"He makes it really easy on you as a coach because he has tremendous football instincts," Michigan tight ends coach Jay Harbaugh said. "Things come really naturally to him. He doesn't have to see things too many times. He has a good sense for how things should look and feel, and he's a tough, physical guy."
[Captions located below images]
The French Quarter was flooded with Michigan and Virginia Tech fans for most of game day. I walked down Bourbon Street to take some photos of the fanfare.
"Sugar Bowl Headquarters" on the corner of Bourbon and Canal. If true, would explain a lot.
These street musicians didn’t play jazz, but bluegrass is basically the blues. Right? No? The guy in the middle hails from Grand Rapids.
Michigan fans enjoying the view. Pretty sure that woman is/was a dude.
And for something completely familiar, Michigan sorority girls on their way to …
Rick’s (American) Cabaret.
(more after the jump)
File under "Phil Knight is an immature wheel of cheese." Since you are not related to someone on West Virginia's football team you did not see the Orange Bowl postgame—or the second half—and thus could not boggle at Nike's latest foray into puns a six-year-old thinks are played out:
I'm just like… man. Man. Democracy is over. When can we be ruled by machines? Is it soon? I hope it's soon.
The mind further reels at the notion that there's another one of these things left and Nike has already used their finest Def Leppard reference. What's left? "SHOW ME YOUR TITTLES" is left. Search your heart. You know it to be true.
BONUS: how about that dynamic offense in Morgantown winning a BCS game? We should hire that Holgorsen chap, I think. What could go wrong?
Just one more time, six more times. Hinton's sworn off shooting the rapidly cooling corpse of the BCS but can't help pointing out that no matter the outcome of the game I probably won't bother to watch, Alabama cannot have a better season than LSU:
With a win in the title game, the Crimson Tide will finish the year 12-1 with two wins over teams ranked in the final polls, none of them from outside of the SEC. With a loss, LSU will finish 13-1 with four or five wins over teams ranked in the final polls (give or take West Virginia [ED: that would be take]), four of them coming outside of Baton Rouge and two of them coming against fellow conference champions (West Virginia and Oregon) who are also playing in BCS bowls. The Tigers and Tide would be be 1-1 against one another, with LSU's win coming at Alabama. LSU will still be the champion of the division and the conference.
In a system that continues to defer to polls and resumés, there is virtually nothing Alabama can do short of ritually sacrificing the Tigers to the sun that can make its season better than LSU's season.
Every game counts except the national title game. Whenever you think the BCS has reached its maximum cockup level, just wait two years. I can't wait to see what 2014 has in store. Possibilities:
- Alabama versus LSU
- LSU versus Alabama
- Alabama versus Alabama
- Alabama versus the entire Pac-12 with assault rifles
- Alabama versus crippling ennui
- The Los Angeles Angels of Alabama versus Giant Catfish
- Tiny Alabama versus Ditka
- The 1996 Olympics' rhythmic gymnastics competition versus the Large Hadron Collider
- Just, like, Harvey Updyke wanking it for three hours
I have Updyke –3 over the Higgs Boson. Elsewhere in controversy needlessly barged into, Jacobi wonders what's to be done about "rogue" AP voters in an article with one of those jarring in-post links to another column. This is from Doyel:
That's settled. AP voters who will not vote for Alabama under any circumstances are to be given a cookie and a certificate vouching for their cognitive abilities. This is essentially Jacobi's conclusion as well.
Flantastic. Darryl Stonum, this is not so good:
Michigan wide receiver Darryl Stonum… was ticketed this morning in Ann Arbor for driving on a revoked license, 15th District Court records show.
Stonum, 21, was stopped by Ann Arbor police after he checked in with probation at 7:03 a.m., said Steve Hill, Stonum's probation officer. Hill said Stonum was not taken into custody.
A probation violation form is being completed, but so far Stonum has not been charged with violating probation.
Reading between the lines it seems like the court is not hugely peeved by this, but thin ice and all that. I don't think this should have an impact on his availability next year as long as he successfully jumps through all his hoops. This probably adds another half-dozen. Stonum needs an understanding brunette to wake up at 6 with him.
Turnover in Madison. Bielema got raided pretty good this month:
Wisconsin lost two assistant coaches Wednesday -- wide receivers coach DelVaughn Alexander and linebackers coach Dave Huxtable -- bringing the total number of departures to four. Huxtable will join former Badgers aides Paul Chryst and Bob Bostad in Pittsburgh as the Panthers' defensive coordinator. Chryst is Pitt's new head coach, while Bostad will serve as his offensive coordinator. Alexander is joining Arizona State's staff.
Bielema initially thought Bostad would be the only assistant joining Chryst at Pitt. It appears as though Huxtable will be the last departure.
It'll be interesting to see how Wisconsin copes. Their offense went from decent to lethal with Chryst's arrival. Losing him is kind of a deal. The hot name right now is Oklahoma "co-OC" Jay Norvell, which sounds like a good idea. Why does Wisconsin consistently have good ideas that no one else in the Big Ten does?
Longhorn fail. A major opportunity for ESPN to strongarm the Longhorn Network onto someone, anyone's cable has come and gone:
Comcast and the Walt Disney Company announced a 10-year, multiplatform distribution deal Wednesday that brings the “TV Everywhere” concept one step closer to reality. The Longhorn Network however, is not a part of the ESPN channels included in the agreement.
I'm rooting for the LHN to be an ignominious failure for many reasons: irritation at Texas for being one of two main parties that screwed up the structure of college football, a desire for the Big Ten's model to remain cromulent, etc. If the LHN doesn't get on cable by this fall it probably won't ever. At least it got a commenter on the above article to call Texas "the Ted DiBiase of college football."
No, not so much. From a Daily article on Molk:
“How we came in and how my first four seasons went, I thought we were the stain on Michigan tradition,” Molk said, walking slowly toward the winner’s podium on the turf. “But the reality is that we came back from everything and we’re back to where Michigan is.”
A big game. Basketball takes on Indiana tonight in Bloomington. Vegas and Kenpom both have them 8 point underdogs against the resurgent Hoosiers, which makes this a gravy outing. Win and that's a major bonus; lose and eh, we're okay.
Rumors be rumoring. There was some recent chatter from the OSU side of the rivalry that moving The Game was inevitable and had a good chance of happening when the new set of schedules came out. Dave Brandon says this is not so:
"That's just Internet rumor that has no factual basis," he said. "It's not going to happen."
Etc.: more postgame react from the Key Play. Getting a bit ornery (justifiably in cases that are not the overturned TD) as the shock fades. Shakin' the Southland reacts to the Orange Bowl fallout. Via On The Banks, a NYT report on Penn State documents unveiled by FOIA requests shows the institutional reaction to the media firestorm. I'm surprised the NYT can manage this since Pennsylvania has somehow exempted Penn State from transparency laws.
Wallpaper from the MZone.
DeAnthony Arnett is free and headed to East Lansing, and now we're back to your regularly scheduled Thursday Recruitin'. Usual request: please contact me via email or Twitter (or leave a comment) with any suggestions, tips, or links you think should show up in the next recruiting roundup.
Does Michigan Lead For Josh Garnett?
In recent weeks, the general consensus on Puyallup (WA) OL Josh Garnett has gone from him having Stanford as his team to beat to Michigan taking the position as his leader. One of the few who hadn't weighed in on this change was, of course, Garnett himself. ESPN posted a video interview with Garnett, who's participating in tonight's Under Armour All-American Bowl, and he was asked if the the perception that Michigan is his leader is a misconception (transcription via The Wolverine, emphasis mine):
"It definitely wouldn't be a misconception [to say they lead]. To be at a big time school like that, especially when you have guys like Eric Magnuson, [five-star tackle] Kyle Kalis ... when you have three big time linemen that could come in and compete with each other, build those friendships. They have some defensive linemen coming in, and Ohio State is bringing in some guys, so you can definitely have a good match-up in three or four years.
"All the linemen that have come out of Michigan and the legacy and going to the Big House with 115,000 people waving pom pons, saying 'Go Blue' ... it's definitely hard to turn that down."
Garnett still has an official visit to Stanford on the docket for next weekend, so by no means is Michigan in the clear—especially with the relative ambiguity of the question/answer posed—but that's one heck of a good sign. Garnett mentioned his close friendship with Magnuson multiple times over the course of the seven-minute interview, and it really sounds like that bond could be the deciding factor in his recruitment.
Meanwhile, there have been conflicting reports about the status of Ramsey (NJ) Don Bosco Prep corner Yuri Wright and his scheduled visit to Ann Arbor for the weekend of January 13th. At one point it sounded like he would announce at the Army All-American Game on Saturday ($, info in header), and while he said he would still be taking his visits, making a commitment before ever seeing Michigan's campus was not a good sign. While message board chatter over at Scout suggests Michigan may have cooled on Wright while zeroing in on Armani Reeves, Tim Sullivan reports that Wright will NOT be announcing this weekend and will visit Ann Arbor as planned ($), and Wright repeated that statement on Twitter in no uncertain terms.
As for Reeves, the current Penn State commit is still waiting to see how their lengthy coaching search ends ($, info in header):
"I'm in the wait and see process with Penn State to see who they hire and where they're going to go in terms of the coaching staff. I want to talk to the head coach, see where he wants to go with personally as well as the direction he wants to take the program.
"Hopefully, he has the same idea that Joe (Paterno) had. You know, academics first and just be a Penn State guy."
On the visit front, Reeves plans to take his official visit to Penn State before taking any other visits but Michigan is in the running for a official visit after that.
His visit to Penn State is tentatively scheduled for January 13th, but that would not take place if they still don't have a coach. Michigan looks to be the most likely alternative if Reeves were to decommit, though Notre Dame is in the picture.
A few more happy trails to report as we roll towards signing day: Jordan Payton will decide between Cal, UCLA, and Notre Dame at the Army game on Saturday ($, info in header); Zach Banner has narrowed his list of schools to USC, Washington, and Oklahoma ($, info in header); and Greg Garmon committed to Iowa this week—it's looking unlikely at this point that Michigan will take another running back in the class.
We're So Good That a Deion Sanders Endorsement Gets Third Billing in This Section
Tis the season for high school All-American games, and practice reports on Michigan commits in both the Army and Under Armour games have been overwhelmingly positive. Ondre Pipkins has made a lot of noise for the West team at the Army game, and he also gave one of the interviews of the year at Rivals:
Though I generally find the whole "Ohio" thing rather silly, hearing all the recruits discuss their hatred for "Ohio" is absolutely hilarious. While "Pee Wee" Pipkins was goofing around off the field, he was no joke at practice this week, and was named by Rivals.com's Mike Farrell as Monday's top performer for the West squad ($, info in header):
Pipkins is a monster physically - he already looks like B.J. Raji or Vince Wilfork. He is one of the most physically imposing defensive tackles we have seen in awhile. At the point of attack, he is impossible to get on his heels and he penetrates quickly and athletically for a big man. Pipkins is going to be a load for the East offensive line to handle; he was simply dominating a good group of West lineman in the early session of practice.
Yes, please. Pipkins claimed in the above video that he weighs around 330 pounds right now, and while that's almost certainly not all good weight—he also admitted that he doesn't track his caloric intake, plus the whole snarfing down ice cream thing—he looks like he's ready to step onto a college field tomorrow. Good thing, too, considering the depth at DT next year.
Joe Bolden has been similarly turning heads all week at the Under Armour practices, and in this free 24/7 article he's named as his team's top linebacker prospect despite entering the week with little fanfare:
One of the least-publicized players entering the week, the Michigan commit was a hit from the first day on with his instincts and underrated feet and athleticism standing out. Bolden also was a sponge to the coaching given and by all accounts is a future leader of the Wolverines‘ defense. Bolden currently is 220 pounds, but has the frame to add 15-20 more in time.
Bolden was also named the Black team's defensive MVP by Scott Kennedy of Scout ($, info in header):
With the offensive line occupied by the defensive line, the linebackers were free to roam uninhibited. No one took advantage of the room to run better than Michigan commitment Joe Bolden. Bolden was popping pads during walk-thrus, and he continued to seek and destory when the tempo was moved to full speed. Bolden doesn't do anything half-speed. He showed he was capable of dropping into coverage as well as attacking the line of scrimmage.
Bolden is one of Michigan's three early enrollees, and it sounds like he's the most likely to see the field early next year. Bolden's teammate, Terry Richardson, also came in for praise in the above article, and he got some hype from Prime Time himself, Deion Sanders, who's helping coach the defensive backs:
“Number one (Terry Richardson), the (Bryson Echols) kid is playing his butt off and (Chaz Elder) as a safety has done well,” Sanders said. “The best thing about Richardson is he’s a very coachable kid. You tell him something one time and he is going to implement it. Whatever you tell him, he will do. Echols is a fighter, he’s battled in everything he’s done. These kids are sponges in that have been well-coached.”
I don't think anyone worrying about character issues with Richardson has ever actually met the kid, as his passion for the game and enthusiasm in general are both outstanding, plus he's one of the more polite recruits I've had the pleasure of interviewing. It does not come as a surprise that he's standing out as a very coachable player.
Mario Ojemudia participated in Tuesday's inaugural Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, and he wasn't pleased with his performance, tweeting, "Got the dub but didn't play that well and I messed up my ankle." I took in most of the game before switching over to the Sugar Bowl festivities, and Ojemudia had a difficult time getting off blocks, mostly due to the fact that he looks to weigh around 215 pounds. I still think he's a great prospect as a pass rusher, but added size and strength is a must, and it will likely take a redshirt year before he's ready to see the field at the collegiate level.
Also coming in for praise from the Army Bowl are commits Erik Magnuson, who even got some work at center during practices, James Ross, Royce Jenkins-Stone, and Kyle Kalis ($, info in header). Early enrollee Jarrod Wilson participated in last week's Offense-Defense game, and 24/7's Sean Fitz "loved" Wilson's combination of size (he says Wilson is pushing 6'3") and speed in centerfield ($).
Quickly: Touch the Banner interviews Erik Magnuson, whose favorite play in high school is a screen play for... Erik Magnuson; new blog Tremendous talks to Amara Darboh, who simply says "I don't like them," when asked for his thoughts on Ohio State; and Tim gathers commit reactions to the Sugar Bowl victory ($, info in header)—the ever-quotable Pipkins took the Haters Gonna Hate approach: "Everybody had us losing because they were hating on us - especially those Ohio State guys - but we won a bowl, so what can you say. Everybody heard us cheering downstairs."
Yes, I'm Now Interviewing 2014 Recruits
A few quick notes on underclassmen prospects:
First of all, I caught up with Crete (IL) Monee receiver Laquon Treadwell this week, and while he stated that he has no favorites, he listed a top five of Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Nebraska, and Tennessee.
Tyrone (GA) Sandy Creek corner Shaq Wiggins once held Michigan as his leader, but he now has the Wolverines third behind Tennessee and Virginia ($, info in header). He also gave an idea of his potential timeline:
“I want to commit, like, during the summertime — June or July, somewhere in one of those dates — and just get the whole thing over with and focus on my senior season,” Wiggins said. “Once more offers start coming in — probably, like, when I go back to school or something like that — then I’ll narrow it down.”
Also looking to expedite his recruiting process is Wheaton (IL) St. Francis OL Kyle Bosch, who's had Michigan among his favorites and says he's looking to cut his list down to five schools "by the end of this month or the beginning of next month" in an article on 247Sports ($, info in header). He gave his impressions of Michigan, who have been recruiting him hard:
“I’ve been talking to Coach Funk a lot,” Bosch said. “He’s just telling me that he’s really excited about me, and he sends handwritten letters to me four or five times a month. I just like the whole atmosphere there. I like the player-coach and player-player relationships there, and the team-first type of mentality. They all treat each other the same way, and I really like the down-to-earth atmosphere they have.”
Finally, yes, I talked to sophomore quarterback Anthony Sicilano this week, and the class of '14 standout has interest in Michigan, who are among a laundry-list of top schools that have contacted Siciliano. With Michigan likely set at QB with Shane Morris in the 2013 class, Siciliano could be a top priority in the future.
1/3/2012 – Michigan 23, Virginia Tech 20 (OT) – 11-2, 6-2 Big Ten
Michigan got outgained better than two to one and probably squeezed the last bits of magic out of Brady Hoke's rectal horseshoe, but it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter until the Very Serious bullets that have no time for sentiment, the Very Serious bullets that didn't feel deeply guilty for not including Junior "Junior Megatron" Hemingway amongst the hallowed group of seniors who maybe could have sort of made Michigan itself again… except insofar as "again" is inappropriate to apply to a program that has not exactly made a habit out of winning BCS games doing so. The Very Serious Bullets were not ready to declare war on God for smiting David Molk—OF ALL PEOPLE DAVID MOLK—in the moments before the culmination of his career. And screw that. Screw a Very Serious bullet. Also logic, and reason, and causality, and all the other things that had no bearing on which team walked off the Superdome field happy.
This is what matters: Molk standing on the sideline watching the first offensive series and the feeling in his gut as he watched the last 60 minutes he'd wear the uniform evaporate. Logan Thomas saying something like "damn I'm tired" or "damn you're tired" to Ryan Van Bergen in the second half after yet another play on which a broken Van Bergen harassed—but did not sack—the brobdingnagian Tech quarterback. Mike Martin slicing his way into the backfield to put Tech into another third and long. Hemingway's hands finding the three inches of space needed for a touchdown. Confetti, the right confetti, and ugly shirts, and Chris Fowler talking to Junior Megatron, and people smiling.
What matters is that when Brendan Gibbons was asked what he thought about before the winning kick, he said "brunette girls" because Brady Hoke told him that's what he should think about.
This is not the best Michigan team ever assembled. It's not the most dominant. You know a lot of it was assembled by smoke and mirrors and Jon Falk's super-secret loose-fumble-magnet gloves. You're not eyeing that Alabama game next year and thinking "those rednecks are in for an… education. [YEAAAAAAAA]."
You, cold-eyed realist who gravitates to this place, are going to tell work colleagues who went to universities other than your own that Michigan deserved to win this game in no way whatsoever. And then your shit-eating grin is going to drive them from you.
I haven't watched the NFL in going on a decade now except in somnambulant Thanksgiving not-give-a-craps, but this holiday season happened to coincide with weekends and I was a guest without remote privileges. I caught a few last week. Amongst other exercises in vacuous non-speech, I ended up watching Aaron Rodgers make his publicist very proud after he respectfully dispatched Generic Opponent and then said things about his teammates.
The things he said were not so very different from what we usually get in college—like the game itself, public relations in the NFL is metal refined from NCAA ore—but in college things are rawer, emotions felt instead of managed. The brutal look on Danny Coale's face after his redemption was overturned is evidence enough of that.
The stakes in these games come from the stories of the players, and we get a relatively honest look at them over the course of their four years. After what must have been a crushing loss, The Key Play took to the internet not to light up coaching decisions or instant replay or VT's offensive line but to do this:
That team made me proud.
No we didn't win. I'm sure a lot of y'all are pissed about some play calls. I am. More carries for Logan. More carries for Logan. More carries for Logan. More carries for Logan, especially on short yardage situations. But this wasn't the Orange Bowl last year. We didn't get our balls beat in. We didn't get throttled. We didn't get out-coached. We didn't get out-played. No one punched us in the throat... And that's why it hurts.
I have an ache in my chest right now too painful for words to describe. We came sooooooooo close, but failed. That's a strong word, but it's accurate--we failed. We came to play. We came to fucking play this game.
That comes from Coale, a guy pressed into service as a punter who was asked to make a weighty decision and failed. A guy who was a centimeter away from redeeming himself by staking Virginia Tech to a seven-point lead as tall as Everest who then had his anguish revisited time and again by ESPN as Michigan positioned themselves for the identical field goal Tech had just missed.
VT fans love Danny Coale even if they hate the way his last game played out. He is why they care, even if their memories are bittersweet. God, have we been there. Entire generations of Michigan seniors came and went without beating Ohio State.
For the first time in a long time, we don't have to eulogize. Michigan beat OSU and won a
bowl BCS game for the first time since the 1999 season. Martin Van Buren was president of East Rhodesia and logic gates were chiseled onto rocks the last time a group of Michigan seniors went out like this:
Or a season ended like this:
Yeah, the game was the definition of a "yes, but…" experience. In the cold-eyed light of the offseason it will dampen expectations for next year. So what? Virginia Tech fans are thinking of Danny Coale this morning.
I'm thinking of Martin and Koger and Hemingway and Molk and Van Bergen and how there is no thought of what could have been, no thought of opportunities missed or goals fallen short of. Just that they stayed, and they made a BCS bowl, and they were champions of it. In the end, the seniors of Team 132 got what they came for. Now they will break the last link on the chain and tell those who follow they can make it anew.
NOT VERY SERIOUS BULLETS
Smooth. In the same fashion friend of blog Jerry Hinnen said "yes, thank you, finally" to someone dubbing Oregon's shinybits in the Rose Bowl "Destro helmets," I welcome the comparison of brunette-loving, Scott-Van-Pelt*-.38-Special-comparison-inspiring, suddenly-nails kicker Brendan Gibbons to Keith Stone:
Psyching himself up for NAILS
hangin' w/ Mister Cooper
Well done, unknown Iowa fan who knows iawolve, well done. After a season in which Gibbons has been sarcastically exhorted to put the ball through the uprights in all caps and with question marks, it is only right to break out some H tags in tribute:
GIBBONS: YOU PUT IT THROUGH THE UPRIGHTS!
Yea, and it came to pass that the season preview gave the kicker spot at least a 3 next year. Now please stop probably deserving false start penalties.
*[SVP is reminiscent of the Dan & Keith ESPN heyday. He is capable of making me enjoy an hour of Sportscenter. Like Gus Johnson and Alton Brown, he is a rare being of pure awesomeness that can exist in a lowest-common-denominator setting. SVP for president.]
Further evidence. Via BWS:
Nike shirts: making you glad your school is Adidas even if they did dress the team like the bumblebee girl from "No Rain" this year. If you thought copping a Def Leppard lyric was gauche, you did not see the Fiesta postgame.
Nike is now run by the immature cheese from Cheez-It commercials.
Stop complaining about being passed over. Mathlete:
For all the K St fans upset about the Sugar Bowl snub, Michigan won this one in honor of you, can't imagine winning 10 games like that
Kansas State did play in the Sugar Bowl. They were wearing Michigan's uniforms.
This is why you're Sparty. LeVeon Bell:
UofM proud that they had 8 home games, didn't play Wisconsin OR Penn St, AND lost to us? Yall can beat a average VA Tech team, be proud then
Sparty being Sparty. Just like this guy wearing green and white in the endzone where Gibbons nailed the winner:
I hope you enjoyed the last few years, guys.
VERY SERIOUS BULLETS
ALL RIGHT NOW WE HAVE A TALK. Holy pants the offense. This was the third time this year Michigan's offense was just beyond terrible; they lost the other two but horseshoed themselves the Sugar Bowl.
It was imperative that Michigan establish something VT had to react to, but they never did. Their big tactical innovation for this game was a not-very-spread formation with a TE, a tailback, and Odoms in motion for a jet sweep fake. That worked on the first play of the game when Odoms got the edge and then hardly ever again. I don't understand Michigan's emphasis on running to the perimeter against a defense like VT's that thrives on getting their safeties to tackle in space.
Meanwhile, Michigan receivers got zero separation all night, allowing VT to tee off on the run with impunity. Michigan needs an athleticism upgrade there.
It's apparent Borges wants to put guys in the box instead of spreading them out, forcing the opponent to respect the horizontal aspects of the defense, and then making you tackle and fill one on one; maybe that will work against a VT when Shane Morris is throwing to LaQuon Treadwell. It did not here.
Robinson likely shares some responsibility but it's hard to tell since the Sugar Bowl shorted replays for more commercials. I did notice a late third down and medium on which Robinson tried to fit it in a nonexistent window to Koger when Gallon was breaking open underneath. But mostly it just seemed like there was never anything there. It's one thing if the opponent is beating a block. Against VT it seemed like there was always an unblocked guy fitting the run and no one was ever open. Hard to move the ball like that.
Interior DL FTW. We in the M blogosphere may have been excessively optimistic about the offense but man did we peg the other side of that matchup: VT's crappy interior line pass protected well but could not get RVB or Martin blocked to save their lives. Wilson got hacked down at the line time and again, got some yardage outside when Michigan's run support on the edges was missing. Logan Thomas was not pressured much and picked Michigan's secondary apart with lethal accuracy.
This is kind of why I am worried about next year: taking away Martin and Van Bergen is going to be huge, and the rest of the defense is short of guys who seem like certainties to be players at their level next year. I've got Ryan and Kovacs and then…
Mattison's going to earn his money next year if Michigan treads water defensively despite returning eight starters.
Holy Van Bergen. Not only did RVB play every snap, and play well, he was injured early in the game and ended up like this:
"My foot just feels like rubber,” Van Bergen said after the game. “I couldn’t plant on it or anything like that.
“It actually went down, like parallel to my chin when I was in a pile. The next time I was trying to plant, I was trying to overcompensate for it, and I put it the other way and got chopped, so my toe was coming up to like the top of my ankle.”
Can we retroactively make him a captain? I'm serious. If the Bentley doesn't list RVB as a captain I might have to hack their site so it does.
Richt'd… right? Hoke game theory bits were a mixed bag. By decision:
- Fake FG near end of first half. Yes, it was a called fake. The problem was that a big chunk of the team didn't get the call, including Dileo's intended receiver, thus resulting in the Yakety Sex that was the deflected long-snapper reception. Hoke's verging on the territory where all go/kick situations on which there's a reasonable debate seemingly decided in favor of the kick will be expected to be fakes, thus depressing the EV of faking. At this point he's going to have to kick some dumb field goals if he's going to get that back.
- FG at end of first half. I was okay with it. A fair chunk of the reason it's a good idea to go for it on fourth down in those situations is the crappy negative-value field position it leaves your opponent in if you fail. When the half is ending that's not a factor, and given the way that half played out I was not super confident Michigan would punch the ball in from the two.
- Sending out the punt safe team on the fake punt. Obvious move given the situation and one that paid off when Coale pulled a Zoltan-vs-MSU miscalculation on the rugby option. If you're going to go there you should put it in the hands of your huge QB, not rely on a converted WR to make a high-pressure decision he's never made in a game before. This bullet is more about Beamer than Hoke.
- Not calling TO in an effort to get the ball back at the end of regulation. Also okay with that. Immediate TO sees you get around 35 seconds when the ball is kicked off; given Michigan's offense to that point in the game and season-long crap kickoff returns that did not seem like it had much value. Calling TO has a slight chance of flipping the opposing coach's thinking towards going for it, or at least it might if this wasn't Frank Beamer.
Richt-ing it in OT. It wasn't a full-on Richt. Richt idiotically threw away two downs to attempt a 42 yard field goal with a kicker who had been 6 of 16(!!!) from 40+ that range this year. Hoke/Borges at least shaved a meaningful five yards* off the attempt and went with a guy who was at that point 11/15 on the season. Given the way Michigan's offense had been moving the ball (not at all with plenty of OH SHI— near-INTs), the equation is significantly different than when you've got Aaron Murray. While I was a little annoyed they didn't flip it out to the WR and his massive cushion, I wasn't livid at the thought process.
Still, man… let Denard run the ball with the extra blocker in a spread formation and instructions to keep both hands on the ball. Upside is greater there.
The theme here is when your offense can't pick up two yards to save its life, old-timey decisions are correct. When the game is going to end with a score worthy of 1950, playing 1950s-era football is the move.
*[The Mathlete's preview post contains an apropos FG success graph showing a whopping 15% difference in success rate between a 42 yard field goal (around 55%) and a 37-yarder (around 70%) for an average D-I kicker, which I'd say Gibbons is. Same difference for a bad one, FWIW. It's only when you've got a Kaeding or the like that playing as conservatively as Richt did makes even the slightest amount of sense.]
The not quite catch. Someone on the twitters put it best:
Here it is:
It's incomplete because the tip of the ball hits the ground and it shifts in his arms when it happens. The ball has the potential to slide through his upper arms when it impacts the ground; ground aids catch; not a catch.
VT fans and players are pissed off and I can understand why. Again, they should remove the uncertainty here and say the ball hitting the ground equals no catch until you have made the proverbial "football move." That is a bright line rule that removes the controversy from plays like this and the 49% Hemingway touchdown against Iowa and the 48% Coale TD above. If it swings the game a bit towards defense that may not be a terrible idea these days.
More on the fake FG. I thought surely the refs had missed an illegal man downfield, but it does appear that when the pass is thrown Michigan linemen are within three yards of the LOS:
Whatever the screwup was it looked like VT had that well covered. Hoke's going to have to shelve the fakes for a while.
Countess. Hoo boy was that a rough ride for him. I hope you caught that first bubble screen of the second half—after Countess let his guy get to the sideline Mallory lit him up. He got burned on a double move that Thomas overthrew, generally could not match up with the extremely talented Jarrett Boykin*, and was a problem on both outside Wilson runs and a variety of 7-8 yard bubble screens.
*[Another way in which Beamer handed this game to M was continuing to run the ball when your QB is completing 70% of his passes for almost 8 YPA. M loses if Beamer pulls the Carroll and tells his OC to call no runs in the second half.]
Bubble screens. Ain't saying nothin'.
Woolfolk took a short video in the locker room and posted it to the twitter:
It's not 90 degrees off, it's artistic.
Comment of the week from beenplumb:
Go back to last year and tell us that our defense and kicker would win us a BCS bowl and try not to get punched in the face for lying.
Diarists are too hungover to chip in just yet. Seth did excellent work on the no catch in OT, but that's on the front page so you probably know about it already.
Players. Ryan tweets some photos from the field. Roh with the dudes I promised to name my firstborn after*:
Roundtree and… uh… I don't know.
This is a disturbing moment. Who is that dude?
Blog substances, local. BWS bullets:
Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen, and perhaps more importantly, the Virginia Tech offensive line, were as advertised. The interior of that offensive line is dysfunctional. Martin and Van Bergen were three yards into the backfield on basically every running play. The only reason they can pass block is that they keep retreating into Logan Thomas, at least long enough for him to zip a pass to one of his many wide receivers. I have no idea how a team with an offensive line that bad can win 11 games.
In a way, this is how the 2011 season had to end for Michigan. At the end of the Rich Rodriguez era, Michigan was a great offfense and then a smoking heap of wreckage. The defense was unconscionably bad. The special teams were barely above that level, most notably because the Wolverines could not kick a field goal. Michigan did dumb things like not knowing that a blocked field goal is a live ball. The turnover rate was terrible. This year was a palate cleanser in every way. In the end, Michigan won a game despite the offense being completely stymied. The Wolverines won by being good on defense, very good on special teams, and smart enough to avoid the mistakes that killed their otherwise superior opponent.
Blog substances, national. EDSBS:
It was a complete mess in so many ways, and in so many different ways than the other BCS games thus far. the numbers were appalling in their own unique way: Michigan had 184 yards of total offense, got doubled up by VT in terms of total production, had 12 first downs to Virginia Tech's 22, and still ended up covered in maize and blue confetti watching Junior Hemingway losing his shit gloriously when Chris Fowler asked him about the long path to getting here. This is not a very good Michigan team, but they are a very good Michigan team.
That should make sense if you've watched this team dodge bullets and narrowly avoid putting the car in the ditch on so many occasions this year, or come back against Notre Dame, or hold on despite doing almost everything they could to lose a late lead to Ohio State, or in this game scratch, claw, and somehow hold a more productive Hokies team in check until the final and inevitable kicking mistakes. This team was more fun than any other team Brady Hoke will ever have because they were not supposed to have eleven wins, and could not conceivably have piled them up like this. This team is the pound dog that saved your family from the fire. They are the college car that would not die no matter what you put in its gas tank. They are the party that came out of nowhere on a Tuesday night, and resulted in no hangovers.
Easily one of our favorite teams of 2011, and not just because we like calling Brady Hoke "Ol' Pizzafarts."
Bill Connolly breaks down the numbers:
4: Tackles for loss by Michigan's Jake Ryan. Michigan's defense played the bend-don't-break routine to perfection. They allowed five yards per play and seven trips inside their 40, but they forced five field goals and a turnover on downs at their four. Part of the reason for the success was that Ryan (must not make Sixteen Candles reference and reveal that it is one of my favorite movies of all-time ... must not make Sixteen Candles reference and reveal that it is one of my favorite movies of all-time ... must not make Sixteen Candles reference and reveal that it is one of my favorite movies of all-time...) was always around to make a big play. Ryan, Jordan Kovacs and Desmond Morgan combined for 22.5 tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss, and Michigan as a whole severely limited Tech's big plays. Just force them to keep inching down the field and eventually force a fourth down.
All of that sentimental bunk about Brady Hoke returning Michigan to its meat-eating essence or whatever, well, it actually worked out that way. It worked out far beyond the expectations of the most observant pilgrims of Oosterbaanian lore. No one in August was going out on a limb for a 7-6 outfit with no defense transitioning to a new coaching staff. As collapse-prone as the Wolverines were after fast starts under Rodriguez, no one was going out on a limb for them in early November, after losses at Michigan State and Iowa seemed to leave them back at square one. Since then, Michigan is 4-0 with wins over Nebraska, Ohio State and now Virginia Tech and abides in a state of Bo-like balance. Those who stayed fended off a fourth quarter Hokie rally to complete the circle.
I enjoyed this comment after the post:
This game proved that there is no pride or character in the big ten. When the only way you can win a game is by cheating and you are proud of it . I guess no one should surprised by the level of scandal in the conference. the attitude of the only real harm in disgusting behavior is being held accountable and the ends always justify the means is as base as it gets. to be beaten on the field as thoroughly as Michigan was on the field and be proud of a win that was a gift from whomever controlled that officiating crew is banal. That kid caught the ball everyone who has seen the replay from the angles available knows it including the replay officials and all of the Michigan coaching staff. ESPN made the staement that the only thing that matters is the final score. They and their Mid east Ohio valley values may be the real problem here.
Tom Fornelli has a format that demands he put words after the bullet HOW MICHIGAN WON. He begins "This is not an easy question to answer."
This was beyond weird, and exhausting to decipher. The Hokies controlled play, and had an apparent 20-yard touchdown pass in overtime overruled by replay. That gave the Wolverines their shot, and they took a BCS bowl victory and improbable 11-2 record with it.
There's been some question over the no-catch ruling on Virginia Tech's 3rd down overtime prayer to receiver/punter Danny Coale. The play was ruled a touchdown live but overturned on review.
The setup: On 3rd down and 5 from the Michigan 20 in the first possession of overtime, Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas attempted to hit Coale on a corner route in the end zone. Coale had Michigan's coverage (by safety Woolfolk and cornerback Avery) beat to the outside but the ball was slightly overthrown. Coale dove for what would be a spectacular one-handed catch, bringing the ball in just as he, and it, hit the ground just inbounds. The side judge ruled it a touchdown, but on review it was overturned and ruled an incomplete pass because the receiver did not have control of the ball when the ball hit the ground.
The rule: You can find it on Pages 72-73 of the NCAA rulebook (emphasis mine):
ARTICLE 7. a. Any forward pass is incomplete if the ball is out of bounds by rule or if it touches the ground when not firmly controlled by a player. It also is incomplete when a player leaves his feet and receives the pass but first lands on or outside a boundary line, unless his progress has been stopped in the field of play or end zone (Rule 4-1-3-p) (A.R. 2-4-3-III and A.R. 7-3-7-I).
The argument: The debate centers on whether or not Coale had "firm control" of the ball when it touched the ground. If the ball never touches the ground it's a clear reception, but since in this case nobody is arguing that the ball didn't touch the ground, the standard we're debating is whether or not Coale had established this firm control before the ball touched turf. For that we will consult the video.
With the grit of 40 Ecksteins, two Welkers, and half a Dileo, Coale reaches out and gets a hand underneath the ball. This is not "firm" control.
Coale now brings the ball between his forearms. This too would not be confused for "firm possession." However at this point he has a chance, if he can bring the ball to his chest and get it crooked in his arm, to prevent the ball from hitting the hard thing that is rapidly rushing toward him very fast.
So big and flat and round, it needs a big wide sounding name like 'Ow', 'Ownge', 'Round', 'Ground'! That's it! Ground! Ha! I wonder if it'll be friends with me?
Here is the money shot (clickening embiggens). Coale's elbow has hit the turf (just inbounds) but the ball is still between his forearms, not in his hands. It is hard to tell but the ball has now hit the ground as well, a nanosecond after the elbow.
The announcers were focusing on the elbow but the question is still one of whether the ball was firmly controlled by the player before it hit the ground.
A good test of this "firm control" (this is a sanity check not the final arbiter) is whether the ball moved when it hit the ground. It stands to reason that if the receiver had firm control of the ball when it came in contact with the ground it won't move that much.
If you recall, this is what doomed Junior Hemingway's TD catch attempt while down 8 in the closing seconds of the Iowa game. Hemingway actually managed to get two hands under the ball and secure it against his chest and arm a moment before coming down atop it. The "firm control" test in that case seemed to have been passed, but the catch was ruled incomplete because the reviewers saw the ball move in his possession after it hit the ground.
As you can see in the screenshots below, at the zero moment (when a part of the body made the player down) Coale's level of possession is way less than Hemingway's.
What controversially damned Hemingway was that after this the ball rotated about 90 degrees after the nose of the ball hit the ground, or so it was supposed since Hemingway's body blocked most of that. With Coale however the movement after contact with ground was pretty clear.
The ball is between Coale's forearms and possession only becomes firm long after the ball has impacted the ground. This I believe is what the review officials saw.
Incomplete! Time to bring in the 3rd string VT kicker who has been 4/4 today for an easy field g…oh snap!
But it's too close to call/not enough evidence to overturn! If someone is saying this to you they are confusing a Law & Order episode for reality. They have conceded that "incomplete" is the correct call, and are essentially complaining that it should have been ruled incorrectly because of a technicality in the literal meaning of the review rule. You cannot complain about calls the refs get right; that's not how complaining works. If you think the video is "inconclusive" you are conceding the call could have gone equally either way and saying it should be one or the other makes as much sense as whining that a flip of the coin should have been heads.
Working as rapidly as possible on game post. ETA this afternoon.
Brendan Gibbons doesn't always make game winning field goals, but when he does he's thinking of total babes.
Total smoking hot babes. That clip was the one that prompted Scott Van Pelt to ask if that was Michigan football or .38 Special, BTW.
Junior Hemingway postgame:
General highlights from Parkinggod:
More highlights, interviews, and oddities after the jump.