monumental; pay no attention to the dates plz
Something's been missing from Michigan gamedays since the free programs ceased being economically viable: scientific gameday predictions that are not at all preordained by the strictures of a column in which one writer takes a positive tack and the other a negative one… something like Punt-Counterpunt.
By Ken “Sky” Walker
As I sit at my desk, I have to admit “Punt” is one tired puppy. Week after week of nonstop work is grinding me down. I don’t take time off—arranging coverage is more trouble than it’s worth. I’m not earning any vacation time because I’ve maxed out on what I’m allowed to accrue. This is a problem that needs a solution. It’s time to train an apprentice.
Making the pitch to my boss went well. He gives me the green light and the proverbial pat-on-the-back for all my efforts. I’m feeling good, looking forward to have someone that can step in for me when needed and not screw everything up. No more feeling guilty over taking a day off. No more dreading what awaits me upon my return. Having things done the way I want and need it to be. This is great! Then it hits me—did I just volunteer to train my eventual replacement?
While I contemplate the pros and cons of my decision, it seems the Michigan football team is facing a similar situation. We have a record setting quarterback who is observing what amounts to a medical leave. We’re missing him, his talent and hope for a speedy return, but a total recovery is first and foremost. Then there is the apprentice. There have been some instances where his lack of experience is evident, but there have also been several “Wow!” moments. He’s stepped up and done an admirable job.
All of this has to have many Michigan fans wondering “What if?” What if our late receiver had spent more practice time being an apprentice? What if the other “legends jersey” wearing receiver had rounded into his expected form a bit sooner? What if Denard’s injury improves enough for him to play? Give Robinson the nod early to try and shake off the rust? Or stick with Gardener and get him as much experience as possible prior to the show down in Columbus?
Something that doesn’t seem to be in question is the outcome of this Saturday’s game. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz brings another ho hum Hawkeye team to the Big House. This seems to be the new normal for the Big Ten’s second highest paid coach. I guess Coach Ferentz feels he owes the Wolverines one – their interest in him a few years ago has paid off handsomely. How no current Michigan senior has had a victory over Iowa is beyond belief.
Now don’t hold it against Counterpunt when he picks Iowa to surprise us. He’s just mistaken the Hawkeyes for his beloved “Stillers”. You can take the boy out of Pittsburgh, but you can’t take the Pittsburgh out of the boy.
Michigan 35 - Iowa 17
By Nick RoUMel
My co-worker Alex Dieck is dating her high school sweetheart, Michigan cornerback Steve Wilson. Steve starred at QB at Lakeland High School (White Lake, Michigan), and has since switched to cornerback and special teams. He is also majoring in cellular and molecular biology. Brady Hoke told him he was going to cure cancer someday.
Last week in practice, Hoke let Steve mimic Northwestern QB Kain Colter. Steve performed it to perfection, enabling the Wolverine defense to increasingly contain Colter as the game progressed—and ultimately stuff him in overtime to seal the thrilling victory.
I will look for Steve (#20) on the opening kickoff. However, his special teams play has resulted in Alex's growing concern over Steve’s well being. Football is played by players growing bigger and faster every year. A recent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette analysis of All-State high school rosters over the last 70 years, found that the average offensive lineman grew from 178 lbs. in 1940 to 273 in 2008. On the defensive side of the ball, linemen grew almost as much.
Steve is 5’11”, 179 lbs. according to the official roster. He plays on kickoffs, deemed to be the most violent play in football. ESPN says, “Take two large, fast men and give them long running starts at each other, and their collisions won't be far from car wrecks. Kickoffs are particularly hard on brains. In college football, for instance, 1 in 5 injuries during kickoffs is a concussion; during other phases of play, it's 1 out of 14.”
Alex can’t get over the assortment of injuries that Steve and his football roommates have compiled over the course of the season’s first ten games. But football players love to hit. I remember a story about pro football Hall of Famer Jack Lambert, when he was a skinny but fierce linebacker for Kent State being scouted by the Steelers’ Tim Rooney. The fields were muddy, so the team practiced in the parking lot. Rooney watched in amazement as Lambert went flying after his teammates, tackling them on the gravel, oblivious to the damage to his own body.
Today’s opponent, Iowa, famously painted its visiting locker room pink during the Hayden Fry era. Fry believed pink would have a calming effect, and make opponents less violent on the field. It may have worked. Until Fry arrived in 1979, Michigan had won every game at Iowa since 1962; after the paint job, they won only 1 out of the next 4.
Michigan has had trouble with Iowa lately no matter where the game is played, dropping the last three. But today is different, because Steve Wilson didn’t play last year. With no heed to his injuries and worried girlfriend, Steve – along with the rest of our banged-up Wolverines – will dominate today’s game physically on both sides of the ball.
Just be sure to keep your helmet securely fastened, Steve. We still need a cure for cancer.
MICHIGAN 21, IOWA 17
|WHAT||Michigan vs Iowa|
Ann Arbor, MI
|WHEN||12:00 PM Eastern
November 17th, 2012
|THE LINE||Michigan –17|
|WEATHER||Partly cloudy, dry, low to mid 40s|
Why? I don't know. Ask BHGP.
This preview assumes that Denard Robinson will play in a strictly ceremonial role.
Run Offense vs Iowa
This has been a depressing grind since Denard Robinson's injury and will remain so unless Michigan finds itself behind the eight-ball late and resorts to Devin Gardner's legs. That seems like a highly improbable outcome what with Iowa being terrible.
So expect a lot of under-center running from Toussaint and Rawls that doesn't make much headway. Against Northwestern late Michigan did finally get some movement by always doubling guys at the LOS before moving on—I'd expect they go that conservative route so that they're at least getting four yards on an iso and whatnot. Michigan's actually been decent at moving bleah defensive tackles when they do that; the foremost amongst many problems on the ground has been blocking assignment errors.
Those should decrease, but at this point it's foolhardy to expect them to decrease much. At least Borges has responded to the problems on the ground and the week-to-week surge in Devin Gardner's ability by doing a lot more passing.
As for the opponent:
Iowa started off well before getting clubbed by Northwestern, had a virtual run bye against Indiana, and then struggling against Purdue. They're dead average nationally—60th.
Issues against both run and pass caused Iowa to remove linebacker Anthony Hitchens, their top tackler with a whopping 114, and insert freshman Travis Perry last week; Hitchens remains on top of the depth chart. The defensive linemen top out at serviceable; the linebackers are just okay. Michigan should be able to get people blocked, somewhat, if they get their assignments right, and grind out a few yards here and there. At this point it's a sideshow keeping folks honest for the passing game.
Key Matchup: Michigan Interior OL versus Block Somebody. Right? I mean, right. [repeat]
[Hit THE JUMP for the joy of GERG on the other team]
Brian has already waxed poetic about the seniors, so I'll stick to moving pictures and keep the words to a minimum. I've done my best to cover each member of the outgoing class. Let's just say it was hard to pick one moment for this guy:
He may make some cameo appearances later.
[For the rest of the gifs, hit THE JUMP.]
A leaf blows in fall
Tasting each position once
Time to duck, Martinez
These days people who
are not Thomas Gordon say
"Get off of me, please"
A man from nowhere
is the safety blanket for
a hundred thousand
As Northwestern died
they must have thought "ouch" and
"my god, sweet mustache"
We'll always have that
Purdue hash to hash zone drop
and a kickoff hold
finger-gun Balrog LB,
state YOU SHALL NOT PASS
Stayed through some things
that would have made most depart
and we needed him to
Not a walk-on, no
A scientist of brains, yes
And blocker of sweeps
[UPDATE: so I forgot Roy Roundtree.
Joe Tiller quivers
in walrus rage as Roundtree
waves an arm, alone
I had been in the desert for some time, lost and directionless. The sun was relentless. A deadly thirst stalked me. I had not accepted the grisly fate which awaited me but was powerless to change it.
On the fifth night—possibly the sixth—a breeze arose. It was cool and dewy. I savored it for a time, then step by step it led me home.
Men wearing hats. And bandanas.
LS&A magazine collects Bentley photos of old-timey Michigan games to the present-day to examine what people wore to the things. This is from 1936; I think I recognize the guy in the glasses in the front row.
Don't look at the Ark, dude.
Things didn't really fall off a cliff until the 80s.
Probably DFW on the left there. Probably.
All the Kwiatkowski features. The AD must have offered people free nachos for articles about senior walk-on TE and MGoFave-Rave Mike Kwiatkowski, because you can't throw a rock this week without dinging one on the head. The Daily version:
It’s fine to recognize how unlikely it is that Kwiatkowski rose from regular student to scholarship starter in a matter of three years — but don’t call him a walk-on.
“I actually despise that label,” Kwiatkowski said. “Because like you said, there’s been a number of (walk-ons) who have played, and just because you weren’t given a scholarship doesn’t mean you aren’t as capable. Obviously there’s some exceptions to that, of people who walk on and don’t end up playing.
“I guess that’s the rule, if anything.”
Er. Senior Brain, Behavior, and Cognitive Science major Mike Kwiatkowski. MLive also features Kwiatkowski.
If Denard Robinson can't go, Hoke will consider single, symbolic play
That would be something I would think about, but to be honest with you," Hoke said. "The seniors and the guys and the people who are truly Michigan fans, I think they understand the significance he's had."
He was asked about using Robinson in another role Saturday. The injury has caused numbness in his right hand and made it difficult to grip the football.
"Oh, I don't know," Hoke said on 97.1. "The health of him and all those things are what we're concerned about."
At this point I'm not expecting him against Iowa, except in that ceremonial role. If it's two weeks on from the Nebraska game and he's still throwing ducks in warmups, as he was before the Northwestern game, it doesn't seem likely he'll get better before the bowl game, if then. John Niyo:
…chances are, we've seen the last of Robinson as Michigan's starting quarterback. The ulnar nerve injury that has sidelined him since the first half of an Oct. 27 loss at Nebraska takes weeks to heal, if not months, or surgery. And coach Brady Hoke's cat-and-mouse games with the media notwithstanding, that reality — along with Robinson's NFL prospects — figures to leave the senior stuck in this new dual-threat role: as an extra coach and cheerleader on the sideline while Devin Gardner succeeds him under center.
At least Gardner is doing well, the considerable silver lining in pretty much the worst way for Denard to go out.
Halfway to a final verdict thing. The MZone's Season Tickets vs Stubhub feature concludes with resounding victory for the scalper, especially for primo seats which could be had at a 40% markdown on the secondary market. This is the easy year, though: a home schedule featuring Nebraska/ND/Ohio State is not likely to end up with the scalper in the black. How close will a two-year total be? Tune in next year to find out.
I'm guessing it'll be pretty close to break-even overall, but once you take the ND game out of the equation… well, Arkansas probably isn't going to cut it.
One of the greatest times I had after I came back was when we watched Michigan football together in the press box. One day up there I found out how much he truly loved this university. He said, “Hey Mo, come here. I wanna show you something.” The band was already out on the field and the players were coming out of the tunnel, and they’re playing The Victors and all that stuff. Bo said, “Now there—isn’t that the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen in your life? Look at the fans, look at band and look at this team coming out here. That’s what Michigan is all about.” It was as though he was just painting a portrait that was in his mind of something that he was so proud of.
"One of the greatest times I had after I came back was when we watched Michigan football together in the press box. He said, 'hey, come here' and told me to listen to this generic Nickelback ripoff cheese by a band named Porpville or something. Bo said 'Now there—isn't that the most beautiful thing you've ever seen in your life?' Then Zombie Nation came on, and we wept in each others' arms."
-conversation that did not happen
Iowa: not good. Win percentage chart from the Purdue game showing how Iowa stayed in the game:
It may not be much of a comfort to anyone, but Iowa was actually very fortunate to lose to Purdue on a last-second field goal. Or to put it another way, Iowa was lucky to be in the game at all. If Purdue could have just gotten out of its own way on a couple of occasions, they would have won by two touchdowns or more. Every time it looked like the Boilermakers were going to go ahead decisively, they managed to make an egregious blunder -- a fumble, a penalty, a missed field goal -- that kept Iowa inexplicably and unjustly still in the game. If we look at the win probability chart for the game, we can see exactly where these moments occurred (WP here refers to Iowa's chances of winning):
That's how you lose by a field goal despite getting outgained almost 2 to 1.
Tie that running back to the train tracks. Northwestern defensive lineman Sean McEvilly: we need to have a talk.
Sir. You are named Sean McEvilly. You do not pronounce this like you are Scottish adverbial evil, nor do you have a luxuriously nefarious mustache. In fact you look about as evil as a schnauzer.
Also, what is the deal with this?
Good attitude on the practice field.
This should read "conspires to tie pretty debutantes to Venric Mark." At least you are majoring in economics.
I'm sure you feel, like I do, that this is a missed opportunity. Look at Jake Ryan: he grows his hair out and becomes Clay Mathews. To ensure a ticket to the NFL, you need one of these:
Please acquire one posthaste and accept the internet glory that surely awaits.
This isn't Canisius anymore, Toto. Michigan can throw it up, and someone can catch it and rain thunder down. This is… intriguing for John Beilein:
The alley-oop: the most exciting play in basketball.
For the first time in his 35 years of coaching, Beilein now incorporates the alley-oops into his practices.
“I realize it’s a really good play,” he noted Monday, pausing before he finished, “if you have athletes.”
"…I have just discovered that men like Glenn Robinson III exist, and whoah."
Policework objection. BWS takes on the long Mark option discussed in the defensive UFR:
before the ball is even snapped, you can see a huge problem: Michigan is badly outnumbered to the boundary side of the field. From the offensive center toward the boundary, Michigan has only four defenders. Nebraska has four men on the line of scrimmage, Colter, and Mark. There's absolutely no way Michigan can defend this play toward the sideline.
It's tough, sure, but doable. I clipped this exact play a bit later and Michigan executed better. Beyer and Kovacs combined to impact Mark near the LOS; the pile fell forward for four.
Also note Ross's presence. The key is for that defensive end to stay on the LOS and widen out. Beyer at the pitch on the first one versus the second:
Beyer doesn't get as far upfield, is a step or two further outside, and is turned to chase on the pitch, which gets him to the back as Kovacs contains. Michigan's alignment there can get the job done, and if you don't slide to the field they'll have opportunities out there. That's what the spread does—requires you to make plays without the advantage of numbers. Michigan's trying to get that back by using the sideline as their 12th guy.
One of Michigan's main issues against the option in this one was the defensive ends giving themselves up one for one quickly. We saw them get a little better at that as the day went on; they'll have to rep it a lot next week in preparation for Ohio State.
Etc.: Northwestern analyzes its doom, needs bigger screenshots. Classic Ufer nicknames. Super Toe! The only Iranian I know who wears cowboy boots! For best results, play Indiana. Rich Rodriguez on Denard. Orange Bowl contract finalized, ND gets significantly less than everyone else if they participate. Senior salute from M&GB. Holdin' The Rope on Denard.
By farside286. Please tell me that's a processor speed reference and not your Mo-Jo room number c. 1998-'99 because if it's the latter I'm so so sorry!
When I came to Michigan they had recently started doing these really interesting seminar classes that only freshmen could take. There was one on the Simpsons, one all about spring break destinations, and one on King Arthur that filled up right away since it got around you get to watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail.* I ended up taking the Psychology of Business, basically an insight directly into the hive mind of management that would have been invaluable to a corporate career if it hadn't also completely turned me off from it.
Club_med, a statistician, mentioned a few of that class's signature readings on "flow" while showing that the team with momentum going into overtime does not have any advantage. He plans to see if other things like 4th downs or turnovers create swings. Hypothesis: if there's a difference at all it is probably a) buried in too small a data sample, and b) an effect of freeing coaches from their lizard brains to take appropriate risks. The ND-Pitt Hypothesis: success in overtime situations is directly correlated to which team is better at playing football.
*I appreciate a discussion on holy hand grenades as much as the next guy, but some of us honestly want to talk Alano-Sarmation Theory, and translate Nennius's list of battles into Welsh to see if it rhymes.
More Statistics Bias in This Week's Read These:
Run charts like running QBs. Please let's all welcome the nerdy and likeable LSAClassof2000 back to the diaries with a quick comparison of Michigan's rush/pass offense/defense over the last 10 years versus that of Iowa. Conclusion: having Denard Robinson or Brad Banks under center makes you good at running:
Whence the Tebowing? The guy who I think graduated from LSA in 2000 also decided to chart up the Denardian career. I don't like that the charts are all on a different Y scale so you can't really compare to each other until…
…arrrgghhhh 2012 Y R U no touchdowns!
Get yer head out of September. The Devin Gardening of the past few weeks has people thinking of 2013 things despite the 2012 things still being very much in play. Gordon put together a great list and discussion on the Big Ten's out-of-conference schedule for next year. Hurrah for the yellow and blue not starting against the Sabanic empire in Jerryworld and thus diminishing the excitement of the season right out of the gate. Somebody remind me to back-link this thing next August.
Hoops in Pittsburgh. I bumped ClearEyesFullHart's preview/obsessing over next week's basketball game at Pitt. And not just because I'm a sucker for Firefly references, even if I'm a hopeless sucker for Firefly references.
[JUMP for some epic weeklies and best of the board]