I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
And now the blogletting begins. If you're looking for recriminations in your media aftermath, the blogosphere is the place for you. MSR gets his nihilism on. EDSBS liveblogged the thing. (side note: "2:35 CST Stranko: Notre Dame's lack of [CENSORED*] is making this interesting... and the refs just missed some pass interference on Manningham. MGoBlog must be going nuts."... momentarily, yes, but I don't think that ball was catchable. Sort of a moment when you scream at the refs just because you need to scream at someone.)
*(a term that is banned on mgoblog. Hint: shares name with somewhat popular old punchy-kicky game, abbrev "KI".)
Yost Built brings up the review situation. The issue: why did the first sneak not get reviewed? The amazing technology of one of the guys at the Wolverine taking pictures of his television shows this:
That appears to be a touchdown. At the very least it appears to be close enough to check, you know, in case something totally disastrous happens on the next play. Yost Built also denounces the bottle-throwing by the students, which I fully agree with, though I think this is a smaller deal than some would have you believe.
IBFC chips in with some rationality and also points out the strange non-catching going on with Steve Breaston, who's had five opportunities to catch deep balls in the first two games and has not succeeded yet. He's getting open, sometimes by yards, and Henne is putting it there, but to no avail.
Speaking of Henne, both Big House Football and Rob in Madtown discuss his, um, performance on Saturday. Personally, I didn't notice Henne playing terribly during the game. I was focused more on the offensive line; review will clarify things. Joey hasn't checked in yet. Hopefully someone close to him removed all belts and shoelaces from his immediate vicinity. He did mention that he co-signs this "Open Letter to Lloyd Carr" from the Daily.
Give me my ESSENCE back! I'm pretty sure this isn't particularly funny and I know I don't USE ALL CAPS unless I am being OMG SARCASTIC, but since I'm a little close to the situation, I leave it for the reader to decide (copied in whole in case there's another NDNation purge):
Tomorrow the MIGHTY FIGHTING IRISH of the MOST REVERED COLLEGE FOOTBALL TEAM IN HISTORY plays the Michigan Wolverines, who lay claim to many titles and coveted academic awards, but the CORNHOLIOS of YOST will not prevail even in their own stadium.
Knute K. Rockne of VOSS, NORWAY, a town renowned for providing famous COLLEGE LEGENDS to America, provided a foundation upon which the HOUSE OF ROCK was built. Michigan fell to the Irish last season and will bow to their masters again this year, THE BLUE AND GOLD warriors, whose loyalty to the GOLD HELMETS and their new head coach, arguably the SMARTEST LIVING HEAD COACH IN THE HISTORY OF THE GAME outside of the living legend ARA PARSEGHIAN, will be outlined against a gloriously clear SEPTEMBER SKY, but raindrops will be falling from WOLVERINE eyes in great number, a VERITABLE DELUGE of angry, bitter tears of rage. TEARS OF RAGE!!!
It will not take long tomorrow for MIGHTY NOTRE DAME to overcome the home field ADVANTAGE and find Fasano, Samardzija and OTHERS in the end zone for 6. NOTRE DAME'S running backs, including the stealth runner darIOUs Walker and rashon pOWers neal will BRUISE and cruise at will in the Michigan secondary.
Fear not, Wolverines, the IRISH will spare your women and children and will allow YOU to keep your homes. But they will be RANSACKED and your fields will be burned.
It will be a LONG and BITTER WINTER this year in Ann Arbor. The arbor will be DENUDED and Ann will have no shade come spring and the long hot SUMMER of her DISCOntent.
- Yours in Victory, MGOND (aka mkovac)
Immediate critiques: first of all, there are no colons-- be they full- or semi- -- at all, let alone enough to choke
Charlie Weis a water buffalo. Nor are there any ridiculously long parentheticals. A faked-out em dash (--) appears not at all. Nor are there any short chatty sentences. Everything is long and meandering; I usually switch between that annoying style and a short, choppy annoying style in a feeble attempt to cloak my deficiency with the language. The whole thing kind of reads like the intellectual fronts put up by... (brain reaching towards abort button, screaming NOOOOOO, making it just in the nick of time) nobody in particular, words full of sound and fury, etc., that seem somehow hollow, like the person producing them is talking in a style that approximates their idea of what intellectual discourse sounds like, whereas I actually talk like this, as hard as that may be to believe.
Garnered two replies. The first: "Well done... totally captured the essence of the man," which like sucks because you know I gots to have my 40 of essence for the game. And then there's the second, which sums up NDNation absolutely perfectly: "Awesome... Such tripe from our side is welcomed. Seems much more tolerable when you fit in the Irish into his rants." Someone should send that to the head lunatic in a frame or something.
I was going to taunt him for trying to go big and obscure with the verbiage and coming up with like, "denuded" and "deluge" and "veritable," but then I thought that was best kept to myself (OMG IRONY (OMG RECURSIVE IRONY (OMG!))).
Update: Apparently the reason it's not a very good parody of me is because it's not a parody of me at all. Rather, it's a parody of another mgo-appended personality who flames with regularity on NDNation. Typical Michigan arrogance of me to assume otherwise.
"Being a sports fan is largely about having to cope with losing."
--Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, (omg. buy it.) Warren St. John
This isn't going to be about credit or saying "good game" or even owning up to incorrect things I said earlier. That's for later. Now is about pain. It's about helpless incomprehension. It's probably about death, too, since apparently everything is.
I didn't really ever "decide" to do this blog thing. It just sort of started it, and now I find myself here, very far away from any place I thought I'd be. I think cocaine works like this. And, like cocaine, I now find myself having to do something extremely unpleasant because my addiction demands it. My big cathartic Rose Bowl wrapup was something like "ugh, talk more later," which I never did. That was fine because no one read the blog (not that there was a reason to then). Now, given that people actually seem to read this, I am in a nasty spot. I have to write something; I would rather crawl in a hole, avoid the Internet for six days, and show up at the Eastern game.
So you get this. It's about pain. What else would it be about?
"Few players recall big pots they have won, strange as it may seem, but every player can remember with remarkable accuracy the outstanding tough beats of his career."
--Confessions of a Winning Poker Player, Jack King (as told by Mike McDermott in Rounders)
As a good but fundamentally flawed poker player I can vouch for this statement. No particular winner stands out as a golden cow to worship, but bad beat stories, I've got a few. (Omaha with bottom set on a 9-5-3 against a preflop raising maniac who managed to catch the nine and five spares on has AAxx and the runner-runnered a flush; Omaha again, massive preflop raising capped off by me and my AAxx. Flop a flush draw, guy pots in front of me, raise all in, catches runners to make two pair. I could continue if you like but I've made my point, and confused and bored probably 98% of you.) Now I have one more.
I've touched on similar topics before: we are wired to know pain, and feel it, and fear it, and remember it. So when we find ourselves in the silly, unnecessary position of feeling pain over sporting events we remember what caused the feeling above all else, especially if it violates our models of the way thing generally work. If the events are evil and unexpected of they are new information that's desperately important to recall so that we do not find ourselves in a similar situation once again.
But, then, life is also built around meaningful action--all this learning is directed at changing behavior--which is horrifyingly absent from spectation. So the newly terrible experience dredges up the past experiences, combines with the helplessness of it all, and reinforces the previous experience (we quite literally learn only by repetition, though the rep count can be "1"), stripping away all the incidental, varying data and leaving behind the constant: a tiny white-hot ball of dread in the mind that feels like it's somewhere in the stomach, reaching up into your throat with its wicked black talons.
If something vicious and painful reoccurs regularly, that is.
"To a Michigan fan, every Irish loss over the past ten years has been due to an unfortunate, ridiculous confluence of unlikely events: fumbles, ridiculous refereeing, blocked punts, hilarious deflected passes, etc. It doesn't matter if it's true or not (though it is): that's what it feels like."
--Me, like two days ago.
And so it is again. A deflected pass caught for an Irish touchdown. Two laser-guided smart bombs that Breaston could not catch. Four offensive starters out. And then the end of the game, a hair-tearing, son-disowning thing. Hope proffered and quickly snuffed out, each EKG-blip of life followed by a droning flatline more terrible than the last. The end of that game was a parody of each soul-crushing loss, the kind of thing Joe Ezterhaus would reject as unrealistic (and desperately lacking girl-on-girl action). It was calculated for maximum psychic distress.
Some part of me acknoweldges the fact that if Brady Quinn could throw an accurate pass longer than six yards we probably wouldn't have been close enough to even make a painful run at the end and might be inclined to rationally approach the game, but it's a small part that must content itself with screaming into the wind, which does not listen and would not care if it heard.
That's why I wrote the way I did on BGS, because that's the way it's felt amd that's the way I am, a roiling cauldron of emotions. I strive for total transparency here. You get what I think, what I feel. This has its ups (I rather liked the top ten sporting moments posts) and downs (repetitive, useless sophistication bashing). So believe me when I say there seems something cosmically unfair about games against Notre Dame. They've been historically cruel. That sort of thing drives you slightly insane after a while--or completely bats in the case of Buckeyes under Cooper. I mean no disrespect to the university or the program, and while I lace them with jokes I would hope you notice that my own beloved team is no stranger to the same treatment.
I now am coping with the fact that one of this year's twelve precious babies was born stunted and malformed. If you're looking for schadenfruede, here it is: As the game ended, I sat with my head in my hands as the last seconds ticked off the clock. I walked silently from the stadium. My friends and I drove home silently. Thinking about the events of the game makes my fists clench. Food tastes like sawdust. If you would like to take this opportunity to taunt... well, I see you already have, which places you firmly amongst those bound for the very maw of Satan upon your earthly demise. If you are the kind of fan who knows about this site, cares about BGS, and would go so far as to post comments, you're a diehard. You know what myself and other Michigan fans feel like, and you choose to kick us when we're down. May it be visited upon you a hundredfold--you know exactly what you do. At BGS they celebrate the victory by posting pictures of our coach and taunting me instead of, oh, I don't know, talking about their team. Congratulations, guys. Your team won, but while your coach is large you have proven yourselves to be very small.
(Analysis later... there will not be a big EMU to-do and I don't plan on going over the game tomorrow so it may be somewhat late-ish.)
Turn it to ESPN and watch Pitt bungle their way against Ohio. 7-7 with 9 left in the first half.
Update: Holy balls. Ohio wins 16-10. Pitt's one touchdown is the return of the opening kickoff; Palko gets pick-sixed twice by the same guy, including in OVERTIME to end the game. Pitt is teh SUX0R.
I heard from a fairly reliable source that Kolodziej is hurt and won't play much, if at all.
I can't guarantee it and haven't verified it with anyone else (thus, I'm not posting it at my place), but I thought I'd let you know it's a possibility.
A contentious Rivals thread, er, used to indicate the same thing before serious rejiggering. That bumps up the probably-independent source count to three (originator of panic on GBW, Tom, this Rivals guy who confirmed the T.Mass injury, which, by the way, was reported as a broken arm by WDFN this morning): I would expect Ruben Riley to start at right tackle tomorrow.
Contrast. While I studiously avoided casting aspersions on Notre Dame, the school, sticking to a just-the-facts approach noting that the football team hasn't been very good the past few years (with, granted, some exaggeration for humorous effect), whoever penned the BGS masterpiece that spent more time on stuff even Strom Thurmond's world-wandering-wraith thinks is really dated could not, spending approximately 80% of his time implying that things that happened decades ago show that Michigan is a foul place indeed. The need to impugn the dignity of the school and program itself is disappointing:
A quick look at the history books reminds us why the Skunkbears [been hanging with OSU fans?] have a wing unto themselves in our Hall of Shame. ... his cowardice was enshrined in UM's schedule for all to see. ... Fear of Notre Dame was a powerful talisman, institutionalized by Yost, and the cowardice and consternation towards Notre Dame oozes out of Ann Arbor even to this day. ...
Yost was but the first in a litany of men of low character to hold the reins at UM. ... Gary Moeller was frustrated that he couldn't pick Notre Dame up, drink it, and then drive into a ditch. ...
In the end, perhaps we do owe the Skunkbears [juvenile nickname count: 2] a few more tokens of thanks. ... Michigan's villainous spell in the Midwest, ...
Congratulations, guys, for not being able to swallow the bile for even a mere 1,000 words. Cue Domers commenting that it's all true and Michigan is home for anti-Catholic bias and mentioning Kinesiology and claiming that Notre Dame is a magical fairyuniversity compared to evil cheating Michigan in 3... 2... 1...
MSM hiya: Hey, everyone at the Detroit News got dramatic headshots. Unfortunately for Wojo, his kind of makes him look like a stroke victim. Or a zombie. Or (you know the drill) a zombie stroke victim. Wojo picks Michigan 38-34. He also picks 119 total points in the Hawaii-MSU game. The Freep has an article on Woodley that Bruce Feldman pointed out. Feldman also predicts four TFLs for Woodley tomorrow and a 38-27 victory. I'll take it.
ND blog Bare Down has collected a few article from the other side of the aisle. Among the interesting things are a Quinn article and a Teddy Greenstein article that quotes shamed ex-head coach Lou Holtz:
"It's not Michigan anymore," Holtz said Thursday. "They don't tackle the way Michigan did before. I know Lloyd Carr is a good coach and has a good staff, so maybe it's [a lack of] talent. They don't control the line of scrimmage with their front and they don't get as much pressure on the passer. Fundamentally, they're not as good."
Damn. (Aside: Holtz sure got yappy quick for a guy who talked up Navy constantly.)
Eeyore says... we lose. About as surprising as myself saying we win. We both hope I'm right.
Still feeling my way on this game preview thing. Format suggestions appreciated.
Run Offense vs. ND
Don't even start on last year. Michigan's interior line is entirely different. It's stable. Two fifth year seniors with a ton of experience flank Adam Kraus, who's new but played well in his first game. More importantly, neither David Underwood nor anyone of his ilk will even approach receiving a handoff this year. Mike Hart, Kevin Grady, and Max Martin are night and day from last year's motley collection of pre-Hart misfits. Michigan will have an effective running game against an Irish front seven that looks good... but not that good.
I would have felt much better about this without the Long injury, but I still think that Michigan has a major advantage here. Notre Dame has a good starting four on the defensive line but you usually need more than that in today's game. Michigan's methodical disassembly of NIU--8/10 on third down in the first half--leads me to believe that they can sustain long, grinding drives against the Irish defense. That'll will pay dividends in the fourth quarter, especially if the Wolverines bring their tailback depth to bear.
Key Matchup: Mike Hart versus Possible Mysterious Injury. Further word on the little ball of wonder indicates that Hart is "dinged." As excited as I am about Grady and Martin, Hart and his never-fumble, always-positive ways would be a great deal of help against the Irish. A Grady/Martin coming out party would set nerves aflame given Grady's fumble in his first game and persistent reports that Martin has ball security issues.
Pass Offense vs. ND
The question here is going to be how brutally Henne dissects a fragile and inexperienced Notre Dame secondary. The answer will depend heavily on how much pressure Notre Dame gets on him. If he gets hit exactly once like he did against NIU, expect similar results: 66% on completions, a few touchdowns, and no interceptions. While Notre Dame did hold Greg Lee pretty well in check after an early 39 yard touchdown, the guy starting opposite Lee is a 5'7" walkon--Pitt has zero or perhaps negative depth at WR. Notre Dame could afford to roll coverage towards Lee all day.
Even without Adrian Arrington and Tim Massaquoi, the Irish will have no such luxury against Michigan. Jason Avant emerged as the Braylon-apparent last week and though Steve Breaston only caught 3 passes for 22 yards (a slip screen was lateral an therefore labelled a run) last week he was mere inches away from three long touchdown receptions where he had beaten his man by two to three yards. Any questions about the explosion that was absent for most of last year were answered. Tyler Ecker is almost as good as Massaquoi and Carl Tabb, Doug Dutch, and Mario Manningham will all get opportunities. Michigan probably has six guys better than Pitt's #2. If Henne is as poised, intelligence, and decisive as he was against NIU--two bad reads all day--ND will be on their heels from the get go.
Key Matchup: RT Mike Kolodziej versus DE Victor Abiamiri. Abiamiri is the best pass rusher the Irish have; Kolodziej is the man thrust into the departed shoes of Jake Long, a very good pass blocker (if somewhat lacking with the run-mauling thing). If Kolo can keep Abiamiri away from Henne on his own, his linemates can pick up blitzes and Henne can play surgeon all day.
Run Defense Vs ND
A strong point a year ago (in general, not the ND game specifically) now looks tenuous given the 200+ rushing yards given up to NIU and Carr's fiery reaction in the aftermath. The starting NT is now Gabe Watson OR Will Johnson. Lord only knows who the free safety is after those Yards After Mundy last week, though Brandent Engelmon was quietly effective at SS. The linebackers are questionable.
Notre Dame absolutely crushed the Pitt defensive line en route to 275 yards rushing, but there's a night and day difference between the fancy-dressed rodeo clowns the Panthers were forced to resort to and Gabe Watson and company. Er, as long as they don't play like they did against NIU. Which they shouldn't. One bad game should not override the fact that this is a potentially great run-defense DL. The problems are in the linebacking corps. ND has a road-grading FB or two and Scott McClintock is not the kind of guy who can take a guy like that on and win. David Harris has little experience but keeps 'winning' the MLB job and getting injured--he's listed #1 on the depth chart. He or John Thompson need to step up and stop Walker when holes emerge on the line. While Chris Graham had a good day against NIU Burgess lost contain on a regular basis, letting the speedy Wolfe hit the outside with regularity.
Key Matchup: Burgess & Graham versus RB Darius Walker. Walker has good vision and some shiftiness in his game. Last week Michigan lost contain on a regular basis. If they do that again Walker will crack 100 yards with ease, especially given the terrific run blockers they have on the edge in RT Mark Levoir and TE Anthony Fasano.
Pass Defense vs. ND
I have little idea what to expect here. It's safe to say that the Notre Dame passing game should be improved from last year--every relevant player returns--and there's no Marlin Jackson in the secondary for Michigan. Notre Dame has three or four (potentially) good receivers and Michigan has major questions at cornerback. The decision to stay in a base defense the entire game and not rotate the corners at all looks especially strange in light of the fact that Michigan is definitely going to have to play redshirt freshmen Morgan Trent and Charles Stewart against a veteran offense. Blooding them against NIU would have made sense, but Trent was in for only a few plays at the very end of the game and I didn't see Stewart at all.
Brady Quinn started the season well but had an easy time of it against Pittsburgh's defense, wretched last year and looking possibly worse this year. Michigan will provide a stiffer challenge, one that Quinn will probably meet quite well. He is talented, very experienced, and comfortable with his options, especially Fasano. Michigan will need to get heat on him to keep him in check--and watch out for 53 yard screen touchdowns.
Key Matchup: Pierre Woods/Tim Jamison/Shawn Crable/Jeremy Van Alstyne vs RT Mark Levoir. Pressure from the spot opposite Woodley will be key.
Michigan is one proven returner up on the Irish. Whenever Breaston is healthy and given opportunities, he takes games and OMG BREAKS THEM. He was not given much opportunity against NIU--returning on kickoff and no punts--but as mentioned before, he looks to be Backstreet's back and all that stuff. Rivas is Rivas. Ross Ryan is an improvement on Neinberg and had one very nice 41 yard punt with good hangtime. If he can keep that up (and given the fact that I saw Zoltan The Inconceivable freaking murdering several balls pregame, I think that's likely) ND's return game will be largely neutralized.
However, you can make the same case for the Irish. Punter DJ Fitzpatrick is one of the nation's best and probably won't serve up any balls that have Michigan Stadium cheering a touchdown before it even wobbles its way into Breaston's arms. Still, given the track record of Stevie Wonder, there's a good chance Michigan wins the special teams battle.
Key Matchup: DJ Fitzpatrick versus Hang Time. Fitzpatrick is one of the nation's best punters and can keep Breaston in check as long has he stays away from nasty line drives.
I don't believe in them, if you must know.
- Abiamiri starts dominating Kolodziej.
- Similar gashes start opening up in the defensive line.
- Henne's deep ball is off.
trong>Cackle with knowing glee if...
- The defensive line returns to stuff-the-interior goodness.
- The run game works early. Grinding ND's thin defense to dust will be much easier.
- A few early blitzes find success.
Fear/Paranoia Level: 7 out of 10. (Baseline 5; +2 for defensive performance against NIU, +1 for ND-Pitt game, +1 for injury rumors flying around, -1 for home game, -1 for general lack of Irish depth.)
Desperate need to win level: 10 out of 10. (Baseline 5; +1 for It's ND, +2 for Stop Him Now, +1 for What the Hell Was That Last Year, +1 for Three Home OOC Games We Better Make Good.)
Loss will cause me to... break out in hives that spell out "OH NO WHAT IF HE IS A GOD AMONGST MEN"; start carving blowdarts for use on Jim Herrmann.
Win will cause me to... immediately start wishing a two-week injury on Brian Calhoun.
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict: That Michigan wins. After last week's display I'd be surprised to see Walker under 100 yards, but that goes for Hart, too, and Michigan should have an easier time defending the Notre Dame passing attack than vice versa--Hall and Woodley are better options on the Michigan D than any the Irish have--plus a decided special teams advantage in the personage of one Steve Breaston, as long as we force a punt or two (five turnovers again would also be acceptable).
Finally, three opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
- Notre Dame will not crack 400 yards offense.
- Steve Breaston catches something and runs a long way to a happy place.
- 38-24, good guys. Subtract 4 points each for no Hart/no Kolo.