things go poorly
OR A TEAM THAT IS FROM ALABAMA OR BORING
Michigan now has a rather large Interesting Nonconference Game-shaped hole after Notre Dame decided it was really important to play Stanford for some reason and backed out of the Michigan series. Who fills that hole?
Well… probably someone not that interesting. A list of interesting teams follows, ordered by availability. I'm assuming that Michigan wants to go on the road in odd years and be at home in even years, that dates can be moved, and that they'll be looking for a home and home.
Virginia Tech (full schedule including OSU in 2015)
Texas (full schedule w/ ND, Cal)
Oklahoma (full, @ Tenn, ND, OSU in 2016)
Miami (not that they'd be any good anyway)
Stanford (playing ND for some reason)
Florida (full, annual FSU game)
West Virginia (full)
Arizona State (full, LSU and ND on the docket)
Cal. Open dates but already has a home and home with Texas and 9 game conference schedule. Would want a home game in 2015, so that's a positive.
USC. Already lined up with ND and A&M, plus a Texas series the couple years after that. Adding Michigan would be a bit much even for them.
Washington State. Probably does not want to bite off more tough games after putting Wisconsin and Boise State on the docket in the near future.
Tennessee. Already lined up with Oklahoma and a Nebraska series during the time in question.
Kansas State. I'll believe they schedule Michigan when I see it.
LSU. Award since Les Miles and their slate in 2016 is full. They have Arizona State both those years and NC State in 2017. Some chance it could work out but doubtful.
South Carolina. Full in 2015 and has an annual game with Clemson.
Clemson. Has annual game against South Carolina and will be playing a nine game conference schedule in 2015. They've got room, but I doubt they'll go for it. OTOH, they have played Georgia and Auburn in addition to the Gamecocks.
Georgia Tech. See Clemson, replace "South Carolina" with "Georgia," add in "Michigan just got reminded it's a bad idea to schedule an option team."
Florida State. See Clemson, replace "South Carolina" with "Florida," remove bit about how they have played a second interesting team in the past.
Oregon. At Michigan State in 2015, but has nothing for 2016 and just a game at Wyoming in 2017. If a double dip of Michigan in 2015 doesn't work you could still see something working for 2016 and 2017.
Washington. Full in 2015 but could probably cancel Sacramento State or something. Nothing but a Montana game the next couple years.
Alabama. Preferably on an aircraft carrier on the moon. Nothing 2015, just State in 2016 and 2017. May not want to keep beating up on Michigan teams.
Arkansas. Just TCU in 2015 and 2016.
Auburn. Nothing scheduled except Idaho.
Missouri. Nothing but Memphis and Wyoming.
Oklahoma State. Would have to cancel a game in 2015, but those are against Central Arkansas, UT-San Antonio, and at(!) Central Michigan, so I think they'd have little difficulty doing so. They're showing games at UTSA, CMU, and South Alabama the next few years as part of 2-for-1 deals… so this may be a KState/Wisconsin kind of thing where they refuse to schedule anyone credible in the nonconference.
NC State. I know this is the opposite of thrilling, but they've got openings.
Georgia. Annual game against Georgia Tech hurts things but they don't have another real nonconference opponent lined up in 2015 or 2016.
TCU. Normally I'd look at a team playing nine conference games with a real opponent lined up (Arkansas) and say no way but TCU may want to go for it to establish their bonafides, that sort of thing. They would want a home game in 2015, too.
This Guy's Vote
Georgia, as per usual. Oregon would be exciting as well, unless we just get obliterated again. Which we might.
Scheduling note. I sat down to start UFRing last night and found that I'd actually re-converted the UMass game and hadn't downloaded ND at all. My subconscious is protecting me as best it can, but I now have the thing. UFR will be a day late, which it traditionally is during a bye week anyway.
Denard's night went better than at least one person's. Mmmm Northern Indiana style:
The man on the ground had severe facial and upper body wounds. According to police, both men said they were hit by a car, but police have not confirmed that. Investigators say it's possible that is a story to cover-up a fight.
While police were talking to the men, a woman approached officers and said she'd been hit in the face with a case of Natural Light Beer. The woman had very visible wounds, most profound, her entire bottom row of teeth were missing.
This was at 9 PM, so I assume all of this arose from an argument about whether Borges or Denard was the worst.
The pants! They are motion pants. That's not a Sufjan Stevens song title yet, but I bet it's on his next album. No, it's a reference to some digging done by UMHoops that unearths a piece of basketball's uniforms for next year:
THEY'RE TUBES FOR YOUR LEGS!
The way this works is you put one leg in one tube and the other leg in the other tube and then pull up until you feel resistance. Once you feel resistance, STOP. You will now be wearing your legtubes. You will kind of look like a 12-year-old from 1993. If you did not stop when you felt resistance you will also be in severe pain, but that's your problem. That's what you get for not following instructions.
Nobody at commenting at UMHoops likes these, but they do like Glenn Robinson III.
Uniforms are supposed to be, you know, what's that word… the same. Adidas is still not executing this task, apparently:
Piping: it's just all over the place man. Also, Washington's missing his block M. If you sent this to me, thanks, but I forget who did.
Bye week activity. WTKA is replaying Ufer's call of the 1979 Michigan State game at noon on Saturday. 1050 on your dial, or on the internets. Here's Keith Jackson doing the same:
Band noise solution? They amplified the band a couple years back to mixed reviews. If you couldn't hear them before it's great. If you could, it sounds horrible as the slightly delayed noise coming out of the speakers conflicts with the band itself. I'm in an area where it sounds horrible.
I thought about this on Saturday at some point in the third quarter when I noticed I could hear the ND band loud and clear despite being about as far away from them as possible, but couldn't hear the Michigan band that was just below our section. I was going to mention this in the game column as depressing commentary on how quiet the MMB, but MVictors pointed out the speaker setup they had on the sideline:
Audio people: does this make a difference, having the speakers in the same place the band is? Or am I grasping at straws?
Idiots in charge of stuff. Replacement refs screw up Monday Night Football and the NFL burns its credibility all for a pathetically tiny slice of their enormous revenue pool. In the NHL, Edmonton's ownership laughably threatens to move the Oilers to Seattle; the NHL is bunkered down for another strike less than a decade after an entire season failed to happen.
At some point, it has to be about something other than the pursuit of as much money as you can get right damn now, doesn't it? Maybe, maybe not. They'll have to start to see some erosion before they act, just like college football teams are starting to now that the terrible scheduling practices of the last 20 years are finally resulting in empty seats.
In other news, someone is paying bowtied twit Gordon Gee an exorbitant amount of money and allowing the guy to spend 7.7 million in expenses(!), including $64,000 on bowties(!!!). How's that going?
At the University of Michigan, President Mary Sue Coleman’s travel and entertainment expenses from 2007 through 2010 totaled $410,235. Upkeep and utilities at the university-owned house runs an additional $100,000 a year and if Coleman takes someone to lunch or dinner, she pays the tab out of her own pocket, according to University of Michigan spokesman Rick Fitzgerald.
Coleman’s compensation package is $860,782 a year and includes housing and a car. Her employment contract does not call for first class airline tickets or private jets, as Gee’s does. In Michigan’s last endowment campaign she helped raise $3.2 billion — the most ever by a public university at that time.
There are signs that OSU isn’t keeping pace nationally on the size of its endowment. OSU slipped from 27th in the four years preceding Gee’s return to Columbus to 31st in 2010-11, according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers and the Commonfund Institute. The Big 10 universities Northwestern, Minnesota, and Michigan all ranked above Ohio State for the size of their endowment.
Jim Tressel, fire this man.
Come on Tim. Baumgardner on Tim Hardaway entering his junior year:
"I've watched and probably had more interaction with Tim this summer (than ever before)," Beilein said recently. "With him just coming in, sitting in my office, hanging out and feeling very comfortable as a Michigan man.
"Him being more comfortable with everything has allowed him to have a lot of confidence in the intangible area (off the court). And there's a strong correlation between that and how he'll perform on the court."
I hope that's true. Hardaway's three point shooting should bounce back just because 27% is incredibly low, but if Michigan is going to live up to some extremely hefty preseason expectations he'll have to either be more effective creating his own shots or go from terrible to elite from behind the line.
wat. Mac Bennett on the twitter:
@BeatsPointZero "Deblois is a Bag of Milk" EP will be out later today. Excited about it
I don't know. I've notified Jon Bois about this, though.
A fast one. The Michigan-ND series opened up in South Bend, and if it's ending semi-permanently in 2014, it'll end in South Bend. Not a smooth move to not build an even number of home/away games into the contract, Michigan. This is probably Bill Martin's fault, FWIW.
Chalk. Via Jamie, Michigan's… performance type thing against Notre Dame has finally provided a leader in Big Ten betting whatnot:
MSU now "clear" betting chalk to win Big 10: MSU +220, Braska +250, Wisco +300, UM +400, PU +700. Odds lot less muddled than a week ago
Purdue's down from 20-1 recently. I TOLD YOU JAMIE /ignores Wisconsin
Also, Michigan lines are frightening. Michigan's favored by less than a field goal at Purdue and about a touchdown at Nebraska and Ohio State. This is all an overreaction to something that won't happen again, right guys? Right?
I'm a little surprised things are shaking out like this after last weekend. I mean, MSU-EMU couldn't have moved the needle in favor of the Spartans, could it?
Here's your statistical nutshell. Michigan State snapped the ball 72 times on Saturday with the intention of advancing the ball.
On 46 of those plays, the ball ended up, or was targeted to end up, in the hands of Le'Veon Bell or Dion Sims. The average gain on those plays was 7.8 yards.
On the remaining the 26 plays, the ball was intended to end up in someone else's hands. The average gain on those plays was 2.8 yards.
Etc.: Hockey starts off ranked third. Seems high. Bois fake mailbag about those refs with mini-Packers TWIS. This is not Ace holding his head, but both Ace and I had to check. Kirk Ferentz is unfireable. Which person is Borges and which is me in this XKCD?
In a game that matched the weather, Orchard Lake St. Mary's ground out a 13-6 victory over Cass Tech in a driving rainstorm on Friday, handing the Technicians their first loss of the season. OLSM dominated the line of scrimmage, rushing for over 200 yards, and Cass Tech couldn't overcome a third-quarter muffed punt by Jourdan Lewis that led to the final St. Mary's score.
Due to the constant rain, I wasn't able to take video last weekend, so unfortunately there are no highlights in this post. I did, however, spend the game talking to a Detroit-area high school coach who's been coaching in the region for over 40 years. He unequivocally stated that Cass Tech junior CB/WR Damon Webb was the best player on the field for either team—overall, not just in that single game—and in fact he'd tried to get Webb to transfer to his school when he left U-D Jesuit last year. I also asked him about RB commit Wyatt Shallman; the coach is convinced Shallman's best position is running back and compared his combination of size and athleticism to NFL Hall of Fame back John Riggins.
[After THE JUMP, full scouting reports on the Michigan commits, Webb, and more.]
AP reporter Larry Lage is, uh, reporting that ND is taking the money and running:
This is good news for insane people who hate easy road trips and competitive games with glitz disproportionate to the teams participating recently. For me, it is sad. Maybe they'll patch it up at some point in the future.
Michigan now has to scramble for a legit opponent in 2015 and 2016, but at least they can go into that looking for someone who wants a home game in odd-numbered years to help offset the Nebraska/OSU games.
All of this is the Longhorn Network's fault, of course.
Of the totally surreal and unnecessary things that could ever happen, Denard Robinson issuing an apology for his play against Notre Dame ranks right up there with Ryan Van Bergen claiming fault for the 2010 defense. Not so much that he took responsibility—I wrote in my HTTV article that personal culpability is one the hallmarks of this team—but that watching from above I felt like he wasn't entirely at fault.
Part of that was the drunk dude in my section yelling "awwww c'mon!" at Denard, to which I felt responsibility to point out things like "play-action out of the I-form" or "Schofield just got beat bad." Part of it to was my own culpability for last week's article being all "hey Denard can pass and Borges is doing an incredible job!" So in the mea culpa spirit of the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur (pretty much our Christmas) which begins tonight, I admit I have sinned, and that I'm not quite sure who sinned on all of our six turnovers this week. Let's find out where responsibility lies in this six-play al chet, using a combination of Seth's pathetic attempts at UFR-ing, with a bonus chart of culpability.
1. For the sin we have committed against you by trying to get too cute with Vincent Smith, who is not Tom Brady
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O10||1||G||Ace TE Trips||1||1||3||4-4 under||Pass||RB Pass||Dileo||INT|
|Dileo and Roundtree lined up as H-backs on same side. Since it's a pass Dileo doesn't block Te'o, who shot into the gap the millisecond he read pitch and pressures Smith. Funchess blocked down an irrelevant crashing DE instead but that's the play. The CB bites hard so Dileo can leaks out into the end zone, where he has the safety beat to the corner, but Smith is 5'6 with the world's best college LB in his face. He jump-balls it way inside of his receiver, so when the safety looks back he is all "ooh, football--take." (INX, 0, Protection N/A, RPS –2)|
When Michigan tried this against Minnesota it was from 30 yards out, and against Minnesota. It did get a guy open in the end zone, and was set up a little bit I believe by some pitch plays earlier. However leaving Te'o unblocked versus a tiny RB is a risk, but Smith has shown in games (and presumably many more times in practice) that he can throw the ball accurately enough.
What I really hated about this play call is there was no reason to get cute. This was meant to be a dagger play, just like the fake dive on 4th and 1 vs. Michigan State was meant to be the dagger in the trash storm game.
Borges likes his daggers. When Brian queried my UFR database on Michigan passing from Ace 3TE sets, I found the Funchess 30-yard (PA TE corner) and Gardner (Waggle) TDs, plus a PA dumpoff for good yards (until it was fumbled) against SD State last year. Daggers. Thing is about the grab-bag and dagger offense is that it doesn't adjust for things that are working, and until that point the offense was working. When Pompey backed out of Rome because he didn't have the troops to defend it, Caesar didn't say "oh waitaminute, this is a trap, I'm gonna go attack the Barbary Coast—ha ha they'll never suspect!" He walked into damn Rome.
Chart of culpability: Borges x2,
ND Te'o is that good, Smith isn't Joe Montana
Mitigating Mitzvah: Jake Ryan sticks a receiver after he gains just 1 yard on 3rd and 4 from the ND37 to force a punt. ND shanks the punt.
After the jump, five plays more depressing than using a day off of work to fast and contemplate what a terrible person you've been all year.
WHAT WAS THAT? It warn't good'n, I tell ya.
DEBACLE COUNT. It's really high. What's going on, man.
ZOMBIE ACE IS ZOMBIE ACE. I but he does bring up the Vincent Smith halfback pass call.
LLOYDBALL. I take it all back, Lloydball.
PAPER RUSTLING. Record. Record paper rustling.
DEFENSE! That was pretty awesome. Maybe ND can't move the ball that well but any way you slice it it's encouraging.
DOES QUINTON WASHINGTON HAVE ARMS? I say yes. Ace says no.
DEFENSIVE LINE DOING THINGS. Linebackers moving as a result.
HEIKO SLEEPING IN THE BACKSEAT. Where you at, Heiko?
TALKIN' BIG TEN WITH JAMIEMAC. He still won't concede Purdue as the favorite in whatever the other division is. Also discussion of the Illinois loss to Louisiana Tech descends into manic laughter.
SONGS. "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life," Monty Python. "Panic," The Smiths. I must have used this before but Google didn't think I did. Surely I must have though. Surely.
The usual links:
Today's recruiting roundup discusses last weekend's high school football action, the latest on Leon McQuay III, and the inspiring story of David Dawson.
Warning: Dust Storm Ahead
At Cass Tech's game against Detroit Renaissance a couple weeks ago, Technician lineman and Michigan commit David Dawson received his Under Armour All-American jersey in a halftime ceremony. As you can see above, it was an emotional moment for Dawson and his family, for reasons that went far beyond the football field; it's been a tumultuous year for Dawson, who lost his father in a car accident in April.
Your must-read article of today, then, is Mick McCabe's tear-jerker of a profile on Dawson—it's hard to imagine going through such a difficult situation as a high school senior:
"One day, a few days before the accident, I got in the car and he was staring at me for 5 minutes," Dawson said. "I asked him why he was staring at me. He said: 'I'm extremely proud of what you're doing now.' When I thought about that, it sent me into an emotional wreck."
When his father died, nothing seemed important to Dawson anymore. Not football, not school, not anything.
"He's still dealing with it," said his mother. "He's a little better. He's getting through it. I let him talk about it. If he has to cry, he cries; if he has to talk, he'll talk.["]
There's much more in the full article, from similarly heartbreaking reflections on Dawson's father to more lighthearted anecdotes about his football career. You root for every commit to excel at Michigan, of course, but you root extra hard for David Dawson.
[Commitment stat roundup and much more after THE JUMP.]
9/22/2012 – Michigan 6, Notre Dame 13 – 2-2
Lloyd Carr coached every game like he had a fantastic running game and great defense. He usually had an okay running game and a good defense, so this caught up to him from time to time. When Jim Tressel arrived and showed the men of manball what manball really was, Michigan's downward spiral began. In time, Tresselball would come to signify the exact same thing Lloydball did except without the oh and we lose the most important game of the year every time.
I grew to hate Lloydball.
The moment I threw in the towel is crystal clear in my memory, and by this point probably many longtime readers: punting from the opponent 34 against Ohio State in 2005. It was fourth and four. The clock read 4:18. Michigan had a two point lead. They'd recently had a nine point lead, but OSU ripped off a five-play touchdown drive in under a minute to change that. Michigan's defense had faced four do-or-die drives* already that year and failed on all of them. Faced with third and eleven, Michigan threw a screen to Antonio Bass for seven yards. They punted out of a field goal formation, which was so obvious to Tressel that they put a guy back there to field it. He would have had a shot at a touchdown if the punt hadn't exited the field at the twelve.
Just minutes before—literally in the same quarter—Lloyd had taken his frenzied quarterback's advice and gone for a QB sneak on fourth and one on his own 40. This caused everyone in the stadium to pick a partner with whom to share an incredulous look. This was not the way things went. The fourth down was successful; one bomb to Manningham later Michigan had staked itself to a two-score lead. That only made the knife cut deeper when in the moment of truth Carr reverted to form.
Michigan punted once Saturday.
I'm not sure if it's football in general that has shifted or if it's just Brady Hoke, but when Michigan had a fourth and two around the same area on Saturday, eyebrows were only slightly cocked when Michigan went for it. While Michigan was down 10-0, this was still the third quarter.
Lloyd wouldn't have even thought about it if his defense had given up 139 yards to that point. But he wouldn't have been down 10-0 in the first place. He would have squinted at his quarterback, wondered where the six-six artillery piece had gotten to, shrugged, and told his offensive coordinator to thud out a ten-point win based on Michigan's superior ground game. Only he would have had that faith, because he always had that faith.
But it was true. Take out a knee and ND averaged 3.2 yards a carry. Take out three sacks and a bad snap for Michigan and they averaged 5.1. That's a cavernous gap, one that a dinosaur coach would have driven through to a boring, field-goal-heavy victory.
Instead, we got several more entries in our database of what happens when Denard Robinson gets unblocked rushers in his face.
Is it good? No. Does it make any sense at all to run play action from under center on passing downs? No. Is it ever going to stop? No.
Well, maybe. Michigan did not throw a pass before third down on their two grinding second-half drives before the hurry-up was called for. Do that for the next eight games and run play action off plays you actually run and then Denard might get back to the things he was doing in an offense that was not trying to jam him into a hole he clearly does not fit. I thought maybe we'd learned that lesson after Iowa, but apparently not.
When stressed, people making decisions find it very hard to move away from habit. Everyone reverts to their comfort zone unless they are making a concerted effort to get away from it. Even then, you fall back into old patterns. Lloyd punted. Rodriguez installed a 3-3-5 defense. Borges starts calling plays from a long-ago offense helmed by a guy who was a better passer than runner. Denard throws the ball somewhere, anywhere.
Over the bye week, Michigan will refocus on what they're good at. This will get them through some games. They'll get comfortable with this, think they can install more stuff, and we'll get another Iowa, one they might pull out since the defense might be good and the Big Ten is definitely bad. And Denard will soldier through it, taking barbs from people who don't realize he could be in his first of two years at Oregon now, doing what he was born to.
He's not. He's doing this. This is "this": Al Borges has been Michigan's offensive coordinator for 17 games now. Five were against non-BCS opponents. A sixth was against Alabama and will be set aside. Of the remaining eleven, five were out-and-out debacles: both Notre Dame games, MSU, Iowa, and the Sugar Bowl. That Junior Hemingway rescued two of those doesn't change the fact that in about half of Michigan's games against real competition, the combination of Borges and Denard can't put up 200 yards until bombed out of the gameplan by events on the field.
You can blame Denard if you want. Sure, that happened in 2010, when Denard was a true sophomore and the second-leading rusher was Vincent Smith. I'm more concerned about the guy who isn't gone after this year, the offensive coordinator who vows to never work with a quarterbacks coach again and can't stand it when anyone dares to scream "RUN THE GODDAMN BALL" at him over and over and over and over and over, except whatever the press conference version of that is. Asking about bubble screens and stuff.
One day Borges will have a shining golden hammer of a quarterback, six-four, carved from marble, jawline for days. This man will coolly survey the field after faking a handoff to a two-hundred-thirty-pound bowling ball with knives sticking out of it. No one will run up in his face, because they are afraid the bowling ball has it. He will throw it to another six-foot-four man, this one long and graceful, built for escaping packs of hunters. This will be a good day. Nails are so dead.
Until then, here's to running, punting, and humility.
[Wisconsin: 52 yard, 11 play, four minute TD drive to win. Minnesota: eight play, 75-yard FG drive to win. Penn State: 13 play, 81-yard drive to wi—OH MY GOD MANNINGHAM. Iowa: 9 play, 74-yard FG drive to tie; Ferentz played for OT once in FG range, because he is Ferentz.]
All the INTs:
Bullets Yes More Bullets In The Head Please
Sanity check. I know I may not be entirely reliable on this matter, but stuff coming through my twitter feed from the folks I respect most as college football observers helped me think this was not just a mania. Smart Football:
Nice call Borges. Denard struggling? Let's run some kind naked waggle pass from under center where we let Denard throw vs unblocked DEnd
An Al Borges cooking show would be great if you like seeing someone throw everything into a blender even if it makes no sense at all.
Blaming it on "execution" is horseshit, plain and simple. When the offensive coordinator flat-out refuses to take free yards on the outside and has not once used the devastating play action on which Denard is moving towards the line scrimmage before throwing, it is on his shoulders for not using the tools he has in the way they are most effective.
A third of the way through the ND game, Michigan had run Robinson three times. Instead Michigan threw the ball all the time against a rampant DL. The first INT was a running back in the redzone. On the second, Michigan rolled the pocket and told a redshirt freshman fullback to block Prince Shembo. On the third an unblocked Te'o roars straight up the pocket. On the fourth he ran a waggle on second and seven, which got an unblocked Tuitt in Denard's face after having thrown INTs on back to back passes.
This is a consistent theme. They go into games doing something other than making their running QB a runner, and then are surprised when it goes poorly. They have the guy turn his back to the line of scrimmage and are surprised when 1) opposing defenses prioritize getting a guy out on him and 2) he reacts poorly. The exception was last year's OSU game, during which Denard threw all of 17 times.
Robinson failed, sure, but he was put in a position to do so by a guy who puts three tight ends on the field on second and goal from the twelve yard line and fools no one with the subsequent play action. Coaches have to execute too. Borges's gameplan was a disaster, again.
Come on Denard. Let's ask Peyton Manning to be Pat White stuff aside, at some point you've got to just eat the ball, or not throw it at a guy so covered you're trying to throw it through the chest of not one but two opponents. That first Te'o interception was probably the worst throw of Denard's career; if one of the two guys underneath it didn't get it a safety in coverage on the corner had a shot at a PBU.
I bet a dollar that someone else was open on that play.
The fumble was the real killer, though. Michigan has just taken their first drive of the half 71 yards and Denard has just made it first and ten at the ND 11, boom ball out drive over everyone thinks of 2010 when Michigan put up scads of yards and usually had ten points to show for it. Down two scores and suddenly running all the time, Michigan really needed that drive to pay off.
Blame Gardner? Some people on the twitter and then Ace suggested that the slant INT was on Gardner instead of Robinson. I don't think that's the case. It looked to me like he ran a fine route and was open and Robinson just missed.
Gardner does have to catch that bomb on the last drive.
When to go for high risk trick plays. When there is a payoff commensurate with the risk. The Gardner pass is fine. You've got a play that is potentially 70-some yards if everything goes well. The Smith pass gives you at most ten and is less likely to get a guy wide open just because there's far less space. Last year's Smith TD pass was 30 yards out, which gives the WR room to break past the safeties and the RB room to throw it long. Doing that in a constricted space is asking for it when Manti Te'o is raging his way into a running back's face.
The only time I can recall Michigan running a trick play like that inside the red zone was during the 2007 Illinois game when both teams were actively conspiring to lose. With Henne shuttling in and out of the game and Mallett insane, trying the Arrington end-around pass after a muffed punt was a defensible decision. At the end of an 11-play, 78-yard drive maybe not so much.
What is this huddling business again? There's a case that you shouldn't be doing it at all; not only is huddling a useless anachronism but going away from it locks defensive personnel on the field and gives you easier looks as the opponent struggles to keep up. See Oregon, of course.
But even if you're intent on huddling the time to do so has passed when you're down two scores with 6:46 left. There's something to be said for the idea that an offense should be using tempo as much as possible so that in situations like that they are naturals at it. It's a lot easier to slow down than speed up.
Anyway, I had bad flashbacks to that Iowa game as Michigan took 3:19 and used a timeout on their last drive.
OTOH, didn't mind the end of the first half playcalling since in that situation you're worried about giving ND a possession they can use and you've just thrown interceptions on three straight plays. Why throw a Hail Mary with 16 seconds left, though? And what was Roundtree even doing there?
Defense! Woo defense! Also filed under "if you told me before the game…" with "Michigan would punt once": "Notre Dame would have under 200 yards of offense with three minutes to go." Before Floyd stumbled on that third down bomb to Eifert, Michigan had held two ND QBs to 5.6 YPA and two interceptions, with the only completion over twenty yards another tough fade on the sideline.
From way up in the stands I had a great view of the routes developing and nobody was open basically all day. Combine that with Quinton Washington problems like "is not tackling when he bursts into the backfield on three consecutive plays" and you have a soothing balm to apply as you look forward to the rest of the season. I'm actually eager to get to the UFRing just so I can see how the guys on D did. Live I saw Ryan make plays, Campbell make plays, Washington make plays, and that allowed the linebackers to flow freely, with the 3.1 YPC results mentioned above. Kenny Demens looks a lot better when he's not trying to fight off two different blockers on the same play.
If Washington can translate those plays against UMass and Mattison hype into an impact day on the interior line against a real opponent, Michigan's biggest question that isn't "how will Denard fail to be Peyton Manning this time" is a lot closer to resolution.
Potential caveat: ND's interior OL may not be very good. They got annihilated by Purdue (Riddick: 53 yards on 15 carries, five sacks on Golson, two by Kawann Short) and ND didn't do much against MSU that wasn't deception (counter draw) or Wood getting cutbacks similar to the one he busted for ND's only big run of the day.
Caveat caveat: "only big run of the day." The shot above is Michigan corralling the play I started calling "That Goddamned Counter Draw" after DeAndra Cobb staked MSU to the lead they'd give up during Braylonfest. I call it TGDCD because Michigan has never stopped the thing (except once, I think). They did it up there.
Brady Hoke Epic Double Point of the Week. I have no idea yet, but it's obviously someone on defense. There is a weird lack of stats for such a dominating performance, with no sacks and just two TFLs, one for Kovacs, another split by Morgan and Washington.
For now, Jake Ryan gets the nod for most impactful-seeming impactfulness, but I reserve the right to switch this to Kovacs or Washington pending review.
EPIC DOUBLE POINT STANDINGS.
2: Denard Robinson (Air Force, UMass)
1: Jeremy Gallon(Alabama), Jake Ryan(ND)
Freshman linebackers. They're basically co-starters at this point. I'm still nervous about them but if the D continues to perform like that in the Big Ten season, expectations for that crew will be enormous next year with four-ish returning starters, all of whom will still be around in 2014.
Demens did rotate in during the second half. He was in on six tackles, Morgan seven. Ross had one and Bolden did not register. IIRC Demens was the preferred option on passing downs, which makes sense since zone drops are often a struggle with young linebackers.
Norfleet. Please do not jump like that again. The air up there is dangerously low on oxygen and people are trying to kill you. Stay low, where you are under the radar and can execute deep infiltration missions.
ND future. I wouldn't get too worried about a full-on return to glory. If that interior OL is what it seems to be and they're flipping between Rees and Golson against the rest of their schedule, they'll drop some games. They'll still probably get that BCS bid so they can get stomped on by someone a lot better.
Funchess. Didn't really have much impact; I'll pick up the Mandich thing the next time he takes a significant step towards it. Did feature in this picture:
This is my ball. Do not take my ball.
In the week preceding this game, some random internet poster guy asked what was the worst performance you’ve seen by a QB. I ran screaming from that post, but couldn’t escape the images of Demetrious Brown throwing seven interceptions – SEVEN INTERCEPTIONS!!! - in a game against MSU many years ago.
WHY DID YOU DO IT RANDOM INTERNET POSTER GUY, WHYYYYYY
When I was 16 and learning how to drive, my Dad, trying his best to impart some constructive criticism without being overly harsh, said, “ST3, your driving lacks a certain smoothness.” I think it’s wonderful how Devin Gardner has moved over to WR to help the team, but at this point in his career, I think his route running lacks a certain smoothness.
The results of this game and a record of 2-2 are not indicative of the abilities of this team, and it would do every Michigan fan good to forget about what has happened and to concentrate instead on what can be accomplished in the BIG. I rest easier after seeing the O and D-lines gel and play very well. Denard will bounce back.
The rest of the BIG continues to look shaky, to say the least, and Michigan should be licking their chops against the likes of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and I dare say Michigan St at this point. Ohio has obvious problems as well, letting UAB run wild on them. Michigan should have distinct talent advantages against Northwestern and Purdue.
I'll skip all the articles about how Michigan turned the ball over a lot, since I think you probably know. More photos from Maize and Blue Nation. Sad Panda at MVictors. MVictors on the press box atmosphere:
It’s well known that the media is prohibited from cheering in the press box but it’s not just a collection of writers upstairs at Notre Dame. After Denard connected with Gardner on a third down conversion in the first half some dude belted out, “DAMN IT!”. When Denard took off on a run later in the game, I heard, “GET ‘EM!”. And so on. I’m actually glad this happened because it created some much needed lighter moments on the glass.
Maybe it was the guy in seat 652:
Also, that Webb tweet that looked like it was from my account? Not on purpose:
Speaking of tweets, after another turnover (I think Denard’s fumble?) this came from Sam Webb’s feed. It was retweeted 28 times instantly:
The beauty – it wasn’t a case of Sam grinding the keyboard in frustration. It was a legit accident as his phone went sideways and spit out Matrix code. Love it.
…unless the phone is also a Michigan fan.
The Daily has a great article about Denard's family in the stands:
The group sat in the family and friends section of Notre Dame Stadium. Steve wore his best friend’s varsity jacket. The two girls wore “Shoelace” and another Robinson-themed shirt.
This section is different. Here, the hits sound louder. The mistakes sting more.
From here, you can reach out and touch the bass drums in the Michigan band. When a Notre Dame wide receiver was open on the goal line, the parents shouted and pointed, so Thomas Gordon bumped over and covered.
Robinson’s supporters sat in the fifth row, tucked in between friends and family of freshman linebacker James Ross III and the family of fifth-year senior J.T. Floyd.
Robinson’s parents come to games “very rarely, very rarely,” J.T.’s father, James, said. Normally the Robinson clan gathers in Robinson’s grandmother’s house in Deerfield Beach, Fla. around a television.
“Every Saturday,” Durrel said. “Everybody (goes). I can’t even tell you who don’t go.”
Would you like frustrating losses scored? Of course you would.
It was there for the taking.
It was there when Michigan had a first-and-goal on their third possession, when Vincent Smith—yes, Vincent Smith—threw an interception in the end zone.
It was there on each of the next four drives, each ending with a Denard Robinson interception.
It was there when—despite the above—Michigan faced just a ten-point deficit on their first possession of the second half, when they drove to the Notre Dame 16, only to lose a Robinson fumble.
It was there when the defense forced a do-or-die third-and-four with 2:35 on the clock, only to see Tyler Eifert beat J.T. Floyd down the sideline for a 38-yard completion.
In a game that felt like karmic retribution for the last three years, however, Michigan never seized control, instead making error after crippling error until there were no more errors to make. The defense did everything in their power to overcome the offense, holding Notre Dame to just 239 yards on 4.8 yards per play and forcing two interceptions of their own. They could not stop Robinson from turning the ball over, though, and in the end it was a triumphant Tommy Rees kneeling the clock out.
The turnovers overshadowed a stellar defensive effort, one that will sadly be forgotten in the aftermath. Notre Dame starting quarterback Everett Golson was completely ineffective, completing just one fewer pass to Michigan (two) than he did to his own team. The Irish rushing attack never got going, gaining 94 yards on 31 carries. Jordan Kovacs (7 tackles, 1 TFL) and Jake Ryan (5 tackles, all solo) both turned in outstanding games. With no margin for error, however, all it took was two poor plays on third downs—a pass interference by freshman Jarrod Wilson on the goal line and the final pass to Eifert—to foil an otherwise textbook Mattison game.
On offense, the bright spots are fewer and farther between. Fitz Toussaint finally got some holes to run though and looked like his nimble 2011 self when he found them. Roy Roundtree make a few crucial catches after largely disappearing from the offense this year. Al Borges added a promising wrinkle when Devin Gardner took an end-around only to throw downfield to fullback Joe Kerridge, drawing a pass interference on the opening drive. That's about it.
As I'm sure will be said ad nauseam in the coming bye week, all of Michigan's goals are still within reach. The Big Ten is awful and still very much there for the taking. If the Wolverines are to seize that chance, however, they'll have to be far more opportunistic than they were tonight, when a fourth straight victory over the Irish slipped through their fingers and into the hands of a team more willing to take advantage.