"Coach Mattison told me what the Ravens were about, what he thought," Beyer said. "He definitely encouraged me. I hold his opinion in high regard."
10/17/2009 – Michigan 63, Delaware State 6 – 5-2, 1-2 Big Ten
This what everyone wanted after last year's decision to schedule Utah didn't go as planned and Michigan slumped to a 3-9 record: a tomato can's tomato can. Someone to take lunch money or candy from. A baby seal to club, and then club some more, and then club some more until David Cone's lyrical daggers were targeting only a wet, damp smear. This is what we got, a game in which I was pondering at which point in the second quarter I'd stop charting for UFR.* A bye week in all but execution.
Actually, scratch the first several words of that sentence: an execution. It was kind of depressing. In the aftermath, Dr. Saturday took time out of a busy Saturday to glance at the box score, blanch in horror, and write a post about it:
The final ledger against the Wolverines could not have been more grisly: Michigan outgained DSU by more than 500 total yards despite pulling starting quarterback Tate Forcier after the first series, averaging 10 yards every time it snapped the ball while also blocking a punt for a touchdown for good measure. The Wolverines led 49-0 after two quarters and began emptying the bench at halftime to keep the margin below 100. I hope Michigan's belly is full, the Hornets are enjoying their half-million-dollar payday and the MEAC championship doesn't come down to handing a win to NCA&T, because children had to watch this.
Delaware State's fluke inability to reschedule the NC A&T** was long known. The reason DocSat brings it up is the pure grisly horror of the thing: 49-3 at halftime, 727 yards for Michigan at the end of everything. "Grisly" is the right word, and "bodybag game" seems like only a slight exaggeration. Michigan killed DSU's long snapper on their first punt, blocked the next one, and pointedly refused to approach another one all day despite the replacement offering up Scorched Earth-worthy parabolas. Michigan, for its part, did not punt.
I don't blame Rodriguez or Martin or Michigan for lining the game up. One bad I-AA team is like any other; Martin probably did a quick scan for back-to-back national championships, found none, and said "okay." It was just bad luck to get the opposite of Appalachian State. Given the state of the program, which was precarious after last year and needed an auto-win for its open date, and college football, which GIMME MONEY, some unchallenging I-AA team was a good move in the abstract. Outside of the three hours in which the game actually took place, it was the right decision.
Obviously, I blame the NCAA. They're the ones who approved a twelfth game, allowed I-AA wins to count for bowl eligibility every year, and placed no limits on the number of home games you can force your bored fans to sit through. At that point it's race to the bottom. Michigan punched a baby seal until it was unconscious and then brought in its six-year-old brother to continue punching the baby seal because he's got to execute the playbook and every play in it is "punch baby seal," and the reason this was a good idea is the NCAA's decade-long money grab.
I think this can this be fixed, or at least mitigated, though. Rodriguez's preseason assertion that the NCAA should allow an exhibition game looks brilliant today. Michigan's 5-2 after beating up a terrible I-AA team, and in the process they set a hollow record for total offense. Michigan improved 35 places in total offense and 20 in total defense in one game. They've still gotten outgained in every game they've played against teams not in the MAC or MEAC, but they're currently the #25 offense and #64 defense in the country because they picked a really, really bad tomato can instead of one of those half-decent ones you only beat by 40. Everyone outside of accounting and the walk-ons at the end of the roster would have been better off if this game didn't exist.
Rodriguez's plan is a way to make the accountants and everyone else happy. Allow teams to open the season a week earlier against a team of their choice in an exhibition game. Sell exorbitantly priced tickets to season-ticket holders, have your sleepy quasi-spring game, open up an actual bye week during the season, and make sure the corrupt statistics from games against teams starting 22 guys your walk-ons could play straight up don't infect record books and season statistics.
We're already paying exorbitant amounts of money for bloodsport; they least they can do for us is stop pretending these count.
*(Answer: probably when Sheridan comes in, at least as far as serious charting goes. I'll stick around longer to evaluate backups on defense and offer some opinions on Cox and Smith.)
**(Fun fact: North Carolina A&T is where Larry Harrison briefly landed after his tendency to scare young women by enthusiastically manipulating his dangly bits caught up to him. He was forced to leave by Concerned Folk who were evidently not concerned about Larry Harrison's future. And yet Corey Tropp can skate against Steve Kampfer this year.)
- I don't want to get into another huge band flamewar, but I'm sure it didn't escape anyone's notice that the DSU band was sacrificing pitch control and accuracy for loudness. Personally, as the APPROACHING STORM blatted its way through its pregame and halftime shows, I was appalled. The popular music! How am I supposed to choke down the substandard camembert my idiot brother thought would go with an Australian malbec? (About which, as the children say in their vulgar tongue, LOL.)
Now, the clown who laughs as he cries inside, that's showmanship.
- For serious, though: I literally LOLed when the pregnant pause following "and now, the Michigan Marching Band presents…" was followed by "OPERA!" The earlier complaint about the band's focus on things other than putting on an entertaining show could not have been reinforced better. DSU had a third of the people and vastly less practice time; they were a MEAC band from a school of under 4000. Even I could tell that the notes coming from them weren't quite right. And yet they got a bigger, more sincere cheer than the MMB. They so enraptured Michael Rothstein that he dedicated an article to the band with statements like "That was when the band took over," and… yeah, I'm with him.
And it's not like the MMB hasn't done stuff like this in the past: the Ferris Bueller halftime show, the Holy Grail one, and the Titanic one where the band formed a ship and the broke itself on an iceberg were all entertaining and memorable enough for me to remember them years later.
- The APPROACHING STORM has a a website that is true to the nature of the band, all rickety glory and awesome animated lightning GIF backgrounds. It's on Angelfire!
- Pardon the blasphemy, but you know who Vincent Smith reminds me of? Mike Hart. Same lack of killer deep speed that prevents the guy in question from being an elite prospect—Noel Devine would have housed two or three of Smith's carries. On the other hand, Smith appears to have Hart's ability to juke guys out of their shorts and hit zone creases with authority, and when it comes time to get tackle Smith delivers a blow impressively for a member of the lollipop guild. He's probably even shiftier than Hart, not quite as liable to drag a pile but set to become an excellent player over the next few years. I still think Mike Shaw is the odds-on favorite to start next year because he has the explosion to take it the distance and the moves to break more than his share, but in this offense the #2 back is almost a starter and Smith should be productive.
- To repeat a tweet: the second team offensive line from L to R was Barnum, Mealer, Khoury, Ferrara, and Omameh. Is Barnum's presence at left tackle a statement about his ability or the lack of tackles who aren't redshirting at the moment? Probably the latter.
- Will Campbell fell behind Renaldo Sagesse on the depth chart again after his struggles against Iowa. Was Sagesse dinged for that game? I wouldn't be surprised if he was. It would be pretty weird to elevate a true freshman over a productive backup for a night road game against an undefeated team without extenuating circumstances.
- Mike Williams was the last member of the starting defense to leave the field. Kovacs was second-to-last. You can read many things into that. My things: backup safeties do not exist, Williams was indeed a major culprit in the Iowa loss, and Vlad Emilien is not getting a dodgy medical redshirt.
|Last week's ballot|
I like how this ballot turned out, given the wacky circumstances of this week, but I'm not super-enamored with it. As always, suggestions are welcome.
Please don't pay too much attention to the delta values, as they never seem to work properly on my ballot.
A couple points to consider:
- Texas was pretty close to jumping Florida, but the Gators' resume overall is still more impressive, despite the fact that they should have lost to Arkansas.
- Should Georgia Tech be ranked ahead of Virginia Tech? Probably not, because the Hokies are GT's only big win on the year, while VT has a few good wins to its credit.
- I don't know what to do with Ohio State. I don't think they deserve to be ranked where they are (obligatory lolpurdue), but looking at wins, they should be. I guess there should be an "embarrassment level of loss" metric to take into account.
- Some of the teams toward the back end of the poll seem to be only vaguely deserving of inclusion. However, the teams on my "consideration" list (see the chart after the jump) don't seem to be any better. Which teams am I forgetting about that deserve a shot?
As always, the full resume chart is after the jump. In future weeks, I think I'm going to trim it down, and only include each team's top 5 wins, along with all the losses for every team on the chart. A 63-6 shellacking over a 1-AA team shouldn't really be relevant to separating teams (and if it is, I can look at it on a case-by-case basis). The main reason for this, of course, is that I'm breaking the tables on the MGoTemplate.
The WH highlight reel:
A fan-shot version of Vincent Smith's first touchdown as a Wolverine:
And a standard-definition torrent from Ten Yard Torrents. Will update when an HD torrent gets posted.
- Liked opportunity to play in front of 106k, and the fans supported the team, despite lack of an exciting opponent.
- Liked that a bunch of older guys were able to get their first real playing time. Even ST starters didn't play in the second half. Guys are happy because their teammates got to play. So many close games prevents quality reps for the depth. A lot of fun to let the scout team guys get real playing time.
- Carlos should be cleared up by Monday. Molk might be back for the PSU game, and he should be able to practice this week. No new injuries happened today.
- Tate practiced well during the week. They wanted to give him some game reps, but the first couple series went well, and they didn't need him. They knew tuesday that Tate would be able to play. If he was needed all game, he could have (but they planned on playing Denard). Wanted to get Denard some passing reps. Sheridan will be a great coach some day. Cone knows the system, great to get him some reps.
- Planned to give Shaw and Smith the most carries. Wanted to give Kevin a few as well. How importat was it to get the backups some carries? You need at least 3-4 tailbacks, because they often play 2 at once, etc. It's critical to get the lower guys some reps. VS and MS physical for their size. Cox is on the scout team, but he got a chance to prove himself today.
- Beginning of the year, this game would be used for evaluating. Middle of the year, it's a rest week, and time to give reps to depth players.
- James Rogers moved to CB this week. Asked a couple weeks ago if he could help out on defense.
- Wanted to run the offense, but didn't want to show anything new or throw the ball too much.
- The coaches are "very mindful of the guys we plan on redshirting" Justin Turner will redhsirt.
- Guys are ready for PSU. They were talking about the Lions as soon as they started going back up the tunnel.
- RR knows the team is where he wants it when the 2s are almost as good as the 1s.
- JT Floyd was out with what might be the flu. Cissoko still suspended - day-to-day.
Kevin and Kelvin Grady
- Never talked to each other about scoring TDs in the same game. "These are the type of opportunities and moments you work for" - Kelvin.
- Both brothers are competitors, never worried about scoring touchdowns together.
- Kevin loves running the ball, it was god to get the opportunity to do it again. Kelvin's TD - he didn't do much, coaches just made the right call against the coverage.
- Team had no problem with intensity - You shouldn't need the opponent be a big one in order to get up for a game in Michigan Stadium.
- Kelvin still loves his hoops teammates, and they support him in football.
- Wasn't expecting a huge workload, but was prepared to make the most of it.
- Never worried about whether or not he needed to redshirt. He wanted to do whatever the team needed.
- Smith wasn't aware of all the things he was doing, just worried about running the ball.
- Freshman year is for getting the experience down, in the future he can worry about moving up the depth chart.
- Hasn't scored since his junior yr of high school. Brandon Smith scooped the ball to Graham a bit.
- Every game is taken personally. Today was to try to get everybody out there "Get everybody to live their dream of playing in the Big House" Ohene Opong-owusu was a captain today. He was hustling, etc.
- With 2 sacks today, and 3 good weeks, the number is starting to climb up. He's really come on lately.
- Try to keep guys focused in the locker room this week. Trying not to miss assignments this game. About last year's PSU game: "Last year was last year, this year we fight for 60 minutes."
- The Big Ten is up for grabs. The goal is 10-2 "It can happen." You never know what can happen in the big 10. Never lose hope, the goal is a big 10 championship.
- Vincent Smith is tiny and strong. "You ain't seen him with his shirt off. He's cut up."
- "Just going out and having fun with my team. that's all this was."
- Felt great to throw 2 TDs. Safety came down on the Grady TD pass. Knew what was coming. Sometimes the pass to the wide open guy is the hardest one. Don't want to overthtrow or underthrow. Had to throw it to webb because he was so open when denard got his head around.
- Bounce-back from 2 losses is a big deal. The team can re-focus, put past games in the past. It's not hard to do, because your teammates tell you it's ok to make a mistake. You just need to get back on track. Against Iowa, Denard was calm. The interception had nothing to do with his nerves.
- Don't try to do too much. Improving as a passer every day. Coach and teammates helping him out. Reading the defense is what Denard is working on now. Always room for improvement. Better than he was when he first got here.
- More comfortable to get in rhythm, rather than one series at a time? Feels comfortable any time he goes into the game. Both he and Tate want to play, but they don't worry about who's on the field. They just want the team to win. Even Cone and Kennedy got reps today.
- Vincent Smith's running style is fun. He ran loose, and hard to tackle.
- On his fumble, a guy ripped it from behind just as he was going to secure with his second hand.
There is a new and improved Liveblog Chaos Mitigation Post, which you should definitely check out before you start posting willy-nilly. Think of the moderators.
I said I'd come back to this when I have video, and now I do. In last week's Iowa game, the linebackers became extremely aggressive against the run. This usually worked out pretty well. Iowa had a lot of problems running the ball, and what success they had was usually due to the NT getting blown too far back off the ball for Mouton—it was usually Mouton caught in the wash, with Ezeh flowing to a point farther outside—to flow to the ball. There were a couple instances in which the linebackers zipped into the wrong hole, but all told it was an encouraging performance, especially for Ezeh. Ezeh picked up a +4.5, his first positive outcome of the season.
Here's an excellent example of the linebacker's new aggression. It's first and ten late in the first half. Iowa's got the ball and is playing conservatively. They start in an I and motion the outside receiver in:
Here's the snap. You can see Martin already off the ball. Woolfolk has gone in motion to cover the receiver who shifted; this is man coverage:
A half-second later, Iowa is shifting the line left and running a zone stretch. It's hard to see the line from this angle but from the top to the bottom:
- Stevie Brown is holding the outside against an Iowa TE.
- Craig Roh has gotten sealed inside by his guy. I think this is because Michigan's line was slanting away from the play at the snap and then had to try to adjust. Look at Martin in the picture above: he's heading straight upfield. In the picture below, he's behind an OL and trying to come around.
- Ryan Van Bergen and Martin are in a big heap of bodies, with three blockers trying to take on two linemen. They don't crease and they don't allow anyone to get to the second level, so that's a win for Michigan.
- Brandon Graham isn't doing so hot but it doesn't matter. He may be preparing to shoot upfield in the event of a waggle.
And then you've got the linebackers, who are moving forward already, well before the handoff point. Both of them are headed outside.
At the handoff point, Roh has gotten himself a tad bit farther in the backfield. There are still no creases and no downfield blockers. Ezeh is heading outside into the crease between Brown and Roh. Mouton's waiting a bit in case there's a cutback; his designated hole is somewhere between Roh and Martin:
The handoff's made, and Mouton reads that there's nothing in the middle and heads outside. Ezeh's already in the hole, about to meet the fullback…
…who he crushes:
The key in the above frame is that Ezeh got outside the fullback, forcing the tailback behind him and into the help, which could be Roh or RVB but in this case is Mouton, who's running untouched into the path of the tailback…
…for a TFL:
Here's the video:
In real time you can hear, and feel, the crunching destruction of the pwned fullback. Michigan's been doing this for a while now. Contrast several plays against Iowa and Michigan State on which the linebackers flow downhill immediately with this, the opening play of the Notre Dame game:
Yes, they're flowing to the ball, but the hesitancy is obvious. This happened a few times.
The problem comes when opponents go to play action and two tight ends get wide open at the same time, but I don't know if that's their responsibility. With Michigan going to more man coverage since the insertion of Woolfolk at corner, Mouton and Ezeh can be responsible for the two guys in the I; the tight ends are not their problem. In an ace set, that's not the case, but at least one of them was innocent on Moeaki Disaster II.
I'm not sure if this is better play from the linebackers or Robinson removing responsibilities from them and telling them to go forth to rampage. The multiple times Iowa got guys wide open on play action waggles, and Michigan State's success with tight ends, suggest that Michigan has traded one problem for another here.