Mason NEEDS this, Pistons, after all you've put him through
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As Always: You must mitigate chaos within your liveblog to give birth to a dancing star.
As the Wolverines and the Irish prepare to square off in the second installment of Under the Lights many high profile recruits will begin arriving in Ann Arbor to take in the experience. Now that my internet is finally hooked up at my new house I’ve been able to touch base with just a few of them and see how they are feeling about what is poised to be an electric atmosphere.
2014 Uncommitted Prospects
Southfield DL Malik McDowell is a hard young man to get in touch with but I did speak with his trainer John Vickers to see what he thinks is going on inside Malik’s head. I asked John if there was any chance of Malik committing this weekend and he said, “I don’t think so. I’m pretty sure he’s waiting it out. We will see though. It’s really hard to say honestly. 99% he doesn’t. There is 1% slight chance though. He really wants to see other schools.” Most believe McDowell will be a Wolverine, but it doesn’t seem as though it will be anytime soon.
Big-time DE Da’Shawn Hand didn’t respond to me this time around, but after speaking with him last month I got the impression that he knows he’s coming to Michigan and I really believe this visit will solidify that decision. Alabama will get the last crack at him before he decides and that’s dangerous, but I think Michigan is in really good shape.
2015 Uncommitted Prospects
Potential top Ohio prospect LB Justin Hilliard will be in attendance as well and he holds the Wolverines and the Irish both in high regard. “It’s going to be a great game and definitely will have a lot of excitement. I’ve wanted to see Michigan football in full effect. I’m sure this visit will help out Michigan a lot but we’ll see.” Ace mentioned yesterday that his final four could very well consist of Ohio State, Iowa, and of course the two teams playing tonight under the lights. A Michigan victory could be a solid recruiting boost for his services.
6’6”, 215 lb. QB David Edwards will roll into Ann Arbor with his father and his O-line coach around 6 pm, just in time for a 6:30 recruiting presentation which will be packed with talented recruits. Edwards and I will speak after his visit so I can get the scoop on what the presentation was all about and see how his overall visit went.
In-state signal caller Alex Malzone will be in attendance for the game but not as a recruit this time. He’s going as a fan and he mentioned to me that he actually hasn’t talked with the coaches since he attended the Michigan camp in June. I’ve stated before that Malzone appears to be on the coaches radar but isn’t a top priority at this point in time.
Virginia OT Matthew Burrell is making the trip to Ann Arbor with fellow Virginians Da’Shawn Hand and 2015 DT Tim Settle. Burrell summed up his thoughts about the visit with one word, “Ecstatic!!!” in a text response to me last night. Burrell and Settle will probably both receive offers this weekend now that they’ve shown enough legitimate interest by visiting.
Safety prospect Tyriq Thompson out of Detroit King makes the quick trip to Ann Arbor looking for his third potential B1G offer after Illinois and Wisconsin saw enough in the young man to extend a scholarship. Thompson is a legacy recruit as his father played for the Wolverines in the 90’s. He knows the history between the two teams, “I’m excited to see the matchup. It’s a great rivalry.” He must’ve been listening to Brian Kelly…during the latter part of the week anyway.
The potential top player in the nation, DE Jashon Cornell has been texting with Wolverine commits George Campbell and Damien Harris all morning about the excitement surrounding this weekend in Ann Arbor. Cornell said “I’m feeling pretty good. I just can’t wait for my first College Gameday experience.” He said he was looking forward to hanging out with George and Tim Settle and the other recruits from his class. He also said that Notre Dame and Michigan might be his top two right now, but wouldn’t commit to that completely. Regardless of where the two schools currently rank for the five-star this game is a big one in his recruitment.
2016 Uncommitted Prospect
Stud OL Erik Swenson, who is supposed to be a Michigan lock, will be in Ann Arbor with his dad and had this to say, “It’s going to be a lot of fun! It’s giving me goosebumps just thinking about over 75,000 people singing Hail.” Don’t expect a commitment from Erik just yet, as he told me that “my parents don’t want me to decide until my junior year just to see all what happens.”
However, he then went on to say that he would like to commit right now…but you’ve got to listen to your parents. I think we can write his name on the 2016 commitment list, even if it’s in pencil for now.
This weekend is going to be invaluable in making connections between commits and targets across the 2014, 2015, and 2016 classes. A Michigan victory could tip the scales in the minds of some of the players in attendance but I don’t believe there will actually be a commitment this weekend. Many of the players attending have already set timetables. If there isn’t a commitment this weekend it is not cause for panic. The atmosphere will be electric and the experience enjoyable for all in The Big House. A “W” would be icing on the cake for fans and recruits alike.
Hey, Butch Woolfolk, are you excited for the game tonight?
Agreed, Butch. How do you feel about it being the last Michigan-Notre Dame home game for the foreseeable future?
We're on the same wavelength, Butch.
[If you're wondering "why?" those are from the intros to the '81 ND game. For many more GIFs from Notre Dame games of the past, hit THE JUMP.]
Something's been missing from Michigan gamedays since the free programs ceased being economically viable: scientific gameday predictions that are not at all preordained by the strictures of a column in which one writer takes a positive tack and the other a negative one… something like Punt-Counterpunt.
The Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry may lack history to Brian Kelly or to Irish fans who suddenly care about justifying why they don’t care. For me, it's the only history I know.
The first Division I football game I ever watched was Michigan vs. Notre Dame in 2009. Having moved to Ann Arbor just a year earlier, I wasn’t yet a Michigan fan (or even a college football fan) and after the 3-9 season didn’t really want to be. That Saturday, I went to down by the stadium only to tailgate.
Sometimes sports can be like used car salesmen though. All they need is for you to walk in the door. “Here is a used car! It got totaled last year, but look, a new paint job! Let me tell you about the new engine! There are 110,000 people who totally want this car!”
With 11 seconds left on the clock, Tate Forcier rolled out of the pocket and fired to Greg Mathews. The 110,000 other buyers roared, and I said, “Okay, deal.” What a sucker.
Michigan didn’t win many more games that year. It didn’t matter at first. I watched every one diligently, trying to understand how things worked by agonizing over them when they didn't. I rode out my investment as it sputtered in October and died in November. In December, I was done being a Michigan football fan.
But the next year Denard happened, and then Michigan-Notre Dame 2010 happened. Again, the used car salesman analogy: “Here is a used car! It's the same model as last year’s car, but we fixed all the problems! We replaced the engine with an even faster one! We even kept the old one if you want it! We’re not sure the airbags work, but who needs airbags? Or free safeties?!”
As Denard plunged into the end zone beneath Touchdown Jesus to give Michigan the go-ahead score, I was like, “Yeah! F--- airbags. What's a free safety?”
To satisfy my curiosity, I started reading about Michigan football. I discovered mgoblog. When reading wasn’t enough, I began streaming press conferences. One thing led to another, and a few weeks later I found myself at a Michigan Daily Sports meeting (probably the only med student ever to show up to one of these things) thinking like an idiot that I could volunteer to help them cover football, only to discover that the Daily doesn’t work like that. Didn’t matter. I joined anyway. In half a year I produced a modest portfolio (one that I'm still quite proud of), which was enough to convince Brian Cook to hire me.
The rest you know, and here I am today.
In Fourth and Long, John U. Bacon talks about some of the crazy things college football inspires us to do. I would submit “becoming a sports blogger while trying to get an MD/PhD” for consideration. And I would specifically point out that it all started with Michigan vs. Notre Dame.
I’m sad the series is going away. It has given me my best memory of Michigan football (Roy Roundtree caught the game-winning TD right in front of me in 2011) and my worst (Devin Gardner crashed into the corner of a metal platform in 2012, again right in front of me, and I thought for a horrifying moment that he was dead).
Very soon, however, these kinds of memories will no longer be made. Not for you, not for me, not for any other budding doctors who might also possess an unrealized passion for college football like me. You know, it's funny that the Irish think the rivalry lacks history. They're the ones keeping it that way.
So I have an idea: let’s not think about this game like it’s the second to last time Michigan will play Notre Dame. Instead, let’s think about this as the second time Michigan will play Notre Dame … Under the lights. In the Big House. Ever.
What little history there is, at least it’s on our side.
Michigan 34, Notre Dame 14.
Notre Dame 2013
By Nick RoUMel
The new Punt looks a lot like the old. Heiko’s outlandish “Homer” pick has, as usual, relegated me to being the bad guy. You know when you were a kid, and your ball went into a certain neighbor’s yard, and you didn’t dare go over there? Yep, that’s me. Grouchy ol’ Counterpunt. I’m going to keep your ball, and when your Dad comes over to reason with me, I’ll kick his ass.
I do have to admit, Heiko’s enthusiasm is fetching, if not a bit nutty. I’m not sure what’s crazier – driving without airbags, or slowing down medical school to work for mgoblog. He’s like the guy who comes late to the party. You know, when the beer is all gone, and everyone else is slipping upstairs or nodding off, Heiko’s the guy who shows up with his iPad and a bag of Doritos, to show off official Michigan Athletic Department promotional videos, while chatting a mile a minute about free safeties and the deficiencies of the Cover 4 defense - all with Dorito breath to boot.
My grumbliness aside, I must admit I am completely psyched for this game. I have even been invited to a “tailgate.” I understand this is a pre-game party involving food and drink. I just may bring a bag of Doritos myself. The nice thing about night games is that we can do this tailgate thing all day. As much fun as we’re going to have, with this very special second night game in two years, do you realize they do this in the SEC every damned week? I mean those people start real early every Saturday, chattering away in those silly southern accents of theirs, saying “y’all” and arguing about Billy Cannon and whether a three year sentence is sufficient for the guy who poisoned the Toomer’s Corner oak trees at Auburn, and whether he will have a boyfriend in prison named Bubba.
Me, I’m not going to do any of those things. I’m thinking of going to the Farmer’s Market in the morning, and whipping up a batch of lamb-sweet potato hash with fried eggs, and some beverages. Like orange juice, with perhaps a shot of ouzo.
Then after breakfast, when there are still 12 hours until kickoff, I will take my first in a series of naps for the day. During these naps I will dream about the big game. I will dream about Brian Kelly and whether he is even grouchier than the neighbor who beat up my Dad. I will dream about Jon Bon Jovi’s son who plays for Notre Dame – no, actually, my sister will. I will dream about Devin Gardner, and Taylor Lewan, and Notre Dame’s stout defense, and 110,000 fans screaming for Bon Jovi.
And then I’ll go back to sleep, and have a nightmare.
NOTRE DAME 20, MICHIGAN 16
A Friday tradition during football season: expunging a bunch of tabs quickly before the weekend.
Go to MGoPatio now! Seth will be there.
(Also Marlin Jackson, Chris Perry, and Brandon Williams.)
Come back tomorrow for the liveblog. We've got a sponsor, Marawatch, and it should be absolute chaos.
I’m sure Notre Dame will have fun picking on Wake Forest for the next 50 years or so. But first, one more visit to the Big House, and one more chance to lay an egg.
And stay out. Tales from 1978:
George Cavender was a legend. He had succeeded the equally legendary William Revelli as Michigan’s band director, and he was a loud, bombastic, incredibly enthusiastic guy. The 1978 season was also his final season as the leader of the band, and I considered myself lucky that I was getting to play at least one year under his direction.
In any case, as the game got going, Cavender was just as loud and excited as any Michigan fan in the stands that day. He would cheer the good plays, boo the bad calls and wince at every dropped pass.
But here’s what I remember most: Late in the second half, as Michigan was cementing its comeback, Joe Montana got tackled near our sideline and came tumbling into the band. He came to rest right at the feet of the legendary George Cavender.
Before Montana had a chance to get up, Cavender gave him a pretty good stomp to the chest and said, “Get the hell out of here!”
We must get a copy of this. Jim Harbaugh needs to get this to a person who can put it on the internet, man:
"Want to hear something kick ass?" Harbaugh asked in his first year as Stanford's coach, sliding the disc into his computer.
For the next 20 minutes, Bo Schembechler's voice boomed from back in 1988. It was a stunning and inspirational audio peek behind the scenes of one of the greatest college football rivalries.
"You let the crowd yell. Let Knute Rockne come down from the heavens. You let them all come. You remember, you are Michigan. There is no greater tradition in college football today than the uniform that you wear."
Former Michigan assistant Cam Cameron (now at LSU) had secretly recorded Bo's pregame speech before that year's Notre Dame game. Thank goodness.
"I always get chills up and down my spine," Harbaugh said that day.
Notre Dame won 19-17, but the result hardly matters.
You'll be back in two minutes or less. A hearty farewell to The Blog Yost Built, which has decided to pack it in. I bet he's back at some point.
Other stuff here: Ace FFFF!
|WHAT||Michigan vs Notre Dame|
Ann Arbor, Michigan
|WHEN||8 pm Eastern
September 7th, 2013
|THE LINE||M -4|
|WEATHER||mid 70s dropping to low 70s, isolated thunderstorms, 30% chance of rain|
Expanding Tom Hammond head from NDMSPaint. We miss you, Tom.
Run Offense vs Notre Dame
Hello, Mr. Nix, I am a center popularly described as "undersized." Let me step around you all day?
This matchup got more intriguing last week as Michigan's offensive line showed pretty well running zone stretches and Temple went for 4.6 YPC against the Irish. In the aftermath, Louis Nix seemed frustrated at his lack of impact after eating double-team after double-team. This spawns questions: were people not doubling Nix before? Are people aware that doubling nose tackles is standard practice in many offenses? Was it just the sweltering heat that deflated Nix's performance? I don't know, man.
A big chunk of the Temple ground game came on scrambles we'll address in the next section. What didn't was a result of effectively double-teaming Nix, avoiding Stephon Tuitt, and getting Notre Dame's middle linebackers confused. Temple used a lot of packaged plays in this one, which caused the Irish MLBs to look clueless as they sucked up on runs that turned into quick seam routes they vacated. Expect Michigan to do something similar, whether it's more packaged plays—Michigan has run them on occasion in the last couple years—or a variety of counters and screens that exploit a couple of guys in Dan Fox and Carlo Calabrese who don't play like the veterans they are.
Also of note: hyper-touted recruit Jaylon Smith is one of the starting outside linebackers for Notre Dame. He's a true freshman who replaces the retired Danny Spond, and may be vulnerable to either getting optioned or just straight-up blown up by guys who have been in college a bit longer.
[NOTE: Notre Dame's 3-4 is going to look a bit like a 4-3 for maybe half the day, as Michigan will have a tight end and Notre Dame will screw down their strongside linebacker (either Prince Shembo or Ishaq Williams) over the tight end. They'll still two gap when they're in that front; sometimes they will go 4-3 with 320-pound Stephon Tuitt moving inside.]
For Michigan, it's Fitzgerald Toussaint's time to grab a death lock on the feature back job or slog through another middling game that opens up the freshman floodgates behind. In this one, I'll believe a freshman gets tasked with defending blitzes from a 3-4 ten seconds after it gets Gardner splattered into goo. Except for short yardage it'll be Toussaint, and then Justice Hayes if he needs a blow.
As for the line, it showed as well as it could against CMU, repeatedly crushing the Chips off the ball to the left side of the line. Jack Miller and Graham Glasgow showed an affinity for the scoop blocks that make the stretch go, and Miller in particular showed the agility you need. That's no surprise since he was recruited by Rich Rodriguez. Michigan will do plenty of that in the hopes that Taylor Lewan can win his one on one matchup and Nix will be left behind, panting. Note than in three-man fronts, Glasgow will be releasing immediately and it'll be Miller and Kalis trying to combo Nix. Not as effective, likely.
Michigan's tight ends are a key. They've got to be able to either block Smith or outrun Shembo/Fox/Calabrese to be effective. Funchess had a tough outing against CMU, and AJ Williams could have been better. Michigan wants to hit the edge, and the tight ends will have to help them get there.
What happens? I don't know. Seriously.
Key Matchup: Nix versus Miller/Glasgow/Kalis. If Michigan can get a stalemate here that's a win. Temple did handle him.
[Hit THE JUMP for my diabolical revenge on Jack Swarbrick, and other stuff.]