If you can find 25 teams to put in your poll, this is where they go.
Review is wonderful, but it exacerbates the frustration that comes with blown calls, especially blown calls that are reviewed. Michigan was driving against Michigan State up 31-24 and in makeable-but-not-automatic field goal range when Chad Henne dropped back to pass on third down and was hit when throwing. This is the relevant section of the NCAA rule book:
When a Team A player is holding the ball to pass it forward toward the neutral zone, any intentional forward movement of his arm starts the forward pass. If a Team B player contacts the passer or ball after forward movement begins and the ball leaves the passer's hand, a forward pass is ruled regardless of where the ball strikes the ground or a player (A.R. 2-19-2-I).
This is the play:
Henne's hand was clearly going forward and the contact comes after the hand moves forward. By the rulebook, it is an incomplete forward pass. Whether or not he intended to tuck the ball again--unlikely since you can see a wide open Mike Hart at the edge of the frame--is irrelevant since it's impossible to tell once contact occurs. The review official does not know the rulebook and turned a fairly comfortable Michigan lead into a tie game. He's not just more incompetent than your average official, he's more incompetent than your average fan and thus has no business being employed by the Big Ten for purposes of video review.
Sorry, but this stuff drives me nuts, and that call wasn't even close.
Er... first order of business is to note that because I'm an idiot, I forgot to tape the MSU game, so "Upon Further Review" is tenous at the moment. I hope to either A) get a DVD from someone in the AA/Ypsi area or B) relocate it to SB or IBFC this week. If you can provide A, please email me ASAP. When arrangements are made, you'll know.
- I don't mean to harsh the buzz, but the only thing that stopped Michigan State was Michigan State. Their occasional deadly screwups cost them them the game.
- That said, we frequently got very good coverage from the secondary which forced Stanton to scramble around fruitlessly and either take a sack, throw the ball away, or scramble for a couple yards (instead of 15). It was either that or someone mindbogglingly wide open.
- We did do a good job containing Stanton's running but it was at the expense of several other things, I think. David Harris was spying most of the game--he came up whenever Stanton escaped contain, whether it was via a designed rollout or not.
- The defensive line was almost totally neutralized by Michigan State's offensive line, though some of their passivity seems like it was intentional. Much like what we saw in the OSU game, Michigan tends to respond to mobile quarterbacks by making sure they don't get any running lanes at the expense of getting to them quickly, though the fact that we actually sacked Stanton a couple times puts us way, way ahead of the curve. It's possible that the MSU OL is one of the best in the country.
- If there was going to be a game where our safeties fell apart, it was probably going to be this one, but the only play that got past them wasn't really their fault (the flanker screen with a blitz called). I'll say it: "blah blah blah lose Ernest Shazor == worse" has been definitively proven to be false. Shazor's excessive aggression increased the variance of the D immensely and is not missed.
- Tim Jamison played only sparingly but the first down he played was more than impressive. He came in, blew his man three or four yards off the ball, and then made a 4-yard TFL. He made a similar play against EMU. Concerns about him holding up against the run may be overblown.
- Welcome to 2005, Mr. Henne. One awful decision on the interception and a little bit of inaccuracy but nothing like that which we saw against Wisconsin. Instead, we get 60+ completion percentage and three touchdowns. I remember thinking at halftime that I thought Henne would make one mistake too many and that would result in our loss, and thinking that I was a total jerkface for thinking that after the interception. But he did not.
- Welcome to 2005, Mr. Hart. We missed you OMG SOOOO BAD.
- Can someone get the #1 jersey to Manningham stat? It's clear that he has no idea where to line up half the time but that will fix itself with experience. It is also clear that not putting #1 on him is thoroughly dumb.
- Despite Hart's 218 yards, our running game sucks. Other than the 113 yards on the two long carries, Hart picked up 105 yards on 34 carries. That's just over 3.0 yards a carry. That's also terrible. I've advocated the idea of "line yards" in the past and hold to that philosophy now: the yards that Hart made due to his awesome and the incompetence of the MSU LBs and safeties don't impact the fact that our offensive line was almost completely stymied by their defensive line. This happened against Wisconsin as well.
- Yeah, but that last drive in regulation was pretty badass, no?
- The playcalling at the end of the first half was inexcusable. First the timeout before fourth down when the clock should have been allowed to wind. Then the run on first down with no timeouts followed by a spike with 19 seconds left on the clock when Michigan had more than enough time to throw into the endzone twice. Awful disorganization at its finest.
- Conversely, the final drive of regulation was masterful. It's a shame Rivas missed the field goal because otherwise that grinding, fourth-and-one-happy "we're tougher than you" drive would have gone down in Michigan lore. Twice Carr was faced with fourth and one and twice he made the correct decision to pound it into the line. The second time he--perhaps wiser for his experience in the Rose Bowl--passed up a makeable field goal. In the end, he had bled the clock from almost 7 minutes to 50 seconds, forced Michigan State to use all its timeouts, and had set his kicker up with a 27 yard field goal that would have likely won the game.
- The utter incompetence of the review guy in this game forced Carr to use a timeout to get the first half Barringer interception-fumble correctly called, but it was wisely spent. If that call doesn't get overturned Michigan loses.
- Speaking of the utter incompetence of the review guy, the Henne "fumble" was an outrageously bad call made even more outrageously bad by the fact that the incompetent review guy let it stand. Henne's hand had been moving forward for decades before the ball came out. If Michigan had lost the game, it would have taken its place next to the Desmond trip and the Clockgate game in the pantheon of worst calls in Michigan history.
- Note the difference between the review guy versus Wisconsin, who made three reviews very quickly and got each call right, and this review guy versus Michigan State, who took forever to get one obviously wrong call reversed and then took forever to let one obviously wrong call stand.
Thoughts, trackbacks, and recriminations about this weekend's games go a heah.
Also, please welcome Oregon State blogger Jason Prothero to the poll. I've extended an invite to a WSU blog as well but haven't heard back. We'll fill in our Pac-10 holes yet.
All right. Given the fact that people are using any available post to leave comments after heartbreaking losses over the weekend, we'll institute an open thread thing.
Please play relatively nice; I'm going to be disappointed if I return home and the thing looks like a Rivals message board. Criticism is fine but let's try for some reasoned in there, too. I'm attending the game and then the White Stripes concert so I will be not around. Fe fi fo fum.
OMG WE WIN UPDATE
I, for one, welcome our new adorable kitten overlords.
Hail to the kittens adorable
Hail to the conq'ring cuteness
Hail, Hail, to kittens, the lords of MGoBlog.
Run Offense vs. State
Mike Hart is expected to return but hamstring injuries are notorious for lingering. It's yet to be seen whether he has the same effectiveness he did in 2004 against the Spartans, when he cracked 200 yards. The Spartan run D is superficially much better than it was a year ago--as of right now they stand 23rd nationally--but they've played three spread offenses that don't emphasize the run much and have leapt out to huge leads in each of their games, forcing their opponents to pass. When opponents have run, they've done all right. Darius Walker averaged four and a half yards a carry. Hawaii picked up 152 yards on just 28 carries. Illinois got 141 on 33. The latter two are distorted by such huge quantities of garbage time that they're probably not very meaningful, but the upshot is that the Spartan D hasn't proven that they're an above average run defense.
Of course, Michigan hasn't exactly proven the inverse. They've been methodically effective against MAC foes but only had sporadic success against Notre Dame and Wisconsin. Mike Hart's return will make a difference but he can't make holes appear from nowhere. The reason Michigan's ground game has been disappointing has been threefold: Hart's absence, the offensive line disappointing, and the ability of safeties to creep into the box because of Henne's erratic performances. Hart's return only fixes what's behind Door #1.
I expect Michigan's running game will be good--if Hart gets the bulk of the carries he should clear 100 with ease--but not great. Michigan's going to have to convert a lot of third and four, third and five situations.
Key Matchup: Lentz, Kraus, and Henige versus Spartan DTs Domata Peko, Bobby Jones, and Brandon McKinney. If Michigan can beat the Spartan DT's back on a regular basis and pick up five yards on most first downs, they can afford some of the passing game's eccentricities. Converting on fourth and one would be good, too.
Pass Offense vs. State
Twice Michigan has played teams with extremely vulnerable secondaries and twice they have failed to exploit them and lost the game as a result. Against Notre Dame the offensive line, Steve Breaston, and Chad Henne shared the blame, but against Wisconsin it was all Henne, who was wildly inaccurate more often than not when asked to throw downfield.
(Y'all random pundits can shut up about Braylon Edwards, okay? Repeat after me: the loss of BE has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Chad Henne cannot hit an open wide receiver. What exactly do you think the thought process is here?
THE AVANT DROID HAS DISCONNECTED FROM OPPOSING FORCE. DIRECTIVE SEARCH. DIRECTIVE: FOUND. DIRECTIVE TYPE: THROW. INSTRUCTIONS FOLLOW.
if (reciever == Braylon)
SUCK OVERFLOW ERROR
SUCK OVERFLOW ERROR
SUCK OVERFLOW ERROR
It mak-ah no the sense. It is the unspicy-ah meatball.)
Anyway. Brady Quinn threw 60 times for 487 yards and five touchdowns. Hawaii's Not Timmy Chang was 21 for 32 for 219 yards. Akron State was 31 for 52 for 293 yards. The secondary is basically the exact same as it was last year except the starter opposite Hayes is a guy who couldn't beat Roderick Maples out. Receivers will be open. Will Henne hit them? He'll hit his share, but 53% and one bad interception is not going to cut it.
Key Matchup: Chad Henne versus His Evil Twin. I mean, let's be serious. Jaren Hayes? Eric Smith? Ashton Watson? The Spartan secondary is a disaster zone. Michigan will have open receivers, but... well, you know.
Run Defense Vs State
Sure, Javon Ringer has played mostly versus crap teams, but he's averaging over nine yards a carry. He's got company: State finished last year 10th in the nation rushing the ball and now stands seventh. They're getting 30 yards a game from four different players: Ringer, The Pedestrian Jason Teague, Jehuu Caulcrick, and The Jesus himself, Drew Stanton.
I don't expect Jehuu Caulcrick to see much time save for short yardage situatons. He's a big, powerful back but given Branch, Watson, and the emerging David Harris on the interior and Michigan's obvious issues with keeping containment on rushers that want to bounce outside, it's clear that Caulcrick is the least effective person to hand rushing attempts to. Teague, Stanton, and Ringer will all carry it plenty, though, and probably to good effect. Michigan and the rest of the Big Ten were totally befuddled last year and appear to be equally confused in 2005.
There is much cause for alarm here. Michigan has used a base set with six in the box with frequency against three- and four-wide sets on non-obvious passing downs and gotten crushed on the ground by NIU, Notre Dame, and Wisconsin (though Wisconsin only used it a couple times). Michigan's going to have to find a better way to deal with that or the Spartans are going to roll down the field largely unmolested. The contain issues we've seen all season will be greatly tested against a highly effective spread option offense. The Spartans are going to roll up yards here if Michigan doesn't play very aggressively with its linebackers and safeties, but when they do that...
Key Matchup: Javon Ringer, The Pedestrian Jason Teague, And The Jesus versus Outside Contain (Or The Lack Thereof).
Pass Defense vs. State
"F***ing Quintana. That creep can roll, man."
"Yeah, but he's a
"Still, I have a simple system by which I rate Big Ten players: how much do I fear this particular person? Stanton is #1 on my list this year. That's got to count for something."
Right, so Stanton is completing 73% of his passes, has thrown 13 touchdowns to 2 interceptions, and is (unsurprisingly) leading the nation in passer efficiency. If I was afeared of him before, I find him downright stupefying at the moment. Sometimes there's a man... well, he's the man for his time and place. He fits right in there. And Stanton is that man in John L. Smith's spread-run-throw monstrosity.
The good news is that Michigan's defense is probably better than any The Jesus has faced to this point in the season. Michigan's defensive line is showing signs of becoming the fearsome unit it has the potential to be with the dramatic emergence of Alan Branch and the continued fine play of Lamarr Woodley. The secondary has come together nicely; Grant Mason played out of his mind against Wisconsin, Morgan Trent has settled in to the nickelback position nicely, and the safeties appear to have a clue or two, if not the bone shattering hitting of one absent Ernest Shazor. And the linebackers can't possibly play as terribly as they did last year. Michigan's offseason recruitment of Steve Stripling and focus on the spread offense in the offseason should pay dividends. I wouldn't expect 700 yards. But I would expect to scream "Herrmann, you're out of your element!" several times during the course of the game. Michigan is not going to shut the Spartans down.
Key Matchup: Chris Morris and Company versus Alan Branch, Lamarr Woodley, and Please God Tim Jamison. Given time to throw, Stanton will kill us. We need +20 from these guys to have a chance.
Brandon Fields is the kind of punter who can give Steve Breaston a chance to do something. He's got a monster leg but is prone to outkicking his coverage or booting shanky line drives on occasion. Last year he attempted several driven, angled punts that were designed to keep Breaston in check but
cost Michigan State field position when he screwed them up several times. With Breaston clearly out of sorts, expect the Spartans to take a chance and kick to him. At this point I don't expect it will burn them.
On the other side of the aisle, human jet engine Deandra Cobb and punt returner Agim Shabaj are gone. Senior WR Kyle Brown has taken over the return duties and done all right but isn't a huge threat. New Spartan kicker John Goss has only attempted 3 field goals... and 21 extra points.
Key Matchup: Single Covering Gunners And Not Blocking Them versus Goddamn Common Sense. This is self explanatory, right?
Let's go kitten power.
- Henne sails another couple balls five yards over someone's head.
- Ringer gets the edge.
- Just plain worry, okay?
Cackle with knowing glee if...
- Stanton's arm explodes or whatever.
- Rose Bowl Henne makes a miraculous return.
- I dunno, man.
Fear/Paranoia Level: 10 out of 10. (Baseline 5; +2 for Stanton, +1 for Stanton's Revenge, +1 for It's In East Lansing, +1 for Has Anyone Seen Chad Henne's Brain?)
Desperate need to win level: 9 out of 10. (Baseline 5. -1 for It's Over Anyway, +5 for Eloi Eloi Lama Sabachthani.)
It's clubbin' time.
Loss will cause me to... puppies puppies kitten love happy puppies. Puppies puppies kitten love happy puppies. I am a beautiful starbeam that thinks football is a silly. I am not affected. I am an upright man with PRIORITIES and a MATURE OUTLOOK ON LIFE who puppies puppies kitten love happy puppies hold me.
Hold me, I'm so cold. Don't you think it's cold?
I think I need to club some baby seals.
Win will cause me to... assume that the miraculous turnaround was due entirely to kitten cuteness and reward the God Of Kittens by flooding this space with the most adorable cats you've ever damn seen.
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict: No way, man. Game over. Game over, man. Our defense has held up well under fire from quarterbacks bent on inaccuracy but combine the guy with the top passer efficiency rating in the country with a running game perfectly poised to exploit the outside contain issues the Wolverines have had all season and it's foxhole time. Throw in our still injur-iffic offense and Chad Henne doing his best Sophomore John Navarre impression and a road game in East Lansing and we lose. I think we keep their offense decently in check and it's a close game, but we trail most of the way and go to 2-3.
Finally, three opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
- Gutierrez does not play.
- We do really good job of slowing the Spartan offense down.
- 28-24, Michigan State.