Meram is scoring some sweet-ass goals of late
Reaction everywhere: for some reason, an Irish fan put up an impressive slide show of images from Saturday's game. His reasons are unknown, but the end result is great fun for Michigan fans. Dangerous Logic has put all variety of highlights up on YouTube and captured this outstanding image of Brady Quinn:
That image alone should cost him millions of dollars in NFL signing bonuses.
Elsewhere, Johnny gives the proverbial bird to haterz(!). Maize 'n' Brew echoes my game column, saying "Don't call it a comeback / I been here for years." Stadium and Main chips in; IBFC is back from ferreign parts and has reaction, highlights, and historical perspective on Michigan-ND; Whatevs captures the Carr ice bath; SMQB recaps:
And future Wolverine opponents: if Michigan's between about the 35 and 15-yard-lines, don't leave one guy to cover Mario Manningham, or he'll be crashing into your trombone player in the back of the end zone, and the pain will be transferred to you.
It is the SANDWICH OF VICTORY. Uh... I get some weird things from time to time, but this takes the proverbial cake. A different Dave files this report from South Bend:
I was at the ND/Michigan game thanks to my ND fan friend Matt. After the game, we stayed at his mom's house in South Bend, where she encouraged me to make a sandwich. Well, after the beatdown my Wolverines handed his Irish, I didn't need any more encouragement. SANDWICHES, BITCHES! Some turkey, some cheese, some mustard and mayo.... all there except the ham.
Anyway, I thought y'all might appreciate the photo of this victory sandwich made in the Notre Dame kitchen.
So, without further adieu, the Sandwich of Victory:
God, it's beautiful.
Another onsite report, this one from reader Bill Buhr:
I've been reading your site for several months, and when you put the shirts up, I snagged the Mario one. Anyway, so I rock it yesterday, and needless to say, I'm getting a lot of confused looks. I had a lot of ND people come up to me and ask me what it meant. I'm embarrassed to say a few Michigan fans also weren't sure what it was supposed to represent.
Anyway, after my explanation to a few ND fans, I got the "whatever" look from them. I actually said to one guy "Don't worry, you'll know who he is after the game is over" on a total whim. But I just had a feeling about this one. I think a lot of Michigan people did, you included.
So halftime rolls around, and NOW people get it. I had several Michigan fans staring at it while I was in line getting a hot dog, and they were like "It's INSANE that you have that on right now. You are a PROPHET!" And the ND people, who were still in shock from what they had just witnessed, are now looking at me and just shaking their head. The only parallel I can think of from the ND side would be if a few ND fans printed up shirts that said "Ready for Lift-off" before the 1989 Mich-ND game in Ann Arbor and wore them to the game.
Anyway, the game ends, (a lot of ND people stayed until the bitter end, by the way) and it was pandemonium in the area right behind the Michigan Band. Jake Long's parents were hugging each other and his Mom looked like she was crying. When the Band
played "The Victors" for the final time, and the team came over to sing, I can honestly say that I have never felt more proud to be a fan of this program.
One last thing, I had several ND fans come up to me after the game, shook my hand, and told me "You guys better beat Ohio State this year." They were really classy, and I feel the way the fans of these two teams treated each other yesterday is the way a rivalry should be.
A note: I give the deranged loons at NDNation quite a bit of guff, but I do have to second Bill's assessment of the ND fanbase in person. When I went in '02 they were unfailingly polite.
A second note: buying shirt makes you a prophet. Don't you want to be a prophet?
What are these "other sports" you speak of? Maize 'n' Brew somehow found time last week (last week!) to put up a thorough update on basketball recruiting. WCH has a great post on the idiocy spawned by Jack Johnson's decision to stay in school.
NDNation is the craziest place on the Internet, probably because their moderators treat it like that prison planet from Star Trek... III? V? Whatever. Anyway, I loves me some schadenfreude and you do too. NDNation nukes the board after tough losses to wash away the "whining," but intrepid reporters (me) C&Ped some of the very dumbest thing to show up in the wake of the &*#!ing beat down. They've gone down the memory hole, unfortunately, but I promise you all of these things are real.
If Michigan beats OSU, they're stuck with Lloyd for a while
.... and, uh, probably going to the national championship game.
Charlie is learning that the Big Ten coaches aren't all that bad----and he has been beaten badly now by both Tressel and Carr----and it won't get any better next year---this was the year. Thank God we don't play in the SEC.
...or any other conference.
At least ND and Quinn can now play out the string without the pressure of national title or Heisman trophy aspirations.
Hey, there's something we can all agree on!
Hey, at least we'll still beat Navy.
I am not familiar with all of Michigan's defensive players, but it looked like they had most if not all of their defensive starters in late in the game. When you're up by 27 points with a minute and a half left in the game and we send in our second string offensive, it seems pretty slimy to leave your starting defense in the game.
We ran up the non-scoring!
As disappointing as this loss is/was/will be, do not forget how Pete Carroll struggled in years 1, 2 and 3.
In year two, Carroll struggled to an 11-2 record and Orange Bowl victory over Iowa. In year three, Carroll struggled his way to national championship.
just got back from the michigan game ....sat behind some Michigan fans who were worshipping Satan throughout the game. Classless.
Wait... worshipping Satan? Like how much worship are we talking about? Did they hold a black mass on an altar of nubile flesh? Or did they just go "HAIL SATAN!" at the beginning of the game, immediately watch Prescott Burgess rumble into the endzone, and quickly figure that one soul seemed a fair trade for a #*&ing BEAT DOWN of Notre Dame?
I want to applaud ND's three opponents on their remarkably clean play to date.
After three games, the players from GaTech, PSU and UM have not held a Notre Dame player once while ND has held ten times.
A special shout-out to UM for only commiting one penalty through three quarters of play today (the one early offsides penalty, a call that can't be ignored by the b10 crew).
Thanks. I would like to give you a "shout-out" for turning the ball over five times.
And this is just... well... desperate:
Who is in charge of our footballs? The way the first one went through Carlson's hands made me wonder. He barely slowed it down before it hit his helmet. It reminded me of a basketball game I played when the first pass to me went through my hands because the ball was so slippery. There were a few passes, even one completion where BQ got the nose down on the ball which usually means the ball is slipping out of your grip as you are throwing. And, of course, the big slip when pulling the ball back that went for a UM touchdown. Brand new balls are slippery. They need to be worked on to remove the slime. Colleges get to provide their own balls don't they? That means we should be able to prepare them so they aren't the least bit slippery.
The best part?
(By the way, if there is a problem here I better not read about it as we don't need to be offering up excuses like that for that game)
Implausible Excuses: The Sequel:
Does anyone know if our pregame routine might have resulted in our boys being tired and exhausted? Did they have tests to take this last week that might have kept them up late?
And, uh, file under "My Eengleesh, Ees No So Good":
Did Michigan get called for holding even once? If not, then game tapes should be sent to the head of the officials and ask them to review them.
This is not a "sour grapes" post.
What is these "grapes" you speaking of?
Finally, a commendation for these intrepid readers:
I couldn't help but notice the "ND Returning to Glory since 1993" shirts worn by some of the more obnoxious Michigan fans. I'm thinking of printing my own shirt for next year in AA: "Michigan Football Tradition: One Shared Title in 60 years".
Update: commenter Chris points out that this post is not truly complete without this:
9/16/2006 - Michigan 47(!)-21 Notre Dame - 3-0
They did it, you know. Notre Dame read the damn preview and decided to execute the Plan of Fear outlined therein. They shoved every available player within six yards of the line of scrimmage and dared him. They dared him to do something about it. To prove it.
One double move from The New Math and a ball that sizzled fifty yards through the air before nestling itself between the "8" and "6" that at once seem so wrong and so right on Mario Manningham's jersey, he lined up three dots in a triangle, placed a comma, and said: QED, MFer. This problem is solved. But they asked twice more, and he repeated the proof.
Sometimes -- not always, but sometimes -- Chad Henne is just gangsta like that.
And thus the biggest win since... OSU 2003? Probably farther back in the mists of prehistory than that. Certainly the biggest win since this star-crossed blog came into existence. 47-21. Aided, certainly, by Notre Dame's five turnovers, but when one team is forced to bring every player available within ten yards of Mike Hart to prevent getting ground to bits and the other spends its time definitively proving that Laura Quinn may not have gotten the family's looks but she definitely picked up its balls the outcome of the game is something of a foregone conclusion. As long as Chad dots that triangle. Which he did: quod, erat, and demonstrandum. (via IBFC)
And God, it feels gooooooood. Last year provided but one comparable moment, not coincidentally also delivered by The New Math, and even that was a momentary blip that prevented us from falling under .500. This is different. This is staring at an apparently weak Big Ten with a defense that can be compared to that of 1997 with a straight face for once.
Yes. It's time: 1997. Not to be lost in the point orgy is the 248 yards yielded by a Michigan defense in the full phoenix-bloom of remembered glory that Ron English has brought forth. Even Georgia Tech's blitzing monstrosity yielded almost 400; Penn State's dedication to bending, then breaking held down the possessions enough to keep them under 400. Neither did anything approximating what Michigan did. Notre Dame averaged 4.6 yards per pass and 0.2 per run. Seven of the points yielded were a gift from Henne's first pass; seven more were due to a Hermannesque soft zone on the final drive before the half (English would later say "that's more on me than the players"); Notre Dame's final touchdown was heavily aided by questionable refereeing decisions.
This was domination. Notre Dame totaled four rushing yards. Brady Quinn spent the day attempting to remember where he was, then quickly attempting to pretend he was anywhere else. Sorry, kid: there's no happy place on this field. There are only angry places filled with men named Crable, Woodley, Branch, and Burgess. By the end, Quinn was scrambling from freshman Brandon Graham and cipher Jeremy Van Alstyne, flinging passes anywhere in an attempt to prevent the next crippling blow. It was less fooball and more bloodsport by then.
By the time Crable and Burgess doused Lloyd Carr with a well-deserved shower of ice water, Michigan had demonstrated they are not back but simply here. There is a resiliency in this program dating back to the day Bo took Michigan out against Woody in 1969 and beat the Buckeye monstrosity back to Ohio. You tell them they cannot, and they do. You tell them they don't matter, and they do. They are constant, something that has been more curse than blessing over the past few years, but now Michigan says: I am here. I have been here. I will be here. I have proven that much.
This week's game thread is a little different: it starts insanely early. One of the downsides to posting lots is comment threads slip off quickly. This will be an opportunity for commenters to engage in more extended conversation. As always: please no flaming. Unless it's really funny.
UPDATE OF COMPLETE AWESOMENESS:
One note: last year it was very irritating when Irish fans flooded my comment section. Let's let 'em stew without rubbing it in. To understand the pain of the defeated is the zen of the true fan. Or something. New Math! English defeat Irish (again)! WOOT.
Good game, mister.
My mind is melting into a pool of adrenaline and incoherence it is unlikley to emerge from until the game is safely behind us. One final exhortation before the speech centers in my brain shut down:
Win, you bastards. Win. Win for Michigan. Win for America. Win for that little boy in the hospital. Win for me. Don't lose. Win.
Run Offense vs. Notre Dame
All this has been discussed before, but to recap...
Evidence, scanty as it is, suggests this is a major advantage for Michigan. PSU's pitiful performance on the ground against Akron was followed by Tony "Definition Of Average" Hunt going for 6.2 yards per carry against ND. Georgia Tech was moderately successful on the ground as well, though their shotgun zone reads and QB draws bear little resemblance to anything Michigan will run Saturday.
Notre Dame's linebackers are fast but undersized and inexperienced. Travis Thomas was the backup running back (and apparently still is) until spring; now he is their starting weakside linebacker. And ND fans are talking him up as a conquering hero... well, we'll find out tomorrow. One thing the zone does is provide copious opportunity for linebackers to overrun the play. Fast, undersized linebackers just get further out of position when Mike Hart cuts all the way to the backside or Henne runs out on the waggle.
Notre Dame fans have talked up their penetrating defensive linemen but the stats put the lie to them. There are two TFLs amongst all of Notre Dame's defensive linemen, one of them a sack from Victor Abiamiri. Last year, Abiamiri had 7 TFLs on running plays, Landri 5, and the entire rest of the DL 2. Sometimes the stats lie, but in my observations of ND's first two games the only man liable to shed a block was Abiamiri. Notre Dame stopped the run when they overwhelmed the point of attack with numbers and infrequently otherwise.
Meanwhile, Michigan ran, ran, and then ran some more against Vanderbilt and Central Michigan, pounding lesser foes into submission with a steady diet of Bronco-style zone running. Questions at center and right guard have been answered ably by Mark Bihl and Alex Mitchell, and though converted guard Rueben Riley has been extremely iffy in the first two games he has a history of being an able run blocker. Mike Hart is healthy and has been impressive; Kevin Grady is much improved; Obi Oluigbo has proved a capable fullback. The results have been inspiring against teams that are not your typical tomato-can run defenses, if the early returns from Vandy's game against Alabama and CMU's statistics from 2004 are to be believed.
Michigan spent the entire offseason installing this package for this game. If it works, Michigan wins. If it doesn't, they lose.
Key Matchup: DeBord versus Minter. Properly timed blitzes have disrupted Michigan's zone in the first two games. If you sell out you will stop it. If DeBord is too predictable with his playcalling Michigan will be overwhelmed with numbers at the line and forced into too many second-and-longs to sustain drives.
Pass Offense vs. Notre Dame
Michigan's pass protection issues have been part missed assignments and part Rueben Riley versus McBain (CMU defensive end Dan Bazuin, who is really for realz). The good news: missed assignments are fixable. The bad news: Victor Abiamiri is McBain's extremely tan brother. Last year he had 15 TFL and 8 sacks -- Woodley numbers -- and he just wrecked Penn State's right tackle in ways that should not be seen by small children and the elderly. Is Riley better than that right tackle, who was starting his second game ever? Probably at least a little. But probably not enough to neutralize the one real playmaker in ND's front seven. Michigan will have to help him with TE chips or straight doubles and keep running backs shaded to his side when Michigan tries five- or seven-step drops.
That figures to be relatively rarely, but if Michigan pounds the ball sufficiently to force a Notre Dame safety into the box they'll have opportunities to make big plays in the passing game -- if Henne is given time to go deep. One thing to note: if eight in the box is coupled with corners playing soft, preparing for a three-deep zone, the simple "long handoff" WR screen will be extremely effective. Notre Dame corners are not good at tackling in space. They had problems containing Calvin Johnson on a number of simple WR screens and while he is a dominating man-beast of a wide receiver, he's not exactly Steve Breaston when it comes to ankle-breaking cuts.
The big fear is that Notre Dame sells out against the run, brings their corners reasonably close to the line of scrimmage, and dares Michigan to throw deep. We have no idea whether they can or not. Only Manningham seems like a reasonable option on the long ball, and the right side of the line has pass protection issues that are real and not fantastic. Plus, no one must be told of Henne's inconsistencies.
Key Matchup: Riley (and friends) versus Abiamiri. Here's a bold, stupid-pundit-style pronouncement for you: if Riley stones Abiamiri Michigan waltzes away with this game. If what I expect will happen happens, this is a dogfight all the way.
Run Defense Vs Notre Dame
Michigan's defense has been improbably perfect so far this year, having yielded a total of 58 rushing yards across two games. Football statistics often lie, though, and this is a case in which they have been naughty indeed. A bevy of sacks, one of which turned into a fumble stampede 40 yards into the Central Michigan backfield, have artificially depressed those numbers. The prospects for a repeat of those astounding numbers are low. Opponents have managed a good run here and there but these have usually been quarterback draws or scrambles. Running backs have found the sledding not merely tough but entirely impassable save for one Goddamned Counter Draw by Central Michigan that found Prescott Burgess out of position.
How is this, when Michigan featured a historically weak rush defense in 2005? Terrance Taylor appears set to adequately replace the production of Gabe Watson -- who was often in the doghouse and when out of the doghouse was often on the sidelines, asking for oxygen and pie -- as a penetrating bull-moose of a nose tackle. Meanwhile, the gap between Alan Branch and Pat Massey stretches from here to Alpha Centauri. Add in returning starters everywhere else and a new linebackers coach who chooses not to confuse the hell out of his charges and things are looking up.
Branch and Taylor have made the few conventional running attempts they faced this year futile and project to do so against Notre Dame as well. Perhaps a team dedicated to pounding running drives could wear out the relatively thin DTs -- only one backup, Will Johnson, has figured into the gameplan before garbage time -- but with Notre Dame likely to feature spread formations with frequency, Michigan will put out a 3-3-5 with regularity to reduce their exposure.
Key Matchup: Shawn Crable and Prescott Burgess versus Walker bounce-outs. There figure to be quite a few. Crable and Burgess have to be in the proper positions to contain them. Outside linebackers are rarely blocked when plays intended to go inside suddenly pop outside, so it's all a matter of running down the slow-ish Walker. Crable is a bullet and should do fine, but Burgess struggled a year ago and has already made a major mental error overcommiting this year. He could get victimized.
Pass Defense vs. Notre Dame
The choice is clear: sit back and be diced, blitz and have a chance. That is, unless the front four gets consistent pass rush all by its lonesome but while we're ordering up fanciful pipe dreams I'll take a million dollars, a tipsy and lonesome Elizabeth Hurley, and a banana split. Not necessarily in that order.
Fortunately, Michigan seems inclined and able to blitz. They've done so with frequency this year: three members of the secondary have sacks and Shawn Crable crosses the line of scrimmage more often than not. Frequent blitzing and the all-around impressiveness of the defensive ends have netted Michigan defensive ends seven sacks, giving them a total of ten in just two games. Just Vandy and Central, of course, but certainly an indicator that Michigan has de
cided to pin their ears back and come after quarterbacks. That total is nearly half of last year's 24 after only one sixth of the season. Brady Quinn will not have Penn State Backfield Tea Party on Saturday.
That will leave Michigan open to two separate and distinct modes of attack: screens to Darius Walker and bombs to presumably single-covered, towering wide receivers against whoever isn't Leon Hall. Quinn will no doubt mix in a fair number of intermediate passes, but the bet here is the Irish offense will be closer to Georgia Tech than Penn State. 10, 11, 12 play drives are highly unlikely. 14 points? Probably not. Notre Dame missed two shortish field goals versus Georgia Tech and one would assume some of the glitches that plagued them on the road in their opener will be resolved for their third game of the season at home. Even an aggressive, excellent Michigan defense is going to give up a number of long plays: perfectly thrown seam routes, bombs versus overmatched corners, and times when Michigan blitzes into a screen or calls a soft zone in fear of one. Notre Dame will take big chunks of yardage a number of times and score on those drives.
Key Matchup: Shawn Crable versus Whoever Tries to Block Him. Michigan coaches have been talking up his pass-rushing ability since the spring and have used him as a blitzer and defensive end on passing downs, but the guys with the sacks are Rondell Biggs and Lamarr Woodley. Crable's been effective when deployed but Notre Dame is a step up. He must get to Quinn.
Michigan's kickoff coverage has been bad, but Notre Dame doesn't have anyone to return them, really, though slot receiver David Grimes returns from injury and if healthy may pose a problem. Punting seems even; Michigan should have an edge in the return game with Breaston... if he ever gets a chance to return a punt.
Field goal kickers: Rivas has a track record of being all-right-but-frustrating, ND newbie Carl Gioia is 2/4 with all four attempts coming from within 42 yards. Slight advantage Michigan.
Key Matchup: Field goal kickers versus their own idiocy. Gioia is unproven; Rivas has a history of missing field goals at exactly the wrong time. This game will be close. If a kicker botches something, it'll be critical.
Anyone else think Notre Dame's redzone offense might be kind of suspect in relation to Michigan's? One thing a punishing ground game is nice for is first and goal from the eight. No? Just sayin'.
Also: kittens. We're just about fed up with the performance of kittens after last year. They get one more chance, then it's seppuku time:
That's right: MGoBlog kills this kitten if Notre Dame wins.
- First-down runs get stuffed with regularity.
- We don't get a pass rush.
- We fumble four times, there's a phantom touchdown, a deflected pass caught for a touchdown, and God himself comes down to play tailback.
Cackle with knowing glee if...
- They bring eight in the box and it doesn't matter.
- Brady Quinn gets happy feet.
- Henne turns in an OSU-esque performance.
Fear/Paranoia Level: 10 out of 10. (Baseline 5; +1 for 2004, +1 for 2002, +1 for Road Opener, +1 for Rueben Versus Abiamiri, +1 for What Is This Program Cursed Or Something?).
Desperate need to win level: 10 out of 10. (Baseline 5; +1 for We Are The Last Best Hope To Prevent Weis Media Bukkake, +1 for Nothing Good Has Happened Since This Blog Started (No Offense, Mario); +1 for You Remember 7-5, Right?; +1 for I'd Like To Open With A Road Win Once Before I Die; +1 for Did I Mention The Media Bukkake?)
Loss will cause me to... drink heavily, cry myself to sleep, and wake up chained to a bed in Bangkok.
Win will cause me to... drink heavily, drive to South Bend, and personally give the finger to every resident.
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict: Michigan runs a lot. They pass some. They move the ball consistently but only punch a few drives in because of breakdowns from Henne, drops from the wide receivers, or penalties. Notre Dame, on the other hand, has difficulty moving the ball consistently but hits a number of big plays. It all adds up to a close game late in the fourth quarter. Rivas from 35.
Finally, three opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
- Woodley is neutralized.
- Hart goes for 150.
- 27-24, Michigan.