mouton. Even though Purdue has been struggling all year on offense, the backups should be commended for how they stepped in.
Vinopal - made a couple mistakes, but mostly kept things in front of him. "He's gonna keep getting better."
Carvin Johnson - "Really excited about him. Again, he's another true freshman that right now can play both safety positions."
Avery is a competitive guy, wants to get better. "I don't know if anybody in the country is playing as many freshmen or first-time starters as we are on defense." They'll get through growing pains, exciting for the future.
Kicking situation will be competitive in practice. "Seth has been kicking better in practice, but he didn't kick well on Saturday, so we'll see what happens this week in practice."
Hagerup has been better on kickoffs, part of the problem with coverage on kickoffs is they don't want their young guys starting on D and special teams, because they'd get worn out. "Our depth on special teams has been affected as much with the injuries as anything else."
Didn't play well, weren't ready to play for the conditions. "They had something to do with that, but we just didn't handle the conditions well, take care of the ball well, we were just kinda off-rhythm the whole day."
Both teams need to practice with wet conditions. The conditions were a factor in both teams' turnovers. "It was one of those games that I was glad we got 'em, because if we didn't, we would have been in trouble." Defense scored for the first time this season, made some key third-down stops.
On failed 4th down (Hopkins). "That was a product of execution. That should never happen."
Declined the penalty and let Wiggs kick the 43-yard FG because he was kicking with the wind and had enough leg to hit it either way, and Michigan would have still had the lead, FG or no.
Kerrigan "Some of it was he's a really good player, and some of it is we didn't play very well at times against him." He's an All-Conference-type player.
Last home game in the Big House is a big deal for the seniors. "We don't have a big senior class, but the guys that we have have been through a lot." Some things will be planned throughout the week.
Wisconsin "They're certainly a top-5 football team, there's no question about that." They made scoring every possession look easy. Wisconsin deflated Indiana and Chappell got hurt, which led to Wisconsin getting rolling and everything went downhill. "I don't know if any coach intentionally goes out and does it, it just happens." Throwing at the end is the coach's preference, but with the backups in, you can't ask them not to try.
Wisconsin is a bit different by being the only true power run team in the league. "You have a wide variety of both offense and defensive schemes anyway." It's pretty balanced, so you have to be able to defend all variety. Their offense all starts with the running game. "They'll come downhill at you, and they're very big up front." Nearly everything they do - bootlegs, play-action - comes from the run game. People make a big deal about playing a power run game after facing several spread teams. It's tougher to go the other way. "It's a little bit of an adjustment, and our guys will prepare for that this week."
Wisconsin's going to run the same plays whomever the starting RB is. "Clay's obviously the biggest one." Get to them quickly, don't let them get a head of steam. "Especially if you're undersized a little bit, like we are in spots, it's going to be tough."
On JJ Watt (above, right): "I think he's an All-American, in my opinion." Watt plays inside more than Kerrigan.
Beating Wisconsin or OSU would be a great signature win, but more importantly for the guys on the team who want to have success. They've stayed focused, and are ignoring outside negativity.
Will talk about the home finale throughout the week. A couple special things in practice for the seniors. "Probably have one or two of them come up and talk about their experience."
When they get introduced on Saturday "the greatest achievement you can achieve as a college student-athlete is going through your senior year." Speaks to the sacrifice you've made for the team and University. "The guys who are no longer around didn't make that same sacrifice, and these guys have. And they should be honored for making it."
Motivation and focus has been good all year. "I would think it'll be easy to motivate for these last two weeks, considering what's at stake for us."
RR thought the program would be further ahead by this point. "You find out what you have, and do what you can with what you've got, and move forward." The goal is to be the best program in America, and they're moving toward that.
Spending more time with the D. "Just a little bit more on Sundays, and maybe watch a little bit more in practice." Been doing the same amount of 1v1 repetition. "What we've done more this year is getting, say, our second offense, and having them run the opposing offense a bit more in practice." They have fewer guys available for scout team.
Talk about the offense not being a fit for the Big Ten is just talk. "I'm hoping that there's enough positive momentum and positive talk that all the negative stuff that's been out there gets pushed aside a bit." Progress is being made. "It's almost been par for the course" to hear negative talk, but they can't let it affect them. As long as you believe in the system and your people, you can keep pressing forward.
11/13/2010 – Michigan 27, Purdue 16 – 7-3, 3-3 Big Ten
I lasted a quarter and a half before giving in to my inner old man and muting the television. Chris Martin had not just said that the receiver Roy Roundtree reminded him of was Braylon Edwards, but that's all I remember from the first hour. I love the Big Ten Network's picture quality and was pleasantly surprised when Saturday's director consistently cut away from highlight packages to show the game. Not so much the people paid to talk.
I was home alone since the last time I tried to watch a game in the company of people it was the Penn State game. I went home at halftime after demonstrating my severe case of sports Tourrette's. I didn't trust the team enough to expose the world to me for those three hours on Saturday, and that turned out to be a good call. Slop happened, swears were deployed, and sometime in the third quarter Sean Robinson threw a ball directly at James Rogers for the ninth turnover of the day.
It was a this point that Yakety Sax spontaneously started playing in my otherwise silent apartment.
Possibilities washed over me. One: I have been driven insane by last four years of Michigan football. Two: I am now dangerously, thrillingly super-sane and will walk-around hearing situationally appropriate music everywhere I go. I will hear "Yes We Have No Bananas" and know I don't need to bother with the produce section. People will have to tell me what Mark Dantonio says as "Breakin' The Law" thunders in my skill. I will stop complaining about Special K because instead of "Let the Bodies Hit the Floor," I will hear the marching band.
I ONLY EAT BANANAS AND HEAR YAKETY SAX SPONTANTEOUSLY WOOOOOOO—damn. It turns out that I still had a liveblog window open and when you post a video it auto-plays because it loves breaking the cardinal rule of the internet. Elaborate sigh, dreams deferred.
I'd forgotten because I don't participate in the liveblogs mostly because I'm at the games. Even when I'm not I avoid them—I don't like my own furious overreactions, let alone the furious overreactions of hundreds of other people.
What have we learned in week ten? Eh… I'm not sure you can take much out of this game except a growing concern for Denard Robinson's turnover issues and healthy fear of Ryan Kerrigan. Football played between good teams gets ugly when the rain is constant and the field starts coming up in big sliding chunks; football between bad teams causes spontaneous yakety sax. I don't think we're under the illusion that Michigan is a good team.
The footing issues were most apparent with the tailbacks but applied to everyone, so I'm not sure how much the offensive line getting owned was the conditions and how much was Kerrigan being Brandon Graham 2010 and how much was just the offensive line getting owned. The rest of the problems extended from that—Denard got the first serious, consistent pressure of his career and responded like most quarterbacks dealing with their first case of happy feet do. The running game was a slog. This week's epidemic of dropped passes has a good reason.
Unfortunately, the same logic applies to the other side of the ball, where Michigan took on Gritty Eckstein at tailback and went to work against a team that got the ball down 11 with no timeouts and a minute and a half left and decided this was the best course of action:
- Throw in the flat from one freshman quarterback to the other freshman quarterback, who had lined up at wide receiver.
- Tunnel screen.
- Five yard hitch.
The scariest thing Purdue's offense did all day was start Justin Siller. We have finally found the team whose offensive incompetency outstrips Michigan's defensive incompetency.
There is no data here not obviously affected by the opponent and the weather. Next week when the footing is solid and the opponent has a quarterback whose default option is not a dumpoff to the other quarterback everything will be completely different. Since it was a win—one that was in retrospect not in much danger after Michigan scored to go up 20-13—this game will be relegated to the scrap heap of mud-ugly games past and forgotten.
Now if I can just figure out where "Livin' on a Prayer" is coming from, we are in business.
Non-Bullets Der Wet Catten
This did not happen. Remember that these things can be much, much worse. The saddest picture in the history of Michigan football came from the 2008 Fandom Endurance III game:
The Orin Incandenza Award. The play of the game is Will Hagerup's 72-yard bomb early in the fourth quarter that put Purdue on their own three. Courtney Avery would biff a long handoff on the next play but give the ball back on a fumble. Michigan punt, Purdue punt, Michigan excellent field position for clinching touchdown. Watching this game was a blast from the past; feeling my decision matrix switch from GO FOR IT GO FOR IT GO FOR IT to "it's third and seven, we should run it and then punt" was like being possessed by the ghost of Lloyd Carr*.
That thing flipped the field position in a game where field position is a tug of war instead of a minor inconvenience en route to the endzone. It soared. The returner is a lithe whippet of a man somewhere around 20 years old and he didn't bother to run since it was too long. Ain't running that far. That's going to China, yo.
*(The author is aware that Carr does not actually have a ghost.)
Growing concern for turnover issues. The interceptions were bad but maybe that just happens because of the weather and the pressure which may have been caused by the weather, etc., but the fumble was the continuation of a bad habit we've seen all year: when Denard gets outside he does not switch the ball to the outside arm. On Saturday that allowed some guy to come from the inside and strip the ball as he spun Denard to the ground. That's a basic coaching point and I'm not sure why a guy who runs as much as Denard hasn't had it hammered into his skull.
Quarterback rotation. I thought putting in Forcier here and there was the right move even if it didn't result in any of those yard things (Forcier was one for four and his one completion was blown up by a Molk hold, leading to another pooch punt) since the offense wasn't going anywhere and the two quarterbacks are different enough that it's plausible Forcier could do something Denard couldn't, especially after the two INTs.
I also liked Rodriguez's response to some question about "benching Denard." To paraphrase: benching is a strong word. If he's a tailback or wide receiver he's getting a rest. We put him back in. You are making 1000 times less than me for a reason.
Last part probably another hallucination.
Might as well try it.
Right, I mean? Right? I think the headphones are key.
Grim weather past. All games played in driving rain on shoddy turf kind of melt into each other, a never-ending parade of fumbles, third and eight runs, five yard throws that hit spectators in the face, and either shots of people looking wet and cranky in ponchos or looking grim and cranky in a poncho yourself.
But in one specific way, this game reminded me of a previous slopfest around 2002 or so when a to-that-point disappointing Justin Fargas had the first and only 100 yard game of his Michigan career in a mud pit against Northwestern. Fargas was much better than Michigan's other backs because he was small* and could change direction without engaging pratfall warp drive. I thought of him as Vincent Smith changed direction relatively quickly and came up a yard short of the first 100 yard game of his career not played against baby seals.
I also was like "aaargh why aren't you a step faster" several times. Smith's had a good couple games but unless he's not really 100% after the knee injury it seems like it's cost him some of his giddyup.
*(He would get Brian Cushing roid huge at USC—at Michigan he was diminutive.)
A moment of pure terror. Was anyone else about to have a conniption fit after Avery let that WR zip by him with nothing but Ray Vinopal between that guy and the endzone? Rogers was pursuing to the backside so if Vinopal missed he just had to slow the guy or make him cut back, but watching a true freshman two star scurry down his angle as the last thing between Purdue and a 97-yard wide receiver screen touchdown is a whiskey-inducing experience.
Vinopal made a fine tackle and Purdue had the decency to fumble on the next play, so the moment passed successful. But jeez.
I-form: die. Die die die. Die die die die die.
Oddities. One: Gallon was clearly not making a fair catch signal and shouldn't have been flagged. Two: Purdue kicked off from the 35 once. WTF?
No Video of All Varieties yesterday because the pickings were understandably slim, but here's a bird talking about the game. Stay tuned for the twist ending:
I wish this would happen to certain WTKA callers. There is also a Wolverine Historian clipreel:
Purdue bloggers say their defensive back who scored "displayed shades of Deion Sanders" by having a ball thrown directly at him whilst being five yards from the nearest receiver. They do post video of girls fighting. The guy who guaranteed a win declares the game the "ugliest football game" he's ever attended, which yeah pretty much. The comments are weirdly negative. If mean, if anyone deserves a pass it's Purdue and their new mascot:
On to Michigan blogs: the Hoover Street Rag drops a Warren G. Harding reference that I misread as a "Warren G" reference when they tweeted it out. Alas, these guys are still bandos and history teachers (I'm guessing, anyway) and we don't get to find out what bandos/teachers would say in re: Warren G and Michigan football. The Harding bit:
Harding was widely reviled for his incompetence, his willingness to let his friends do as they pleased, the general sense of fail that emanated White House followed him until his death in 1923. Except, when historians look back, they see that things were not as bad as they once thought. Harding was blamed when things went wrong, but got little to no credit for the things that went right. People saw what they wanted to see and argued their points as they chose a new path to their future. Then again, Harding never got America bowl eligible, so we'll see.
Chances Sarah Palin adopts "get America bowl eligible" as a campaign slogan: 50-50. The Big House Blog has a very silly picture of a dog in a poncho and The Wolverine Blog grabs a shot of Lewan rumbling with the ball.