maybe i should have had greg howard write the brandon obit.
Well, that's certainly a way to put it. Check out this disgraceful "unbiased" AP article on the Cal-Illinois game. Though the thing is littered with stuff that screams OMG I WRITE FOR THE CAL DAILY BEAR OR WHATEVER, the passage that is most divorced from reality and clearly from the pen of an addled Cal undergrad:
Cal already lost starting quarterback Nate Longshore to a broken leg in the season opener, but the injured players' replacements have been uniformly impressive. That's gratifying to Tedford, who has spent four years building a roster with depth comparable to rival USC and the nation's best teams.
Er. Joseph "Booya" Ayoob completed a whopping eight passes against Illinois after going hilariously 0-11 against Sacramento State. Cal trailed this thing in the fourth quarter. At this point in the season, how can you claim that the Tedheads are anything approaching good?
Joey on the ball. Straight Bangin' has links to the halftime show if you missed it and are inclined to fix that issue. It's Monty Python, so some sort of dorks-only disclaimer should be issued. But you're reading a blog; I figure you knew that already. Blue Cats and Red Sox goes into extensive detail as well. Photos included. Yes, way too much emphasis on the halftime show, but it was Eastern Michigan, and this halftime show was even better than that one years ago when they did the Titanic music and then various bits of the band formed into a large, clearly boat-shaped object and other members formed into a large, clearly iceberg-shaped object and rammed into the boat, causing it to split and crumble. Which was also cool. But not as cool as a Bridge of Death re-enactment with Sparty forced to answer the question "HOW do you lose a seventeen point lead in six minutes?"
Roundtable Roundup #7 can be found over at Eagle In Atlanta; a fine job all around. I heartily agree with EDSBS about Brad Nessler, by the way. With Keith Jackson on a long, painful decline he's clearly the best play by play guy in college football. He's not Keith at his peak, but no one is. It helps that his partners, Bob Griese and Lynn Swann, are also amongst the best at their jobs, Swann in particular, who is actually a useful, intelligent sideline reporter and not some faux "babe" for middle-aged married guys to fantasize about when they're going about their monthly wife Xing. Now that Adrian Karsten is strangely and tragically departed from this mortal coil, there's not even a second place.
At least we aren't... Pitt. Man, the Wannstache honeymoon was cancelled due to suck, wasn't it? Pitt Sports Blather tries to cope by wallowing in the misery of others, and I have to admit that when I saw this:
1. That A Few, Brilliant Michigan State Spartans took post-game celebrations to a whole new level: More than anything else, watching Michigan State upset Notre Dame at home (thus beating the Irish five times in a row in South Bend) helped pick up my spirits again after the Pitt-Nebraska debacle (especially given the Domer a-hole who sat behind us in Heinz Field two weeks ago). But even that was nearly topped by the post-game celebration, during which a few Spartans took the Michigan State flag from their cheerleaders (green with a white block "S"), ran out on to the field, and planted the sucker on the fifty yard line while thousands of Notre Dame fans booed and howled. Call me sophomoric (and I am), but I thought it was laughing-till-my-sides-ached hilarious. Why hasn't anybody ever thought of planting a flag on an opponent's field before? It clearly beats jumping around on his logo. And of all places to invent the practice. Almost immediately, Lou Still-A-Domer Holtz was nearly jumping out of his seat on ESPN demanding that MSU "show some class" and "act like you've been there before." Admit it, Lou. It was funny. Especially because they did it to your Irish.
I heartily agreed in amazingly hypocritical fashion, and it's even funnier because they did that same thing two years ago. Sort of a painful funny given that we can't beat Notre Dame and manage to look like
UC-Davis Stanford whenever we play them, but funny nonetheless. The fact that a lot of Domers who came on here and flamed about me being a "whiner", etc., immediately got a foot in the ass from Providence Itself, had a touchdown stolen by bad refereeing (and questionable review), and then immediately started complaining about how MSU lacked class? Maybe there is a God after all. A God that enjoys playing cruel tricks on everyone, but a God nonetheless.
Also newly on the God-believing platform: Orson of EDSBS, who continues to write stuff that I read despite not particularly giving a damn about the events that produce the contents. 16-7, ugly to neutral observers and Pac-10 sophistication fetishists, but beautiful, beautiful, beautiful to the jean-shorts aficionados of the CFB blogosphere. There's something to be said for these grinding, bloody games which feature teams that "would punch the other team in the throat until one of them died in the effort," as Orson pithily summarizes. That 10-7 Miami-Florida State game was another example of an objectively terrible game that by the end was terrifically, mindbendingly tense, closer to a soccer game than a football game, every first down a precious diamond to hoard. You can keep your 38-35 shootouts. I'll take the streetfight every time.
The difference between dull (Pitt-Nebraska) and brutal but strangely attractive (UF-UT, Grace Jones) has everything to do with the stakes, the screaming insanity at the swamp, the lumbering moose presence of Phil Fulmer on the sidelines, and the fervrent hopes of a fanbase coming off a Zook hangover it would like to forget. The game's better because people care more, which is why no one really gives a damn about the Pac-10: 50k for UCLA-OU, USC still scraping to sell out, etc. If you can't convince your own locals you matter, how do you expect to convince anyone else?
More on the game can be found at Fanblogs. Mr. Donahue reasonably suggests that the Urban offense didn't exactly set fire to everything. This garnered a hilarious riposte from CFR: "At this point some are trying to justify their fears by piling on early." Wow. That's a spicy meatball of projection.
My pregame routine involves illegally parking a place I will not disclose because it has garnered my friend and I one ticket in four years, and thus is precious. Walking ensues, a winding path that takes us by the lumber yard, Elbel field, and the east side of the stadium, past all the tailgaters with enough coin to purchase a primo parking spot and enough ancient white person bling-equivalent (which turns out to be not much different from your urban bling: ginormous SUVs, though the AWPBE generally lacks spinny rims, unfortunately) to make said coin worthwhile. When I stroll through, the place is invariably packed with every variety of upper-middle-class late-middle-age your mind can muster, which is probably just one. That's fine, there is only one.
The point of all this verbal and literal meandering is as follows: when my wander reached the tailgate zone this Saturday, large swaths of it were empty. Say, 60%. While I'm sure this has happened before, I found the partially empty lot disquieting. The stadium was not much better; whoever had the two seats directly next to mine elected not to show. The final ominous note of discontent was an unprecedented smattering of boos when the pregame introductions got to Lloyd Carr.
Clearly, last week's improbable unvictory against Notre Dame broke some camel backs. There's a growing discontent with Carr directly traceable to the numbers "1" and "3": 1-3 against ND the last four games, 1-3 against OSU the last four games, 1-3 in the last four bowl games. I won't try to characterize the arguments against Carr. You can find two examples of the genre at Straight Bangin' and BenKepple.com. In its most succinct form, Joey presents the Litany Against Carr:
People like me are tired of Carr. We're tired of the predictable letdowns against seemingly inferior teams when relying on criteria like past recruiting hauls, perceived athletic strengths, and previous exploits to establish the relative strengths; we're tired of the scared mentality that governs preparation and game plans for road games; we're tired of the predictable schemes and inflexible formations; we're tired of the persistent inattentiveness given to areas of the game like special teams; we're tired of the program's inability to fully develop defensive talent. In short, we're tired of Michigan being less than what most seem to think it can be.
I am undecided. I think that all the reasons Joey spells out basically come down to "we lose too much," which is fine. I think we lose too much, too, but I am not so hasty to put all the blame on Carr.
There's an unstated assumption here: coaches are entirely responsible for their results. So when Michigan loses, people ask "how is this Carr's fault?" without asking the preliminary "is this Carr's fault?" It's the same thing everyone does when they ask "what is the meaning of life?" without considering whether there is one at all. (Yes, I just compared football to the fundamental question of human existence, providing definitive proof of what I believe the answer to be.) I submit that [swearing coming up] Shit Happens. And I know that's incredibly hard to believe given 1-3, 1-3, 1-3, but is the fact that Michigan State owns Notre Dame at home explainable? No. Is the fact that Ohio State can't beat Wisconsin explainable? No. Are there reasons behind these things? Probably not. Announcers grasp for meaning everywhere, so they spout off about being inside someone's head or having a team's number, implying that there is something intangible that's common across the years which explains the surprising dominance of one team over the other when no such thing exists. It's just probability.
It's akin to the old Mutual Fund Genius game. Take 32 mutual fund managers and then eliminate the ones who don't outperform the average of their brethren. After a year, you have 16 left. After two, 8, etc, until you get one guy who's beaten the average for five straight years. Is there a reason? No. In general your results will be normally distributed. The guy at the top is just lucky. There's no reason to expect his results to repeat (Hi, Tyrone Willingham!).
This picture is here because of ineffable math!
Carr is somewhat culpable for 9-3, 9-3, 9-3, 9-3, etc, etc, etc. The way he coaches leads to a lot of close games and reduces his team's theoretical talent advantage. But it's hard to do any better over the long run; check Michigan's record versus everyone else's over the last ten years or so. If Carr had gone 6-6, 8-4, 10-2, 12-0 over a four year span instead of 9-3, 9-3, 9-3, 9-3 everyone would declare Carr to be TEH OMG GENIUS (Hi, Jim Tressel!) but because he hasn't piled up wins in one particular year he gets Litanied against by frustrated fans.
I'm just as frustrated as all of you, but instead of blaming Carr I blame math, or God, or just the general bloody-mindedness of the universe. And I know exactly zero people who read this are going to buy it, but my mind is full of angles and statistics and distribution curves. It thinks in a fundamentally different fashion than your Aaron Taylor meathead contingent, and it's resigned me to football fatalism. Each game is Schrodinger's Cat with a slightly altered halflife based on talent and coaching, and the cat's been eating it on a regular basis lately.
By the way, if you're wondering whether or not this resigned, rational viewpoint is somehow freeing and relaxing, the answer is no. It does involve a lot of shaking my fist at the sky, screaming "why do you taunt me so? Just smite me fully and get it over with!" So I've got that going for me.
Whoops! Late. Sorry, slipped my mind.
Remember: no flaming, please.
Best. Halftime. Ever.
- Both Brandon Logan and Antonio Bass saw their first action of the season. Bass was expected, but Logan? Redshirt burning for a guy like Logan?
- Notable absences: Lentz, Van Alstyne, Mundy, and Dutch. Stenavich also came up hobbled late in the second (I think) and was replaced by Mitchell.
- The offensive line was patchwork. In Lentz' absence Mitchell and Bihl split series, Mitchell at LG and Bihl at C with Kraus occupying the other spot. Riley was flagged for holding and was beaten a couple other times in pass protection... against Eastern! Apprehension level++ re: RT. When Stenavich went out, Mitchell became the LT and Bihl was in at center. Jeremy Cuilla came off the bench next and appears to be the guy after Mitchell.
- Even though Will Johnson was listed as a starter, the starting DTs were Massey and Branch, who played most of the first half. Watson was again used sparingly. Biggs and Woodley were the first team DEs. Late in the game Crable came in (and almost had a couple sacks), as did Woods. Jamison also saw his first action of the season and had a badass sack.
- McClintock played zero snaps until garbage time.
- Michigan spent large portions of time in a nickel type set with Jamar Adams playing the part of "extra linebacker placed over slot reciever".
- Obviously, Max Martin got the bulk of the first team carries.
General offensive impressions:
- A lot of really nice rushing plays that probably don't mean anything in the grand scheme of things. Martin was extremely effective at finding the correct cutback lanes in the toss sweep plays he was running, but Michigan was crushing the EMU front so utterly it's hard to tell how effective he will be against tougher competition.
- Henne wasn't asked to do a whole lot and had a couple passes he shortarmed, one to Avant, another a screen to Breaston. He also launched a ball into space attempting to hit Avant in the end zone. I'm in paranoia mode re: Henne now.
- Where was Dutch?
General defensive impressions:
- Well, it's good to know that there are some running quarterbacks on the planet who don't torch us. Aside from a couple passes between levels in the zone (one of which was a fluketastic off-your-back-foot thing) EMU did nothing all day.
- OMG we got good coverage in short zones. Harris had at least two instances of excellent coverages that were followed up with plays on the ball.
- Branch was excellent again, as was Crable, though Crable missed a couple opportunities to make sacks. He has to rein it in a little bit.
How bad is Louisiana-Lafayette, who lost to EMU 31-10 last week?
PS: The color guy in the OSU game was just discussing the Hamby hate-mail and just said "were out of control with our talk radio, we're out of control with our blogs," which is total garbage since I know of three OSU blogs and precisely zero of them said anything negative about Hamby, let alone hateful or threatening. Way to verify that voracity.
Crank Yanker Dan Connor has been reinstated by Penn State. He'll probably miss this weekend's game against [RANDOM DIRECTIONAL SCHOOL] but can practice and I'm betting... one million dollars that he will play in the Lions' Big Ten opener.
Dear Angelique Chengelis: In response to your headlined query "Could early loss be a blessing?" I would like act as proxy for the entire Michigan fanbase and respond:
JESUS GOD NO WHAT COULD POSSIBLY BE WRONG WITH YOU ARE YOU DYING I BET YOU'RE DYING I'M SO SORRY
The Largest Set of Alumni on the Planet, Plus All Those Downriver Mullet Guys
Blogs will rescue us from our persistent depressive state. The Georgia Sports Blog waxes on about the proverbial "meteor game":
This Saturday, fathers will be helping impressionable minds grasp the notion that when watching Tennessee play Florida, you don't root for either team to win; you root for an enormous asteroid to make the journey from its natural habitat in a belt between Mars and Jupiter to an orange and blue den of iniquity in Gainesville, Florida, picking up horrific speed along the way.
I think they're a little overeager, though:
Son: "So, I think I get it. But how big a meteor are we rooting for, Daddy?"
Father: "Son, we're rooting for the kind of meteor you hire Aerosmith to write a song about."
Um... don't we want sort of a tactical meteor hit? Like something the size of five or six buses strapped together? An Aerosmith-level meteor required Ben Affleck to screw Liv Tyler and thereby save the world from Total Destruction(!), and, while said item would indeed wipe out the Florida and Tennessee football teams, it would pretty much wipe everything else out too--incidental damage when you live in the south, I guess. I keed, I keed. We've got a meteor game this weekend: Michigan State versus Notre Dame, though I don't think the problematic MSU basketball team will be in attendance, unfortunately. Nor will Ryan Miller.
Boom! is the Madden catchphrase and is also what IBFC has lowered on the purveyor of things you already know. This brings up something I've desperately wanted to see for a long time: Frank Caliendo televising football. I know Dennis Miller flamed out, but Caliendo does a Madden impression that would be A) no dumber than the regular Madden, B) hilarious, and C) somewhat likely to clown-down the Big Useless.
Save me Gloria Estefan!
Evidence of difference? You are invited to extrapolate the hell out of the differences between this recent Gator-to-Gator interface and the Michigan version, which was much more dour. Carr ruminations have been popping up on a regular basis over the past week, and by "ruminations" I mean "futile suggestions that INS deport the man." It's a tough question, not that resolving it is useful. Even if I came to the conclusion that Carr needed to go, I'm just a guy with a blog. No, to effect real change in a university administration, you need a message board.
|1||10||O24||Pass||6||Man coverage against a crossing route, Stovall versus Chris Graham(?)|
|2||4||O30||Run||7||Woodley loses outside contain(-1)|
|1||10||O37||Run||9||Walker bounces outside, no contain again. Biggs(Biggs? -1) gets wasted by Levoir|
|1||10||50||Pass||Inc||Wide open Smarjajajaj, Mason(-1) blows the coverage. Woodley(+1) does beat the tackle but is too far away to affect the play|
|2||10||50||Pass||12||Corner blitz gets telegraphed (Hall -1) and picked up and they have a route right in the vacated area.|
|1||10||M38||Run||9||Wow. Biggs(-1) gets pancaked and gives up the corner for a big gain.|
|1||10||M27||Pass||10||Slant in front of Mason off a blitz. Not bad by Mason, just the right call for the blitz. Good read, inaccurate throw.|
|1||10||M17||Pass||9||Dump off to Walker in the zone, Mason(-1) allows Walker about 4 yards he could have stopped with a good tackle|
|2||1||M8||Run||3||Lucky this wasn't a touchdown, double OL pull looked like it was going to crush but the linebackers (Harris +1, Burgess +1) managed to hold at the point of contact.|
|1||G||M5||Pass||5||Touchdown. What is Hall(-1) doing? Already playing off McKnight and backpedals off the snap.|
|Drive Notes: Jesus. Two of these plays are pretty much guaranteed first downs due to the offense winning the rock-paper-scissors battle. No Watson at all on this drive and Rondell Biggs? Rondell freaking Biggs? He's getting run over.|
|1||10||O22||Pass||4||Walker is the outlet. Seemingly good coverage downfield.|
|2||6||O26||Pass||8||Quinn finds Fasano in the zone's hole. I think Graham should have been in better position, there was no threat to the inside.|
|1||10||O34||Pass||Inc||Woodley(+1) comes around the corner, forcing Quinn up into the pocket and forces the throwaway.|
|2||10||O34||Run||5||Draw should have been stuffed but both linebackers take the middle hole when Burgess(-1) should have had contain.|
|3||5||O39||Run||-7||This is either an idiotic call or a missed check by Quinn. Motion reveals UM to be in a zone, so Trent's obviously going to come up. Unblocked Biggs(+1) keeps contain.|
|Drive notes: Weis overthinking things with the reverse. The short passing was working.|
|2||6||O27||Pass||6||Another Walker dumpoff.|
|1||10||O33||Run||6||Stretch play to one side is pretty well strung out but no one from the secondary is there at the very end. Mason(-1) is the guy who should be there|
|2||4||O39||Pass||Inc||Ton of time but Quinn misses Smarjajajaja.|
|3||4||O39||Penalty||-10||Holding drawn by Branch(+1). Good coverage downfield.|
|3||14||O29||Pass||Inc||Corner blitz from Hall(+2), who nimbly avoids the tackle and flushes Quinn. Receiver drops it, Engelmon was there for the tackle even if he caught it.|
|Drive notes: Fortunate on the Smarj miss. We see our first instance of "Grant Mason, downfield tackle specialist." Breaston hit immediately on the PR. This has bothered me for two years now: why don't we double the gunners?|
|1||10||O20||Pass||Inc||another Quinn f-up. Biggs was coming. Guy was open.|
|2||10||O20||Run||1||OMG OUTSIDE CONTAIN. Engelmon(+1) lets everyone else catch up.|
|3||9||O21||Pass||Inc||Again an open receiver and Quinn misses him.|
|Drive notes: Quinn can't throw. Only reason we stop this drive.|
|1||10||O20||Run||-1||Woodley(+1) destroys his man and makes the TFL all his ownself.|
|2||11||O19||Pass||-5||Safety blitz from Engelmon(+1), who's unblocked , and makes the sack|
|3||16||O13||Pass||18||They rush three here, completely inexcusable call. Absolutely terrible.|
|1||10||O31||Run||3||No cracks in the interior of the line, which is Massey and Johnson.|
|2||7||O34||Pass||-6||TE screen after a fake, Burgess(+1) slices up and makes the tackle.|
|3||18||O22||Pass/Scramble||7||Holding call is declined after Branch(+2) just kicks the ass of the C and G, forcing Quinn to scramble.|
|Drive notes: Great series except for the insane rush three on third and 16 thing.|
|1||10||O28||Run||4||Woodley can't quite get to Walker outside and the help is a little late.|
|2||6||O32||Pass||7||Fasano in a hole in the zone.|
|1||10||O39||Pass||Inc||Quinn can't find an open receiver and Woodley(+1) forces him to dumpoff inaccurately to Walker.|
|2||10||O39||Pass||3||Flare to Walker against a zone, that's not gonna work.|
|3||7||O42||Pass||9||Again Fasano, again a three step drop against the zone.|
|1||10||M49||Run||8||A doubled Will Johnson gets crushed, and the pulling guard nails Burgess.|
|2||2||M41||Run||4||I think it's Watson(+1) that drives the guard way back into the backfield but Graham(-1) misses the TFL and allows the first.|
|1||10||M36||Pass||Inc||McKnight catches the ball but gets plugged by Engelmon(+1), forcing the drop and probably ending his career, unfortunately. Looks really bad.|
|2||10||M36||Run||13||Draw to Walker. Just hard to stop him when he moves up into the hole and just decides to go the other way. Could have been holding on Van Alstyne, maybe.|
|1||10||M23||Run||17||Jesus. Michigan appears to have six guys in the box against 3WR, and Walker takes advantage, the OL just crushes every Michigan player in its path.|
|2||G||5||Pass||5||Goddammit. You lucky bitches. (Graham +1 for the deflect, despite the result.)|
|Drive notes: The second and last effective ND drive of the day, again based on short passing and Walker, who proves himself to be a really good back today. Some of those yards are just due to his excellence, but there are still major contain issues, and I'm surprised UM hadn't decided to just screw deep coverage and make Quinn get off the short-yardage stuff.< br />|
|1||10||O28||Pass||0||Screen to Walker, Harris(+1) cuts between the blockers and blows it up.|
|2||10||O28||Pass||4||Three step drop and fire.|
|3||6||O32||Pass||-9||Corner blitz from Hall(+1) is unblocked. Total pickup bust, as the TE, lined up wide, stays into block and completely ignores Hall, who's running right by him.|
|Drive notes: Three and out with one nice play, one meh, and then some fortune.|
|2||7||O15||Pass||4||Another three step drop, Burgess makes the tackle. They aren't even trying to throw anywhere downfield.|
|3||3||O19||Run||4||Draw to Walker that works entirely because Massey(-1) gets doubled and pushed back a couple yards and then the guard pops off on Harris.|
|1||10||O23||Run||3||Massey(+1) does better here, holding his ground and making the tackle.|
|2||7||O26||Pass||-2||Corner blitz again from Hall (+1). Walker's cut attempt is weak and Hall just goes around him.|
|3||10||O23||Pass||26||Double blitz from Mason(-1) and Trent(-1), both of whom miss. Quinn jump throws and it's right on the money, somehow.|
|1||10||O49||Pass||Inc||Stovall is open and Quinn reverts to his normal inaccurate ways.|
|2||10||O49||Run||-4||Massey(+1) avoids a block and pops up into the hole, when Walker tries to bust it outside, Woods(+1) is there for the TFL.|
|3||14||O45||Pass||-9||Snap goes over Quinn's shoulder, totally his fault. Woods is there to clean up.|
|Drive notes: Quinn stepped up and made a crazy jumping, floated, accurate touch throw between two zone defenders, but other than that Michigan is doing well.|
|1||10||M33||Run||3||This is jammed up nicely. Walker cuts it back, then cuts it back outside, catching Woodley a little off guard.|
|2||7||M30||Run||4||Watson(+1) plows his guy into the backfield and trips up the FB, but he falls three yards forward because there's no one else behind him.|
|3||3||M26||Run||1||Quinn fumbles the snap.|
|Drive notes: The drive starts with a really nice punt and the both Harrison(-1) and McClintock(-1) miss tackles. Three and out, FG anyway. ND is now in total clock-kill mode.|
|1||10||M23||Run||Harris(+2) slices up into the hole and forces the fumble.|
|Drive notes: What drive?|
|1||10||O5||Pass||9||All day for Quinn, but can't find anyone downfield and hits the outlet.|
|2||1||O14||Run||5||Harris(-1) runs into the wrong hole.|
|1||10||O19||Run||1||Powers-Neal into an 8 man front, which goes nowhere, largely because of Watson(+1)|
|2||9||O20||Run||3||Again they run into an 8 man front, Adams comes up to make the stick.|
|3||6||O23||Pass||Inc||Quinn lofts a jump ball out to Smajajja. Morgan Trent(+1) is fast and there. He finds the ball, and makes the play. Nice.|
|Drive notes: run-run-inc-punt.|
|1||10||O20||Run||0||Harris(+1) takes on a blocker and forces it outside. Mason comes up.|
|2||10||O20||Pass||-5||Why was this even called a fumble originally? Quinn was obviously down.|
|3||15||O15||Run||1||Perfunctory run and punt.|
|Drive notes: Another instance of Weis out-thinking himself.|
|1||10||O20||Run||5||Watson is held but there's no call made, else he swallows this at the line.|
|2||5||O25||Run||-1||Burgess(+1) penetrates immediately and Watson and Engelmon clean up.|
|3||6||O26||Pass||Inc||Harris comes on a slightly delayed blitz between the G and T off a stunt as Biggs(+1) plunges into the G and shoves him into the C.|
|Drive Notes: Sigh.|
Plus/minus? What the deuce?
Call it an experiment, a very rough one. You get a + for a good play (one that's out of the ordinary) and a - for a bad one. Certain plays garner greater + or - than others. I'm still tweaking it; I think the scale is too low because I wanted to give out a lot of half-plusses and half-minuses. It's a work in progress, and will probably never be comprehensive.
|Woodley||4||1||3||Not enough from him.|
|Biggs||3||2||1||Got crushed early in the run game but was relatively solid afterwards|
|Watson||3||-||3||Did this with very limited playing time, all instances of crushing opposing blockers and gumming up inside runs.|
|Branch||3||-||3||A holding penalty drawn and another instance of explosive interior pass rush, that precious thing long reserved for the Florida States of the world.|
|Burgess||3||1||2||A few more contain issues|
|McClintock||-||1||-1||Bad play was a missed tackle that led to a good return|
|Harris||5||1||4||Night and day from McClintock.|
|Graham||1||1||0||Didn't really do much.|
|Mason||0||4||-4||16 tackles for a cornerback == bad day.|
|Hall||4||2||2||+ mostly from blitzing.|
|Trent||1||1||0||The + was a very nice, very important play on third down towards the end.|
In fairness to the cornerbacks, there were several instances of Quinn getting copious time to find receivers but failing to do so and dumping the ball off to Walker. I assume everyone had good coverage downfield in those instances, but it's impossible to confirm that. It's obvious when they screw up.
So... how did we do?
The stats (like 230 yards allowed) are too kind. Michigan was often bailed out by Brady Quinn and The Hilarious Attempts To Throw Downfield and in the fourth quarter the ND offense, nursing a persistent two-touchdown lead, was largely content to run-run-inc-punt. But 230 yards is 230 yards; this was a decidedly better performance than against NIU. The zone seemed to work well. There were many instances where he couldn't find anyone downfield. The blitzes Michigan sent were consistently effective.
There remain issues with the DL pass rush and the linebacker containment, though. No sacks were logged by non-defensive backs and other than a couple hurries from W oodley and Branch there was little threat from the linemen. Walker got outside the defense several times and kept the two ND touchdown drives moving forward when the hole was jammed up. Maybe that's a don't get burned on play action move? Note that the free safety, Barringer, is not mentioned once anywhere in this recap. No 76 yard runs today, but Walker still busted 100. Damned if you do, don't, etc.
What was the deal with the DL?
Rondell Biggs took more snaps than anyone at DE and Will Johnson and Pat Massey probably logged more DT snaps than anyone else. Watson and Branch played less but made more plays. I don't understand the substitution patterns at all. What happened to Van Alstyne? Why Johnson instead of the consistently-threatening Branch? And for God's sake can we get a linebacker to clean up some of the Watson destruction? When he was in there he was really good. I understand that he's not the fittest guy and everyone was pissed after NIU, but come on now.
Who is the MLB?
David Harris, end of story.
Who is the nickelback?
Morgan Trent, apparently. He was tested only once and came up with a very nice play. ND fans generally think that Smarj and Shelton are good WRs and ND went with a lot of three wide sets, so he must have been doing something right to not be thrown at, especially as a redshirt freshman in his first game experience.
Charles Stewart has seemingly contracted underwood.
You want to "huggle" Engelmon?
You're goddamn right. No screwups yet.