Hockey pet peeve: "when a teammate tips a puck in on you, which is exactly how my first collegiate goal against happened. Thanks, Copper."
[ED: Make that three parts. Coming Friday: “What does ‘Michigan Man’ mean anymore,” and “What’s next?”
If you live under a rock, John Bacon was embedded in the program the last three years and has written a book about this. It is called Three and Out.]
First, thanks to everyone for your interest, including some 400 readers asking more than a thousand questions. (And big thanks also to Brian for sorting through all those questions and combining them into the most popular categories.) I was not surprised to see they were very smart and often got beyond the surface of the situation, frequently forcing me to re-think the whole thing, when I thought I was long done thinking another thought about the last three years.
3. Were the "fit" issues real?
One of the central questions that came up in various forms was the “Fit, or Lack Thereof,” as Brian reduced it.
I’ll start by working backward, from the final seconds of Rodriguez’s regime. On January 5, 2011, the assistant coaches, staffers, and yours truly were all sitting in the coaches’ meeting room, when Rodriguez walked in, laid a file down on the table, and said, “Well, as expected, they fired me.” He later added, “It was a bad fit here from the start.”
And in many ways it was. I’m not certain it had to be.
People who were living in Ann Arbor in 1968 can tell you about the last outsider to take the reigns: Bo Schembechler. His predecessor, Bump Elliott, was a former Michigan All-American who was smart and humble, with an urbane, conservative manner. He didn’t yell at his players, he rarely swore, and if you said you were hurt, that was enough for him.
When Schembechler’s crew arrived with their wives sporting beehive hairdos and stiletto heels, some Michigan insiders took to calling them “The Ohio Mafia.” The players quickly learned the new guy yelled, swore, grabbed your facemask and literally kicked you in the ass. If you were merely hurt, not injured, but didn’t want to practice, you got left behind when the team plane took off.
Instead of turning his back on the new regime, however, Elliott embraced them, hosting parties for their families and introducing them to important people around town. He did not allow players to come to his office in the Athletic Department to complain about the new guy, either. And when Schembechler delivered what today would be an unforgivable comment about changing “Michigan’s silly helmets,” Elliott, Don Canham, Fritz Crisler and Bob Ufer quietly taught him Michigan tradition.
And, to Schembechler’s credit, he was wise enough to listen, and even seek out their help.
When Michigan upset Ohio State that year, they gave Bump Elliott the game ball, and there was not a dry eye in the room.
That’s Michigan at its best. The last three years were not.
Rodriguez had never been to Ann Arbor before his first press conference, and it was clear he had not prepared, nor been coached – a noted contrast to Brady Hoke’s introduction, when his rehearsed lines won over many doubters.
To cross this chasm, neither Michigan nor Rodriguez did enough, soon enough. I believe Rodriguez should have learned more about Michigan faster than he did, but I also believe he received little guidance. Readers will likely be struck by how often Rodriguez invoked Michigan’s traditions – the helmet, the banner, the rivals – when he talked to his team. And he could have helped his cause by reaching out to sympathetic Michigan groups like the M-Club, filled with loyal supporters who could have helped him when trouble hit.
Both sides of this marriage could have learned a lot from the other. Rodriguez could have gained the kind of polish Michigan usually applies to its players and coaches, much as it did for the initially rough-hewn Schembechler. And Michigan’s famed arrogance – occasionally succumbing to rank snobbism during the Rodriguez regime – could have been softened with some of Rodriguez’s down-home friendliness.
I suspect both sides have learned a great deal since, manifest in Michigan’s almost universal support for Brady Hoke. He isn’t exactly Bump Elliott, either, but he’s been accepted as a true “Michigan Man.”
(More on that Friday.)
4. What was so hard about the transition?
Everyone knows the transition was poorly handled – but it was actually much worse than you think, marked by a lack of preparation, communication, and transparency, not to mention severe undermining of the process and the candidates. It resulted in the famously unified Michigan football family fracturing before Martin named Rodriguez Michigan’s next coach – and it only got worse afterward. For his part, Rodriguez naively assumed he was walking into the same program Schembechler had created.
Rodriguez also made a crucial miscalculation: He honestly believed that the bigger the program, the less time the head coach has to deal with peripheral duties like connecting with former players, alumni and fans – when the opposite is true. The head football coach at Michigan, Texas or Alabama, is, in a very real sense, the leader of that school.
That said, it’s worth remembering: Michigan was hiring Rodriguez, not the other way around. It is the employer’s job to set their employees up for success, and at that central task, Michigan failed badly.
But I still believe that nothing would have helped more than Bo Schembechler continuing to lead the family. When he passed away, Michigan lost more than a coach. It lost its spiritual leader – and five years later he has still not been replaced.
If there were any doubts before that Bo did more than anyone to keep Michigan football at the top, even long after he retired, his absence erased them for me.
5. PRETTY MUCH THE Q: Who does John Bacon blame for the last three years?
I know: you want to know what happened to the defense, and who is most to blame for the disappointing last three seasons.
It’s not hard to identify a handful of contributing factors, all of which were necessary, but none sufficient to guarantee failure. We have a dozen variables in both cases, but no control group, so it’s ultimately impossible to be completely certain what, precisely, was the most important straw.
Nonetheless, if I don’t feed the bulldog something I’ll probably get my hand bitten off, so here goes.
Let’s start with the defense. When people ask if the shockingly poor performance was the result of inheriting weak talent, transfers, a stretch of freak injuries, youth or coaching, I say: Yes. It is simply impossible for your defense to drop to 68th then 82nd then 110th without all those factors playing a part. But the hardest to tease out is coaching.
We do know a few things, however. Failing to get Jeff Casteel was much bigger than probably anyone realized at the time. Bill Martin failed to pony up a few more bucks and a guaranteed contract to get him, while Rodriguez—who would not come to Michigan without Mike Barwis and the promise of a million-dollar weight room—was apparently willing to leave without his defensive coordinator. If he could do it again, he would probably insist he wasn’t coming to Michigan without his trusted defensive coordinator.
After that, Michigan never gave Rodriguez sufficient bait to get his top choice to replace Casteel. When Scott Shafer and Greg Robinson arrived in Ann Arbor, they inherited a staff of strangers who had been loyal to Rodriguez for years. Shafer and Robinson are both decent guys who’ve been successful elsewhere, but it clearly didn’t work at Michigan.
At the end of the day, however, the head coach is responsible for his team’s performance, and that obviously includes defense.
Likewise, there was no shortage of variables contributing to Rodriguez’s demise. The long list includes: the horrible transition; his Honeymoon from Hell (including overblown PR problems over buy-outs, departing players, and even shredded papers); his 3-9 debut; the Free Press feature and subsequent NCAA investigation; the string of four crucial losses in the middle of 2009 and three in middle of 2010; and the final Bust. Obviously, some of those are on Michigan, and some on Rodriguez.
The Rodriguez reign was fatally damaged by two main causes: the harm done by detractors inside and outside the program, and his own missed opportunities – from PR problems to those seven lost match points in 2009 and 2010, any one of which would probably have been enough to deliver him to a new era when he could focus more on football than survival. In particularly, I believe the 2009 game against Illinois, which blew up when Michigan failed to score on a first and goal from the one-yard line, marked the Continental Divide of the Rodriguez Era.
So, it’s not true that Rodriguez had no chance. He had seven. It is true, however, that his chances were greatly diminished by detractors inside and outside the program.
Assigning blame essentially boils down to weighing the factors above. But on one crucial point – really, the most important of all – there is absolutely no shade of gray whatsoever. Rodriguez, his staff, and his players (after the 2008 team graduated) worked extraordinarily hard to win every game.
Some powerful insiders, however, were working just as hard to see them fail. That is not a matter of degree. It’s a clear-cut, black-and-white difference – something I have never seen in all my years researching Michigan’s long and admirable history. But the people who suffered the most were the least to blame: the players.
As former offensive line coach Greg Frey told me, while driving to Mott Hospital one night, “I think about guys like Moosman and Ortmann and Brandon Graham. Man, those guys work their asses off. They care about their teammates. They stayed. They get pushed aside in all this, and that’s all right? That’s sad.”
When Angelique Chengelis of The Detroit News asked Ryan Van Bergen how it felt to see hundreds of alums returning to support the new coach, he said, “You know, it’s kind of unsettling… It’s great they’re back, but it’s kind of, where have they been the last two or three years? We’ve still be wearing the same helmets since they were here.”
Who deserves how much blame can be debated. Who was working against the Wolverines, and who suffered the most because of it, cannot be calculated.
This week on Weekday Warriors, Joe Bolden does it all for Colerain, the Harrison duo strikes again, and several Wolverine commits contribute to dominant defensive performances as the playoffs loom across the Midwest.
TN OL Blake Bars
Montgomery Bell (3-5) had a bye last week.
This week: The Big Red play at McCallie on Friday.
OH LB Joe Bolden
Bolden had two fourth-quarter scores—a one-yard rushing touchdown and a six-yard receiving touchdown—to go along with a team-high 7.5 tackles and a sack to lead Colerain to a 28-7 victory over Lakota East. The two touchdown's were the first ever for Bolden as a varsity player:
“All I know is that we practice, practice and the line got a great push and I wasn’t stopping until I got in the red,” Bolden said of his first touchdown. “It was a unique feeling.”
Bolden, who is committed to the University of Michigan, also led Colerain in tackles with 7.5 and recorded a sack.
“It was a big night for Joe. What a great way for him to go out in his last guaranteed home game,” Colerain head coach Tom Bolden said of his nephew. “It was a special night for him, but it was a special night for all these seniors and not just Joe.”
This week: The Cardinals (7-1) travels to Hamilton on Friday at 7:30.
MI OL Ben Braden
Rockford put up 27 second-half points to blow open their game against Hudsonville, winning 44-14 to improve to 7-1 on the season.
This week: Rockford looks to cap off their regular season with a road win at Jenison on Friday at 7.
OH DE Pharaoh Brown
Brown was part of a defense that held Lakewood to just 124 total yards in a 20-0 shutout win for Brush.
This week: The Arcs (3-5) host Parma on Friday at 7.
MI TE Devin Funchess
MGoReader blue22 watched Harrison take down Lake Orion, 28-7, reporting back that Funchess recorded two receptions for 25 yards and a touchdown to go along with a strong defensive performance:
He was also playing LB, though he was matched up as a corner in nickel sets which I didn't know he did. There he had a tackle and an absolute monster of a sack.
All in all, Funchess looked bigger than pretty much everyone out there.
This week: Harrison (8-0) looks to finish with an undefeated regular season at home against Farmington on Friday at 7.
OH S Allen Gant
Gant recorded an interception as Southview held Anthony Wayne (that's a high school, not some dude) to just 79 total yards in a 36-14 victory.
This week: The Cougars plays at Springfield on Friday at 7.
MI DT Matt Godin
Godin texted that he finished with seven tackles and a sack, but Catholic Central dropped their first game of the season against Catholic League rival Orchard Lake St. Mary's, 14-13, due to a missed PAT.
This week: The Shamrocks will get an immediate chance for revenge, as they face off against OLSM for the Catholic League title in Saturday night's Prep Bowl at Ford Field. Kickoff is at 7.
UT FB Sione Houma
No stats are available for Houma from Highland's 22-0 loss to Salt Lake City East to wrap up their regular season.
This week: MaxPreps shows no more games scheduled for Highland, though I assume they are awaiting their playoff draw.
MI LB Royce Jenkins-Stone
Cass Tech dropped their second game of the season to Crockett, 14-9, in the semifinals of the Detroit PSL playoffs. No stats were available for RJS.
This week: The Technicians (5-3) will play Renaissance on Thursday at 4 for the chance to lock up a playoff spot.
OH OL Kyle Kalis
St. Edward dropped their second game in a row, a 17-10 loss to St. Xavier, after starting the season 6-0.
This week: Things don't get easier for the Eagles, who host Cincinnati Moeller on Saturday at 2. I'll be there covering the game, which also features Moeller wideout and Michigan recruit Monty Madaris.
Lots on Magnuson, and a Jarrod Wilson EEEEEE moment after things go jump.
[As goblue232 on the mgoboard already mentioned (which, thanks), this is the only presser this week since this is a bye week. Most of the coaching staff is out recruiting right now.]
News bullets and other important things:
- Team will practice on Tuesday and Thursday of this week.
- Michigan has submitted several plays to the Big Ten to review.
- Hoke's staff is out recruiting this week. Hoke himself is not.
- Denard has a back injury but will practice this week.
- A missed assignment led to Denard getting sacked on the fourth-and-inches play. Hoke still likes the call.
- Michigan passed a lot in the second half because Michigan State was stacking the box and there were lots of opportunities for big gains.
- Hoke is a long way from replacing Denard with Devin.
Opening remarks: “Obviously we’re all disappointed with the outcome of the game from Saturday. We didn’t win, obviously, and we didn’t play well enough to win. That’s where it starts, and it starts with me doing a better job caoching this football team and our coaches doing a better job of coaching and preparing our guys. The one thing I can tell you is the kids stayed in there and fought in there and played in there, and I’m proud of how they did that. We just need to execute better. We need to tackle better from a defensive perspective, block better from an offensive perspective. When we have the 6-8 plays you have to execute to win, you have to be on the right side of those plays, and we didn’t get that done.”
Do you wish you would have called a running play on the fourth and one? “No. I liked the play. If we execute the play, Koger’s in the endzone. We don’t make a block that we need to make, and that’s part of it. That play’s been very successful for us. It’s a nice complement to the dive. We just didn’t execute it.”
Did you notice that they were jumping your snap count? “I think everyone has an idea of snap counts from guns, because there’s a mechanic that every team has. We have a silent count, and we have a double silent count. I don’t think that’s all the way correct.”
On fourth and one, they brought the corner blitz, which was giving Denard problems all day … “That’s part of their defense, bringing their corners especially when you get into two tight ends. A lot of people will do that to the weak side of it. Again, he was accounted for if we executed.”
(jump the after more)
This week on the podcast: complaining, complaining, and more complaining. It's kind of jovial-like, though, so it's not as annoying as that might sound. But in the interests of full disclosure:
We complain about the fourth and one call.
We complain about the offense in general.
Ten minutes in, we consider whether we will stop complaining. Answer: no.
We complain about throwing the ball in a trash tornado.
We start talking about the defense, get in a few complaints about holding the edge, find the defense too not-depressing to talk about for an extended period of time and so move on.
We complain about Rich Rodriguez's offensive and defensive line recruiting.
We complain about the uniforms.
We complain about our wow experience.
Then Jamie of Just Cover comes on and we talk about the Big Ten. I don't think we complained much in that segment.
Musical interludes from Bonnie Prince Billy, one of Will Oldham's alter egoes, and Rilo Kiley. The former's tune is "Death to Everyone" of off I See a Darkness. The latter is "The Execution of All Things" off the album of the same name. I see what I did there.
The usual links:
Last Friday the Creeper Van made its way east of Cleveland to Mentor, home of defensive end Tom Strobel and the Cardinals, to watch them take on the Medina Bees. I was greeted in Mentor by a pre-game downpour, which had me worried about being able to shoot film, but then the skies cleared to reveal this, which subsided my concerns entirely:
What does this mean? Oh, time for some football.
Anyways, I'm guessing you care far less about double rainbows than Tom Strobel, so here's the part where I tell you Mentor won 45-7 while Strobel recorded ten tackles, three tackles for loss, a sack, and two QB hurries in a little over three quarters of action. Highlights are short—Medina did their best to run to the weak side (Strobel always flipped to the strong side) and roll their pocket away from him—but relatively spectacular:
[EDIT: Original video didn't play due to copyright issues with the song I used, but this one should work fine.]
Considering Strobel's opponent did everything within their power to stay away from him—both running and passing—and he still managed to finish with double-digit tackles and multiple stops behind the line, I thought he had a pretty outstanding game. I have now seen each of the three players recruited for strongside defensive end in this class—Strobel, Matt Godin, and Chris Wormley—and Strobel impressed me the most, just edging out Godin.
At this level of competition, Strobel utilized his superior strength by essentially doing the same thing on every play: bull-rushing the offensive tackle, pushing him 3-5 yards into the backfield, then either heading for the quarterback or peeling back towards the line of scrimmage to make a play on the running back. While this strategy is entirely unsound against college competition—any good offensive coach would've realized that Strobel repeatedly opened up a big crease off-tackle and run right at him—it worked quite well since his side was avoided entirely, to the point that I think he was being coached to play this way. It certainly worked.
While Strobel isn't the quickest player, he did a good job of getting off the snap and shooting right into his blocker, getting his hands into an offensive lineman's chest before his counterpart could get a hand on him. This allowed him to get great leverage, both in terms of pushing his man off the line and in helping him disengage from his block. Strobel recognized plays quickly and there wasn't a play when he couldn't shed his block and get two hands on the ballcarrier if one was within reach. When Strobel got his hands on someone, that was it for the play—his upper-body strength is impressive.
One area where I had a mild concern was with Strobel's will to play to the whistle. He had a great motor off the snap, always pushing his blocker back and trying to disrupt the play early, but there were a couple long-developing plays in which he was loafing a bit instead of tearing towards the opposite sideline. This only occurred on plays that were across the field later in the game, so perhaps fatigue (doubtful, considering his initial burst) or simply the fact this game was a blowout (far more likely, IMO) played a factor, but it would be nice to see him finishing every play around the ball like I saw with Matt Godin.
The other point of concern for me was with Strobel's lack of variety in his off-the-snap moves—he bullrushed, again and again, without showing much else except a quick shove to the inside that wasn't quite a full swim move. Again, there are some obvious explanations for this: the bullrush kept working, so there wasn't much of a reason to switch things up, and Medina almost never attempted a pass without rolling the pocket away from Strobel and throwing quickly. There just wasn't enough of a reason—or many opportunities—for Strobel to switch things up.
At 6'6", 265 pounds, Strobel certainly has the size to come in and be an immediate contributor, and I think he has the best chance of doing so out of the three recruits coming in at the five-tech. He needs to add a couple pass-rush moves to his arsenal (or at least utilize a couple more), but he showed a lot of ability against both the run and the pass and the motor to be in and have an impact on a lot of snaps.
Mentor had a pretty cool pre-game video tribute to the seniors, if you're wondering what the second picture of the scoreboard is all about. Strobel is #36, and also the guy who's bigger than everyone else:
I'm deciding between heading to the Prep Bowl, which features Matt Godin, Wyatt Shallman, and Detroit Catholic Central facing off against James Ross and Orchard Lake St. Mary's for the Catholic League title, and going back to Ohio to catch Kyle Kalis's St. Edward squad take on Cincinnati Moeller. I've seen OLSM twice this season and DCC once, plus the game being at Ford Field means it may be more difficult to get good film, so right now I'm leaning towards seeing Kalis play for the first time. Your suggestions are encouraged in the comments.
10/15/2011 – Michigan 14, Michigan State 28 – 10/15/2011, 6-1, 2-1 Big Ten
right via Melanie Maxwell/AnnArbor.com
WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING THROWING 30 YARDS DOWNFIELD IN A CYCLONE
YOU'RE ASKING DENARD ROBINSON TO BE JOE MONTANA IN A TRASH TORNADO
YOU'RE COMING OUT FIVE WIDE
RUN THE FOOTBALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
-Brian Cook's brain channeling Mike Valenti, 3:07 PM 10/15/2011
The now rapidly developing lizard brain theory of college football coaching states that there is a certain level of pressure above which rationality goes out the window and coaches revert to who they really are. It came to me in a horrible epiphany when Lloyd Carr punted in the 2005 Ohio State game less than a quarter after going for it on his side of the field. Coaches panic, go to their binkies, and then try to convince you otherwise in the post-game.
Different coaches have different levels. Ron Zook reverts to the lizard brain on the opening kickoff of every game. Kirk Ferentz makes it about five minutes in. We don't know about Tressel because he constructed his team such that the lizard brain was right. Les Miles exists on an entirely different axis with taffy on one end and victory on the other. He is the only one who escapes. The lizard brain is unavoidable.
Al Borges's lizard brain kicked in after Vincent Smith ran for two yards on Michigan's first offensive play of the second half. First and ten after that:
Robinson sacked for –9 yards
Smith rush for two yards
Gardner rush for four yards
Robinson rush for –1 yard
Robinson slant complete for 34 yard touchdown
Robinson rush for –1 yard
While this doesn't paint a pretty picture for the run game, either, after halftime Michigan passed on 60% of its first downs, got one completion on a short route that turned into a big gain when Roundtree broke a tackle, and did nothing else.
For the game Michigan tried to pass at least 41 times*, averaging 2.8 yards per attempt and giving up a defensive touchdown.
TWO POINT EIGHT YARDS
RUN THE FOOTBALL!!!!
Michigan tried to run the ball 26 times and averaged… oh, Jesus… 5.2 yards per carry. Fitzgerald Toussaint got two carries, Denard twelve.
I just realized this is what it's like to be Walter Sobchak.
MARK IT 2.8.
(This is not a threat against anyone's person. Do I look like Will Gholston?)
So, yeah. There is no way to put this without getting an email from some guy concerned about his eleven year old without resorting to Bloom County methods. That was the dumbest goddamned $%&*^-*$#*ing #&!$brained dip*&%$ mother*(%$ing horse_+$# goat-&^%t &%$*y-infested $%^&stick playcalling I have ever &*$ing seen in my life. I see you, Valenti. I get it now. I get it.
ON FOURTH AND ONE AL BORGES HAD THE QUARTERBACK, WHO IS THE MOST DANGEROUS RUNNING QUARTERBACK IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL, TURN HIS BACK TO THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE AS IF EVERY DEFENSE EVER CONCEIVED AGAINST THE GUY DOESN'T HAVE EDGE CONTAIN OF HIM AS THEIR FIRST THREE PRIORITIES
ON FOURTH AND ONE AL BORGES HAD THE QUARTERBACK, WHO IS THE MOST DANGEROUS RUNNING QUARTERBACK IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL, TURN HIS BACK TO THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE AS IF EVERY DEFENSE EVER CONCEIVED AGAINST THE GUY DOESN'T HAVE EDGE CONTAIN OF HIM AS THEIR FIRST THREE PRIORITIES
Okay, okay… sorry. Sorry. I'm vented.
What we have to deal with now is the cold certainty that the honeymoon is over and our football coaches are football coaches, like they always are, and we cannot assume that everything will be honeydew and game theory from now on. Hoke punted on fourth and short-ish from inside the opponent 40. Borges did that above.
That's okay, really. Given the crapfest we endured on offense I almost can't blame Hoke for the punts. And in many other situations I prefer an offensive coordinator who wants to throw when he's in trouble to one who wants to go into a shell. The Morris/upperclass Gardner offense won't put the Ferrari in neutral until the second half. Recruit like they're recruiting and coach like it seems they can and eventually we'll get to a nice place to be.
In the near term, though, those happy thoughts over the first few weeks about Borges adjusting to Denard evaporated in a flurry of sacks after which you look at the receivers and there are three guys thirty yards downfield with no one between them and the carnage. You can fake it against defenses that can't play, but when it comes down to it the combination of Borges and Denard makes everyone wonder that bad old question about whether he should really play QB. IE: the worst-case scenario from the offseason.
A certain genre of Michigan fan will say this was always who Denard was, but last year he completed 58% of his passes for 9.3 YPA and a 12-9 TD:INT ratio in the Big Ten. Whatever his limitations were they seemed a lot less limiting last year, when Michigan stressed the defense to the edges and exploited the ruthless equation of the spread: a running quarterback means someone's open if you can just find him.
I don't blame Borges for that. You can't up and be someone else at the drop of a hat. If we are again pointing the finger of blame it's aiming at Rich Rodriguez for not deserving a fourth year. I do blame Borges for throwing almost two-thirds of the time when that should be inverted. The incoherent grab-bagginess of the offense is a natural effect of hiring a pro-style guy with a spread offense. Running Denard twelve times in a trash tornado is not.
So here we are, with football coaches instead of magical fairies who can do anything. That sucks. The honeymoon over, life re-asserts itself.
*[I'm not sure how many QB carries were scrambles. I counted the 8-yard Gallon scramble as a pass.]
Non-Bullets of I Wish They Were Real Bullets
Hurray clowniformz! So much for a one-time thing. It's as if they knew they would need to both play and look like Yakety Sax:
That's the third time this year we've had a uniform stunt, this one the ugliest and stupidest of them all*. It's like Dave Brandon took in the majesty that is the Spartan Stadium game experience and said "someday this will be mine." Chengelis's headline on the subject…
Spartans, Wolverines compete with fashion statements, too
…is even more evidence that Dave Brandon Gets It less than anyone has ever not Gotten It before.
I had a wow experience. Did you? Everyone looking forward to the analwowing in Dallas next year when we take our freshman defensive tackles and paper-thin offensive line into a game we are absolutely not prepared for? CEOs are psychopaths.
[Bonus: last time we did this was 1976, the very heart of the era when people lost their minds about fashion. We lost then, too.]
*[No, that guy on every message board who could spin Denard Robinson's arm being torn off by William Gholston as a positive for the program, they did not look good. A sane political system would prevent you from voting. You suck. I'm sure you've got a comment all lined up to complain about the complaining. Bring it, I've got an itchy trigger finger today.]
Obligatory personal foul section. Yeah, it was ugly. The truly sad thing was that band of morons getting away with 120 yards in penalties without losing. If we had a sane offensive plan and/or a plan to deal with snap jumping those personal fouls are only 10% enraging—the intent to injure bits—and 90% hilarious Sparty being Sparty. That's where we are as a program right now: we can play the stupidest 85 people ever assembled on one football team and still lose by two touchdowns.
Gholston should obviously be suspended at least two games for the helmet rip—as bad an intent-to-injure play as the Reynolds-Sorgi incident—and the punch, which has been established by the great Jonas Mouton Suspension Fiasco as a one-gamer. There was also a less obvious judo chop that forced Lewan out of the game for a few plays. I bet nothing happens, because that's the way life goes.
This is the second consecutive year a player has been knocked out late after the game is decided by a dirty hit. Look at Dantonio's jaw… you are feeling very sleepy… you cannot put together incidents to see a pattern forming… so much… fake… bible… Spock.
I guess targeting other football players is progress relative to beating up mechanical engineers en masse.
Edge destruction. Early candidates for big negative days in the defense UFR: Roh and Ryan, who were targeted by the MSU offensive coaching staff to good effect. MSU's first TD drive was a series of easy outside runs as those two got destroyed. They improved a bit as the day went on but were clearly a weak spot targeted effectively.
Woolfolk also got pulled after a series or two; he's obviously hurt. Avery was the nickel corner since MSU doesn't spread to run much.
Man, Baker. It kills me whenever I see a really good running back go against Michigan because the mind immediately plugs that guy into rotation at the RB spot post-Minor and groans. Baker is one of those guys, a leg-churning tackle-breaker who would turn a lot of Michigan's two yard runs into five or six or more.
Penetration. They had it. Michigan didn't. Why not?
One part: It's clear all these late-developing passing routes are exposing the Mark Huyge we saw trying and failing to block for Tate Forcier as a sophomore. After a year of being covered up by the spread 'n' shred he's back to allowing sacks on a three man rush.
But the interior line? I saw Molk ole guys. Molk! How is this year four of MSU using a simple parlor trick of slanting under at the snap without two different coaching staffs being able to do anything about it?
Old school punting. Positive of a sort: When asked to coffin-corner punts Will Hagerup does a pretty good job. Haven't seen that in 15 years—you know it's old school when Sap is referencing Harry Kipke when handing out helmet stickers.
Why "of a sort": if you can coffin-corner a punt you probably shouldn't be punting.
The Minnesota plays. Doesn't seem too smart to have run a zillion new things against Minnesota now, does it? Michigan brought out the sprint counter once and it got stuffed—would MSU have been prepared for it if they hadn't seen it against Minnesota? Since Michigan isn't running the QB stretch that motion was a tipoff the counter was coming and an expected counter is a dead counter.
Inside the Box Score points out a huge swing play:
The refs did miss one backwards pass from Cousins, who clearly let go of the ball on state’s 37 and hit his receiver’s hands on the 36. The explanation was really lame, something along the lines of Michigan didn’t recover the football right away. The way I saw it, the ball hit the ground and the Michigan defender bent down and picked it up. What am I missing?
With no one around the ball except Wolverines if that's correctly called that is a potentially game-changing defensive score. This isn't a bad offsides penalty or uncalled false start, it's a touchdown being wiped off the board because the refs blew it dead too early. Very frustrating. I thought they were supposed to let it go if it was too close to be sure about now.
Also there is this:
Our leading tacklers were Gordon, Kovacs, Roh, and Countess, with 8, 6, 6, and 6, respectively. Do you notice what’s missing? Linebackers. Demens was the leading tackler among the linebackers with 5. I noticed this week that Touch the Banner was high on Demens for last week’s performance against NU, but Brian was critical of him in the UFRs. I think this game was the tie-breaker. I don’t think our LBs were productive enough. Baker gashed us all day long. His longest run was only 25 yards, yet he gained 167 yards on 26 carries. State was consistently able to pound the football against us.
How many times did MSU linebackers shoot out to the sideline on plays that looked like they were going to work and hold them down to a few yards, and how many times did Michigan linebackers do that? That's not always on the linebackers—could be on the M OL not getting out or DL not taking on doubles effectively—but given what we saw against Northwestern I'm betting some of the big chunk plays from Baker see linebacker minuses aplenty.
Hoke for Tomorrow is briefer. I would like to interject about this amongst the things learned:
That strong winds + Kirk Cousins > strong winds + Denard Robinson.
Cousins averaged 5 YPA and threw a backwards pass that should have been a disaster. Drops had a lot to do with it but it's possible the wind messed with both WR and QB, which is even more reason that throwing 41 times in the trash tornado was inexplicably dumb.
Media, as in stuff. The official site valiantly found highlight-type-substances in the wreckage:
Blogs. Come on, Braves and Birds picture comparison. Come on. The Hoover Street Rag does something long and complicated that I don't understand. Parody of a bad NBC hour-long drama? Mathlete says Michigan underperformed expectations by 28 points, his worst number of the season for all of I-A. Various bullets from MVictors. Touch the Banner also has them.
National variety from Doctor Saturday:
On seven trips into MSU territory after the opening possession, Michigan punted on five and turned it over on downs on a sixth.
Series by series, punt by punt, the sense of progress over the first half of the season dissolved into a disheveled mess. The running game stalled. The two-quarterback shuffle failed to gin up any semblance of a steady passing game, or a big play with Robinson lined up as a wide receiver. The pass protection broke down. In almost every aspect, it was Michigan's worst nightmare: At the exact point on the calendar that optimistic starts began to give way to collapse each of the last two years, the Wolverines looked like a team on the verge of collapse.
Newspapers. Michigan fell to 17th/18th in the polls. I did not find anything else of a newspapery variety that is open in my tabs.