Poll coming early PM.
Video trouble? Try VLC.
|M20||1||10||I-Form 3-wide||Run||1||Brown||Zone left|
|Wisconsin has a corner rolled up over the backside, obviously showing zone, and goes with a shifted defensive front that lines an NT up over the C and has a DT over Boren. Kraus and Boren double the DT but get no push; Boren(-1) eventually falls. Meanwhile, the NT is the responsibility of Mitchell and slants behind Kraus as the play snaps. Mitchell has no chance to block him and does his best to follow him down the line. As Brown cuts up behind Long's block of the DE, the NT closes to tackle; a host of unblocked second-level Badgers follow. This play was doomed from the start.|
|M21||2||9||Ace 3-wide||Run||14||Brown||Zone right|
|Butler on the left side of the line; same shift by Wisconsin and Michigan runs away from it. Kraus gets squared up on the NT as Mitchell heads out to the second level; Boren(+1) blows the DT way off the line w/ help from Long(+1) and Butler(+1) manages to get in front of and drive the DE back. Brown pops through a hole and into the secondary. (Replay)|
|M35||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Pass||9||Mathews||Long handoff|
|Mathews working on the freshman corner for good yardage. (CA, 3)|
|M442||2||1||I-Form Big||Run||6||Brown||Zone left|
|NT Newkirk slants left at the snap, running himself out of the play and into the block of Butler. Wisconsin compensates by blitzing linebackers right up them middle. Mitchell(+1) chops one; Moundros(+1) does the other; Brown cuts up smartly into the vacant area.|
|O49||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||-1||Brown||Zone left|
|Hayden straight-up crushes a scoop block by Boren(-1) and Kraus(-1), ending up right in Brown's path. With nowhere to go he attempts to cut back; he's not Mike Hart.|
|Uh... okay. One WR on second and long. Debord will do this several more times and throw out of it, which is, IMO, completely insane. At this point Wisconsin has one all-star corner and then freshmen and losers. Why allow Ikegwuonu to cover the only receiver on the field? Why not force the nickelback on the field? I dunno. Anyway, Ikegwuonu gives tons of cushion and Michigan takes the simple out. Henne loops the ball awkwardly and makes this a tougher catch than it should be. (CA-, 2, protection 1/1)|
|Henne turfs one. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 8 min 1st Q. Henne does look wonky to start.|
|MLB bites on the play action and the WLB in zone coverage freaks out and starts heading to the sideline in an attempt to cover a WR after biting a little bit himself. Butler comes open and Henne hits him for a first down. Pass is a little low but reeled in. (CA, 2)|
|Inverted TEs, one of whom is "TE" Vince Helmuth. We often run draws from this formation, leaking the FB inside, and that's what we do here. Wisconsin is prepared for this, shooting two linebackers into the backside gap. Helmuth takes out one of them, but his counterpart forces Brown into the line; Brown bangs into an OL and goes down amongst a host of red shirts, driving for a few yards he did well to get.|
|The horribly thrown interception. (IN, 0, protection 2/2). Had Mathews for a first down otherwise. Goodbye, Henne.|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 6 min 1st Q. Henne out, Mallett in.|
|M32||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Pass||9||Arrington||Long handoff|
|Wisconsin brings up an extra guy, expecting run, and... hey! They took advantage of a soft corner. It's the freshman again. Throw was well in front of Arrington, presaging further wildness. (CA-, 3)|
|Not a stretch, close to what I'd call an Iso in any other offense. Left side of the line gets good push, but no creases appear. Hodge sticks Brown just short of the first down.|
|Not sneaking it on third and an inch seems needlessly reckless, but it works. Mitchell(+1) makes a good reach block, knocking back the DT and creating a bit of space for Minor. Good thing, too, as the other gaps were filled by hard-slanting badgers.|
|Arrington on a comeback route; Mallett waits and waits, finally throwing it wide as he nears the sidelines. It looks like Manningham is wide open here. (IN, 0)|
|I dunno, like WTF man. The weakside DE is totally ignored as long shoots out to the second level immediately; Minor gets a handoff on delay action and the unblocked DE makes a TFL. I'm at a loss to explain this play. Maybe it could work if the DE freaks out and goes after Mallett, but in this offense backside DEs are left unblocked all the time as the tackle shoots out to the second level, so as soon as the play snaps the DE is thinking run. Butler was off the line; maybe he was supposed to pull around? I don't understand this play at all. Video included in case someone wants to theorize as to what's going on here.|
|Good protection, as UW only rushes three. Mallett can't find anyone, eventually rolling out and taking a sack. (TA, 0, protection 2/2) On replay, good coverage with plenty of bumping from UW. No one open; can't blame Mallett there.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-7, 1 min 1st Q.|
|M20||1||10||I-Form 3-wide||Pass||17||Arrington||PA Flag|
|Excellent protection; draw fake t
o Minor. Mallett scans, pumping once before finding Arrington, who's beaten the freshman Henry, on a flag route. Mallett throws; the pass is a bit low but catchable, Arrington digs it out. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)
|M37||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||-2||Minor||Zone left|
|Kraus(-1) blows right past the backside DT, leaving him for Mitchell on a reach block; Mitchell does not make this block. Minor is forced to cut back into an unblocked linebacker. This play is explored in more detail below.|
|M35||2||12||I-Form||Pass||Inc||Arrington||Post and go|
|Arrington torches this Henry kid again, getting yards past him; Mallett overthrows it. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Hayden splits a double from Boren(-1) and Kraus(-1), coming straight up the middle and sacking before Mallett's routes can develop. (PR, 0, protection 0/2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-10, 11 min 2nd Q. FTR: Debord calling a diverse game here. Unless you think any play featuring an Alex Mitchell reach block is a bad playcall, there's not much to criticize.|
|M20||1||10||I-Form Big||Pass||Inc||Arrington||PA Out|
|This is where I don't understand this formation. Okay, you've run play action and gotten Mallett lots of time. But the only actual receiver in the route is covered by Ikegwuonu. And I mean this literally: there is one receiver in the route. Michigan's run this a couple times before, but it's an all-or-nothing strategy that banks on a really convincing run fake. Ikegwuonu is in man and doesn't buy it; Mallett throws it anyway and it's nearly picked off. (BR, 0, protection 2/2)|
|M20||2||10||I-Form Twins||Run||3||Brown||Zone left|
|Eight in the box for UW and Hayden gets a jump off the ball directly into the path of the play. Mitchell is just trailing the backside DT hopelessly when Moundros(+1) slams into him (the DT), driivng him back and pancacking him. Mitchell gets in on the act, generally shoving people and turning this into a small gain as Brown cuts back behind Kraus and Boren trying to handle Hayden.|
|Mallett's drop is ridiculously deep â€“ ten yards â€“ and he fails to step up into a nice pocket the OL has provided, so eventually a guy comes around Schilling but it's not his fault. Mallett thinks about rolling out, then flicks a perfect pass off his back foot to a guy 25 yards from him. Uh. Okay. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)|
|Seven guys in the box and the linebackers are shifted to the TE's side of the line; Mallett checks off and hits Arrington on a post after looking off a safety. Could be a little more accurate â€“ Arrington pulled of his feet â€“ but Mallett looks like a real quarterback on these back-to-back throws. (CA+, 2, protection 2/2)|
|O42||1||10||I-Form Twins||Run||5||Brown||Zone right|
|Good job by Mitchell to get a solid shove on the DT. Moundros(+1) pounds a linebacker back off the LOS as he shoots into the hole; Brown follows him for a pounding five-yard gain.|
|O37||2||5||I-Form Twins||Run||-1||Minor||Zone left|
|Schilling asked to reach-block Newkirk, but Newkirk is slanting so hard to the playside he's immediately behind him and has no chance to block anything; Newkirk flows down the line and tackles at the POA. Without his presence this is a six-to-eight yard gain, IMO.|
|Mallett can't find anyone open, but smartly scrambles around pressure to buy time. He motions Mathews to head downfield and lofts up a bomb to him. He's well covered â€“ amazingly well covered, #3 here did a stellar job â€“ but Mathews comes over his back to make a simultaneous catch and pick up the first down. Is Mathews blanketed? Yes. Is this a bad decision? Not really. He didn't have any other options and it's third down. Even if intercepted this is a nice punt. (CA+, 1, protection 2/2)|
|Manningham beats Ikegwuonu, who falls, and jets into the endzone. (CA, 3)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown,7-17, 4 min 2nd Q. An 80 yard touchdown drive gives false hope. At this point Mallett looks acceptable; it's almost all downhill from here.|
|M18||1||10||I-Form Twins||Pass||Inc||Manningham||PA Fly|
|Manningham has a step here; Mallett throws it well short and to the inside. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)|
|M18||2||10||I-Form Twins||Run||6||Brown||Inside zone|
|Wisconsin only has about six guys in the box here, though they're clearly in zone and two DBs are looking in at the snap, prepared to jump a run. Brown ends up cutting back as the frontside is jammed up. Long(+1) and Kraus(+1) have creased a large area to the play's rear and Butler(+1) has cut of the backside DE. A safety comes up and with no one on the second level it's just him and Brown; theh ole is big enough for Brown to schoot past him and fall forward for a nice gain.|
|UW sends the house â€“ seven guys â€“ getting a corner in unblocked. Mallett throws off his back foot, winging a pass into the sidelines. Manningham was open for the first down. (IN, 0, protection 0/1, team)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-20, 14 min 3rd Q. A Zoltan MIND BULLET on an otherwise crappy day for him gets Michigan the ball back in UW territory.|
|Eight in the box, and we run straight ahead with no zone blocks. Boren(+1) does a good job on Hayden; Kraus gets out on the MLB. Moundros has trouble with another LB attacking hard; Brown's forced to cut up inside instead of head out into open space. The backside DE, unblocked comes into tackle near the LOS. Brown falls forward.|
|Ikegwuonu has this blanketed; this ball should not be thrown. Manningham ends up playing DB. (BR, 1, protection 2/2)|
|O35||7||Shotgun 3-wide||Pen||-5||--||Delay of game|
|Wisconsin rushes three; Hayden is in the path of the throw, leaps, and knocks it down. (BA, 0, protection 1/2, team)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-20, 13 min 3rd Q.|
|Manningham open on the out for about nine, as UW is stacking the box. Thrown to Tacopants. Woo, Tacopants! (IN, 0, protection 2/2).|
|UW still has eight in the box, and this is going nowhere. Hayden breaks free from Boren's(-1) block, taking a swipe at Minor in the backfield but missing. The WLB gets sucked inside too far and Minor manages to get the corner after getting knocked back and jetting out to the sideline. All the RB here.|
|M29||3||1||I-Form Big||Pass||4||Manningham||Long handoff|
|Well, if they're going to play off, sure. Ikegwuonu pissed afterwards. (CA, 3)|
|Way, way, overthrown. Not even Tacopants can get to that one. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)|
|M33||2||10||I-Form Twins||Pass||0||Arrington||Long handoff|
|Maybe one too many times to the well.... maybe it's late? Don't know. Henry was pretty far off at the snap. (CA, 3)|
|UW sends the house again; good pickup; Mallett throws it way wide and high to Manningham on an out. Better coverage this time, though. (IN, 0, protection 3/3)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-23, 3 min 3rd Q.|
|Hard to tell what happens on this play, as ABC is devoting significant screen space to people doing "Jump Around", but it looks like the usual: tough reach block on the backside, this one Schilling's, does not work and when there's a slight disruption on the frontside fails reach block results in a minimal gain.|
|Excellent pocket, Manningham sort of open but not really, Mallett throws it in the dirt. A commenter wondered if Tacopants had a 2'6" sister named "Tacoskirt." Yes, yes he does. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Mallett picks Manningham out just as he passes the first level in the zone but before the safety can come up and lays it directly in his hands. Carter takes a bad angle, falls, and Manningham is off to the races. Divers alarums. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-23, 13 min 4th Q. Yeah... well. Okay.|
|So a stunt gets Newkirk in and Mallett knows he's going to get crushed. He chucks it up for grabs; it's picked off. Jesus Christ. (BR, 0, protection 0/2, team)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 14-23, 12 min 4th Q. At least that was quick.|
|M14||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Pass||5 + 15||--||Scramble|
|Pocket holds up well, but Mallett can't find anyone. He scrambles out of the pocket, scanning downfield for potential receivers, then decides to take off and get what he can, which is five yards and a late hit penalty. Legit, as there's no reason for Levy to bang helmets with Mallett after he's down. (TA, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Manningham is open for a seven or eight yard gain, but Mallett throws it way too far downfield. It's almost intercepted; Manningham, going for the ball, bangs into the DB and the ball falls to the turf. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)|
|M34||2||10||Ace 3-wide||Pass||Inc||Mathews||PA Wheel|
|Mathews actually lined up as a TE, albeit off the LOS; he runs a wheel route that gets wide open against Levy and could be a 15-20 yard gain. Mallett loops it but throws it short, Mathews can't dig it out. (IN, 1, protection 2/2)|
|A blitz/stunt gets a UW guy loose right up the middle. Mallett is sack-- OH GOD WHAT ARE YOU-- RUN, CARSON, RUN! (Uh... N/A, N/A, 0/2, team)|
|Manningham beats Ikegwuonu this time and Mallett finds him between levels in the zone; Manningham drops it. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)|
|50||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Pass||Inc +10||Arrington||Improvisation|
|Levy blitzes around the edge; Mallett steps up and starts rolling out. He doesn't really have to roll out, as there's a nice pocket, but maybe it's good to get away from Levy. He finds Arrington open but throws it in the turf. (IN, 0, protection 2/2) Manningham was mugged by Ikegwuonu; holding call.|
|Should be a simple pitch and catch, but Mallett throws it a bit low. Not so low that it's an impossible catch; Arrington overreacts to it a bit and manages to get under it, eventually dropping the ball. (CA-, 2, protection 1/1)|
|UW only rushes three, which simplifies things; huge holes everywhere in the line. Long(+2) helps out by completely obliterating his guy, kicking him all the way to the other side of the field and making it really obvious where Minor soult go. Butler kinda whiffs on his block but the player in question is forced to head outside; Minor cuts up smartly and into the secondary.|
|Beautiful pocket; Mallett loads up and goes for the endzone. Ikegwuonu is in better postion than Manningham and makes su
re the pass is incomplete. (BR, 0, protection 2/2)
|Wisconsin sends the house; seven players cross the line â€“ I've almost never seen a game with this many crazy-ass blitzes on both sides â€“ and one gets through up the middle after a stunt. Mallett finds Arrington on a corner route but throws it too long. I... well. It's (IN, 0, protection 1/3, team), but that's admittedly harsh.|
|UW obviously just rushing three with eight guys nowhere near the LOS. Mallett drops back in a nice pocket and throws to Arrington, who separates from the DB and lays out to catch a perfect throw. (DO, 1, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-23, 7 min 4th Q. Is this not the least impressive 86 yard touchdown drive you've ever seen?|
|Nearly picked off by Casillas as I think Butler was supposed to get a bit of a pick on his zone drop and did not. Mallett's throw is a little behind Arrington, so it's a completion instead of a pick six. BR? CA? Dunno. Benefit of the doubt. (CA, 2, protection 1/1)|
|Boren(-1) driven back by Hayden; no holes. UW had a seventh guy in the box here... Mallett probably should have checked off.|
|Butler(-2) gets beaten by the DE and flagged for holding; Mallett moves up into the pocket, then starts scrambling around like a madman, eventually taking an enormous loss and attempting to hurl the ball to Minor underhand as he gets sacked. (BR, 0, protection 0/2)|
|Thrown directly to Ikegwuonu. (BR, 0, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 21-23, 4 min 4th Q. Oy.|
|The Mallett dumpoff this ref decides is a sack because he doesn't like the cut of our young man's jib. Mallett was in trouble because Schilling(-2) was humilliatingly thrown to the ground by a linebacker and woop guys on top of him. (PR, 0, protection 0/2)|
|Dropped. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)|
|Mallett steps up, finding Arrington just in front of a safety, but the safety lunges to break it up. (CA, 1, protection 2/2)|
|Actually open and a quasi-decent throw, just too long. Mathews lays out but can't make a near impossible catch. (CA-, 1, protection 2/2)|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 21-30, 2 min 4th Q. Charting ceases.|
This guy was Mr. Super Fun Awesome Guy out of high school?
Yes. Evidently. We should really check the--
We busted out a similar disclaimer during Henne's 2005 nadir: four of Mallett's CAs were long handoffs. When he went, or rather attempted to go, downfield the results were awful: 12 good (CA + DO) results and 19 bad ones (IN + BR + TA), a 38% success rate.
So, was this the worst game by a QB in UFR history?
Yes. The previous gold standard was the 2005 Wisconsin game in which Henne had a whopping 11 INs and the legend of Tacopants really began to take off. But even in that game Henne's ratio was 10:14, a 41% success rate. Before 2005 things get murky and are not backed up by nice numbers, but it was probably the worst performance by a Michigan quarterback since Navarre gave away the 2001 OSU game, and even that was more a spate of hideously bad intercept
ions than Mallett's relentless series of bad reads and inaccuracy.
This is where the mitigation goes: yes, he's a true freshman and yes he has an enormously high ceiling. I still love his pocket awareness, his feel for moving away from pressure (most of the time), and his rocket arm. I am not suggesting that Mallett is destined for failure. It's just that at the moment he sucks real bad. He's going to have to work his ass off to hold off Steven Threet, and I say that having never seen Threet do anything at all.
Maybe Mallet was just under seige?
To some extent, okay. Yes. Protection numbers:
Protection: 55/69. Boren -1, Kraus -1, Butler -2, Schilling -2, Team -8.
I know a huge number for "team" is unsatisfying, but I could not assign blame for many of the stunt screwups, partially because many of the shots were wide-angle and picking out exactly what happened was difficult.
Anyway, the blocking grades out at 80%, not great, but it wasn't last week versus MSU. Mallet had a decent amount of time and when he didn't it was usually because Wisconsin was bringing a huge rush.
Arrington gets in on the parade of uncatchable balls this week; the rest of it is about as you might expect, with a couple of unusual drops from the main guys but in limited opportunities to prove they can catch routine balls.
Hey, how about that Debord!
I will give him this: his playcalling was relatively diverse and did not put Mallett in a position to fail; this was all on him. It was kinda shocking, actually, but in retrospect Michigan got down 10-0 right away and played the entire game from behind, so out came the scoring offense even with the freshman quarterback going FAIL FAIL FAIL. If you ever needed proof that Michigan thinks a diversified offense with a fairly even run/pass split on first down is the best way to score and deliberately chooses something else whenever they can, this game was it.
Uh... Mallett. Yes. I think so.
Oh, lord. I actually though Brown did a fine job taking what was given him on his limited rushing opportunities. Moundros got a couple nice blocks, and Long was a rock as per usual.
What does it mean for Ohio State?
Hopefully damn near nothing. If Mallett plays, we lose. If Hart does not play, we probably lose.
Other than that obvious conclusion, at this point we know the zone running game is highly susceptible to getting overplayed when we use it so much; maybe the precious counter trap or just plain zone counter will re-emerge to give Buckeye DL something to think about. Ohio State fans are very nervous about their starting DTs but our run game will allow their slight but relatively quick guys to penetrate without having to worry about taking on a drive block; unless Hart pulls some magic out expect another disappointing performance.
Schilling did okay, but after last week's severe troubles with the Sackmaster it's clear Schilling-Gholston is this year's biggest individual mismatch in The Game. I am not optimistic.
One change: USC drops back a bit after SMQB points out their stunning lack of schedule strength in an email, though I'm inclined to blame that more on the Pac-10's round robin -- this blog's new obsession, evidently -- and, of course, the implosions of Nebraska and ND than actual malice.
On Kansas: SMQB ponders the placement of KU in a theoretically just universe, concluding that it's not one or two but leaving exactly where they go open to discussion. Meanwhile, Gunslingers takes a different view, noting that KU has not played any team better than around #40 in the computer polls and that, depending on your poll of choice, somewhere between 21 and 29 other teams can make the claim that they have not lost to a team ranked #40 or lower. I mean, look at this:
Colley: 105th toughest schedule (only Texas Tech is worse among BCS conference teams)
GBE: 98th toughest schedule (only USC is worse among BCS conference teams)
Sagarin: 97th toughest schedule (worst among BCS conference teams)
Team Rankings: 117th toughest schedule (worst among BCS conference teams)
CBS Sports: 73rd toughest schedule (only ahead of USC, Texas Tech, and Miami (FL) among BCS conference teams)
NCAA (warning - PDF): 86th toughest schedule (only ahead of Texas Tech, Miami (FL), and USC among BCS conference teams)
It's nice they're undefeated, really, it is. But I think Gunslingers is right:
In sum, if you are ranking Kansas highly, you must be placing a lot of emphasis on not losing, without regard to how bad or mediocre the opposition is. And if you are placing a lot of emphasis on not losing to bad or mediocre opposition, there are about two dozen other teams who also haven't lost to bad or mediocre opposition (but several of them have played and beaten good or great opposition).
Kansas played awful cupcakes in a year when Texas and Oklahoma weren't on their schedule and absolutely should not be rewarded for that; I won't be ranking them over one-loss Oregon or LSU teams that played way, way harder schedules, period.
Not that this matters because they will lose by two touchdowns to Missouri unless there is a flukish outburst of turnovers.
Coming back to U of M and Big Ten country in general truly made me realize how great we have it here. Anyway, I am now in my last semester here at U of M forever, as I can see it, and sit in the student section, and am trying to get a "Lloyd Carr" chant going at the beginning of the second quarter on Saturday. Say what you want about Lloyd, but he is a class act and has been a great representative of our University.
Lloyd has heard plenty of boos over the years, and I, for one, would like to see my fellow fans show some appreciation for Lloyd. Thanks a lot, and keep up the good work.
I'm not sure how a "Lloyd Carr" chant works in terms of syllables, but some sort of crowd acknowledgment of Carr's career is called for. I know I've spent a large part of this year pointing out the flaws in the program that drive me crazy, but in 13 years at Michigan Carr has brought home a national title, is .500 against OSU, and has a winning record against Notre Dame. He's also dominated Michigan State and Penn State. The Wolverines were the 9th best program in terms of winning percentage over his tenure going into the year and are likely to pass Miami and Nebraska for 7th by year's end. And he's done this without a whiff of scandal. By any standard, he's been a success, and his accomplishments should be acknowledged. Hopefully the team sends him out in style Saturday.
Another Mike asks about Mallett:
I have noticed and the TV folks have mentioned for at least the past 2 games that Ryan does not "play well with others". It seems he does not get along well with his receivers, perhaps running backs too. What's the truth here? Are we in danger of losing the Junior stars to the NFL early because of this lack of chemistry?
The prevailing opinion on Manningham is that he's gone, gone, gone and was at the beginning of the year, so his sideline tiff with Mallett doesn't mean anything. Arrington will probably make his decision based on what the NFL says when he requests an evaluation. If he thinks he can significantly improve his spot by being the go-to guy as a senior, he'll come back. Otherwise, he's probably out. Mallett's errant throws to date might have a slight impact on his thought processes, but in the end it will be about the Benjamins.
Well if there was one bright spot in the game yesterday it was the Herculean effort by Tacopants. Literally willing himself back into the Heisman race. 15 receptions for 586 yards and 7 TD's. Thank God he has no eligibility constraints.
Made of dreams, remember.
Hi, I'm Sean Tompkins, I'm a freshmen at U of M and a loyal fan of you blog. I'm also on MSA's Campus Improvement Commission and I am very excited to announce that MSA along with Student Athlete Advisory Council, Athletic Department, Alumni Association, Domino's Pizza, and many others that there will be a big BEAT OSU rally on the Diag November 16th, 2007 from 3pm-6pm. The event features several notable speakers including MIKE HART and JAKE LONG as well as performances from student groups such as the Men's Glee Club, the Marching Band, and others. It even includes a Greek Life pizza eating contest in to start the festivities off.
Youth Governor of Illinois
Yes, if you claim to be Youth Governor Of Illinois you get in the mailbag. Period. Also, a rally. With Hart.
Serendipitously, this comes from AA-based indiezine Found Magazine; frighteningly, it comes from Oklahoma and could be the frenetic id of Les Miles surfacing. Beware!
Tonight! HBO debuts The Rivalry tonight, and despite a reported lack of emphasis on the Michigan side of things recently it'll be worth taking in. HBO's promotional website has an interview with Bo, his last. For more history of the series, visit the MZone, which has posts up on the 1977 and 1971 games.
Illinois takeaway. Around the Oval sifts through the Illinois game for meaning and comes to a few conclusions. A quasi-fisk with opinion added.
We should panic because. . .
Illinois ran all over what had been the best run defense in the country. The Illini ran for 276 yards and 5.1 yards per carry. They had success running just about everywhere, and they repeatedly picked up third downs on the ground, running right at the defense. Mike Hart's better than any of Illinois' backs, and could therefore do even more damage.
You might have to shoot me for saying thins, but Rashard Mendenhall might be better than Hart. He has the numbers to back it up and a remarkable combination of power and size. The NFL will leap at the opportunity to take him in the first round. And if Hart doesn't go, or isn't healthy...
But. . .
The Michigan ground game isn't the Illinois ground game. Illinois had success because they ran the spread option, and ran it very well. The Buckeyes had to defend the entire field and account for the possibility that Juice Williams could, on any play, hand the ball off up the middle, run up the middle, run outside, pitch the ball outside, or throw the ball. This meant that the linebackers couldn't be as aggressive, and the defensive tackles had to shoulder more of the burden. As they are the weakness of this defense, that was a problem. That also won't be the case against Michigan.
Michigan is averaging 4.22 yards per carry, which isn't that impressive. While they're 35th in yards, they're 11th in attempts, and 50th in yards per carry. Illinois' ground attack was guerilla warfare, where the team never knew where the next attack was going to be, and was therefore spread thin. Michigan's attack is a battering ram at the front gates. That doesn't mean it's ineffective, or that they won't put up big numbers against the Buckeyes, but the Buckeyes will at least be facing a more straightforward rush offense this week. Wisconsin displays a similar determination to run the ball, regardless of success, and they were held to 96 yards and 2.59 yards per carry against the Buckeyes.
Also agree; submit, though, that Mike Hart is vastly better than any of the Wisconsin running backs and that if healthy OSU shouldn't -- I won't say "won't" -- come anywhere close to that level of dominance.
We should panic because. . .
Todd Boeckman. . . well, he kinda sucked. 13-23, 156 yards, 3 INTs, 2 sacks. Aside from doing a decent job running the ball and a nice pass on the first play of the game, Boeckman was pretty bad.
But. . .
No buts. This is a concern. All season long, Boeckman has thrown every type of pass: perfectly thrown deep balls, followed by hideously underthrown deep balls. Smart, safe throws underneath that keep the chains moving on one series, then a bad throw into triple coverage on the next play. Boeckman can't do that against Michigan. Hopefully it was just one bad game, and now it's out of his system.
Hey-o, that sounds good to me.
We should panic because. . .
The coaches appear to have started to outsmart themselves. First, it took two and a half quarters of struggling against Wisconsin for them to decide that maybe they should give the ball to Beanie Wells. This week, the Ozone's Jeff Amey was unimpressed with their gameplan for the Illinois game, and he makes a pretty convincing case.
But. . .
It's the Michigan game. Jim Tressel has regularly saved his finest coaching performances for this game. Lloyd Carr has beaten him before, and Tressel's reputation as a big game coach took a bit of a hit last season, but if there's one edge that I feel confident about this week, it's the coaching. I expect Tressel will have the team ready to play and will have a gameplan in place to give this team their best possible chance of winning the game.
Unfortunately, after last year I have to agree. I shrugged off the Johnny Sears-fest in the Ball State game on the premise that he wouldn't see the field against a real opponent; Tressel went balls-out spread and let Troy Smith carve up the weakest parts of the Michigan defense. To be fair, Michigan also unchained its offense and racked up impressive numbers -- Michigan also saves its very best game plans for Ohio State -- but there is a Tressel difference.
Part of that was the spread last year, but more worrying to me from a Oh God, This Is Never Going To Stop perspective was a particular second and one. Ohio State rushed to the line and got off a quick snap. As they ran what looked like a dive alarm bells started going off in my head.
Why would you rush to the line and get off a quick snap on second down? Oh God, RYAN MUNDY NOOOOOOOOO...
You know the story. Touchdown, as Mundy bites like a mofo on the dive and Leon Hall expects safety help that never comes. It's not the play call that's necessarily brilliant here. It's a standard gambit to bomb it deep on a waste down like second and one. What is brilliant is the lighting break-huddle-get-to-line-snap-now. Thing. Michigan was unprepared for the snap, saw a play going off, and panicked. That's the kind of thing that terrifies me about Tressel.
Get used to it. The Game highlights some hilarious passages from the Harvard Crimson's liveblog of Tommy Amaker's debut:
"9:14, first half: Amaker keeps yelling, "Three quick ones!" from the bench. Does he mean points or awkward passes?"
"1:05, first half: Demuyakor misses two free throws, Miller gets painfully rejected, and Pusar throws away an outlet pass. Pretty much everything that can go wrong has, and, hey, the Crimson is only down by 35. 63-28."
They were playing Stanford, so allowances should be made, but... yeah. Been there.
Why don't they wear blazers like that anymore? WolverineHistorian's put up an ancient dandy from 1978, complete with Dueling Banjos:
All about the Carr stuff and a fairly defensive post at that; I'm sorry this is not about evil, evil Ohio State and how they must be destroyed, but I have to respond to direct accusations about my credibility.
First, a clarification: I'm no longer completely sure on the timing of the Carr announcement. Other well-sourced people believe it will not come until sometime later, perhaps around the end of November. I heard otherwise, but not so strongly that I can dismiss a later date. What's probably going on is that there is no set plan and that different dates are coming to light because A was true at some point and B was true at some point and C may be true now, but attempting to determine which is which is impossible.
But the decision has been made, that I stand by.
So this is weird. How much value does this information have when it's been a foregone conclusion for three months? In my opinion, not that much. This is not the opinion of other people, some of whom are not pleased. I feel compelled to defend myself here from accusations leveled in email and on message boards.
A brief primer for context: last year Morgan Trent broke a bone in his hand during the Wisconsin game. Multiple tipsters relayed this information directly from Trent's parents, and I posted that he was likely to miss the Minnesota game and return for MSU. This internet "rumor" reached Rivals' boards and was addressed in "Inside The Fort," where they basically said "that's ridiculous, don't believe internet rumors because we've got the real scoop here." As this was the first piece of actual news I had ever relayed, I got spooked and posted a retraction, assuming that they were right. But when the tipsters returned and said that, no, Trent is going to miss the Minnesota game, I laid my cards on the table, specifically mentioning the source of the other rumors as ITF and posting every indicator I had that Trent was out. Later that day, a Rivals staffer called and demanded I remove the specific information from ITF, as it was "premium." I grudgingly complied.
Trent did not play against Minnesota and returned for MSU with a big damn cast on his hand. Rivals offered no correction or apology.
So I'm a little bemused and a lot angry that after a bunch of posters attempted to relay yesterday's post on Carr, they had the audacity to slap this up($):
Everyone wants to be the first to break the "news" of impending major change, especially those not constrained by traditional journalistic standards and accountability. That's fine - but we are not going to promote or sponsor them, and this site will never be used as a launching pad to other forums.
We've operated within the aforementioned standards at every turn, and gone beyond to give our informed opinions at times. We also allow considerable discussion, speculation, etc., among our posters.
We will continue to disallow links to other sites, be they firelloydcarr.com, lloydcarr'sretiringpartVIII.com, etc. Lloyd Carr will retire at some point. We've consistently indicated it's not a long ways down the road, and others here have been at liberty to go farther than that. We could have put forth innumerable unnamed source reports on this issue over the past several months, but realize that doing so would be irresponsible while the season is ongoing.
That's where we need to leave it. Thanks for your understanding and restraint with regard to posting links. As always, if you have any questions, you can email any of the monitors.
This is technically "premium" content, but since the only information in it is "we are stunning hypocrites" I think it's fine to post in the open air, and since it directly impugns this site it deserves a response.
First: MGoBlog is not "constrained by conventional journalistic standards and accountability." This is right. Large sites run by many people under the aegis of a major corporation that has media credentials do have different standards than this independent site. Since Rivals is in tight with various assistant coaches, they have to toe the party line on this stuff lest their access get revoked. And if they get something wrong they just say "whoops, sorry" and move on without major consequence.
At MGoBlog, things are different. It is a blog. I am a guy. I float on the internet. So for it to be credible at all it has to be right all the time. And I have to do this largely without ever meeting or talking to the people who provide information. So there are some requirements. Everything I post has to be multiply sourced if the tipster hasn't established a track record. I try to lay out the situation in as much detail as I can, giving a timeline of events and stating what I think and why. (Unfortunately, in this situation all sources have requested no details be relayed.) I am very serious about getting things right. I have to be. It is my sole source of credibility.
Also, I can't lose what I don't have and am thus able to say things they aren't. They style it "responsibility," but it's really pure CYA.
Two: Rivals would like to have its cake and eat it too. There exist insiders on their boards that post inside information all the time; their posts are not deleted no matter how "irresponsible" they might be. Rivals simultaneously wants to paint this site with a scarlet letter while reassuring their subscribers that all the too-hot-to-print internet rumors can be found right here for just ten bucks a month. Hypocrites.
For the record, none of the "sources" here is one of the Rivals insiders. Again, they have more leeway than I do: the entire pre-MSU panic originated with them. Three major Rivals insiders posted that both Hart and Henne would not play; this site was the only one reporting they would go before the game. But they're still insiders.
Three: Rivals is welcome to search my archives for any time in which something I've reported as news has been wrong. Trent out, Forcier transfers, Manningham pulled over in Monroe County, Mundy transfers (and Andy Moeller might go to Stanford*), Beilein is hired, Grady tears ACL (and Brown almost transfers*), Hart out for Illinois, Hart and Henne in for MSU... all not wrong. This: not wrong either.
*(A pre-emptive and paranoid defense: please note that both of these things that did not come to fruition were phrased as possibilities; I had no solid Moeller source and said as such and the Brown stuff -- he was not practicing and was likely to transfer -- was true; he changed his mind.)
Meanwhile, a bunch of people have picked up the story, including the Ann Arbor News:
One Web site dev
oted to Michigan sports cited anonymous sources in a post that said the coach would retire after the Ohio State game, adding that athletic department personnel were already being told of the decision.
Surely if it's worth referencing, it's worth referencing where you got it from, no? How about some attribution?
Fin. Maybe more about this later, but now: Ohio State. Which must be destroyed.
I'm actually fairly happy with this effort. I'll keep hammering this point: the Pac-10 looks less impressive than it really is because they play an extra conference game. Oregon is still #1 in my book, though the margin is slim. The only thing that rankles is shoving USF down four after a win, but Illinois and Cinci both deserved to move up, as did Clemson for nuking a decent Wake squad. Florida... eh.
Kansas. ... still hasn't played anyone. I do think a comparison between KU and WVU is in order, but WVU has Maryland (5-5) and Mississippi State (6-4) in the nonconference schedule, orders of magnitude better than KU's slate. I might be convinced to slide KU up a couple spots, but they aren't passing Georgia.
Untangling the Big Ten mess. Penn State, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan all have identical records and none of the three has a clear round-robin victory over any of the others. But...
|Wins Amongst Group||Wisconsin||Michigan||Penn State, Wisconsin||Penn State, Illinois|
|Nonconference difficulty||Kansas-esque||Almost Kansas-esque||Legit (@ Missouri, 'Cuse)||Good (Oregon)|
|Win over Sweatervest?||Nope||Nope||Yep||N/A|
Illinois is your winner, Michigan comes in second, and Wisconsin is third because they have yet to play Minnesota and had a nonconference opponent (WSU) that isn't completely wretched.
Complaints go in the comments; I'll modify my ballot by tomorrow.
Three separate sources indicate that Carr has made his decision to retire official and people around the athletic department are being told. The formal announcement will come after the Ohio State game, possibly at the Monday press conference, possibly a day or two later.
11/10/2007 - Michigan 21, Wisconsin 37 - 8-3, 6-1 Big Ten
There was a lot of contention around these parts after the Illinois game. This was confusing to me given the content of the post that caused the contention until a commenter pointed out that the title of said post, taken from a Ben Folds Five song, was extremely inflammatory without context. Ben Folds Five being a regrettably brief and obscure prequel to Ben Folds' regrettably lengthy and prominent solo career (which, let's be clear, starts with "Reinhold Messner" and sucks), a lot of people had no idea what I was talking about and came to the conclusion I was being a dick.
Maybe I was, but the offense was not intentional. I just thought Michigan was a pretty average team bailed out by an Illinois team hell-bent on giving the game away. Surely this no longer seems controversial. Since then, Michigan struggled with the worst team on the planet for a half, required a miraculous clutch performance from Chad Henne to beat bleah Michigan State, and got manhandled by a Wisconsin team still searching for a quality win. This team deserves its record, Appalachian State loss and all.
The real tragedy in all this, of course, is that I didn't wait a few weeks for Michigan to hold out a debatably healthy Mike Hart and Chad Henne, then bitch and sleepwalk its way through a dolorous loss to Wisconsin. Because what a title for this week, eh?
Could either have played? Absolutely. If Wisconsin was Ohio State they both would have, but it was not and they did not. You can debate the wisdom of this move, but not the result: the Wisconsin game was a glorified exhibition to Michigan. Both lines took their cues from the stars on the sidelines and took the game off. So did Ryan Mallett's brain. The kick coverage team, way ahead of the curve, continued its season-long vacation. In ways literal and metaphorical, Michigan did not show up.
So, fine. Whatever. On the road against a good team, saddled with a deranged freshman quarterback and a running scheme that almost requires Mike Hart's presence to function, Michigan lost thoroughly. Fine. The absence of Henne and Hart has nothing to do with the ability of the line to block or the defense to penetrate, but whatever. It's Ohio State week and Michigan can win the Big Ten outright by beating the Buckeyes. All of the pain and frustration and anger that's built up in the Michigan program over the past six years will evaporate if Michigan can pull it out.
If Carr wins, he goes out 7-6 against Ohio State. He goes out with four Rose Bowls in five years. If he loses, he directed Mike Hart and Chad Henne to 0-4 records against Ohio State and will spend his final bowl season in central Florida trying to finish in the top 25 at season's end. For Carr's legacy, this is the rubber match.
- The complete and total failure of Michigan's ground game in the absence of Mike Hart is the worst thing that can be leveled at Debord and, by extension, Carr. This was a defense that had even approached stopping anyone except Iowa's terrible offense and it held Michigan to 47 yards on 25 carries. The zone game is a failure. One cannot run 80% stretch plays and have a good ground game; when your scheme regularly depends on lumbering backside guards making tough reach blocks against DTs who are slanting away from them it is destined to suck. Only Mike Hart's brilliance has kept the run game afloat.
The blame falls on four people. First: Debord, for seizing upon the idea that a stretch is such a tricky play that it is in and of itself deceptive and failing to diversify the offense. Second: Andy Moeller, who has not put together an offensive line without enormous holes for three straight years. Third: Mike Gittleson, whose outdated strength and conditioning program -- most prominently seen hanging over Tim Jamison's belt -- has been left behind by every school except Penn State. Fourth: Lloyd Carr, for hiring (or, in Gittleson's case, retaining) all three mostly because they were well known to him.
Hey, Wisconsin: your cheese is overrated.
Radford demolition highlights while we wait for the game:
EAST LANSING - An unknown assailant spray-painted a block M, similar to the logo of the University of Michigan, on the brick base of Sparty early this morning.
The vandalism occurred between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m., MSU Police Sgt. Randy Holton said. The paint was to be removed the campus grounds crew.
I love "unknown assailant," like Sparty is going to need counseling about this or something.
Oh, and, yes, the picture above is a fake. Look at the tree. For some reason an RCMB denizen put it together; maybe he's getting his bow on.
A snake! Awesome work by MATW:
(What the dickens is this? Surely you've seen Badger Badger Badger, no?)
An oldie. WolverineHistorian has put up Michigan-Michigan State 1979:
Audio by Ufer.
Beilein items. More quotes about practice:
"After the fifth or sixth practice, when I knew this is what it's going to be, I had to get over thinking so much and just play ball and just do what he says," said Sims, a sophomore forward. "It's a learning process. Anytime (a coach) transfers from another school and you have young guys who did not have much experience, they've never seen an offense like this before and were never taught the fundamentals leading up to the offense, it's going to be a tough thing."
Manny Harris says "he doesn't give you a chance to slack off," something that would prompt another useless anti-Amaker tirade if it came from a non-freshman.
People are calling:
Since being hired in April to replace Amaker, though, Beilein has learned that coaching at Michigan is not like being at West Virginia or the five smaller schools he has led.
"I've been sitting at home and have had some of the best juniors in the country call me," Beilein said earlier this week in his office. "We haven't had too many of those situations in the past."
Jim Calhoun is effusive:
"There's nothing I can compare to trying to prepare for his offense. It was the hardest thing we ever had to defend because they truly took advantage of you," said UConn coach Jim Calhoun, who faced Beilein annually in the Big East. "As much as you think that you're just going to be able to play, John does something in a very quiet, unassuming way. He creates confidence in his players, and they run their system impeccably. They can adjust in the midst of games, and they play enough different defenses [to keep you honest]."