An old tradition around here was to team up with a blog that covered the team we're about to play, ask each other some burning questions about what they see in themselves, and wait for the respective message boards to blow up about how tinted that guy's glasses must be. This week I meant to bring it back by interviewing ND's puppet quarterback depth chart, however when we got there we learned they had all been poisoned by Blazing Sea Nuggets. So, second choice: we now bring it back with founder of the very large blog/message board for ND fans (the ones who aren't psychopaths, or at least the good kind), Frank Vitovich of UHND. Part 1, where I answer his queries, is here.
Let's peel this right away, (CUCK-CUH-CAW!): Where does Michigan stand in the pantheon of Notre Dame rivalries and how do the fans feel about [CUH-CHEE-CHAW!] pulling out of the series? Was this really necessitated by the [COO-COO-CA-CHAH!] ACC or was that an excuse? [A COODLE DOODLE DOO]
That depends on who you ask. Some Notre Dame fans will down play the rivalry because of all of the gaps in the series and some of the early history and controversy. I am not one of those fans. I am going to miss the series because of the genuine dislike fanbases of the two schools have for each other.
|If we're not rivals then why is your band
clearly worshipping our former punter /
space emperor? [Upchurch]
I am not saying that as a bad thing either. Quite the contrary. Part of what has made Michigan and Notre Dame games so much fun over the years is the fact that each teams fans really don't care much for the other institution. That might actually be putting it mildly.
Yes, it is true that Notre Dame has played schools like Michigan State and Purdue more times, but those games rarely, if ever bring with them the hype, excitement, and intensity of a Notre Dame - Michigan game.
USC still have to be considered Notre Dame's top rival given the deep history of that series just as Ohio State would be considered Michigan's top rivals, but after the Trojans, it's hard for me to thing of a rivalry I've enjoyed watching more over the years. Part of that could be because I grew up in the 80's and haven't lived through the large gaps that a lot of older Notre Dame fans have, but all I know is that the Michigan game is one of the games I circle every year and there isn't a single opponent I have seen Notre Dame play more times in Notre Dame Stadium than Michigan.
I do see the rivalry coming to an end because of Notre Dame's new ACC commitments and not simply wanting to get out of the series. Hopefully something gets worked out and the two are back on each others schedules in the near future.
[Rest after the jump]
I always have trouble sorting what's real and what's not when it comes to Notre Dame, especially because they're so darn active on Wikipedia these days. Did they really push Lou Holtz out the door so he wouldn't exceed Knute Rockne's record?* Did Michigan really refuse to play Notre Dame after 1909 because they were upset over losing 11-3?† Did the Gipper really give a dying speech in the locker room of the Army game imploring Gorbechev to tear down this wall?‡ Did O'Leary really invent sticky notes?§ We peel back the myths in this week's roundtable, getting answers this time from such legends as:
- Brian Rockne
- Ace Parseghian
- Sethib Ismail
- Blue & Gold in South Holth
And the question:
Separate the real Notre Dame from the legend: was last year's 12-1 season against an apparently brutal schedule a thing of luck, a thing of talent (here or gone), or the first sign that Kelly has managed to recreate Grand Valley State in BCS form?
BiSB: Notre Dame deserved to be in the National Championship game. They also deserved to get their doors blown off in the National Championship game. The 12-1 wasn't exactly awe-inspiring, but it was legit. They beat Stanford, Oklahoma, Michigan, USC, and Michigan State, and you don't get to 12-0 with those teams on your schedule without being pretty good. The part that bugged people was the close games and sheer luck against some pretty crappy teams. Pitt alone missed like eleven game-winning field goals against the Irish. But while nailbiters against Purdue and BYU do not scream "national title contender," but go back and look at the 2002 Ohio State national title season some time (do not actually do this). Most teams need some ridiculous luck, and to survive some close games against inferior competition, to go undefeated.
[Continued after the jump]
- Courtney Avery will probably be available for Saturday. If he is, he'll be in competition with Jarrod Wilson for the safety spot opposite Thomas Gordon.
- Joe Reynolds is fine. Will play.
- The offensive line may be subject to change. Graham Glasgow is still taking snaps at center.
"We had a good practice yesterday. Good preparation. Little bit of a Tuesday practice, first day of school. You look at the game plan, you add a couple things, you maybe tweak some things, and that always happens, so there's some learning that goes on Tuesdays. Overall I thought we had a good day."
When you finally punted, Kenny Allen was the punter. Was that only because it was late in the game?
"Well, it was late in the game, basically, is why we wanted to punt him and get him out on the field. He's worked real hard at it."
FORMATION NOTES: Michigan didn't do anything particularly weird that I had to call out. Hey, look, it's an I-Form.
WHAT SORCERY IS THIS
I called this 4-4 for Central Michigan, FWIW.
No idea if the prevalence of under-center stuff after the opening couple drives means anything in the long run. This one was out of hand fast, and Michigan did use shotgun on downs like second and six on occasion.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Gardner, then Morris at QB. After Toussaint went out the first carries went to Drake Johnson (Rawls got in to hand off on the reverse), then Green/Smith, then Hayes/Rawls. At WR, Gallon was the main guy with Jackson, Reynolds, and Chesson rotating outside at the other spot and Dileo/Norfleet in the slot. Norfleet got more playing time than I expected.
Butt/Funchess/Williams at TE; Kerridge was followed by Houma at FB. The line was Lewan-Glasgow-Miller-Kalis-Schofield until late, when it first read Braden-Glasgow-Burzynski-Kalis-Magnuson, then Braden-Bryant-Burzynski-Bars-Magnuson.
[After THE JUMP: OL puts on a clinic, Gardner puts on a clinic (mostly), running backs… do not. Chesson escalates quickly.]
The captain of Michigan's 2012-13 basketball team, Josh Bartelstein, has written an e-book on the team's remarkable Final Four run featuring a forward from Zack Novak and excerpts from Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Stu Douglass. "We On: Behind The Scenes Of Michigan's Final Four Run" is available now for the very reasonable price of $7.99 at Blog Into Book and will also be on Amazon and iTunes later this week. The following is an excerpt from the book detailing Final Four Saturday—the victory over Syracuse—and the day preceding the national title time.
Final Four Saturday! We got to sleep in a little bit because we played the late game of the night. There was an incredible buzz in the hotel with Michigan fans everywhere decked out in Maize and Blue. We couldn’t really walk down into the lobby without being swarmed, so the players stayed in a secure area, but it was hard not to check it out. Gameday consisted of three or four different meetings: Offense, Defense, Special Situations, and then final thoughts. The plan was done, everyone knew how we were to beat Syracuse, now we just had to do it. We watched a ton of film, but it was really hard not to lose focus and start thinking about a night we had all dreamed of so many times. It didn’t help getting hundreds of texts from family and friends, some giving advice on how to beat the zone and others on how hard they partied the night before.
We had about a 40-minute shoot-around at the Georgia Dome. Very, very light, almost just getting shots up, but we needed to leave the hotel and get some fresh air. Sitting around all day until 7pm when our bus left would be torture. The mood was very relaxed, guys were joking around like it was the first day of practice.
The key was somehow finding a way to take a nap. You can’t watch any TV stations because everyone is just breaking down the games and at this point I couldn’t listen to it anymore. Around 6pm our uniforms got dropped off with the official Final Four sticker on them. There was no turning back now. The bus left around 6:30pm, but the town was incredibly dead outside. Everyone was inside the stadium watching the first game or at a bar. The streets were empty as we took the 20-minute ride in.
I don’t think I need to go into much detail as to what took place during that 40-minute game. But in case you forgot. Mitch was Magic Johnson picking apart that zone, Caris and Spike hit huge threes, Jordan Morgan took an iconic charge, and Michigan fans took over downtown Atlanta for the night. Our game plan to let a 6’11 freshman who just began starting games a month ago break down the best zone in the country in the biggest game of his life worked. Were you surprised? Honestly, I said it before, but you can’t give our coaching staff a week to prepare for a team. It isn’t fair; they had this scheme down to a T.
We didn’t get back to our hotel until around 2:30am. Between another media session, guys getting cold tubs and figuring out some logistical issues, it was a long night, but we were all wide awake. The competition after the game was to see who had the most text messages on their phone. Don’t quote me on this, but I think Mitch had around 210. I got a message from the Mayor of Chicago, so I was feeling good. The other thing that hit us was that we were playing for the National Championship literally in one day. You spend all season thinking about championship Monday and the Michigan Wolverines were there!
[Hit THE JUMP for J-Bart's account of the hectic, exciting day leading up to the national championship game.]
"Wait, I just looked at Mattison. He had about three or four of these [tape recorders] here. Can somebody explain that to me? I get up here and [omg there are so many.]"
You talk softly. Honestly.
"I don't understand."
"Speak up!? I've never had anybody tell me that was a problem."
What did you like from the first game?
"Well, we had some very nice plays. We ran some plays that were executed very very well. We had a reverse that was done pretty well. We had a couple play-action passes that were nicely done. We had some outside zone plays that got the corner nice, and we [were able to make] one-cut and run. I think those things were good. The biggest issues were interceptions. That's got to go away, because that's going to come back and haunt you, and then we had some penalties. Most of them were from first time players. Not all of them, but some of them were first-time players. We had a false start. We had a premature snap one time. So, you know, I hope that's first game stuff. It'll go away as we play more."
How does Drake Johnson's injury change the running back position?
"Well it's just one less guy. He was the first guy up after Fitz [Toussaint]. He was playing well and he was really learning our offense from the perspective of protection. He was a guy that was able to do some of the things Fitz could do, [Thomas] Rawls could do, guys that have been in our system for a while. So that hurts. That hurts. He's a good player who's going to become a better player as he plays more. Hurts our depth and we lose a guy that's not only a good offensive player but a good special teams player, too."