somehow we're only 124th
Am I really going to do this again, this season? Yeah, I guess I am. I have very little personal insight to bring to the table when it comes to Alabama. One of my best friends from my Rackham days is from Tallapoosa County, Alabama. In the “Greatest County Names” contest, there is Tallapoosa County, and there is everyone else. It’s near Wetumpka, Alabama, in case you were wondering. I also love “Sweet Home Alabama,” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. However, I have always wondered about these lyrics in the song: “Now Watergate does not bother me, Does your conscience bother you? Tell the truth.” What the hell does that even mean? Why doesn’t a President of the United States resigning in disgrace bother him? And better yet, what is the relationship between Alabama and Watergate? I was a toddler when Watergate went down, so if anybody has any idea what that’s all about, please let me know. Hey, it’s better than rehashing the game. Coincidentally, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” also beat Kid Rock’s Michigan-based ode to “Sweet Home Alabama,” titled, “All Summer Long,” by a final score of 41-14.
You don’t want to go there. Seriously, trust me, you don’t want to go there. Wouldn’t you rather I link you to Morrissey’s complete catalogue, pictures of tire fires, or nuclear bombs going off? No, you want the link. OK, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Burst of Impetus
- I’m starting fresh this season with section titles, but this one is too good not to hold over. It’s for momentum changing plays.
- Things started great for UofM, holding Bama to 1 yard in their first series. However, Bama got off a great punt and flipped the field. We did manage to eak out a first down and seemed to have some momentum, even considering the slightly off slant patterns. Then we got hit with the 15 yarder on Lewan, when off-setting penalties should have been called. It all went downhill after that.
- I also thought we were in trouble this week when I heard Brady gave out 7 scholarships to walk-ons. I’m sure they are worthy, and I’m happy for them, but that kind of thing just does not happen at Bama. We are still a little thin on the depth chart, and when some players get suspended and some get injured early in the game, the talent gap starts to widen. It will improve, but we’re not there yet.
Sometimes, poop is just poop
- This better not be a recurring section, but in my season prediction email to my brother, I suggested that some regression to the mean was to be expected. I even made the blasphemous statement that we might find out that Brady Hoke’s poop is not made of gold. Well, on almost all of the 50-50 plays, they went Bama’s way. For example:
- Gallon caught a 71 yard pass when he needed 71.1 yards. (Flashbacks to Illinois, STOP IT PLEASE!!!)
- On 4thand 3, Denard seemingly stretched for the first down, only to have replay overrule the play because his elbow went down before the sticks.
- Early in the game, Rawls was facemasked while Lewan took someone’s helmet off. Guess who got the penalty?
- Bama downed a punt at the 1 foot line. It seemed like several players had a chance to bring the ball into the endzone with them, but the ball someone managed to stay at the one. This lead to the pick-six. Poop.
- The one time Bama turned the ball over, it was at the end of the half and we couldn’t benefit from it. Poop. Lousy, stinky, poop.
- This is the all-encompassing section on the defense. I think “Kehrvacks” sounds funnier than “Dehrnerd,” and they are both captains, so Jordan gets the ermahgerd treatment.
- If you look hard enough, there were a few good things. We held Lacy to 3.9 YPC and Hart to 2.1. But this points to the talent advantage Bama has. When option 1 and 3 aren’t working, go with option 2. Yeldon had 11 carries for 111 yards.
- We had 3 sacks and 9 TFLs, but the TFLs were all of the 1 and 2 yard variety. We didn’t really get any penetration. Two of the TFLs were from Brink late in the game. I’m wondering if maybe he sees more time in the future, particularly against less beefy teams. If there is any second guessing by Mattison this week, I suspect it will be the decision to try to match size with Bama. Perhaps a quicker line might have been able to sneak through, but I doubt it. Bama’s O-Line is NFL ready.
- McCarron was only 11 for 21, and we forced several throwaways. What happened to intentional grounding? Is that not a penalty anymore? I thought chucking the ball into the stands was a penalty. No? OK, let’s just move on.
- We held Bama to only 431 yards. They may be the best offense we face all year. If we can hold everyone else under 431, I’ll be happy.
- The bad news was that 3 of our top 4 tacklers were DBs. Demens only had 3 tackles. I’m worried about the UFR, but that’s to be expected after giving up 41 points (and yes, the defense was only responsible for 34.)
- Morgan had 8 tackles, but they were all assisted tackles, which epitomizes the game. In all of the one-on-one matchups, we lost. Bama was just more “-er” than us, bigger, stronger, faster, tougher. I avoided watching Bama last season because I hate that “ESS EEE SEE” crap, but there’s no denying how good they are.
- 25 guys registered at least one tackle. Some of that was blow-out time stuff, but it seemed like Mattison was searching for something that would work.
- You had to see this title coming a mile away, right? Hopefully, we get rid of the “?” next week.
- Denard ran 10 times for 27 net yards. He ran for a TD. Going into the game, one of the stats I saw more than once was how many runs Denard has had of 10 yards or longer in the past two seasons. His long this game was 9 yards. I don’t blame Borges for keeping the carries down. Without Fitz, Bama was free to tee off on Denard. I think it was more important to keep him relatively healthy than run him 25 times and leave him a bloody pulp at the end in a futile attempt to keep it close.
- Denard was 11 for 26 passing with 2 INTs. One of the INTs was the official’s fault for not calling pass interference, or Roundtree’s fault for letting himself be treated like a ragdoll.
- Denard threw for 200 yards, helped greatly by a 71 yard bomb to Gallon. It looked like Bama was giving up the long ball, but Denard and Devin are not in sync yet. Give it time, this duo will be all right by season’s end.
- The local news had a story about how there was a rare zonkey at the LA county fair this week. That’s a combination of a zebra and a jackass, I mean, a donkey. I can’t think of a more fitting description of the officiating.
- I was a little surprised to see that we were called for more penalties, and for significantly more yards. UM: 8-99, Bama: 7-55. The game reminded me of the 2000 Orange Bowl game we played against them when they set a record with 18 penalties for 132 yards, only the officials didn’t use their flags this game.
- I know Bama has 3 pre-season all-Americans on their O-line, but that doesn’t mean they can hold with impunity. I’m sure Blue Seoul will have some examples, but that’s not the reason we lost.
Passing Game Stuff
- Gallon looks to be the guy, at least until Devin and Denard get more comfortable.
- Roundtree caught two passes late. He better step up, or else I’m going to question that 21 patch he has. Maybe he’s still <100% after the surgery. I hope that’s the reason, because we can’t rely on a 5’ 8” #1 receiver and a converted QB to be the only options.
- More Dileo please. He only caught one ball, but wasn’t targeted that often.
- Kwiatkowski caught one pass for 6 yards. DAMN YOU RODRIGUEZ! I want moar tight ends!!!
- I was going to skip this section as well this year, but Jareth Glanda registered a tackle as #5D. After his Sugar Bowl heroics, any time I can send the love his way, you know I will.
- James Ross shows up in the boxscore as “Ross III, James.” ST3 approves. I wonder if he ever gets mail addressed to him as James Ross Iii?
Announcers’ Derpity Derp
- I was going to wait until we got to the meat of the BIG 10 Network portion of the schedule for this, but “Devin Smith?” Pound for pound, he’s the toughest guy who doesn’t exist on our roster.
I’ll Take Bullets for a Thousand, Alex
- Hagerup did get off some boomers, but our average Net Yards per punt was only 35.3, 16 yards less than our average punt distance. Bama, on the other hand, netted 46.2 yards on a 47 yard average. That’s coverage.
- While Norfleet looked good, the average kick return was only 22.1 yards. When a touchback takes you out to the 25, I’m not so impressed by 22 yards. It was clearly better than last season.
- Wile: 3 kickoffs, 3 touchbacks. Dude has a leg.
- Time of possession is meaningless. We had the ball for 28:34 to their 31:26. We also had 56 offensive plays to their 63. It seemed like a lot worse than that.
- Campbell - The big guy looked decent, even quick on his sack. He will look even better against the rest of the schedule.
- Gallon - The little guy had a big game, going for over 100 yards receiving and would have had more had Tacopants not been mirroring his routes.
- Gardner - More than at any point before, I think we saw his athleticism in this game. Cleaner routes would have opened him up for several more receptions; the tools are clearly there.
- Norfleet - This guy will be special on kick returns. Seemed to almost always on the verge of breaking it with his speed.
- Denard - Again, the dude never quit. He only completed 11 of 26 passes, but looked more fundamentally sound than last year IMO. It made me sad to see him not smiling.
I am not making this up. But I do need to get it off my chest.
(thanks, mom, but we'll have gnome ore of those presents.)
I am not making this up.
I am not making it up when I say that the most serious fight, in fact, the only serious fight, my wife and I have had since we began courting is the fight over our future children, that is, the college football fandom of said future children.
I am also not making it up when I say that at the time I tried to quell my wife's rage by paraphrasing Thucydides. After all, I said, Michigan and Alabama are like Athens and Sparta--a whale against an elephant. They're just not likely to bump heads much, if at all. I mean, honey, they've played all of three times in a hundred-some years. Why can't our kids grow up to support both of them?
That actually worked, for a few weeks, until Dave Brandon Created the Future, or rather Jerry Jones took a(nother) turn as Applegate. Also, We Created the Future, and a Baby Apostle is on the way, whose fandom is at stake this evening.
At least, that's all that was until I told of our arrangement to my uncle, a Domer alum who likes to live vicariously through people who have viable teams to cheer for. He suggested that those stakes weren't nearly high enough. You need more than the fandom at stake, he said. His name should be at stake. "Bo" if Michigan wins, "Bear" if Alabama wins. I laughed it off. Who of us here knows a woman that would go along with such a preposterous idea?
I am also not making it up when I say that after I laughed it off, my wife said that she would actually be fine with it.*
*For those of you who are shaking your heads NoWayWouldAWomanEverEverAgreeToThat I should admit that her sole stipulation was that his formal name, should Michigan somehow hold back her vaunted Tide, would be spelled "Beau". (She is a Southerner, after all.) I said, well, OK. I'm still going to spell (and pronounce) it "Bo".
What if it's a girl? Good question. We've only had one sonogram, at 20 weeks, and that's all we'll have since we go to a midwife at a birthing center, and that's how that rolls. (I guess you could say the girl's got some Ann Arbor in her after all.) I'm told they can sometimes be inaccurate, but if Denard's arm isn't what we hope it can be, that will be all I have to hang my child's name on at the end of the day.
Three chances for me to look stupid in 3.5 hours (and for the rest of my/his life):
- This could all probably have been avoided had I sprung for travel and tickets to the game.
- This could all have been avoided had I just married some girl in Ann Arbor who only was aware of football to the extent that it impacted her UMS tickets or hair appointments downtown.
- This could be my only chance to have a son with the same name as one of Harvey Updyke's.
PREDICTION: This is my son, fergodsakes! GO BLUE!
Not as detailed of a forecast today due to most watching the game inside, and the game itself being in the Cowboys stadium. For the first day of meteorological fall, feels more like summer! If you're down south (lucky!), sunny, hot, and humid is the story of the day, with a slight chance of isolated storms across N. TX this afternoon due to afternoon heating (most stay dry but if you're caught in a storm-expect possible brief heavy rain, lightning, and gusty winds). Here at home, we might see a passing shower for the southern counties and Ann Arbor has a slight chance of rain. We'll see a good amount sun, but expect cloud cover to increase throughout the afternoon/evening.If you're in Arlington...
Hot, Hot, Hot! Heat index near 105 today with mostly sunny skies. Winds are out of the SSW at 10-15mph, so don't expect to cool down much towards kickoff! With all of the afternoon heating, don't rule out the chance of a pop-up storm moving through.
Remember it's a 7:00 CT start when you look at that watch! Outside it's still 98 degrees (heat index a couple degrees over 100), and we're going to have to wait until after 10pm for the temps to drop below 90! Dewpoints are also in the upper 60s, so expect to feel that heavy, humid air.
By 2am, still lingering at 81 degrees and very humid. Winds remain out of the south at about 10mph. We'll see partly cloudy skies overnight, with a low of 76. Looking ahead to Sunday-mostly sunny skies with SSW winds at 10-15mph, and a high of 99 degrees-so expect flights to be on time!
If you're staying home... We're all jealous of you that get to be there! Cheer extra loud please!! We're already in the mid 70s (feels like 80) and we might get a passing shower in our southern counties (particularly Lenawee and Monroe I'm lookin at you) due to a stalled front along the OH valley and the remnants of Isaac making his presence known... a slight chance of rain in A2. Hitting a high of 82 today-73 by kickoff and mid 60s by the game's end. Expect cloud cover to increase tonight. For those returning home Sunday, Ann Arbor welcomes you with some sun and some clouds, an easterly wind at 5-10mph, a high of 80 and dewpoints in the 50s & 60s-much less humid here! Flights should be a-ok here too. Have safe travels, or have fun watching here at home! Hail.
Christina Burkhart is a meteorologist for NBC/ABC in Traverse City, MI, and temporarily for NBC25 in Flint/Saginaw, MI. She grew up in Ann Arbor and associates Saturdays with Michigan football. Go Blue!!
Just a note: Writing your picks in the comment section is NOT a valid entry. You must enter your picks using the form below or at this link. Feel free to discuss your picks here, but you must submit the form in order to enter the contest.
[ED: Bump. Get your picks in!]
After a great first year of Pick Six on MGoBlog, we’re back by popular demand. Unfortunately, we never had a results post in order to honor the original creators . (The MGoBlog summary will be posted after Blue-Gray Sky releases their results from 2009) This year I will be handling the technical details but we are going to have somebody else write the recaps. If you are interested in the job of writing the weekly summaries send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Onto the contest. Here's how it works.
1. We divide the top 25 into 5 groups of 5 based on the preseason AP Poll: 1-5, 6-10, 11-15, etc. For this year's poll, the groups are:
- A: Southern Cal, Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma, Oregon
- B: Georgia, Florida State, Michigan, South Carolina, Arkansas
- C: West Virginia, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Clemson, Texas
- D: Virginia Tech, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, TCU
- E: Stanford, Kansas State, Florida, Boise State, Louisville
2. Before the season starts you pick one team from each group, plus one unranked team. You're trying to pick the teams you think will finish highest in the final AP poll (after the bowl games).
3. Each week we'll try to update and publish the standings in a spreadsheet so you can track the progress of your teams. You get 25 points for having the #1 team, 24 points for the #2 team, on down to 1 point for the #25 team. Unranked teams get zero points.
4. The winner is the person with the most points (i.e. the highest ranked teams) after the bowl season. The midseason standings are only for entertainment purposes. Only the final AP poll counts.
5. And the grand prize? I will personally give the winner 10 meaningless upvotes. Plus, last year some guy named Brian offered a small prize.
Throughout the season someone will hopefully give regular updates on the progress of the contest in the Diaries.
That's it for the Pick Six: short, sweet and simple. The entry form closes on Thursday August 30 before the first kickoff, so get your picks in now. Good luck!
As kickoff for Team 133 approaches, our MGoHistory journey continues. Our past stops in 1986 and 1971 found pleasant memories of Michigan glory past. Now let’s set the Omni to a more recent time, a more familiar time. We’re arriving just 15 years past (no way it’s been 15 years!) and the Omni shows green, which means history is right….oh so right. We have arrived in 1997!
The 90’s are in full swing and the PC has become as ubiquitous a household item as the television. This coupled with the rise of the World Wide Web on the internet has spawned the Dot Com boom. Speculation into online businesses drives financial markets into huge gains worldwide, making countless computer geeks into millionaires overnight. Riding the wave of this economic boom, Bill Clinton begins his second term as president after a landslide victory over Bob Dole the previous November. On the surface, things seem to be running smooth for the president, but the turmoil of the Lewinsky scandal and his impeachment trial loom just a year away.
In Great Britain, Tony Blair wins the general election, becoming Prime Minister and sovereign control of Hong Kong is returned to China. The British also cause a stir when Scottish scientists announce the successful cloning of an adult sheep, Dolly; and a little known children’s author, J.K. Rowling publishes her first novel, “Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone”. Britain stays center stage on a sadder note when hundreds of millions mourn the untimely death of Princess Diana.
The Earth sees the return of comet Hale-Bopp for the first time in over 4000 years and NASA successfully lands the Pathfinder probe on the surface of Mars. Justice is served for many in Oklahoma with the conviction and subsequent death sentence of Timothy McVeigh for his role in the Oklahoma City bombing. More positively, Steve Jobs returns to head a foundering Apple Computer where he will lead the next revolution in consumer technology that most of us take for granted today.
On the popular front, Americans line-up to see “Titanic” and Leonard DiCaprio becomes a star. Americans also line up to see “Batman and Robin” and it almost ruins George Clooney’s career. Young people the world over inexplicably go crazy for the Spice Girls and Hanson while fans of hip hop and rap mourn the passing of the Notorious B.I.G. We all flock to our television sets on Thursday to watch “Must See TV” on NBC and see Ellen DeGeneres come out of the closet on ABC. Animated TV achieves a few hallmarks when “The Simpsons” become the longest running animated primetime show while another animated cult classic, “South Park”, debuts on cable’s Comedy Central.
Brett Favre leads Green Bay to their first Super Bowl championship in 30 years, the Red Wings bring the Stanley Cup back to Detroit for the first time in 40 years, and the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan win the NBA championship for the 5thtime in 7 years. Mike Tyson meets Evander Holyfield for the heavyweight championship, but rather than fight him, he tries to have him for supper.
For Michigan athletics, the 90’s were one of the great decades of the school’s history. By 1997 Jon Urbanchek has built Michigan Swimming into a powerhouse, winning his 11thBig 10 title in 12 years. Not to be outdone, the women’s swim team under Jim Richardson wins their 11thstraight Big 10 title. Women’s softball has also become the dominant program in the Big 10 under Carol Hutchins winning their 3rdstraight Big 10 tournament title and their making their 3rdstraight Super-Regional in the NCAA tourney. Mens Baseball under Geoff Zahn wins the Big 10 Conference title as well.
The men’s basketball team also continues to be one of the elite teams in the Big 10 under Steve Fischer Featuring notable players such as Robert Traylor (may he rest in peace), Maurice Taylor, and Louis Bullock; Michigan hoops follows up an NIT championship in March by winning the inaugural Big 10 Tournament at the end of the 1997-98 season. This all becomes overshadowed though with the breaking of the Ed Martin story in June which costs Steve Fischer his job, Michigan all of the banners it won during the decade, and creates a vacuum in Michigan basketball recruiting that allows MSU’s Tom Izzo to become a coaching legend.
In hockey, Red Berenson fields what is arguably one of the greatest hockey teams of all time. The 1997 Wolverines are the defending National Champions and sport a line-up that include All-Americans Brian Wiseman, John Madden, Marty Turco as well as Hobey Baker winner Brendan Morrison. The team also includes no less than 5 additional NHL players in Jason Botterill, Mike Legg, Bill Muckalt, Matt Herr, and Bubba Berenzweig.
The Michigan icers win both the CCHA regular season and tournament championships and are overwhelming favorites to repeat as NCAA champions going to into the tournament. Michigan cruised to the Frozen Four, dispatching Minnesota 7-4 only to lose in the semi-finals to Boston University in OT, 3-2 and illustrating the highlighting the frustrating fact about the NCAA hockey tournament, the best team doesn’t always win because pucks bounce. This is why you must always hate BU…always….so much. In terms of Michigan disappointments in athletics, the 1996-97 teams’ loss to BU has to rank near the top.
Michigan football in 1997 is lead by former assistant coach Lloyd Carr, who is in his third season as Michigan’s top guy. Unlike the rest of Michigan athletics, the football team is in the midst of a malaise which has seen them finish four straight seasons with four losses. Grumbling has begun amongst the Michigan faithful and some in the media snidely comment that the “M” in Michigan has come to mean mediocre. With former walk-on Brian Griese being the starter by Carr over the stronger-armed Scott Dreisbach and Tom Brady and a meh 14thranking in the AP poll coming into their opener with #8 Colorado, expectations are guarded to say the least.
Of course, we all know how this turns out. Michigan, lead by the legendary Charles Woodson and All-American Glen Steele never let anyone score…ever and Brian Griese heads a workmanlike Michigan offense to an undefeated season, it’s first Big 10 title since 1992. The regular season is highlighted by an epic shellacking of #2 Penn State and a defeat of #4 Ohio in Ann Arbor to clinch a Rose Bowl berth. Woodson goes on to win just about every award a player can earn, including becoming the first defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy, which Tennessee fans deem to be the greatest injustice ever….EVER! Coach Carr is named Walter Camp Coach of the Year and Defensive Coordinator Jim Herrmann wins the Frank Broyles Award as the top coaching assistant.
Michigan goes on to defeat Washington State, lead by future NFL super-bust Ryan Leaf, 21-16 in the 1998 Rose Bowl securing the AP Poll National Championship. Michigan enters the Rose Bowl the undisputed number one team in the country, but Nebraska splits the title off their impressive win over Tennessee in the Sugar Bowl and some strange final Coaches Poll shenanigans, prompting years of speculation from the Michigan fanbase over which coach screwed us. I’m not saying it was Phil Fulmer, but karma is a bitch and Tennessee has had a pretty precipitous slide in the past decade and a half…just sayin’.
1997 may seem too many to be not that long ago, but it was pre 9/11, pre-Google, pre-Facebook, pre-Twitter, pre-Apple iPod/Phone/Pad, pre-reality TV, pre-Great Recession, pre-WiFi. The world has changed a LOT in the past 15 years. 1997 was the culmination of a dominant era for U of M sports. An era that saw the football program tower over Ohio and MSU, hockey rise to become the preeminent power in college, and basketball being one of the great programs in the Big 10*. Let’s hope that the current caretakers of our beloved Maize and Blue are ready to give birth to a new era of Michigan domination that will make our hearts soar and our enemies’ heads explode in frustration. Enjoy the season and we’ll pick this up again in the winter of 2013.